Sunday, 10 January 2021 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the last day of the liturgical season of Christmas as beginning tomorrow we will begin the Ordinary Time that will last up to the day before Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. And today as mentioned, we recall the extraordinary occasion of the Lord’s baptism at the Jordan by St. John the Baptist, marking the beginning of His ministry in this world.

On this day, we remember that moment when the Lord came to the River Jordan, asking St. John the Baptist to do what he was supposed to do, in baptising Him so that by passing through the water of baptism, He may come to share in our baptism and show unto us the depths of God’s amazing love for each and every one of us. Through the Lord’s baptism, all of us are brought closer to experience the fullness of the truth about God’s love.

We may be wondering why is it that the Lord had to undergo His baptism at the Jordan, because the baptism of St. John was the baptism of repentance, of the desire of man to turn back against their sinful and wicked ways, and embrace God’s love and grace. But the Lord was without any sin, and sin has no place in Him, so how is it then that the Lord asked for baptism from St. John?

This was precisely also why St. John was completely taken by surprise when the Lord asked him to baptise Him, and in fact St. John told the Lord that it was Him Who was supposed to baptise him, a human and a sinner as he was, even though he was indeed the Herald of the Saviour. St. John the Baptist himself had said that he was unworthy to even untie the sandals of the Lord, Who would come after him.

And here we see the Lord instead humbling Himself and abasing Himself so lowly that He was willing to take the place and position of a servant and a sinner, by asking to be baptised by St. John. Through His baptism, the Lord showed us that He truly wants to reach out to us, and to rescue us from our sins. And by this baptism, the Lord revealed before all, what He would do in order to save us all.

We celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord just right after the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord because traditionally together with the events of the Epiphany, as well as the Wedding at Cana, the Lord manifested and revealed Himself, His nature and the purpose of His coming into this world to all of us plainly, revealed before all of us that we may come to know of the infinite love of God.

The Lord at His Baptism was revealed by the Father Himself to be His Son, as the heavens were opened and the Lord’s voice was heard, ‘This is My Son, My Beloved, My favour rests on Him’. And a dove came down on the Lord, descending on Him from the Father, the symbol of the descent of the Holy Spirit. And therefore, at that very moment, the Lord did not just reveal His Son to be the Saviour of all, but also His nature as a God in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

At Christmas, we have seen the salvation of our God coming down to us in the flesh, born as Man, through the will of the Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit through Mary, the Mother of God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. In Our Lord, Jesus Christ, we have therefore seen the perfect manifestation of God’s love and His desire to save us all mankind, to make us whole again and to heal us from our predicaments and bondage to sin.

Now that we all know of how fortunate we are to have been beloved by God and how we have received this share in the glory and salvation in God through our own Christian baptism, sharing in the baptism of Christ, then we must reflect on just how important our baptism is to us, and what is meant for us to be Christians, having been brought into the Church through the holy water of baptism.

Through baptism, all of us have received a share in Christ, sharing in His humanity and in all that He had suffered, as He gathered all of our sins and their consequences to Himself, all nailed to the Cross as He suffered and eventually died. And through our baptism, we have been led through the waters, just as the Israelites of old passed through the Red Sea on their journey from slavery into freedom.

Thus, we have died to our old lives of sin and bondage to those sins, and brought through the power of God, via the holy waters of our Baptismal sacrament, and became new, free sons and daughters of mankind, and also becoming the children of God, by adoption because if Christ is the Son of God, then all of us who share in the humanity of Christ also become sons and daughters of God.

And as God’s beloved children and the people of the Light of God, today as we recall in the Lord’s baptism, marking the beginning of His ministry in this world, all of us are then reminded of the great commission that the Lord Himself has entrusted to us, to all baptised Christians and members of His Church. This commission is for us to go forth to the nations and baptise all in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that all of us must be the bearers of God’s truth and love to the nations, to all the people as members and parts of the Church. There are still so many people out there who have not yet received God’s truth and appreciate or know God’s love, unlike what we have ourselves received and experienced. And it is indeed up to us to share and reveal what we know to others.

How do we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is not by loud words and proclamations, but rather through our every actions in life, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem to be. Even the smallest actions can either make people to come to believe in God through us, or to push people away from God and His salvation. It is by all these that we can either inspire or prevent people from coming to God.

We can become genuine and good witnesses of our Christian faith through our dedication and faithful actions, in showing love and kindness, compassion and empathy to others whenever we can, in showing care and concern for those who need them, in loving sincerely and generously just as the Lord has loved us. Or have we instead caused scandal for our faith by our immoral and wicked actions?

These are some things that we really need to think about and consider carefully as we proceed in life. That is why, as we end this season of Christmas and begin the season of Ordinary Time, are we going to make these next few weeks be truly ordinary, brothers and sisters in Christ? Although they are called the days and season of the Ordinary Time, by no means in fact that they should be ordinary.

