Sunday, 9 January 2022 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today on this Sunday we mark the occasion of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This marks the liturgical end for the season of Christmas as we begin the first part of the Ordinary Time tomorrow. Traditionally, the Christmas season of course still continues for an entire season length of forty days up to the second day of February, on which day we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord or Candlemas.

But today as we celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we remember that moment when the earlier, more obscure years of Our Lord’s life came to a conclusion, and He began His ministry openly after His baptism by St. John the Baptist at the River Jordan. The earlier years of His life, His infancy, childhood and earlier days that we remembered and celebrated in Christmas has now moved on to the reflection of the works and ministry of Our Lord that was begun on His baptism, which we are celebrating on this very day.

First of all, as we heard from our first reading today, from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the words of the Lord’s salvation spoken through the prophet, the promise of His salvation and the coming of the One through Whom God would redeem all of His people. In that revelation through the prophet, the Lord mentioned how He would send a servant to come before Him and to prepare His way, as the voice that would cry out in the wilderness, calling on all the people to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord.

This was the prophecy of the coming of St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah or the Saviour, as St. John the Baptist did exactly as the prophecy had foretold, as the one who cried out in the wilderness, spending his time living in those wilderness, calling on the people to repent from their sins and to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord. The Lord has sent him to make ready the people to welcome the One and True Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

St. John the Baptist gathered a large following, as many people from throughout Judea and even beyond came to him in the River Jordan, and gave themselves to be baptised, to be immersed in the water of the Jordan. The site of this baptism was significant, as it was also the same site where the Israelites once came to the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, who succeeded Moses. It was a reminder of God’s love and providence for His people, and how He had guided them all throughout their journey and life.

The Lord opened the River Jordan and allowed the people of Israel to pass by the dry riverbed, just as He had once done at the Red Sea, when He rescued them from the Pharaoh and the Egyptians. And through the symbolic act of baptism at the River Jordan, the people whom St. John the Baptist had called and then responded to his call, committed themselves to a new life, away from the slavery of sin and stating their desire to seek the Lord and the promise of eternal life, much as their ancestors going away from their old slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan.

Then, we all know that today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, marking the moment when the Lord Jesus Himself, the very Saviour Whom St. John the Baptist was sent to this world to prepare for His coming, was baptised. We might find it confusing or perplexed on why the Lord need to be baptised, just as St. John the Baptist himself had felt exactly the same thing. In fact, he said to the Lord that he was the one needed baptising. But the Lord told him that everything was to be done as decreed.

Through baptism, Our Lord shared fully in our humanity, not because He needed that forgiveness for sin or because He needed any form of cleansing, as He is the One without any sin. Yet, through His baptism, He united all of us sinners to Himself, and sanctifying the waters of baptism, that from then on, through the New Covenant that He would make with us all, He would redeem us and cleanse us through the blessed waters, passing on from death and sin into a new life blessed by God.

At the Easter Vigil, during the time when all the catechumens are to be baptised by the holy water blessed that night, the Paschal or Easter Candle made from pure beeswax is immersed into the water three times, much like how baptism is done through the thrice immersion into the sacred waters. This represents that same moment when Our Lord was baptised, as the Paschal Candle represents the Body of Christ, united to His divinity as the One Saviour of the world, Son of God and Son of Man Who had willingly taken up His Cross to suffer for us and die for us, so that by His death we may all have a new life through Him.

Therefore, today this Sunday as we rejoice and celebrate Our Lord’s baptism at the River Jordan, let us all remember the moment of our baptism, whether it is as an adult through conversion, or if we had been baptised as infants and were too young to remember, let us all ask about that moment through our parents and godparents if we have no idea of what had happened back then. It is important for us to remember the moment of our baptism, as it was the moment marking our entry into the Church and in sharing the Lord’s promised salvation, becoming a member of the Church of God.

Through baptism, all of us have resolved to leave behind our past existence filled with sin and evil, and embark on a new journey of faith, in a new life blessed by God. No longer should we allow ourselves to be dictated by the whims of our human desires and worldly temptations all around us. That is why it is so important that we remember our baptism that we remember our commitment and also everything that we need to do as Christians, as those whom God had called and chosen to be His own.

And now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this season of the Ordinary Time, our lives are by no means supposed to be ordinary, as how many of us will often misunderstand the meaning of the ‘Ordinary’ in the Ordinary Time. The meaning of ordinary there is truly not just being ordinary, usual or mundane, but rather is a reminder for us of the actions we must all do, in giving our lives over to the service of God. Just as the Lord began His ministry after His baptism, thus we are also called to embark on this journey of faith.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore do our best to commit ourselves to the Lord from now, especially if we have not done so. May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to bless us and empower us to to live our lives with good Christian outlook, and do whatever we can to glorify God’s Holy Name and serve Him wholeheartedly. May God bless us in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 8 January 2022 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to be good and committed Christians who do our part to care for one another, in reminding each other to live good and virtuous Christian lives at all times, distancing ourselves from sin. All of us are called to be part of the missionary outreach and works of the Church, for the salvation of many more souls, for us to be great role models for our fellow brethren at all times and in every opportunities.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard the Apostle exhorting the faithful people of God to follow the Lord and His path, to be faithful to Jesus Christ, the One Whom God has sent into our midst, God’s own beloved Son incarnate in the flesh, and born of His mother, the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary. The Lord has shown us the path of freedom from the bondage of sin and the tyranny of death. By His suffering and death, He has purchased for us the redemption for all of our multitudes of sins.

In that same passage, we heard how sin can lead to death, for sin is caused by our disobedience against God and our refusal to obey His will. And since we have rejected the Lord of life, Our Master, then it is only right and just that we have to suffer the consequences of our sins, that is death. But death is not the final fate for us unless we have consciously rejected the Lord right to the very last moments of our lives, refusing all the opportunities and the generosity by which God had given us the chances time and again to repent and turn away from our sinful ways.

