Saturday, 17 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we begin the last part of this Advent season, marking the final seven days of the season of Advent and entering into the more intense phase of discourse and preparations for the imminent celebrations of Christmas, we are reminded first of all of Who it is that we truly commemorate and celebrate at Christmas. It is not Santa Claus, Father Christmas or any other popular secular Christmas figures familiar to many of us whom we are celebrating about. It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the whole world, Who has been promised to us from the beginning of time, Whom we are all celebrating and rejoicing about. God has sent us all the perfect gift in His Son, in fulfilling everything that He has ever promised us, and showed us the perfect manifestation of His Love in the flesh, tangible and approachable by us all.

In our first reading today, we heard the words from the Book of Genesis where towards the end of Genesis, Jacob, the grandson of Abraham and the one whom God called Israel, the father of all the Israelites, was at the end of his earthly life, and gathered all of his children and extended family before him. At that occasion, as he knew that he did not have long time remaining with him, he prayed over all of his children, giving his blessings over each and every one of them. To them he prayed over and asked God to bless them in their own various ways, while also prophetically mentioning how each of his sons’ tribes would turn out to be. And most peculiarly and interestingly among all of them is what we heard contained in our first reading passage today regarding Judah, the progenitor of the tribe of Judah, and all the words regarding that tribe.

The blessing that Jacob gave to Judah seemingly showed a premonition of great things to come through Judah and his progeny, which was indeed prescient considering that later on, the tribe of Judah would eventually become preeminent among all the other tribes of Israel, and it was from among the tribes and houses of Judah that God had raised David, His chosen king and servant, to be the ruler over all of His people, Israel. Jacob told Judah and all his other children assembled that the house and tribe of Judah has been destined to rule over all of the people of God, and this was accomplished and fulfilled through the establishment of David as King of Israel, and his house, the House of David as the one that God had chosen to rule over all the Israelites.

To David, God Himself had also promised that his house and reign will be forever secure, and that his descendant will sit upon the Throne of Israel, ruling over all the people forevermore. All these promises that God had made became expectations by the people of God upon the downfall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, centuries after the glorious days of the rule of David and his son, Solomon as Kings of Israel. The prophets spoke of the coming of God’s salvation and liberation for His people, and that a Messiah or Saviour would be born unto them, coming from God Himself, and that He would be born into the House of David just as prophesied and promised, that God’s many promises and words would be fulfilled through this same Messiah.

And as we heard from our Gospel passage today, which listed the full genealogy of our Lord Jesus from Adam all the way through Abraham and then David to Jesus Himself, we see the fulfilment of all of God’s promises made to all the three individuals mentioned through Christ, the Son of God born this Christmas, Who we are all celebrating and commemorating joyfully for. To Adam, God has promised the salvation and liberation from the tyranny and bondage of sin, the defeat of Satan and all of his wicked plans by which he had led mankind to downfall through disobedience and sin. To Abraham, God has made a Covenant with him, and has promised that his descendants will be glorious and numerous like the stars. To David, as mentioned, God promised to establish his rule and kingdom forever, and that his house will always sit on the throne of Israel.

All these were fulfilled completely and perfectly through Jesus Christ, the New Adam, born into this world as the Son of Man, as the perfect Man, obeying His Father’s will perfectly, and breaking forever the dominion of Satan and sin over us mankind. While our ancestors sinned by eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, disobeying God, Christ showed perfect obedience to God, His heavenly Father, by taking upon Himself the burden of the Cross, and was crucified and nailed upon the ‘tree’ of the Cross, that through Him, we may see and receive the salvation of God. And through Christ, all of us mankind all become the children of God, the children of Abraham by the adoption through the same faith we have in the same one God, in the New and Eternal Covenant He has established by His perfect offering and sacrifice on the Cross.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on all these and remind ourselves once again on Who it is that we truly celebrate for this upcoming Christmas, and for Whom we prepare ourselves thoroughly throughout this season of Advent, let us all truly reconnect ourselves with God and with all the love and compassion which He has shown us all so generously all these while. Let us all not be easily swayed and tempted by the many temptations of pleasures and worldly greed and desires especially aplenty around these periods, when we see all the excesses of all the secular celebrations of Christmas showed us. We must keep in mind our focus as Christians, on Christ Himself, our Lord and Saviour, the true Joy and Hope of Christmas, the very Reason we are celebrating. Through Him, God has restored Hope and Light in our midst, against all the darkness and evils all around us.

