CHRISTMAS

Theme: GOD BECAME MAN, GOD BECAME FOOD FOR MAN, GOD BECAME FOOD FOR SINFUL MAN

  • Luke 2:1-14;
  • John 1:1-5. 9-14 (Shorter Form);
  • Hebrews 1:1-6

1.  A merry, happy and blessed Christmas to all of you! We are merry, happy and blessed, because as the gospel tells us, God has become man, God has become food for man, and God has become food for sinful man!

    The gospel tells us that when Mary gave birth to Jesus, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn. The gospel also tells us that there were shepherds nearby. These details symbolize something very important, that is, God has become man (swaddling clothes of humanity/Ws 7:4/NJB), and God has become food for man (manger where the animal feed)! (NJBC) There was no room in the inn, that is, Jesus Christ is not a visitor or a traveler. He is here to stay, to stay with us and to stay within us for good, that is, forever! (Craghan) The shepherds were the lowly. They were mangy, that is, they were having skin diseases. They were stinking and bathless. They belonged to the despised trade like the tax collectors and prostitutes. The shepherds symbolize sinners. (NJBC/Fuller)

    The gospel tells us that the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and they were terrified, but the angel said to them, ‘do not be afraid. I bring you news of great joy, a joy for the whole world. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign. You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger’.

    And the gospel tells us that suddenly, there was a host of heavenly angels praising God and singing: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favor’, that is, glory and praise to God, and peace (shalom) and salvation to men who enjoy his favor, grace and blessing!

    The first part of the gospel of tonight tells us that Caesar Augustus is not the savior, god and bringer of peace, but Jesus Christ is the Savior, God and the bringer of peace and salvation! (CSB/NJBC) The first part of the gospel also tells us that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the descendent of David. The promise made to David is fulfilled in Jesus Christ!             

    We take Christmas for granted, that God has become man, God has become food for man, and God has become food for sinful man. But a certain lecturer in one of the institutes of higher learning in Sabah said that he cannot understand and accept Christianity, because he does not believe that God can become man, God can die, God can become food for man, and God can become food for sinful man.

    Indeed, it is about belief, it is about faith! Do you believe in a God of law, justice and punishment, or do you believe in a God of love, mercy and forgiveness? Do you believe that God is a judge or do you believe that God is a Savior? We Christians believe that God is love, mercy and forgiveness! We Christians believe that God is Savior! We see it, hear it, and touch it in Jesus Christ! It is not only true, but it is also real! Indeed, a merry, happy and blessed Christmas to all of you!   

2. “Christmas”, “Epiphany”, and the “Baptism of the Lord” are about the revelation or manifestation of the Lord! The gospel for Christmas for the “Mass During the Day” tells us that the Lord reveals himself in creation, in Judaism and by extension in other religions, but the Lord reveals himself fully, perfectly and completely in Jesus Christ. The second reading for Christmas for the “Mass During the Day” also tells us that the Lord reveals himself in creation, in Judaism and by extension in other religions, but the Lord reveals himself fully, perfectly and completely in Jesus Christ!

    The Lord reveals himself in creation. We have therefore to protect the environment, because it is God’s creation and revelation! St. Paul in Romans 1:20 tells us that by looking at creation we can see the Creator! Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, a priest and a scientist tells his fellow scientists that evolution gives rise to consciousness in human beings and consciousness effects union, that is, love and unity. Jesus Christ came to bring love and unity! Everything comes from Jesus Christ and goes back to Jesus Christ! There is a meaning, purpose and direction in creation!  

    The Lord reveals himself in Judaism and by extension in other religions. We are therefore to dialogue with other religions. The Vatican dialogues with Judaism and Islam. The Vatican dialogues with Islam on two principles proposed by our Muslim brothers, that is, love of God and love of neighbor!

    The Lord reveals himself fully and completely in Jesus Christ! We are therefore to proclaim the good news! Next year we will have the “Neo-Catechumenal Communities” in our parish to produce priests, religious, catechists, “psalmists” and lay ministers to evangelize, that is, to proclaim the good news, not only to Sabah, but to the whole world!

    Again, a merry, happy, and blessed Christmas to all of you!

                                                                                                                                   

4th Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 20th December 2020

Theme: THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE WORK OF GOD AND NOT THE WORK OF MAN

 

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-5. 8-12. 14. 16;
  • Psalm 88 (89): 2-5. 27. 29. R/ v. 2;
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38

Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent. Advent means coming, the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ continues to come to us every Christ-mas at “Christ’s Mass” (Raas), and Jesus Christ will come at the end of time as king of the universe! Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, and because Jesus Christ continues to come every Christ-mas at “Christ’s Mass”, we are sure He will come again at the end of time as king of the universe!

The readings today tell us that the coming of Jesus Christ fulfills the promise made to David that his descendents and his dynasty will last forever. Though David and his descendents, especially the kings that succeeded him, were not faithful to God, God was always faithful to his promise! The birth of Jesus Christ fulfills the promise made to David and his descendents! We believe this good news, we live it and we proclaim it to the whole world!

