The Baptism of The Lord (Year C) – 13th Jan 2019

Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD AS SON AND SUFFERING SERVANT OF GOD

  • Isaiah 40:1-5. 9-11;
  • Psalm 103 (104): 1-2. 3-4. 24-25. 27-30. R/ v. 1;
  • Titus 2:11-14. 3:4-7
  • Luke 3:15-16. 21-22

Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Liturgical Year C. Like Christmas and Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord is about the revelation of the Lord. At Christmas, the Lord revealed himself to shepherds, that is, to the poor, the humble, the lowly, and to sinners! At Epiphany, the Lord revealed himself to the wise men from the east, that is, to all the nations, not only to the Jews, but to the whole world! At the Baptism of the Lord, the Lord revealed himself as Son and Suffering-Servant of God!

The gospel today tells us that when Jesus was baptized and was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him and a voice from heaven said,

“You are my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on you”. (Lk 3:22; SM; CSB)

That is, Jesus is the Son and Suffering-Servant of God! (NJBC; Is 42:1) As Son, Jesus is to love God, as Servant, Jesus is to serve God, and as Suffering-Servant, Jesus is to suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world!

The gospel also tells us that Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! That is, he will baptize us with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of Pentecost! (Acts 2) The fire of God’s love! The fire of God’s love will burn away our sins and make us into sons and servants of God! As sons of God we will love God and neighbor, as servants of God, we will serve God and neighbor, and as suffering-servants of God we will suffer and sacrifice for the sanctification and salvation of the world!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the revelation of the Lord. The first reading tells us that the glory of the Lord will be revealed to all the nations!

The first reading was originally about the return from exile from Babylon to Jerusalem, the new and second exodus; but the New Testament sees it as a prophecy on John the Baptist and Jesus Christ! (CSB; Mt 3:3) 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; SM)

More importantly, the first reading tells us that when the Lord is revealed he will be revealed as the Good Shepherd! (NJB; Jr 23:1-6; Ezk 34; Mt 18: 12-14; Jn 10:11-18) Thus the first reading concludes:

“He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.” (Is 40:11; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord does not only reveal himself in the glory of salvation, but the Lord also reveals himself in “the glories of creation”! (NJB)

The responsorial psalm has five stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-4) tell us about the creation of the heavens. The third stanza (vv. 24-25) tells us about the creation of the many and various creatures of the land and sea!

And most importantly, the fourth and fifth stanzas (vv. 27-30) tell us that all creatures depend on God! (HCSB) God does not only create the universe, but God also sustains the universe! Ongoing creation! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Bless the Lord, my soul! Lord God, how great you are.” (Ps 103 (104): 1; SM)

The second reading also tells us of the revelation of the Lord. The second reading tells us that God has revealed his grace for our salvation and this he did through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ who purified us from sins so that we will do good. This happens to us in the Sacrament of Baptism where we receive the Holy Spirit who renews us and justifies us with the grace of God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race. …. He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.” (Tt 2:11. 14; SM) ….

“He saved us by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our savior. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.” (Tt 3:5-7; SM) 

Today in this Mass, we thank God for the revelation of his Son Jesus Christ and we thank God for the gift of Baptism. And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will grow as sons and servants of the Lord; and so that as sons we will love the Lord and love one another, and so that as servants we will serve the Lord and serve one another. And so that as suffering servants we will suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world! A happy feast day to all of you!

Amen!

THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD (A, B, C) – 6th Jan 2019

Theme: EPIPHANY: THE MANIFESTATION OF THE LORD TO ALL THE NATIONS

  • Isaiah 60:1-6;
  • Psalm 71 (72):1-2. 7-8. 10-13. R/ v. 11;
  • Ephesians 3:2-3. 5-6
  • Matthew 2:1-12.

A Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! We are still in the season of Christmas! Christmas season will end only next Sunday with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, that is, the manifestation of the Lord to all the nations!

The gospel today tells us that some wise men came from the East to worship Jesus. The wise men represent the nations of the world. That is why in our Christmas crib they are of different colors. The wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the child Jesus.

The Fathers of the Church, such as Irenaeus (ca. 130-200), see in these gifts the symbols of Jesus’ kingship (gold), divinity (frankincense) and passion (myrrh). That is, the gold symbolizes Jesus as king, the frankincense which is used for worship symbolizes Jesus as God, and the myrrh which is used for embalmment and burial symbolizes Jesus as Suffering-Messiah!

Indeed the Star of Bethlehem which led the wise men to Jesus symbolizes Jesus as King, God and Messiah! Thus we read in the prophecy of the famous pagan prophet Balaam: “A star is emerging from Jacob”! (Nb 24:17; NJBf) 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that all the nations of the world will come and worship the Lord and they will bring with them the riches of the world, including gold and frankincense! And even the exiled Jews will return to Jerusalem!

