Tuesday, 17 December 2019 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we begin entering the seven days period leading to Christmas, with the special liturgical readings from the Scripture that are meant to direct our attention to the One Whom we are celebrating in Christmas. It began therefore with the account from the Book of Genesis in our first reading today of Jacob blessing his sons, with a special blessing to Judah, through whom eventually the Messiah would come into this world.

And in the Gospel passage today we heard from the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew on the long genealogy of Our Lord Jesus Christ, all the way from the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, linked to what we heard from the Book of Genesis, as the Lord descended through Judah, and then to David, the famous King of Israel, through whom God also promised to make the house of David to last forever and to reign as king for eternity.

All these are leading to the coming of Christ, the Messiah or Saviour of the whole world which had been long prophesied and promised. Everything was fulfilled when Christ was born in Bethlehem as prophesied, more than two millennia ago, in a poor and dirty stable, born as the King of Kings and the King of Israel, the Heir of David and the Saviour of all. And this is the essence of true Christmas joy and what we are celebrating, Christ as the focal point of all our celebrations and festivities.

How are we then, brothers and sisters in Christ, as Christians, spend our time preparing ourselves for Christmas and its festive season, given that it is now just about one week away? Are we going to do what the rest of the world have been doing all these while, by spending our time shopping and buying the latest Christmas merchandises and goods, by busying ourselves in getting gifts for the celebrations or worrying about what decorations we are going to put up?

We can see just what kind of enormous marketing and advertising going on every year for the Christmas season, endlessly promoting more and more of the secular Christmas cultures and celebrations, all the paraphernalia on Santa Claus, all the Christmas traditions and folklore customs, the fairies and elves, and all sort of things not founded on the true meaning and intention of Christmas.

It is not that we cannot celebrate Christmas as how the world celebrates it. Indeed, if we can spread the joy of Christmas and even spread the true meaning of Christmas by sharing in the joy of this period, then perhaps that will make our Christmas celebrations even more meaningful and wonderful, not just for ourselves but also for others, even for those who do not belong to the Church.

The issue here is that we should not allow ourselves to be swallowed up by the excessive consumerism and materialism that are behind the secular celebrations and festivities surrounding the worldly Christmas. We should not be affected or swayed by the temptations to seek more pleasures and happiness for ourselves, by vying for the best Christmas gifts or celebrations, and most importantly, as we have discussed earlier, our celebration must be centred on Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we quickly approach the time of Christmas this year, are we able to challenge ourselves that we may celebrate Christmas this year with full understanding of its true purpose and intention, its meaning and truth? Are we able to celebrate Christmas with newfound love for God and dedicate ourselves to Him anew beginning from now if we have not done so?

And now, let our Christmas joy be complete, as we turn ourselves away from the meaninglessness and futility of the worldly pursuits of glory, happiness and satisfaction in all the sorts of things that the world has always promoted, and instead, let us all turn towards the Lord with all of our heart and love Him from now on with all of our strength. May God be with us all and guide us through this journey of faith, that from now on, Christmas will truly be a blessed celebration of God’s love for us. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019 : 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.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019 : 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.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019 : 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.”

Monday, 16 December 2019 : 3rd Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded of the many wonderful blessings and works which God has bestowed and done among His people all throughout time, just as we heard the story from the Book of Numbers in which we listened to the story of the prophet and holy man of God named Balaam, who was hired by one of the enemies of Israel during their Exodus and journey from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan.

Balaam was hired to curse the Israelites and to give their enemies an edge over them, but as we heard in our first reading passage today, instead of cursing the people of Israel, Balaam blessed them and prayed over them for good bounty and prosperity to the dismay of the enemy of Israel, as God had spoken and delivered His will through him and Balaam obeyed God’s will to the end.

