2nd Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 10th December 2017

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

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

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent, Liturgical Year B. There are four Sundays in Advent. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival”. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the End of Time.

Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in “memory”, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in “mystery”, and Jesus Christ will come at the End of Time in “majesty”!

The three comings of Jesus Christ are related. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in “memory”. He died rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit. He continues to come to us every Christmas in “mystery” in the Holy Spirit. And he will come again at the End of Time in “majesty” when everything will be completed, perfected and fulfilled in him by the Holy Spirit!

The readings today tell us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the End of Time. The gospel today tells us that John the Baptist prepared the people for the coming of Jesus Christ by telling them to repent and confess their sins. The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by repentance and by confessing our sins. That is why during this time of Advent, we have penitential services and individual confessions!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will baptize us not only with water, but with the holy water of the Holy Spirit which cleanses us from sin and death and gives us new life!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. But more importantly, the first reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will come as the Good Shepherd who feeds his sheep, carries his sheep, embraces his sheep and gives rest to his sheep!

This image of the Good Shepherd is developed by Jesus in the parable of the Lost Sheep (Mt 18:12-14) and the parable of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11-18). Thus we read in the first reading:

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

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for God’s love, mercy, salvation, justice, peace, prosperity, fruitfulness, etc.!

The responsorial psalm tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will bring us love, mercy, salvation, justice, peace, prosperity, fruitfulness, etc.! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Show us, Lord, your love; grant us your salvation.” (Ps 84 (85): 8; CSB)

“Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.” (Ps 84 (85): 8; SM)

The second reading follows the theme of the gospel. The second reading also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. The second reading tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by “living holy and saintly lives”, and by living “lives without spot or stain”, but more importantly, the second reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes there will be “the new heavens and new earth”! Thus we read in the second reading:

“You should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day of God to come, …. What we are waiting for is what he promised; the new heavens and new earth, the place where righteousness will be at home. So then, my friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.” (2 Pt 3:11-14; SM)

Let us then prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the End of Time by repentance, by confessing our sins, by living holy and saintly lives, and by living lives without spot or stain, so that when Jesus Christ comes he will find us at peace! A happy Advent to all of you! Amen!

Ash Wednesday (Year A, B , C) – 1st March 2017

Theme: REPENT, AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL

  • Joel 2:12-18;
  • Psalm 50:3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 3;
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
  • Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18

1. Today we celebrate Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter, that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our resurrection with him in the sacrament of Baptism! That is why Lent is a time when our catechumens prepare for their Baptism and when we prepare to renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! That is why Lent is a time of repentance!
2. Indeed, the first reading is “a call to repentance”! (NJB) Thus we read in the first reading:
“‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks – come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’ Let your hearts be broken not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.” (Jl 2:12-13; SM)
3. The responsorial psalm is a “prayer of repentance”! (CSB) Thus we responded four times:
“Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Ps 50:3; SM)
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas ask God to forgive our sins. The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore!
4. The second reading tells us to be reconciled to God now, because God has already reconciled us to himself in Jesus Christ! Thus the caption of the second reading:

“Be reconciled to God …. now is the favorable time.”
5. The gospel today tells us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor, not as a punishment for our sins, but to help us to repent during this time of Lent! That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor! That is why in giving the ashes, the priest says:
“Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk 1:15)

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!