When St. John mentioned that not all sins lead to death, this highlighted the fact that Christ Our Lord has freely given His love and merciful compassion to us. He has reached our even to those who have condemned Him to death and made Him to suffer, praying for them all and forgiving them their sins and their faults. He has given even the worst of sinners the chance to find redemption and the path to eternal life through His compassionate love. He came into our world, to our midst to look for us all, to find those who have been lost to God due to sin.

Yet, it was our stubbornness that had led us astray and prevented us from finding our way back to Him. Our continued attachments and desire for worldly temptations and sins eventually led us back into a wicked life and a state of sin, from which God kept on calling us and trying to bring us out, to allow us to return to Him. He has prepared the path and the place for us with Him, but everything in the end depends on us and whether we are willing to accept His love and compassionate mercy. Too often that we have rejected His love and mercy, brothers and sisters in Christ.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah worked hard for the glory of God, and when the Lord came and revealed Himself, and gained more and more followers, he humbly receded from the public popularity and allowed his Lord and Master to become more important than he was. When some of his disciples confronted him regarding this, he humbly mentioned how it has been his purpose from the very beginning to serve his Lord and Master, the One for Whom he had been sent into this world, to prepare His way before His coming.

In that way, St. John the Baptist was very happy that the Lord was gaining more follower and attention, and he was happy that everything went as it should be. He did not do all his works, the baptisms and others for his own sake and glory, unlike what many other people would have done. He did everything all for the greater glory of God, and gave his whole life to serve the Lord and to follow Him, and show the path to His salvation to all who followed him and were willing to listen to him. He is truly an example that all of us can and should follow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the great examples of faith and dedication showed by St. John the Baptist, let us all strive to walk humbly from now on before the Lord, dedicating ourselves to follow Him and to be faithful to Him in all things. Let us all appreciate all the love and compassionate kindness, the mercy and forgiveness that God has shown us all these while. Let us embrace God’s love through Christ, His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, and strive to become ever better Christians, ever better disciples of Our Lord from now on. May God be with us all, and may He remain with us in His love for us, always. Amen.

Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to remember the love of God and all that He has done for our sake, which He has shown us and revealed to us through none other than Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. He has revealed to us just how fortunate we are to have been beloved in such a way by our Lord. God has always been kind and compassionate to us, and His love was what made His action possible, in sending us our salvation through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard of the words of the Apostle concerning all that God had done for our sake, through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. In that passage, we heard St. John speaking of how Christ has been acknowledged through water and through Blood and the Spirit of God. This was a reference of everything that we have received from Him, and how He has revealed Himself and God’s salvation, through His baptism at the Jordan, His crucifixion and death, and finally through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

First of all, at the time of His baptism at the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, the Lord has been proclaimed by the voice coming down from Heaven, as He was immersed in the water, and a Dove came to rest on Him, the Holy Spirit descending from the Father into this world through Jesus, the Son. The Father’s voice spoke the truth about the Man Who was baptised that day, that Jesus is indeed His Son and the One Whom He had promised to send into our midst, so that we may be saved from our fated destruction.

Then, at the moment of His crucifixion, as Christ bore His Cross, and was nailed to that Cross, enduring for us the punishments and the consequences that we ourselves ought to have suffered, He spilled His Most Precious Blood, which came down to us, as the Blood that washes us away from our sins. At that same time, when the soldiers were told to break the legs of those who had been crucified, Jesus was already dead, and one of the soldiers, later known as St. Longinus, took a spear and hit the side of the Lord with it, and immediately blood and water poured forth from it, a proof of God’s Love that endured even through His death on the Cross.

And lastly, the same Holy Spirit that had come down upon the Lord was also sent to the Apostles and the other disciples just as the Lord Himself has promised them, as tongues of fire descending on them at Pentecost, fulfilling what He has promised them and revealing to those who have received the Spirit, the fullness of truth of God’s love for us mankind and His saving grace. Through all these signs therefore we have been made aware of the most wonderful love that God has given us, through His most beloved Son, Whose coming into this world has given us all a new hope.

In our Gospel passage today, we then also heard from the Gospel of St. Luke regarding the healing of a man suffering from leprosy. The Lord wanted to heal him, and immediately, He cured the man from the leprosy. Leprosy was then a very dreaded disease that according to the old Law and customs of the Israelites would have led those who were suffering from it to be forced to live away from the rest of the society, to wander off in the wilderness until they could prove that their disease had been completely cured.

This is yet again another reminder for us of the most generous and wonderful love of God which He has kindly and generously shown us from the very beginning. God has reached out to us and make Himself approachable to us through Christ, and we ought to remember during this the blessed time of Christmas. We celebrate the most generous and amazing love God has bestowed on us, everything that He had done for us through His Son. We all rejoice because the Light of our Hope has come upon us.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Raymond of Penyafort, also known as St. Raymond of Penafort, a renowned Dominican friar and priest who was instrumental in the codification of the laws of the Church that remained in force for many centuries, as well as his many contributions to the Church in the areas of theology and Catholic education, and in a most well-known miracle, he was also instrumental in the conversion of King James I of Aragon, who lived in a state of sin with his mistress and repeatedly refused to dismiss her.

St. Raymond of Penyafort sailed away from the city on his cloak, in a great miracle still remembered to this day, when the king forbade him to leave the capital city of Barcelona. This was seen by many of the sailors who witnessed the saint sailing on his cloak, as well as by many other spectators. The king was stunned by this great miracle, and was humbled, that he mended his path in life and from then on, lived more virtuously in accordance with the Law and the rules of the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the short exposition of the life and examples showed by St. Raymond of Penyafort, all of us are called to follow his good examples and to show our faith sincerely to the Lord. Are we able and willing to show our love to the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ? Remember how He has loved us so much through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, just as discussed it earlier on. Let us then love the Lord in the same way that He has first loved us, and do our best to honour Him with our righteous and worthy lives from now on.

