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!

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year A) – 11th Dec 2016

Theme: WHEN JESUS CHRIST COMES, THE GOOD NEWS WILL BE PROCLAIMED TO THE POOR

  • Isaiah 35:1-6. 10
  • Psalm 145:6-10. R. cf. Isaiah 35:4
  • James 5:7-10
  • Matthew 11:2-11

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent and today is also joyful Sunday, because we are more than half way through to Christmas! That is why we lighted the pink candle and that is also why I am wearing a pink vestment instead of a purple vestment! The purple vestment is a sign of penance, but the pink vestment is a sign of joy!

To begin with, the word Advent is from the Latin word “Adventus” which 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 2,000 years ago in Memory, Jesus Christ comes to us this Christmas in the liturgy, in the Eucharist, in Mystery (The Word “Christmas” comes from two words “Christ” and “Mass”), and Jesus Christ will come at the end of time in Majesty. But the preparation for the 3 comings of Jesus Christ is the same, that is, we pray, we do penance, we practice justice, we practice charity, we love, we forgive, we become Santa Claus to the poor, the orphaned, the children, the aged, the sick, etc., we go to confession, we go caroling to proclaim the Good News, etc.!

 

But even before we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, we must first know who Jesus Christ is and what will he do when he comes! We must not take this for granted! John the Baptist took this for granted and lost his faith! He expected Jesus to be a fiery Messiah of Judgment and retribution, and burning up every sinner in hell! But when Jesus came he did not burn up every sinner in hell, instead he made the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers clean, the deaf hear, the dead rise, and most importantly, he proclaimed the Good News to the poor (sinners)! In other words, Jesus Christ was not the fiery judgmental punishing Messiah of John the Baptist, but instead Jesus Christ was the loving, compassionate, kind, merciful, and forgiving Messiah of God the Father! And most importantly, the first part of the gospel ends by saying ‘happy is he who does not lose faith in me’, that is, in a loving, merciful and forgiving Messiah!

John the Baptist is not the only one who loses faith in a loving and forgiving Messiah; today we also lose faith in a loving and forgiving Messiah. I personally know of an old priest, and worse, a young priest, who do not proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ’s love and mercy, instead they proclaim the bad news of judgment, retribution, punishment and hell! I also know of a relative who not only wanted hell fire for her unfaithful husband, but she wanted hell fire here and now for her unfaithful husband! When my mother told her that her husband would be punished in hell fire after death in the afterlife, she responded to my mother saying ‘hell fire after death and in the afterlife is too late’!

Now we understand why the gospel ends by saying ‘to be the least in the kingdom of heaven is to be greater than John the Baptist! John the Baptist was the greatest of Man, and the greatest of the prophets, and he was also the messenger of God, but to be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is to be greater than John the Baptist, because even to be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is to be in Jesus Christ, to be in his love, and compassion, to be in his mercy and forgiveness and to be saved!

 

The Church has also chosen the first reading from Isaiah to tell us who Jesus Christ is and what will he do when he comes! In the first reading the Israelites were in exile in Babylon and Isaiah was prophesying to them the hope of returning home. It will be a second Exodus and like the First Exodus, the desert will be turned into fertile land. There will be flowers and forest in the desert, but most importantly, the blind will see, the lame walk, the dumb will speak and the deaf will hear! In fact Jesus quoted this passage of Isaiah in the gospel of today! And the first reading ends by saying, there will be joy as they return to Zion, there will be joy in their faces, and joy and gladness will go with them. There will not be sadness and lamentation anymore!

Again, the Church chose this first reading to tell us that when Jesus Christ comes there will be a New Exodus, more important than the First Exodus, again, the blind will see, the lame walk, the dumb speak, the deaf hear, and there will be joy and gladness, there will not be sadness and lamentation anymore!

 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. It is a meditation on the first reading. In fact the response of the responsorial psalm is from Isaiah 35:4: “Come, Lord, and save us”! Like the first reading the responsorial psalm tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will save us, he will bring justice to the oppressed, he will feed the hungry, he will free the captives, he will give sight to the blind, he will raise up those who are bowed down, he will protect the strangers, the widows and the orphans. There will not be injustices and wickedness anymore. He will reign forever and forever!

