Sunday, 5 December 2021 : Second Sunday of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 3 : 1-6

It was the fifteenth year of the rule of the Emperor Tiberius : Pontius Pilatus was governor of Judea; Herod ruled over Galilee, his brother Philip ruled over the country of Iturea and Trachonitis: and Lysanias ruled over Abilene. Annas and Caiaphas were the High Priests at the time when the word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the desert.

John proclaimed a baptism, for repentant people to obtain forgiveness of sins; and he went through the whole country bordering the Jordan River. It was just as is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah : Listen to this voice crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His path straight! The valleys will be filled and the mountains and hills made low. Everything crooked will be made straight and the rough paths smooth; and every human being will see the salvation of God!’

Sunday, 5 December 2021 : Second Sunday of Advent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Philippians 1 : 4-6, 8-11

And when I pray for you, I pray with joy. I cannot forget all of you shared with me in the service of the Gospel, from the first day, until now. Since God began such a good work, in you, I am certain, that He will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus.

God knows, that I love you dearly, with the love of Christ Jesus, and in my prayers, I ask that your love may lead you, each day, to a deeper knowledge and clearer discernment, that you may have good criteria for everything. So you may be pure of heart, and come, blameless, to the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of holiness, that comes through Christ Jesus, for the glory and praise of God.

Sunday, 5 December 2021 : Second Sunday of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 125 : 1-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

When YHVH brought the exiles back to Zion, we were like those moving in a dream. Then, our mouths were filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.

Among the nations it was said, “YHVH has done great things for them.” YHVH had done great things for us, and we were glad indeed.

Bring back our exiles, o YHVH, like fresh streams in the desert. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs and shouts of joy.

They went forth weeping, bearing the seeds for sowing, they will come home with joyful shouts, bringing their harvested sheaves.

Sunday, 5 December 2021 : Second Sunday of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Baruch 5 : 1-9

Jerusalem, put off your garment of mourning and unhappiness, put on the splendour and glory of God forever. Wrap yourself in the mantle of holiness that comes from God, put on your head the crown of glory of the Eternal One. For God will show your splendour to every being under heaven. He will call your name forever, “peace in justice” and “glory in the fear of the Lord.”

Rise up, Jerusalem, stand on the heights. Look towards the east and see your children gathered together from the setting of the sun to its rising, by the voice of the Holy One, rejoicing because God has remembered them. They left you on foot, taken away by the enemy. God will lead them back, carried gloriously like royal princes.

For God has resolved to bring low every high mountain and the everlasting hills, to fill up the valleys and level out the ground, in order that Israel may walk in safety under the glory of God. Even the forests and the fragrant trees will give shade to Israel at God’s command. For God will lead Israel with joy by the light of His glory, escorting them with His mercy and justice.

Sunday, 28 November 2021 : First Sunday of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we mark the beginning of a new liturgical year and more significantly, the beginning of the season of Advent, the time of preparation for the celebration of Christmas, which we are going to celebrate in about four weeks’ time. This season of Advent is a blessed and great time for all of us to reflect, take a step back and see how our lives have been, and how ready we are to welcome the Lord into our hearts and families, into our lives this Christmas.

If we all walk around and see the shopping malls and many other places, we would have seen the Christmas decorations are already up in full force, in some places even as early as from September onwards. We surely have heard the usual Christmas songs and the festive mood being all around us, with Christmas sales and shopping on the upswing literally everywhere. But before we jump into the craze and start to be swallowed by that Christmas festivities, let us all remind ourselves brothers and sisters in Christ, what Christmas is truly all about.

Christmas is not about all the bling and the festivities, all the glamour, food and drinks, all the merrymaking and songs. What is Christmas, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is, just as its name says, something about Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. It is a celebration that is about and should be focused on Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, Saviour of the world, Our Lord and King, Who unfortunately have often been sidelined and even excluded from His own celebration. It is the celebration of His birth into this world, the moment when He revealed Himself in the flesh to all, after having spent nine months in His mother’s womb.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, we heard of the words of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah regarding the salvation that God would send His people Israel, a liberation and redemption for the people of Judah and the descendant of the Israelites coming from the House of David, the Shoot of Righteousness and the Shoot of Jesse. This was the same prophecy and revelation that the Lord had given through His other prophets, especially Isaiah, Jeremiah’s predecessor.

