Saturday, 24 December 2022 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded of the great joy that is coming to us this Christmas, which is just tomorrow. Are we prepared to welcome the Lord and to celebrate in His coming into our midst, brothers and sisters? After a whole entire season of Advent, all the more that the Advent season this year is at the longest possible duration, have we been spending our time right in doing what we can to prepare our hearts and minds to welcome the Lord into them? Or have we instead been so busy and preoccupied with worldly matters and concerns, and with all sorts of temptations and distractions, that we have prepared in the wrong way for Christmas?

Let us all spend some time today to reflect upon the words of the Scriptures to remind us why we celebrate Christmas, so that we may be fully ready tomorrow and the entire Christmas season to rejoice worthily and well. In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Samuel, regarding the time when King David of Israel, having been made secure in his reign and rule, wanted to build a House for God, and asked the prophet Nathan on his opinion and what the Lord would say regarding his plan to build God’s House and Temple in Jerusalem. God said that it would not be David that would build a House for Him in Jerusalem, but his son, Solomon, who would be King after him. God at the same time also promised David that his reign and his house will be forever secure.

And all that would indeed come true as David’s son, Solomon, would become the King over all of Israel. Solomon would also build the Temple and House for God in Jerusalem, to house the Ark of the Covenant and to be the place where God’s Holy Presence would dwell among all of His people. Then, while Solomon and his descendants eventually fell into sinful paths and disobeyed God, which resulted in the downfall of the kingdom of Israel, but God did not take away His promise, as what He had promised to David remained true, as His prophets said that one day, the Messiah, the Holy One of God, and the Saviour of the world would come from the House of David and be born as his heir, to restore the kingdom of Israel and the Lord’s dominion and rule over His people.

In the Gospel passage today, we then heard of the great song which Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist, Herald of the Messiah sang in praising and glorifying God, what is also known as the Canticle of Zechariah. Zechariah had seen the fulfilment of God’s promises, that the Lord had given him a son when all hopes were lost. Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of St. John the Baptist had been without any child for a long time, and while Elizabeth had been barren for years was way past her child-bearing age, but God proclaimed to Zechariah through His Angel that Elizabeth would bear a son, and that he would become a great servant of God, named John. And St. John the Baptist would be the one through whom God prepared His path, when He Himself come in the birth of His Son.

All those point out to the evidence and the proof that God truly keeps His words and promises, and that His salvation and grace have all come to us through His promised Saviour, the Messiah, the Heir of David, the One Whom St. John the Baptist had been tasked to prepare the people for, in calling on all of them to repent from their many sins and embrace God’s love and mercy, shown to them all through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of all. Hence, we are all reminded that in Christmas, we celebrate with joy this coming of the Saviour of the world, the fulfilment of the long awaited promises of God, which He had indeed delivered unto us, no less and no more. He came into our midst, revealing unto us His perfect love and most generous attention to us, as He wants us all to be reconciled with Him and to return once again to Him.

That is what Christmas is all about, and yet, we see all around us is Christmas that is often bereft of the One Whom Christmas is actually all about and the One Whom Christmas has been named after. How can we celebrate Christmas if there is no Christ in our celebrations and festivities? How can we truly rejoice in Christmas if Christ is not the reason why we rejoice and are happy in this time of joy? This is a reminder for us all that as we enter into the glorious and joyful Christmas season tomorrow, we must have the right disposition and readiness in our hearts and minds to celebrate Christmas as the joyful moment when we welcome Christ into our midst, and enthrone Him in our hearts, as the King of our lives, Who has come into our midst, to save us all and to lead us into His glorious kingdom.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we approach the beginning of the Christmas season, let us all rediscover the true joy of Christmas in our Lord and Saviour, and rejoice for all that He had done for us. Christmas is a time for us to return once again to the Lord, to grow in love with Him once again, remembering everything that God had done for us, in coming down to us, emptying Himself and humbling Himself to become as a Man just like us, to dwell among us and to show us all the perfect manifestation of God’s love. This Christmas we are reminded that God has shown us His faithfulness, and He will not abandon us, but will dwell amongst us, and stay with us. Christmas is that time we are reminded how God reached out to us and touched us with His love, as He has always done.

May all of us continue to grow in faith, and may all of us enter the season of Christmas with better understanding of the reason why we celebrate. Let us all begin Christmas with a renewed reason to live our lives with greater faith and dedication to God. Let us all be the beacons of God’s light, truth and hope in our communities, doing whatever we can to inspire others by our righteous and just way of life, and by sharing our Christmas joy with all those who have little or no chance to rejoice and celebrate this Christmas. May the Lord continue to inspire us to be loving and filled with hope, the hope of God’s everlasting joy and truth, and be generous sharers of them to our fellow brothers and sisters. May God bless our upcoming Christmas season and celebrations. Amen.

Friday, 23 December 2022 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures and draw ever closer to Christmas, we are all reminded of the coming of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, into our midst. The Lord has sent us His messenger and herald to prepare the path for His coming into this world, and He has fulfilled that promise, with the coming of St. John the Baptist, the one who was prophesied to be the one to prepare the way for the Lord. As we heard in our Scripture passages today, all these happened so that the Lord might come and rescue us all from our troubles and bring us into His loving presence once again, and that is the reason why we rejoice this Christmas.

In our first reading today, we heard of the words of the prophet Malachi, speaking about the coming of the days of God’s messenger, who would come to prepare the hearts and minds of the people, to prepare for the coming of the Lord, which was also alluded to in the words of the prophet Malachi. Malachi was one of the last prophets chronologically in the Old Testament era, who ministered to the people of God a few centuries before the Lord’s coming, and his words of prophecy further set the expectation of the coming of God’s salvation, which the people of God looked forward to, as they heard the words of reassurances that God had made through His many prophets, including that of Malachi.

Then, in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the account of the birth of St. John the Baptist, the one whom Malachi and the other prophets had been prophesying about, the one to prepare the path for the coming of the Lord. His miraculous conception and birth truly became knowledge among the people, as he was conceived by his mother at the age well-past childbearing and after being barren for so many years. His coming, conception and birth were also announced by the Angel of God before his father Zechariah, whose doubt led him to become mute before the moment as we heard in our Gospel today, that once the baby was named John as the Angel spoke of, Zechariah was miraculously able to speak once again. All of these and the later events in the life of St. John the Baptist serve as a reminder for us that as we approach the coming Christmas season with expectation and joy.