This is because the glory of the Lord will rise above Jerusalem and all the nations will come to the light of his glory! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Arise, shine out Jerusalem, for your light has come, the glory of the Lord is rising on you, though night still covers the earth and darkness the peoples. Above you the Lord now rises and above you his glory appears. The nations come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness.” (Is 60:1-3; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the response:

“All nations shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” (Ps 71 (72): 11; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first, second and fourth stanzas tell us that the Messianic King will bring justice and peace, especially to the poor!

There can be no peace without justice! And peace is not just an absence of war, but Peace is Shalom, Salvation!

The third stanza tells us that all the nations of the world will worship him! Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“The kings of Tarshish and the sea coasts shall pay him tribute. The kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring him gifts. Before him all kings shall fall prostrate, all nations shall serve him.” (Ps 71 (72): 10-11; SM)

The second reading also follows the theme of Epiphany, that is, manifestation or revelation. The second reading tells us that the mystery that had been hidden in the past has now been revealed! And the revelation is that pagans are co-heirs, co-members and co-sharers with the Jews (IBC), that is,

“Pagans now share the same inheritance, that they are parts of the same body, and that the same promise has been made to them, in Christ Jesus, through the gospel.” (Ep 3:6; SM)

Let us renew our faith, share our faith and proclaim our faith to the whole world! Let us use the Bible, the Sunday Mass Readings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) to renew our faith, share our faith and proclaim our faith in our families, in our communities, in our churches, in our schools, in our workplaces, and in the internet! A happy and joyful Epiphany 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!

4th Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 23rd December 2018

Theme: THE CHRIST OF CHRISTMAS

  • Micah 5:1-4;
  • Psalm 79 (80):2-3. 15-16. 18-19. R/ v. 4;
  • Hebrews 10:5-10
  • Luke 1:39-45 

Today is the 4th and last Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year C. As Christmas draws near, the readings today tell us about the Christ of Christmas. (Raas) The commercial world has taken Christ out of Christmas, so much so that it is no longer “Blessed Christmas”, but “Merry X’mas”! We have to put Christ back into Christmas! Again, the readings today tell us about the Christ of Christmas!

The gospel today tells us that even when Jesus Christ was still in the womb, Mary was blessed; John the Baptist leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and recognized Jesus Christ to be Lord, that is, God! Thus we read in the gospel:

“Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.” (Lk 1:41-44; SM)

The first reading tells us that the Christ/Messiah will come from Bethlehem. He will be a descendent of David. He will be the Davidic king who will rule over Israel. He will save Israel from the Assyrians. More importantly, he will save the whole world from sin and death! He will bring peace to the whole world: peace, shalom, salvation! Thus the first reading concludes:

    “They (Israel) will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace.” (Mi 5:3b-4; SM)   

The responsorial psalm is a prayer asking God to save us; asking God to send the Davidic king/messiah to save us!

The response and the first stanza ask God to save us. (Vv. 1-3; HCSB) The second and third stanzas ask God to send the Davidic King to save us. (Vv. 15-19; CSB)

Thus the response asking God to save us:

“God of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.” (Ps 79 (80): 4; SM)

And thus verse 18 of the third stanza, asking God to send his Davidic King/Messiah to save us:

“May your hand be on the man you have chosen, the man you have given your strength.” (Ps 79 (80):18; SM)

The second reading tells us that the Davidic Messiah has come to save us, but not as a political, nationalistic and military Messiah; but as a Suffering-Messiah! A Messiah who serves, suffers, sacrifices, sanctifies and saves! Thus the second reading concludes:

“And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ.” (Hb 5:10; SM)  

Again, Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what Mary did in the gospel today, that is, by believing in the promise of the Lord and by doing the will of the Lord! Thus the gospel today ends:

“Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:45; SM)

And thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today:

“I am the handmaid (servant) of the Lord: let what you have said be done to me.” (Lk 1:38; SM) 

A Happy and Joyful Advent to all of you! Amen!

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 16th Dec 2018

Theme: WE ARE HAPPY AND JOYFUL BECAUSE THE LORD WILL COME AND SAVE US FROM SIN AND DEATH

  • Zephaniah 3:14-18;
  • Is 12:2-6. R/ v. 6;
  • Philippians 4:4-7
  • Luke 3:10-18

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent; Liturgical Year C. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time.

The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by practicing charity and justice! The gospel today tells us that if we have two shirts we must give one to the person who has none. And if we have something to eat we must share it with the one who has nothing to eat.

The gospel also tells us to practice justice. The gospel tells us that the tax collectors must not collect more than the taxes and the soldiers must not extort. In short, the gospel tells us that we must not accept bribes and we must not give bribes, and we must not practice corruption.

More importantly, the gospel tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! That is, he will burn away our sins with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love! God loves the sinner, but he hates the sins!

Many years ago when our Church in Sabah was still one Diocese we had a retreat with an Australian Jesuit priest as our retreat master. During “confession” we were asked to write down our sins on pieces of paper and to show them to the other priests. After that we were to burn the pieces of paper with the flame/fire of the Paschal/Easter candle and to throw the pieces of paper into a metal dustbin to be burnt.

