The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Year B) – 27th December 2020

  • Genesis 15:1-6. 21:1-3;
  • Psalm 104/105:1-6. 8-9. R/ vv. 7. 8;
  • Hebrews 11:8. 11-12. 17-19
  • Luke 2:22. 39-40 (Shorter Form)

Theme: THE HOLY FAMILY IS HOLY, BECAUSE GOD IS THE FATHER, JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD, BORN THROUGH THE POWER OF THE  HOLY SPIRIT, FROM THE WOMB OF THE VIRGIN MARY

1. Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Holy Family is holy, because God is the Father, Jesus is the Son of God, born through the power of the Holy Spirit, from the womb of the Virgin Mary. Our families are also holy, because God is our Father, we are the children of God, born through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the sacrament of Baptism, from the womb of Mother Church. The Church is our Mother, God is our Father, and we are the children of God. And Jesus is our brother. Our families are therefore holy.

    The readings today tell us about faith. The first reading tells us that Abraham and Sarah were too old to have a child, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that God promised them a child, but most importantly, Abraham and Sarah put their faith in God and believed in the promise of God. And Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age.

2. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God is faithful to his promise. We put our faith in God because God is faithful to his promise. The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first three stanzas are a call to thank God for all that God has done for us. The fourth stanza is a praise for God who is faithful to his promise. (HCSB) Thus the fourth stanza:

    “He remembers his covenant for ever, his promise for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.” (Ps 104 (105): 8-9)    

    And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “He, the Lord, is our God. He remembers his covenant for ever.” (Ps 104 (105): 7-8)

3. Again, the second reading tells us about faith. The second reading tells us that it was by faith that Abraham obeyed God and set out on a journey to a country that God promised him and his descendents. He did not even know where he was going. The second reading also tells us that it was by faith that Sarah gave birth to Isaac in her old age. Finally, the second reading tells us that it was by faith that Abraham when tested, offered Isaac as a sacrifice to God!

4. More importantly, the New Testament tells us that it was by the faith of Mary and Joseph that Jesus the Son of God was born through the power of the Holy Spirit from the womb of the Virgin Mary. It was also by faith that we were born again as children of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism from the womb of the Church. The Church becomes our Mother, and God becomes our Father, and Jesus becomes our brother. It was also by faith that our children were born again as children of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism from the womb of the Church. The Church becomes their Mother, and God becomes their Father, and Jesus becomes their brother. Our families like the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are therefore holy families!    

5. The gospel today tells us that the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was faithful to the Law of the Lord. The gospel also tells us that Jesus grew up physically, mentally and spiritually. Thus we read in the gospel today: “When they had done everything the law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favor was with him.” (Lk 2:39-40) The gospel today tells us to keep the Law of the Lord and we and our children will grow up physically, mentally and spiritually!

6. Let us conclude with a few pastoral suggestions for our families:

    (i) A family must pray together. A family that prays together stays together.

    (ii) A family must be part of a bigger family, that is, a family must be part of a BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) of ten to fifteen families.

    (iii) A family must eat dinner together everyday. There should be no watching of television during dinner time.

    (iv) Members of a family must communicate with one another, that is, listen and talk to one another.

    (v) A family should also play together and go for holidays together.

    (vi) Husband and wife must always be together. Parents and children must always be together. There must not be any “absent father syndrome” or “absent mother syndrome” or “absent parents syndrome”.

    (vii) Parents must pass their faith and love to their children.

7. Again, a merry, happy and blessed Christmas and New Year to all of you!       

                                                                                                                                    Amen!

CHRISTMAS

Theme: GOD BECAME MAN, GOD BECAME FOOD FOR MAN, GOD BECAME FOOD FOR SINFUL MAN

  • Luke 2:1-14;
  • John 1:1-5. 9-14 (Shorter Form);
  • Hebrews 1:1-6

1.  A merry, happy and blessed Christmas to all of you! We are merry, happy and blessed, because as the gospel tells us, God has become man, God has become food for man, and God has become food for sinful man!