 

The second reading today is from the letter of St. James. The Church has chosen this reading of today to tell us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ with patience, that is, patience with persecutions, and patience with our everyday trials of life, patience with ourselves and patience with others, and most importantly, patience with the “delayed” coming of Jesus Christ!

The second reading was originally written by Saint James to tell the poor of his time to be patient with the unjust rich who oppressed and exploited them and did not pay them their wages, but more importantly it also tells them to be patient with the “delayed” second coming of Jesus Christ. The second coming of Jesus Christ will be soon and they will be liberated and there will be justice. The second reading exhorted them to be patient like the prophets who suffered persecutions patiently, and more importantly, who waited patiently for the coming of the Messiah!

 

During this time of Advent, the Church exhorts us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time, by prayer, penance, repentance, conversion, practicing justice, making peace, going to “confession” to make peace with God first, practice charity or “sharity”, to be “Santa Claus” to the aged, the poor, the sick, the orphaned, the children, the blind, the deaf and the dumb, etc., and to go caroling to proclaim the Good News to the poor!             Amen!

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year A) – 4th December 2016

Theme: ADVENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

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

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word “Adventus” meaning “Coming”! Advent is a time when we prepare for the Coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!

The two comings are similar in the sense that when Jesus Christ comes, whether at Christmas or at the end of time, he will bring us his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his peace, and his joy!

The preparation for the two comings are also the same, whether we prepare for his coming at Christmas or at the end of time, we have to pray, to do good works, to practice justice, to make peace, to practice charity towards the poor, to go to confession, etc.!

The difference between the two comings is that the Second Coming completes and perfects the First Coming, which we celebrate at Christmas! In the Second Coming he will complete and perfect the love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, and joy of his First Coming, so that his love, mercy, forgiveness, peace and joy will be complete and perfect in us!

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

 

The first reading from the prophet Isaiah tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit and the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Counsel, Insight, Power, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord!

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that when he comes he will bring justice to the earth. Unlike the corrupted kings of Israel, he will judge the poor with integrity and honesty. He will judge the weak with justice. He will strike down the ruthless and the merciless, and he will destroy the wicked!

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that he will bring peace to the earth! There will be peace between God and man, between man and man, and between man and the animal kingdom! It will be a restoration of the peace of Paradise!

In Genesis 3, man rebelled against God, and consequently man was not at peace with God, not at peace with other man, and not at peace with the earth.

In his 1990 World Day of Peace Message, Pope John Paul II quoted Genesis 3:17-19 to tell us that man was not at peace with the earth, so much so that man had to get his food from the earth painfully, and the earth yielded him thorns! The Pope also quoted Genesis 4:12 to tell us that when man tilled the earth, the earth would not yield its fruit to man!

Indeed today with the destruction of the rainforest, the pollution of the environment, the destruction of other species, the ozone hole, the warming of the earth, over fishing, the pollution of the earth with chemicals, the earth will not yield up its food for man!

The first reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes there will be peace between God and man, man and man, and man and the animal kingdom!

Thus the prophesy of Isaiah: “The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid (of the goat), 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”!

 

The responsorial psalm helps us to meditate on the first reading, thus the responsorial psalm takes up the theme of the first reading. The response of the responsorial psalm tells us that when Jesus Christ comes there will be justice and peace: “In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails”! Peace forever!

The psalm tells us that he will judge the people with justice and the poor with right judgment. He will save the poor when they cry, and he will save the weak and the poor from oppression and exploitation!

The responsorial psalm relates justice to peace! There can be no peace without justice!

 

But most importantly, the gospel tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! His Holy Spirit will burn away our sins like fire burning away the impurities to purify the gold! Something that even water cannot do! The Holy Spirit of God’s love will burn away our sins!

That is why at a penitential service for our priests, we were told to write down our sins on pieces of paper and burn them with the fire of the paschal candle and throw them into a metal container! The fire of the paschal candle is the Holy Spirit of God’s love and the metal container is hell!