Contextually, at that time the prophet Jeremiah lived in the last years of the kingdom of Judah when it was about to be destroyed and conquered by the Babylonians. For many years, the kingdom and the people of Judah had been beset by various troubles and crushed by their neighbours and enemies. They had not been faithful to the Lord and did what were wicked in the sight of the Lord and men alike. Thus, the Lord meted out His justice and punished their wrongdoing, and they had to endure those sufferings and humiliation as a result of their infidelities.

However, at the same time, God still loved them all wholeheartedly, and ever since the beginning, just as all of us mankind had fallen into sin, He had never given up on us. He has always reached out to us, calling on us to return to Him, sending to us prophets and messengers to reveal His message of truth and love, calling on all of us, His beloved people, to turn away from our wicked and sinful ways, embracing His mercy and compassionate love, and find reconciliation through Him. In that same way, God sent Jeremiah to the people of Judah to deliver the message of Hope.

Christ is the fulfilment of this prophecy that the Lord has given His people through all the ages, the perfect fulfilment of God’s promises and the manifestation of His Love. Through Christ, a world in darkness has seen a great light, that is the true Light of Christ, the Light of His Hope and salvation. And it is this Hope that we are focusing at on this First Sunday of Advent today. Each of the Sundays of Advent has a specific theme to prepare us for the coming of Christmas, which in order is Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Thus, we open this season of Advent with a firm reminder of the Hope in Our Lord and His salvation.

Just as Jeremiah was sent to the people of Judah at the time of their darkest moments to remind them of God’s light, truth and hope, thus all of us are reminded that in Christ lies our true Hope and He is the One that all of us should be heading towards and focusing on, and not on the glamours and excessive celebrations that are not focused on Christ but rather on ourselves and our greedy desires. We must ask ourselves, when we celebrate and rejoice this Christmas, do we rejoice because of Christ and the Hope and Salvation that He brings, or is it because of our own desire for self-indulgence and pleasure?

Today we listened in our Gospel passage today the words of the Lord Jesus Himself to His disciples from the Gospel of St. Luke, which spoke of the end of times and the coming of sufferings for those who are faithful to God, which we have heard in the past week at the end of our previous liturgical year. It is a reminder for us that just as we prepare for the celebration of Christmas, which marks the moment of the Lord’s first coming and appearance in this world, two millennia ago, we are also called to prepare ourselves for the Lord’s Second Coming, which will happen at the end of days.

The Lord has told His disciples and all of us to be prepared for the coming trials and challenges, to be ready for His coming whenever it will be. No one knows the time of His coming and no one has any idea when everything will happen as the Lord has told us, but it will surely happen and we have to be prepared for it. Otherwise, we may realise that we are caught unaware and unprepared, and have an eternity of regret when we are judged to be lacking in faith and are cast to the eternal damnation and darkness. And it is not because God did not love us, but rather because we ourselves have rejected Him and His generous offer of love and forgiveness.

The Lord has reminded us of this so that we may prepare ourselves well and be ready to welcome Him when He comes again. This Advent, all of us are reminded of this reality and that Christmas is not all about merrymaking, partying and excesses in our feasting, jolly making and the gifts and other things we usually associate with Christmas. Instead, it is a time for us to be truly joyful knowing that the Lord has loved us so much that He has given us our Hope and Salvation in Christ, Who was incarnate in the flesh and born the Son of Mary in Bethlehem.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we prepare ourselves this First Sunday of Advent let us all reflect deeply on the Hope that Christ has brought to us by His coming into this world. Let us rediscover the true Spirit of Christmas, not one of excesses and greed, not one of unbridled feasting and desire to outdo one another in opulence, but rather a renewed faith in Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. And it is important that as we prepare ourselves this Advent, we also begin a journey of self-rediscovery, to rediscover our faith in God and to realise that newfound Hope that we have in Him, that no matter how difficult and challenging our lives may be now, the Lord will always be by our side and will provide for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make good use of this season of Advent to prepare ourselves well, in heart, body and mind so that we will be ready to welcome the Lord in our hearts, into our families and houses, and make Him truly the King of our entire existence. Let us all be the bearers of His Hope and Light, His Truth and His Love to our fellow brothers and sisters all around us. Let us be the witnesses of His loving kindness by showing that same love and generosity to our fellow men, especially to those who are lacking in love and ostracised, the poor and the needy.

May our Advent journey be meaningful and fruitful, and may God be our guide and strength, our compass and light, our hope and courage in the midst of the darkness and trials in this world. May God bless us all and strengthen us, that our Advent preparation and our upcoming Christmas celebrations will be truly wonderful. Amen.