The first reading tells us of the promise God made to David. The responsorial psalm tells us that God is faithful to his promise though David and his descendents were not faithful to God. The gospel tells us that the coming of Jesus Christ fulfills the promise made to David. The gospel also tells us to believe this good news. The second reading tells us to live this good news and proclaim it to the whole world!

The readings today also tell us that the coming of Jesus Christ is the work of God and not the work of man! We believe this good news, live it and proclaim it to the whole world!

The first reading tells us that David wanted to build a house for God, but God told David off! God said to David: who are you to build me a house. I God instead will build you a house. I was the one who made you a leader of Israel. I was the one who helped you win battles against the enemies. I will make you famous. I will make you great. I will build you a house. I will make your descendents and your dynasty last for ever.

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God was always faithful to his promise, though David and his descendents were not faithful to God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza, from which the response is taken, tells us of the faithfulness of God. The second stanza tells us of the promise God made to David. The third stanza tells us of the Messiah who will fulfill the promise made to David.

Again, the gospel tells us that the coming of Jesus Christ is the work of God and not the work of man. The gospel tells us that Mary was to be the mother of God! But how can this come about since she was a virgin? The Holy Spirit will do it! Mary believed this promise and Jesus was conceived in her womb! The gospel also tells us to believe this good news!

Again, the second reading tells us to live this good news and proclaim it to the whole world so that the whole world may believe and be saved!

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us believe the good news, live it and proclaim it to the whole world.

Amen. 

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 13th December 2020

Theme: REJOICE! THE LORD IS NEAR!

  • Isaiah 61:1-2. 10-11;
  • Lk 1:46-50. 53-54. R.
  • Is 61:10;
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
  • John 1:6-8. 19-28

1. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Advent means coming, that is, the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in mystery, and Jesus Christ will come at the end of time in majesty as King of the universe!

    Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, and continues to come every Christmas in mystery, we are sure Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in majesty as King of the universe! Advent is a time when we remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, and when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!  

    Today is also “rejoice” or joyful Sunday! Today we celebrate joyful Sunday because we are more than half way through to Christmas! Christmas is very near! The Lord is very near! The pink/rose candle on the Advent wreath and the pink/rose vestment of the priest symbolize joy!   

2. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord has brought us salvation. He has brought us “saving justice” (NJB) and praise. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord has come to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearts, to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison, and to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord, that is, a year of salvation from the Lord! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “I exult for joy in Yahweh, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in a cloak of saving justice, …. So Lord Yahweh makes saving justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.” (Is 61:10-11/NJB)

    Again we read in the first reading: “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord.” (Is 61:1-2/SM)     

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. In fact the response of the responsorial psalm is taken from the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “My soul rejoices in my God.” (Is 61:10)   

    The responsorial psalm itself is taken from the canticle of Mary (Magnificat), but originally it was a song of praise of the “poor” of Yahweh, the “anawim” of Yahweh! The poor of Yahweh are the humble who are totally dependent on Yahweh for salvation! Thus we read in the responsorial psalm:

    “My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior. He looks on his servant in her nothingness; henceforth all ages will call me blessed. The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy his name! His mercy is from age to age, on those who fear him. He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty. He protects Israel, his servant, remembering his mercy.” (Lk 1:46-50. 53-54)    

4. Again, the second reading begins with the theme of joy! The second reading tells us to be happy always, to pray always, and to give thanks to God for all things, because that is what God wants us to do in Jesus Christ! The second reading also tells us that God will make us perfect and holy and blameless in body, soul and spirit for the second coming of Jesus Christ. For God has called us. He will not fail us. Thus we read in the second reading:

    “Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus. …. May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.” (1 Th 5:16-18. 23-24)

5. Finally, the gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ is much greater even than John the Baptist. John the Baptist is not worthy even to undo His sandal-strap. John the Baptist baptized with water but Jesus Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit! (Jn 1:33) Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord.’ …. John replied, ‘I baptize with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’” (John 1:23. 26-27)

6. Again, to remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, and to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time, we have to pray, to read the Bible, to read the Sunday Mass readings, to attend Sunday Mass, to attend BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, to attend prayer meetings, to repent, to go to confession, to go caroling, to proclaim the good news, to love, to serve, to forgive, to make others happy, etc. We have also to be Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) to the poor, the needy, the aged, the foreigner, the orphan, those in prison, etc.

7. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, and the Holy Spirit will help us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! Amen.                                                                                                       

2nd Sunday of Advent (year B) – 6.12.2020

Theme: PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Isaiah 40:1-5. 9-11;
  • Psalm 84 (85): 9-14. R/ v. 8;
  • 2 Peter 3:8-14
  • Mark 1:1-8

1. Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. The word Advent means coming or arrival, that is, the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in mystery, and Jesus Christ will come at the end of time in majesty as king of the universe!