Hell is not a place where God burns you. Hell is the love of God burning away our sins! Hell is the love of God experienced by a sinner! A sinner experiences God’s love as pain, suffering, punishment, purification, purgatory, and hell, for his repentance and conversion, so that he will find the love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, and life of God!

I was brought up by my mother to do good works for fear of hell and for love of heaven! A Muslim woman mystic was asked why she always carried water on one hand and fire on the other! She carried water to put out the fire of hell and she carried fire to burn heaven, because people do good works, for fear of hell and for love of heaven, but not for the love of God! God first loved us! We respond by loving God in return! We do good works because we love God and we love one another! God’s love burns away our sins so that we can love God and love one another!

The gospel today asks us to repent and to convert, that is, to turn away from sin (repent) and to turn to Jesus Christ (convert)! To turn away from sin is not good enough, because we will turn back to sin! We have to turn away from sin and more importantly, to turn to Jesus Christ who will burn away our sins with the Holy Spirit of God’s Love! 

That is why when you go to confession during this time of Advent, it is more important that you listen to what the priest confesses than the priest listen to what you confess!

After you have confessed your sins and received your penance, the priest gives you the absolution with these words:

    “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. And you answer: “Amen”.

   With these words of absolution Jesus Christ burns away your sins with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit of the love and mercy of God! Amen!

 

Besides going to confession during this time of Advent, the Church also asks us to practice justice and to make peace, but more importantly, the Church also asks us to practice charity (from the Latin word “caritas” meaning love) and love, especially to the poor, the aged, the children, the orphaned, the blind, the deaf and the dumb, the sick, etc., by becoming “Santa Claus” to them!

Finally, the Church also asks us to go caroling to share the Good News of Christmas with others, including the pagans!

Thus the second reading from Romans exhorts us: “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”!

 

Amen!

 

First Sunday of Advent (Year A) – 27th November 2016ad

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

  • Isaiah 2:1-5
  • Psalm 121:1-2. 4-5. 6-9. R. v. 1
  • Romans 13:11-14
  • Matthew 24:37-44

Today is the first day of the liturgical year and today is the first Sunday of Advent! The word Advent comes from the Latin word “Adventus” meaning “coming”!

Advent is a time when we prepare ourselves to celebrate the First Coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas, and Advent is also a time when we prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time! As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we also prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! In preparing for Christmas and for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we pray, we do good works, we love, we avoid sin, we practice justice, we make peace, we help the poor, etc.!

 

The gospel tells us about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us to stay awake and to be ready for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

The gospel has 3 parables! The first parable tells us to stay awake and to be ready, and not to be like the people in Noah’s time, eating and drinking and marrying, until the Floods came and swept them away!

The second parable tells us of two men working in the fields, one is taken away and one is left! It also tells us of two women working and one is taken way and one left! The one who is prepared is taken away into heaven and the one who is not prepared is left!

The third parable tells us of the burglar who comes at a time you do not know and you do not expect!

All the three parables in today’s gospel tell us to stay awake and to be ready for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! In short the gospel today tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

 

The second reading from the letter to the Romans also tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! It tells us to love one another (Rm 13:8-10)! It also tells us not to get drunk, not to get involved in orgies, that is, drunken or immoral merrymaking, not to be promiscuous, that is, indiscriminate in sexual relations, not to be licentious, that is, not to be lax in morals, not to quarrel, not to be jealous of each other, etc., but to put on Jesus Christ!

The first reading from Isaiah tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will bring us peace! The theme of the first reading is peace! The first reading tells us that the weapons of war will be turned into tools of agriculture, that is, instruments of peace! But before it tells us about peace the first reading also tells us about justice. The first reading tells us that God will judge the nations with justice!

Referring to the situation in Palestine, Pope John Paul II tells us that there can be no peace without justice! Today and yesterday, many wars are fought because of injustices, because of oppression, and exploitation, etc.! But Pope John Paul II also tells us that there can be no justice without forgiveness! Without forgiveness, “a tooth for a tooth”, very quickly spirals and escalates into “a life for tooth”!

