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!

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph (Year B) – 31st December 2017

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

  • 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) 

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.

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)

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!

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!

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!

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.

Again, a merry, happy and blessed Christmas and New Year 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!

THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD – ABC (Mass During the Day)

Theme: GOD REVEALS HIMSELF IN CREATION, AND GOD REVEALS HIMSELF IN OTHER RELIGIONS, BUT GOD REVEALS HIMSELF FULLY IN JESUS CHRIST

  • Hebrews 1:1-6
  • John 1:1-18

A Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate Christmas Day! The word Christmas comes from two words, namely, “Christ” and “Mass”! But in Latin it is called “Nativitas Domini”, that is, “the birth of the Lord”! In Italian, Spanish and French, it is also called “the birth of the Lord”! The word “Christmas” refers to the celebration, but the words “Nativitas Domini” (the birth of the Lord) refers to the event! I will therefore begin this homily by reflecting with you on the birth of the Lord as proclaimed to us in St. Luke’s gospel at Midnight Mass last night! I will first summarize the gospel, and then I will reflect on its theology, spirituality, and above all its Good News for all of us! After that I will reflect with you on the New Testament readings for Christmas Day, today, that is, the gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews!

The gospel of Luke tells us about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! ………………… ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Now let us look at the readings of today, Christmas Day, that is, the gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews! The gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews tell us that God reveals himself in creation, and God reveals himself in other religions, but God reveals himself fully, totally, completely, and perfectly in Jesus Christ!

The gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews tell us that God reveals himself in creation! Catholic theology is sacramental and incarnational! We believe that God reveals himself in creation, in nature, in the cosmos, in the stars, in the trees, in the animals, in the mountains, in the seas, in the birds, in the Sun and Moon, etc.!

That is why we have to love and care for creation! We have to love and care for the environment, the trees, the rivers, the seas, the air, the ozone layer, the fishes of the sea, the animals, the birds of the air, the orangutans, the rhinoceros, the rainforest, etc.!

But unfortunately, we have cut down too much of our rainforest, we have polluted our rivers, we are driving our orangutans and other species to extinction, etc.! We have committed environmental sins! We need development of course! We need money of course! We can promote nature tourism or eco-tourism to help people appreciate nature and to help people love and care for nature and to make money of course! I dare say that nature tourism is very spiritual! “Creation Spirituality”!

 

The gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews also tell us that God reveals himself in Judaism and by extension in other religions too! God reveals himself in Judaism, in Islam, in Hinduism, in Buddhism, etc.!

That is why we have to respect other religions! We have to dialogue with other religions, and we have to understand other religions, and we have to love and serve people of other religions, and we have to work together with people of other religions for the good of humanity and for the good of the earth! It is not enough just to tolerate other religions! It is most important and most urgent that we dialogue with Islam!

 

Finally, the gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews tell us that God reveals himself fully and completely in Jesus Christ, because in Jesus Christ we see the fullness of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness!

The gospel of John today tells us that: “Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received – yes, grace in return for grace, since, though the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ”!

In short, Moses brought the law, justice and punishment, but Jesus Christ brought love, mercy and forgiveness!

Again, the second reading today, from the letter to the Hebrews tells us that: “At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son”!

We have therefore to proclaim this Good News of Christmas to all the world! Every human being must have the right and freedom to hear this Good News of Christmas! But how can they hear this Good News of Christmas if we are not proclaiming it!

The word Christmas comes from two words, namely, “Christ” and “Mass”! The word “Mass” means “Mission”! It is our mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world! This is the Christmas present we give to the world! Jesus Christ is the Christmas present we received from God the Father, Jesus Christ is the Christmas present we give to the world!

Again, A Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!

 

Amen!

 

THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD – ABC (Mass at Midnight)

Theme: JESUS CHRIST IS THE BRINGER OF PEACE, NOT CAESAR AUGUSTUS

  • Luke 2:1-14 

A Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year to you! Today we celebrate Christmas Day! The gospel of Luke tells us about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ was born at the time of Caesar Augustus. After his birth he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, because there was no room in the inn. The gospel also tells us that the news of Jesus Christ’s birth was announced to shepherds by an angel. And finally the gospel tells us that a great throng of the heavenly host sang: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to men who are favored by God’!

 

This short gospel of Luke has been chosen by the Church for Christmas, that is, Christ’s Mass, because it is rich in theology, spirituality, and good news! The gospel tells us that Caesar Augustus who was revered in the Roman Empire as “savior”, “god”, and the “bearer of peace” is neither “savior”, “god”, nor the “bearer of peace”! The gospel tells us that Jesus Christ is the “Savior”, “God”, and the “Bringer of Peace”! Caesar Augustus who ruled from 27 BC to 14 AD brought “peace” through political, economic and military power! But Jesus Christ brings “Peace” to the world through the power of God’s merciful love! Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, also speaks of “the power of God’s merciful love” for peace!