May the Lord be with us all, and may His love continue to be poured onto us, in our every day and every moments. May He bless us all in our every endeavours and good works for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, marking the important moment when Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was revealed to the nations, to the Gentiles or the non-Jewish peoples, as represented by the Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men or even Three Kings, who came from afar, following the bright star, the Star of Bethlehem, in trying to find the Saviour promised by God to His people, the Israelites.

This great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord got its name from the word Epiphaneia, which is the Greek word for ‘manifestation’ and it can be interpreted with the meaning of God having revealed and manifested Himself before the peoples of all the nations, coming to seek Him and worship Him. No longer that He is just a King and Saviour for the Jewish people alone, as He has revealed before through His prophets in the past, that all the nations and the peoples from those nations will come together seeking the Lord, worshipping and praising Him.

As we all heard from our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, the prophet mentioned how the Lord has shown His Light and Salvation to the people of Israel, and how not just the Israelites but all the peoples of all the nations will become God’s beloved people, and follow Him through the Light of His salvation, that is in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. It was in Christ that God’s love has been manifested in the flesh, appearing before all of us, Emmanuel, God Who is with us, dwelling in our midst, all of His people.

Through Him, the world that has been in darkness, the darkness of evil and sin has seen a great new Light, the Light that pierces through the darkness of those evils and wickedness. God’s Light and Hope triumphed even over the power of sin and death, and by His coming, Christ brought unto us the assurance of God’s everlasting and enduring love for each one of us. He came to us to reach out to our hearts and minds, calling on us to follow Him and to turn away from our past evils, wickedness and sins. God has given us the way out of the darkness and into His new light.

I am certain that all of us are familiar with the story of the Magi and how they came after having travelled a great distance from their respective home countries, witnessing the great Star of Bethlehem that became their guide and hope, as they endured the long and arduous journey to come to seek the Lord. They finally found Him there in Bethlehem of Judea, a small town where the Lord and Saviour of all was born, placed in a manger in a place that was small and simple, possibly in a stable or any other similar place that was unworthy of proper human habitation, and less still for a King.

Nonetheless, He came into our world, to show His love for us, and through the Magi and their gifts, He revealed Himself to us and the gifts of the Magi also showed us Who the Lord truly is, that Child born in Bethlehem, as the Son of God, the Divine Word Incarnate and not just merely a little Child as how others would have perceived Him to be. The Magi, who are traditionally three in number, corresponding to their three gifts, and named Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, offered the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Lord, paid homage to Him and worshipped Him.

Let us all go through the gifts one by one, beginning with the gift of gold. All of us know that gold is a precious metal that has been used for millennia in the making of precious items and ornaments, of crowns and other expensive items, particularly with regards to royalty and power. For gold is a great symbol of wealth, and it also represents the Kingship of Christ. This is because it was often that the use of gold was often restricted to royalty and only the kings in the past usually had the ability to display his riches and power in gold. It has therefore been a mark and symbol of majesty and power since time immemorial.

Then, gold has also been used in the making of idols, as many pagan idols and gods were made with the liberal use and ornamentations from gold. In the history of the Israelites themselves, I am sure all of us are familiar with how the people of Israel forced Aaron to make for them the golden calf idol when they thought that Moses had died or abandoned them on Mount Sinai. They worshipped that golden calf idol and abandoned their God Who had just liberated them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh not long ago. Yet, the gold itself has no fault, as it was how the gold was used that made it to be tainted by evil.

How so? The Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred artefact of the people of Israel, containing the two tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments, the staff of Aaron and the manna, placed in the Holy of Holies and symbolising the presence of God is made almost entirely from gold, and even the Holy of Holies itself were also constructed with ample use of gold. Gold therefore is both a symbol of royal authority, power and divinity, highlighting how the Child Jesus was no mere child but in truth is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Master of all the whole Universe.

Then, for the gift of frankincense, we all know how incense has been used for a very long time to offer worship to the divine, to various gods and idols. People from various cultures and origins always associate the pleasant aroma of the various incense blends with the aroma pleasing to their deities, and offered them on their altars. Frankincense itself has an even more significant meaning, as it is the highest quality incense, just as frankincense itself meant high quality incense. It is the purest incense of the highest quality and is reserved for the most solemn occasions.

Its offering to the Child Jesus served as a revelation to all of us that Jesus is not just a mere Man, but He is the Divine Son of God at the same time. He is the one Person with two distinct yet inseparable natures, of Divine and Human natures distinct but perfectly united in his one Person, in the same Child Jesus that the Magi had paid homage to. This offering of frankincense highlighted that divinity of Christ, which at that time was not yet visible behind the veil of His humanity. It is a reminder that Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, is the Divine Word Incarnate, the Son of God Who willingly embraced our human existence, to be born into this world and to make God’s love tangible and approachable to us.

And in another explanation, frankincense is also representative of the Christ’s role as the High Priest of all, a foreshadowing of His own actions later when He would be standing between us and death, offering on our behalf on the Altar of Calvary, the Altar of His Cross, both as our High Priest and as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice. This frankincense is the symbol of His office and role as the High Priest to deliver us all the redemption and forgiveness through His one act of supreme love by the self-sacrifice on the Cross. It is a prefigurement of the great work of His salvation for us.

Then, the last gift of myrrh by the Magi is a most peculiar and strange one, as myrrh is a kind of spice used in the embalming of the dead, and it was not meant to be offered to a living person and less still to be offered to a Child. Yet, it was a very powerful symbol of the Lord and what He would do in His ministry, again related to His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross. Although no one could have known it back then, but this was a prefigurement of Christ’s death, and how He would have to go through death in order to accomplish His mission.

Myrrh is also significant because in the various cultures, the embalming of the dead, particularly that of royalty and the nobility was symbolic of their desire to seek eternal life and way out of death. People had always feared death from time immemorial as the end of our earthly life, and because of that, people had always tried to seek ways to prolong their lives without success. And in some cultures in fact, the people believed that they could transcend death and became like the gods.