The peace that Jesus Christ gives us is a peace that the world cannot give! It is a peace grounded on forgiveness! Jesus Christ made peace with us by forgiving our sins on the cross, so that we can make peace with God our Father, with each other, with our own selves, and with the environment!

The responsorial psalm helps us to meditate on the theme of peace of the first reading! In the third and forth stanzas of the responsorial psalm the word “peace” is mentioned 5 times: “For the peace of Jerusalem pray: ‘Peace be to your homes! May peace reign in your walls, in your palaces, peace!’ For love of my brethren and friends I say: ‘Peace upon you!’”!

Again, like the first reading, even before it tells about peace, the psalm tells us that the Lord will judge with justice! Again, there can be no peace without justice! But more than that, the responsorial psalm also tells us that the Lord will bring us prosperity!

In the New Jerusalem Bible, the word “peace” is alternated with the word “prosperity”: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, prosperity for your homes! Peace within your walls, prosperity in your palaces! For love of my brothers and my friends I will say, ‘Peace upon you!’”!

There can be no prosperity without peace, and there can be no peace without prosperity! The two go together! Today too, many wars are fought because of poverty!

In sum, the psalm tells us that the Lord will bring us peace, peace with justice and peace with prosperity!

 

During this time of Advent, the Church asks us to make peace with God, with one another, with oneself, and with the environment! That is why in this time of Advent there will be Penitential Services with Individual Confessions in every parish of our Diocese!

The Church also asks us to be “Santa Claus” (St. Nicholas) to give gifts to the poor, the sick, the aged, the orphaned, the children, etc.!

The Church also asks us to go “caroling” to proclaim the Good News to others!

A Happy Advent to all of you!

 

Amen!

21st December 2014 – 4th Sunday of Advent

Theme: JESUS CHRIST WILL COME THIS CHRISTMAS, WITH US OR WITHOUT US

  • 2 Samuel 7:1-5. 8-12. 14. 16
  • Psalm 88:2-5. 27. 29.
  • Romans 16:25-27
  • Luke 1:26-38

 

Today we celebrate the 4th and last Sunday of Advent. In a few days’ time we will celebrate Christmas! Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas! As we come close to Christmas, the Church has chosen the readings of today to tell us that the promise God made to David in the first reading is fulfilled in the Gospel reading!

 

In other words, the readings today tell us of the faithful love 0f God! We may not be faithful to God, but God is always faithful to us! In the first reading today God promised King David a dynasty that will last forever! And God fulfilled his promise after one thousand years in Jesus Christ! The time between David and Jesus Christ is about a thousand years! The kings of Israel including David were not always faithful to God, but God was always faithful to them and God fulfilled his promise to Israel in Jesus Christ!

 

In fact the responsorial psalm today was written after the exile. When the kings of Israel were unfaithful to God, Israel was exiled. And when they returned from exile there were no kings for Israel. How then can God fulfill his promise? But the hymn and prayer of the psalm today is to “God the faithful”! In other words, God is faithful and God will fulfill his promise in spite of the unfaithfulness of the kings of Israel and in spite of the exile!

 

The first reading and the responsorial psalm have something very important to tell us, i.e. Jesus Christ will come this Christmas, with us or without us! If we prepare ourselves for Christmas, Jesus Christ will come, with us, but if we do not prepare ourselves for Christmas, Jesus Christ will still come, but without us!

 

The gospel reading today tells us that the promise God made to David in the first reading is fulfilled in Jesus Christ in the gospel reading. The angel Gabriel said to Mary that she will give birth to Jesus the Son of God and a descendent of David and his kingdom will last forever! Mary asked the angel how this was to come about since she was a virgin and the angel replied that the Holy Spirit will do it! And Mary responded with the famous saying ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word’. And the angle let her.