    The gospel tells us that when Mary gave birth to Jesus, she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn. The gospel also tells us that there were shepherds nearby. These details symbolize something very important, that is, God has become man (swaddling clothes of humanity/Ws 7:4/NJB), and God has become food for man (manger where the animal feed)! (NJBC) There was no room in the inn, that is, Jesus Christ is not a visitor or a traveler. He is here to stay, to stay with us and to stay within us for good, that is, forever! (Craghan) The shepherds were the lowly. They were mangy, that is, they were having skin diseases. They were stinking and bathless. They belonged to the despised trade like the tax collectors and prostitutes. The shepherds symbolize sinners. (NJBC/Fuller)

    The gospel tells us that the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and they were terrified, but the angel said to them, ‘do not be afraid. I bring you news of great joy, a joy for the whole world. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign. You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger’.

    And the gospel tells us that suddenly, there was a host of heavenly angels praising God and singing: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favor’, that is, glory and praise to God, and peace (shalom) and salvation to men who enjoy his favor, grace and blessing!

    The first part of the gospel of tonight tells us that Caesar Augustus is not the savior, god and bringer of peace, but Jesus Christ is the Savior, God and the bringer of peace and salvation! (CSB/NJBC) The first part of the gospel also tells us that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the descendent of David. The promise made to David is fulfilled in Jesus Christ!             

    We take Christmas for granted, that God has become man, God has become food for man, and God has become food for sinful man. But a certain lecturer in one of the institutes of higher learning in Sabah said that he cannot understand and accept Christianity, because he does not believe that God can become man, God can die, God can become food for man, and God can become food for sinful man.

    Indeed, it is about belief, it is about faith! Do you believe in a God of law, justice and punishment, or do you believe in a God of love, mercy and forgiveness? Do you believe that God is a judge or do you believe that God is a Savior? We Christians believe that God is love, mercy and forgiveness! We Christians believe that God is Savior! We see it, hear it, and touch it in Jesus Christ! It is not only true, but it is also real! Indeed, a merry, happy and blessed Christmas to all of you!   

2. “Christmas”, “Epiphany”, and the “Baptism of the Lord” are about the revelation or manifestation of the Lord! The gospel for Christmas for the “Mass During the Day” tells us that the Lord reveals himself in creation, in Judaism and by extension in other religions, but the Lord reveals himself fully, perfectly and completely in Jesus Christ. The second reading for Christmas for the “Mass During the Day” also tells us that the Lord reveals himself in creation, in Judaism and by extension in other religions, but the Lord reveals himself fully, perfectly and completely in Jesus Christ!

    The Lord reveals himself in creation. We have therefore to protect the environment, because it is God’s creation and revelation! St. Paul in Romans 1:20 tells us that by looking at creation we can see the Creator! Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, a priest and a scientist tells his fellow scientists that evolution gives rise to consciousness in human beings and consciousness effects union, that is, love and unity. Jesus Christ came to bring love and unity! Everything comes from Jesus Christ and goes back to Jesus Christ! There is a meaning, purpose and direction in creation!  

    The Lord reveals himself in Judaism and by extension in other religions. We are therefore to dialogue with other religions. The Vatican dialogues with Judaism and Islam. The Vatican dialogues with Islam on two principles proposed by our Muslim brothers, that is, love of God and love of neighbor!

    The Lord reveals himself fully and completely in Jesus Christ! We are therefore to proclaim the good news! Next year we will have the “Neo-Catechumenal Communities” in our parish to produce priests, religious, catechists, “psalmists” and lay ministers to evangelize, that is, to proclaim the good news, not only to Sabah, but to the whole world!

    Again, a merry, happy, and blessed Christmas to all of you!

