Sunday, 20 November 2022 : Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday which is the last Sunday in our current liturgical year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, also known as the Solemnity of the Kingship of Jesus Christ. On this Sunday we commemorate our Lord Jesus not just as our Saviour but also as our King. This does not mean that we owe no obedience or loyalty to any earthly powers, nations or rulers. Instead, we must realise that the ultimate source of all power and authority in this world is the Lord, our one and true King and Master, and all the nations, all the rulers of this world are truly under our Lord’s dominion. That is why we are still supposed to obey the laws of the land and our respective countries, as good Christians are supposed to be, as far as they do not directly contradict the Law and commandments of God.

Our Lord is King, not just in spiritual manner but also in real and tangible manner. He is truly the King of all Kings, the Lord of lords and Master of all, and yet, unfortunately, many among us still behave as if the Lord is nobody, and that He has no place in our hearts and in our lives. We act as if the Lord is One Who is far and distant, and we remember Him only when we have need of Him. How many of us remember the Lord only when we have something that we hope He can solve for us, or when we want Him to answer our prayers. And it is not uncommon that we become angry at God when He does not seem to answer our prayers, and even if He does answer our prayers, we are often then quick to forget about Him once again and return to our daily preoccupations, with the Lord sidelined again until the next we have need of Him. Is that how we treat our King, brothers and sisters? Let us hence ponder through our Scripture passages this Sunday to understand our King better.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard of the story of the time when King David of Israel was accepted as King by the whole nation of the Israelites, having reunited the whole tribes of Israel under his rule and dominion. David was God’s chosen King over His people, and he had to struggle for a number of years against the supporters of his predecessor King Saul, and his son Ishbosheth or Eshbaal, in a civil war that eventually ended up with David being victorious and triumphant, and was finally welcomed to be King over all of Israel. That moment marked the beginning of the glorious time of the United Kingdom of Israel, of the great kingdom of David and his son, Solomon, which many later generations would look up to as a time of great glory and nostalgia, as the days when God’s rule over His people through His righteous servants David and Solomon were at its best.

Those were the days when the people of God still obeyed God faithfully and when their kings still followed the Lord wholeheartedly. When the prophet Samuel agreed to choose and anoint a king over the Israelites because of their demands, he did tell them that they had no need for a king, because the Lord Himself was already their Lord and King, and yet the people insisted. The prophet warned the people that the kings eventually would make their lives difficult, and like the other rulers and kings of the world, they might end up being tyrannical and wicked, and might lead the people of God down the path to ruin if they did not remain faithful to God or did not exercise faithfully what the Lord had entrusted them to do as the rulers, shepherds and guides for His people, and instead following their own selfish desires for glory and power in this world.

Indeed, that happened even with David himself, the model and most righteous among the Kings of Israel at times when he sinned against God as he desired power and glory at times, and when he forgot his place as the Lord’s vicar and guide in this world. When he desired a woman, Bathsheba who was already married to another man, Uriah, David sinned against God by plotting Uriah’s death and taking up Bathsheba to be his own wife. The same happened when he desired to conduct a census of the Israelites, which was done in a moment of pride in desiring to know the vastness of his power and worldly dominion. Then Solomon, David’s son, while mostly faithful and just throughout his reign, was led into sin as well at the end of his reign when he allowed his many pagan wives and concubines to mislead him and the kingdom into the path of sin and rebellion against God, which eventually led to the division of the united kingdom into two halves of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Nonetheless, their authority and power did come from God, and God was indeed the true King of the Israelites, that when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were eventually crushed and destroyed by their enemies, the Lord still ruled and reigned over all of His people. He told them all that just as He has promised David that his house and kingdom will last forever, then He would send a Messiah or Saviour to His people, to be born of the House of David, to be the Son and Heir of David. That was the Messiah long awaited by the people of God and the One proclaimed by the many prophets and messengers of God. The people believed that this Messiah would then lead them to victory and freedom from their oppressors and foreign rulers, and would reestablish the kingdom of His ancestors, David and Solomon, of the glorious past days of the united kingdom.

Little did they know that, the Lord Himself would actually come into their midst to be wit them, to dwell among them in the flesh, and to be born as the Son and Heir of David, born of the Virgin, Mary, His mother just as the prophets had prophesied about. This King was born into the world, the Son of God and Son of Man, born as the Divine Word Incarnate, having two natures of Divine and Man, united in perfect love in the person of Jesus Christ, Whose Kingship we are commemorating today, acknowledging Him truly as the King of Kings, the Lord and Master of all, just as He has revealed Himself to be the Saviour of the whole world, and the one true King Who has come to claim all of His people and to gather them all to be His own one flock, with Him as the Shepherd, the Shepherd Who loves all of His flock and cares for them.