St. John the Baptist went on to call the people of God to be converted and to turn away from their sinful paths, and this is also therefore a reminder for all of us that as we approach Christmas, we should also prepare ourselves in heart and mind to turn towards the Lord, to return our focus upon Him, and to make Him the centre of our upcoming Christmas celebrations and rejoicing. We should not be distracted by the many temptations and distractions all around us, all the glamour and merrymaking surrounding the often secular and worldly Christmas celebrations. We have to be committed to the Lord and renew our faith in Him, and serve Him with ever greater conviction and zeal. We should do our best to make sure that we celebrate Christmas in the right way, and with the right predisposition and mindset.

That is why we should make use of this short remaining time before Christmas, whatever is left this Advent season to deepen our understanding of Christmas and its true meaning, its significance and importance for us. Today we should therefore spend some time to reflect upon the life and works of one St. John of Kanty, also known as St. John Cantius, a Polish priest and philosopher whose life and work should inspire us to become ever more worthy of God, ever more connected to Him, and ever closer to Him. St. John of Kanty was remembered for his great intellect and philosophical as well as theological prowess, as he became great professor and instructor, helping many of his students and followers to understand better their faith in God, as well as the many mysteries and aspects of the Christian faith.

Not only that, but the same St. John of Kanty was also well remembered for his great love for God, his personal piety and holiness, and especially also for his great compassion, love and care for the poor and the suffering all around him. He was known for his care for the needy students at his university and faculty, helping to support them whenever and wherever it was possible. He also spent time and effort to care for the poor and the needy in his community, and at wherever he was visiting and ministering. He lived his life simply and full of devotion, spending not more than what was necessary for him, and he made several pilgrimages on foot all the way to Rome. The faith and humility that St. John of Kanty showed in his life should be inspiration for all of us to follow in our own lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us therefore seek the Lord with a new heart, with a new commitment to follow Him and to devote our time and attention to Him, and from this upcoming Christmas celebration, to put Him back as the centre and focus of our lives. Let us all follow the examples set and shown by St. John of Kanty, doing our best to walk faithfully in the path that God has shown us. First let us all start by changing our Christmas celebrations from one that is worldly and self-centred into one that is centred on God, as well as love and life-giving, inspired by the love and generosity which St. John of Kanty has shown to those who were less fortunate all around him. Let us also remember that Christmas is all also possible, and that we can rejoice exactly because God has shown us His most generous love and kindness, compassion and grace.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, empowering us with the love and courage to do our best in our lives, to be ever more loving and generous to each other. Through our faithful and worthy Christmas celebrations, where Christ is at the very focus and heart of our joy, let us all inspire more and more people that each one of us may be the shining beacons of God’s hope, light and truth. Let us show our love and generosity to those around us and not be distracted by the worldly glamour and desires. May all of us draw ever closer to God and be blessed as we approach the glorious and joyful season of Christmas. Amen.

Thursday, 22 December 2022 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the joy that each one of us should have in the Lord, keeping in mind that it is through His work and His coming into our midst that we celebrate at Christmas which brought us all a new hope and assurance of happiness and salvation, grace and all the things that can only come through Him, and we heard of that assurance today in our Scripture passages in which we heard of what the Lord had done to His faithful servants, to Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, as well as to Mary, the Mother of God, of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Our Saviour.

In our first reading today, we heard the story of Hannah, and how she thanked the Lord for all that He had done for her, in answering her prayers and the wishes she had for a son. The Lord granted her the wish she wanted, after she had endured scorn and ridicule from the other wife of her husband, Penninah, who often teased her for not having a son despite being more beloved by her husband. God lifted the veil of shame from Hannah, and gave her a son that would become a great prophet in Israel and also the last of the great Judges before the days of the Kings. Hence, today we heard Hannah in great joy as she went to the House of God bringing the young Samuel to offer him to the service of the Lord just as she has promised.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of Mary and her great song of thanksgiving, thanking God for everything that she has received from God, all the graces and wonders she had been blessed with, to be the one entrusted as the Mother of God and the Mother of the Saviour of the whole world. In that Magnificat, the great song of joy which Mary sang filled with the Holy Spirit, is contained the great joy that she has upon becoming the Mother of the Saviour, as well as the great joy representing mankind having finally seen the salvation of God, long awaited and expected by the people, to whom God had promised His salvation from the very beginning of time, when He promised them that He would deliver them from the dominion and bondage of sin.

Through Mary’s song, we have been reminded what Christmas is all about, that is a most joyful rejoicing and celebration that we carry out because we have seen the love and salvation that the Lord has brought into our midst, in the coming of Christ, His only begotten Son, Our Lord and Saviour. By His coming and entry into the world, Christ has shown us the Love of God manifested and made flesh, tangible and approachable to us. No longer that God is distant and unapproachable by us, as He has become Emmanuel, God is with us, and He has come to dwell amongst us, sharing with us our joy and sorrow, walking amongst us and touching our lives. He has become the Hope for us, lifting us out of the darkness and into His everlasting light and grace.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we approach ever closer to Christmas, all of us should spend some time to reflect on our preparations for Christmas, and whether we have already prepared ourselves well and properly for the celebration of Christmas, or whether we have not gotten ourselves properly ready yet, and have not done our right actions to be truly able to celebrate Christmas worthily and well. We can see all around us just how Christmas is celebrated in a mostly worldly and secular way, without Christ and His Presence, and where people immersed themselves often in excessive merrymaking and festivities while forgetting why we even celebrate Christmas itself in the first place.

Christmas is not about all the festivities and celebrations, all the joyful gift exchanges and the excesses of our feasting and partying. Yes, we can definitely do all of that, and we should indeed rejoice in Christmas. But we must always remember that after all, everything happened because of what the Lord had done in giving us His only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, to be our Saviour. It is because Christ has been born into this world that we have seen the Light of God’s salvation and the Hope out of the darkness of sin, and that is why we rejoice so greatly, all because of the joy of this new life which God has promised us all who believed in Him, that through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, everyone will receive the sure guarantee of everlasting joy and grace.

That is why as Christians, each one of us have to lead by example and do our best to show others what the true meaning and spirit of Christmas is all about. Christmas is not about partying excessively or rejoicing in ways that we are often accustomed to. It is a time for us to give thanks to God for having shown us such a great love and kindness by giving us His Son, to be our Saviour, and we should be like Hannah and Mary, who gave their heartfelt thanks and glorified God, and thanked Him for all that He had done for them. We must therefore place the Lord at the very centre and as the focus of our existence, our way of life and also our way of celebrating the upcoming Christmas season. We have to make sure that we understand fully what the true joy of Christmas is all about.