                                                                                                                                   

4th Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 20th December 2020

Theme: THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE WORK OF GOD AND NOT THE WORK OF MAN

 

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

Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent. Advent means coming, the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, Jesus Christ continues to come to us every Christ-mas at “Christ’s Mass” (Raas), and Jesus Christ will come at the end of time as king of the universe! Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, and because Jesus Christ continues to come every Christ-mas at “Christ’s Mass”, we are sure He will come again at the end of time as king of the universe!

The readings today tell us that the coming of Jesus Christ fulfills the promise made to David that his descendents and his dynasty will last forever. Though David and his descendents, especially the kings that succeeded him, were not faithful to God, God was always faithful to his promise! The birth of Jesus Christ fulfills the promise made to David and his descendents! We believe this good news, we live it and we proclaim it to the whole world!

The first reading tells us of the promise God made to David. The responsorial psalm tells us that God is faithful to his promise though David and his descendents were not faithful to God. The gospel tells us that the coming of Jesus Christ fulfills the promise made to David. The gospel also tells us to believe this good news. The second reading tells us to live this good news and proclaim it to the whole world!

The readings today also tell us that the coming of Jesus Christ is the work of God and not the work of man! We believe this good news, live it and proclaim it to the whole world!

The first reading tells us that David wanted to build a house for God, but God told David off! God said to David: who are you to build me a house. I God instead will build you a house. I was the one who made you a leader of Israel. I was the one who helped you win battles against the enemies. I will make you famous. I will make you great. I will build you a house. I will make your descendents and your dynasty last for ever.

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God was always faithful to his promise, though David and his descendents were not faithful to God. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza, from which the response is taken, tells us of the faithfulness of God. The second stanza tells us of the promise God made to David. The third stanza tells us of the Messiah who will fulfill the promise made to David.

Again, the gospel tells us that the coming of Jesus Christ is the work of God and not the work of man. The gospel tells us that Mary was to be the mother of God! But how can this come about since she was a virgin? The Holy Spirit will do it! Mary believed this promise and Jesus was conceived in her womb! The gospel also tells us to believe this good news!

Again, the second reading tells us to live this good news and proclaim it to the whole world so that the whole world may believe and be saved!

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 believe the good news, live it and proclaim it to the whole world.

Amen. 

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 13th December 2020

Theme: REJOICE! THE LORD IS NEAR!

  • 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. Advent means coming, that is, the coming 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 as King of the universe!

    Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, and continues to come every Christmas in mystery, we are sure Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in majesty as King of the universe! Advent is a time when we remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, and when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!  

    Today is also “rejoice” or joyful Sunday! Today we celebrate joyful Sunday because we are more than half way through to Christmas! Christmas is very near! The Lord is very near! The pink/rose candle on the Advent wreath and the pink/rose vestment of the priest symbolize joy!   

2. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord has brought us salvation. He has brought us “saving justice” (NJB) and praise. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord has come to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearts, to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison, and to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord, that is, a year of salvation from the Lord! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “I exult for joy in Yahweh, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in a cloak of saving justice, …. So Lord Yahweh makes saving justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.” (Is 61:10-11/NJB)

    Again we read in the first reading: “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord.” (Is 61:1-2/SM)     

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. In fact the response of the responsorial psalm is taken from the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “My soul rejoices in my God.” (Is 61:10)   

    The responsorial psalm itself is taken from the canticle of Mary (Magnificat), but originally it was a song of praise of the “poor” of Yahweh, the “anawim” of Yahweh! The poor of Yahweh are the humble who are totally dependent on Yahweh for salvation! Thus we read in 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! His mercy is from age to age, on those who fear him. He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty. He protects Israel, his servant, remembering his mercy.” (Lk 1:46-50. 53-54)    

4. Again, the second reading begins with the theme of joy! The second reading tells us to be happy always, to pray always, and to give thanks to God for all things, because that is what God wants us to do in Jesus Christ! The second reading also tells us that God will make us perfect and holy and blameless in body, soul and spirit for the second coming of Jesus Christ. For God has called us. He will not fail us. Thus we read in the second reading:

