CHRISTMAS, MASS DURING THE DAY (A,B,C)

Theme: GOD REVEALS HIMSELF IN CREATION, IN OTHER RELIGIONS, AND “IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME” IN JESUS CHRIST

  • Isaiah 52:7-10
  • Psalm 97:1-6. R. v. 3
  • Hebrews 1:1-6
  • John 1: 1-5. 9-14 (Shorter Form)

A Happy Christmas to all of you! Christmas is about the revelation or manifestation of God! Christmas season includes the Nativity, that is, the manifestation of God in humanity; the Epiphany, that is, the manifestation of God as Savior to all the nations; and the Baptism of the Lord, that is, the manifestation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God!

The two New Testament readings today – Christmas Day – also tell us about the manifestation of God! The gospel and the second reading today tell us that God does not only reveal himself in Jesus Christ, but that God also reveals himself in creation and in other religions! But “in the fullness of time” God reveals himself in Jesus Christ completely, fully and perfectly!

The gospel tells us that “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him. …. The Word was the true light that enlightens all men; and he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had its being through him, and the world did not know him. He came to his own domain and his own people did not accept him. But to all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God. …. The Word was made flesh, and lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.”! (Jn 1:1-3. 9-12. 14)

Again, the second reading tells us that “At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, the Son that he has appointed to inherit everything and through whom he made everything there is. He is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, sustaining the universe by his powerful command; and now that he has destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty.”! (Heb 1:1-3)

Again, the gospel and the first reading tell us that God reveals himself in creation, in other religions, and “in the fullness of time” in Jesus Christ! If we believe that God reveals himself in creation, in other religions and “in the fullness of time” in Jesus Christ, then the implications are clear:

(i) We have to protect our environment! We have to protect our rainforest, our orangutans, our trees, our rivers, our seas, our air, our water, our mangrove swamps, and the many different species that live in our rainforest! But more than that we have to see

God in creation and creation in God! We have to have a creation spirituality! We have to have a good creation theology to support our salvation theology!

(ii) We have to be tolerant with people of other religions! We have to dialogue with and understand other religions! We have to respect other religions! We have to live in harmony and peace with people of other religions! We have to live and work with people of other religions for the good of the community, the society, the country, the nation, and the world!

(iii) We have to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the whole world! We have to proclaim the “grace and truth”, the “grace (or love) and faithfulness” (NJB), the “mercy and loving kindness” (NJBC) of Jesus Christ to the whole world!

Again, a Blessed, Happy and Merry Christmas to all of you! Amen!

 

4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT (Year A) – 22nd Dec 2019

Theme: EMMANUEL: ‘GOD-IS-WITH-US’!

  • Isaiah 7:10-14;
  • Psalm 23:1-6. R. vv. 7. 10;
  • Romans 1:1-7
  • Matthew 1:18-24

Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent. Advent means coming – the coming of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ came 2,000 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! Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ!

The readings today tell us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will save us from our sins! The readings today also tell us to accept him when he comes, and to proclaim him to others, so that others may also accept him and be saved!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ was born through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the Son of God. He is Emmanuel, that is, ‘God-is-with-us’! He is Jesus, that is, the one who is to save us from our sins. Sin makes us suffer. St. Paul tells us that the wages of sin is death (Rm 6:23); but the Lord wants us to live and to be happy!

Thus we read in the gospel: “The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’”! (Mt 1:20-21)

The first reading tells us that king Ahaz of Judah (Southern Kingdom) rejected the sign of Emmanuel. He did not want to depend on God. He depended on the power of Assyria to fight the war against Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Syria. This was in the 8th century B.C. But the Lord was faithful to him, and the Lord himself will give him the sign of Emmanuel!

Thus we read in the first reading: “The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’”! (Is 7:14)         

The responsorial psalm tells us to accept the Lord, and to accept him with clean hands and pure hearts, and not desiring worthless things, that is, to accept the Lord with pure actions and pure thoughts, and not worshipping idols, be they idols of power or wealth. And the Lord will bless us and save us! (GNB) The responsorial psalm is a psalm of entry into the Temple by the Lord, followed by the people! But Paul tells us that we are the temple of God! (1 Co 3:16)

Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.” (Ps 23:7. 10)

And thus the 2nd and 3rd stanzas of the responsorial psalm: “Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place? The man with clean hands and pure heart, who desires not worthless things. He shall receive blessings from the Lord and reward from the God who saves him.”! (Ps 23:3-5)

Finally, the second reading tells us to be apostles of the Lord to proclaim his Good News to all the nations, so that all the peoples may accept him and be saved by him!

Thus we read in the second reading: “Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honor of his name.”! (Rm 1:5)

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 his Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit will help us accept the Lord when he comes, and be saved! The Holy Spirit will also help us proclaim the Good News to all the pagan nations, so that they too may accept the Lord and be saved! A Happy Advent to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year A) – 15th Dec 2019

Theme: REJOICE: THE LORD COMES TO SAVE US!