May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us, empowering us with the love and courage to do our best in our lives, to walk in His path and to follow Him ever more faithfully. Through our faithful and worthy Christmas celebrations, where Christ is at the centre of our joy, let us all inspire more and more people that each one of us may be the shining beacons of God’s hope, light and truth. May all of us draw ever closer to God and be blessed as we approach the glorious and joyful season of Christmas. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Scriptures reminding all of us to focus on the coming of the Lord Who has come to dwell among His people and how we, as those who are so fortunate to have been given such a great grace from God, should be ever grateful and appreciative of everything that He had done for our sake, from the very beginning until now. And as we continue to come ever closer to the season and celebrations of Christmas, we are constantly being reminded of why we rejoice this upcoming Christmas and what it is that we are all celebrating about. It is not about ourselves and our desires for merrymaking and festivities, all the joy and parties that we are celebrating Christmas for, but rather we rejoice because God’s love and mercy have been shown to us in the most concrete ways possible in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of Song of Songs, we heard the words of the joy that a lover had found in discovering the true love, which was in fact a reference to mankind and their love for God. It was in fact the Lord speaking directly to all of us, His beloved people, the ones whom He loves dearly, of the joyous and happy days that will come our way, when our Lord will come to us and we will walk in His Presence once again, with the fullness of joy, and with the shame and the veil of sin have been lifted up from us, and death and destruction no longer hold their power and dominion over us. God has always reached out to us and sought for us, seeking to reconcile us with Himself, and in doing so, He sent us His own begotten and beloved Son, to be our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the account of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, her cousin, which happened because Mary heard from the Archangel Gabriel that Elizabeth, even in her old age and way past childbearing age, was bearing a child, who would be St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah. Meanwhile, Mary herself was in fact also bearing within her, her own Son, the Son of God just as the Archangel Gabriel had announced to her earlier on at the same occasion in Nazareth. It was the moment when God finally fulfilled the promises which He had promised mankind since the very beginning, that He would send unto them a Saviour, to deliver all of them from the hands of Satan, the dominion and bondage under sin, evil and death. Through the Son that Mary had borne within her, God will save all of His people.

Elizabeth herself, filled with the Holy Spirit and great joy, recognised Mary and the One she bore within her the very moment that she encountered her. She was thankful for the opportunity to be in the very presence of the Mother of God, to bring forth the Saviour Himself so close to her. Her own baby, St. John the Baptist, who was also still in her womb, also recognised his Lord and Master in the womb of Mary. Then, we heard as in our Psalm today, the glorious and most joyful words of Mary’s song of praise, the Magnificat, praising God for all that He had done for His people, and the grace He has bestowed on all of us mankind, and also for herself, to be the Mother of God and Saviour, bringing for His salvation to all the people, fulfilling the many promises and the Covenant that He had made with all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on these words of the Scriptures, we can clearly see that there is that sense of great joy that should also be present in each one of us, as we await the imminent coming of our Lord and Saviour, just as He has come into this world and entered our human history two millennia ago. As we draw now already so close to Christmas and the end of the current preparatory season of Advent, we really ought to be asking ourselves, if God is truly at the centre of our lives and existence? Is God truly our Lover, the One Whom we truly we love with all of our hearts and might, the One to Whom we give our fealty and heartiest obedience, with the greatest devotion and commitment? Is God the One Whom we truly celebrate this Christmas and all of its joyful festivities, as we should?

Or have we instead allowed the many temptations of this world to distract us and to prevent us from finding our path towards God? Have we allowed the many excesses of worldly and secular Christmas festivities and celebrations to distract us and make us forget of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place? That is why today’s Scripture readings serve to remind us all that Christmas is truly all about Christ, of God’s Love made manifest and tangible to us through His Son, that we may truly come to Him, approach Him and be cared by Him, our loving God and Shepherd, Who embraced each one of us and is willing to forgive us all our many sins and faults. He has always loved us all, without exception, and we truly should do our best to do the same, beginning first of all by remembering this Love at our Christmas celebrations this year.

Not only that, but we should also be ever more exemplary Christians in our way of life and deeds, following the good examples of the saints, our holy predecessors. And today we have a great example in St. Peter Canisius, holy Priest and one of the venerable Doctors of the Church, through whom many people had great inspiration and strength, hope and perseverance because of his many hard works and efforts, his patient teaching and ministry among the people who have gone wayward in their faith and lives. St. Peter Canisius was one of the founders of the Jesuits or the Society of Jesus, who was close friend of the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Peter Canisius hence became an integral part and member of the Jesuits, and was tasked with the conversion of all those who had lapsed and broken away from the Church during the height of the Protestant reformation.

St. Peter Canisius carried out his mission patiently, and went through many places in what is today Switzerland and Germany, preaching the word of God and establishing Jesuit institutions and also put a lot of emphasis on Catholic education and teaching, as according to him, it was poor understanding of the faith that led to many Christians falling away from the Church and its teachings and embracing false ideas and heresies that were aplenty at that time, as various dissidents proclaimed their own versions of the Christian faith and led many to the wrong paths. St. Peter Canisius calmly and patiently reached out to all those who have left the Church while caring for those who still remained in the Church, and expressly warned against actions that can be considered hostile or violent against those who have separated themselves from the Church could backfire and make things worse. In his own words, he said that ‘with words like these, we don’t cure patients, we make them incurable.’

St. Peter Canisius emphasised on proper teaching, catechism and better understanding and appreciation of the faith as the way to lead the people of God back to Him, and he was also credited with his famous Catechism, through which countless multitudes of people have believed in the Lord and knew more about Him, returning back from their rebellious path and being reconciled with God. These were just some of the many other great deeds that St. Peter Canisius had done, and which all of us should also therefore be inspired to follow in our own lives as well. We are all called and reminded to be focused on God and to dedicate our lives and works to Him just as St. Peter Canisius himself had done. Are we able to do that, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing and able to commit our time and effort to serve the Lord and to honour Him at all times?

Let us all therefore do our best to do what we can to be ever more faithful and committed to God, in everything we say and do, in our every actions and interactions with one another. Let us also make our upcoming Christmas celebrations one that is truly centred on Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, that each and every one of us may become inspirations and source of strength for one another to be the beacons of God’s hope and light in the midst of our communities, walking in the same path that our holy predecessors had walked, especially that of St. Peter Canisius. May the Lord be with us always and may He bless our every good works and endeavours, all for His greater glory. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 December 2022 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded again on the love of God which has become Incarnate and present in our midst as the Son of Man, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, as we approach ever closer to the end of the current season of Advent and thus the beginning of the glorious and joyful season of Christmas. And on this day, we are all reminded through the examples of the two people to whom God had revealed His Good News, through the prophet Isaiah and the Archangel Gabriel respectively, how they responded to the Lord’s effort to reach out to them, and how the responses were so different from each other and how these can also reflect what we ourselves have done in our own response towards the Lord and His love for us.

