Friday, 24 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the last day of the Advent season, marking the end of our almost month-long preparation for the coming of Christmas, and we are reminded of the coming of the long-awaited salvation of the world through what we have heard in our Scripture passages today. The Lord has always held His promise and kept His part in the Covenant He has made with each and every one of us.

The Lord has revealed His plans for us, from the beginning, as He revealed from the very moment that mankind fell into sin, how He would send His Saviour through the Woman who would bear a Son, and through that Woman, the power and dominion that Satan, the evil one, had over us would be totally crushed and destroyed. He would send His salvation through the descendants of Man, through Abraham His servant and the House of David, the one He had chosen to be King over all of His people.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Samuel of the account of what transpired at the time when King David had been secure in his reign and power over the land of Israel and beyond, and had settled in his kingdom and dominion, and wanting to build a house for the Lord, just as he has already built and established his palace in the city of Jerusalem. The King spoke with the prophet Nathan who then relayed God’s message and words to him afterwards.

God told David that it was not him who would build a great House for His sake, and instead, it would be his own son that would build that House, the great Temple that would be built in Jerusalem, by the hands of King Solomon, David’s son, as God Himself had spoken and promised to David himself. God reassured David that his kingdom and house would be forever secure and firm, and this was firstly a reference to the succession of his own Solomon to rule after him, at the zenith of the power and majesty of the old kingdom of Israel.

However, it was also an indirect reference and revelation to David and also to the rest of the people of God, that He would send His Saviour, the Messiah, to be born into the House of David, as His rightful Heir and Son, to gather back the people of God once again, and to rebuild the glorious kingdom of God, with all of God’s people reconciled and reunited to their Lord and Creator. Little did the people know then that, it was the Lord Himself Who endeavoured to come to us.

He willingly embraced us and by His incarnation in the flesh, as the Son of Man and Son of God alike, in the person of Jesus Christ, He has fulfilled all the promises that He had made to all of us His beloved ones, from the very beginning of time. Christ has come into this world to restore His people and to reunite all of them, not just the Israelites but also including all the rest of the children of Adam, all of mankind who have been sundered from God through sin.

Zechariah in our Gospel passage today, in his famous Canticle of Zechariah, full of the Holy Spirit, singing a great hymn of thanksgiving and praise, for all that God had done for him and for all mankind. He has become a father after a long wait for a son, and God gave him a son, and not only that, but that son was the one to be the Herald of the Saviour of the whole world. St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah was the one to proclaim the coming of Christ, and Zechariah, seeing all of these glimpses of the glory of God to come, sang in great glory praising God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore spend some time to reflect today, as we prepare for the great celebration of Christmas beginning this very night. Let us remind ourselves again why we are celebrating Christmas, and what Christmas truly means to each and every one of us. Is Christmas merely just yet another holiday and celebration? Is it merely another time for feasting and merrymaking, but forgetting about Christ Our Lord, our Saviour, Whose coming into this world is the reason for all of our joy and celebrations?

Let us all therefore seek the Lord anew, with a new faith and love for Him, and let us all enter into the season of Christmas and celebrate it with full understanding and appreciation of God’s love, which has been manifested in Our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of us all. Let us all bear the Light and Joy of the true Christmas spirit, and proclaim the truth and salvation of God to all the nations. May God bless us all, and may He bless our wonderful Christmas celebrations to come. Amen.

Thursday, 23 December 2021 : 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, on this day as we are almost at the end of the Advent season and the start of the Christmas celebrations, through what we have heard from the readings of the Sacred Scriptures, we are all called to reflect on the life, work and faith of St. John the Baptist, whom the Lord had sent into this world just before His coming and revelation to the world, to prepare His way and to proclaim His coming to everyone, so that all may know of the Lord’s salvation.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Malachi, we heard the words of the Lord revealing to His people that He would send His messenger ahead of Him to prepare the way for His own coming. This was a prophecy of the coming of God’s Messiah, the Saviour Whom He has promised to all of His people for a very long time. And the coming of this Messiah would be preceded by a Herald, the one sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Saviour. This Herald is none other than St. John the Baptist.

St. John the Baptist came into this world to prepare the way for the Lord, which happened through the miraculous pregnancy of Elizabeth, who was Mary’s relative, and that happened despite Elizabeth having been in an advanced age and had been barren, unable to bear a child at all. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, his father in the Temple and proclaimed to him the Good News, that the son he would soon bear through his wife Elizabeth would be the one prophesied to proclaim the coming of the salvation of God.