    “Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus. …. May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.” (1 Th 5:16-18. 23-24)

5. Finally, the gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ is much greater even than John the Baptist. John the Baptist is not worthy even to undo His sandal-strap. John the Baptist baptized with water but Jesus Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit! (Jn 1:33) Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord.’ …. John replied, ‘I baptize with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’” (John 1:23. 26-27)

6. Again, to remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, and to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time, we have to pray, to read the Bible, to read the Sunday Mass readings, to attend Sunday Mass, to attend BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, to attend prayer meetings, to repent, to go to confession, to go caroling, to proclaim the good news, to love, to serve, to forgive, to make others happy, etc. We have also to be Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) to the poor, the needy, the aged, the foreigner, the orphan, those in prison, etc.

7. 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 remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, and the Holy Spirit will help us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! Amen.                                                                                                       

2nd Sunday of Advent (year B) – 6.12.2020

Theme: PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

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

1. Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. The word Advent means coming or arrival, that is, the coming 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 as king of the universe!

    When Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, he instituted the Eucharist/Mass and asked us to celebrate it in his memory, that is, to make him present and real in the Eucharist/Mass, so that he can come to us in mystery in the Eucharist/Mass, and so that he can come to us in mystery in the Christ Mass, that is, Christ-mas. The word Christmas comes from the two words: Christ and Mass. (Raas, p 116)

    Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, and continues to come every Christmas in mystery, we are sure he will come again at the end of the world in majesty as king of the universe!  

2. 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 to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by repentance and by confessing our sins. Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah: Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way. A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight, and so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptized by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins.” (Mk 1:2-5)  

    More importantly, the gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will forgive our sins. The Holy Spirit will give us new life. He will give us love, joy and peace! Thus we read in the gospel: “In the course of his preaching John the Baptist said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful that I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” (Mk 1:7-8)

3. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Thus we read in the first reading: “A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” (Is 40:3-5)    

    More importantly, the first reading tells us that Jesus Christ will come as a good shepherd to save us. He will feed us. He will hold us in his arms. He will hold us to his breast. He will lead us to rest. 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)

    This theme of the good shepherd is further developed by Jesus himself in John 10:11-18. (NJB) Thus we read in John 10:14-15: “I am the good shepherd; I know (love/NJB) my own and my own know (love) me, just as the Father knows (loves) me and I know (love) the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.”!  

4. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for salvation! (HCSB/NJBC/IBC) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (Ps 84 (85): 8/CSB)

    The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord will give us love, mercy, salvation, peace, justice, and happiness! (CCB) Thus we read in the second stanza of the responsorial psalm: “Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven.” (Ps 84 (85):11-12)

    The Lord will also give us prosperity and fruitfulness! Thus we read in stanza three of the responsorial psalm: “The Lord will make us prosper and our earth shall yield its fruit. Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.” (Ps 84 (85): 13-14)    

5. Finally, the second reading tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by living holy and saintly lives and by living spotless and stainless lives. More importantly, the second reading tells us that when the Lord comes there will be a new heaven and a new earth! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “Since everything is coming to an end like this, you should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, when the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. 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 Peter 3:11-14) 

6. Again, we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time by prayer, reading the word of God, attending Sunday Mass, attending BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, prayer meetings, repentance, going to confession, caroling, proclaiming the good news, etc.

    We also prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by becoming Santa Claus (Dutch), that is, Saint Nicholas (Bishop, 4th century, Turkey); by giving Christmas presents to the poor, to children, to the aged, to foreigners, to orphans, to those in prison, etc.

    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!

THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH

Theme: THE HOLY FAMILY IS HOLY, BECAUSE GOD IS THE FATHER, JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD, BORN THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:2-6. 12-14;
  • Psalm 127:1-5. R. v. 1;
  • Colossians 3:12-21
  • Matthew 2:13-15. 19-23

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! The family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is holy because God is the Father, Jesus is the Son of God, born through the power of the Holy Spirit!

