May I welcome you all to the Lord's house of Worship on this beautiful day. With the approach of Christmas Day, how appropriate it is for all of us to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.
When I first read today's First Reading, [Is. 61:1-2a, 10-11] I recognized God's prophetic and symbolic language that was being spoken through the great Prophet Isaiah.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me." In these Words, we hear those of the Lord Jesus who was sent by God the Father for the salvation of mankind.
"He, God the Father, has sent Jesus to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."
The Heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son Jesus to bring the good news regarding the approach of the eternal Kingdom. Through Christ, the invisible Kingdom of God was about to be instituted on earth and in Heaven.
The glorious Kingdom of God which Jesus, the King of kings, reigns over at present, had its beginning in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples on Pentecost Day. [Lk. 24:18, 33, 47-9; Acts 1:3-4, 2:1-5] The invisible Kingdom of God that has its Divine Throne in Jerusalem is manifested through the Sacraments of the visible Holy Catholic and apostolic Church that has its seat in Rome and that possesses the Keys to the Kingdom of God. Both, the invisible Kingdom of God and the visible Catholic Church form the glorious Mystical Body of Christ that includes all the past and present saints who are found in Heaven and on earth.
Jesus came to proclaim liberty to the captives, to release the prisoners. When Adam chose to disobey God, he fell from the grace of the Lord. Consequently, he and all his descendants inherited the sinful nature. God's Kingdom in the Garden of Eden had been corrupted and taken over by the fallen angel Satan who elevated himself as the present prince of the physical world. To correct this, to free those who were captives of Satan, prisoners of his grip, the Heavenly Father sent His only beloved Son to reclaim the Heavenly Kingdom. As the rightful King of the Divine and eternal Heavenly Kingdom, God reinstated His reign through Christ who is the Lord incarnated.
In God's love, the brokenhearted once more had the opportunity to inherit the Heavenly Kingdom of God through the Sacraments of the holy Catholic Church. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, God's children could now receive the gifts of the new heart and spirit, both being protected by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Through this Sacrament, God's children would be made righteous for all the sins committed prior to their Baptism. This righteousness would be maintained through the Church Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finally, to receive their salvation, God's children would have the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread.
Proclaiming the year of the Lord's favour, we should all rejoice in the Lord. He has provided us with the means to inherit our salvation, not because of our works, but because of His infinite grace. By the grace of God the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God, our souls find salvation through the Church Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.
On the last day of this world, when will take place the resurrection of all the physical bodies, at the twinkle of an eye, the physical bodies of those of us who are saved will be transformed. Suddenly, we will be changed in the glorious image and likeness of the resurrected Christ.
Indeed, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland and a bride adorns herself with her jewels, God is progressively clothing us with the glorious garments of salvation. He has already covered us with the robe of righteousness through the Sacrament of Confession. And He has already covered us with the robe of eternal life through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
As the earth brings forth its shoots and a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, the Lord God is causing righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. We, God's children from all over the world, are the branches that receive life from the Tree of life, Christ Himself. As new creations who belong to the Kingdom of God, as living stones, we are called to shine as lights in the world. How gracious the Lord has been towards us!
During today's Second Reading, [1 Thess. 5:16-24] we were told to always rejoice, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. We should always rejoice because God has done great things for us as previously mentioned. We should always pray to secure our daily communion with the Lord God. We should always give thanks because all things come from God for the purpose of our sanctification as His children. We should do this in the Name of Jesus because it is through Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, that we receive our salvation.
Then, we are told not to quench the Spirit. To quench the Spirit means to choke the Holy Spirit to the point that we can no longer hear His inspirations in our hearts. Jesus gave us the indwelling Holy Spirit to sanctify us. Through the Spirit of God, we learn to respect the words of the prophets because in the Holy Scriptures we find the promises of God the Father. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to test everything, perceiving what is good so we may hold fast to it. We have the ability to perceive what is evil so we may abstain from it. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, our Guide, our Comforter, the source of Divine knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
Through the Spirit of the God of peace, it is God Himself who sanctifies us entirely, soul, spirit and body. It is by His power through the Church Sacraments that we keep our soul and body sound and blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord who calls us is faithful and He will keep His promises [Jer. 31:31, 33; Ezek. 11:19-20; 18:31, 36:26-7] as long as we genuinely and persistently strive to walk our living faith in Christ.
During today's Gospel Reading, [Jn. 1:6-8, 19-28]we heard that God had sent John the Baptist as a witness to announce the coming of the Light that is found in Jesus Christ. John the Baptist testified that he was the voice crying in the wilderness, telling all to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord. Proclaiming a baptism of repentance by water, John testified that the year of the Lord's favour had now arrived.
John also testified that he was not worthy to untie the thong of His sandal of the one who was coming after him. So great was the Divine Presence of the Lord, the King of kings, that John the Baptist felt unworthy to even untie the thong of His sandal. These words echo the spiritual attitude that we should embrace towards the greatness of the Lord Jesus.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, today's heavenly message through the reading of the Holy Scriptures is one of servitude. We are called to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour. In a few days, Christmas Day will arrive upon us. Christmas Day is a special day that commemorates the year of the Lord's favour.
As the Lord God commands us today through the words of the great Prophet Isaiah in the Book of Isaiah, the words of St. Paul in the First Letter to the Thessalonians and the words of John the Baptist in the Gospel of John, we are to prepare ourselves to commemorate with great joy the special year of the Lord's favour. To do so, we must repent of our sins so that we may once more become righteous in the eyes of the Lord at His coming. The Lord God invites each and everyone of us to remember during the next few days to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that on Christmas Day, we may receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread, our assurance of salvation through Christ. May we all prepare ourselves accordingly so that on Christmas Day, we will all celebrate with great joy in righteousness the year of the Lord's favour.