He was born into this world and was dedicated to God from his infancy and youth, to be the servant of God Most High, and became the instrument through whom God prepared the revelation of His great plan of salvation to all of us. God sent St. John the Baptist into the midst of His people to call them all to repentance, to call them to remember their sins and wickedness, and resolve to overcome all those evil and wicked deeds that they had committed. The Lord called on all of them to embrace His mercy and love, and through his baptism, St. John the Baptist prepared the hearts and minds of many to welcome the Lord.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, having been reminded in the same manner, as we are all now about to celebrate Christmas, have we prepared ourselves well in order to be ready to welcome the Lord, the One Whom we are celebrating this Christmas for, into our hearts and minds? Or have we instead been too busy and distracted by the many concerns, the many busy commitments and tight schedules we have, our work and preoccupations that we ended up forgetting God, ignoring and sidelining Him in our busy lives and shutting Him out from ourselves.

Then, many of us have also been too distracted with the many distractions and temptations of the secular Christmas, and how it has been celebrated all around us. Many people have forgotten the true reason and meaning of Christmas, and this sadly include many of those who have called themselves as Christians. We do not have to look far, brothers and sisters in Christ. For example, let us all just look at ourselves and our attitudes towards the Lord and our faith in Him. How many of us can confidently say that we have truly devoted ourselves to Him?

Today, all of us should spend some time to reflect on how we can be better disciples and followers of our Lord, in living our faith in a more genuine and committed manner in our lives. Let us all also look for inspiration from the saint whose feast we celebrate today, namely that of St. John of Kanty, also known as St. John Cantius, who was a Polish priest and theologian renowned for his great piety and dedication to the Lord. He was involved in theological teachings and many other works among the people of God.

But what is most remembered from his actions were his compassionate nature and the efforts he put in reaching out to the poor and the people suffering all around him in his community. He also helped to support the students in the university he was teaching in, providing support and assistance whenever and wherever he could, while at the same time doing his best to do many other good works for the Lord and His Church. St. John Cantius devoted his life to follow the Lord and to live out the Christian faith in his daily living.

Are we able to do the same too, brothers and sisters in Christ? Let us all reflect on this, and spend the remaining time on these last two days of the Advent season to reorientate our lives if we have not yet done so thus far, so that we may once again focus our attention and our lives towards the Lord. May God be with us all too, and may He strengthen us in our resolve and faith to live our lives ever more faithfully in the service of His greater glory. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021 : 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 Lord in the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of the great love and providence by which God had generously and marvellously cared for us since the very beginning. God has never looked away from us or ignored us when we are in our hour of great distress. Through various ways, He has always reached out to us and wanted to bring us all back to His embrace, to be reunited with us.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Samuel in which the mother of Samuel, Hannah, was about to dedicate her firstborn son to the Lord as she herself had promised. At that time, Hannah was one of the wives of Elkanah, who also had another wife named Penninah. Hannah had not been able to have any son or child with Elkanah while Penninah had borne many sons and children to Elkanah. Children back then were highly regarded as symbols of fertility and prestige for the women, and the apparent barrenness of Hannah was often seen as as sign of someone being cursed or unworthy, and Hannah experienced exactly just that.

Penninah also often bullied Hannah and took pride at the fact that she had borne many children for her husband, while Hannah had none. Although Elkanah did love Hannah more than Penninah, but the fact that she did not have a child and could not bear one still weighed very heavily on her mind. It was at that occasion then that Hannah came seeking the Lord at the House of God, in the presence of the Judge Eli, praying before God and seeking His help and providence. She begged the Lord for His assistance and for her to be rescued from her predicament.

The Lord heard Hannah’s prayer and answered her, and she miraculously bore a child, whom she had promised to the Lord if she were ever to bore one. Her firstborn son was named as Samuel, and was offered to God to be His servant forever. Hannah was very grateful to the Lord for all that He had done for her, praising Him and thanking Him for all that He had blessed her with. Through Him, her shame and predicament had been overcome, a light and hope had returned back to her face and heart once again.

The Lord had done the same to all of us through Mary, as we heard in our Gospel passage today. The Psalm today is Hannah’s song of rejoicing and thanksgiving, for all that the Lord had done for her in removing from her the stain of humiliation and suffering due to her earlier barrenness. And after having offered and entrusted Samuel to the Lord, she was blessed with more children with her husband Elkanah. And in the Gospel passage, we heard Mary, great song of rejoicing that is similar to Hannah’s great song of rejoicing, the Magnificat.

In the Magnificat, Mary, full of the Holy Spirit sang a great song of praise, thanking God for all the wonders He had done for His beloved people, ever since the very beginning of time. God has always ever been faithful to His people and He has always showed His kindness to them, and to all those who have devoted themselves to Him, He has brought them His grace and blessings, as He had done to Abraham and David, fulfilling His promises to them, and bringing into this world its salvation, through none other than Christ, Who was then in Mary’s womb.

