The Baptism of the Lord: The Revelation of the Lord as Son and Suffering Servant of God.
The Revelation of God in Creation (Psalm)
The Baptism of the Lord: The Revelation of the Lord as Son and Suffering Servant of God.
The Revelation of God in Creation (Psalm)
Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD AS SON AND SUFFERING SERVANT OF GOD
Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Liturgical Year C. Like Christmas and Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord is about the revelation of the Lord. At Christmas, the Lord revealed himself to shepherds, that is, to the poor, the humble, the lowly, and to sinners! At Epiphany, the Lord revealed himself to the wise men from the east, that is, to all the nations, not only to the Jews, but to the whole world! At the Baptism of the Lord, the Lord revealed himself as Son and Suffering-Servant of God!
The gospel today tells us that when Jesus was baptized and was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him and a voice from heaven said,
“You are my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on you”. (Lk 3:22; SM; CSB)
That is, Jesus is the Son and Suffering-Servant of God! (NJBC; Is 42:1) As Son, Jesus is to love God, as Servant, Jesus is to serve God, and as Suffering-Servant, Jesus is to suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world!
The gospel also tells us that Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! That is, he will baptize us with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of Pentecost! (Acts 2) The fire of God’s love! The fire of God’s love will burn away our sins and make us into sons and servants of God! As sons of God we will love God and neighbor, as servants of God, we will serve God and neighbor, and as suffering-servants of God we will suffer and sacrifice for the sanctification and salvation of the world!
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the revelation of the Lord. The first reading tells us that the glory of the Lord will be revealed to all the nations!
The first reading was originally about the return from exile from Babylon to Jerusalem, the new and second exodus; but the New Testament sees it as a prophecy on John the Baptist and Jesus Christ! (CSB; Mt 3:3) 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; SM)
More importantly, the first reading tells us that when the Lord is revealed he will be revealed as the Good Shepherd! (NJB; Jr 23:1-6; Ezk 34; Mt 18: 12-14; Jn 10:11-18) Thus the first reading concludes:
“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; SM)
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord does not only reveal himself in the glory of salvation, but the Lord also reveals himself in “the glories of creation”! (NJB)
The responsorial psalm has five stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-4) tell us about the creation of the heavens. The third stanza (vv. 24-25) tells us about the creation of the many and various creatures of the land and sea!
And most importantly, the fourth and fifth stanzas (vv. 27-30) tell us that all creatures depend on God! (HCSB) God does not only create the universe, but God also sustains the universe! Ongoing creation! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“Bless the Lord, my soul! Lord God, how great you are.” (Ps 103 (104): 1; SM)
The second reading also tells us of the revelation of the Lord. The second reading tells us that God has revealed his grace for our salvation and this he did through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ who purified us from sins so that we will do good. This happens to us in the Sacrament of Baptism where we receive the Holy Spirit who renews us and justifies us with the grace of God! Thus we read in the second reading:
“God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race. …. He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.” (Tt 2:11. 14; SM) ….
“He saved us by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our savior. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.” (Tt 3:5-7; SM)
Today in this Mass, we thank God for the revelation of his Son Jesus Christ and we thank God for the gift of Baptism. And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will grow as sons and servants of the Lord; and so that as sons we will love the Lord and love one another, and so that as servants we will serve the Lord and serve one another. And so that as suffering servants we will suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world! A happy feast day to all of you!
Theme: EPIPHANY: THE MANIFESTATION OF THE LORD TO ALL THE NATIONS
A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! We are still in the season of Christmas! Christmas season will end only next Sunday with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, that is, the manifestation of the Lord to all the nations!
The gospel today tells us that some wise men came from the East to worship Jesus. The wise men represent the nations of the world. That is why in our Christmas crib they are of different colors. The wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the child Jesus.
The Fathers of the Church, such as Irenaeus (ca. 130-200), see in these gifts the symbols of Jesus’ kingship (gold), divinity (frankincense) and passion (myrrh). That is, the gold symbolizes Jesus as king, the frankincense which is used for worship symbolizes Jesus as God, and the myrrh which is used for embalmment and burial symbolizes Jesus as Suffering-Messiah!
Indeed the Star of Bethlehem which led the wise men to Jesus symbolizes Jesus as King, God and Messiah! Thus we read in the prophecy of the famous pagan prophet Balaam: “A star is emerging from Jacob”! (Nb 24:17; NJBf)
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that all the nations of the world will come and worship the Lord and they will bring with them the riches of the world, including gold and frankincense! And even the exiled Jews will return to Jerusalem!
This is because the glory of the Lord will rise above Jerusalem and all the nations will come to the light of his glory! Thus we read in the first reading:
“Arise, shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord is rising on you, though night still covers the earth and darkness the peoples. Above you the Lord now rises and above you his glory appears. The nations come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness.” (Is 60:1-3; SM)
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:
“All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” (Ps 71 (72): 11; SM)
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first, second and fourth stanzas tell us that the Messianic King will bring justice and peace, especially to the poor!
There can be no peace without justice! And peace is not just an absence of war, but Peace is Shalom, Salvation!