The gospel also tells us that when Jesus Christ was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger! This good news is very important and is mentioned twice in today’s short gospel! The good news is that God has become man (wrapped in swaddling clothes like any other human being after birth) and God has become food for man (laid in a manger, that is, the place where the animals feed)!

But more than that the gospel tells us that God not only became man and became food for man, but he became food for sinful man! That is why the good news was announced to shepherds! We must not sentimentalize and romanticize the shepherds! The shepherds were mangy, stinking, dirty and poor, and they were thieves! They, like the tax collectors and prostitutes belonged to a despised trade! The shepherds are the lowly sinners!

That is why the angel said to the shepherds: ‘do not be afraid, I bring you news of great joy for the whole people! Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born for you! He is Christ the Lord’!

Do not be afraid, I bring you news of great joy! Sinners do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy, not bad news of judgment and punishment! Today, not tomorrow, a Savior has been born for you! A Savior, not another lawgiver with more laws than Moses! He is Christ the Lord! He is the promised Messiah (Christ in Greek)  and he is God Himself (Lord)!

And that is why the gospel ends with the great throng of the heavenly host singing: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who are favored by him”!

Glory is given to God, not to men, because Salvation is from God, not from men! And peace to men who are favored by God! This is the correct translation! Some translate it wrongly as ‘peace to men of good will’! Peace is a favor, a blessing and a grace given to men by God free-of-charge (FOC)!

And the “Peace” that Jesus Christ gives is not the same peace that Caesar Augustus gave, that is, an absence of war! The “Peace” that Jesus Christ gives is more than an absence of war! It is forgiveness of sins, salvation, healing, proclamation of the Good News, Death and Resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit for the Sanctification and Salvation of the whole people!

Let us look at the word “Peace” in the other passages of the same gospel of St. Luke! In Luke 7:50 Jesus said to the sinful woman whose sins he has forgiven: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”! Peace is forgiveness of sins! Peace is salvation! In Luke 8:48, after healing the woman with hemorrhage, Jesus said to her: “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace”! Peace is healing! Peace is salvation! In Luke 10:5-6, after Jesus had appointed the 72, he said to them: “Into whatever home you enter, first say, ‘peace to this household’”! Peace is Mission and the Proclamation of the Good News!

In Luke 19:38, at Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the whole multitude of his disciples proclaimed: “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens”! Peace is associated with Jesus’ Salvation to be accomplished in Jerusalem! And finally in Luke 24:36, at Jesus’ Appearance to the Disciples in Jerusalem after his Resurrection, he said to them: “Peace be with you”! Peace is associated with the giving of the Holy Spirit after his Resurrection!

That is why St. Luke tells us in today’s gospel that Jesus Christ is the bringer of “Peace”, not Caesar Augustus! Again, peace cannot be achieved only through the political, economic, and military power of Caesar Augustus, but peace can only be achieved through the power of Jesus Christ, that is, the power of God’s merciful love! And that is why we greet each other: “Peace be with you”! Peace be with you!

Again, a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!

 

Amen!

25th December 2014 – Christmas Day

Theme: GLORY TO GOD WHO HAS FAVORED MEN WITH HIS PEACE

 

  • Luke 2: l -14
  • Hebrews l:l-6
  • John 111-18

A Merry, Happy and Blessed Christmas to all of you! Before we look at the gospel reading of today from St. John, let us first look again at the gospel reading from St. Luke, i.e. the gospel reading for last night’s midnight mass. The two gospels are very different and they complement one another!

To look at the gospel of St. Luke from last night’s midnight mass, we have to look at the Christmas crib! The Christmas crib tells us that Jesus was born in a stable in a cave in Bethlehem. This was because Bethlehem was David’s town and Jesus was a descendent of David, but more than that, it was also because of the census of Caesar Augustus.

 

In this short gospel, St. Luke has a lot of good news to tell us! St. Luke wants to tell us that Caesar Augustus is not the God, Savior, and Bringer of peace, but Jesus Christ is the God, Savior, and Bringer of peace! Caesar Augustus was a very powerful Roman emperor who ruled from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D. He brought about peace — in the sense of no war — during his reign, because he was powerful politically and militarily, and rich and wealthy, and famous.

 

But peace is not just the absence of war! The word peace comes from the Hebrew word

“Shalom” which means completeness, perfection, and wholeness! In the O.T. it means security, well-being, prosperity and righteousness, and more importantly, it is from God!

In the N.T. it means reconciliation, harmony, salvation, communion, love, joy, and again, more importantly, it is from God!

