Saturday, 5 December 2020 : 1st Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are all constantly being reminded again and again of the Lord’s love and kindness, His care and compassion towards us. As we journey through this season of Advent, we are all being called to redirect our focus and attention all towards the Lord and to reorientate our lives such that we live it with greater awareness of God’s presence in our lives and of what we need to do as Christians in our daily living.

In our first reading today, a continuation of the prophecy of the prophet Isaiah as we have listened throughout most of this week, again we heard of the Lord’s many promises that He would bring His people out of their misery and suffering, their humiliation and terrible state. He would liberate them and bless them wonderfully once again, where they shall enjoy the bountiful fruits of God’s love in its fullness forevermore.

These promises and prophecies were significant as by the time of the prophet Isaiah and the prophecies he spoke of, the people of God, both in the northern kingdom of Israel and in the southern kingdom of Judah had endured centuries of troubles, conflict, humiliation and challenges. Not long before the prophet Isaiah’s time, the northern kingdom of Israel was thoroughly destroyed after having been attacked and degraded many times in the previous decades. The Assyrians who conquered the land destroyed the cities and brought most of the people off into exile in far-off lands.

Meanwhile, in the southern kingdom of Judah itself which had been gradually weakened over the previous centuries, the nation itself had been weakening further and been humiliated. At that same time, probably around the time when Isaiah spoke of his prophecy, the Babylonians had just laid waste to the lands of Judah and came to besiege Jerusalem, uttering insults on God and the king of Judah. Judah and Jerusalem came close to be conquered and destroyed just as the northern kingdom had suffered just decades before.

But that was where God revealed His great might and His enduring love for His people. Despite their sins and disobedience, their refusal to obey the Lord’s will and commandments, God still loved His people nonetheless. That was why He intervened and crushed the armies of the Babylonians and made them and their king to leave and return back to their homes in shame. And thus, the prophecies of Isaiah were indeed a further reinforcement and reminder to the people of God that the Lord was with them and was always by their side.

We heard also in our Gospel passage today of the Lord Jesus and His works among the people, how He took pity on His people, loving them and caring for their sick, healing many among them miraculously, and many of those who once had no hope and despaired, were restored through the hands of God. And He also sent out His disciples and followers to go before Him and to proclaim the Good News of God’s salvation, with the same power of healing and exorcism of demons and evil spirits among others.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we heard all of these from the Sacred Scriptures, we are reminded how this Advent we are expecting the Lord’s coming with joy, remembering firstly what He had done when He first came in the flesh, as we heard in our Gospel passage today. But even more so, we also wait in expectation of His second coming, when He shall fulfil all of His promises perfectly and completely, fulfilling completely the prophecies of Isaiah and the other prophets, the ushering of the time of eternal grace and joy for all the faithful ones of God.

In the meantime, we are all called to make ourselves holy and just, righteous and worthy of God through our actions, as well as through our strong relationship with God. That is why this season of Advent is a good time to remind us of our calling and obligations as Christians, that is to dedicate ourselves and our lives to God to the best of our abilities. Are we able and willing to do that, brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let us all look forward with anticipation and hope towards the Lord and all the true joy and the eternal life which He has promised us all His faithful ones. Let us all do our very best to remain faithful to Him, and prepare ourselves wholly to be able to celebrate the joy of Christmas with Christ, Our Lord, at the centre and as the sole focus of our joy and celebrations. May the Lord continue to guide us and help us, and may He strengthen us in our faith. Amen.

Saturday, 5 December 2020 : 1st Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 9 : 35 – Matthew 10 : 1, 5a, 6-8

At that time, Jesus went around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom; and He cured every sickness and disease. When He saw the crowds, He was moved with pity; for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are only few. Ask the Master of the harvest to send workers to gather His harvest.”

Jesus called His Twelve disciples to Him, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to heal every disease and sickness. Jesus sent these Twelve on mission, with the instruction : “Go, instead, to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. Go, and proclaim this message : The kingdom of heaven is near. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, cleanse the lepers, and drive out demons. Freely have you received, freely give.”