This highlighted how the Lord our God is so unique among all other beliefs and schools of thoughts out there, from all different faiths and religious beliefs, as when everyone else desired to transcend their mortality to become divine, Our Lord alone willingly humbled Himself to embrace our humanity and take up our human nature, to make His infinite and vast glory into the small and perceivable form of a small Child lying in a manger in Bethlehem. And not only that, as He also willingly later on embraced the worst of sufferings and pain, the scourges and the piercing of nails, as He was condemned to death on the most humiliating punishment on the Cross, for our sake.

As we have just heard and discussed, all the three gifts of the Magi, the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are all very symbolic and serve to reveal to us all, to the people of all the nations Who this Child Jesus really was. He is the Almighty God and Ruler of all, the King of Kings and the Lord over all creation, the High Priest of all of us mankind, Who has offered on our behalf the most worthy offering, the offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood on the Altar of the Cross, Who endured suffering and death for our salvation.

The Magi who came from the very far country to seek the Lord bearing the gifts actually represent all of us mankind, all the peoples who have the desire to seek the Lord and to find Him as their Light and salvation. It is a reminder that God came to us not only to save a certain group of people and to gather the children of Israel only, unlike what some among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law would have asserted. Instead, God is calling all the peoples to follow Him, to embrace His truth and love, the same truth and love that His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ has brought unto us.

The Magi followed the bright light of the Star that pointed them towards the Saviour. And this is a reminder for each and every one of us as Christians as we gather to remember the importance of the Epiphany to us. Through the gifts of the Magi, the gold, the frankincense and myrrh, we have been reminded of the nature of Our Lord’s Incarnation and coming into this world, all that He had done for our sake. Through His suffering and death, and by His glorious Resurrection, He has restored us back to life. And yet, are we following Him as the Star and the Light of our lives as well?

How many of us have disregarded the generous love that God has given us and rejected the kindness and mercy that He has shown us? This Christmas season we are constantly being reminded of all that God has done for our sake, and we should do our very best to focus our attention to Him and to glorify Him through our actions and service. Let us do whatever we can, even in the smallest things we say and do, so that our lives become a reflection of God’s Light, truth, hope and love in our respective communities.

In our world today, with so much suffering and difficulties encountered by us and many of our brothers and sisters, let us bring hope and encouragement to each other, and be each others’ pillar of support that we may endure the challenges that we may face together as one Church and one community of the faithful. We are all called to be the bearers of our Christmas joy and hope to all others, that God and His wonderful love and deeds may be known to all through us.

Let us all proclaim our great Lord and Saviour, the One Who has manifested and revealed Himself to the nations through the Magi, the Almighty God, Incarnate in the flesh and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother. Let us all proclaim Him before all the peoples with true faith and sincerity, so that more and more people may come to believe in the Lord through us. May the glory of Our Lord, He Who has manifested Himself and dwelled among us be with us, and may He bless us all in our every good efforts, works and endeavours. Amen.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord, we heard of the reminder of the love of God that has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Whose coming into this world brought forth upon us the fulfilment of the long promised salvation that God had promised to each and every one of us, to all mankind through His many prophets and messengers that He had sent to us in the past.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard how the Lord Jesus came to the synagogue in His hometown Nazareth, and reading the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, uttering the very words that the prophet had spoken regarding His own coming into this world. By proclaiming the words of God’s salvation, and reminding all of us of His promises, Christ has reassured all those assembled, and all of us here who have heard those words from the Scriptures, that He will always uphold and fulfil His promises, and we can truly trust in Him.

For it was by His Incarnation and coming into this world that He has shown us the gifts of His love, and the hope of redemption, for us to be reconciled to Him and to be able to find our way to Him. The Lord has sent His own Son into our midst that He may dwell with us and remain with us, and that we are not alone regardless of what we are facing in this world. He has come to heal us from our wounds, forgiving us our trespasses and transgressions, and calling us to repent from our many sins and be reconciled with us.

In our first reading today, the Apostle St. John in his Epistle spoke of the calling for all of us Christians to love one another and to show love in our daily lives and actions, just as God has loved us first, through all that He had done for us and ultimately through Christ, by His loving sacrifice on the Cross, as He selflessly took upon Himself all the scourges, the punishments and the sufferings due to our sins. He gave Himself for us, so that by His love and actions, all of us may receive the guarantee of everlasting life, and by His wounds and His death, we have been made sharers in the true joy and everlasting glory.

If we all profess to believe in God, then it is natural that each and every one of us should love Him to the best of our abilities, and to reach out to Him, loving Him first and foremost before all else. And with this same love, all of us should also love our fellow brothers and sisters, in our respective communities. For if the Lord has loved each and every one of us without any exceptions, even to the worst of sinners, then how can we not love our brothers and sisters, even strangers whom we encounter in our daily lives?

And not only that, but as the Lord Himself has also taught His disciples, we have to learn to love even our enemies and all those who hate us. It is easy for us to love those who love us back, but it is much harder to love those who have made our lives difficult and hurt us. But that was exactly what the Lord Himself had done to us. Remember how He has forgiven even those who have made Him to suffer, rejected and humiliated Him, all those who have condemned Him to die a most painful death on the Cross. He forgave those who hated Him from

His Cross and prayed for them all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all learn to love generously and fulfil our calling as Christians to show love to one another in the same way that the Lord has first shown us. Let us not harden our hearts and open ourselves ever more to God’s most generous love and wonders. Through His love, God has rescued us and endeavoured to make us whole again. Yet, it was by our stubbornness that many of us remained attached to sin and placed ourselves under the bondage and the sway of sin, of evil and wickedness.

