Sunday, 19 January 2020 : Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

John 1 : 29-34

At that time, the next day John saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world! It is He of Whom I said : A Man comes after me, Who is already ahead of me, for He was before me. I myself did not know Him, but I came baptising to prepare for Him, so that He might be revealed in Israel.”

And John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit coming down on Him like a dove from heaven, and resting on Him. I myself did not know Him, but God, Who sent me to baptise, told me, “You will see the Spirit coming down, and resting, on the One Who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’ Yes, I have seen! And I declare that this is the Chosen One of God!”

Tuesday, 24 December 2019 : 4th Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 67-79

Zechariah, filled with Holy Spirit, sang this canticle, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has come and redeemed His people. In the house of David His servant, He has raised up for us a victorious Saviour; as He promised through His prophets of old, salvation from our enemies and from the hand of our foes.”

“He has shown mercy to our fathers; and remembered His holy covenant, the oath He swore to Abraham, our father, to deliver us from the enemy, that we might serve Him fearlessly, as a holy and righteous people, all the days of our lives.”

“And you, my child, shall be called prophet of the Most High, for you shall go before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, and to enable His people to know of their salvation, when He comes to forgive their sins. This is the work of the mercy of our God, Who comes from on high as a rising sun, shining on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, and guiding our feet into the way of peace.”

Monday, 23 December 2019 : 4th Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of Kanty, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 1 : 57-66

When the time came for Elizabeth, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbours and relatives heard that the merciful Lord had done a wonderful thing for her, and they rejoiced with her. When, on the eighth day, they came to attend the circumcision of the child, they wanted to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.”

They said to her, “But no one in your family has that name!” and they asked the father, by means of signs, for the name he wanted to give him. Zechariah asked for a writing tablet, and wrote on it, “His name is John,” and they were very surprised. Immediately Zechariah could speak again, and his first words were in praise of God.

A holy fear came on all in the neighbourhood, and throughout the hill country of Judea the people talked about these events. All who heard of it pondered in their minds, and wondered, “What will this child be?” For they understood that the hand of the Lord was with him.

Sunday, 15 December 2019 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Rose (Gaudete Sunday) or Purple/Violet

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.

Saturday, 14 December 2019 : 2nd Week of Advent, Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 17 : 10-13

At that time, the disciples of Jesus asked Him, “Why do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah must come first?”

Jesus answered, “So it is : first comes Elijah; and he will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come; and they did not recognise him; and they treated him as they pleased. And they will also make the Son of Man suffer.”

Then the disciples understood that Jesus was referring to John the Baptist.

Thursday, 29 August 2019 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist, remembering the moment when this very important saint suffered and endured martyrdom for his faith, for his never failing zeal and dedication to God to the very end, even at the cost of his life. And St. John the Baptist is one of the few saints in the Scriptures who have more than one feast day celebrated in his honour.

That is because St. John the Baptist played a very important and crucial role in the history of our salvation, as he is the Herald of the Messiah of God, the one who was prophesied to come just before the coming of God’s Saviour, the Promised One, in order to proclaim His coming to the world. St. John the Baptist himself was also a relative of the Lord, having been born to Elizabeth, Mary’s relative, and therefore St. John the Baptist is also a relative of the Lord Jesus.

And since his birth and youth, St. John the Baptist had been called by God to do His will, as he went on his journey and went into the wilderness, and when he was ready, proclaiming God’s imminent coming to His people, calling them all to repentance and to turn away from their sins. He brought the people to the River Jordan and baptised them with water, as a sign of their commitment to change their way of life and rejection of sin.

Then, St. John the Baptist had to go up against those who were powerful and influential in the community, beginning from the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law who doubted him and refused to believe in him, and even doubted and questioned the authority by which St. John the Baptist had performed his baptism and works among the people. And then, he also went up against none other than king Herod himself, the ruler of Galilee.

King Herod had led an immoral life as he took the legally married wife of his brother, Philip, who was still alive then and also likely with a daughter with the brother, as his own. Doing so constituted a very serious adultery and sin, and St. John the Baptist fearlessly confronted the king and Herodias, the wife of the king’s brother whom the former had taken as his own. As a result, Herodias in particular held a grudge against the saint and tried very hard to kill the holy man of God. She managed to get the saint imprisoned for what he had courageously spoke up against.

That was exactly how she managed to plot against the saint, by what we have heard in our Gospel passage today, when during a feast, Herodias tricked king Herod into giving in to her demands to have the saint killed and had his head placed on a platter before her, through the means of temptation and through her own beautiful daughter’s seduction before the king’s presence.

And in enduring the suffering, the imprisonment and eventually martyrdom, St. John the Baptist remained true to the mission which God had sent him into this world for, to the very end. He is truly a role model for all of us, God’s faithful people in how we should live out our lives with faith as Christians. All of us have been called by God to look upon the examples of this faithful servant who gave himself totally to God and devoted his life’s effort to glorify God.

Are we able to stand by our faith and our commitment to God in our everyday lives, even at times when the world itself may be against us? That is what St. John the Baptist had done, devoting himself to the cause and the mission God has entrusted to him. He did not give up despite the challenges and oppositions he had, and put his trust completely in the Lord, just as the prophet Jeremiah in our first reading today was reassured by God that He would be with him throughout the entire journey.

Let us all discern carefully and think in what way we can bring ourselves and others closer to God by our own examples and by our dedication to God. The truth is that, the best way to evangelise is through our own examples and our own obedience to God’s will. It is when others see that in our every words, deeds and actions we show our true faith and commitment, and that we mean our every words and actions, then naturally others will follow in our footsteps, just as the courage of St. John the Baptist had inspired many of us in our faith.

May the Lord therefore strengthen us in our faith that we may be courageous in faith and in life just as His faithful servant St. John the Baptist had done, in enduring all sorts of trials and challenges, and even martyrdom for the sake of his faith and dedication to God. Let us all follow his footsteps and be ever more Christian-like in our daily living from now on. May God bless us all and our good works, now and forevermore. Amen.

Thursday, 29 August 2019 : 21st Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Passion of St. John the Baptist (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Mark 6 : 17-29

At that time, this is what had happened : Herod had ordered John to be arrested; and had had him bound and put in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod had married her; and John had told him, “It is not right for you to live with your brother’s wife.”

So Herodias held a grudge against John and wanted to kill him; but she could not, because Herod respected John. He knew John to be an upright and holy man, and kept him safe. And he liked listening to him; although he became very disturbed whenever he heard him.

Herodias had her chance on Herod’s birthday, when he gave a dinner for all the senior government officials, military chiefs, and the leaders of Galilee. On that occasion, the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you.” And he went so far as to say with many oaths, “I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” The mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”

The girl hurried to the king and made her request, “I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish.” The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards, with orders to bring John’s head.

He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother. When John’s disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.