The third stanza tells us that all the nations of the world will worship him! Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:
“The kings of Tarshish and the sea coasts shall pay him tribute. The kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring him gifts. Before him all kings shall fall prostrate, all nations shall serve him.” (Ps 71 (72): 10-11; SM)
The second reading also follows the theme of Epiphany, that is, manifestation or revelation. The second reading tells us that the mystery that had been hidden in the past has now been revealed! And the revelation is that pagans are co-heirs, co-members and co-sharers with the Jews (IBC), that is,
“Pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel.” (Ep 3:6; SM)
Let us renew our faith, share our faith and proclaim our faith to the whole world! Let us use the Bible, the Sunday Mass Readings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) to renew our faith, share our faith and proclaim our faith in our families, in our communities, in our churches, in our schools, in our workplaces, and in the internet! A happy and joyful Epiphany to all of you!
The Holy Family is Holy because God is the Father, Jesus is the Son of God born through the Power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
From a human family to a Holy Family: 8 Pastoral Exhortation!
Theme: A HAPPY AND HOLY FAMILY
A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Christmas is such a big feast that we celebrate it in eight days! The octave day (eighth day) of Christmas will be on New Year’s Day, when we will celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God! But the Christmas season ends only with the Baptism of the Lord on the 13th of January 2019!
Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord are all the manifestations of the Lord! Christmas, manifestation to sinners (Shepherds); Epiphany, manifestation to all the nations (wise men); and Baptism of the Lord, manifestation of the Lord as Son and Servant of God!
That is why, besides Jesus, Mary and Joseph, our crib has shepherds (Christmas), wise men (Epiphany), and a white cloud symbolizing God the Father and a white dove symbolizing God the Holy Spirit (The Baptism of the Lord)!
Again, a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Liturgical Year C!
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is holy, because God is the Father and Jesus is the Son of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit! Our families are also holy because in Baptism God became our Father and we became the children of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit! The Church became our Mother and Jesus became our brother and we became brothers and sisters to one another!
The gospel today tells us that when Jesus was twelve years old and was lost in the temple in Jerusalem for three days, and when Mary and Joseph found him and asked him why he had done this; Jesus replied that he had to do his Father’s work! (CSB) In other words, Jesus is the Son of God!
The gospel tells us that Jesus is also man. The gospel tells us that Jesus stayed with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth for thirty years! We do not hear about Jesus for thirty years! We only hear about Jesus for three years, his last three years! In the thirty years of silence in Nazareth Jesus was growing up physically, mentally and spiritually in the Holy Family! (Fuller)
Our children too have to grow up physically, mentally and spiritually in a holy family! The family is the cell of society and the domestic Church! If our families are broken our society and our Church will also be broken!
The first reading also tells us about the family. The first reading tells us about our duty towards our parents, especially when they are old and sick! The first reading tells us that if we honor our parents as the fourth commandment tells us to, God will bless us! We will be happy with our own children, our sins will be forgiven, God will listen to our prayers, we will live long and healthy lives, etc.!
The responsorial psalm also tells us about the family. (CSB; NJB; HCSB) The responsorial psalm tells us that if we revere the Lord and walk in his ways, we will be satisfied, we will be rich and happy; and our spouses will be fertile and we will have plenty of children! Thus the response and the first and second stanzas:
“O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways! By the labor of your hands you shall eat. You will be happy and prosper. Your wife like a fruitful vine in the heart of your house; your children like shoots of the olive, around your table.” (Ps 127 (128): 1-3; SM)
The second reading also tells us about the family. The second reading has three paragraphs. The first and second paragraphs tell us about Christian life in general, that is, we have to love, forgive, be thankful to God, etc. The third paragraph tells us about the Christian family. Thus we read in the third paragraph:
“Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.” (Col 3:18-21; SM)
In short, wives love your husbands, husbands love your wives; children love your parents, parents love your children!
Suggestions for a happy and holy family:
(i) A family must eat together at least once a day, preferably at dinner time. There must be no television, internet, hand phone, etc. at dinner time.
(ii) A family must communicate, that is, family members must talk to each other and listen to each other. Communion and community begin with communication!
(iii) A family must pray together everyday. A family that prays together stays together!
(iv) Parents must teach their faith to their children, especially in this Year of Faith. Besides the Bible and the Sunday Mass readings, parents must use the YOUCAT, that is, Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church!
(v) A family must belong to a BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) of a few families. They must meet at least once a month for support, sharing, praying, meals, etc. A BEC is an extended Christian family!
(vi) A family must play together, exercise together, have recreation together, go for outings together, go for holidays together, etc.!
(vii) Grand parents should not be sent to homes for the aged and grand children should not be sent to nurseries. Grand parents can help take care of grand children!
(viii) A family must go to Mass every Sunday and if possible be involved in Bible-Sharing, Prayer Meetings, BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities), Neo-Catechumenal Communities, Alpha Course, etc. on weekdays.
(ix) A family must be open to life, that is, no artificial birth control, abortion, etc.
(x) A family must keep Sunday holy. (Third Commandment!) Sunday is for the Lord and for one’s family, not for work and not for money. (Pope Benedict XVI)
(xi) The father of the family must come home to avoid the “absent father syndrome”. And he must not only be physically present; he must also be emotionally present.