Sunday, 28 November 2021 : First Sunday of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 21 : 25-28, 34-36

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Then there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, perplexed when they hear the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint with fear at the mere thought of what is to come upon the world, for the forces of the universe will be shaken. Then, at that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

“So, when you see things begin to happen, stand erect and lift up your heads, for your deliverance is drawing near. Be on your guard : do not immerse yourselves in a life of pleasure, drunkenness and worldly cares, lest that day catch you unaware, like a trap! For, like a snare, will that day come upon all the inhabitants of the earth. But watch at all times and pray, that you may be able to escape all that is going to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Sunday, 28 November 2021 : First Sunday of Advent (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

1 Thessalonians 3 : 12 – 1 Thessalonians 4 : 2

May the Lord increase, more and more, your love for each other and for all people, as He increases our love for you. May He strengthen you, internally, to be holy and blameless before God, Our Father, on the day that Jesus, Our Lord, will come with all His saints.

For the rest, brothers, we ask you, in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, and we urge you, to live in a way that pleases God, just as you have learnt from us. This you do, but try to do still more. You know the instructions we gave you on behalf of the Lord Jesus.

Sunday, 28 November 2021 : First Sunday of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 24 : 4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.

The ways of the Lord are love and faithfulness for those who keep His covenant and precepts. The Lord gives advice to those who revere Him and makes His covenant known to them.

Sunday, 28 November 2021 : First Sunday of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Jeremiah 33 : 14-16

The days are coming when I shall fulfil the promise that I made in favour of Israel and Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause to sprout the Shoot of righteousness from David’s line; He will practice justice and righteousness in the land.

In those days Judah will experience salvation and Jerusalem will live in safety. He will be called YHVH-Our-Righteousness.

Sunday, 21 November 2021 : Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Thirty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday is the last Sunday of the current liturgical year, as next Sunday will mark the beginning of the new liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the Advent season leading towards Christmas. This Sunday every year we mark the occasion of the great Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, also known as the Solemnity of Christ the King. This great celebration marks the end of every liturgical years reminding us of Our one true Lord and King, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and of all Creation.

As we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are called to reflect on the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for He is Our True King, the One Who lords over us all and the font and source of all authority in this world. He is the One to Whom we ultimately give our obedience and commitment to, even as we all obey the laws and the customs of the land, of our own respective states and countries. We reflect on the Lord our Saviour and King, Who willingly came down to dwell in our midst and to walk among us, taking up upon Himself our humble human forms, that He may share with us our humanity.

And by His sharing of our humanity, He became the One to lead us out of the darkness and into in the light. Through Him we have received the assurances of salvation and eternal life, as by His most loving sacrifice on the Cross, He gave us the perfect gift of His love and the gift of everlasting life through His sacrifice for our sake. In Him, Our Lord and King, enthroned upon His Cross, lifted up high between Heaven and earth, all of us have shared in His death, dying to our past wickedness, disobedience and sins, and sharing with Him the glorious Resurrection and new life through His own Resurrection on Easter.

Let us now spend some time to discern the readings of the Scripture we have just heard earlier on, beginning with our first reading taken from the Book of the prophet Daniel. In that passage we heard of the heavenly vision of the prophet Daniel, who received the vision of Heaven, seeing a Son of Man together with One of Great Age, which was in fact the manifestation of the Lord and His Holy Trinity, as the Son of Man was none other than Jesus, also the Son of God, while the One of Great Age referred to God the Father, the Creator of all.

In that vision, we were told that the One of Great Age, the Father, granted dominion, power and authority, of kingship over all creation and the whole universe to the Son of Man, which is symbolic of what we are celebrating on this day. In that action, the Lord revealed to Daniel and also to all of us that He is the One true Lord, Master and King of all, the One and only One Who has authority and power over all things, over all beings and over all creation. All kings, lords and rulers, all beings in Heaven, on earth and even in hell are all subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ, One God, One True King of all.

And as we heard in that passage from the prophet Daniel, he mentioned that the Kingship of Christ our Lord is clear and true, a true dominion that is for all time and for all things, unchanging and eternal. It is not merely just a symbolic kingship or rule that Our Lord’s Kingship us about, but a true Kingship, the King over all of us regardless of our national allegiance and regardless of our obedience to any worldly entities and states. The Lord’s kingship transcends the boundary of states and nations, and His kingship transcends any definition of race, or political affiliation and any other categories or groupings that we often divide ourselves into.