As we listened to those words and recalled God’s great and amazing deeds done for our behalf, and as we progress ever closer to Christmas in just a few days’ time, all of us are encouraged to spend the time to deepen our relationship with God, to remember His love and all the blessings He has given us all these while throughout our lives. We are also called to rediscover the love which we should have for the Lord, and to be thankful for everything that He had done for our sake, and foremost of all, for His coming into this world which we celebrate this Christmas.

As the famous words in the Gospel of St. John mentioned, God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son, to be born into the world, the Divine Word Incarnate, to be born of His mother Mary and revealed to the whole world, to all of us, so that through Him, all of us who have lived in darkness may come to see the great light and hope that God alone can bring to our midst. Through Him, the world has the reason to rejoice again, and all of us can finally see hope at the end of our earthly journey, to look up to the hope of everlasting joy and peace in God’s presence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore focus our attention on the Lord, and do our best to make our upcoming Christmas celebrations a more wholesome and meaningful one. Let us make this Christmas a time of renewal of our faith in God and a rejuvenation of our love for Him. May God be with us all and may His light and hope rekindle in our hearts to continue to desire to seek Him in each and every moments of our lives. Amen.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021 : 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 as we listened to the words of the Scriptures and as we come ever closer to the celebration of Christmas in just a few more days, all of us are reminded that God loves us all, and we are all precious and cherished by Him. We should be grateful and feeling very fortunate to have been treasured in such a way by our loving God, and to have experienced His most wonderful love and grace. God has always ever been patient in loving us despite our many transgressions and mistakes, as He wants us to return to Him and rediscover the love that we all should have for Him.

The Lord has promised us all His salvation, and has always proved His love for us from the very beginning, never abandoning us even in the moments of our greatest distress. He has always put us all first and foremost in His thoughts, and He always endeavoured to reach out to us, trying to find us and to redeem us so that we may not be forever lost to Him. And that was why He came down into our midst, through His most Blessed Mother Mary, the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mother of God, who went to visit Elizabeth, her cousin in our Gospel passage today.

Elizabeth recognised Mary and the One inside her womb, the Saviour of the whole world and the Lord Himself, the Divine Word Incarnate, Who has taken up the human existence and form in the flesh, to bring His salvation into our midst. The Lord has revealed Himself to us, the fullness of His love, through His incarnation and then His birth into this world. The world that was once in the darkness and in the shadows of evil and wickedness has finally seen the truth, love and salvation from God.

That is the true essence of Christmas, which often sadly had been forgotten by the world, by many of us, even we who called ourselves as Christians. We have forgotten what the Lord had done for us and sidelined Him because we have little faith in Him. We are easily distracted by the many temptations and worldly desires present in this world. These had misled us down the wrong path and caused us to be separated further and further away from God.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to these words of the Scriptures, we are therefore reminded of the need for us to respond to God’s love and to answer His call. He has called all of us to follow Him and to entrust ourselves completely to His care and to believe in His hope and light, in His truth and way. But in order to do so, first of all, we need to reject firmly the temptations of our worldly concerns and desires.

Today, all of us are celebrating the feast of a great saint whose life, works and devotion to God and His Blessed Mother Mary can be great source of inspiration and strength for all of us. St. Peter Canisius was a renowned Jesuit priest and teacher of the faith, who dedicated his life in serving God. Born as Peter Kanis in what is today the Netherlands, the future saint would come to join the Society of Jesus together with other famous saints like St. Francis Xavier and its founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

St. Peter Canisius dedicated himself in the many efforts of Counter Reformation in what is today Germany, seeking to undo and repair the damages caused to the Church and the communities of the faithful by the false teachings of the heresy of Protestantism back then. He laboured hard among the people, teaching the faith and revealing the truth about Church teachings and tenets, in a way that is both understandable, respectful and conciliatory.

He once remarked that the right manner and attitude must be used in persuading the lapsed ones to return to the Holy Mother Church, saying that if a forceful method is used, then it may end up preventing the healing of the division within the Church of God. To that extent, he continued to work hard to bridge the divisions among the people of God, and managed throughout his efforts to convert and convince many to abandon their rebellion and return to the true Church of God.

St. Peter Canisius was also well known for his Catechism, which was widely published and reproduced, which resulted in the great rejuvenation of faith among the people and the increase in the number of people who began to appreciate the true teachings of the Church more, and many others deepened their under his guidance and through their understanding and exposure to his works. He was also known for his Mariology and devotion to the Blessed Mother of God, and was credited with the last line in the Hail Mary prayer, ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.’