It was a wonderful providence and reassurance from God, how He will always be faithful to His Covenant, that even curses intended for His people turned into blessings. And Balaam also in fact prophesied of the coming of the Star of Jacob, as a prophecy of the coming of the Messiah to come, even though it was still a long time away by then. This Star coming forth from Jacob, referred to a vision of the Almighty, was none other than Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

It was indeed fitting that as we come gradually closer to the celebration of Christmas within just slightly more than a week from now, we are reminded yet again of the One Whom we are celebrating for in this Christmas. Not the glamour and festivities, not the merrymaking and gifts, but rather, for the love and compassion of God, by which He gave us a new Hope through the giving of His own beloved Son, to be our Saviour.

That is the true meaning and purpose of Christmas, the joy that we celebrate for the coming of the glorious Saviour through Whom we have been saved and brought out from the darkness of sin into a new life filled with the grace of God. However, it is sad to note how many among us mankind, even among us Christians who have not understood or realised this truth, and treat Christmas as merely just another holiday or time to party and be merry.

As we heard in our Gospel passage today, the Temple authorities, the chief priests and the elders, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees all rallied against the Lord, with the context of His earlier action in driving all the cheating and greedy merchants and money changers out of the courtyards of the Temple, questioning Him on whose authority that the Lord had acted in that way, for they saw in Him a threat to their own power and authority.

At that time, the priests and elders of the Temple benefitted from the presence of the merchants and money changers, as probably they gained from the rental fees and other costs incurred for those merchants to use the Temple courtyard, and they also provided the necessary means for the worship at the Temple by selling the animal sacrifices for the Temple worship. However, those merchants likely profited immensely from such endeavours, overcharging the pilgrims and worshippers for their products and services.

And the Temple authorities also benefitted in the same manner, and when the Lord acted justly in driving out all those who brought corruption and the defilement of sin into the holy House of the Lord, they became angry because they saw not the Lord acting as how He and everyone who had faith in God should have acted, but rather, they saw the loss of their income and their many other worldly concerns.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, how is this then related to us? It is in fact exactly what often happen to us in our own lives. Too many times we often sidelined the Lord in our lives, preferring to put our priorities to gain things and benefits for ourselves, in our pursuits for power, glory, wealth and all the other things that we seek in this world that made us to forget about God. We ended up living for the world and forgot about the love which God has lavished upon us, all these while.

Through today’s Scripture readings, through Balaam’s blessings of Israel and the rejection of Jesus by the Temple authorities, we are all called to remember God’s love and blessings for us, in each and every moments of our lives. God has loved us so much and yet we often disappointed Him by our refusal to detach ourselves from our ego and many desires in life, in our repeated fall into sin and living in a state of sin all these while.

But God is ever loving and ever merciful, brothers and sisters in Christ, and this time of Advent is truly the best time for us to take a stock of our lives, to reevaluate our direction and current heading in life. Let us all make a new commitment from now on, that we will try our best to live our lives with ever greater faith, each and every days of our lives, and draw ever nearer to God and His love through our every living actions.

May the Lord bless our journey of faith this Advent, that we may indeed make the best use of these few remaining days left in this time of sacred preparation that we may prepare ourselves well, not just for the coming of Christmas, but also for our conversion to be better and true disciples of the Lord in all things. May God be with us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Monday, 16 December 2019 : 3rd Week of Advent (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Matthew 21 : 23-27

At that time, Jesus had entered the Temple and was teaching, when the chief priests, the teachers of the Law and the Jewish authorities came to Him, and asked, “What authority have You to act like this? Who gave You authority to do all this?”

Jesus answered them, “I will also ask You a question, only one. And if you give me an answer, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. When John began to baptise, was it a work of God, or was it merely something human?”

They reasoned out among themselves, “If we reply that it was a work of God, He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ And if we say, ‘The baptism of John is merely something human’, we have got to beware of the people, for all hold John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.”

And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what right I do these things.”

Monday, 16 December 2019 : 3rd Week of Advent (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Psalm 24 : 4bc-5ab, 6-7bc, 8-9

Teach me Your ways, o Lord; make known to me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and instruct me, for You are my God, my Saviour.

Remember Your compassion, o Lord, Your unfailing love from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, but in Your love remember me.

Good and upright, the Lord teaches sinners His way. He teaches the humble of heart and guides them in what is right.