Let us all not forget the Child born on Christmas Day, more than two millennia ago. Too often we have celebrated all of our Christmas observances and festivities while forgetting and ignoring the One Whom we ought to be celebrating with and about. We should no longer be ignorant of Christ and all that God had done through Him for our sake. Let this upcoming Christmas and the remaining time of this current Advent season be a good reminder for one another and also a model for all others, that our faithful observance and our inspiring examples may help to lead more and more souls towards God and His saving grace, the eternal life that He promised us all who believe in Him. May God be with us always and may He guide us and strengthen us, and help us to make most use of this time of Advent. Amen.

Saturday, 17 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 1 : 1-17

This is the account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron of Aram. Aram was the father of Aminadab, Aminadab of Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon.

Salmon was the father of Boaz. His mother was Rahab. Boaz was the father of Obed. His mother was Ruth. Obed was the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, the king. David was the father of Solomon. His mother had been Uriah’s wife. Solomon was the father of Rehoboam. Then came the kings : Abijah, Asaph, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah.

Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon, Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel and Salathiel of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, and Eliakim of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, and Akim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, and Matthan of Jacob.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and from her came Jesus Who is called the Christ – the Messiah. There were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, and fourteen generations from David to the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen generations from the deportation to Babylon to the birth of Christ.

Saturday, 17 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 71 : 1-2, 3-4ab, 7-8, 17

O God, endow the King with Your justice, the Royal Son with Your righteousness. May He rule Your people justly and defend the rights of the lowly.

Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills justice. He will defend the cause of the poor, deliver the children of the needy.

Justice will flower in His days, and peace abound till the moon be no more. For He reigns from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.

May His Name endure forever; may His Name be as lasting as the sun. All the races will boast about Him, and He will be blessed by all nations.

Saturday, 17 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Genesis 49 : 1-2, 8-10

Jacob then called his sons and said, “Gather round, sons of Jacob. And listen to your father Israel!”

“Judah, your brothers will praise you! You shall seize your enemies by the neck! Your father’s sons shall bow before you. Judah, a young lion! You return from the prey, my son! Like a lion he stoops and crouches, and like a lioness, who dares to rouse him?”

“The sceptre shall not be taken from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to Whom it belongs, and Who has the obedience of the nations.”

Friday, 16 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are all yet again reminded of God’s salvation and grace which He has freely and generously offered for all of us, that through Him and His loving providence and grace, all of us may receive from Him the assurance of eternal life and salvation, liberation from our bondage to sin and death, from all the evils and sufferings of this world, and to enter into the glorious kingdom and inheritance that God had assured all of us. Each one of us are reminded this time and season of Advent of why we are celebrating the upcoming Christmas in the first place, and we celebrate it because we see the joy that has come into our midst through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, born and revealed to us all at Christmas.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard the Lord’s words reassuring all of His people yet again, and not only that but even also all the foreigners and all those who were considered as those not belonging to the descendants of the Israelites, the people who God had called to be His first flock and people. After all, this serves to remind us all, that each and every one of us, regardless of our origins, our backgrounds, our racial nature and details, or whatever it is that we mankind often used to categorise and divide ourselves into, in the end, all of us are equally precious and beloved by God, Who loves us all despite our frequent rebellions and disobedience against Him.

As we heard of the Lord speaking to His people through Isaiah, we can clearly see the desire that the Lord has, in calling us all back to Himself, to be reconciled with each and every one of us so that, we may not be lost to Him anymore, and that we may find our path to Him, rediscovering our connection and link to Him, once lost due to sin and our rebellion, our stubbornness and unwillingness to listen to Him and follow Him. God called on each and every one of us, leading us all towards His holy mountain, His kingdom of grace and light, to liberate us from our bondage and enslavement by sin and by our worldly attachments and desires, so that we may all return to a state of grace and perfection through Him.

And all of that had been made possible to us because of Christ, Our Lord and Saviour and His coming and entry into this world. He is the true Light and the Hope of the whole world. Through Him, we have seen the manifestation of God’s ever generous and enduring love, that He offered freely and richly for us, that we may know just how beloved and dear we all are, and how important we are to Him. It is this Love which allowed us to remain in existence, as God could have easily erased us all from existence and damned all of us, all of humanity, past, present and future because of our many sins. That is what God did not do, as His love led Him to reach out to us, to find us and to rediscover us, to be reconciled with us.

