Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or White (Bishops)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the readings of the Holy Scriptures today have one clear theme, that is healing and reconciliation. The Lord our God came into the world as our Messiah, to release us from our bondage to sin, which is the disease and sickness of our soul, corrupting it and preventing us from sharing the joy in the Lord. Therefore, He came Himself, into the world out of His great love for us, to heal us from this affliction.
Indeed we have been sinful and wicked in our actions. Sin separates us from God, and it is the reason for mankind’s downfall from grace. Our ancestors, our forefathers and all of us, all mankind were created with love by God, not to suffer and die, but to live forever in complete harmony, joy and bliss with the Lord our God, to enjoy forever all of God’s wonderful creations. It was our pride, our greed and our sinfulness that caused us to disobey God, sin and therefore had to endure the punishment for our sins.
And yet, God did not intend to punish us forever for our sins. This is because, just as much as He hates our sins and all the wickedness which we have committed in our lives, He still loves us as much as He hates our sins. After all we are the most beloved of all His creations, created in His very own image. But this is where He wants us all to know His intentions, that is for us all to be healed from our afflictions, to be lost no more, and to return back to His loving embrace.
Yes, that means, while God loves us all, it does not mean that He condones our sinful ways, and He does not want us to remain in sin. Remember, what is at stake is none other than the salvation of our souls. If we do not make a difference and change our ways, then we are truly in great danger of losing our souls to eternal damnation and the suffering in eternal hell.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why in the Gospel today, very importantly, we heard how Jesus commissioned His disciples and the Twelve Apostles to go out and be the witnesses and preachers of the Good News of the Lord. It was indeed just as what He had witnessed, that the people were like lost sheep, directionless, confused and confounded, like sheep without a shepherd. It is therefore our Lord’s priority to bring a new and clear direction to all the people, to guide them so that they will no longer be lost.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas, also known by the name of St. Nicholas of Myra, who was a bishop in the approximately fourth century after the birth of Christ in Anatolia, what is now the Asian part of Turkey. St. Nicholas of Myra is also much more famously known as the source of inspiration for the ubiquitous Santa Claus, the elderly figure with red and white winter sweater, whom we know as the one who gives children numerous gifts at Christmas time.
Yet, what we think of Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, was truly a distortion, manipulated version of what St. Nicholas of Myra had once done. It was told that St. Nicholas of Myra loved children and often blessed them and gave them gifts. This seems to be where the legend of St. Nicholas of Myra evolved to what we now know as Santa Claus. Yet, unfortunately, what we have today is a false representation of the bishop and an attempt by the world to tempt us with materialism and human desires.
Christmas celebrations which we have now in our world, in the society around us is a celebration centred on human desires, on the culture of waste and excess. Christ is no longer at the centre of the celebrations but instead, what we have money and wealth at the centre of our joy. The perpetuation of the false image of St. Nicholas also helped to fuel our human desires, by promoting a culture of excess among us, and a culture of entitlement.
By feeding on our desires, the world is trying to fuel more and more demands for our greed and desire, and therefore helping to create a materialistic nature, where everything is done in order to satisfy our demands and our wishes, and a place where our greatest concern is how to satisfy ourselves. This is part of the sin which have separated us from our Lord and condemn us to a life in eternal suffering unless we change our ways.
Remember, brethren, our ancestors sinned before God because they were not able to restrain themselves and their desires. They chose to satisfy their curiosity and desire rather than to obey the Lord and therefore they were cast down from heaven. Hence, it is important for us to use this opportunity provided for us in life, particularly in this special season of Advent, the season of preparation for the coming of Christ, to change our sinful ways, sin no more and embrace the fullness of God’s love and mercy.
Do you know, brothers and sisters, that St. Nicholas of Myra once punched a heretic directly in the face for spreading his heresies? Yes, brethren, just as much as he loved children and was gentle towards them, he showed no mercy to those who had tried to mislead the people of God and lead them towards darkness. As a bishop, he had a great responsibility for the souls of the faithful entrusted to him, and that was exactly he did in order to fulfill that great responsibility.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we proceed further into the season of Advent, let us all realise that we are sinners, and we have not deserved the goodness of God, and yet He came to save us all and heal us from the afflictions of our sins. And therefore, let us all be thankful and be grateful for all that our Lord had done for us. Let us accept His generous offer of healing and mercy, and most importantly, sin no more and live in His grace from now on always.
And let us also realise, that all of us have the responsibility, as the followers of Christ, just as Christ sent His Apostles and disciples to the nations to preach the Good News to them and to find all the lost sheep and those lost to the darkness, therefore, all of us can also play our part in the Lord’s plan of salvation for all mankind.
Hence, that is why we need to be role models of the faith, by first changing our ways and abandoning all the wickedness we had done. We have to practice and live out our faith sincerely and devoutly, so that all those who see us may believe in the Lord and be saved together with us. Let us ask the Lord for the gift of courage and strength, so that inspired by the faith and examples of St. Nicholas of Myra, emulating his love and charity for others, and also his steadfastness in faith, we too may be worthy to receive eternal glory in Him. God bless us all. Amen.
First Reading :
Gospel Reading :