Today, as we continue to celebrate this Christmas season, let us all be witnesses of God’s love in the midst of our communities, and let us devote ourselves ever more courageously in order to love the Lord and to share that love with each other. Let us follow the Lord and His ways, of loving generously and tenderly from now on, always and evermore. May God bless us always and remain with us, at all times. Amen.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022 : Wednesday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all called to reflect on them and remember how each and every one of us have been beloved by God, and just how fortunate we are that we have God always by our side, always within our reach. If only that we have more faith in Him and learn to trust Him more then certainly we could have lived more in peace and harmony, and we could have a better time living in this world, with God as our assurance and strength.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard how the Apostle spoke of God’s love and how each and every one of us as Christians are all called to reflect the love that God has taught us, revealed to us and shown us through His Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord. He is the perfect manifestation of God’s eternal and enduring love for each and every one of us, and we now have hope again because of Him, His love and all that He had done for us, the Love of God in the flesh, reaching out to us to help us be reconciled with our loving Father.

St. John also said that if we love God and show that same love to one another, the He is in us, dwelling with us, for He is our Lord and God, our Father and we are His children and His people. If we love the Lord and our fellow men, then God’s love itself is expressed through us and our actions. He mentioned how we have received the Holy Spirit, Whom He has sent to be with us, and through the same Holy Spirit therefore, we have known the love of God and we have been taught how to love our fellow men, in the same way that God Himself has loved us.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard from the Gospel of St. Mark in which the account of the Lord’s apparition before His disciples, walking miraculously on the water was told, in which we are again reminded of the love that God has for all of us, just as He has expressed it through His disciples and how each and every moments of our lives He has been with us, and He will never abandon us or leave us alone. Through that moment at the Lake of Galilee, the Lord wanted to reassure all of us that He is always with us and we have no need to fear anything at all.

The disciples were in the boat crossing the Lake ahead of the Lord when a great storm and huge waves struck against them, and they were all terrified, until the moment when the Lord came to them suddenly, walking on the water. Initially as we heard, the disciples were all terrified, thinking that they had seen a ghost. Yet, the Lord reassured and came to them, saying to them that they should not be afraid at all, for it is indeed Him Who had come to them, their Lord and Master.

Through that very symbolic moment at the Lake, as the Lord appeared to His disciples in their darkest and most terrifying moments, it is a great reminder to all of us that God is always by our side, even through the worst of storms and troubles in life. The storms and waves represent the challenges, trials and difficulties facing us in our journey of life. Yet, we should not be afraid or fear anything, because truly God is always there for us, and He will always do everything in His own way to help us.

Let us all not be afraid any longer and instead, we should trust in the Lord and put our faith in Him. Let us not be hesitant anymore to follow the Lord, but remind ourselves always of His great faithfulness to the Covenant that He had made with us, and believe in the love that He has so generously given us all, all these while. Let us devote ourselves to Our Lord with ever greater sincerity and commit ourselves thoroughly to His greater glory.

May the Lord, our most loving God and Father continue to watch over us and guide us in our journey towards Him. May He empower each and every one of us to live courageously and not to be afraid in doing what He has called us to do, entrusting everything to His providence and ever-present love, now and always. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022 : Tuesday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord in the Scriptures speaking to us about the love that God has shown us all so generously in caring and providing for us, and how then each and every one of us should dedicate ourselves to love Him in the same way as well, and how we should also love one another, our fellow men, in the manner that God had loved us so dearly.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Epistle of St. John in which the Apostle spoke of how each and every one of us ought to learn to love, and that love comes from God, for He Himself has sent His love into this world. The love of God has been made manifest in our midst, in the appearing of His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, that is the Love of God made manifest and dwelling amongst us in this world. God’s love through His Incarnation is no longer intangible.

That is the essence of our Christmas celebrations that we have carried out all these while. Christmas is the celebration of God’s love incarnate, as He came into this world and assuming our human existence in the flesh, the Son of God and the Divine Word Incarnate, born as the Son of Man through Mary, His mother. God revealed His love to us and made Himself approachable, that His love is now tangible and reachable for us when once we have been sundered away from His love and grace.

While we are still sinners, God loves each and every one of us just as He has always done since the very beginning. Even though our first ancestors had disobeyed Him and He could have crushed and destroyed them by the power of His will alone, His love for us all, and the love being the reason why He created us in the first place, is why we have been spared from immediate annihilation and damnation. Instead, God gave us all the opportunity to repent from our sins and to be reconciled to Him. He has repeatedly provided us the guidance and help so that we may find our way to Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we then heard how God fed His beloved ones, as we heard in the famous miracle of the Lord Jesus feeding five thousand men and many others with just five loaves of bread and two fishes. The Lord was teaching all those people who came to Him from the towns and the villages, who all went to the wilderness where the Lord was often teaching and doing His works. But as they all had no food to eat and were starving, the Lord had pity on them and told His disciples to find food to feed them.

The disciples said that it was not possible to find enough food to feed the whole large multitudes of the people that numbered at least five thousand men and not counting even the women and children, many of whom were travelling along the men. But God reassured His people, the disciples and also all of us through what He did, as He took the five loaves and two fishes present there and after blessing them, breaking them and miraculously providing enough food for all the assembled people with lots to spare, twelve whole baskets in all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, often times we have to understand just how stubborn we can be in continuing with our rebellious and wicked actions and deeds, in disregarding and ignoring the most generous love that God has showered upon us. He has loved us so much and has always been kind to us, no matter what. He has loved us from the very beginning and showed it to us in so many ways, that it is truly inconceivable for us not to love Him back.

Yet, that is exactly what we have often done, brothers and sisters. We prefer to stay with sin and the devil rather than to follow the Lord and trust in Him. We prefer to walk in the path of sin and evil rather than to walk in the light that God has shown us. We disobeyed Him and betrayed Him again and again, and in the end, God still extended His love and kindness, His generous compassion and mercy towards us. Through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, we have seen the love and compassion of God manifested before us, and we should doubt Him no longer.

May the Lord, our loving God, continue to watch over us and protect us, and may He continue to encourage and strengthen us that we may grow ever stronger in faith and draw ever closer to Him and His ever generous love. Amen.

Monday, 3 January 2022 : Monday after the Epiphany, Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the words of the Lord in which we are reminded of the works that the Lord had done in our midst through His Son, as we celebrate the Feast in honour of His Most Holy Name, the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. On this day as we still celebrate the glorious feast of Christmas, we remind ourselves constantly of the great deeds that Our Lord had done for our sake. Through His Incarnation, He has been given a name like any other, and yet, because He is at the same time the Almighty God, His Name is the Name above every other names.

