4th Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 23rd December 2018

Theme: THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS

  • Micah 5:1-4;
  • Psalm 79 (80):2-3. 15-16. 18-19. R/ v. 4;
  • Hebrews 10:5-10
  • Luke 1:39-45 

Today is the 4th and last Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year C. As Christmas draws near, the readings today tell us about the Christ of Christmas. (Raas) The commercial world has taken Christ out of Christmas, so much so that it is no longer “Blessed Christmas”, but “Merry X’mas”! We have to put Christ back into Christmas! Again, the readings today tell us about the Christ of Christmas!

The gospel today tells us that even when Jesus Christ was still in the womb, Mary was blessed; John the Baptist leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and recognized Jesus Christ to be Lord, that is, God! Thus we read in the gospel:

“Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.” (Lk 1:41-44; SM)

The first reading tells us that the Christ/Messiah will come from Bethlehem. He will be a descendent of David. He will be the Davidic king who will rule over Israel. He will save Israel from the Assyrians. More importantly, he will save the whole world from sin and death! He will bring peace to the whole world: peace, shalom, salvation! Thus the first reading concludes:

    “They (Israel) will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace.” (Mi 5:3b-4; SM)   

The responsorial psalm is a prayer asking God to save us; asking God to send the Davidic king/messiah to save us!

The response and the first stanza ask God to save us. (Vv. 1-3; HCSB) The second and third stanzas ask God to send the Davidic King to save us. (Vv. 15-19; CSB)

Thus the response asking God to save us:

“God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.” (Ps 79 (80): 4; SM)

And thus verse 18 of the third stanza, asking God to send his Davidic King/Messiah to save us:

“May your hand be on the man you have chosen, the man you have given your strength.” (Ps 79 (80):18; SM)

The second reading tells us that the Davidic Messiah has come to save us, but not as a political, nationalistic and military Messiah; but as a Suffering-Messiah! A Messiah who serves, suffers, sacrifices, sanctifies and saves! Thus the second reading concludes:

“And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.” (Hb 5:10; SM)  

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what Mary did in the gospel today, that is, by believing in the promise of the Lord and by doing the will of the Lord! Thus the gospel today ends:

“Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:45; SM)

And thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

“I am the handmaid (servant) of the Lord: let what you have said be done to me.” (Lk 1:38; SM) 

A Happy and Joyful Advent to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 16th Dec 2018

Theme: WE ARE HAPPY AND JOYFUL BECAUSE THE LORD WILL COME AND SAVE US FROM SIN AND DEATH

  • Zephaniah 3:14-18;
  • Is 12:2-6. R/ v. 6;
  • Philippians 4:4-7
  • Luke 3:10-18

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent; Liturgical Year C. Advent is a time when we 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 practicing charity and justice! The gospel today tells us that if we have two shirts we must give one to the person who has none. And if we have something to eat we must share it with the one who has nothing to eat.

The gospel also tells us to practice justice. The gospel tells us that the tax collectors must not collect more than the taxes and the soldiers must not extort. In short, the gospel tells us that we must not accept bribes and we must not give bribes, and we must not practice corruption.

More importantly, the gospel tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! That is, he will burn away our sins with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love! God loves the sinner, but he hates the sins!

Many years ago when our Church in Sabah was still one Diocese we had a retreat with an Australian Jesuit priest as our retreat master. During “confession” we were asked to write down our sins on pieces of paper and to show them to the other priests. After that we were to burn the pieces of paper with the flame/fire of the Paschal/Easter candle and to throw the pieces of paper into a metal dustbin to be burnt.

The retreat master explained that the flame/fire of the Paschal/Easter candle is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love, and the metal bin where the pieces of paper were burnt is hell! He explained that hell is the love of God experienced by the sinner for his conversion and for his salvation!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the joy of salvation! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! …. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.” (Zp 3:14. 17b-18a; SM)

Note that not only will we be happy for our salvation, but God will also be happy for our salvation!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the joy of salvation! Thus the response:

“Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Is 12:6; SM)

And thus the first stanza:

“Truly, God is my salvation, I trust, I shall not fear. For the Lord is my strength, my song, he became my savior. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Is 12:2-3; SM)

The second reading also tells us about the joy and happiness of salvation! Thus we read in the second reading:

“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.” (Ph 4:4; SM)

The second reading is quoted in today’s “Entrance Antiphon”: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” (Ph 4:4-5; SM)

This Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, is named after the “Entrance Antiphon”. It is called “Rejoice Sunday” or “Joyful Sunday” or “Happy Sunday”! We are happy and joyful because we are more than half way through to Christmas!

That is why we light the pink (rose) candle, the priest wears a pink vestment and the Mass servers wear pink cinctures! Pink (rose) color symbolizes joy and happiness!

The pink (rose) vestment is used only twice a year, that is, on the Third Sunday of Advent and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent!

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what the gospel today tells us to do. The gospel today tells us to practice charity and justice. The gospel tells us to share our money and our possessions with the poor and the needy. The gospel also tells us to practice justice, that is, we are not to accept or give bribes and we are not to practice corruption. We are to pay our employees a just wage, but employees must also be just to their employers by doing their work! Justice works both ways!

We also prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what the second reading tells us, that is, we are to be tolerant, that is, we are to be kind (CSB) to one another as the Lord is very near!

Again, a happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 9th Dec 2018

Theme: ADVENT (COMING): THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS AND AT THE END OF TIME

  • Baruch 5:1-9;
  • Psalm 125 (126). R/ v. 3;
  • Philippians 1:3-6. 8-11
  • Luke 3:1-6 

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent; Liturgical Year C. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! “Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation”! (Liturgical Year, 39, Roman Missal)

The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by making his paths straight, by leveling the mountains, by filling up the valleys, and by making the rough roads smooth, that is, by radically changing our lifestyles for the better! (NJBC)

The gospel also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by “repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. Repentance is turning away from sin, from the world; and turning to God, to the God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

One of the best ways of “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” is to go to “confession”, that is, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance! 