That is what Christ Himself spoke of in our Gospel passage today, as He spoke about His herald, St. John the Baptist, sent into the world to prepare the path for His coming, and also of His own ministry and work, as He came into our midst, as God Who dwells among His own people, His beloved ones, so that they all may experience the redemption and love that He has brought us, as our most loving and generous Good Shepherd, Who gathered all of the lost sheep, all of us sinners, scattered all throughout this darkened and wicked world. He called us all to Himself, and by lifting up His Cross, He bore the burdens of our sins, the punishments and consequences due for our faults and mistakes, all those things that we should have suffered from, and be condemned for, and yet, Our Lord Himself, through His infinite love, reached out with His love and pity for us, took everything upon Himself.

Thus, as we prepare ourselves in this season and time of Advent, all of us are invited to remember once again why we celebrate Christmas, and that is, after all, because of God’s enduring love for us, His amazing love by which He saved us all from eternal damnation and destruction. God’s love for us has been manifested in His Son, Jesus Christ, by Whose suffering and death, and glorious Resurrection had broken the hold and the chains that sin and death had over us. He has liberated us all and given us the assurance of eternal life and glory that we will gain, should we hold firm to Him and remain faithful to Him, and do our best to adhere to His path, in following all that He has taught us to do, in fulfilling the Law and the commandments, and in obeying God’s will all throughout our lives.

Let us all therefore renew our commitments to God, that we may live ever more worthily of Him, in all of our actions and dealings, in our every efforts and good works, that we may inspire many others, our fellow brothers and sisters, to be ever more devout and committed to the Lord, Whose love and mercy have given us the most blessed bounty of grace and salvation, and the sure promise of eternal glory with Him. Let us all make good use of this time of Advent to reorientate our lives and our actions that we may once again place God at His rightful place, at the heart and centre of our lives, at all times. And if we have not been preparing ourselves to celebrate Christmas in the right and proper way, let us remind ourselves once again, what Christmas is all about, that is not about ourselves or all the merrymaking and pleasures, but about the Love of God made Man, manifested in our midst.

May the Lord, our most loving God and Saviour, continue to love each and every one of us, ever patiently, although we have often disappointed Him and betrayed Him for the many idols and distractions that we have in life. May all of us draw ever closer to Him and continue to walk ever more faithfully in His path, and continue to grow ever deeper in our love and relationship with Him, and also in our love and care for one another. May God bless us all, at all times, and especially now as we prepare ourselves throughout this blessed season of Advent, to welcome Him worthily at Christmas. Amen.

Friday, 16 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

John 5 : 33-36

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “John also bore witness to the truth when you sent messengers to him, but I do not seek such human testimony; I recall this for you, so that you may be saved. John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were willing to enjoy his light.”

“But I have greater evidence than that of John – the works which the Father entrusted to Me to carry out. The very works I do bear witness : the Father has sent Me.”

Friday, 16 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 7-8

May God be gracious and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us, that Your way be known on earth and Your salvation among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice and guide the nations of the world.

The land has given its harvest; God, our God, has blessed us. May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Friday, 16 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Isaiah 56 : 1-3a, 6-8

This is what YHVH says : Maintain what is right and do what is just, for My salvation is close at hand, My justice is soon to come. Blessed is the mortal who does these things, and perseveres in them, who does not defile the sabbath and who refrains from evil. Let no foreigner say, “Surely YHVH will exclude me from His people.”

YHVH says to the foreigners who join Him, serving Him and loving His Name, keeping His sabbath unprofaned and remaining faithful to His covenant : I will bring them to My holy mountain and give them joy in My house of prayer. I will accept on My altar their burnt offerings and sacrifices, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations.

Thus says the Lord God, YHVH, Who gathers the exiles of Israel : There are others I will gather besides those already gathered.

Thursday, 15 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, all of us are reminded during this time and season of Advent to be focused on God and the salvation which He has brought upon us into our midst. Through Him we have received the assurance of eternal life and glory, of liberation from the darkness of this world, from despair and bondage to sin and death. Through the Lord alone we have received this Hope, and received the assurance of the path out of our predicament, as through Him we know that we shall be triumphant together with Him, just as He has conquered and defeated sin, evil and death by His suffering and death on the Cross, and by His glorious Resurrection from the dead.