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all follow in the footsteps of St. Peter Canisius in his faith and dedication to the Lord. Let us all devote ourselves ever more to Him and His Blessed Mother, while reminding ourselves of what we are celebrating this Christmas, of Christ Our Lord, Whose love for us and His generous mercy and compassion has saved us from certain destruction. May God be with us always, and may He continue to love us, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 20 December 2021 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as today we listened to the readings from the Sacred Scriptures, we are continually reminded of the truth of what we are going to celebrate in the upcoming Christmas season, as we await the day of the celebration in honour of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who willingly came down to us in the human flesh and existence, born as the Son of Man, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother, fulfilling the promises that God Himself had made to us through His prophets and messengers.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the encounter between Isaiah and king Ahaz of Judah, in which the king refused to ask for a sign from God, which might be seen as a sign of humility, but in truth was more likely a sign of lack in faith in God’s power and providence, considering that Ahaz was one of the kings of Judah who had not obeyed the Lord and His precepts, and instead, misled the people into the path of sin. The prophet Isaiah therefore spoke prophetically of the Lord’s words, of the great Sign that He would reveal before all, showing the truth about His love for all of His people.

As spoken by the prophet, this now famous prophecy was a direct reference to the coming of the Lord through Mary, the Virgin who would bear a Son, and be a sign to all the nations. It is the revelation of God’s plan of salvation for His people and everything that He had willingly done for our sake, out of His ever most generous love for each and every one of us, without exception. He willingly became incarnate in the flesh, to be born as a Man, in Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and Son of God, to offer on our behalf, as our Eternal High Priest, the perfect and worthy offering for the atonement of our sins.

And all of these came to be thanks to the cooperation and the willingness of Mary, who listened to the wonderful Good News revealed by the Archangel Gabriel, revealing before her what she would become, that is to be the Mother of God herself, to be the bearer of the Holy One of God, God’s own only begotten Son. By the power of the Holy Spirit, she would bear the Son of God Himself conceived in her womb in the flesh. Through her, God’s love become manifest, tangible and visible to us, and by her active cooperation in the works of God’s salvation, Mary brought the Saviour Himself into this world.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard of these words from the Sacred Scriptures, we are yet again reminded that all of our preparations this Advent is a time for us to rediscover the true meaning of Christmas. This is something often forgotten even amongst us Christians, as we are often inundated and overwhelmed by the over commercialisation of Christmas all around us. We have seen so many evidence of how secular Christmas has been distracting us from the true meaning and significance of Christmas.

It is not wrong to celebrate Christmas, and indeed, all of us should celebrate Christmas with great joy and revelry. But at the centre of all those celebrations and revelry, there must be Christ, Our Lord and Saviour present, or else our Christmas celebrations are meaningless and empty, and are merely a celebration of our human greed and desire for pleasures and worldly excesses. Many of us sought to outdo each other in the glamour and the details of our Christmas celebrations, and yet we forgot that Christmas is all about Christ and all that He has done for us, so that through Him we may indeed rejoice and be glad because we have been saved.

As we approach ever closer to Christmas, let us all come ever closer to realise just how important Christ is to all of us, the Love of God made manifest and tangible. By being born in the flesh, He has made us all glimpse the Eternal Light and Joy of heaven, and through Him, we who live in a world of darkness are finally able to see the Light of Hope, and a way out of our predicament and sufferings. All these are thanks to the love that God has generously and patiently showed us all throughout time and history, even to this very moment, and to the unforeseeable future.

Then, what are we going to do about it, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we going to continue to ignore Him and put Him aside in our lives? Are we going to celebrate Christmas with a lot of festivities, but Himself as the One Whom we ought to be celebrating being sidelined and forgotten? Remember how He had loved us and did everything for us, even to stripping Himself of all dignity and glory, of power and majesty, to suffer and die for us on the Cross, so that by His sacrifice and death, all of us may have life through Him. May the Lord be with us all, and may He strengthen us all in each and every moments of our lives, that we may always remain ever faithful to Him, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 19 December 2021 : Fourth Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is the last Sunday in the season of Advent, and on this Sunday we focus our attention to the last of the four Advent themes. After going through the theme of Hope, Peace and Joy in the previous three Sundays of Advent, today finally we focus on the theme of Love. As we prepare ourselves for the great celebration of Christmas in just a few days’ time, we are all called to remember why Christmas is there in the first place. That reason is because of God’s love for each and every one of us.

Christmas is not just about having festivities and celebrations, and not just about parties, merrymaking and all the paraphernalia often associated with it. Instead, as Christians all of us should fully know and realise that first and foremost, Christmas is a celebration of love, of the love that is always enduring and pure, that has been given to us from God, from His heavenly abode. God loves us all so much that He has given us His only beloved Son, the Divine Word Incarnate, Whose coming and appearance into this world is what we celebrate at Christmas.

Why love, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because God Himself is Love, and by His incarnation, in taking up the humble existence of our human flesh and by lowering Himself to be born into this world, He has shown us what true love is all about. His love is what made Him to create all of us, because He wanted to share with all of us, with all of creation, the perfect love that He Himself has, in the perfect love of the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. That overflowing love has always been intended for us, to be filled with every grace and blessings.