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will bring us salvation! In his First Coming he began his work of salvation; in his Second Coming he will complete, fulfill, perfect and realize fully his work of salvation! (See the note on Mt 3:2; CSB) Thus the gospel ends: “And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.” (Lk 3:6; Raas)

The second reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. The second reading tells us to increase our love for one another and to increase our knowledge and discernment so that we will know what is best!

In fact that is the prayer of St. Paul for the Philippians:

“My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognize what is best. This will help you to become pure and blameless, and prepare you for the Day of Christ, when you will reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God.” (Ph 1:9-11; SM)

Let us read, study, share and pray the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” so that we may increase in faith, knowledge and discernment, and so that we will know what is best!

The first reading tells us about the return from exile from Babylon. It is the second exodus, the new exodus, more important than the first exodus! More importantly, it tells us about the exodus from sin and death to love and life in Jesus Christ the New Moses!

Most importantly it tells us about the final exodus from earth to heaven in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! Again, in his First Coming, Jesus Christ began his work of salvation; in his Second Coming he will complete and perfect his work of salvation!

Thus we read in the first reading:

“Arise, Jerusalem, stand on the heights and turn your eyes to the east!” (Ba 5:5; SM)

The East, the direction from which the sun rises is a symbol of salvation! (Fuller; NJBC) That is why our churches face the east! And that is why Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December, originally the feast of the pagan sun god!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the return from exile from Babylon.

Thus the first and the second stanzas:

“When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage, it seemed like a dream. Then was our mouths filled with laughter, on our lips there were songs. The heathens themselves said: ‘What marvels the Lord worked for them!’ What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.” (Ps 125 (126): 1-3; SM)

And thus the response which is taken from the second stanza:

“What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.” (Ps 125 (126): 3; SM)

“The Lord had done great things for us; Oh, how happy we were!” (CSB)

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by “repentance for the forgiveness of sins”, that is, by going to confession; by “making his paths straight”, that is, by changing our lifestyles radically for the better! (Gospel)

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by increasing our love for one another and by increasing our knowledge and discernment so that we will know what is best! (Second reading) We can increase our faith, knowledge and discernment by reading, studying, sharing and praying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially in this Year of Faith (11th October 2012 to 24th November 2013)!

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by prayer, by reading the Bible and the Sunday Mass readings, by becoming Santa Claus (Dutch, Saint Nicholas) for the poor, especially for the poor children, by going Christmas caroling and by proclaiming the good news of Christmas, by attending prayer meetings, bible-sharing, BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, etc. A happy and joyful Advent to all of you! Amen!

1st Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 2nd Dec 2018

Theme: ADVENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS AND AT THE END OF TIME

  • Jeremiah 33:14-16;
  • Psalm 24 (25):4-5. 8-9. 10. 14. R/ v. 1:
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
  • Luke 21:25-28. 34-36.

Today is the First Sunday of Advent and today we begin the new Liturgical Year C. Advent means coming. There are three comings 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!

Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, and Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in mystery, we believe that Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in majesty as King of the universe! He will win over all and he will rule over all!

Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! “Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation.” (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 39, Roman Missal)

The gospel today tells us of the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us that there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars; and the powers of heaven will be shaken, that is, the sun, moon and stars will be shaken!

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told us not to believe in prediction of the end of the world! We believe that the end of the world is not only the end of the physical world, but the end of the evil world, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us that Jesus Christ will come in a cloud with power and great glory and we are to stand erect and lift up our heads, because our liberation, redemption and salvation is near at hand! The salvation which Jesus Christ began in his First Coming will be completed, perfected, fulfilled and fully realized in his Second Coming!

The gospel also tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by detaching ourselves from the material world. The gospel tells us not to be engrossed in our material pursuits and worldly pleasures; but to stay awake, to keep vigil and to pray.

The second reading also tells us about the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. St. Paul and the Thessalonians believed that the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus was imminent, that is, in their lifetime!

In the second reading St. Paul prayed that the Thessalonians increase in love and love one another and love the whole human race as much as St. Paul loved them. St. Paul also prayed that they be holy and blameless for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

Finally, St. Paul exhorted them to live the Christian life and to grow in the Christian life!

The first reading is a prophecy on the First Coming of Jesus Christ, but for us it is a prophecy on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The first reading tells us that Judah will be saved and Israel (Jerusalem; NJBC) will live in safety and Jerusalem will be called ‘The Lord-our-righteousness’, that is, ‘The Lord-our-salvation’! (Fuller; GNB) Thus we read in the first reading:

“In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” (Jr 33:16; HCSB)

The responsorial psalm is a “Prayer for Guidance” (HCSB; CSB) to God our Savior.

Thus the response:

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” (Ps 24 (25): 1; SM)

And thus the first stanza:

“Lord, make me know your ways. Lord, teach me your paths. Make me walk in your truth, and teach me: for you are God my savior.” (Ps 24 (25): 4-5; SM)

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by detaching ourselves from the material world and from worldly pleasures, and by staying awake, keeping vigil and praying (Gospel); by loving one another and loving the whole human race, and by being holy and blameless, and by living and growing in the Christian life (Second reading); and by doing good works (Opening Prayer).

We also prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by repentance and by going to confession; by reading the Bible and the Sunday Mass readings; by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church; by being Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas) to the poor and needy, especially to the poor and needy children; by going Christmas caroling and proclaiming the good news of Christmas; and by attending Bible-Sharing, Prayer-Meetings, BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, etc.

A happy and blessed Advent to all of you! Amen!