Thursday, 5 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are called to keep in mind that as the followers and disciples of the Lord, we must always be righteous and just, loving and compassionate just as Our Lord Himself has shown and taught us all how we ought to love, loving both God and one another with genuine and tender love. We have to be filled with love because to be Christians is indeed to love, both of God and one another, just as much as we love ourselves. Without love we cannot truly call ourselves as Christians, or as disciples and followers of the Lord, because the Lord’s actions, everything that He has done for us, all of them were done because of His ever enduring and great love for each one of us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. John the Apostle to the faithful people of God in which the Apostle exhorted and reminded all the people of God of their obligation to love and to practice love in their lives, so that they can indeed show that they belong to Christ, and are worthy to call themselves as Christians. If Christians do not practice love and instead cause hurt and harm to each other, then they are no better than hypocrites and unbelievers. St. John told the people of God not to follow the example of Cain who killed his brother out of jealousy, as a reminder that as Christians, all of us are brothers and sisters to one another, and we cannot look upon others with hatred or mischief in our hearts and minds, or else, we cannot call ourselves as Christians or followers and disciples of Christ.

Why is that so? That is because the Lord Himself has shown us the perfect and pure love that He has always had for us. By His coming into this world He has shown us the love of God manifested through Himself, His actions and works in our midst. He touched us and healed us, as He has shown us by His healing of all those who were sick and brought to Him, and even those who died, He had raised from the dead. Through the most generous and enduring love of God, Christ has also shown us the most perfect and ultimate love as He bore His Cross, taking up all of our sins and wickedness, our faults and troubles, all upon His own shoulders, and bore it all up to Calvary. He chose to suffer and die for us to show us that we are truly beloved by God, from the very beginning, and that love endures even through our many sins and wickedness.

Through His obedience to His heavenly Father, Christ showed all of us how we can and should love our God, with all of our hearts and might, with all of our capacities and strength. And then by His love for each one of us that He has shown from His Cross, the perfect love which surpasses even the power of sin and death. He has shown us just how love can conquer the separation caused by our disobedience, and the Incarnation of the Lord made all of these possible, as He offered Himself as the perfect offering and sacrifice of love, to administer upon us God’s healing and grace, His forgiveness and love, in atonement for our many and innumerable sins. Through His obedience and love for His people, all of us, God had delivered unto us this perfect gift of love, as examples for us to follow.

As Christians, we have to believe in the Lord and all that He has shown and taught us, much as how in the Gospel passage today we heard the Lord convincing Nathanael, one of his Apostles whom He called from among the people. Nathanael was also often known as Bartholomew, one of the Twelve, who was a learned man and an intellectual, who knew the Prophets and the Law well. Initially he was skeptical about the Lord, as he thought that the Messiah could not have come from Nazareth, but he was convinced by the Lord, His wisdom, sincerity and love, to follow Him and become one of His devoted disciples. How about us then, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we going to follow the Lord in the same way as well? Or are we going to continue walking down the path of ignorance and separation from the Lord?

If we want to walk faithfully in the path that the Lord has provided for us, then we have to follow His good examples, and also all those who have walked in His path, like that of the Apostles, the innumerable saints and martyrs of the Church. All of them share the same trait that each one of them loved the Lord and placed Him at the centre and as the focus of their lives and existence. Hence we too should put the Lord first and foremost in our lives and strive to fill ourselves with the same love that God has given us, in both loving Him and loving our fellow brothers and sisters all around us in this world. That is what the Lord has told us to do, that is to love one another just as we love ourselves, and to show that genuine love and care, even for those who do not love us back.

Are we able to do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? Can we carry out our lives with love and do whatever we can to love God and to love our neighbours, our fellow men and women with great sincerity and generosity? Let us all discern our path forward in life with the attention to love and to immerse ourselves in the path of God’s love and grace from now on. Let us distance ourselves from all sorts of things and temptations that often mislead us down the wrong path in life, and strive to resist those temptations, and all the pressures for us to love ourselves and be selfish over our calling to love God first and foremost in our lives, and also to love our fellow brothers and sisters, at all possible opportunities.

May the Lord our God continue to guide us with His love and kindness, and keep on blessing us and helping us to get ever closer to Him, with each and every passing days. May He continue to love us and to strengthen us in our journey of life, that we may persevere and grow ever more resilient and more courageous in standing up for our faith in our every moments of life. May God bless our every efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 5 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 43-51

The next day, Jesus decided to set off for Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the One that Moses wrote about in the Law, and the prophets as well; He is Jesus, Son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”

Nathanael replied, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, He said of him, “Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him.” Nathanael asked Him, “How do You know me?” And Jesus said to him, “Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree, and I saw you.”

Nathanael answered, “Master, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” But Jesus replied, “You believe because I said, ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened, and the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Thursday, 5 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Thursday, 5 January 2023 : Weekday of Christmas Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 3 : 11-21

For this is the message taught to you from the beginning : we must love one another. Do not imitate Cain who killed his brother, for he belonged to the Evil One. Why did he kill him? Because he himself did evil and his brother did good.

So, be not surprised, brothers if the world hates us; we love our brothers and sisters, and with this we know that we have passed from death to life. The one who does not love remains in death. The one who hates his brother is a murderer, and, as you know, eternal life does not remain in the murderer.

This is how we have known what is love is : He gave His life for us. We, too, ought to give our life for our brothers and sisters. If anyone enjoys the riches of this world, but closes his heart when he sees his brother or sister in need, how will the love of God remain in him? My dear children, let us love not only with words and with our lips, but in truth and in deed.

Then we shall know that we are of the truth and we may calm our conscience in His presence. Every time it reproaches us, let us say : God is greater than our conscience, and He knows everything. When our conscience does not condemn us, dear friends, we may have complete confidence in God.

Papal Funeral Mass of Pope Benedict XVI will be on 5 January 2023

Pope Francis will preside over the Papal Funeral Mass of Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday, 5 January 2023 at 9.30 am Central European Time (UTC + 1 hour)