However, it was because of our disobedience and the weakness of our flesh that our ancestors chose to listen to the devil instead of holding on to the truth of God and keeping their faith in Him. They chose to listen to his lies, and allowed themselves to be persuaded and convinced to disobey God’s direct commandments. As a result, we have been found guilty and corrupted by sin. We were made perfect, blameless and without fault, and should have shared in the everlasting joy and true happiness in God’s presence. Unfortunately, our sins and the corruptions in us sundered us from His grace and love.

But God did not give up on us, and His love for us yet endured. He has devised for so great a plan and prepared everything for us, waiting for the time this plan would be revealed to all of us. He has given assurances and glimpses of this truth and the Good News through His prophets and messengers, and eventually, as we heard in our first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Micah, God revealed how He would come to His people, through the small town of Bethlehem Ephrata, the small town of David, where the great king of Israel hailed from, from his humble origins as a shepherd, the youngest son of Jesse of Judah.

God sent His Saviour, His own Son, born into this world in that town, on that day which we celebrate as Christmas, which therefore is the full and perfect manifestation of His love in the flesh. God’s love has become tangible and accessible to us, since no longer that God is One that we cannot see and perceive. Having shown Himself through His Son, God has shown us just how much He loves us and just how amazing His commitment has been to the Covenant that He has established with us.

He came into this world through Mary His mother, dwelling in her hallowed womb for nine whole months before being born into this world. And as we heard in our Gospel passage today, even the mother of St. John the Baptist, Elizabeth, who was Mary’s relative, recognised the Lord present in Mary’s womb, and both of them praised God for everything that God had done for them. The miraculous nature of the pregnancy for Elizabeth, which happened in her advanced age, and for Mary, whose pregnancy happened before she consummated her marriage with St. Joseph her husband were proof of God’s intervention and the fulfilment for the plan of His salvation for all of us.

But even more than that, the Lord through that action of becoming Incarnate in the flesh, to be born as a Man, was an act of supreme love and compassion, which He generously showed towards all of us sinners. And why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because the Lord came to us in the human form and existence in order to share with us our humanity, to be the New Adam that would overturn the past sins and mistakes committee by the first Adam which led us all into sin.

And in the most important action He did for our salvation, done out of His ever generous and enduring love for us, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, willingly took upon Himself the punishments and the consequences of our sins. He took up His Cross and endured the most humiliating conditions and punishments, suffering for us on our behalf, in perfectly obeying the will of His Father, showing us what God’s love is all about, and how we ought to love God as well. As we heard in our second reading today, from the Epistle to the Hebrews, that is all that God wants from us as well.

He does not require from us offerings and sacrifices, referring to the ritual sacrifices done up to that time according to the Mosaic Law. It truly means that He does not require from us mere formality of faith and worship, and neither did He desire lip service from us His people. Instead, what He wants is a total commitment made with love and real genuine love we have for Him, as Christ Himself, in bearing His Cross has shown us. In that supreme act of self-sacrifice and selflessness, God Himself, the Son of God and Son of Man, the Divine Word Incarnate in the flesh, the One born on Christmas Day, showed His love for us, and His love for His heavenly Father, as part of the Holy Trinity of perfect Love with the Holy Spirit.

And that is what we ought to recall today, brothers and sisters in Christ, remembering the great love and the ever enduring patient love and compassion that God has always ever lavished on us, all these while. That is why this Sunday, we focus our attention on the what is arguably the most important of all the four Advent themes, that is Love. For without love, the love that God has for us, then we could never have been saved, and there could have been no hope for us at all. It was God’s Love for us that made all these possible.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, having come to realise God’s most amazing love for us, are we going to show Him the same kind of genuine love? Or are we going to continue to be stubborn in shutting Him out from our lives and in ignoring His loving presence in our midst? And most importantly, are we going to continue sidelining and forgetting about Him in our festivities and celebrations in and throughout the entire season of Christmas? We have to reflect and remember on what Christmas is truly all about.

Today, as we recall God’s loving presence in our midst, let us all strive to do our best to love the Lord with new hearts full of devotion and dedication to Him. If we have once ignored and abandoned Him for other idols and distractions in the world, let us now seek Him again with ever greater zeal and commitment. Let us all rediscover that love that each and every one of us ought to have for the Lord. And may the Lord, our ever loving God continue to love us and bless us, and may His love continue to be poured upon us, most generously, that we may also grow in our love for Him.

May all of us strive to celebrate Christmas worthily and remind one another what Christmas is truly all about, of a celebration of God’s most amazing love for His beloved ones, all of us, His children and His people, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 18 December 2021 : 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 Scripture, we are reminded as we get ever closer to Christmas, of how the Lord has fulfilled His promises to us and gave us the perfect love that He manifested in the flesh, in our midst, in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God Most High and the Son of Man, born of Mary, His mother and part of the family of St. Joseph, His foster-father and becoming the Heir and Son of David, King of Israel.