Saturday, 5 December 2020 : 1st Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 146 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6

Alleluia! How good it is to sing to our God, how sweet and befitting, to praise Him! YHVH rebuilds Jerusalem; He gathers the exiles of Israel.

He heals their broken hearts and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of stars; He calls each of them by name.

The Lord is great, and mighty in power; His wisdom is beyond measure. YHVH lifts up the humble, but casts the wicked to the ground.

Saturday, 5 December 2020 : 1st Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 30 : 19-21, 23-26

O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. When you cry, He will listen; when He hears, He will answer. When the Lord has given you the bread of anguish and the water of distress, He, your Teacher will hide no longer. Your own eyes will see Him, and your ear will listen to His words behind you : “This is the way, walk in it.”

He will then give rain for the seed you sow and make the harvest abundant from the crops you grow. On that day your cattle will graze in wide pastures. Your beasts of burden will eat silage tossed to them with pitchfork and shovel. For on the day of the great slaughter, when fortresses fall, streams of water will flow on every mountain and lofty hill.

The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven times greater, like the light of seven days, when YHVH binds up the wounds of His people and heals the bruises inflicted by His blows.

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.”

Saturday, 21 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which celebrates the moment when Mary, the Mother of God was presented at the Temple of God, as prescribed by the Law, as her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne offering their firstborn child to the Lord. Mary, the one who would become the Mother of God and Saviour, the Ark of the New Covenant of God.

On this day we rejoice and recall the faith of Mary, the Mother of Our Lord and God as we remember her piety and dedication, her virtues and humble commitment to serve the Lord with her whole life. Mary has always been a great example and inspiration for all of us, not just because she is the Mother of God but also because she is such a paragon of faith and virtue by her obedience to God and her genuine love for Him.

Mary has dedicated herself to the Lord and symbolised by her presentation to Him, and her whole life is a life of prayer and love, as she accepted her role to be the Mother of God, caring for the Lord from the moment when He was still in her womb, when He was still a baby and young, and followed Him through life and through His ministry until He endured His Passion and sufferings, and was there when He died on the Cross, faithfully standing by His Cross to the very end.

In our Gospel today we heard the Lord speaking to His disciples and the people, when someone who told Him that His mother and family were there waiting for Him. And the Lord said to the people that all those who obey the Lord and follow Him are His mother, brothers and sisters, essentially His family members and those who are close to Him and beloved by Him.

On the surface it might have seemed rude for the Lord to dismiss His family members, His own mother Mary in particular. However, we have to understand and appreciate the intention of the Lord and the context of what He had said. He wanted to show that His familial relations are not definitive and does not exclude all the others, the faithful children of God. The Lord considers all to be His family members.

That is why through the Church, by our baptism, all of us have been made to be the adopted children of God. Through the Church the Lord unified us to Himself, in a family of the faithful, united through love. And by showing us all Mary, His own mother, as the perfect example of faith and the exemplary child of God, He Himself concluded it by saying, that all those who follow the Lord’s path, are all members of this beloved family.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is why today we are all called to reflect on our lives and how we have lived through them thus far. And we are called to consider the path that we ought to walk forward in life. Are we able and willing to commit ourselves to lives that are just like Mary’s, that is to be obedient to God, ever listening and adhering to His will, and virtuous and just?

Today, as we rejoice in the memory of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, let us all be inspired by the examples that she had set before us, that we shall also be righteous, virtuous and good in faith as she has shown us. Blessed Mother Mary, our loving mother, pray for us all sinners, and lead us all towards your Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, 21 November 2020 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 12 : 46-50

At that time, while Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and His brothers wanted to speak to Him, and they waited outside. So someone said to Him, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside; they want to speak with You.”

Jesus answered, “Who is My mother? Who are My brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look! Here are My mother and My brothers. Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”