In our first reading today, we heard again the famous passage from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in which God spoke to King Ahaz of Judah through Isaiah regarding the Sign that He would show to him and to all of His people in Judah, but which Ahaz then refused to obey or listen to. Isaiah told Ahaz to ask God for a Sign, the Sign that God would willingly and generously showed to His beloved ones, to show them the path of Hope and Light out of the darkness. But King Ahaz refused to ask for a Sign, and said that he would not put God to the test. This was followed immediately by a stern rebuke from Isaiah to Ahaz as he and many of his predecessors had disobeyed the Lord and put the Lord to the test so many times, and misled and misguided the people of God down the wrong path that what he had said, was truly a hypocrite’s word.

Not only that, but it might even be seen as King Ahaz not having faith and trust in God, as he would likely prefer to trust more in various things and worldly means to secure his reign and rule rather than to follow the Lord and His ways. Ahaz himself was one of the kings who was considered and counted among the ‘wicked’ ones as he led the people into the path of sin and disobedience, abandoning the Lord their God and worshipping instead the pagan idols and demons, which were placed upon the Lord’s sacred Altar, desecrating the holy places and also neglecting the observance of the Law and commandments of the Lord. Thus, Isaiah proclaimed God’s words that the Sign would indeed one day come, that all those who eventually witnessed it, would believe that indeed, God is the one and only True God, and not all the false idols that Ahaz and the people of Judah had worshipped.

On the contrary, if we remember the Gospel passage today, we heard of the Annunciation of Mary, the moment when the Archangel Gabriel proclaimed the Good News of God to Mary, that she would become the Mother of God, as she had been chosen by God to be the one through whom God’s own begotten Son, the Son of God, Incarnate in the flesh and becoming the Son of Man, have become the manifestation and personification of God’s eternal and ever-enduring love for us. This is the moment when the promise and the words of God that He had spoken through Isaiah before King Ahaz came to be fulfilled, as Mary was the Virgin that God spoke of, who would be bearing a Child, and this Child would be called Emmanuel, ‘God is with us’. This alone has already shown us that the Child that Mary bore within her, is truly not just like any other ordinary children.

Most importantly, as contrasted with the attitude showed by King Ahaz, Mary obeyed the Lord and believed in Him wholeheartedly, although she did wonder why she among all the women had been entrusted with such a responsibility. Yet, what she asked the Archangel Gabriel was made out of natural uncertainty and honest bewilderment as such a great revelation was made before her, not withstanding the fact that Mary was a mere young woman and virgin from the small town of Nazareth in Galilee, a very unimportant place and town, and herself coming from a relatively unknown origin. All of that must have obviously been hard to reconcile at the first moment, when Mary heard of the Good News from the Archangel Gabriel, and hence, her question of how it would be possible for that to happen to her, considering that she was still a virgin, to bear a Son.

God revealed to Mary all that He would do through His Archangel Gabriel, and what is important is how Mary responded to all of that. Unlike King Ahaz who refused to obey the Lord, His will and commandments, His request and wish, Mary gave herself totally to the Lord and accepted everything that God had planned to happen through her. Through her response that she is the ‘handmaid of the Lord’ and that it may be done unto her as the Lord has willed it, Mary’s yes to the Lord made through His Archangel Gabriel was the catalyst that sparked the beginning of the final fulfilment of God’s long awaited salvation and liberation for His people. Through Mary’s acceptance of her role in becoming the Mother of God and Saviour of the whole world, she has shown us all that each and every one of us as Christians, should also obey the Lord, listen to Him and His commands, Law and will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we draw now ever closer to Christmas, we truly need to ask ourselves, are we like that of King Ahaz, who refused to obey the Lord and chose to walk his own path? Or are we more like Mary, whose obedience and commitment to the Lord brought forth the Saviour into this world? We do not have to look far but to our own way of preparing ourselves for the upcoming celebration of Christmas as well as our actions and works in life. We should see if we have allowed our pride and ego to come between us and our obligations to God, just as King Ahaz had done. His pride, ego and worldly desires had become stumbling blocks preventing him from admitting his errors and that he was in need of God’s guidance and help, and hence instead leading the people of God further and further into the path of sin. Hence, we should be more like Mary, in her faith in God and love for Him, and also for the humility that she had in embracing and accepting what the Lord willed to do through her.

Let us all make good use of the remaining time this Advent season to reconsider our paths in life, and see in what way we can reconnect ourselves with God and draw closer to Him, and if we have let worldly temptations, desires, ambitions, pride and greed, as well as all the excesses of worldly attachments and things to distract us thus far, then we should start making the effort to distance ourselves from those and return once again, wholeheartedly towards God. Let us all make our Christmas celebration most worthy and meaningful, as we grow to understand that all the celebration and joy of Christmas is not about ourselves and all the pleasures we shall enjoy, but rather is a joyful celebration of God’s love made manifest and tangible before us all through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

May God be with us all and may He continue to guide and lead us down the right path, that we may continue to seek Him and be ever better Christians, inspired by the faith and examples that His own Mother Mary has shown us. May all of us be more courageous and able to also say ‘yes’ to the Lord calling on us to follow Him. May all of us continue to have a blessed and fruitful season of Advent, towards the joyful Christmas that is soon to come. Amen.

Monday, 19 December 2022 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened together to the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded that the Lord remembers us all His people, all that He has promised us and how God will not abandon those who have been faithful to Him, but that He will lift them out of the darkness and into the light, sending them His salvation and grace, strength and hope, through the servants whom He had appointed, called and chosen from among His people, and in the case of our Scripture passages today, we heard of the examples of two of God’s great servants whom He sent to be with His people at a time of hardship, and to prepare the path for His glorious reign, namely through Samson and St. John the Baptist.

There are indeed many parallels between the story of Samson and St. John the Baptist, that such a connection is explored in our set of Scripture readings today. Both of them had been dedicated to God before they were even born and conceived in their mothers’ womb, and the Lord proclaimed through His Angels, of the coming of those two mighty servants, through whom God would do great deeds among His people. Samson would be one of the Judges of Israel, becoming a leader of the people of God at the time when they were troubled and constantly harassed by the Philistines, leading the Israelites free from their troubles, while St. John the Baptist would be the Herald of the Messiah, guiding and showing God’s people to the path of repentance and freedom from the bondage and dominion of sin, evil and death.

In our first reading today, we heard how Samson’s birth and arrival was announced by God through His Angel, who told his parents that he would be consecrated and dedicated to God, and essentially, he became what was then known as a ‘Nazirite’, that is someone who gave himself or herself to the cause of the Lord completely, and who abstained from worldly corruptions such as wine and strong drink, and led a certain kind of lifestyle such as what Samson, and later on St. John the Baptist would follow. In the Gospel passage we heard then of the similar story of what happened before St. John the Baptist was born, how his birth was announced by the Angel of God, traditionally associated with the Archangel Gabriel. Both Samson and St. John the Baptist were also conceived when their mothers had not been able to conceive for a long time, and had been without hope.