The retreat master explained that the flame/fire of the Paschal/Easter candle is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love, and the metal bin where the pieces of paper were burnt is hell! He explained that hell is the love of God experienced by the sinner for his conversion and for his salvation!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the joy of salvation! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! …. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.” (Zp 3:14. 17b-18a; SM)

Note that not only will we be happy for our salvation, but God will also be happy for our salvation!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the joy of salvation! Thus the response:

“Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Is 12:6; SM)

And thus the first stanza:

“Truly, God is my salvation, I trust, I shall not fear. For the Lord is my strength, my song, he became my savior. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Is 12:2-3; SM)

The second reading also tells us about the joy and happiness of salvation! Thus we read in the second reading:

“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.” (Ph 4:4; SM)

The second reading is quoted in today’s “Entrance Antiphon”: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” (Ph 4:4-5; SM)

This Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, is named after the “Entrance Antiphon”. It is called “Rejoice Sunday” or “Joyful Sunday” or “Happy Sunday”! We are happy and joyful because we are more than half way through to Christmas!

That is why we light the pink (rose) candle, the priest wears a pink vestment and the Mass servers wear pink cinctures! Pink (rose) color symbolizes joy and happiness!

The pink (rose) vestment is used only twice a year, that is, on the Third Sunday of Advent and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent!

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

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what the gospel today tells us to do. The gospel today tells us to practice charity and justice. The gospel tells us to share our money and our possessions with the poor and the needy. The gospel also tells us to practice justice, that is, we are not to accept or give bribes and we are not to practice corruption. We are to pay our employees a just wage, but employees must also be just to their employers by doing their work! Justice works both ways!

We also prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by doing what the second reading tells us, that is, we are to be tolerant, that is, we are to be kind (CSB) to one another as the Lord is very near!

Again, a happy and joyful Sunday to all of you! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 9th Dec 2018

Theme: ADVENT (COMING): THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS AND AT THE END OF TIME

  • Baruch 5:1-9;
  • Psalm 125 (126). R/ v. 3;
  • Philippians 1:3-6. 8-11
  • Luke 3:1-6 

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Advent; Liturgical Year C. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! “Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation”! (Liturgical Year, 39, Roman Missal)

The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by making his paths straight, by leveling the mountains, by filling up the valleys, and by making the rough roads smooth, that is, by radically changing our lifestyles for the better! (NJBC)

The gospel also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by “repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. Repentance is turning away from sin, from the world; and turning to God, to the God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

One of the best ways of “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” is to go to “confession”, that is, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance! 

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will bring us salvation! In his First Coming he began his work of salvation; in his Second Coming he will complete, fulfill, perfect and realize fully his work of salvation! (See the note on Mt 3:2; CSB) Thus the gospel ends: “And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.” (Lk 3:6; Raas)

The second reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. The second reading tells us to increase our love for one another and to increase our knowledge and discernment so that we will know what is best!

In fact that is the prayer of St. Paul for the Philippians:

“My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognize what is best. This will help you to become pure and blameless, and prepare you for the Day of Christ, when you will reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God.” (Ph 1:9-11; SM)

Let us read, study, share and pray the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” so that we may increase in faith, knowledge and discernment, and so that we will know what is best!

The first reading tells us about the return from exile from Babylon. It is the second exodus, the new exodus, more important than the first exodus! More importantly, it tells us about the exodus from sin and death to love and life in Jesus Christ the New Moses!

Most importantly it tells us about the final exodus from earth to heaven in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! Again, in his First Coming, Jesus Christ began his work of salvation; in his Second Coming he will complete and perfect his work of salvation!

Thus we read in the first reading:

“Arise, Jerusalem, stand on the heights and turn your eyes to the east!” (Ba 5:5; SM)

The East, the direction from which the sun rises is a symbol of salvation! (Fuller; NJBC) That is why our churches face the east! And that is why Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December, originally the feast of the pagan sun god!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the return from exile from Babylon.

Thus the first and the second stanzas:

“When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage, it seemed like a dream. Then was our mouths filled with laughter, on our lips there were songs. The heathens themselves said: ‘What marvels the Lord worked for them!’ What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.” (Ps 125 (126): 1-3; SM)

And thus the response which is taken from the second stanza:

“What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.” (Ps 125 (126): 3; SM)

“The Lord had done great things for us; Oh, how happy we were!” (CSB)

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

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by “repentance for the forgiveness of sins”, that is, by going to confession; by “making his paths straight”, that is, by changing our lifestyles radically for the better! (Gospel)

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by increasing our love for one another and by increasing our knowledge and discernment so that we will know what is best! (Second reading) We can increase our faith, knowledge and discernment by reading, studying, sharing and praying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially in this Year of Faith (11th October 2012 to 24th November 2013)!

We prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by prayer, by reading the Bible and the Sunday Mass readings, by becoming Santa Claus (Dutch, Saint Nicholas) for the poor, especially for the poor children, by going Christmas caroling and by proclaiming the good news of Christmas, by attending prayer meetings, bible-sharing, BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, etc. A happy and joyful Advent to all of you! Amen!