In order to appreciate the importance of this Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, all of us must understand how important and sacred the Name of God is to the people of Israel, as by the Law and customs of the Israelites dictated that the Holy Name of God was not to be misused or even spoken in vain. In fact, the Name of God was so holy and sacrosanct that it was not to be uttered at all. The Name of God, often transliterated as YHVH, was not meant to be spoken, as holy as it was deemed to be, and hence, usually other honorific such as Adonai or ‘My Lord’ was used instead.

The Lord has therefore made His Name utterable and approachable to us, as through the Archangel Gabriel who brought the Good News of His coming to Mary, God told us His very own Name, through the words, ‘And you shall name Him, Jesus’. Through this act, God’s Name that was unutterable and unapproachable had become tangible just as He has appeared before us all in the flesh, coming to dwell in our midst and to grace us with His Presence. Yet, this does not mean that we can then treat His Name with disdain and with ignorance as many of us have often done.

The Second Commandment stated that ‘you shall not take or speak the Lord’s Name in vain’, and this is very significant as if we truly believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly our Lord and God, appearing before us and dwelling with us in the flesh, truly Human yet truly Divine, then we should treat His Name with the same honour, respect, and adoration as the manner of how the Name of God, YHVH, had been treated by the people of God in the past. The Holy Name of Jesus is truly the Name above every other names as although His Name is now approachable to us, yet, as the Name of the One Almighty God, it has power over all things.

As the Scriptures mentioned, through His coming into this world, the Lord has manifested His truth and love, and in the Person of Jesus Christ, God has shown us all the perfect manifestation of the love and all that He has prepared for us, for the purpose of our salvation and liberation from the tyranny of sin and the bondage to death. Through His Name, He has made Himself approachable to us and by invoking His Name with faith, even the devil and all others will submit to His will, and that is why when a priest exorcised the demons, at the mention of the Name of the Lord Jesus, they would tremble and succumb.

But we have seen how we tend to make light of the use of the Lord’s Name, even in expletives and in many situations where we should not have uttered His Name in vain. We treated His Holy Name like a plaything and did not take His Name seriously, and even used His Name to do bad things instead. Such a blatant misuse and disregard for the sacredness and sanctity of Our Lord’s Holy Name is something that we really need to address, especially if we ourselves have done that from that time to time in the past.

Whenever the Holy Name of Jesus is mentioned, we should remind ourselves that this Name is the One by which we have been saved and received the promise of eternal life and true happiness. We should respect it and pay attention to it, and as commanded by the laws of the Church, at every mention of the Holy Name of Our Lord at the Mass, we ought to make a bow to show our respect to His Name, and not only a bow of our head, but also a bow from our heart. It is easy for us to make the gesture of a bow, but it is often more difficult to honour Him from our hearts.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all from now on make use of the Holy Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, in the right and respectful way while always remembering all that He had done for our sake, in reaching out to us with His most generous love. By His coming into this world, He has shown us His love and the commitment He made to the Covenant He had created with us. In honouring His Name with genuine faith, love and devotion, we are responding to His call and to His outreach to us, answering the great love that He has always shown us all these while.

Let us all therefore continue to remind ourselves of all the love God has shown us as we still progress through this current Christmas season. Let us inspire one another to live our lives with Christ ever at the centre and as the focus of our daily living, and honour His Holy Name at every opportunity. Let us remember Him through His Name, for all the wonderful things He had done for us and for all the blessings, particularly the love with which He has offered Himself for our sake, shedding His Most Precious Body and Blood as the worthy offerings for the atonement of our sins.

May Our Lord Jesus Christ, Whose Holy Name we glorify and praise today, be with us always, and may He bless us all in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. May all of us draw ever closer to Him and trust ever more in the power of His Holy Name. Amen.

Sunday, 2 January 2022 : Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, marking the important moment when Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was revealed to the nations, to the Gentiles or the non-Jewish peoples, as represented by the Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men or even Three Kings, who came from afar, following the bright star, the Star of Bethlehem, in trying to find the Saviour promised by God to His people, the Israelites.

This great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord got its name from the word Epiphaneia, which is the Greek word for ‘manifestation’ and it can be interpreted with the meaning of God having revealed and manifested Himself before the peoples of all the nations, coming to seek Him and worship Him. No longer that He is just a King and Saviour for the Jewish people alone, as He has revealed before through His prophets in the past, that all the nations and the peoples from those nations will come together seeking the Lord, worshipping and praising Him.

As we all heard from our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, the prophet mentioned how the Lord has shown His Light and Salvation to the people of Israel, and how not just the Israelites but all the peoples of all the nations will become God’s beloved people, and follow Him through the Light of His salvation, that is in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. It was in Christ that God’s love has been manifested in the flesh, appearing before all of us, Emmanuel, God Who is with us, dwelling in our midst, all of His people.

Through Him, the world that has been in darkness, the darkness of evil and sin has seen a great new Light, the Light that pierces through the darkness of those evils and wickedness. God’s Light and Hope triumphed even over the power of sin and death, and by His coming, Christ brought unto us the assurance of God’s everlasting and enduring love for each one of us. He came to us to reach out to our hearts and minds, calling on us to follow Him and to turn away from our past evils, wickedness and sins. God has given us the way out of the darkness and into His new light.

I am certain that all of us are familiar with the story of the Magi and how they came after having travelled a great distance from their respective home countries, witnessing the great Star of Bethlehem that became their guide and hope, as they endured the long and arduous journey to come to seek the Lord. They finally found Him there in Bethlehem of Judea, a small town where the Lord and Saviour of all was born, placed in a manger in a place that was small and simple, possibly in a stable or any other similar place that was unworthy of proper human habitation, and less still for a King.