Hence, through their miraculous conception, God removed from their mothers the stain of barrenness, which was actually a taboo and a disgrace in the eyes of many in the community of the people of God. The Lord showed His providence and guidance to them, and also through the coming of His servants, brought a new hope to His people, that just as He promised, He would lead them all into freedom, into the path of light and salvation, where their troubles and hardships would be no more. And even more importantly, both of them also preempt the coming of the even more glorious days of God’s reign over His people, with Samson being one of the last judges, preparing the path for the days of the kingdom of Israel, with David as the most prominent of the Kings, leading Israel into glory and triumph over its enemies, as David himself was remembered for his triumph over Goliath the Philistine, and his victory over them, the same Philistines whom Samson struggled against throughout his life.

In the same way, as we all know, St. John the Baptist is the Herald of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. St. John the Baptist and his coming into the world marked the moment when God revealed to His people just how imminent the coming of the day of His salvation was. Christ Himself is the Heir of David, the One Who would sit upon David’s Throne and restore the people of God, reconciling all of them to His heavenly Father, leading them from the darkness of sin and despair into the light of God’s ways and salvation, grace and hope. And through St. John the Baptist, many came to respond to God’s call and changed themselves, submitting themselves to His will and repenting from their sins, and hence preparing themselves for the coming of the Saviour, through Whom God will save all of His people, all mankind from the path towards damnation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as we heard the story of these two faithful and great servants of God, let us all be reminded of God’s love and compassionate mercy for all of us, just how generous He has been with the efforts He did in order to reach out to us and to be reconciled with us. He never gave up on us although we have often disobeyed Him and rejected His love and kindness. He still patiently reached out to us and cared for us, and because of this, we can have hope in Him, in all the love that He has shown us. The Lord has already given us all so much, although we are still sinners and although we have often hurt and disobeyed Him. Yet, He still called on us all and wanted us to be reconciled with us nonetheless. That is, brothers and sisters, the very reason why we rejoice in Christmas, and why we spend this time of Advent to prepare ourselves well that we may worthily and properly celebrate Christmas as we should.

Now, as we continue to draw ever closer to the end of the Advent season and the beginning of the glorious and joyful Christmas season, let us all therefore reorientate our lives and our focus, that we turn our attention and direction in life, our celebrations and our rejoicing to be focused once again on God and not on all the material things and goods of this world. We can see for ourselves all the extensive merrymaking and festivities surrounding the mostly secular way of how Christmas is celebrated, and while we can indeed rejoice in that way, we must take care to remind ourselves and each other that we do not end up losing sight on what is important and what matters in our celebration of Christmas, which should be focused on Christ and His role in bringing about new Hope in our hearts and minds, as He came into our midst, to dwell among us.

As we reflected upon the lives of Samson and St. John the Baptist, let us all first of all therefore remember God’s love and care for us, that He gave us those faithful servants to help lead and guide us to Himself, and at the same time, let us also reflect upon the obedience and the commitment which each one of them gave to the Lord, in dedicating their whole lives to God and in serving Him wholeheartedly so that we too may also do the same with our own lives. Let us hence make good use of this remaining time of the Advent season to redirect our attention and efforts, and also our focus on the Christmas celebrations and preparations so that we may truly celebrate it with proper understanding and appreciation of how through Christmas, God has brought us towards His salvation and grace, and showed us His perfect and wonderful love.

May the Lord continue to guide us through this remaining time of Advent, and help us to appreciate all that the Lord had done for us because He truly loves us all very much, so that He wants us all to be lifted up and rescued from our fated destruction, forgiven from our sins and be reconciled with Him. Let our actions and deeds be exemplary at all times, and help to inspire our fellow brothers and sisters all around us to be able to live their lives faithfully in accordance with the path that the Lord has shown us as well, just like how Samson and St. John the Baptist ought to have inspired us all in our faith and lives. May God be with us all and may He bless our every efforts and good works, our every endeavours for His greater glory, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 18 December 2022 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is the fourth and the last of the Sundays of the Advent season, reminding us all that Christmas is coming very soon and Advent is already ending. It seems that it was just yesterday that Advent started, is it not? But that is the reality, that time passes on, and sometimes really quickly before we realise that much time has actually passed. A good question to ask ourselves now is, how has our Advent journey been so far? Has it been meaningful and fruitful for us? Has it been good in preparing ourselves for the upcoming celebration of the Nativity or the birth of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ? Or have we instead been preparing ourselves for Christmas in the wrong way?

We do not have to look far, and we just have to open our eyes and see everything all around us. Except in places where Christians cannot worship in the open or where Christian influences and festivities are banned or not allowed, virtually everywhere else in the world, Christmas celebrations and festivities have been all around us for weeks or even months as of now. Yet, in most of all those festivities, celebrations and merrymaking, something and someone is indeed inconspicuously missing from all the celebrations. Ironically, this One Who is missing is exactly the One for Whom the celebrations we have at Christmas had been intended to, and Christmas is indeed about Christ first and foremost. It marks the moment when the Lord Jesus, Son of God, was born into this world, revealing God’s perfect and enduring love, manifested and personified, becoming tangible and approachable by us.

And yes, that is exactly what we should be focusing on this Sunday, brothers and sisters in Christ, rather than the many distractions that the secular Christmas pageantries and festivities have presented to us. This Sunday, just as in the previous Sundays of Advent, we focus on a particular theme or aspect of this Advent season, beginning with Hope at the first Sunday when we reminded ourselves of the Hope we have in the coming of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, the Hope out of the darkness and despair reigning all around us. And then we have Peace at the second Sunday, where we focus ourselves on the upcoming Peace that God Himself will bring in the end, in His role as the Prince of Peace, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Who will rule over all of His people, reuniting all of them in peace, harmony and love. Then, on the third Sunday of Advent last week, also known as Gaudete Sunday we have focused on the aspect of Joy, where we rejoice in the coming of the true Joy of Christmas, that is Christ Himself.

And lastly this Sunday, we focus on the theme and aspect of Love, the Love of God made Man, personified and manifested in Jesus Christ, Our Lord. This theme of Love is arguably the most important of all, as it is the enduring and ever-present Love that God has for each and every one of us is the very reason why we still have Hope in Him, and why we can look forward to His reign of Peace, and for the Joy of His everlasting kingdom and our eternity of true happiness and bliss with Him. Without the Love of God, none of these would and will have been possible. If God had not loved us, upon our rebellion and disobedience against Him, in refusing to follow His Law and commandments, and in choosing to listen to Satan and his lies instead, we could have easily been crushed and annihilated by God, by the mere whim of His Almighty will alone.