 

Again, it is important to know that not everyone said ‘yes’! Not everyone believed in the promise of God! Today’s gospel reading was read on last Friday, the 20″‘ of December and together with it was the first reading from Isaiah. The first reading from Isaiah contrasted the ‘No’ of king Ahaz with the ‘Yes’ of Mary. The first reading last Friday tells us that the Lord wanted to give a sign to king Ahaz, but Ahaz said ‘no’. He did not want a sign. And the Lord through the prophet Isaiah said to Ahaz, ‘I myself will give you a sign. A maiden is with child and she will soon give birth t0 a son whom she

will call Emmanuel, which means “God-is-with-us”.

 

Another person who did not believe in the promise of God is Zechariah the father of John the Baptist. We read about him in the gospel of last Thursday, the 19th of December.

 

Again, his unbelief contrasted with the belief of Mary in the gospel of the following Friday, the 20th of December, which was the same as today’s gospel. The angel Gabriel said to Zechariah that he was to be the father of John the Baptist, but he did not believe the angel. This was because Zechariah and Elizabeth his wife were both very old, too old to have a child. Zechariah was struck dumb because of his unbelief.

 

The important thing to note here is that in both Ahaz who said ‘no’ to God and Zechariah who did not believe the angel, God fulfilled his promises in spite of their unfaithfulness! God was faithful in spite of their unfaithfulness and both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were born!

Again, the important message for us today is that Jesus Christ will come this Christmas, with us or without us! lf we prepare ourselves this Advent for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas then Jesus Christ will come, with us, but if we do not prepare ourselves this Advent for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas then he will come, without us!

 

That is why during this time of Advent, the Church asks us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas by prayer, by attending Sunday masses regularly, by attending weekday masses, by going to confession, by penance (though Advent is not a penitential season), by acts of mercy and charity, by becoming Santa Claus to the poor, the marginalized, the aged, the sick, the children, the weak, etc.!

 

A Happy Advent to all of you! Amen!

7th December 2014 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

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

  • Isaiah 40:l-5, 9-11
  • Psalm 84-9-14. R. v. 8
  • 2 Peter 3:8-14
  • Mark 1:1-8

 

Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Advent as we know means “arrival” or “coming”. We also know that at his first coming Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit. He gave us his grace, his love, his peace and his joy. In philosophy we know that these non-material spiritual qualities belonging only to God and humans who can think and love cannot die. They continue eternally in heaven. Like God, they have no beginning and end because they come from God! When these spiritual qualities of love, peace and joy which comes from God the Holy Spirit and from God’s grace, become full, fulfilled, complete and perfect in us, Jesus Christ will come a second time to take us to heaven!

But between Jesus Christ’s first and second coming there are thousands of years! Jesus Christ will not forget or abandon us during this time of thousands of years! He will continue to come and help us. He will continue to give us his Holy Spirit, his grace, his love and his joy. He will continue to help us grow in his grace, his love and his joy, until they become complete and perfect in us. And when his grace and love become perfect in us, he will come a second time to take us to heaven!

That is why we celebrate Christmas every year and at the beginning of every liturgical year. This is because Jesus Christ continues to come every year, every month, every week and every day! And Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas!

The first reading tells us that when the Lord comes at Christmas, he will come with power, subduing all things to him and he will come victorious with all his trophies before him! But more importantly, his power and victory are power and victory of love and mercy! That is why the same last paragraph of the first reading today tells us that he is the shepherd who feeds his flock, who carries the lambs in his arms close to his breast, and he leads the mother sheep to their rest!

The historical context of this first reading was the Israelites in exile in Babylon in the 6th century, waiting to return home to the Promised Land.

This theme of God’s coming love and mercy is taken up in the responsorial psalm. Thus the responsorial psalm tells us that when the Lord comes there will be peace, justice and mercy! The whole world today is looking for justice and peace, but the Pope (John Paul II) in his New Year’s message this year tells us that there can be no peace without justice, and more importantly, there can be no justice without forgiveness! In fact this is the very theme of his message! The Pope had in mind the present conflict between the Israelites and the Palestinians in the Holy Land today!

