Sunday, 3 January 2021 : Second Sunday after Christmas (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday, the second Sunday in the season of Christmas, we are reminded yet again of the reason why we celebrate this Christmas. We do not rejoice and celebrate because we seek pleasures and joys of this world, or satisfaction for our needs and desires. We rejoice because of the love that God has shown us so wonderfully and generously through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

So great was His love that since the very beginning, He has given us His compassion and love, showering us with mercy and patience throughout the journey. Despite our rebelliousness and sins, He has always continued to love us, even to the greatest of sinners. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, He could easily have annihilated them or condemned them to eternal suffering, but He did not do so.

While He forced them to wander the earth and suffer the consequences of their sins, but at that very same moment He also reassured them that salvation would eventually come for all of them, when He spoke of the Woman through whom the Lord would bring His salvation, crushing the devil, his power and dominion over the world and all the evil and wicked plots he had created against us.

When Cain murdered Abel out of jealousy, the Lord still showed Him mercy and helped him to get away from his predicament, and He rescued Noah and his family on the great Ark when all of the whole world had completely turned against God and dwelled in their wickedness and evil. Then, throughout many years, decades and centuries, again and again He helped His people, making Covenant with His servant Abraham and his descendants.

Throughout the history of mankind, God has always remained faithful to the Covenant He had made with us since the beginning. He has always guided and attempted to lead us to Himself. He has never abandoned us no matter what. Sadly, it was us and our predecessors that had abandoned the Lord and betrayed Him for the temptations and allures of the world. We sought quick satisfaction and comfort, which is why we turned to everything in the world and not to God.

Nonetheless, God remained faithful, and He rescued His people from their troubles, from their slavery in Egypt, guiding them through the Red Sea and destroying their enemies, establishing them in the lands of Promise, and made them prosper. Again and again, when the people disobeyed Him and were stubborn in rebelling against Him, He showed patience and tried to bring them back to His truth and love.

Throughout more and more centuries God continued to take care of His people, and He sent His deliverance to us, fulfilling all the promises He had made from the very beginning. The Lord Himself became Man, assuming our human nature and the existence of our flesh, became fully Man just as He is also fully Divine. In the person of Jesus Christ, exists inseparably two distinct natures, Divine and Man.

This is what the Lord has shown all of us, His enduring love for every single one of us, without exception. The Son of Man and Son of God born in Bethlehem to Mary is the perfect manifestation of this Love. We are celebrating this Christmas because of this, the generosity and wonders of God’s love that never ends, His faithful love and commitment to the Covenant which He had made with all of us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as St. Paul said in his Epistle to the Ephesians as our second reading today, the Lord has revealed His truth to us through Christ, Our Saviour and Lord. He has brought freedom to us through His Son, and most importantly through His most loving and selfless sacrifice on the Cross, by which He established a new and everlasting Covenant with all of us. By His own Blood, He has paid the price of sin and liberated us from eternal death.

Now, what is important is that, each and every one of us as Christians are His followers and believers, that is we believe in all that He has revealed to us, and we believe that He is our Lord and Saviour, our most loving Father and Creator. And now that we have received this truth from Him, our calling and purpose in life is to bear witness to this truth, and to the same hope and love that He has shown us through Christ.

How are we making our Christmas celebrations meaningful and worthwhile, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is not by spending a lot of money and lavish celebrations that we truly rejoice and celebrate this Christmas. Rather, it is by devoting our effort, time and attention to show the love of God in this world, by reaching out with love to all our brethren in need, especially those who are in need of love and compassion.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make our Christmas celebrations truly meaningful and worthwhile, devoting ourselves to follow the Lord’s calling and do our very best to touch the lives of others, being generous in giving and in loving one another. May the Lord be our Guide, our Strength and our Hope. May He bless each and every one of us and strengthen us with the courage to live virtuously and filled with His love from now on. Amen.

Sunday, 3 January 2021 : Second Sunday after Christmas (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 1 : 1-18

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in Him; life, which for human beings, was also light, light that shines in darkness, light that darkness could not overcome.

A man came, sent by God; his name was John. He came to bear witness, as a witness to introduce the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but a witness to introduce the Light; for the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone. He was in the world, and through Him the world was made, the very world that did not know Him.

He came to His own, yet His own people did not receive Him; but to all who received Him, He empowers to become children of God, for they believe in His Name. These are born, but not by seed, or carnal desire, nor by the will of man : they are born of God.

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us; and we have seen His glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father : fullness of truth and loving-kindness. John bore witness to Him openly, saying, “This is the One Who comes after me, but He is already ahead of me, for He was before me.”