As we heard from our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, God promised His people that He would come to bring them liberation and salvation from their many troubles. And as God has revealed to them all throughout the past history, through many prophets and messengers, He would send His deliverer, the Saviour to come as the Heir of David, sending His only begotten Son to be the One to lead all of His beloved ones out of the darkness and into the Light of His salvation and truth.

God did not give up on us all, His beloved ones and He did everything He could to gather us all in, scattered throughout this darkened world full of sin and evil. He has always reached out to us, calling on us all to return to Him and to find our way to His presence. He wants to forgive us all our sins, and that is why, He gave us so great a deliverance and a Deliverer through Christ, Who came to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, indwelling in Mary, His mother, as told by the Angel of the Lord to St. Joseph, Mary’s legal husband and foster-father of the Lord.

By this action, God Himself has descended into the world, to live in our midst, Emmanuel, God is with us, a reminder that all of us are truly precious to God and greatly beloved by Him. God so loved the world that He has given us all His only Son, that through Him all will have life and be saved. That is the truth about the Good News that God has brought to us and revealed before all of us. And this is what we have to remind one another as we continue to progress through this season of Advent, to prepare ourselves so that we may celebrate Christmas worthily and appreciating the true significance and meaning of Christmas.

Let us spend some time to look at how we usually look at Christmas, how we perceive it and treat it year after year. Doubtless to say, many among us treat is as a festive and joyous occasion, but too often we are distracted by the many temptations of worldly excesses, as surely we know how we are often inundated by the commercialised perception and marketing of the secular Christmas. These are distracting us from the true essence and meaning of Christmas, as the One Whom we should be focusing on and celebrating about has often been sidelined and forgotten.

Instead, we treat Christmas as a time of feasting, merrymaking and celebrations to entertain ourselves, our ego and our desires. We seek to outdo one another in the grandness of our celebration and in the expenses we spent to celebrate, as well as desiring for many good things to please ourselves, whether in the celebrations themselves, in the company of people whom we celebrate with, and in the presents we exchange and receive, desiring and hoping to get better things for ourselves, or to revel in all the festive mood and all.

But we forget entirely why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. We forget why we, as Christians, are called to focus above all, Christ and His saving work, His kindness and compassionate mercy, the wonderful love by which He made fully manifest God’s enduring love and providence for all of us His people, through His ministry and work, His revelation of God’s truth, and finally, through His own volition, embracing a most painful suffering and death for our sake, by taking up His Cross. He suffered and died so that through those, we may all be saved.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in the remaining time we have in this season of Advent, as we are coming ever closer to Christmas, let us all spend some time to reflect on how we perceive and plan to celebrate this Christmas. It is indeed right and proper for us to celebrate in Christmas as we should. However, we have to celebrate it with proper understanding and appreciation of God’s love for us made evident and clear in the flesh, through Christ His Son, that our celebrations are centred on the One Whom we ought to be rejoicing about.

Let us all therefore do our best to inspire one another to renew our Advent journey and reflection, so that we may come ever closer to greater appreciation and understanding of God’s work of salvation and love for us, in all that He had done for our sake. Let us all turn towards Him with genuine love and devotion, and do what we can to live a good and faithful Christian life, so that in whatever we say and do, we will always strive to be worthy of God, in all things, and worthy to welcome Him into our hearts and our lives, as we should do, this Christmas. May God bless us all and be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 17 December 2021 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the moment when we are just one week away from Christmas. We are therefore being expressly reminded of why we celebrate Christmas and what we are preparing for in this season and time of Advent. It is important that we really understand this so that we may enter into the great celebrations and joy of Christmas with the right intention and the right purpose, that we may appreciate truly the true meaning of Christmas.

We have heard from our Scripture passages today the truth about the identity of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, born into this world as the Son and Heir of Adam, Abraham and David, as prominently highlighted in our Gospel passage today, in the entire genealogy or lineage of our Lord Himself from the very first days of mankind in Adam and through to his descendants, and to Abraham, the father of nations, and then through Israel and to David, the great King of Israel, to whom the Lord had promised that his kingdom and house would last forever.

Then in our first reading passage today we heard how Jacob, also known as Israel, was giving his last words and wishes, and blessings to all of his sons. He gave them his last exhortation and words of God’s wisdom, and it was at that very same occasion that Jacob spoke peculiarly regarding Judah, one of his sons, saying that the sceptre of power and rule shall remain in Judah, and how the reign over the people of God shall remain in his house forever, a promise that came true as David, the great king of Israel was born from the tribe of Judah, to whom God renewed the same promises He had made.