We are reminded that the same Lord and God Who spoke to His people through the prophet Isaiah in our first reading today, is the same Lord Who has come into our midst at Christmas, that moment two millennia ago, as a small, little Child born in Bethlehem, in order to save the whole entire world and creation, all of us His beloved ones just as He had promised. Back then, when the prophet Isaiah spoke of the words of the Lord’s assurance and hope, he told them all of the things that God has done for the people, and what He would do, if the people would just embrace Him and His love. God has always constantly been patient and kind on all of His people despite their repeated and stubborn disobedience and wayward attitudes.

That is why, at that time, when the people of God encountered a lot of hardships and misfortunes, Isaiah came bearing God’s hope and reassurances for the people, to remind them just how fortunate they are to have God by their side, ever encouraging and supporting them despite those same people having often betrayed and disregarded Him, ignored Him and made Him truly angry because of their sins and wickedness. God loved all of His people and wanted them all to be reconciled to Him, and to this extent, He extended His love and mercy, His generous forgiveness and grace to all of those who were willing to embrace Him, His forgiveness and most compassionate love. God’s love and grace has always ever been freely and generously extended to us all, without exception.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord speaking to the people regarding the coming of God’s salvation to His people and also regarding St. John the Baptist, the one who was prophesied to be the Herald and the one to announce the coming of God’s salvation. The Lord told the people that St. John was indeed the one who came to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, Who was actually Himself. Despite the doubts and the pessimism and rejection by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, many of whom questioned and doubted the authenticity and the authority of his work and ministry, St. John the Baptist was indeed the one who came to get the way ready for the coming of the Lord and His salvation. Therefore, through what He told the people, God again reassured His people that He has truly come as He has promised, just as the coming of His herald, St. John the Baptist had been prophesied and had been fulfilled.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, just as we heard from our Scripture passages today, let us all thus spend some time to reflect upon the message that God wants us to know, in preparing ourselves well during this time and season of Advent so that we may worthily rejoice and celebrate His coming at Christmas, with proper understanding of what it is that we are celebrating and rejoicing about. Christmas is after all, the celebration of the Nativity or the birth of Jesus Christ, Son of God Incarnate in the flesh, born Son of Man through His mother Mary. It is His glorious appearance in this world with His birth which we are all rejoicing about, as the coming of His Hope and Light dispelled all the darkness, evils and wickedness all around us, and showed unto us the pure and perfect manifestation of God’s ever enduring love just as we have discussed earlier.

Now, we see all around us, the many celebrations of Christmas, all the merrymaking and festivities surrounding Christmas, the secular and worldly way of how Christmas is being celebrated. We can see all the joy and happiness of all sorts, great rejoicing and festivities, of all the things and characters associated with Christmas, but One particular figure is often missing from all of those celebrations. And what is that, brothers and sisters? It is none other than the Lord Himself, the very One Who should have been the focus and centre of all of our celebrations and rejoicing, but ironically often forgotten and ignored on the day of the celebration and commemoration of His birth and appearance in this world.

This is not what we should be doing, brothers and sisters in Christ. We should be spending more time and effort to return ourselves to the true spirit and celebration of Christmas, and this Advent is the perfect time and opportunity for us to do so. Throughout the Advent season we have constantly been reminded of what it is that we are celebrating in this upcoming Christmas, of the love and graciousness of God, His ever enduring and present love and mercy in our midst, and all that He had done for us. As God’s people, each and every one of us should hence do our best to respond to that love, and strive to give Him thanks for all that He has done, for everything that He has blessed us with, and commit ourselves to a life that is truly worthy of His love and kindness, of all the blessings that He has granted to us.

May the Lord continue to guide us through life and may He bless each and every one of us, in our every endeavours and efforts, our good works and commitments, so that we will always be faithful to Him and will continue to persevere in our obedience to Him and His Law. May God be by our side always as He has ever done, and may He lead us to the path of righteousness and eternal joy. Amen.

Thursday, 15 December 2022 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Luke 7 : 24-30

At that time, when John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began speaking to the people about John. And He said, “What did you want to see, when you went to the desert? A reed blowing in the wind? What was there to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? But people who wear fine clothes and enjoy delicate food are found in palaces.

What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For John is the one foretold in Scripture in these words : I am sending My messenger ahead of You to prepare Your way. No one may be found greater than John among those born of women, but, I tell you, the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

All the people listening to Him, even the tax collectors, had acknowledged the will of God in receiving the baptism of John, whereas the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, in not letting themselves be baptised by him, ignored the will of God.