Saturday, 28 November 2020 : Last 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 all of us on this very last day of this current liturgical year cycle are reminded to look back at our lives thus far, and reflect on whether they have been righteous and in accordance with God’s will, or whether we have erred and fell astray in our path, that we ended walking down the path of sin. Then, we are also reminded to look forward ahead, to the life that is to come, and which God has promised us, His eternal glory in Heaven to be lived together with us.

Therefore at this very important juncture, at the crossroads between the liturgical year cycles, we are kept being reminded, year after year, time after time, that we have to be faithful all throughout our lives, to be vigilant against falsehoods and the powerful temptations of the devil and all those seeking our destruction by turning our ego, desire and pride against us. We have to resist these temptations, which have been laid bare by the Lord in our Gospel passage today, and which is fleshed out further by His Apostles and the Church.

The Lord does not want us to fall into these temptations, for they serve as distractions and obstacles that will make it difficult for us to commit to His path, and as history and times past had shown us, through temptations the devil and his allies had ensnared so many souls and while many were saved, there were also those many souls that become lost forever to God, through sin and through their conscious rejection of His mercy and compassion.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord has given us the wisdom and the free will, together with the guidance of His Church and all the holy ones, saints and blesseds who are our role models. We are presented with the difficult task of choosing which path we are to take going forward in life. It may seem to be easier than it looks, as after all it is just a choice is it not? But in truth, throughout life, there will be many occurrences and moments, as I am certain that it had happened frequently before, that we have to make difficult choices with regards to this matter.

Many of us have had to choose between conforming with the ways of the world, and even between our friends and following them, or following God and remaining faithful to Him. And especially in our world today, surrounded constantly by all these worldly temptations of power, wealth, glory, and all other things that lead us away from God, it is increaasingly difficult for us to remain faithful. Those who have kept the faith often had to make sacrifices and suffer for their choices.

In all these, the devil often presents us with the easy way out, the seemingly more enjoyable and easier path, one that is easier to tread and endure. However, we must not easily be deceived by his lies, and we have to look clearly and discern carefully on many matters, that we can keep ourselves free from these continued assaults of the devil and all those seeking our ruin and destruction. Let us all put our faith in God and entrust ourselves to Him, as we move forward in life and begin the new cycle of liturgical year.

As Christians we are always called to live virtuously and righteously in accordance to what the Lord had taught us to do, and that is especially in loving God wholeheartedly and in showing that same love to our fellow brothers and sisters, in particular those who are most in need of our love, care and attention. Are we capable and willing to accept this calling and responsibility, brothers and sisters in Christ? The choice is ours to make, and we have to keep in mind that, if we are faithful, in the end, what awaits us is eternal glory and peace.

As we enter into this new liturgical year cycle, let us all continue to inspire one another to be faithful, to be good and righteous at all times, in our every words, actions and deeds, and in our every interactions with each other. May the Lord continue to guide us and strengthen us in our journey of faith, and may He help us to endure the trials and challenges, the temptations and many other efforts that the devil and his fallen allies have always been trying so hard to use to attack us with. May God be with us always, and be our source of strength, hope and inspiration in life. Amen.

Saturday, 28 November 2020 : Last 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 His disciples, “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, 28 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

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

Psalm 94 : 1-2, 3-5, 6-7

Come, let us sing to the Lord, let us make a joyful sound to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him giving thanks with music and songs of praise.

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth and the mountain heights. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hand shaped the dry land.

Come and worship; let us bow down, kneel before the Lord, our Maker. He is our God, and we are His people; the flock He leads and pastures. Would that today you heard His voice!

Saturday, 28 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

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

Revelations 22 : 1-7

Then the Angel showed me the river of life, clear as crystal, gushing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of the city, on both sides of the river are the trees of life producing fruit twelve times, once each month, the leaves of which are for healing the nations.

No longer will there be a curse; the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the City and God’s servants will live in His presence. They will see His face and His Name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light or lamp or sun for God Himself will be their light and they will reign forever.

Then the Angel said to me, “These words are sure and true; the Lord God Who inspires the prophets has sent His Angel to show His servants what must happen soon.” “I am coming soon! Happy are those who keep the prophetic words of this book.”

Friday, 27 November 2020 : Last Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we continue to hear the reminders from the Sacred Scriptures of the need for us to be ever vigilant and strong, to be prepared and ready to welcome the Lord again when He comes just as He has promised us. We must never be complacent and lukewarm in the living of our faith because that will lead us down the path of ruin, and Satan will have his way in persuading us, coercing us and forcing us to live wickedly in the state of sin by his many efforts and attacks on us.

We have to live faithfully and embrace fully the teachings and ways that He has taught us, and which He Himself had shown us by His actions, His loving care and compassionate mercy. And in today’s first reading taken from the Book of Revelations of St. John, we heard of the final defeat of Satan, the great enemy and deceiver of all the faithful. For all of his might and power, he was nothing before God, and his rebellion against Him will be destroyed and defeated completely, and he and his rebel angels and all those who follow him will be thrown into eternal darkness.

Tying this to the Gospel reading today, which concurs with the message of the past few days as we come to the end of this current liturgical year cycle, the Lord said that the signs of times denotes change and omens of things to come, and this is the same with the moment of the Lord’s return into this world, just as He has promised. While we do not know the exact time and moment of the Lord’s coming, but we can be assured that He will come as He has said, and we have to be ready for Him.

If we read through the accounts of the Book of Revelations, St. John saw great persecutions against Christians, by all those who refuse to believe in God and chose to follow the devil and his false prophets. St. John the Apostle saw how many people are swayed by the antichrist and the false prophets and therefore fall into their ruin in the end when the Lord comes to judge all the creation, as also mentioned in our first reading today.

The Lord has revealed everything to us, what will come to happen in the future, His love for each and every one of us, His kindness and compassion, His desire to see us reconciled and forgiven from our sins, and yet, are we all willing to embrace and accept His love and mercy? Or do we rather continue to live in sin and to indulge in whatever temptations and false leads that the devil and his allies are trying to ruin us with? We must not let these wicked forces destroy us, brothers and sisters in Christ.

That is why, as we listen to these readings and reflect again on their meaning and importance to us, we are all called to think about our Christian calling and responsibilities. We are all called to follow the Lord and His examples, as well as the examples of His Apostles and saints, all those who have shown us the way how to live well as Christians, dedicated and committed to serve the Lord and to be righteous and good in all of our words, actions, deeds and interactions in life.

Now that this current liturgical year is coming to an end, we are all called to reflect on these matters carefully, and we are reminded constantly that the Lord’s coming is something that we will not expect at the very least, in terms of its exact timing, and surely we do not want to be caught unprepared, and deemed to be unworthy and unfaithful just because we have been delaying and postponing our faithful living just so that we can indulge in the pleasures and the many temptations of this world.

Let us all change ourselves, brothers and sisters in Christ, that if we have not been faithful to God, we may seek Him more earnestly and with greater desire from now on. And if we have done wrong and been sinful, then we should seek Him for forgiveness, as after all, He is always ever ready to welcome us back as long as we sincerely desire to return to Him and seek to be forgiven through genuine repentance. Let us all grow ever more faithful and loving towards God, from now on, and do our best that our lives will become inspiration of faith to one another.

May the Lord, our God and King, guide us and strengthen us in our journey of faith through life, that we may persevere through whatever trials, challenges and temptations that are facing us. Let us all not be dragged into sin and into the darkness by the devil and all of his fellow tempters, but let us all be stronger in faith, and be ever more faithful Christians from now on. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

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.”