Our families are also holy, because in Baptism we were born again through the power of the Holy Spirit, and God is our Father, and we are the children of God, and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, and the Church is our Mother!

The gospel today tells us about the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The gospel tells us that Joseph was obedient to the Lord. Three times the Lord instructed him and 3 times he obeyed the Lord! The angel of the Lord told him to leave for Egypt and he left for Egypt; the angel of the Lord told him to return to Israel and he returned to Israel; and the angel of the Lord told him not to go to Judaea, but to go to Galilee, and he went to Galilee and settled in Nazareth! The Holy Family is the family that is obedient to the Lord God!

The first reading tells us about the family. The first reading is a commentary on one of the Ten Commandments. It is a commentary on the fourth commandment, that is, honor your father and mother: “Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.” (Ex 20:12)

The first reading tells that if we honor our fathers and mothers we will be blessed! We will be blessed with long life, prosperity, and happiness with our own children; and God will listen to our prayers and our sins will be forgiven! The first reading also tells us to honor our parents in their old age and God will forgive our sins!

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the family. The responsorial psalm tells us that those who fear (revere) the Lord and walk in his ways will be blessed with happy and prosperous families! They will have plenty of children!

Thus we read in the responsorial psalm: “O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways! By the labor of your hands you shall eat. You will be happy and prosper. Your wife like a fruitful vine in the heart of your house; your children like shoots of the olive, around your table.” (Ps 127:1-3)

The second reading tells us about “The Christian Family” (CSB): “Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.” (Col 3:20-21)

The second reading should be read not only in the light of “equality”, but also and especially in the light of “mutuality”, that is, to love one another as the Lord has loved us!

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, so that we will fear the Lord and walk in his ways, and so that we will be blessed with a happy, prosperous and fruitful family with many many children! 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!

THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH (C) – 30th Dec 2018

Theme: A HAPPY AND HOLY FAMILY

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:2-6. 12-14;
  • Psalm 127 (128): 1-5. R/ v. 1;
  • Colossians 3:12-21
  • Luke 2:41-52

A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Christmas is such a big feast that we celebrate it in eight days! The octave day (eighth day) of Christmas will be on New Year’s Day, when we will celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God! But the Christmas season ends only with the Baptism of the Lord on the 13th of January 2019!

Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord are all the manifestations of the Lord! Christmas, manifestation to sinners (Shepherds); Epiphany, manifestation to all the nations (wise men); and Baptism of the Lord, manifestation of the Lord as Son and Servant of God!

That is why, besides Jesus, Mary and Joseph, our crib has shepherds (Christmas), wise men (Epiphany), and a white cloud symbolizing God the Father and a white dove symbolizing God the Holy Spirit (The Baptism of the Lord)!

Again, a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Liturgical Year C!

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is holy, because God is the Father and Jesus is the Son of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit! Our families are also holy because in Baptism God became our Father and we became the children of God born through the power of the Holy Spirit! The Church became our Mother and Jesus became our brother and we became brothers and sisters to one another!

The gospel today tells us that when Jesus was twelve years old and was lost in the temple in Jerusalem for three days, and when Mary and Joseph found him and asked him why he had done this; Jesus replied that he had to do his Father’s work! (CSB) In other words, Jesus is the Son of God!

The gospel tells us that Jesus is also man. The gospel tells us that Jesus stayed with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth for thirty years! We do not hear about Jesus for thirty years! We only hear about Jesus for three years, his last three years! In the thirty years of silence in Nazareth Jesus was growing up physically, mentally and spiritually in the Holy Family! (Fuller)

Our children too have to grow up physically, mentally and spiritually in a holy family! The family is the cell of society and the domestic Church! If our families are broken our society and our Church will also be broken!