We could have been condemned to an eternity of suffering in hell, sharing the fate of the devil and all of the wicked spirits, the fallen angels and demons, and we could have endured all those punishments and sufferings because of our lack of faith in Him, our stubborn attitude and refusal to believe in Him. Yet, despite all of our delinquencies and stubbornness, God is Himself equally persistent in loving us and caring for us, still reaching out to us and trying to help us, because ultimately, He had created us out of His overflowing and perfect love, that He willingly shares with each and every one of us. Although we may have scorned and rejected His love, He never ceased to love us all, most patiently, and sending unto us reminders and helpers, like what we heard in our first reading of the encounter between the prophet Isaiah and King Ahaz of Judah.

At that occasion, the prophet Isaiah came bearing God’s words to King Ahaz, the ruler of Judah, the southern half of the kingdoms established over the people of Israel. And back then, the northern half of the kingdom, the kingdom of Israel centred in Samaria had just been destroyed and crushed by the Assyrians, who came and conquered Samaria, defeated the Israelites, and uprooted many of them to be exiled to far-off and distant lands, replacing them with foreigners from other parts of the world. Only the kingdom of Judah therefore remained among those people of God back then. The northern kingdom fell because of the constant wickedness of its people and how most of its kings and people continued to worship pagan idols and gods, persecuting the prophets and messengers that God had sent to them.

And although the southern kingdom of Judah was comparatively better, with several good and faithful kings, there had also been a lot of wickedness committed by the people of Judah, in not listening to God and His reminders, and in similarly persecuting the prophets and messengers sent to remind them to keep the faith. King Ahaz himself was one of the kings deemed by the historians and writers of the Old Testament records as an evil king, one who disobeyed the Lord and brought the people into sinful ways. When God sent Isaiah to Ahaz as we heard in our first reading today, we heard how the King of Judah refused to ask for a sign from God as Isaiah told him, and as a result, Isaiah told the king that God Himself will, in due time, show the greatest of all signs to His people, the sign of the Emmanuel, of the Virgin who would bear a Child.

Some of us may think that King Ahaz was being humble in not asking for a sign from God, but the truth is, it is more likely that he did so out of his lack of faith in God, and also he did not believe much in the signs and wonders that God had done for His people through His many prophets in the ages past. Not only that, but sometimes true humility also entails obedience, as by not doing what God had asked him to do also has the implication of pride, as the king might have thought that he had no need of God’s signs, protection and providence, and that he could do everything all by himself, despite the rising issues and troubles facing the kingdom of Judah back then, surrounded on all sides by its many enemies, and threatened by the rising might of Assyria which had just destroyed the kingdom of Israel to the north of Judah.

Hence, God proclaimed through Isaiah what He would do nonetheless, to show us all, the whole world, of His love for each one of us, that He sends unto us, His Love manifested through His Son, the Divine Word of God Incarnate. He became Emmanuel, ‘God is with us’, that He came to dwell amongst us, in our midst, in the flesh. He made Himself tangible, approachable and touchable by us, giving us this perfect manifestation of this Love, which is reiterated again in our Gospel passage today from the Gospel of St. Matthew, where again, the fact that God Himself has come to dwell among His people, Emmanuel, God Who is with His people, showed His great love by willingly coming down to us to be with us, loving us all most dearly and wonderfully with His ever generous love.

This same love is the love that Christ showed us all, when He picked up His Cross and walked that path of suffering, the Via Dolorosa, from Jerusalem where He was scourged and condemned to death, to Golgotha or Calvary where He was nailed to His Cross and made to suffer a most painful and humiliating death for us. He became for us the perfect offering of Love, the Paschal Lamb, the Lamb of God sacrificed and crushed for all of us, and Himself as our Eternal High Priest offering this perfect sacrifice of love, most unblemished and perfect in all things, for the complete atonement of our innumerable sins, and for the redemption of all mankind. To all those who share in His Most Precious Body and Blood, in the Eucharist, worthily, He has given us the assurance of eternal life and joy, as we have received the Love of God Himself into our midst, and into ourselves.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday as we reflect upon this theme and aspect of Love, let us all therefore keep reminding ourselves of the Love which God has for each and every one of us, and the Love which made all things possible for us, that Hope, Peace and Joy can come our way once again, because the Love of God had been made incarnate in the flesh and born of the Virgin, Mary His mother, and which we celebrate most joyfully as Christmas. Therefore, if our Christmas preparations and celebrations have been mostly or even entirely secular and worldly in nature, perhaps it is not yet too late for us to change our direction and focus. Christmas is still a full week away from today, and there are a lot of things that we can do in this one week to prepare ourselves so that we can celebrate Christmas most worthily and meaningfully.

First of all, let us all as Christians be filled with God’s love, and show that same love in our lives and actions just as He has taught us to do. His Law and commandments are essentially about us loving God first and foremost before all else, and then loving one another just in the same way as well. We have to love our fellow brothers and sisters more, and grow ever more in our love for God and our faith and trust in Him as well, with every celebrations of Christmas. This time and season of Advent is a really good time to remind us to reconnect ourselves with God especially if we have allowed our busy schedules and life activities to distract and make ourselves becoming more and more distant from God. We also cannot allow ourselves to be swayed by so much festivities and merrymaking that we forget to remember that even in our midst, there are people who are still suffering, and unable to rejoice or celebrate due to various reasons.

Let us all be the bearer of God’s Love, as well as His Hope, Peace and Joy to our communities, to our families and circles of friends and even to all those strangers and all whom we encounter each day throughout life, so that through us, more and more people may come to experience God’s love, of Christ’s love having been made manifested in our midst. May the Lord, our most loving God and Father, continue to shower us with His love and kindness at all times. May He show us the path of love and justice, for us to follow, and encourage and strengthen us along the journey that we may continue to persevere faithfully in walking the path of righteousness and love that we should be walking on as Christians. May God bless us all and be with us all, now and always, evermore. Amen.

Saturday, 17 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we begin the last part of this Advent season, marking the final seven days of the season of Advent and entering into the more intense phase of discourse and preparations for the imminent celebrations of Christmas, we are reminded first of all of Who it is that we truly commemorate and celebrate at Christmas. It is not Santa Claus, Father Christmas or any other popular secular Christmas figures familiar to many of us whom we are celebrating about. It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the whole world, Who has been promised to us from the beginning of time, Whom we are all celebrating and rejoicing about. God has sent us all the perfect gift in His Son, in fulfilling everything that He has ever promised us, and showed us the perfect manifestation of His Love in the flesh, tangible and approachable by us all.

