Friday, 27 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 21 : 29-33

At that time, Jesus added this comparison, “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as their buds sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.”

“Truly, I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all this has happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

Friday, 27 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 83 : 3, 4, 5-6a and 8a

My soul yearns, pines, for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young, at Your altars, o Lord of hosts, my King and my God!

Happy are those who live in Your house, continually singing Your praise! Happy the pilgrims whom You strengthen. They go from strength to strength till they appear before God in Zion.

Friday, 27 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Revelations 20 : 1-4, 11 – Revelations 21 : 2

Then an Angel came down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the Abyss and a huge chain. He seized the monster, the ancient serpent, namely Satan or the devil, and chained him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss and closed its gate with the key, then secured it with locks, that he might not deceive the nations in the future until the thousand years have passed. Then he will be released for a little while.

There were thrones and seated on them were those with the power to judge. I then saw the spirits of those who had been beheaded for having held the teachings of Jesus and on account of the word of God. I saw all those who had refused to worship the beast and its image, or receive its mark on the forehead or on the hand. They returned to life and reigned with the Messiah for a thousand years. This is the first resurrection.

After that I saw a great and splendid throne and the One seated upon it. At once heaven and earth disappeared, leaving no trace. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before the throne while books were opened. Another book, the Book of Life, was also opened. Then the dead were judged according to the records of these books, that is, each one according to his works.

The sea gave up the dead it had kept, as did death and the netherworld, so that all might be judged according to their works. Then death and the netherworld were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. All who were not recorded in the Book of Life were thrown into the lake of fire.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away and no longer was there any sea. I saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city coming down from God, out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband.

Thursday, 26 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are reminded yet again as our current liturgical year cycle is coming to an end, that we have to put our trust and faith in God. We must not lose faith in the Lord just because of the persecutions, trials and troubles we face and will encounter in our respective journeys in life. We have to keep faith because the Lord is always ever faithful to His Covenant and promises to us, and He will lead us into the final and ultimate victory.

In our first reading today we heard the account from the Book of Revelations on the declaration of the Angel of God at the end of all the trumpets of the world’s end and the plagues, of the final defeat of the devil and all the forces of the wicked, by the declaration of the fall of ‘Babylon’ that shall never rise again, for it has been handed the final and ultimate defeat. God has triumphed and has won the complete and total victory for His faithful ones.

In our Gospel passage today we heard then of the account that the Lord had made, the premonition and prophecy on what would happen to the great and holy city of Jerusalem, that would be besieged and then destroyed. This would come to pass as the Romans would put down the Jewish rebellion in Judea and Galilee just less than four decades after the death and resurrection of Christ, causing many deaths and the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple.

Through all of these, the Lord wants us to remember that despite the difficulties and trials that we may have to endure as those in the past had endured and suffered, but we must not allow ourselves to be overcome by fear and by despair, for the Lord will always stand by our side and will not allow us to be thoroughly defeated and destroyed. He spoke of the suffering and trials that all the faithful and the devout will have to endure for their constant dedication and obedience to God.

Babylon is symbolic of the forces of evil that has once destroyed the city of Jerusalem earlier on, during the time of the end of the kingdom of Israel and Judah, when the Temple of God built by King Solomon was ransacked and destroyed, the whole city destroyed and the entire kingdom and population of Judah laid to waste. The destruction of Jerusalem and Judah was truly a terrible event for the people of God, much as the later destruction by the Romans would be as well. Hence, the symbolic representation of Babylon was used to refer to the forces of the enemy of God and His people.

And through that, the Lord wanted to show all of us that just as He humbled king Nebuchadnezzar and his mighty Babylonian kingdom, for all of his hubris, ego and ambition, the Lord will also bring low the forces of Satan and his mighty forces. The forces of evil and darkness may seem fearsome and terrible for us, but we must not forget that all those who are opposed to God, will be defeated and the Lord and His people will triumph in the end. That is why and how the Church and our faith still perseveres and going strong yet to this very day.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all not be easily tempted and swayed by the falsehoods and the lies of the devil, all the efforts that he and his allies are trying to put in order to make us fear them and to lose hope in God. When things go bad and sour for us, we must remain firm and faithful in our dedication to the Lord, for the Lord alone is our firm foundation and in Him alone we have true hope for the future. We must not be swayed by the false leads and persuasions that the devil have put in our path as obstacles.