The first reading also tells us about the family. The first reading tells us about our duty towards our parents, especially when they are old and sick! The first reading tells us that if we honor our parents as the fourth commandment tells us to, God will bless us! We will be happy with our own children, our sins will be forgiven, God will listen to our prayers, we will live long and healthy lives, etc.!

The responsorial psalm also tells us about the family. (CSB; NJB; HCSB) The responsorial psalm tells us that if we revere the Lord and walk in his ways, we will be satisfied, we will be rich and happy; and our spouses will be fertile and we will have plenty of children! Thus the response and the first and second stanzas:

“O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways! By the labor of your hands you shall eat. You will be happy and prosper. Your wife like a fruitful vine in the heart of your house; your children like shoots of the olive, around your table.” (Ps 127 (128): 1-3; SM)    

The second reading also tells us about the family. The second reading has three paragraphs. The first and second paragraphs tell us about Christian life in general, that is, we have to love, forgive, be thankful to God, etc. The third paragraph tells us about the Christian family. Thus we read in the third paragraph:

“Wives, give way to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and treat them with gentleness. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, never drive your children to resentment or you will make them feel frustrated.” (Col 3:18-21; SM) 

In short, wives love your husbands, husbands love your wives; children love your parents, parents love your children!

Suggestions for a happy and holy family:

(i) A family must eat together at least once a day, preferably at dinner time. There must be no television, internet, hand phone, etc. at dinner time. 

(ii) A family must communicate, that is, family members must talk to each other and listen to each other. Communion and community begin with communication!    

(iii) A family must pray together everyday. A family that prays together stays together!

(iv) Parents must teach their faith to their children, especially in this Year of Faith. Besides the Bible and the Sunday Mass readings, parents must use the YOUCAT, that is, Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church!      

(v) A family must belong to a BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) of a few families. They must meet at least once a month for support, sharing, praying, meals, etc. A BEC is an extended Christian family!

(vi) A family must play together, exercise together, have recreation together, go for outings together, go for holidays together, etc.!

(vii) Grand parents should not be sent to homes for the aged and grand children should not be sent to nurseries. Grand parents can help take care of grand children!  

(viii) A family must go to Mass every Sunday and if possible be involved in Bible-Sharing, Prayer Meetings, BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities), Neo-Catechumenal Communities, Alpha Course, etc. on weekdays. 

(ix) A family must be open to life, that is, no artificial birth control, abortion, etc.  

(x) A family must keep Sunday holy. (Third Commandment!) Sunday is for the Lord and for one’s family, not for work and not for money. (Pope Benedict XVI) 

(xi) The father of the family must come home to avoid the “absent father syndrome”. And he must not only be physically present; he must also be emotionally present.   

(xii) Extended families, that is, cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunties, etc. should come together at least once a month for meals, drinks, fellowship, etc.

A Happy and Holy Family to all of you!

Amen!

 

Christmas (Year A, B, C) – 25th Dec 2018

Theme: A BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR
  • Matthew 1:1-25;
  • Luke 2:1-14;
  • Lk 2:15-20;
  • John 1:1-18; Hebrews 1:1-6.

A blessed Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you! Christmas is a very big feast, second only to Easter! That is why we have four Masses for Christmas, namely, “Vigil Mass”, “Mass at Midnight”, “Mass at Dawn”, and “Mass During the Day”! We have no time to look at all the readings, but let us look at all the gospels of all the four Masses!

