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.

Friday, 26 November 2021 : 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, 26 November 2021 : 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.

Friday, 26 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Daniel 7 : 2-14

Daniel said, “I saw the following in my vision : the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea, and four great beasts, each one different from the other, came out of the sea. The first was like a lion with eagle’s wings. As I looked at it, its wings were torn off. It was lifted up from the ground, stood up on its feet like a man, and was given a human heart.”

“The second was a beast like a bear; it was raised up on one side and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told : Go and devour much flesh. I went on looking and saw another beast like a leopard with four wings on its back; it had four heads and dominion was given to it.”

“I continued seeing my visions of the night and saw a terrible fourth beast. It was fearful and extraordinarily strong; it had great iron teeth; it ate, tore into pieces, and crushed underfoot whatever remained. It was different from the previous beasts and had ten horns. I was looking at the horns, when another small horn sprang among them, and three of the first horns were pulled out by the roots to make way for the new. It had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that uttered insolent words.”

“I looked and saw the following : Some thrones were set in place and One of Great Age took His seat. His robe was white, as snow, His hair, white as washed wool. His throne was flames of fire with wheels of blazing fire. A river of fire sprang forth and flowed before Him. Thousands upon thousands served Him and a countless multitude stood before Him. Those in the tribunal took their seats and opened the book.”

“But as I remembered the haughty words of the horn with human eyes and mouth, which I had seen before, this animal was killed before my eyes; and its body destroyed and cast into the fire. Dominion was taken from the other animals, though they were allowed to stay alive for a time, until the fixed time.”

“I continued watching the nocturnal vision : One like a Son of Man came on the clouds of heaven. He faced the One of Great Age and was brought into His presence. Dominion, honour and kingship were given Him, and all the peoples and nations of every language served Him. His dominion is eternal and shall never pass away; His kingdom will never be destroyed.”

Thursday, 25 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded that often times as we carry on living our lives as Christians, we have to face oppression and persecution, facing difficult times and trials in living our lives while being faithful to God. It had happened to our ancestors, our predecessors who had kept their faith and it can happen to us as well.

In our first reading today, we heard of the story of Daniel, the man of God from Judah who had spent much of his life in Babylon and then in the courts of the Persian kings that succeeded the Babylonians. King Darius the Great of Persia, the figure likely mentioned in that passage had Daniel as one of his courtiers, as a holy and wise man that he trusted. This resulted in jealousy and also hatred from others who despised Daniel and his faith in God.

As a result, those enemies of Daniel tried to leverage the king into enacting a law that outlawed the worship of God and therefore indirectly implicate Daniel and made him to be punishable by the same law. Daniel stood firm in his faith and he would not give in to the provisions of the law enacted on the advice of his enemies, and he remained faithful to God even when he was threatened with certain death.

The Lord preserved Daniel and protected him when he was thrown into the lion’s den, and even when the lions had purposely been made hungry but starving them, they did not harm or even touch Daniel at all. The Lord guarded him and kept him until the time that the king, who was very sympathetic to Daniel, released him from the lion’s den. It was thus that the king ordered the enemies of Daniel and all those who had accused and slandered him to be thrown into the lion’s den instead, and they were all crushed by the lions.

Then in our Gospel passage today we heard how the Lord Jesus revealed to His disciples of the coming of trials and challenging times for all of them as they all would face persecution and difficulties, and everything would not be the same as before. Their old world would be destroyed and ended, and even Jerusalem itself would not be spared. The city of Jerusalem itself would be surrounded and destroyed, and it would be one of the signs of what was to come.

When the Lord spoke of what would happen to Jerusalem, some of them might be thinking that what were to happen to Jerusalem would be the omen of the Second Coming of Christ, which the Lord Himself also proclaimed at that same occasion. Some early Christians believed that the Lord would very soon come again and free them from their sufferings and persecutions, under both the Jewish authorities and from the Romans. But it was not the case.

The Lord did not actually specify that He would come again right after Jerusalem was surrounded and destroyed, which actually happened just four decades after the Lord’s crucifixion. The Romans did surround and besiege Jerusalem after the major uprising by the Jewish people, which eventually resulted in the destruction of the city and the Temple of God, which was completely destroyed and torn down just as the Lord had predicted.

But the Lord again did not say that He would immediately come after that. Rather, as He revealed through St. John the Apostle in his vision received at the island of Patmos, which he wrote in the Book of Revelations, sufferings and trials will come again for all those who are faithful to God, much as how Daniel had suffered, and how many saints and martyrs, our holy predecessors had endured, and how many more will suffer because they remain faithful to God, even to this very day, and to the future to come.

What is important is that we must remember that the Lord is always ever by our side, and He will never abandon us. Even as we suffer, He is always guiding us and protecting us in various ways. We cannot and we should not lose hope in Him, and we should instead remain steadfast in His grace and providence, entrusting ourselves to His care and protection. All of us must have faith in the Lord and do our best to help one another as well, even as we struggle to endure the trials and challenges we are facing or are going to face in the future.

Today we also commemorate the feast of a great saint and martyr who should inspire us to live our lives worthily for the Lord, namely that of St. Catherine of Alexandria, also known as St. Catherine the Great. St. Catherine of Alexandria was a renowned Roman martyr, a holy woman and virgin who according to tradition was the daughter of the governor of Alexandria in Roman Egypt. At that time, during the reign of the Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, Christians throughout the Empire faced one last, particularly brutal period of intense persecutions, where churches were destroyed, their properties looted and confiscated, the Scriptures burnt, and many of the members of the faithful, both the leaders and the laity alike were oppressed.

St. Catherine was persuaded through a vision of the Blessed Mother of God and her Son, Our Lord and Saviour to become a Christian, and as the persecutions intensified, she chose to go to the Emperor, then Emperor Maxentius, and rebuke him for his misdeeds. Amused by her courage and beauty, it was told that the Emperor called forth fifty renowned pagan philosophers to debate with her, and they all could not argue with her. God gave her the wisdom and the courage, the strength and endurance to stand up faithfully for her Christian faith.

When she was persecuted and tortured, which she endured with great faith, it was told that her courage and faith touched so many, that even the wife of the Emperor and others were themselves convinced to become Christians, and thus were martyred along with her as well. The Emperor desperately tried to make St. Catherine to abandon her faith, even to the point of proposing marriage to her, which she rejected courageously and firmly, stating that her Spouse was none other than Jesus, her Lord and Saviour, to Whom alone she dedicated herself.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, from what we have heard and discussed regarding the life examples showed by St. Catherine of Alexandria, all of us can see that trials and persecutions may come at any time for those who follow Christ. The question is then, are we willing to endure those sufferings and trials for Christ? Or are we easily tempted and swayed to abandon Him for temporary gains and benefits of this world? Are we easily made to give up our faith because we are afraid of the consequences of following Him?

Let us ponder these things in our mind and let us consider what we can do to be good and faithful disciples of Our Lord in each and every moments of our lives. Let us pray to the Lord, asking Him to guide us and to strengthen us in our journey of faith so that we will always have the courage and strength to remain faithful to Him regardless of the trials, obstacles and challenges that we may have to face for the Lord’s sake. May God be with us all and may He bless us all in our every good endeavours, for His greater glory. Amen.

Thursday, 25 November 2021 : 34th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or Red (Martyrs)

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.”