Indeed the psalm today tells us that when the Lord comes there will not only be peace and justice, but most importantly, there will also be mercy and forgiveness! More than that, the responsorial psalm also tells us that when the Lord comes, there will also be prosperity and the earth will yield its fruits!

The last stanza of the responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord will provide not only for our spiritual needs, but our material needs as well! “The Lord will make us prosper and our earth shall yield its fruit.” Today we cannot and must not take our earth ~ mother earth – for granted! With all the environmental pollution, destruction of the rainforest, poisoning of the earth, pollution of the air and sea, ete., the earth may not yield its fruit!

 

In his New Year’s Day message in 1990 on the environment, the Pope reminded us of Genesis 3:l7ff & 4:11, where it is written that after the fall of Adam and Eve, the earth will not yield its fruit, but it will yield thorns and thistles instead!

 

Our sins today do not only offend God and neighbour, but it also offends the earth and the environment! It is what we call environmental sins!

 

The Gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes at Christmas he will baptize us with the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is God the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same God!

 

A Catholic who was a former student of a teacher who belonged to another religion told me that the teacher ridiculed Christianity for believing in three Gods and eating God! My reaction was to thank God for the faith to believe in a God of love and mercy! Our God loved us and created us, loved us and saved us, and today continues to love us and continues to sanctify us! We do not believe in three Gods, but we believe in three persons in one God, because God is love. The mystery of the Trinity is the mystery of God’s love! Again, we believe in a God who loves us and became man, became a criminal, a thief, became death, and became Food for sinners, so that he becomes us and we become him! Salvation is 100% – not 99% – God’s love and God’s grace!

 

Again, the gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes at Christmas he will baptize us with God the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the fire of God’s love that burns away our sins and saves us! Fr. John Reilly, an Australian theologian who gave a retreat to our priests many years ago tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Love of God! He also conducted a penitential service with our priests where we wrote our sins on pieces of paper, showed them to our confessors and burned them with the fire of God’s love from the Paschal candle!

 

The second reading from the second letter of Peter tells us that when the Lord comes there will be a new heavens and a new earth, i.e. not only we and our earth will be renewed, but the whole universe will be renewed! The stars and planets and galaxies will all be renewed! The heavens refer to the stars and planets! And if there are aliens and E.T.s, they will all be renewed! Tonight if we go out at about l0 p.m. we should be able to see the biggest star, the brightest star, the planet Saturn, and a little later, the planet Jupiter, and a little earlier, the Andromeda Galaxy, etc.. All these and the whole universe will be made new! The second reading employs very rich imageries of stars and planets burning up — which are not scientific – t0 tell us that the whole cosmos and universe will be made new by Jesus Christ’s coming!

 

The second reading also tells us that as we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ, we have to prepare ourselves by living good, godly, saintly and holy lives. We must not commit sins!

 

The gospel also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. In the gospel, John the Baptist prepares the people for the coming of Jesus Christ by asking them to repent, to confess their sins and to be baptized with water. John the Baptist himself led a penitential life. He wore a garment of camel-skin and he ate locusts and wild honey and he lived in the wilderness!

 

The Church today asks us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas by praying, attending masses on Sundays (some people do not come to mass every Sunday) and weekdays, by going to confession (penitential services in the parishes), by penance (no parties, except on Sundays, e.g. no marriages during Advent), by doing good works, by doing works of mercy, by becoming Santa Claus to the poor, the weak, the aged, the children, the sick, the marginalized, etc., by proclaiming the good news to others through Christmas carolling, etc.!

 

A Happy Advent to all of you! Amen!

30 November 2014 – 1st Sunday of Advent

Theme: ADVENT IS A TIME TO PRAY FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD AT CHRISTMAS

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

 

 1. Today we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. The word Advent means “coming” — the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas! Jesus Christ came the first time 2000 years ago and Jesus Christ will come a second time at the end of the world! Jesus Christ came the first time to give us his Holy Spirit, his grace, his love, joy and peace, and when his love, joy and peace become complete and perfect in us, Jesus Christ will come a second time to take us to heaven with him! But in the meantime, Jesus Christ will not abandon us to ourselves for two thousand years and perhaps for another two thousand years! We celebrate Christmas every year because every year, every month and everyday Jesus Christ continues to come and strengthen us in the Holy Spirit that he has given us in his first coming! Every year beginning with Christmas — every month and every day Jesus

Christ continues to help us grow in his grace, in his love, in his joy, in his peace and in his mercy until the end of time when his grace, love, peace and joy become complete and perfect in us and he will come a second time to take us all to heaven with him!