That was where then, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, that this same Saviour and King chose to willingly suffer and die for the sake of His beloved flock and people, as He willingly took upon Himself the most heavy burdens of our sins and the punishments and consequences due for those sins and wickedness we have committed. He took upon Himself the heavy burden of the Cross so that by His suffering and then death, He might offer on our behalf, as our Eternal High Priest and King, the most worthy sacrifice that will be the source of our salvation and redemption. He offers on our behalf, this perfect offering of love, that gathering us all as our King, He may lead us all towards righteousness and eternal life through Him, and His most loving sacrifice on the Cross.

For that, as we heard in our Gospel passage today and as we all know, the Lord Jesus our King suffered most terribly at the hands of those who persecuted and hated Him. He was mocked and ridiculed by the Romans as the King of the Jews, and it was for this reason that the chief priests and the Sanhedrin persecuted and condemned him through the Romans to death, for back then, it was a capital offence for someone under the Roman dominion and rule to claim kingship and to be a king. Yet, at the same time, ironically, it was by this action that even those same chief priests and all those who persecuted the Lord said that the Lord Jesus was indeed a King. And at that occasion, the Lord also said to Pontius Pilate, that He is indeed a King, and His kingdom is not of this world.

It means that the Lord’s kingship and rule is not bound like any other kingdoms and rulers of this world. His kingship is a Universal Kingship, one that is outside any limits of time, space and place. He rules over all the whole Creation, of all Universe, of all time and beyond time. And this is our King, our Lord and true Master, Whom we celebrate today, and we ought to be blessed and thankful for the Lord has loved us so dearly and wonderfully. He is the One Whom St. Paul in his Epistle to the Colossians in our second reading today spoke of as the Image of the Unseen God. Through Him, we have seen the manifestation of God, Who has become tangible and approachable by us, and we have therefore seen, witnessed and experienced the presence of our King, our Lord and Master.

He has also gathered us all to be one people and one flock, with Him as our King and the Head of this Church which He has established over in this world, to be a visible presence of the kingdom He has brought unto us, the kingdom of God manifested in this world as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. And as members of this same Church of God, each and every one of us are indeed invited to examine ourselves and our actions, our dealing and our way of life, whether we have truly appreciated and obeyed the Lord as our King, or whether we have ignored Him, abandoned Him and rejected Him for other things in life which we find more important and desirable than to listen and be obedient to our King’s commands, His Law and will. This Sunday as we celebrate this Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, this is what each one of us as Christians are called and expected to do.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore commit ourselves today to our King anew, renewing our pledge to serve Him, to follow and obey Him wholeheartedly from now on and honour and worship Him as our Lord and King, and enthrone Him in our hearts, in our homes and in our workplaces, in everywhere we are, as our true King and Master, even as we obediently continue to be good and law abiding citizens of this world, and of whichever states we belong to. Let us all be true followers and servants of our King, He Who truly cares for and loves us His people, and Who has given Himself so completely to us, that we may have life through Him, and that we may be reconciled and reunited with Him, in the glory of Heaven and His everlasting kingdom.

May the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the whole Universe, Our Lord and Master, be with us always, and may He remain with us by our side, strengthening and encouraging us that we may always persevere and be strong in faith no matter whatever challenges and trials may come our way. May the Lord bless us all in all of our good efforts, hard work and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Sunday, 20 November 2022 : Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 23 : 35-43

At that time, the people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at Jesus, saying to one another, “Let the Man Who saved others now save Himself, for He is the Messiah, the Chosen One of God!”

The soldiers also mocked Him and, when they drew near to offer Him bitter wine, they said, “So You are the King of the Jews? Free Yourself!” Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted Him, “So You are the Messiah? Save Yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as He did? For us it is just : this is payment for what we have done. But this Man has done nothing wrong.”

And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with Me today in paradise.”

Sunday, 20 November 2022 : Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Colossians 1 : 12-20

Constantly give thanks to the Father Who has empowered us to receive our share in the inheritance of the saints in His kingdom of light. He rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. In Him we are redeemed and forgiven.

He is the Image of the unseen God, and for all creation He is the Firstborn, for in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible : thrones, rulers, authorities, powers… All was made through Him and for Him. He is before all and all things hold together in Him.