Let us all renew our faith and commitment to the Lord from now on, and strengthen our faith and be more courageous in living our lives with faith and with real action of faith. Let us all help one another to persevere through the challenges and trials of life, and remind one another that we must never lose hope in God, but instead must be ever more true to our faith in Him, with each and every passing moments of our lives. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Thursday, 26 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Luke 21 : 20-28

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that the time has come when it will be reduced to a wasteland. If you are in Judea, flee to the mountains! If you are in Jerusalem, leave! If you are outside the city, do not enter it!”

“For these will be the days of its punishment, and all that was announced in the Scriptures will be fulfilled. How hard will it be for pregnant women, and for mothers with babies at the breast! For a great calamity will come upon the land, and wrath upon this people. They will be put to death by the sword, or taken as slaves to other nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the pagans, until the time of the pagans is fulfilled.”

“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 its 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.”

Thursday, 26 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Psalm 99 : 2, 3, 4, 5

Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God; He created us and we are His people, the sheep of His fold.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His Name.

For the Lord is good; His love lasts forever and His faithfulness through all generations.

Thursday, 26 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Revelations 18 : 1-2, 21-23 and Revelations 19 : 1-3, 9a

After this I saw another Angel coming down from heaven. So great was his authority that the whole earth was lit up with his glory. In a strong voice he cried out : “Fallen is Babylon the great! Fallen! She has become a haunt of demons, a lodge for every unclean spirit, a nest for any filthy and disgusting bird.”

A powerful Angel picked up a boulder the size od a large millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “With such violence will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down, never again to be seen. Never again will tunes of harpists, minstrels, trumpeters and flutists be heard in you. Never again will an artisan of any trade be found in you. Never again will the noise of the mill be heard.”

“Never again will the light of a lamp shine in you. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never again be heard in you. Because your traders were the world’s great and you led the nations astray by your magic spell.”

After this I heard what sounded like the loud singing of a great assembly in heaven : “Alleluia! Salvation, glory and might belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just. He has condemned the great harlot who corrupted the world with her adultery. He has avenged His servants’ blood shed by her hand in harlotry.” Once more they sang : “Alleluia! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever!”

Then the Angel told me, “Write : Happy are those invited to the wedding of the Lamb.”

Wednesday, 25 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us the challenges and trials that are part of our journey as Christians and how we should keep up faith and not be afraid. This is because the Lord will always be with us and by our side no matter what, and with His guidance and strength, we shall persevere through all the challenges and trials.

In our first reading today we heard of the words from the Book of Revelations of St. John regarding the happenings of the end times as the time of reckoning and judgment is coming up on the world, and the Angels of God bearing the seven great plagues that will befall the nations and the people who refused to believe in God. At that time, the righteous and those who are still faithful in God will be persecuted and oppressed by those unbelievers, and the plagues and other signs are reminders that God is by the side of His faithful.

The Lord will not abandon His people to darkness and destruction, and He, as the Lamb of God seen in the vision of St. John, has triumphed by His Passion and Resurrection from the dead, and not even death and evil can overcome Him. For He has defeated the ultimate enemy of all, that is death, and showing to all of us that there is light and hope beyond death, and death no longer has the final say for all of us. It used to be something that we were all scared of as death is a separation from our lives in this world.

The Lord reassured us all that death that we experience is only a temporary experience and is just a mark of the new beginning of a new life with Him, when we will be reunited completely with Him and enter into the eternal glory and the eternal life that have been prepared for all of us. However, unless we believe in Him and are faithful in HIm, dedicating ourselves to Him, there will be no place for us in His eternal kingdom and glory.