This is the good news and it makes a lot of sense! It is very meaningful even to the young. Young people do not like abstract ideas, nor are they fearful of the end of the world, nor are ethics and morals appealing to them! They want meaning, inspiration and something real! They want something that can help them make sense of life and give them a vision and a mission in life! In other words young people are very very good people! They are even better than old people! The law of Evolution?

 

2. The gospel today tells us to “stay awake”! To stay awake to pray! There are certain communities in our Sacred Heart Cathedral who take this gospel literally! Every day of Advent until Christmas they will wake up very early in the morning to pray! And even before the sun rises, and even before the priest wakes up for the 6 am mass, they will already be in church watching and praying! In this first week of Advent they will also wake up at 2 am or 3 am in the morning to pray! I am not asking you do it because I myself am not dong it!

 

3. The first reading tells us to pray for the coming of the Lord! In the first reading the prophet Isaiah prays for the coming of the Lord. There is urgency and immediacy in his prayer: ‘Tear open the heavens and come down Lord! Why let your servants go astray! Return to us Lord here and now! Yes, we have sinned and you were angry with us. We have been unclean. Like dead leaves we are blown away. But Lord, you are our Father. We are clay in your hands. You are the potter who can shape us and reshape us!

This text of Isaiah was written in the 6th century B.C. when the Israelites returned from exile from Babylon. The temple was still in ruins and everything was still in a mess and the people were still committing sin and suffering and dying!

 

The Church has chosen this reading today to tell us to pray with the same urgency and immediacy as Isaiah! To begin with, some people think that only holy people pray or that we pray because we are holy. This is not true! The truth is that we pray because we are miserable, suffering and dying because of our sins! That is why there is an urgency and immediacy in our prayers! We cannot wait another two thousand years for the second coming of Jesus Christ! We are unhappy, we cannot love, we cannot forgive, we cannot even accept ourselves, we are suffering, and we cannot wait for another two thousand years! Jesus Christ has to come here and now this Christmas!

 

4. The responsorial psalm takes up this same theme of prayer and again there is urgency and immediacy in the psalm: ‘Oh Lord, come to our help. Let your face shine upon us and we shall be saved. Look down from heaven and see us. Visit this vine (Israel like the vine needs care and protection) of yours. Put your hand on the man (the king who represents the people) you have chosen’.

 

5. In the second reading today, from the first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul thanks God our Father for giving us his graces and his Spirit through his Son Jesus Christ as we wait for the second coming of Jesus Christ! His graces and his Spirit will protect us, make us strong and help us grow in his graces and in his Spirit until the end of time and the second coming of Jesus Christ, when we will be taken to heaven with him!

This is what I said at the beginning, i.e. Jesus Christ will not abandon us to ourselves after his first coming, but will continue to grace us and help us grow in his Spirit until the end of time when we will be perfected and completed in him and we will be taken up into heaven with him! This is the good news!

 

6. That is why during these four weeks of Advent as we prepare for Christmas, the Church asks us to pray, to go for confession, to attend Sunday and daily masses, to do penance, to do good works, to practice charity, and to be Santa Claus to the poor, the children, the aged, the weak, the sick, the handicapped, etc., so that when Jesus Christ comes at Christmas we may be able to welcome him and receive his Spirit, his grace, his love, his peace and his joy, and so that we may grow in him until the end of time when we will be taken up into heaven with him!

In this mass let us thank the Father for giving us his Son Jesus Christ and let us ask the Father to help us in this time of Advent to prepare ourselves for the coming of his Son Jesus Christ at Christmas! A happy Advent to all of you! Amen!