And in our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus speaking to Pontius Pilate, the Governor of Judea during the time of His Passion and suffering, when He was about to be condemned to death by the same Pontius Pilate. I am sure all of us are familiar with what happened at that time, as the Lord had been falsely charged and accused by the chief priests, the elders and the Pharisees of the attempt to rebel against the Emperor in Rome, while also charging Him of blasphemy against God.

In the claim that the enemies of the Lord made, they claimed that Jesus used the title of the ‘King of the Jews’ in referring to Himself and therefore, together with His large and popular following, He was a great threat to the Romans. To the Romans, who were overlords and masters of the land at the time, there was no greater crime than to rebel against the state and the Emperor, by claiming kingship or leading a rebellion for freedom against the Empire. Such a crime was punishable by death, and not just that, but those guilty were often punished by crucifixion, reserved for the worst of offenders.

Thus Pilate asked the Lord for clarification, whether He was truly the King of the Jews, and the Lord then asked him back where he had heard it from, which Pilate replied in amusement because it was those chief priests who had said so. When Pilate said that he had the power to release Him or to crucify Him, he was actually referring to the fact that if the Lord could prove that He was actually slandered by the chief priests and that they falsely accused Him, Pilate could very well have freed Him. But the Lord spoke the truth then when He did say that, yes, He is indeed a King, although His kingdom is not of this world.

The Lord Jesus did speak the truth, that His Kingdom is not of this world and is unlike anything that this world has ever seen. His kingdom was not built on earthly glory or material wealth, power or any other things that became the foundation of other kingdoms and dominions of the world. Instead, His Kingdom is built on His own authority, true authority and power that surpasses anything else. He did not depend on those things that sustained kings and lords, like money, wealth, power, fame amongst other things. He has no need for such things.

And unlike other kings and rulers who always tried to vindicate and prove themselves, and many of them seeking glory and greatness, with some even seeking to be regarded as divine and to be worshipped, where man wanted and aspired to become like God, to be gods and deities, in their hopeless and meaningless pursuits for these purposes, the Lord Jesus Christ was unique. How is that so? That is because He Who is the personification of all glory and power, full of power and full of glory, fully Divine and Almighty, has willingly laid down His glory and majesty, emptying Himself and taking up the condition of a criminal and a slave, exactly at the moment when He was crucified.

Yet, it was by humbling Himself so completely and perfectly, that Our Lord and King won His greatest victory, in delivering all of us, His beloved people from the clutches of sin and death. The Lord has triumphed and delivered us from the certainty of death and destruction, and fulfilled everything that He has promised to us and to our ancestors from the very beginning of time. The Lord our King has laid down His own life, like a Good Shepherd laying down his life for his sheep, all because He truly loves us and cares for each one of us. All of us are precious to Him and He knows all of us by our names.

And as we heard in the Book of Revelations in our second reading today, the Lord Jesus, our King will come again triumphant at the end of time, He Who has conquered evil, sin and death. He shall come again at the end of all things, to gather all of us, His beloved people and He will bring us into the kingdom prepared for all of us, the kingdom of everlasting life, filled with true joy, peace and love. The Lord, Our King and Saviour will bring us all together and deliver us the final triumph and victory.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all spend some time to reflect on what we have just heard and discussed. Are we thankful that we have Jesus as Our Lord and King, not as a distant person or being, but as One Whom we can always depend on, One Who knows our sufferings and have gone through the same sufferings as we have endured, One Who loves us most deeply from His heart and had endured with that love despite of our infidelities and stubbornness in rejecting His love and betraying Him.

But if Christ is truly our King, then why is it that so many of us are still living our lives and acted in ways that are contrary to the teachings and the ways of the Lord? Why is it that so many of us disregarded Him, betrayed Him and preferred to walk in the path of sin rather than to follow Him wholeheartedly and obeying Him as we should as our Lord and King. These are important questions that we should ask ourselves as we ponder on our own lives and actions thus far in life.

Let us all as we rejoice in this great Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, remember that Christ is our one and only true Lord, Master and King. And let this not be mere empty commitment and dedication, but one of true love for our King, of true and living dedication in each and every moments of our lives. Let us renew our commitment to Him, obey Him from now on in His Law, commandments and will. Let us follow Him wholeheartedly from now on and have no more doubts in our hearts.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, our Saviour and King continue to reign in our hearts, and let us always remember His love for us, as He gave His life and suffered for our sake. May He empower us all and strengthen us with the faith that we may glorify Him and proclaim Him courageously in our respective lives, to the best of our ability. May Christ, Our Lord and King reign forever and evermore, in our hearts and in the whole world. Amen.