The gospel for Vigil Mass tells us that Jesus Christ was the son of David and the son of Abraham. The gospel tells us that from Abraham to David there were 14 generations; and from David to the Babylonian exile there were 14 generations; and from the Babylonian exile to Jesus Christ there were 14 generations. In Hebrew there are 14 letters in the name David; Jesus Christ is therefore the Davidic Messiah! But the number 14 is also a multiple of 7 which is a perfect number for Matthew. Jesus came at the perfect time, that is, at the fullness of time; and in his Second Coming all creation will be perfected in him in all its fullness! (IBC; Vat.IIWM)

The number 7 could have originated from the 7 heavenly lights, that is, the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn as the heavens were perfect for the ancients! In fact, the days of the week are named after the 7 heavenly bodies: Sunday (Sun), Monday (Moon), Tuesday (Mars), Wednesday (Mercury), Thursday (Jupiter), Friday (Venus) and Saturday (Saturn)! (WNNCD) The number 7 could also have originated from the 4 phases of the moon, that is, new, crescent, gibbous and full moon. A quarter of the 28 days of the moon is 7. (CGDB) In short, Jesus Christ came at the perfect time, that is, at the fullness of time and when Jesus Christ comes a second time all will be perfected in him in all its fullness!

The gospel for Midnight Mass tells us that Caesar Augustus is not god, not the savior and not the bringer of peace as the Romans revered him to be; but Jesus Christ is God, Savior and Bringer of Peace (Shalom)! 

The gospel tells us that Jesus Christ is God become man, God become food for man, and God become food for sinful man! That is why the sign for Jesus Christ’s birth is an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, that is, God become man; lying in a manger, that is, God become food for man; and revealed to shepherds, that is, God become food for sinful man! (NJBC)

That is why the gospel tells us that the angel announced to the shepherds that a Savior has been born to them and he is Christ the Lord, that is, he is God, Savior and Messiah who brings peace (shalom)! And the sign that the angel gave to the shepherds was an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And that is why the gospel tells us that a throng of other angels praised God singing:

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favor”. (Lk 2:14; SM)    

That is, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace, shalom, salvation to men who are blessed, graced and favored by him!

We give glory to God, for salvation comes from God, and it is a favor, a blessing, a grace, and a total free gift to sinful men!

The gospel for “Mass at Dawn” is a continuation of the gospel for Midnight Mass. Again, we hear for a third time “the baby lying in the manger”! And again we hear of the shepherds! Again, God did not only become man, but God became food for man, and not only food for man, but food for sinful man, so that sinful man may live and not die! The gospel tells us that the shepherds shared the news of great joy of the angel with Mary and Joseph, and Mary treasured it and pondered it in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God!

The gospel for “Mass during the Day” and the second reading which is similar to it tell us that God reveals himself in creation (Rm 1:20; Fuller), that is, God reveals himself in the sun, moon and stars; the trees, animals and birds; the sea, fish and corals, etc.! That is why we have to care for the environment and not destroy it!

The gospel and the second reading also tell us that God reveals himself in human beings! Human beings were created in the image of God to be the co-creators of God! Human beings are the only creatures who can think, reflect, and reason! That is why our Pope, Benedict XVI, often talks about “faith and reason” or “faith and science”! That is why we have to dialogue with science! We have to dialogue with cosmology, astronomy, ecology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, biology, geology, etc.

Albert Einstein said that science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind. Blessed Pope John Paul II said that science without religion is idolatry and religion without science is superstition. Indeed science without religion is meaningless and religion without science is fanaticism!

More importantly, Science with religion and religion with science is mysticism/mystery, that is, God in all things and all things in God. God is the beginning and the end of all things, the Alpha and the Omega! Everything comes from God and everything goes back to God! There is meaning, purpose and direction even in creation!

The gospel and the second reading also tell us that God reveals himself in other religions, especially in Judaism! That is why we have to dialogue with other religions, especially with Islam.

Finally, the gospel and the second reading tell us that God reveals himself fully, completely and perfectly in Jesus Christ! Thus the gospel ends by telling us that the law came through Moses in the Old Testament (old grace), but grace and truth, that is, love and faithfulness (Jn 1:16-17; Ex 34:6; CSB; NJB; CCB), came through Jesus Christ in the New Testament (new grace)! That is why we have to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in season and out of season!

A blessed Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you! Amen!

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!