From His fullness we have all received, favour upon favour. For God had given us the Law through Moses, but Truth and Loving-kindness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God-the-only-Son made Him known : the One, Who is in and with the Father.

Sunday, 3 January 2021 : Second Sunday after Christmas (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ephesians 1 : 3-14

Blessed be God, the Father of Christ Jesus our Lord, Who in Christ has blessed us from heaven with every spiritual blessing. God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and without sin in His presence. From eternity He destined us in love to be His adopted sons and daughters through Christ Jesus, thus fulfilling His free and generous will.

This goal suited Him : that His loving-kindness which He granted us in His Beloved might finally receive all glory and praise. For, in Christ, we obtain freedom, sealed by His Blood, and have the forgiveness of sins. In this, appears the greatness of His grace, which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding, God has made known to us His mysterious design, in accordance with His loving kindness, in Christ.

In Him, and under Him, God wanted to unite, when the fullness of time had come, everything in heaven and on earth. By a decree of Him Who disposes all things according to His own plan and decision, we, the Jews, have been chosen and called and we were awaiting the Messiah, for the praise of His glory.

You, on hearing the word of truth, the Gospel that saves you, have believed in Him. And, as promised, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, the first pledge of what we shall receive, on the way to our deliverance, as a people of God, for the praise of His glory.

Sunday, 3 January 2021 : Second Sunday after Christmas (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 147 : 12-20

Exalt YHVH, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

He spreads snow like wool; He scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down hail like pebbles; who will stand before His icy blasts? But He sends His word and melts the snow; He makes His breeze blow, and again the waters flow.

It is He, Who tells Jacob His words; His laws and decrees, to Israel. This, He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Alternative Psalm

Wisdom 10 : 15-21

It was she who rescued an innocent and holy people from a nation of oppressors. She entered the soul of God’s servant and through him withstood terrible kings with signs and wonders.

To the holy people she gave the wages of their labour, leading them in a wonderful way, giving them shade during the day and the light of the stars at night.

She brought them across the Red Sea, but drowned their enemies and later washed them ashore from the depth of the abyss. So the righteous looted the godless, singing hymns, Lord, to Your holy Name, and one in heart, they gave thanks for Your saving hand.

Wisdom gives speech to the dumb and makes infants speak clearly.

Sunday, 3 January 2021 : Second Sunday after Christmas (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Jeremiah 31 : 7-14

For YHVH says this, “Shout with joy for Jacob; rejoice for the greatest of nations. Proclaim your praise and say : ‘YHVH has saved His people, the remnant of Israel!’”

“Look, I will bring them back from the land of the north, gather them from the ends of the earth, the lame and the blind, mothers and women in labour – a great throng will return. They went away weeping, they will return in joy. I will lead them by the streams of water, on a level path so that no one will stumble, for I am Israel’s Father and Ephraim is My firstborn.”

Hear the word of YHVH, o nations, proclaim it on distant coast lands : He Who scattered Israel will gather them and guard them as a shepherd guards his flock. For YHVH has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand of his conqueror.”

“They shall come shouting for joy, while ascending Zion; they will come streaming to YHVH’s blessings – the grain, the new wine and the oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden; no more will they be afflicted. Maidens will make merry and dance, young men and old as well.”

“I will turn their mourning into gladness, I will give them comfort and joy for sorrow. I will fill the priests with abundance, and satisfy My people with My bounty – this is YHVH’s word.”

Alternative reading

Sirach 24 : 1-12

Listen to Wisdom singing her own praises and extolling herself in the midst of her people. See, she opens her mouth in the assembly of the Most High, she glories in herself before the Almighty.

I came out from the mouth of God and covered the face of the earth like a mist; although My dwelling place is in the highest heavens, My throne is within a pillar of cloud. I alone have seen and understood the vault of the skies and strolled through the depths of the abyss, taking possession of the raging sea and of the earth as well, with all its people and nations.

In all of these, I looked for a place to rest; in which territory would I set up My abode? Then the Creator of the Universe commanded Me, He Who created Me assigned the place of My rest, “Pitch Your tent in Jacob; Israel will be Your homeland.”

He created Me from the beginning, before time began, and I will never cease to be, I celebrate in His presence the liturgy of His Holy Dwelling and this is why I settled in Zion. The Lord let Me rest in His beloved city and Jerusalem is the heart of My Kingdom. I took root in the people God has favoured, in the land of the Lord, in their inheritance.