Rather, it means that it is time for us to get our actions ready and to do something, to participate as we should in the good works of the Church, just as the Lord Himself began His ministry after His baptism. Baptism is not the end of our faith journey, brothers and sisters in Christ, but it is in fact the beginning of a new journey, a journey filled with God’s grace and blessed by Him.

Let us all therefore commit ourselves from now on, brothers and sisters in Christ, to be fully dedicated to the Lord at all times, and to do whatever we can with the time and the opportunities given to us. Let us all contribute to the good works of the Church, and be faithful and genuine witnesses of Christ through our lives, and through how we touch the lives of others positively, at all times. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Sunday, 10 January 2021 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Mark 1 : 7-11

John preached to the people, saying, “After me comes One Who is more powerful than I am; I have baptised you with water, but He will baptise you in the Holy Spirit.”

At that time, Jesus came from Nazareth, a town of Galilee, and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And the moment He came up out of the water, heaven opened before Him, and He saw the Spirit coming down on Him like a dove.

And these words were heard from heaven, “You are My Son, the Beloved, the One I have chosen.”

Sunday, 10 January 2021 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 5 : 1-9

All those, who believe that Jesus is the Anointed, are born of God; whoever loves the Father, loves the Son. How may we know, that we love the children of God? If we love God and fulfil His commands, for God’s love requires us to keep His commands.

In fact, His commandments are not a burden because all those born of God overcome the world. And the victory, which overcomes the world, is our faith. Who has overcome the world? The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Jesus Christ was acknowledged through water, but also through blood. Not only water, but water and blood. And the Spirit, too, witnesses to Him, for the Spirit is truth. There are, then, three testimonies : the Spirit, the water and the blood, and these three witnesses agree.

If we accept human testimony, with greater reason must we accept that of God, given in favour of His Son.

Sunday, 10 January 2021 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One Who saved me.

You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation. Then you will say : “Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.”

“Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done, let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Sunday, 10 January 2021 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 55 : 1-11

Come here, all you who are thirsty, come to the water! All who have no money, come! Yes, without money and at no cost, buy and drink wine and milk. Why spend money on what is not food and labour for what does not satisfy? Listen to me, and you will eat well; you will enjoy the richest of fare.

Incline your ear and come to Me; listen, that your soul may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, I will fulfil in you My promises to David. See, I have given him for a witness to the nations, a leader and commander of the people. Likewise you will summon a nation unknown to you, and nations that do not know you will come hurrying to you for the sake of YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, for He has promoted you.

Seek YHVH while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked abandon his way, let him forsake his thoughts, let him turn to YHVH for He will have mercy, for our God is generous in forgiving. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, My ways are not your ways, says YHVH.

For as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts above your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return till they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is My Word that goes forth out of My mouth : It will not return to Me idle, but It shall accomplish My will, the purpose for which It has been sent.

Saturday, 9 January 2021 : Saturday after Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we heard the words of the Scriptures, we are reminded of the obligation that each and every one of us have in proclaiming the Lord’s Good News of salvation, in living our lives with faith and rejecting the many temptations to sin. All of us should be inspirations to each other that we may show one another what it truly means to be Christians, that is to be those who truly believe in Christ.

In our Gospel reading today, taken from the Gospel of St. John the Apostle, we heard of the account of what happened after the Lord Jesus was baptised by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan. Jesus began His ministry and was gathering a lot of followers at the same time as St. John the Baptist himself still performing his ministry and baptised many. The disciples of St. John were worried and came up to him with the concern that the Lord was drawing more and more people away from them.

But St. John calmly and gladly remarked that it was just exactly as how it was supposed to be. As the servant, his role was merely to do the will of God, and as the Herald to announce the coming of the Messiah, his role was to prepare the way for the Lord in this world. And at that time, all these had been accomplished, and the Lord has begun His ministry to a great and successful beginning. St. John the Baptist humbly remarked that it was only right that while his Lord and Master increased in importance and prominence, that he decreased in these.

He showed us that as a true disciple of the Lord, all of us need to focus ourselves on God and adhere closely to Him, and we should not allow pride, ambition, ego and desire to dictate how we live out our lives. Otherwise, we will easily swayed by those many worldly temptations and lose our way, falling deep into the trap of sin. Instead, all of us are called to be humble and to be faithful to God at all times.

In our first reading today, St. John the Apostle in his Epistle mentioned how all of us as Christians are the holy people of God and that therefore we should be free from sin and reject the path of sin, so that we will not end up being trapped more and more in the path of sin, which will end up in our eternal damnation if we are not careful. If we are truly God’s children and His beloved ones, we should reject all the corruptions of sin.

This means that we should be righteous and just in all of our actions and dealings as true Christians. Of course this is much easier said than done, as there will certainly be plenty of obstacles going forward if we choose to walk down this path. But as long as we stay true to our faith in God, then we should not falter or fall, and by the grace of God, we can overcome even the greatest challenges ahead.