And all of these relate well to what we heard from our Gospel passage today. In our Gospel passage today we heard the Lord proclaiming the revelation of what His disciples and followers as Christians would encounter soon enough, after He established His Church and they preached His Good News to the nations. They would be persecuted, oppressed, rejected and ridiculed by many of those who refused to believe in the Lord and in His message, as well as those who saw the faithful as threats to their own power and influence.

Hence, that was why Christians especially in its early centuries faced so many persecutions, initially from the Jewish authorities, the members of the Sanhedrin and the chief priests, the Pharisees and Sadducees and all those who were opposed to the Lord and His followers. And in addition, the Roman authorities and the state governments, as well as the Greeks and other pagan peoples who refused to believe in God also persecuted the faithful and made things difficult to them.

Yet, amidst all of that, many of our holy predecessors, the innumerable martyrs and saints of the Church remained firm in their faith and conviction to serve the Lord, dedicating their lives and all their efforts to follow the Lord to the very end. They endured those sufferings, trials, persecutions and challenges since they had faith that God would be with them and journeyed together with them even through the greatest sufferings and the deepest darkness and despair.

One of those saints is St. Catherine of Alexandria, one of the most famous and inspirational saints of the early Church. St. Catherine of Alexandria was a noble, born of a powerful family as her father was the governor of Alexandria in Egypt, a very important position in the Roman Empire at that time. St. Catherine was persuaded to become a Christian after receiving visions of the Lord and was convinced to embrace the Christian faith fully. And all these happened amidst one of the most bitter and brutal persecution against Christians.

It was told that St. Catherine was arrested and tortured for her Christian faith. And in the attempt to make her abandon her faith and to publicly denounce the Christian faith and truth, the Emperor made her to debate as many as fifty or more pagan philosophers, who were all unable to outsmart or debate her, unable to match her wisdom, the wisdom of God as passed on and revealed through the Holy Spirit. It was told that St. Catherine’s wisdom was such that even the Emperor’s own wife was touched, inspired and converted to the true faith.

And when all methods and ways had failed to persuade St. Catherine to abandon her faith, the desperate Emperor tried to turn her by offering her his hand in marriage. Normally, the temptation to abandon the faith to embrace marriage with the most powerful and influential person in the land would be so great. But St. Catherine resisted the offer and temptation, declaring publicly that she maintained her virginity and dedicated it to the Lord, refusing to stain her purity in any way, and neither would she abandon her faith. And thus, afterwards, she was martyred for remaining true to her faith in God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from the inspiring examples set by St. Catherine of Alexandria, as well as the many other examples made by the other holy men and women of God, who had chosen to walk with God and refused to abandon Him, let us all be inspired to follow their examples and walk in their footsteps even as challenges and trials are facing us and become great obstacles in our own respective journeys of faith. Let us all discern carefully our path going forward in life, that we may grow ever closer to God and in faith.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He guide us all in our journey of faith. May He strengthen us and our resolve that we may persevere and be more courageous in our pursuit of faith, and be ourselves inspiring examples of faith to one another. May God bless us all, now and always. Amen.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Luke 21 : 12-19

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Before all these things happen, people will lay their hands on you and persecute you; you will be delivered to the synagogues and put in prison, and for My sake you will be brought before kings and governors. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.”

“So keep this in mind : do not worry in advance about what to say, for I will give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death.”

“But even though, because of My Name, you will be hated by everyone, not a hair of your head will perish. By your patient endurance you will save your souls.”

Wednesday, 25 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Psalm 97 : 1, 2-3ab, 7-8, 9

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonders; His right hand, His holy arm, has won victory for Him.

The Lord has shown His salvation, revealing His justice to the nations. He has not forgotten His love nor His faithfulness to Israel.

Let the sea resound and everything in it, the world and all its peoples. Let rivers clap their hands, hills and mountains sing with joy.

Before the Lord, for He comes to rule the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the peoples with fairness.