 

St. Luke has something very important to tell us today, and that is, peace cannot be achieved by political power, economic wealth, and military might. Peace does not come from man. Peace comes from God. And Jesus Christ, the Son of God is the Bringer of peace!

 

St. Luke also tells us in last night’s gospel that when Joseph and Mary registered themselves at Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to give birth and Mary gave birth to a son whom she wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, because there was no room in the inn!

In these three details ~ swaddling clothes, manger, and no room in the inn — St. Luke tells us that God has become man (swaddling clothes) and more than that, he has become food for man (manger) and he is here to stay (no room in the inn). He is not a traveller who stays in a traveller’s lodge or inn (John F. Craghan, Herman Hendrix) for a few days only, nor is he a tourist who stays in the hotel (inn) for a few days only, but he is here to stay for good and forever! That is why instead of staying in the inn, he is laid in a manger — feeding place for the ox and ass! He becomes food for us so that he stays in us, within us, with us and among us forever, and so that he becomes us and we become him!

 

And more than that, St. Luke tells us that he becomes food not for the priests and kings, but for the shepherds and sinners. The shepherds were mangy, bathless, and stinking. They were poor and destitute and they steal. They were classified with the tax collectors and prostitutes as a despised trade.

 

The gospel of Luke tells us that the angel of the Lord appeared t0 the shepherds and the glory of God shone upon them and they were terrified, but the angel said t0 them, ‘Do not be afraid, I have news of great joy for the whole people. 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 an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger!

 

And suddenly with the angel there was a throng of heavenly host singing and praising God: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who are favoured by Him’! In other words, we must give glory to God and not to ourselves. We must not steal the glory from God because it is all God’s work and grace! It is not our work! God has graced and favored men with his peace, his reconciliation, his forgiveness, his harmony, his salvation, his love, and his joy!

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

 

Theme: GOD REVEALED HIMSELF IN CREATION, IN HUMAN BEINGS, IN OTHER RELIGIONS, AND IN JESUS CHRIST

 

If we only read the gospel of St. Luke on the birth of Jesus Christ, we may get the impression that God first revealed himself in Jesus Christ! But today’s gospel reading from St. John and today’s second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, for today, Christmas day, tell us that God did not first reveal himself in Jesus Christ, but on the contrary, God last revealed himself in Jesus Christ in all his perfection, fullness, and completeness!

 

Today’s gospel reading from St. John and today’s second reading from Hebrews tell us that God first revealed himself partially in creation, then he revealed himself partially in human beings, then he revealed himself partially in the other religions, and finally in the fullness of time he revealed himself perfectly, fully and completely in Jesus Christ!

 

The gospel of John tells us that, ‘In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God. Everything was created through him; nothing was created without him. Everything that came to be had life in him.

Then the gospel continues, ‘he was the light of men. He came into the world which has its being through him, but the world did not recognize him’.

Again, the gospel continues, He came into his own domain (Jewish religion), but his own people received him not’.

Again, the gospel continues, ‘but to those who received him, he made them children of God the Father. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory. lt was the glory of the Father, full of grace and truth. Grace and truth here means love and faithfulness, faithful love (NJB), enduring love. lt means mercy and loving-kindness (NJBC). In other words, even when we are not faithful to God, he is faithful to us and even when we do not love him, he still loves us!

 

Finally the gospel ends by saying, ‘Indeed, from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. Though the law was given through Moses, grace and truth was given through him. No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son who is nearest to the Father’s heart who has revealed him to us!

 

If God reveals himself in creation then we have to respect creation. We have to love and care for the environment. More than that, Pope John Paul II in his message for the world day of tourism on “Eco-tourism” this year tells us that we have to contemplate creation because creation reveals the Creator God to us!

 

If God reveals himself in human beings then we have to respect and love each and every human being. We have to respect and love every human being of every race, every culture and every nationality. And in times of need, we have to offer humanitarian aid to every human being of every race, religion, culture and nationality.

 

If God reveals himself in other religions then we have to respect other religions. We have to understand other religions. We have to dialogue with other religions. And we have to work together with other religions for the good of humanity and for the good of the world! We have to work together with other religions for peace among men and for harmony between men and the environment!

 

If Jesus Christ is the fullness of God’s revelation then we have to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the whole world! Notice when I said that God reveals himself in other religions, I did not say as some people say that all religions are the same. On the contrary I emphasized that God reveals himself partially in other religions, but he reveals himself fully in Jesus Christ. Again, I did not say that God reveals himself fully in the Christian or in Christianity, but in Jesus Christ! This is because Christians and Christianity are not always like Jesus Christ! In short we have to proclaim Jesus Christ to the whole world! We have to proclaim the love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to the whole world! We have to proclaim the good news of Christmas to the whole world!

 

This is our Christmas present to the whole world!

 

Again, a very Merry, Happy and Blessed Christmas 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!