Saturday, 2 December 2017 : 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 marks the last day of our current liturgical year, and as tomorrow’s Sunday marks the beginning of the season of Advent, through the Old Testament readings this week from the Book of Daniel, we heard the reminders for all of us to be ever vigilant, as the Lord is coming again, just as He has promised us, and we will not know the exact time of His coming.

And as Daniel saw in his vision, there will be trouble awaiting many of those who are faithful to God, because the four beasts seen in that vision represent the kingdoms of the world, those historical powers and rulers that persecuted and oppressed the Church and the faithful people of God. These are the domains of Satan, our great enemy and adversary, through which he was planning to bring about our downfall.

If we read on in the Book of Revelations written by St. John the Evangelist about the visions which he received at the island of Patmos, he also received the same vision about the coming of persecution and difficult times for the faithful ones, as those who adhere to Satan’s ways have rallied up against them, and they rejoiced even as the faithful suffer in agony, refusing to give up their faith in God.

Those people are going to do exactly what the Lord Jesus mentioned in the Gospel passage today, living their lives hedonistically, enjoying all the pleasures that the world can give, and doing all that are wicked in the eyes of the Lord. But they do not realise that the retribution of the Lord will come at a time they least expect of all. Many will be caught unprepared and unworthy, and their lot will be to share the fate of the evil one.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Our Lord is a loving God, Who wants each and every one of us to be with Him, to be reconciled from our disobedience to Him, and therefore to be reunited with us in love. However, at the same time, He also gives us the free will to choose between obedience and disobedience, whether we want to be with God and walk in His ways, or whether we want to choose Satan’s side instead.

There will be great pressures and temptations for us to fall into those temptations the Lord mentioned, the temptations of pleasure and worldliness, which will lure us into the trap of sin. Are we able to resist the devil then in this manner? Are we able to stand up for our faith despite all the challenges and difficulties that we may encounter along the way?

Let us all see the examples of our holy predecessors, those who have been declared as saints and martyrs by the Church. They have done their best to resist and to remain truly devoted to God, and they led holy lives filled with piety, love and compassion for one another. They loved God first and foremost, and show the same love to each other, just as God has commanded them.

In our world today, it is not easy to remain faithful as a Christian. There will be obstacles, challenges, difficulties in our path. And there may even be opposition from those who are close to us, dear to us, and this will be our crosses for us to bear in this life. Are we willing to pick up those crosses and walk together with God, by remaining faithful despite the challenges we may encounter day after day?

Let us devote ourselves, our time and effort to serve the Lord, by our actions, through which we show our love for Him, and also loving one another just as He has commanded us. Let us do our very best to be prepared for the time of His coming, so that we will not be caught unprepared and by surprise. Instead, let us strive to be worthy of Him, that we may partake in the glorious inheritance that He has prepared for all of His faithful ones. May the Lord bless us always and be with us, till the end of time and beyond. Amen.

Saturday, 2 December 2017 : 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, 2 December 2017 : 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, 2 December 2017 : 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, 1 December 2017 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we approach the coming of the end of this liturgical year, we heard first of all the vision of Daniel the prophet in Babylon, who saw the vision of the future ages to come, at the time of the end, when the devil and all the enemies of the Lord and His people would rise up one last time to destroy the faithful and the people of God, at the end of time. This is the same vision which St. John the Evangelist also witnessed at the island of Patmos in Greece, which he wrote for us in the Book of the Revelations.

The four great and wicked beasts which Daniel saw in the vision were similar to what St. John also saw in his Book of Revelation vision, representing Satan, the chief enemy of all the faithful, the great devil, as well as his allies, his forces and all those whom he had assembled in order to wage war against the faithful and the Church. These are the premonitions of what is to come for all the faithful, and indeed, the devil is never stop at work, trying to undermine the good works of God among His people.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, throughout the history of the Church, we have seen there were so many difficulties and challenges that the faithful had to face and encounter, from the time of the earliest days of the Church, when the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord were hunted down and arrested because of their faith, when many went to their martyrdom in the arena, thrown into the beasts and beheaded, as well as many other sufferings that they had to endure for the sake of the Lord.

Yet, those faithful servants of God did not give up and remained strong in their faith despite the opposition against them and the challenges they had to face. They persevered through the difficult times even though some did fall to temptation and chose to abandon their faith in exchange for safety and reconciliation with the worldly ways of the devil.

How does this then relate to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? We live at a time when the Church and many of its teachings have been ignored and abandoned not just by those outside the Church, but even those who are within the Church. There are many lukewarm Christians who no longer truly believe in their faith, and they do not even practice their faith regularly in their own lives.

There are many of those who would rather conform with the world and its ways rather than to walk faithfully in the Lord’s way. It is increasingly becoming more and more difficult to be Christians these days, because more and more people judge all those who still adhere to the Lord and His ways, and label all of us just because we believe in Him. There are sadly many of us who have fallen to the same temptations and allures which the devil is using to trap us and bring us to our downfall.

If we think that the Church today is no longer persecuted, then we should look at the various parts of the world, where being Christians equal being mocked, being persecuted, being ostracised, being laughed at, being rejected by the community, and where even the faithful have to practice their faith in secret, as being Christians may equal death sentence and suffering for them.

Therefore, today, as we reflect on all these, let us all think about what we can do to help all those who are suffering, by praying for them and asking the Lord to show His mercy to our brethren. And at the same time, we should also live our lives faithfully and resist the temptations to sin and abandon our faith in God. That is because as we see from the passages today, the Lord will ultimately triumph, and Satan as well as his beasts and allies will be defeated in the end.

Should we abandon our faith in God in exchange for a brief respite and temporary joy in this world, indeed our lives in this world will be pleasant and good, but if we are then numbered together with the devil and his allies, and judged to be thrown into the eternal suffering and fire, is that what we want with ourselves?

Therefore, let us be examples and role models in faith to one another, encouraging everyone to be faithful to God at all times. Let us all seek to be ever more devoted through our actions, loving God above all other things and showing the same love for our brethren as well. May the Lord be with us always and bless us forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 1 December 2017 : 34th 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, 1 December 2017 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 3 : 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81

Mountains and hills, praise and exalt Him forever.

Everything that sprouts on the earth, praise and exalt Him forever.

Springs of water, praise and exalt Him forever.

Seas and rivers, praise and exalt Him forever.

Whales and fishes, praise and exalt Him forever.

All the birds of heaven, praise and exalt Him forever.

Animals, wild and tame, praise and exalt Him forever.