In our first reading today, we heard the words from the Book of Genesis where towards the end of Genesis, Jacob, the grandson of Abraham and the one whom God called Israel, the father of all the Israelites, was at the end of his earthly life, and gathered all of his children and extended family before him. At that occasion, as he knew that he did not have long time remaining with him, he prayed over all of his children, giving his blessings over each and every one of them. To them he prayed over and asked God to bless them in their own various ways, while also prophetically mentioning how each of his sons’ tribes would turn out to be. And most peculiarly and interestingly among all of them is what we heard contained in our first reading passage today regarding Judah, the progenitor of the tribe of Judah, and all the words regarding that tribe.

The blessing that Jacob gave to Judah seemingly showed a premonition of great things to come through Judah and his progeny, which was indeed prescient considering that later on, the tribe of Judah would eventually become preeminent among all the other tribes of Israel, and it was from among the tribes and houses of Judah that God had raised David, His chosen king and servant, to be the ruler over all of His people, Israel. Jacob told Judah and all his other children assembled that the house and tribe of Judah has been destined to rule over all of the people of God, and this was accomplished and fulfilled through the establishment of David as King of Israel, and his house, the House of David as the one that God had chosen to rule over all the Israelites.

To David, God Himself had also promised that his house and reign will be forever secure, and that his descendant will sit upon the Throne of Israel, ruling over all the people forevermore. All these promises that God had made became expectations by the people of God upon the downfall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centuries after the glorious days of the rule of David and his son, Solomon as Kings of Israel. The prophets spoke of the coming of God’s salvation and liberation for His people, and that a Messiah or Saviour would be born unto them, coming from God Himself, and that He would be born into the House of David just as prophesied and promised, that God’s many promises and words would be fulfilled through this same Messiah.

And as we heard from our Gospel passage today, which listed the full genealogy of our Lord Jesus from Adam all the way through Abraham and then David to Jesus Himself, we see the fulfilment of all of God’s promises made to all the three individuals mentioned through Christ, the Son of God born this Christmas, Who we are all celebrating and commemorating joyfully for. To Adam, God has promised the salvation and liberation from the tyranny and bondage of sin, the defeat of Satan and all of his wicked plans by which he had led mankind to downfall through disobedience and sin. To Abraham, God has made a Covenant with him, and has promised that his descendants will be glorious and numerous like the stars. To David, as mentioned, God promised to establish his rule and kingdom forever, and that his house will always sit on the throne of Israel.

All these were fulfilled completely and perfectly through Jesus Christ, the New Adam, born into this world as the Son of Man, as the perfect Man, obeying His Father’s will perfectly, and breaking forever the dominion of Satan and sin over us mankind. While our ancestors sinned by eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, disobeying God, Christ showed perfect obedience to God, His heavenly Father, by taking upon Himself the burden of the Cross, and was crucified and nailed upon the ‘tree’ of the Cross, that through Him, we may see and receive the salvation of God. And through Christ, all of us mankind all become the children of God, the children of Abraham by the adoption through the same faith we have in the same one God, in the New and Eternal Covenant He has established by His perfect offering and sacrifice on the Cross.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on all these and remind ourselves once again on Who it is that we truly celebrate for this upcoming Christmas, and for Whom we prepare ourselves thoroughly throughout this season of Advent, let us all truly reconnect ourselves with God and with all the love and compassion which He has shown us all so generously all these while. Let us all not be easily swayed and tempted by the many temptations of pleasures and worldly greed and desires especially aplenty around these periods, when we see all the excesses of all the secular celebrations of Christmas showed us. We must keep in mind our focus as Christians, on Christ Himself, our Lord and Saviour, the true Joy and Hope of Christmas, the very Reason we are celebrating. Through Him, God has restored Hope and Light in our midst, against all the darkness and evils all around us.

Let us all not forget the Child born on Christmas Day, more than two millennia ago. Too often we have celebrated all of our Christmas observances and festivities while forgetting and ignoring the One Whom we ought to be celebrating with and about. We should no longer be ignorant of Christ and all that God had done through Him for our sake. Let this upcoming Christmas and the remaining time of this current Advent season be a good reminder for one another and also a model for all others, that our faithful observance and our inspiring examples may help to lead more and more souls towards God and His saving grace, the eternal life that He promised us all who believe in Him. May God be with us always and may He guide us and strengthen us, and help us to make most use of this time of Advent. Amen.

Friday, 16 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all yet again reminded of God’s salvation and grace which He has freely and generously offered for all of us, that through Him and His loving providence and grace, all of us may receive from Him the assurance of eternal life and salvation, liberation from our bondage to sin and death, from all the evils and sufferings of this world, and to enter into the glorious kingdom and inheritance that God had assured all of us. Each one of us are reminded this time and season of Advent of why we are celebrating the upcoming Christmas in the first place, and we celebrate it because we see the joy that has come into our midst through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, born and revealed to us all at Christmas.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard the Lord’s words reassuring all of His people yet again, and not only that but even also all the foreigners and all those who were considered as those not belonging to the descendants of the Israelites, the people who God had called to be His first flock and people. After all, this serves to remind us all, that each and every one of us, regardless of our origins, our backgrounds, our racial nature and details, or whatever it is that we mankind often used to categorise and divide ourselves into, in the end, all of us are equally precious and beloved by God, Who loves us all despite our frequent rebellions and disobedience against Him.

As we heard of the Lord speaking to His people through Isaiah, we can clearly see the desire that the Lord has, in calling us all back to Himself, to be reconciled with each and every one of us so that, we may not be lost to Him anymore, and that we may find our path to Him, rediscovering our connection and link to Him, once lost due to sin and our rebellion, our stubbornness and unwillingness to listen to Him and follow Him. God called on each and every one of us, leading us all towards His holy mountain, His kingdom of grace and light, to liberate us from our bondage and enslavement by sin and by our worldly attachments and desires, so that we may all return to a state of grace and perfection through Him.

And all of that had been made possible to us because of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour and His coming and entry into this world. He is the true Light and the Hope of the whole world. Through Him, we have seen the manifestation of God’s ever generous and enduring love, that He offered freely and richly for us, that we may know just how beloved and dear we all are, and how important we are to Him. It is this Love which allowed us to remain in existence, as God could have easily erased us all from existence and damned all of us, all of humanity, past, present and future because of our many sins. That is what God did not do, as His love led Him to reach out to us, to find us and to rediscover us, to be reconciled with us.