The Lord Jesus was thus born into the House of David, as His long promised Heir, born into the family of Joseph, the heir-general of King David, the foster-father of the Lord. It is through the Lord Jesus, Son of God Most High and Son of Man alike that God has revealed fully His intentions to us, His everlasting and enduring love for each and every one of us. God gave us all His only begotten Son that through Him and His actions, His perfect obedience and the ultimate loving sacrifice that He would make and offer on the Cross, God would be reconciled with us and we shall see His glory and receive true joy from Him.

That is why as we enter into this final stretch of the Advent season, we are all called to spend the time to reflect carefully on how we have been preparing ourselves to welcome the Lord at Christmas. For Christmas is not just merely a celebration of the Lord’s historical coming into this world, but even more importantly, is the celebration of the Light and Hope that He has brought upon each and every one of us, His people, who are still living in the darkness of this world. He has come into our midst, bearing forth His love manifested before us, that we may see and come to know of God’s love for us.

Have we loved God in the same way as He has loved us, brothers and sisters in Christ? God has always ever generously extended His love and compassion towards us, but we often disregarded His love and ignored Him. How many of us have not even factored Him into our celebrations? In our preparations to celebrate Christmas, with all its joyous activities. We must not forget that the Lord must be at the centre of all of our joy and festivities in Christmas. After all, it was God’s most wondrous gift to us that He had given us to redeem us and to bring us once again back into His loving embrace.

Many of us do not really know or understand the true significance of Christmas, and this became serious obstacle preventing us from being able to celebrate Christmas worthily and meaningfully. Too many of us are focused too much on the festivities and merrymaking that we treat it just like another holiday and time to celebrate. Many of us have also forgotten what Christmas truly means, and in the way we celebrate it, we focus excessively and model our celebrations after the secular Christmas commemorations which are plenty all over around us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore make the effort from this day onwards to reorientate ourselves around our Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Let us love Him and serve Him ever more faithfully with each and every passing moments. Let us also make our upcoming Christmas celebrations one that is truly focused on Our Lord and one that is really worthy of welcoming the Lord into our midst, as we must remember that Christmas is not just about celebrating our Lord’s historical coming into this world, but more importantly is about welcoming Him into our hearts, into our families and homes.

May the Lord continue to guide us in all of our endeavours, and help us as we continue to journey through this season of Advent, that we may come to celebrate His upcoming Nativity with great joy and true understanding of how much He has loved us all these while, and how by His coming into our midst at Christmas, He has shown us a new Hope and Light, to dispel the darkness and despair of our lives. May God bless us always, now and evermore. Amen.

Thursday, 16 December 2021 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listen to the words of the Lord contained in the Sacred Scriptures, we are yet again reminded repeatedly as we have often been throughout this season of Advent, to recall the great love that God has shown us, the mercy and grace that He has bestowed upon us throughout our lives, all the opportunities and chances that He has given us. He has always been so kind and generous to us, but it is we who often disregarded His kindness and love, spurned His mercy and generosity.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah we heard of the words of encouragement of the Lord Who reminded His people that His love is always upon them and that they are always His precious and beloved ones no matter what. He reminded them all, who have faced sufferings and challenges, trials and tribulations that they endured, how all of those will pass and they will once again enjoy the bounty of God’s grace and blessings. He calls on all of them to have faith in Him and to entrust themselves in His love.

God will not abandon His faithful ones and He will always care for them and provide for them, just as He has repeatedly done in the past, throughout our history. He has always loved us despite the many less than faithful attitudes that we have shown Him, our stubbornness and constant refusal to embrace His love, compassion and mercy. He still loves us even though we have sinned and disobeyed Him, and sent us all the promised Saviour, His own most beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to save us from our fated destruction and to free us from facing the fate of eternal damnation.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the mention of St. John the Baptist by the Lord Himself, Who spoke wonderfully about the one who had come before Him to prepare His way among the people of God. St. John the Baptist was indeed the Herald of the Messiah, the one prophesied to usher in the time of God’s great grace and salvation. He did all he could, obeying the mission entrusted to him, so that the people who heard him and his cries for repentance may realise their sinfulness and need for God’s mercy and forgiveness, and therefore seek to be reconciled to Him.

By speaking of St. John the Baptist and by affirming and praising his efforts, the Lord Himself has also reassured us that His time of grace and salvation has come upon us, and He has fulfilled the promises which He had made earlier through His many prophets and messengers. He would not abandon all of us in the darkness, but will always do His best to reach out to us and to gather us to Himself. That is why God gave us the sure path to eternal life and sent us His Son, the reason why we celebrate in the upcoming Christmas season, and why we prepare ourselves this time of Advent, to prepare our hearts, our minds and our whole beings to welcome the Lord.

That is why we are reminded today, that as we progress through this season of Advent we must really spend the time to reflect on what Christmas truly means to all of us, and how we are going to celebrate it. Are we going to give in to the excesses of Christmas merrymaking and celebrations and end up making it into a celebration of our own ego and desires, rather than to celebrate it for its true meaning and importance to us? The Lord’s coming into our midst in this world is the true significance of Christmas as because of that, all of us have hope once again through Him.