(xii) Extended families, that is, cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunties, etc. should come together at least once a month for meals, drinks, fellowship, etc.
A Happy and Holy Family to all of you!
God became Man, God became food for Man, God became food for Sinful Men. (Christmas Mass at Midnight)
God reveals Himself in creation, and in the Religions; but God reveals Himself fully, completely and perfectly in Jesus Christ! (Christmas Mass during The Day)
A blessed Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you! Christmas is a very big feast, second only to Easter! That is why we have four Masses for Christmas, namely, “Vigil Mass”, “Mass at Midnight”, “Mass at Dawn”, and “Mass During the Day”! We have no time to look at all the readings, but let us look at all the gospels of all the four Masses!
The gospel for Vigil Mass tells us that Jesus Christ was the son of David and the son of Abraham. The gospel tells us that from Abraham to David there were 14 generations; and from David to the Babylonian exile there were 14 generations; and from the Babylonian exile to Jesus Christ there were 14 generations. In Hebrew there are 14 letters in the name David; Jesus Christ is therefore the Davidic Messiah! But the number 14 is also a multiple of 7 which is a perfect number for Matthew. Jesus came at the perfect time, that is, at the fullness of time; and in his Second Coming all creation will be perfected in him in all its fullness! (IBC; Vat.IIWM)
The number 7 could have originated from the 7 heavenly lights, that is, the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn as the heavens were perfect for the ancients! In fact, the days of the week are named after the 7 heavenly bodies: Sunday (Sun), Monday (Moon), Tuesday (Mars), Wednesday (Mercury), Thursday (Jupiter), Friday (Venus) and Saturday (Saturn)! (WNNCD) The number 7 could also have originated from the 4 phases of the moon, that is, new, crescent, gibbous and full moon. A quarter of the 28 days of the moon is 7. (CGDB) In short, Jesus Christ came at the perfect time, that is, at the fullness of time and when Jesus Christ comes a second time all will be perfected in him in all its fullness!
The gospel for Midnight Mass tells us that Caesar Augustus is not god, not the savior and not the bringer of peace as the Romans revered him to be; but Jesus Christ is God, Savior and Bringer of Peace (Shalom)!
The gospel tells us that Jesus Christ is God become man, God become food for man, and God become food for sinful man! That is why the sign for Jesus Christ’s birth is an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, that is, God become man; lying in a manger, that is, God become food for man; and revealed to shepherds, that is, God become food for sinful man! (NJBC)
That is why the gospel tells us that the angel announced to the shepherds that a Savior has been born to them and he is Christ the Lord, that is, he is God, Savior and Messiah who brings peace (shalom)! And the sign that the angel gave to the shepherds was an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And that is why the gospel tells us that a throng of other angels praised God singing:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favor”. (Lk 2:14; SM)
That is, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace, shalom, salvation to men who are blessed, graced and favored by him!
We give glory to God, for salvation comes from God, and it is a favor, a blessing, a grace, and a total free gift to sinful men!
The gospel for “Mass at Dawn” is a continuation of the gospel for Midnight Mass. Again, we hear for a third time “the baby lying in the manger”! And again we hear of the shepherds! Again, God did not only become man, but God became food for man, and not only food for man, but food for sinful man, so that sinful man may live and not die! The gospel tells us that the shepherds shared the news of great joy of the angel with Mary and Joseph, and Mary treasured it and pondered it in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God!
The gospel for “Mass during the Day” and the second reading which is similar to it tell us that God reveals himself in creation (Rm 1:20; Fuller), that is, God reveals himself in the sun, moon and stars; the trees, animals and birds; the sea, fish and corals, etc.! That is why we have to care for the environment and not destroy it!
The gospel and the second reading also tell us that God reveals himself in human beings! Human beings were created in the image of God to be the co-creators of God! Human beings are the only creatures who can think, reflect, and reason! That is why our Pope, Benedict XVI, often talks about “faith and reason” or “faith and science”! That is why we have to dialogue with science! We have to dialogue with cosmology, astronomy, ecology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, biology, geology, etc.
Albert Einstein said that science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind. Blessed Pope John Paul II said that science without religion is idolatry and religion without science is superstition. Indeed science without religion is meaningless and religion without science is fanaticism!
More importantly, Science with religion and religion with science is mysticism/mystery, that is, God in all things and all things in God. God is the beginning and the end of all things, the Alpha and the Omega! Everything comes from God and everything goes back to God! There is meaning, purpose and direction even in creation!
The gospel and the second reading also tell us that God reveals himself in other religions, especially in Judaism! That is why we have to dialogue with other religions, especially with Islam.
Finally, the gospel and the second reading tell us that God reveals himself fully, completely and perfectly in Jesus Christ! Thus the gospel ends by telling us that the law came through Moses in the Old Testament (old grace), but grace and truth, that is, love and faithfulness (Jn 1:16-17; Ex 34:6; CSB; NJB; CCB), came through Jesus Christ in the New Testament (new grace)! That is why we have to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in season and out of season!
A blessed Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you! Amen!