And He is the Head of the Body, that is the Church, for He is the first, the first raised from the dead that He may be the first in everything, for God was pleased to let fullness dwell in Him. Through Him God willed to reconcile all things to Himself, and through Him, through His Blood shed on the cross, God establishes peace, on earth as in heaven.

Sunday, 20 November 2022 : Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 121 : 1-2, 4-5

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” And now we have set foot within your gates, o Jerusalem!

There the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, the assembly of Israel, to give thanks to the Lord’s Name. There stands the courts of justice, the offices of the house of David.

Sunday, 20 November 2022 : Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

2 Samuel 5 : 1-3

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your bone and flesh. In the past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led Israel. And YHVH said to you, ‘You shall be the shepherd of My people Israel and you shall be commander over Israel.'”

Before YHVH, King David made an agreement with the elders of Israel who came to him at Hebron, and they anointed him king of Israel.

Saturday, 27 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, on this last day of our current liturgical year, we are all again reminded as we have constantly been for the rest of this week of the coming of the Lord and His salvation at the very end of time. We are reminded not to be complacent and idle in how we live our lives in this world so that we do not end up being caught unprepared and unaware at the coming of the Lord’s judgment and time of reckoning.

As we listened from our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Daniel, we heard of the conclusion of this week’s apocalyptic readings from the Book of Daniel, detailing the heavenly vision of Daniel regarding the end of times and the coming of God’s salvation. Daniel had seen how the faithful people of God will face sufferings, trials and challenges just as he himself and his other compatriots in faith had also suffered for their continued faith in God during their exile in Babylon.

The Lord showed Daniel the vision of the ones who will persecute the faithful, the great beasts in his vision that brought suffering and will cause great harm to the people of God. As I mentioned in the earlier days this week, the same kind of vision was also given in even greater detail to St. John the Apostle which he recorded in his Revelations. Through what we have heard from both sources, those great beasts of the end times actually are references to the forces of Satan, the great enemy of all the faithful, that are trying to bring about our destruction by various means.

Those beasts are also metaphorical representations of the great kingdoms and states that were the ones and are going to be the ones in our own future that brought about and will bring about great persecution of the faithful. We certainly knew of how the Jewish authorities and later on the Romans persecuted the Christians, their leaders and the faithful in so many occasions, and then followed by so many other occasions throughout history, the countless martyrs that were created from many episodes of continued persecutions of the faithful and the Church.

Even to our very own present day, many of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters are still being persecuted daily and are denied the opportunity to practice their faith freely and openly. Many had to go into hiding and keep their faith secretly much in the same way as how the early Christians had to hide from the authorities amidst many brutal persecutions against them. And even in other places, even perhaps in our own communities, where Christians are not persecuted per se, we can see growing break with the fundamental Christian truths and how more and more people who are holding on to the truth of God are being ridiculed, ostracised and sidelined.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as we heard from our Gospel passage today in which the Lord reminded all of His disciples to guard themselves from drunkenness and also complacency and always to be ready for anything that comes our way, then we are all reminded to be active in living our lives as Christians and to be courageous in keeping our faith alive and present in our daily lives. The Lord has provided and blessed us with many things, with His truth, wisdom and guidance, and so we should make good use of the many opportunities that He has given to us.

As we come to the end of this current liturgical year and begin the new one with the season of Advent, let us all ask ourselves brothers and sisters in Christ, are we ready to live our lives in a new way, according to the path that the Lord has shown us? And are we ready to change ourselves for the better and no longer subject ourselves to the temptations of worldliness and our wicked desires? Let us ponder these carefully in our hearts and discern how we are to live our lives as good and dedicated Christians from now on.

As we enter into this new season of Advent beginning tomorrow, let us all prepare our hearts and minds, our whole being to welcome the Lord and to be ready to celebrate Christmas worthily. Let us no longer be idle and complacent, but be ever ready to welcome the Lord wholeheartedly into our houses, into our hearts and into ourselves. May God be with us all and may He bless all of us in our every endeavours, now and always. Amen.

Saturday, 27 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Luke 21 : 34-36

At that time, Jesus said to the people, “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.”

Saturday, 27 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Daniel 3 : 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87

All people on earth, praise and exalt Him forever.

Israel, praise and exalt Him forever.

Priests of the Lord, praise and exalt Him forever.

Servants of the Lord, praise and exalt Him forever.

