Wednesday, 11 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, each and every one of us are reminded that we can indeed put our complete and undivided attention and trust in the Lord, for it is in Him alone that we will find true joy and comfort, and we will not be disappointed should we decide to put our faith in Him, as He is always ever faithful to the Covenant that He has made with us.

In our first reading today from the Book of the prophet Isaiah we heard the prophet Isaiah spoke again regarding of the promise of good life and salvation which all of us will receive from God, and in today’s passage, the prophet spoke of just how mighty and all-powerful God is, and everything is possible for Him, as He is truly almighty and omnipotent in all things. And yet, this almighty and all-powerful God wants to love each and every one of us mankind, whom He has made to be His own people.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard the Lord Jesus Himself said, as He called all of us to Him, offering His yoke to us, as the lighter yoke than that of the yoke of the world, and calling on us all who are weary and heavily burdened, that He will give us rest. This is indeed a message that brings great comfort to all of us just as how it must have brought great relief to all those who heard Christ right there and then.

Yet, if we notice carefully, the Lord did not say that He will immediately remove from all of us all obstacles and make our lives easy and good. In fact, by using the term ‘yoke’ which is the burden used to bind the cattle and beasts of burden at that time, the Lord indirectly referred to the fact that for those who follow Him, there will be trials and challenges to come, and to be a faithful Christian we must be prepared to stand up for our faith and defend it.

But this is still better compared to the alternative path, in which we may not suffer as much for now, and we may enjoy the journey more and be pleased more for now. That is because while the path of the Lord may seem to be more challenging and difficult for us to walk, but in truth, it leads us into the true and eternal rest in God, when we will receive the fullness of the inheritance, happiness and glory that God has promised us all.

On the other hand, if we choose the other path, the path of worldliness and the path advocated by the devil, it may seem to be less challenging and easier, and we will likely be more accepted and have more peace in life, but all these are just deceptions to prevent us from realising that this path is leading us into damnation and eternal suffering in hell. And this is why many people ended up falling into the same temptation and fell away from God’s path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to progress through the season of Advent we are all called to reflect on our lives and how we have lived them thus far. Have we been walking faithfully with God and putting our trust in Him, or have we instead sought the comforts and good things in life that as Christians we have been lukewarm in living our faith and been inactive and dormant in embracing our faith in God?

That is why today perhaps we should look upon the examples set by one of our holy predecessors, namely Pope St. Damasus I, whose feast we are celebrating today. Pope St. Damasus I was the Pope and leader of the Universal Church at a time when there were plenty of challenges and difficulties facing the faithful and the Church, as there were many heresies and false teachings threatening to divide the Church among many other issues.

Pope St. Damasus managed and led the Church through those difficult years. He spoke out firmly against the heresies and those leading the Church and the faithful into them. Pope St. Damasus had his hands full in managing all these issues and yet he continued to do his best to serve the faithful in his role as Pope and leader of the Church. He wrote extensively and also supported St. Jerome in compiling the Latin version of the Bible, namely the Vulgate.

Pope St. Damasus also worked hard to maintain good relations with the Church leaders in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire, and he even played a major role in the resolution of the leadership and succession disputes in the Eastern Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria. Truly, we can see just how busy Pope St. Damasus I must have been at that time and the kind of immense trials that he had to endure in being faithful to God and to the missions entrusted to him, yet he remained true to his faith and dedicated himself wholeheartedly.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore follow in the footsteps of Pope St. Damasus I, in being faithful to God and in putting our trust in Him, that we may walk courageously in the path that He has shown us even despite all the challenges and trials that we may have to face along the way. May the Lord guide us and help us throughout this journey and may He bless us all always. Amen.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Popes)

Matthew 11 : 28-30

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For My yoke is easy; and My burden is light.”

Wednesday, 11 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Popes)

Psalm 102 : 1-2, 3-4, 8 and 10

Praise YHVH, my soul; all my being, praise His holy Name! Praise YHVH, my soul, and do not forget all His kindness.

He forgives all your sins and heals all your sickness; He redeems your life from destruction and crowns you with love and compassion.

YHVH is gracious and merciful, abounding in love and slow to anger. He does not treat us according to our sins, nor does He punish us as we deserve.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Popes)

Isaiah 40 : 25-31

To whom, then, will you liken Me or make Me equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and see : who has created all this? He has ordered them as a starry host and called them each by name. So mighty is His power, so great His strength, that not one of them is missing.

How can you say, o Jacob, how can you complain, o Israel, that your destiny is hidden from Me, that your rights are ignored by YHVH? Have you not known, have you not heard that YHVH is an everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth? He does not grow tired or weary, His knowledge is without limit.

He gives strength to the enfeebled, He gives vigour to the wearied. Youth may grow tired and faint, young men will stumble and fall, but those who hope in YHVH will renew their strength. They will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and never tire.

Sunday, 11 December 2016 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)
Matthew 11 : 2-11

At that time, when John the Baptist heard in prison about the activities of Christ, he sent a message by his disciples, asking Him, “Are You the One Who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus answered them, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see : the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life, and Good News is reaching the poor; and how fortunate is the one who does not take offence at Me!”

As the messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John : “When you went out to the desert, what did you expect to see? A reed swept by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? People who wear fine clothes live in palaces. What did you really go out to see? A prophet?”

“Yes, indeed, and even more than a prophet. He is the man of whom Scripture says : I send My messenger ahead of You to prepare the way before You. I tell you this : no one greater than John the Baptist has come forward from among the sons of women, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Sunday, 11 December 2016 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)
James 5 : 7-10

Be patient then, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. See how the sower waits for the precious fruits of the earth, looking forward patiently to the autumn and spring rains. You also be patient and do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming is near.