    When Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, he instituted the Eucharist/Mass and asked us to celebrate it in his memory, that is, to make him present and real in the Eucharist/Mass, so that he can come to us in mystery in the Eucharist/Mass, and so that he can come to us in mystery in the Christ Mass, that is, Christ-mas. The word Christmas comes from the two words: Christ and Mass. (Raas, p 116)

    Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, and continues to come every Christmas in mystery, we are sure he will come again at the end of the world in majesty as king of the universe!  

2. The readings today tell us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by repentance and by confessing our sins. Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah: Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way. A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight, and so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptized by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins.” (Mk 1:2-5)  

    More importantly, the gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit will give us new life. He will give us love, joy and peace! Thus we read in the gospel: “In the course of his preaching John the Baptist said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful that I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” (Mk 1:7-8)

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Thus we read in the first reading: “A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” (Is 40:3-5)    

    More importantly, the first reading tells us that Jesus Christ will come as a good shepherd to save us. He will feed us. He will hold us in his arms. He will hold us to his breast. He will lead us to rest. Thus we read in the first reading: “He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.” (Is 40:11)

    This theme of the good shepherd is further developed by Jesus himself in John 10:11-18. (NJB) Thus we read in John 10:14-15: “I am the good shepherd; I know (love/NJB) my own and my own know (love) me, just as the Father knows (loves) me and I know (love) the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.”!  

4. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for salvation! (HCSB/NJBC/IBC) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (Ps 84 (85): 8/CSB)

    The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord will give us love, mercy, salvation, peace, justice, and happiness! (CCB) Thus we read in the second stanza of the responsorial psalm: “Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven.” (Ps 84 (85):11-12)

    The Lord will also give us prosperity and fruitfulness! Thus we read in stanza three of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord will make us prosper and our earth shall yield its fruit. Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.” (Ps 84 (85): 13-14)    

5. Finally, the second reading tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by living holy and saintly lives and by living spotless and stainless lives. More importantly, the second reading tells us that when the Lord comes there will be a new heaven and a new earth! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “Since everything is coming to an end like this, you should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, when the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. What we are waiting for is what he promised; the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.” (2 Peter 3:11-14) 

6. Again, we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time by prayer, reading the word of God, attending Sunday Mass, attending BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, prayer meetings, repentance, going to confession, caroling, proclaiming the good news, etc.

    We also prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by becoming Santa Claus (Dutch), that is, Saint Nicholas (Bishop, 4th century, Turkey); by giving Christmas presents to the poor, to children, to the aged, to foreigners, to orphans, to those in prison, etc.

    Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of the world!                                                                             Amen!

1st Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 29th Nov 2020

Theme: PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS AND AT THE END OF THE WORLD

  • Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1. 3-8;
  • Psalm 79 (80): 2-3. 15-16. 18-19. R/ v. 4;
  • 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
  • Mark 13:33-37

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. It is also the first Sunday of the new liturgical Year B! The word

Advent means coming or arrival, that is, the coming of Jesus Christ! To begin with, we must remember that there are three comings of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ came in memory two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ will come in majesty at the end of the world, and Jesus Christ will come in mystery this Christmas! Remember the three Ms: Memory, Mystery and Majesty!

The three comings are interrelated. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory and Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in mystery. That is why we are sure that Jesus Christ will come in majesty at the end of time! The word Christ-mas comes from two words, Christ and Mass. Jesus Christ will come this Christmas in mystery in the Christ Mass!

The readings today tell us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of the world!

The gospel today tells us to stay awake, that is, to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. Thus we read in the gospel today: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!’”

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by praying, reading the Bible, attending BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, attending Sunday Mass every Sunday, caroling, proclaiming the good news, going to confession, repentance, etc. We also prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by being Santa Claus, that is, Saint Nicholas (Dutch), by giving Christmas presents to the poor, the aged, the sick, the prisoners, the foreigner, the orphan, the needy, the poor children, etc.!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is a prayer for God to come and a confession of sins. The first part of the first reading is a prayer for the coming of God: “Return, for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your inheritance. Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down – at your Presence the mountains would melt.” (Is 63:17; 64:1)  

The second part of the first reading is a confession of sins: “You were angry when we were sinners; we had long been rebels against you. We were all like men unclean, all that integrity of ours like filthy clothing. We have all withered like leaves and our sins blew us away like the wind.” (Is 64:5-6)

The historical context of the first reading was the return of the Jews from exile from Babylon in the sixth century BC. Today we also pray for the coming of Jesus Christ and we also confess our sins!                    

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for God to come and save his people. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.” (Ps 79 (80): 4) The response of the responsorial psalm is repeated three times. It is also repeated three times as a refrain of the original psalm. It can be paraphrased thus, ‘God of the heavenly host of angels, bring us back from sin and death; let your favor, grace and blessing be on us and we shall be saved.’!   

In the responsorial psalm we pray for the coming of Jesus Christ to save us. Thus we read in the first part of the third stanza: “May your hand be on the man you have chosen, the man you have given your strength.” (Ps 79 (80):18)

Finally as we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time, the second reading tells us to thank God for all the graces that we have received at the first coming of Jesus Christ and to pray God that he may protect us from sin and death until the second coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time!

Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of the world! Amen!