That is what Christ Himself spoke of in our Gospel passage today, as He spoke about His herald, St. John the Baptist, sent into the world to prepare the path for His coming, and also of His own ministry and work, as He came into our midst, as God Who dwells among His own people, His beloved ones, so that they all may experience the redemption and love that He has brought us, as our most loving and generous Good Shepherd, Who gathered all of the lost sheep, all of us sinners, scattered all throughout this darkened and wicked world. He called us all to Himself, and by lifting up His Cross, He bore the burdens of our sins, the punishments and consequences due for our faults and mistakes, all those things that we should have suffered from, and be condemned for, and yet, Our Lord Himself, through His infinite love, reached out with His love and pity for us, took everything upon Himself.

Thus, as we prepare ourselves in this season and time of Advent, all of us are invited to remember once again why we celebrate Christmas, and that is, after all, because of God’s enduring love for us, His amazing love by which He saved us all from eternal damnation and destruction. God’s love for us has been manifested in His Son, Jesus Christ, by Whose suffering and death, and glorious Resurrection had broken the hold and the chains that sin and death had over us. He has liberated us all and given us the assurance of eternal life and glory that we will gain, should we hold firm to Him and remain faithful to Him, and do our best to adhere to His path, in following all that He has taught us to do, in fulfilling the Law and the commandments, and in obeying God’s will all throughout our lives.

Let us all therefore renew our commitments to God, that we may live ever more worthily of Him, in all of our actions and dealings, in our every efforts and good works, that we may inspire many others, our fellow brothers and sisters, to be ever more devout and committed to the Lord, Whose love and mercy have given us the most blessed bounty of grace and salvation, and the sure promise of eternal glory with Him. Let us all make good use of this time of Advent to reorientate our lives and our actions that we may once again place God at His rightful place, at the heart and centre of our lives, at all times. And if we have not been preparing ourselves to celebrate Christmas in the right and proper way, let us remind ourselves once again, what Christmas is all about, that is not about ourselves or all the merrymaking and pleasures, but about the Love of God made Man, manifested in our midst.

May the Lord, our most loving God and Saviour, continue to love each and every one of us, ever patiently, although we have often disappointed Him and betrayed Him for the many idols and distractions that we have in life. May all of us draw ever closer to Him and continue to walk ever more faithfully in His path, and continue to grow ever deeper in our love and relationship with Him, and also in our love and care for one another. May God bless us all, at all times, and especially now as we prepare ourselves throughout this blessed season of Advent, to welcome Him worthily at Christmas. Amen.

Thursday, 15 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded during this time and season of Advent to be focused on God and the salvation which He has brought upon us into our midst. Through Him we have received the assurance of eternal life and glory, of liberation from the darkness of this world, from despair and bondage to sin and death. Through the Lord alone we have received this Hope, and received the assurance of the path out of our predicament, as through Him we know that we shall be triumphant together with Him, just as He has conquered and defeated sin, evil and death by His suffering and death on the Cross, and by His glorious Resurrection from the dead.

We are reminded that the same Lord and God Who spoke to His people through the prophet Isaiah in our first reading today, is the same Lord Who has come into our midst at Christmas, that moment two millennia ago, as a small, little Child born in Bethlehem, in order to save the whole entire world and creation, all of us His beloved ones just as He had promised. Back then, when the prophet Isaiah spoke of the words of the Lord’s assurance and hope, he told them all of the things that God has done for the people, and what He would do, if the people would just embrace Him and His love. God has always constantly been patient and kind on all of His people despite their repeated and stubborn disobedience and wayward attitudes.

That is why, at that time, when the people of God encountered a lot of hardships and misfortunes, Isaiah came bearing God’s hope and reassurances for the people, to remind them just how fortunate they are to have God by their side, ever encouraging and supporting them despite those same people having often betrayed and disregarded Him, ignored Him and made Him truly angry because of their sins and wickedness. God loved all of His people and wanted them all to be reconciled to Him, and to this extent, He extended His love and mercy, His generous forgiveness and grace to all of those who were willing to embrace Him, His forgiveness and most compassionate love. God’s love and grace has always ever been freely and generously extended to us all, without exception.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to the people regarding the coming of God’s salvation to His people and also regarding St. John the Baptist, the one who was prophesied to be the Herald and the one to announce the coming of God’s salvation. The Lord told the people that St. John was indeed the one who came to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, Who was actually Himself. Despite the doubts and the pessimism and rejection by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, many of whom questioned and doubted the authenticity and the authority of his work and ministry, St. John the Baptist was indeed the one who came to get the way ready for the coming of the Lord and His salvation. Therefore, through what He told the people, God again reassured His people that He has truly come as He has promised, just as the coming of His herald, St. John the Baptist had been prophesied and had been fulfilled.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as we heard from our Scripture passages today, let us all thus spend some time to reflect upon the message that God wants us to know, in preparing ourselves well during this time and season of Advent so that we may worthily rejoice and celebrate His coming at Christmas, with proper understanding of what it is that we are celebrating and rejoicing about. Christmas is after all, the celebration of the Nativity or the birth of Jesus Christ, Son of God Incarnate in the flesh, born Son of Man through His mother Mary. It is His glorious appearance in this world with His birth which we are all rejoicing about, as the coming of His Hope and Light dispelled all the darkness, evils and wickedness all around us, and showed unto us the pure and perfect manifestation of God’s ever enduring love just as we have discussed earlier.

Now, we see all around us, the many celebrations of Christmas, all the merrymaking and festivities surrounding Christmas, the secular and worldly way of how Christmas is being celebrated. We can see all the joy and happiness of all sorts, great rejoicing and festivities, of all the things and characters associated with Christmas, but One particular figure is often missing from all of those celebrations. And what is that, brothers and sisters? It is none other than the Lord Himself, the very One Who should have been the focus and centre of all of our celebrations and rejoicing, but ironically often forgotten and ignored on the day of the celebration and commemoration of His birth and appearance in this world.

This is not what we should be doing, brothers and sisters in Christ. We should be spending more time and effort to return ourselves to the true spirit and celebration of Christmas, and this Advent is the perfect time and opportunity for us to do so. Throughout the Advent season we have constantly been reminded of what it is that we are celebrating in this upcoming Christmas, of the love and graciousness of God, His ever enduring and present love and mercy in our midst, and all that He had done for us. As God’s people, each and every one of us should hence do our best to respond to that love, and strive to give Him thanks for all that He has done, for everything that He has blessed us with, and commit ourselves to a life that is truly worthy of His love and kindness, of all the blessings that He has granted to us.

May the Lord continue to guide us through life and may He bless each and every one of us, in our every endeavours and efforts, our good works and commitments, so that we will always be faithful to Him and will continue to persevere in our obedience to Him and His Law. May God be by our side always as He has ever done, and may He lead us to the path of righteousness and eternal joy. Amen.