Beloved, do not fight among yourselves and you will not be judged. See, the judge is already at the door. Take for yourselves, as an example of patience, the suffering of the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s Name.

Sunday, 11 December 2016 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)
Psalm 145 : 7, 8-9a, 9bc-10

He gives justice to the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord straightens the bent. The Lord loves the virtuous, but He brings to ruin the way of the wicked. The Lord protects the stranger.

He sustains the widow and the orphan. The Lord will reign forever, your God, o Zion, from generation to generation. Alleluia!

Sunday, 11 December 2016 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)
Isaiah 35 : 1-6a, 10

Let the wilderness and the arid land rejoice, the desert be glad and blossom. Covered with flowers, it sings and shouts with joy, adorned with the splendour of Lebanon, the magnificence of Carmel and Sharon. They, my people, see the glory of YHVH, the majesty of our God.

Give vigour to weary hands and strength to enfeebled knees. Say to those who are afraid : “Have courage, do not fear. See, your God comes, demanding justice. He is the God Who rewards, the God Who comes to save you.”

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unsealed. Then will the lame leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing and shout. For the ransomed of YHVH will return : with everlasting joy upon their heads, they will come to Zion singing, gladness and joy marching with them, while sorrow and sighing flee away.

Friday, 11 December 2015 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Popes)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we heard the differences of what God expects, and what men expects. Human expectations and divine expectations often differ in how they clash and in how they are incompatible. The world expects many things, and they are very difficult to please and satisfy, just as the desires of men are great and ever growing.

This was made clear in the Gospel today, in how the prophet and servant of God, John the Baptist came into the world to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, he was seen as a madman whose habits and works resembled those who were uncivilised and barbarous, as he wandered in the desert, eating nothing but wild honey and kept an unkempt appearance.

And then the Lord Jesus when He came into the world, He lived as men were, and He also went to approach the sinners, meeting with them, speaking with them, sitting at a meal with them, eating and drinking together, and through His interactions, He brought the mercy of God upon them. And yet, to the world that is never satisfied, what the Lord Jesus had done was a travesty and horrible to behold.

All these should bring us to the reality that the world is truly hard to please, and will never be pleased at whatever we do as the followers and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. This world is particularly obsessed with appearances, and they feared those whose actions and appearances do not stand with and do not fall into what they deemed as an appropriate and worthy appearance and behaviour.

This is why, especially in today’s world, a place of ever increasing materialism and commercialism, where greed and desires rule the hearts of men, it is important for us all to stand strong in our faith and not to fall into the trap of sin and the desires and greed of our hearts. We must be careful lest we become subservient to our own desires and become like those who live only to be acceptable to the world.

That was precisely what the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had done. They lived not for the Lord God or for the people who had been entrusted to them as shepherds to guide, but they lived for themselves, trying to gain the approval of men over the approval of God. Therefore, many of their actions depended on the approval of men, and for the people to look at them and praise their piety, but yet inside their hearts, there is no God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is not the path that we all should take. On the contrary, we should heed the examples of Christ our Lord, Who lived not to please the world, but instead to serve the people to whom He had been sent into the world for, to be their Shepherd, their Leader and their King, guiding them to the right paths, and often not worrying about the approval of the world in His actions, but rather serving the truth and seeking the full execution of the truth.

Today we celebrate the feast of a faithful servant of God, Pope St. Damasus I, one of the early Popes, who was a great and pious leader of the faithful, who also did not fear to take certain actions that were unpopular, if these were for the good of the whole Church and for the good of the faithful. He was particularly known for his opposition to heretical teachings such as those espoused by the Arians, and he was also committed to the unity and harmony within the Church.

Pope St. Damasus I helped many segments of the faithful and helped to lay the strong foundation for the Universal Church, fostering active cooperation between the many churches and leaders of the Church, engaging one another actively to help lead the people of God on the way towards their salvation in God. Through his dedication and good works, he had brought about much good for the people of God.

And even though in his position he has the power and great influence over many, but he did not let his ego, human desires or the temptations of Satan to influence his own actions and in how he remained deeply faithful and devoted to the Lord and His ways. He remained humble and all the things that he had done, he did them for the greater glory of God and for the salvation of mankind.

As now we have heard of the examples of Pope St. Damasus I, and in how we also should know how many other saints and faithful servants of our Lord had lived, and heeding the failures and the errors of those who came before us, let us all commit ourselves to renew our faith through action and by our deeds that show our faith in the Lord, by staying true to Him even amidst all the difficult temptations of the world and the persuasions of Satan.

May Almighty God be with us always, and may He always guide our paths, so that we will be able to stay true to our faith, and stand up proudly to defend it and to profess it amidst a world shrouded in darkness. May the light of the Lord, shown through us and our actions, be able to light the path to the salvation in God to one another, and by our works may we bring as many souls as possible to the eternal life in Christ. Amen.

Friday, 11 December 2015 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of Pope St. Damasus I, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Popes)

Matthew 11 : 16-19

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples and to the people, “Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the marketplace, about whom their companions complain : ‘We played the flute for you, but you would not dance. We sang a funeral song, but you would not cry!'”

“For John came fasting, and people said, ‘He is possessed.’ Then the Son of Man came, He ate and drank, and people said, ‘Look at this Man! A glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet the outcome will prove Wisdom to be right.”