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!

4th Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 24th December 2017

Theme: JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD BORN THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

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

Today is the fourth and last Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year B. Next Sunday we will be celebrating Christmas Day, that is, the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ! The readings today have something very important to tell us!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit! Although Jesus Christ is a descendent of David through the lineage of Joseph, He is not the son of Joseph, nor even the son of Mary, as Mary was a virgin.

The gospel today tells us that when the angel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of Jesus, Mary wondered how this could be, since she was a virgin. But the angel told her that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will give birth to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and Jesus will be the Son of God! Mary believed the angel! We also believe the angel!

It is important that when we make the Christmas Crib we show that Jesus Christ is the Son of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit. This can be done by representing God the Father with a bright cloud made of cotton wool hung over the Christmas Crib, and the Holy Spirit symbolized by a dove hovering over the Christmas Crib! The spotlight must be shone on the cloud (God), the dove (Holy Spirit), and on Jesus, because Jesus is the Son of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit!

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that David wanted to build a house for God, but God told David that it was God who will build a House for David!

Because it was God who made David into a king from a shepherd and it was God who helped David fight wars, win battles and destroy the enemies. God will make David famous and great. God will build a House for David!

But more importantly, when David is dead and gone, his descendent will continue his kingdom and his kingdom will have no end, because his descendent will be the son of God and God will be his father! This prophecy of Nathan to David is fulfilled in today’s gospel in Jesus Christ!

 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the prophecy of Nathan will be fulfilled because God is “love” and “faithfulness”! (NJB) David and his descendents, that is, the kings of Israel may not be loving and faithful to God, but God is loving and faithful to them, because God is “love” and “faithfulness”! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“I will sing forever of your love, O Lord.” (Ps 88 (89): 2; SM)

And thus the first stanza of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken:

“I will sing forever of your love, O Lord; through all ages my mouth will proclaim your truth (loyalty, faithfulness). Of this I am sure, that your love lasts for ever, that your truth (loyalty, faithfulness) is firmly established as the heavens.” (Ps 88 (89): 2-3; SM)

The second stanza of the responsorial psalm tells us of the covenant God made with David that his dynasty will last forever (vv. 4-5; SM)! And the third stanza tells us of the Messianic prophecy which will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ (vv. 27. 29; SM)! (NJB)

 

The second reading gives glory to God for Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ! Let us also give glory to God for Jesus Christ and through Jesus Christ!

 

Today as we enter the fourth and last week of Advent, let us continue to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by prayer, by repentance, by confessing our sins, by reading the Bible, by reading the Sunday Mass readings, by going Christmas caroling, by loving and forgiving others, etc., and by becoming Santa Claus, that is, by giving gifts to the poor, to the needy, to the sick, to the aged, to the foreigner, to the stranger, to poor children, etc. Again, a happy Advent to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 17th December 2017

Theme: ADVENT: JOYFUL EXPECTATION AND JOYFUL PREPARATION! 

  • 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, Liturgical Year B. There are four Sundays of Advent before Christmas. The word Advent means coming. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the End of Time.

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”! Because Jesus Christ came 2,000 years ago in “memory” and continues to come every Christmas in “mystery”, we are sure He will come again at the End of Time in “majesty”!

Again, 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. The gospel tells us that John the Baptist prepared the people for the coming of Jesus Christ. But more importantly, the gospel tells us that John the Baptist was not worthy even to undo the strap of Jesus’ sandals! John the Baptist baptized with water but Jesus Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit!  

The gospel acclamation tells us that Jesus Christ will come in the power of the Holy Spirit and bring good news to the poor! The poor are not only the materially poor, nor only the spiritually poor, but the poor are those who are totally dependent on God for their salvation! Thus we read in the gospel acclamation: 

“The spirit of the Lord has been given to me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor.” (Is 61:1; Lk 4:18; SM)
2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading was quoted in the gospel acclamation. The first reading also tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted, to set prisoners free and to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord! A year of favor, a year of grace, a year of blessing! In other words, salvation is a free gift! This is indeed good news to the poor!

That is why the first reading tells us to rejoice, to be joyful and to be happy! Thus we read in the first reading: 

“I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God.” (Is 61:10; SM)
3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of joy of the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is quoted from the first reading: 

“My soul rejoices in my God.” (Is 61:10; SM)

The responsorial psalm itself is the song of praise of Mary after the angel announced to her that she was to be the mother of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit and after she visited her cousin Elizabeth. Mary was filled with joy, because the Almighty God has done great things for her! Thus we read in the first and second stanzas of 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!” (Lk 1:46-49; SM) 
4. The second reading continues this theme of joy! Thus the second reading begins with these words: “Be happy at all times.” (1 Th 5:16; SM) or “Rejoice always.” (CSB) or “Always be joyful.” (NJB) 

Today we also celebrate “rejoice Sunday” or “joyful Sunday” or “happy Sunday” because we are more than half way through to Christmas! That is why the priest uses pink/rose vestment and that is why we light the pink/rose candle. Pink/rose color symbolizes joy!

“Advent” is not “Lent”. “Lent” is a season of “penance”, but “Advent” is a season of “joyful expectation”, but “joyful expectation” means “joyful preparation”! When we expect Jesus Christ to come, we prepare for his coming!
5. Let us then during this time of Advent prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, by praying, by repentance, by confessing our sins, by reading the Bible, by reading the Sunday Mass readings, by attending prayer meetings on Fridays, by attending BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, by Christmas caroling, by being Santa Claus, that is, by giving gifts to the poor, to the sick, to the needy, to the aged, to the lonely, to the marginalized, to the stranger, to the foreigner, to the alien, to the poor children, etc.! A happy Advent to all of you!
Amen!

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 10th December 2017

Theme: LET US PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS AND AT THE END OF TIME

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

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year B. There are four Sundays in Advent. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival”. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the End of Time.

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”!

The three comings of Jesus Christ are related. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in “memory”. He died rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit. He continues to come to us every Christmas in “mystery” in the Holy Spirit. And he will come again at the End of Time in “majesty” when everything will be completed, perfected and fulfilled in him by the Holy Spirit!

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 that John the Baptist prepared the people for the coming of Jesus Christ by telling them to repent and confess their sins. The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by repentance and by confessing our sins. That is why during this time of Advent, we have penitential services and individual confessions!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will baptize us not only with water, but with the holy water of the Holy Spirit which cleanses us from sin and death and gives us new life!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. But more importantly, the first reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will come as the Good Shepherd who feeds his sheep, carries his sheep, embraces his sheep and gives rest to his sheep!

This image of the Good Shepherd is developed by Jesus in the parable of the Lost Sheep (Mt 18:12-14) and the parable of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11-18). 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; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for God’s love, mercy, salvation, justice, peace, prosperity, fruitfulness, etc.!

The responsorial psalm tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will bring us love, mercy, salvation, justice, peace, prosperity, fruitfulness, etc.! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (Ps 84 (85): 8; CSB)

“Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.” (Ps 84 (85): 8; SM)

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. The second reading tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by “living holy and saintly lives”, and by living “lives without spot or stain”, but more importantly, the second reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes there will be “the new heavens and new earth”! Thus we read in the second reading:

“You should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, …. 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 Pt 3:11-14; SM)

Let us then prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the End of Time by repentance, by confessing our sins, by living holy and saintly lives, and by living lives without spot or stain, so that when Jesus Christ comes he will find us at peace! A happy Advent to all of you! Amen!

1st Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 3rd December 2017

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!