Spirits and souls of the just, praise and exalt Him forever.

Those who are holy and humble of heart, praise and exalt Him forever.

Saturday, 27 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saturday Mass of Our Lady)

Daniel 7 : 15-27

I, Daniel, was deeply troubled, since these visions terrified me. I approached one of those who were standing there, and asked him to tell me what all this meant. He answered me and gave me the interpretation of these things : ‘These four beasts are four kings who will rise from the earth. But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, to possess it eternally, forever and ever.’

Then I wanted to know the meaning of the fourth beast, different from the others, extraordinarily terrifying, with iron teeth and bronze claws; that ate, tore into pieces and crushed underfoot whatever remained. I also wanted to know about the ten horns it had on its head, and about the other horn which had sprung up, and the first three horns that fell, and about this horn with eyes and a mouth that spoke with arrogance, and that looked greater than the other horns.

As I looked, this horn waged war against the holy ones and was subduing them until the One of Great Age came, to do justice for the holy ones of the Most High, and the time came for the holy ones to take possession of the kingdom. Then I was told : ‘The fourth animal shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, different from all the kingdoms. It will devour the earth, crush it and destroy it.’

‘The ten horns are ten kings who shall rise from this kingdom. Another one will rise up after them and destroy three kings. This king shall insult the Most High and persecute the holy ones of the Most High. He shall try to change the feasts and the laws. The holy ones shall be handed over to his power for a time, two times, and half a time.’

‘But judgment will come and dominion will be taken from him; he shall be destroyed and utterly wiped out. The kingship, dominion and leadership of all the kingdoms of the world shall be given to the people of the holy ones of God Most High : His kingdom will be without end. All the kingdoms shall serve Him and be subject to Him.’

Friday, 26 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures we are all presented with the vision that the prophet Daniel received regarding the end of times, seeing what St. John the Apostle later on also saw as was written in his own Book of Revelations of St. John. We heard of the actions of the devil, Satan, the great enemy of all, and how he was overthrown and crushed by the power of the triumphant God.

This Scripture reading from the Book of the prophet Daniel regarding the coming of the great beasts of the end of times, the manifestation of Satan and his forces that were arrayed against God and His faithful ones, in the final attempt at dominion and power. Through what he had seen, Daniel saw how the devil exercised his power in this world, through the rising of states and forces that persecuted the faithful people of God, as many throughout history suffered for their faith and devotion to God.

However, as we heard from the ending of his vision, he saw the triumphant God reigning over all, destroying that despised great enemy and beast, and in a final victory, cast down that beast and dealt it a final defeat from which it never recovers. This is the same vision and message that St. John the Apostle also later received as recorded in the Book of Revelations, of the triumph of God and all of His faithful ones, and the reign of Christ, as King over all and as the Saviour of all.

Daniel saw Him as the Son of Man, yet unrevealed to the world, given Dominion and Power by the One of Great Age, God the Father, Who was to later come into this world as the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Essentially what he saw was a prefigurement of Christ and the salvation that He would bring to the people, in the time to come, and then which message was later reinforced by the similar revelation given to St. John after Christ, the Son of Man and Son of God had revealed Himself and His salvation to all.

And St. John received an even more detailed revelation which described what would happen at the end of days, when Satan, the great beast will persecute the faithful with greater intensity and blaspheme further against God, and many will be forced to choose sides, and many of the people will side with him and only a few will remain faithful to God and His truth. But God will not forget about them or their faith in Him, and He will gather them all, all of us, past, present and future to the end of time to His presence.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Lord Jesus Himself told His disciples that the coming of the time of reckoning and the end of time will be coming soon, just that we will never know the exact timing of this happening. But what He assured all of His disciples and therefore all of us is that His kingdom and dominion will always endure, no matter what, and in the end, we will be triumphant with Him if we remain faithful and truly dedicated to Him.

The question is, are we all able to commit ourselves to the Lord as we should? Are we able and willing to make the sacrifices knowing that trials and tribulations, challenges and difficulties will always be on our path in life? These are the questions that we should ask ourselves constantly as we navigate our lives in this world. Are we capable of remaining true to our faith and being vigilant at all times, so that in our every actions, deeds, interactions and all that we do, we always proclaim the glory of God to the world.

May the Lord be with us all and may He strengthen each and every one of us to remain strong and courageous in our faith that we do not easily give up our struggle in faith, and that we may always hold strongly to that faith we have in Him. May God bless us in our every actions, now and always, forevermore. Amen.