Christmas – Mass at Midnight (A B C)

Theme: JESUS CHRIST IS GOD, SAVIOR AND BRINGER OF PEACE

  • Isaiah 9:1-7;
  • Psalm 95 (96): 1-3. 11-13. R/ Lk 2:11;
  • Titus 2:11-14
  • Luke 2:1-14

 A happy and joyful Christmas to all of you! The readings today tell us why we are happy and joyful about Christmas!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is God, Savior and bringer of peace! The gospel tells us that Caesar Augustus with all his political, economic and military powers is not god, savior and bringer of peace! The Roman Empire believed that Caesar Augustus was god, savior and bringer of peace! That is why the gospel today began with Caesar Augustus.

The gospel also tells us that the promise God made to David about the Messiah is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The promise was fulfilled not because David and his descendents, that is, the kings of Israel, were faithful, but because God was faithful!

Indeed, the gospel tells us that God has become man, God has become food for man, and God has become food for sinful man! A professor in one of our local colleges said that he cannot believe that God can become man, that God can die, and that God can die for sinful man! He believes in a God of law, justice, punishment and damnation, but we believe in a God of love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

Indeed, the symbolic details of today’s gospel tell us that God became man, God became food for man, and God became food for sinful man! The sign the angel gave to the shepherds was “a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12; SM). “A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes” symbolizes that God has become man, and “lying in a manger” symbolizes that God has become food for man! The shepherds symbolize sinful man! (CSB; NJBC)

That is why the angels sang glory to God saying, ‘peace, shalom, salvation to men who enjoy his favor, blessing, grace’! Salvation is a total free gift from God! That is why the angel told the shepherds, ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared with all the people, today a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord’!

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the “Prince of Peace”! (CSB; NJBC) Again, peace, shalom, salvation! Again, be happy, be joyful, and rejoice! Thus we read in the first reading:

“You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase; they rejoice in your presence as men rejoice at harvest time, as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils.” (Is 9:3; SM)

 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to rejoice and to be happy because of our Savior Jesus Christ! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Today a savior has been born to us; he is Christ the Lord.” (Lk 2:11; SM)

And thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm:

“Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad, let the sea and all within it thunder praise, let the land and all it bears rejoice, all the trees of the wood shout for joy at the presence of the Lord for he comes, he comes to rule the earth.” (Ps 95 (96): 11-13; SM)

Note that not only human beings rejoice, but the whole of creation rejoices, because the peace that Jesus Christ brings is also a peace with the whole of creation! Remember the message of Pope John Paul II for World Day of Peace, 1 January 1990: “Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of Creation”!

 

The second reading also follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us that salvation is a grace from God! But more than that, the second reading tells us to respond to the grace of salvation by avoiding evil, by avoiding worldliness, and by living good lives and doing good works until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when all will be saved!

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

The Most Holy Trinity (Year A) – 11th June 2017

Theme: THE HOLY TRINITY IS THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S LOVE AND UNITY

  • Exodus 34:4-6. 8-9;
  • Daniel 3:52-56. R/ v. 52;
  • 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
  • John 3:16-18

A happy and blessed Trinity Sunday to all of you! Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday, Liturgical Year A. The Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love and unity! Last Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, we have seen that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God’s love and unity! The Holy Spirit comes from the Trinity that is why it is the Spirit of God’s love and unity!

That is why we have to live in love and unity and build Christian communities of love and unity, so that our Church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the world! The world cannot be saved by hatred and division! The world can only be saved by love and unity! We are created in the image of God – G-O-D! We are not created in the image of dog – D-O-G!

 

The first reading tells us that God is love! The first reading tells us that at the remaking of the covenant at Sinai, God revealed himself to Moses as a God of tenderness and compassion (merciful and gracious; CSB), rich in kindness (Steadfast love, HCSB; faithful love, NJB) and faithfulness! In short, God revealed himself to Moses as a God of “faithful love”! (NJB) God continues to love us even though we do not love him and God continues to be faithful to us even though we are not faithful to him! Thus we read in the first reading:

“A God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.” (Ex 34:6b; SM)   

Indeed, the gospel today tells us that when we sinned and broke the Law, God loved us even more! He sent his Son Jesus Christ to save us, so that those who believe will be saved; but those who do not believe will not be saved, because they condemn themselves by refusing to believe! Thus we read in the gospel:

“God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved. No one who believes in him will be condemned; but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already, because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.” (Jn 3: 16-18; SM)        

But when we crucified him on the cross he loved us even more! He rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit does not dwell in heaven or on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells among us, in us and within us! The Holy Spirit is nearer to us than we are to ourselves, loving us more than we love ourselves (St. Augustine) and knowing us more than we know ourselves!

The Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God and neighbor and the Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we live in love and unity with God and with our neighbor! Then will come the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world; the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the “Parousia” in all his glory when all will be saved!

Thus the conclusion of the second reading:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Co 13:13; SM)

Or in the new translation at the greeting at the beginning of the Mass:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

That is, through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ graces us with the love and unity of God, that is, through his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ gives us the Holy Spirit of God’s love and unity, so that we will live in love and unity, so that we will build Christian communities of love and unity, and so that our Church will be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world!

Today is our parish feast day! Our parish is called Holy Trinity Church (HTC)! The Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love and unity! The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God’s love and unity! We have to live in love and unity and build Christian communities of love and unity so that our Church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world!

A happy feast day to all of you and a blessed Trinity Sunday 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!