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year A. Today is also “Rejoice Sunday”! That is why we use rose/pink vestment and light the pink candle! We rejoice because we are more than half way through to Christmas! More importantly, we rejoice because the readings today tell us that the Lord comes to save us!
The gospel today tells us that John the Baptist was not sure if Jesus was the Messiah. John the Baptist expected the Messiah to be a fiery judge who judges, condemns and punishes sinners; but Jesus was a Messiah who loves, forgives and saves sinners!
John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah and Jesus told them to tell John what they have heard and seen, that is, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, lepers are made clean, the dead raised to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor!
Jesus was quoting the prophet Isaiah on the saving works of the Messiah! Very important too are what Jesus said at the end of the first and second paragraphs of the gospel, that is, “happy is the man who does not lose faith in me” and “the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is”. In the first quotation Jesus warns John not to lose faith in him and in the second quotation Jesus tells us that to be in the kingdom of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation is to be greater than John the Baptist!
The gospel today tells us that Jesus is not a fiery judge who condemns sinners, but Jesus is a merciful savior who saves sinners! That is why we rejoice! That is why we have “Rejoice Sunday” or Sunday of joy!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is fulfilled in the gospel! The first reading also tells us to rejoice because the Lord comes to save us! The first reading tells us about the return from exile from Babylon. It is the second exodus, more important than even the first exodus, but most importantly it points to the salvation by Jesus Christ! Thus the caption of the first reading:
“God himself is coming to save you”.
Thus the first reading tells us about the saving works of the Messiah and its accompanying joy:
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy, for those the Lord has ransomed shall return. They will come to Zion shouting for joy, everlasting joy on their faces; joy and gladness will go with them and sorrow and lament be ended.” (Is 35: 5-6a. 10; Sunday Missal (SM))

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:
“Come, Lord, and save us.” (cf. Is 35:4; SM)
Thus again, the first and second stanzas of the responsorial psalm tell us about the saving works of the Messiah:

“It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever, who is just to those who are oppressed. It is he who gives bread to the hungry, the Lord, who sets prisoners free. It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind, who raises up those who are bowed down, the Lord, who protects the stranger and upholds the widow and orphan.” (Ps 145:6c-9; SM)

The second reading tells us to be patient as we wait for the Lord’s coming! Just as a farmer is patient as he waits for the fruits of the earth and just as the prophets are patient as they wait for their prophecies to be fulfilled by the Lord; we have also to be patient as we wait for the Lord’s coming! Thus we read:
“You too have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon.” (Jm 5:8; SM)

Again, today is “Rejoice Sunday” or Sunday of joy! We rejoice because we are more than half way through to Christmas! More importantly, we rejoice because the readings today tell us that the Lord comes to save us!
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 praying, by doing good works, and by repentance and confessing our sins. That is why we have the “Penitential Service” with individual confessions this coming Monday! A blessed Advent to all of you! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year A) – 8th Dec 2019

Theme: ADVENT: THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AT
CHRISTMAS AND AT THE END OF TIME

  • Isaiah 11:1-10;
  • Psalm 71:1-2. 7-8. 12-13. 17. R/ cf. v. 7;
  • Romans 15:4-9
  • Matthew 3:1-12

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent in the new Liturgical Year A. Advent means coming, that is, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! Advent is therefore a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!
Jesus came 2,000 years ago in memory, Jesus continues to come every Christmas in mystery, and Jesus will come at the end of time in majesty! Because Jesus came 2,000 years ago in memory, died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit; we believe Jesus comes every Christmas in mystery. The word Christ-mas comes from two words, that is, Christ’s Mass. And the Mass or the Eucharist is the sacrament of sacraments. The word sacrament in both Greek and Latin means mystery. Thus Jesus comes every Christ-mas in mystery. Because Jesus comes every Christmas in mystery, we believe Jesus will come at the end of time in majesty to be king of the universe!
Advent is therefore 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 repentance and by confessing our sins. Repentance or conversion is not only turning away from sin, but it is also turning away from the world; and it is not only turning to God, but it is also turning to the God of Jesus Christ, that is, a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! Only the God of Jesus Christ can save us! The God of Law cannot save us! Only the God of love can save us!
Thus the gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will burn away our sins with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love! Thus John the Baptist tells us in the gospel today:
“I baptize you in water for repentance, but the one who follows me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mt 3:11; Sunday Missal (SM))

The Gospel Acclamation also tells us to prepare for the coming of the Lord, for when he comes he will bring us salvation! Thus we read:
“Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight, and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.” (Lk 3:4. 6; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that when the Lord comes he will bring us justice and peace! Peace, shalom, salvation! Thus we read in the first reading:
“He does not judge by appearances, he gives no verdict on hearsay, but judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.” (Is 11: 3-4; SM)
Thus again we read in the first reading:

“The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid, calf and lion cub feed together with a little boy to lead them. The cow and the bear make friends, their young lie down together. The lion eats straw like the ox. The infant plays over the cobra’s hole; into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand.” (Is 11:6-8; SM)
Thus a re-turn to the peace/shalom of Paradise!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:
“In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.” (Ps 71:7; SM)
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us that he will bring justice (vv. 1-2). The second stanza tells us that he will bring justice and peace/shalom (vv. 7-8; SM). The third stanza tells us that he will bring salvation (vv. 12-13; SM). And the fourth stanza tells us to bless him, that is, to praise and thank him! (v. 17; SM)

The second reading tells us that the Lord comes not only to save the Jews, but also to save the pagans! Thus we read in the second reading:
“The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs, it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy, as scripture says in one place: For this I shall praise you among the pagans and sing your name.” (Rm 15: 8-9; SM)

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. Again, we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by:
(i) Praying, going to Sunday Mass, going to prayer meetings, attending BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, attending Bible-sharing, reading the Bible, etc.
(ii) Doing good works, e.g. by helping the poor and the needy; and by visiting the sick and the aged, etc.
(iii) Repentance and confessing our sins, that is, going for the Penitential Service.
(iv) Avoiding sin and avoiding the occasions of sin, that is, avoiding the peoples, places and things that cause us to sin.
(v) Caroling, that is, proclaiming the good news of the Lord’s coming, so that others may believe and be saved, and so that others may also prepare for the coming of the Lord.
A blessed Advent to all of you! Amen!