Nonetheless, He came into our world, to show His love for us, and through the Magi and their gifts, He revealed Himself to us and the gifts of the Magi also showed us Who the Lord truly is, that Child born in Bethlehem, as the Son of God, the Divine Word Incarnate and not just merely a little Child as how others would have perceived Him to be. The Magi, who are traditionally three in number, corresponding to their three gifts, and named Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, offered the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Lord, paid homage to Him and worshipped Him.

Let us all go through the gifts one by one, beginning with the gift of gold. All of us know that gold is a precious metal that has been used for millennia in the making of precious items and ornaments, of crowns and other expensive items, particularly with regards to royalty and power. For gold is a great symbol of wealth, and it also represents the Kingship of Christ. This is because it was often that the use of gold was often restricted to royalty and only the kings in the past usually had the ability to display his riches and power in gold. It has therefore been a mark and symbol of majesty and power since time immemorial.

Then, gold has also been used in the making of idols, as many pagan idols and gods were made with the liberal use and ornamentations from gold. In the history of the Israelites themselves, I am sure all of us are familiar with how the people of Israel forced Aaron to make for them the golden calf idol when they thought that Moses had died or abandoned them on Mount Sinai. They worshipped that golden calf idol and abandoned their God Who had just liberated them from the hands of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh not long ago. Yet, the gold itself has no fault, as it was how the gold was used that made it to be tainted by evil.

How so? The Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred artefact of the people of Israel, containing the two tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments, the staff of Aaron and the manna, placed in the Holy of Holies and symbolising the presence of God is made almost entirely from gold, and even the Holy of Holies itself were also constructed with ample use of gold. Gold therefore is both a symbol of royal authority, power and divinity, highlighting how the Child Jesus was no mere child but in truth is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Master of all the whole Universe.

Then, for the gift of frankincense, we all know how incense has been used for a very long time to offer worship to the divine, to various gods and idols. People from various cultures and origins always associate the pleasant aroma of the various incense blends with the aroma pleasing to their deities, and offered them on their altars. Frankincense itself has an even more significant meaning, as it is the highest quality incense, just as frankincense itself meant high quality incense. It is the purest incense of the highest quality and is reserved for the most solemn occasions.

Its offering to the Child Jesus served as a revelation to all of us that Jesus is not just a mere Man, but He is the Divine Son of God at the same time. He is the one Person with two distinct yet inseparable natures, of Divine and Human natures distinct but perfectly united in his one Person, in the same Child Jesus that the Magi had paid homage to. This offering of frankincense highlighted that divinity of Christ, which at that time was not yet visible behind the veil of His humanity. It is a reminder that Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, is the Divine Word Incarnate, the Son of God Who willingly embraced our human existence, to be born into this world and to make God’s love tangible and approachable to us.

And in another explanation, frankincense is also representative of the Christ’s role as the High Priest of all, a foreshadowing of His own actions later when He would be standing between us and death, offering on our behalf on the Altar of Calvary, the Altar of His Cross, both as our High Priest and as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice. This frankincense is the symbol of His office and role as the High Priest to deliver us all the redemption and forgiveness through His one act of supreme love by the self-sacrifice on the Cross. It is a prefigurement of the great work of His salvation for us.

Then, the last gift of myrrh by the Magi is a most peculiar and strange one, as myrrh is a kind of spice used in the embalming of the dead, and it was not meant to be offered to a living person and less still to be offered to a Child. Yet, it was a very powerful symbol of the Lord and what He would do in His ministry, again related to His Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross. Although no one could have known it back then, but this was a prefigurement of Christ’s death, and how He would have to go through death in order to accomplish His mission.

Myrrh is also significant because in the various cultures, the embalming of the dead, particularly that of royalty and the nobility was symbolic of their desire to seek eternal life and way out of death. People had always feared death from time immemorial as the end of our earthly life, and because of that, people had always tried to seek ways to prolong their lives without success. And in some cultures in fact, the people believed that they could transcend death and became like the gods.

This highlighted how the Lord our God is so unique among all other beliefs and schools of thoughts out there, from all different faiths and religious beliefs, as when everyone else desired to transcend their mortality to become divine, Our Lord alone willingly humbled Himself to embrace our humanity and take up our human nature, to make His infinite and vast glory into the small and perceivable form of a small Child lying in a manger in Bethlehem. And not only that, as He also willingly later on embraced the worst of sufferings and pain, the scourges and the piercing of nails, as He was condemned to death on the most humiliating punishment on the Cross, for our sake.

As we have just heard and discussed, all the three gifts of the Magi, the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are all very symbolic and serve to reveal to us all, to the people of all the nations Who this Child Jesus really was. He is the Almighty God and Ruler of all, the King of Kings and the Lord over all creation, the High Priest of all of us mankind, Who has offered on our behalf the most worthy offering, the offering of His own Most Precious Body and Blood on the Altar of the Cross, Who endured suffering and death for our salvation.

The Magi who came from the very far country to seek the Lord bearing the gifts actually represent all of us mankind, all the peoples who have the desire to seek the Lord and to find Him as their Light and salvation. It is a reminder that God came to us not only to save a certain group of people and to gather the children of Israel only, unlike what some among the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law would have asserted. Instead, God is calling all the peoples to follow Him, to embrace His truth and love, the same truth and love that His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ has brought unto us.

The Magi followed the bright light of the Star that pointed them towards the Saviour. And this is a reminder for each and every one of us as Christians as we gather to remember the importance of the Epiphany to us. Through the gifts of the Magi, the gold, the frankincense and myrrh, we have been reminded of the nature of Our Lord’s Incarnation and coming into this world, all that He had done for our sake. Through His suffering and death, and by His glorious Resurrection, He has restored us back to life. And yet, are we following Him as the Star and the Light of our lives as well?

How many of us have disregarded the generous love that God has given us and rejected the kindness and mercy that He has shown us? This Christmas season we are constantly being reminded of all that God has done for our sake, and we should do our very best to focus our attention to Him and to glorify Him through our actions and service. Let us do whatever we can, even in the smallest things we say and do, so that our lives become a reflection of God’s Light, truth, hope and love in our respective communities.