Now, the question is, what are we then going to do as Christians in our living actions and in our daily lives? Through our baptism all of us have received the commandments of God, to love one another and to love Him with all of our heart, with all of our might and strength, and dedicating ourselves to His cause. As we are about to conclude the celebrations of the season of Christmas, let us all make good use of the time and opportunities given to us, to be true witnesses of the Lord.

Let us all devote ourselves each and every moments of our lives like St. John the Baptist and the many others had done, and let us all do our best, in whatever we do so that, no matter how little or insignificant those actions that we may do, we may indeed bring a difference into the lives of others, and help many more people to come closer to God and receive His providence, grace and love just as we ourselves have received from God.

May God be with us always, and may He continue to guide us through this life, helping us all to remain faithful to His laws and commandments, and inspire in our hearts strong love and faith in Him. May God bless us all generously, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 9 January 2021 : Saturday after Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 22-30

At that time, Jesus went into the territory of Judea with His disciples. He stayed there with them and baptised. John was also baptising in Aenon, near Salim, where water was plentiful; people came to him and were baptised. This happened before John was put in prison.

Now John’s disciples had been questioned by a Jew about spiritual cleansing, so they came to John and said, “Rabbi, the One Who was with you across the Jordan, and about Whom you spoke favourably, is now baptising, and all are going to Him.”

John answered, “No one can receive anything, except what has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.’ Only the bridegroom has the bride; but the friend of the bridegroom stands by and listens, and rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s voice. My joy is now full. It is necessary that He increase, but that I decrease.”

Saturday, 9 January 2021 : Saturday after Epiphany (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5 and 6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance in praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips, this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Saturday, 9 January 2021 : Saturday after Epiphany (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 5 : 14-21

Through the Son of God we are fully confident that whatever we ask, according to His will, He will grant us. If we know that He hears us whenever we ask, we know that we already have what we asked of Him.

If you see your brother committing sin, a sin which does not lead to death, pray for him, and God will give life to your brother. I speak, of course, of the sin which does not lead to death. There is also a sin that leads to death; I do not speak of praying about this. Every kind of wrongdoing is sin, but not all sin leads to death.

We know, that those born of God do not sin, but the One Who was born of God, protects them, and the evil one does not touch them. We know, that we belong to God, while the whole world lies in evil. We know, that the Son of God has come and has given us power to know the truth. We are in Him Who is true, His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God, and eternal life. My dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

Friday, 8 January 2021 : Friday after Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded that through Christ, all of us have been saved and rescued from our great predicament of sin, that we all have been healed and made whole once again through His loving sacrifice on the Cross. He did all of these by the outpouring of His own Blood, the Most Precious Blood by which He has absolved all of us from our sins.

In our Gospel passage today we heard of the Lord Jesus and His action in healing a leper who sought healing from Him. The man asked the Lord to make him clean from his leprosy, a terrible condition that had sundered and separated him from the community for according to the Law, those who had been afflicted by leprosy had to leave the community and wander off in the wilderness in order to prevent its spread.

Then the Lord reached out to the leper and said that He wanted to heal him. He healed him immediately from his leprosy and he was whole once again. By this He has restored the link that the leper had once had with his community and returned him to a new life free from the terror of the leprosy. And this is in fact symbolic of what the Lord Himself had done to us.

What I mean is that, all of us, while we were still in the state of sin, corrupted and darkened by all the terrible evils in this world, then the Lord has also reached out to us and touched us by His generous love. He has healed us from our sins, which have no other cure besides the forgiveness from God. Through those sins, we have been separated from God just as how the leper had been separated and cast out from the society. But thanks to God, that is not our end fate.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are all called to remember this amazing love that God has shown us, His mercy, compassion and forgiveness. All of us have received healing from the Lord and if we are faithful, we shall receive the fullness of His eternal glory, grace and love. This is what St. John in our first reading today has emphasised, reminding us of the love of God.

The Lord has shown us His love, by the testimonies of water, Spirit and Blood. In two days’ time, we are going to celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, marking the end of the liturgical season of Christmas, and reminding us that through the Lord Jesus and His Baptism at the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descending on Him, God revealed to all that this was truly His Son, the Beloved One sent into the world in order to save it.

And as I mentioned earlier, by the outpouring of His Blood from the Cross, the love of God has been bared to us in its fullness. By His Precious Blood we have been cleansed and we have received the assurance of grace and salvation. However, many of us are still ignorant and in denial of God’s generous love, compassion and kindness. The Lord has called us and is reaching out to us, but many of us have not yet responded to Him or even shut Him out of our lives.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us reflect on our lives and consider carefully how we are to proceed in life. Let us all turn towards the Lord and remind ourselves of just how great the love that He has shown us, and how He had suffered grievously, endured the worst punishments and humiliations, and died on the Cross for our sake. Let us all therefore seek Him and entrust ourselves to Him and His love with ever greater devotion from now on.

May the Lord be with us always and may He bless us all in all of our efforts and good endeavours from now on. May God be our Guide and strength in this journey of life. May the Lord’s love be with us and within us always. Amen.