It is not wrong to celebrate Christmas most joyfully and indeed, we should celebrate it to the best of our ability, but we must always centre everything on the Lord, the One Whose birth is what Christmas is all about. We rejoice not because we like all the parties and celebrations, and not because we expect the finest food and things, gifts and presents, but because we know that through the Lord we have seen His light and hope, that in the darkness of our world, God’s light will still triumph together with us. That is the true essence of Christmas, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let us all therefore make good use of these remaining few days of Advent to carefully reflect and discern if we are truly ready to celebrate Christmas worthily and properly, and we should do our best to prepare ourselves if we are not yet ready to welcome the Lord with all of our heart. And let us also share the joy we have through Christ, our Christmas joy with one another, especially when there are just so many people out there who may now be suffering or sorrowful, and our brothers and sisters out there who may not be able to celebrate Christmas the way we are celebrating it. May God be with us all always, and may He bless each and every one of us, now and forevermore. Amen.

Wednesday, 15 December 2021 : 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 Lord in the Sacred Scriptures, we are all reminded of God and His enduring love for us, the salvation that He has presented to us and the generosity by which He has always cared for us and provided for our needs. He has always watched over us and has done everything for us, for our salvation and eternal and true happiness, together with Him in eternal life.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of Lord reminding His people that He is the One and only God and Creator of all the whole Universe. He is their God and they are His people. All of us are also reminded of this same truth, and are reminded how God alone is worthy of our worship and our adoration. He has created us out of love, which endured all these time despite of our lack of faith and our constant disobedience and waywardness. He has always looked after us and sought for us to return to His loving embrace.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the encounter between the Lord Jesus and two of the disciples and followers of St. John the Baptist. Those disciples asked the Lord with the question from the St. John the Baptist, inquiring whether He was indeed the One that had been predicted to come, the Messiah or Saviour of the world, or whether the Messiah was still yet to come. St. John the Baptist had been sent into this world ahead of the Lord to proclaim His coming and to prepare His way, but even he did not know fully who the Messiah would be.

This is the case even though St. John the Baptist himself had baptised the Lord at the Jordan, and recognising Him as the One Whose coming he was proclaiming before the people. St. John the Baptist was in fact just making sure that the One Whose coming he had been preparing for, had indeed come, and therefore the time of mankind’s salvation was already at hand. The Lord told them that everything had happened as God Himself had said would happen, all the miracles and wonderful works that had taken place, and they were evidences enough to prove the truth about His coming.

Now, having heard all of these words from the Scriptures, all of us are reminded of what we are all supposed to do this season of Advent, to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christmas. We are just another ten days away from Christmas, and yet, if we ask ourselves, are we ready for Christmas?, can we surely give a definitive yes as an answer? We may think that we are ready for Christmas and all are set and prepared, but in truth, Christmas is not as much about the celebrations and feasts, but rather, most importantly, it is about the state of our hearts, minds, our whole body and soul.

We may have prepared everything needed for our Christmas festivities and celebrations, all the things that we planned to do for our Christmas parties and merrymaking. Yet, are we ready to welcome Christ, Our Lord Himself this Christmas? Are we ready to welcome Him into our hearts, into our families and houses, into our presence and life? That is what Christmas is all about, brothers and sisters in Christ. Christmas is more than all the lights and glamours, all the celebrations and feasts. Those things are superficial, as Christmas is truly about Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must always remember that Christmas is the time to celebrate and rejoice because Christ, Our Lord has willingly come down upon us because of His great and enduring love. He Himself had taken the rein of everything that He had planned for our salvation and came to us to bring forth His love and generous mercy, to show us His compassion and desire to be reunited and reconciled with us. But we are often still distracted and easily swayed by the many temptations in this world that we forget about Him and we ignore Him, and sadly, the same can be said about Christmas as well.

We have to remind ourselves just how fortunate we are to have been beloved by God. Yet, by our own stubborn attitude and ignorance, we end up shutting Him out from our lives. And there is nowhere else that this is more evident than in our celebration of Christmas. Too often we celebrate Christmas with a lot of glamour and merrymaking, and yet, we forget the One Whom we ought to be focusing our celebrations on, the One Whose birth and coming into this world. This is not what we should be doing, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Therefore, let us all seek the Lord with a new heart full of faith and love for Him. Let us all prepare ourselves to be worthy to receive Him and to welcome Him into our hearts this Christmas, remembering how two thousand years ago, He has come to us in Bethlehem in Judea, revealing once and for all, God’s eternal love for us, and His plan to save us and lead us into everlasting life with Him. May our Christmas joy be complete and may the rest of our Advent season be meaningful, by our proper preparation from now on. Amen.