In our world today, with so much suffering and difficulties encountered by us and many of our brothers and sisters, let us bring hope and encouragement to each other, and be each others’ pillar of support that we may endure the challenges that we may face together as one Church and one community of the faithful. We are all called to be the bearers of our Christmas joy and hope to all others, that God and His wonderful love and deeds may be known to all through us.

Let us all proclaim our great Lord and Saviour, the One Who has manifested and revealed Himself to the nations through the Magi, the Almighty God, Incarnate in the flesh and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother. Let us all proclaim Him before all the peoples with true faith and sincerity, so that more and more people may come to believe in the Lord through us. May the glory of Our Lord, He Who has manifested Himself and dwelled among us be with us, and may He bless us all in our every good efforts, works and endeavours. Amen.

Sunday, 2 January 2022 : Second Sunday after Christmas (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the second Sunday in the Christmas season, for all of us who are celebrating the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord on its traditional date of the sixth of January. This Sunday as we have heard in the Scripture passages, we are again constantly being reminded of what we are celebrating in this Christmas season, that is celebrating the great appearing of Our Lord and Saviour in the flesh, Jesus Christ, the One Whom God has sent into our midst to be our Hope and the Light of our salvation, the Divine Word Incarnate.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, we heard of the words of God’s salvation and promise of redemption being proclaimed and spoken before the people. At the time of the prophet Jeremiah, the fortunes of the people of God, the Israelites and their descendants had been at an all-time low, as they were facing great distress, humiliations, defeat and a lot of trials and troubles from different sources, one after another. All those things were caused by their own lack of faith in God and by their constant disobedience against God, preferring to walk in their own path than to walk in the path that God had set before them.

As a result, not only that the Assyrians had destroyed the northern kingdom and carried most of the northern ten Israelite tribes into exile and destroyed their cities, but even the southern kingdom of Judah was soon to face its own twilight and end as well. The enemies of the people of God rose against them and due to their continued disobedience and rebellion against God, even to the persecution of the faithful prophets and servants of God like Jeremiah, the kingdom of Judah was bound to be destroyed as well, which would later happen at the hands of the Babylonians.

But all the while God and the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed how the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem would become because of the evil deeds and the wickedness of the people, their kings’ bad influences and all of their infidelities, in worshipping pagan idols and demons, but God still in truth loved His people and did not abandon them. Why is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because just as what we ourselves often experienced, it is the people who had consciously chosen to abandon God and His truth and love instead, and chose to walk the path of evil and sin.

That is why, through what the Lord has spoken and done for His people, He wants to show them that He still loves us despite all that we have done to hurt Him, in betraying and abandoning Him. He revealed how all of them would be gathered back from being scattered amongst all the nations. The Lord has shown His commitment and dedication to the Covenant He had made with us even when we have repeatedly disobeyed Him and betrayed Him. He still tried very hard to reach out to us and to help us to find the path to redemption.

To this extent, He has shown us His salvation through none other than Jesus Christ, His most beloved Son, Whom He had sent into the world, incarnate in the flesh, the Divine Word Incarnate as we heard in our Gospel passage today. In his Gospel, St. John the Apostle began his account with the most beautiful and detailed exposition of the truth and reality of the Lord God, the Word of God, Who was with the Father and is God, coming down into this world by the power of the Holy Spirit, indwelling in the womb of Mary, His mother, and became the Son of Man, born and revealed to all in Christmas.

Through Christ, the love of God has been manifested perfectly in the flesh and His love is no longer intangible. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, God’s love takes form and is approachable to us, and He came to us as He had promised, through the prophet Jeremiah and many others, to gather all of us back to Himself and to show us the path to eternal life with Him. God has not abandoned us and He has embraced us, through His Son, Emmanuel, God Who is with us. His coming into this world as we celebrate at Christmas is a truly significant event in our human history, and in the history of our redemption.

For through Him, we are no longer without hope and we have no more need to fear because while once we have been destined for destruction and damnation because of our sins, God’s love triumphs even over those sins and all the wickedness we have committed, and through His Son, Whose sacrifice on the Cross became the worthy offering for the atonement of all of our sins, God has shown us the path out of the darkness and into eternal life. He is indeed the Light for the people who are still living in the darkness, that is all of us sinners.

Yet, how many of us actually realise this truth, brothers and sisters in Christ? How many of us actually remember God’s love and see His love in the coming of His Son into this world? We do not have to look far beyond our own actions in life. How many of us celebrated Christmas without Christ Our Lord as the centre and focus of all of our celebrations? And how many of us spent our Christmas mostly in merrymaking, revelry and celebrations and forgetting all that God has done for us out of His enduring love? We cannot truly celebrate Christmas without Christ, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Therefore this Sunday, as we continue to go through the Christmas season and as we continue our celebrations of the Christmas joy and exultation, we are called to remember the reason for all of our rejoicing and happiness. It is because of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem into this world that we have seen God’s light and salvation, tangible and approachable, and no longer just something that we cannot understand or grasp. This Sunday we should remind one another of God’s love made Man, in His ever generous love poured down to us in Christ His Son.

And because God has loved us so much, and given us the reason to rejoice much as the Israelites of old had received those glad tidings and hope amidst the darkness of their state then, let us all be the bearers of Christ’s light and hope in our communities today, spreading the joy that has come with Our Lord and which we celebrate this day and this season. Let our actions bring hope and encouragement to our fellow brothers and sisters, especially those who are sorrowful and without hope. Let us share our joy and celebrations with those who have little or no joy at all in their lives.

May the Lord, our Saviour and King, our loving God and Creator, Who has willingly come down to us in the flesh, be with us all and bless us in all things, so that our year ahead may be most blessed and wonderful. And may all of us draw ever closer to the Lord, as we commit our every living moments to serve and glorify Him, now and always. May God bless all of our works, efforts and endeavours, and may we have a truly blessed Christmas celebrations. Amen.