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!

1st Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 2nd Dec 2018

Theme: ADVENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS AND AT THE END OF TIME

  • Jeremiah 33:14-16;
  • Psalm 24 (25):4-5. 8-9. 10. 14. R/ v. 1:
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
  • Luke 21:25-28. 34-36.

Today is the First Sunday of Advent and today we begin the new Liturgical Year C. Advent means coming. There are three comings of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory. Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in mystery. And Jesus Christ will come at the end of time in majesty!

Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, and Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in mystery, we believe that Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in majesty as King of the universe! He will win over all and he will rule over all!

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.” (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 39, Roman Missal)

The gospel today tells us of the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us that there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars; and the powers of heaven will be shaken, that is, the sun, moon and stars will be shaken!

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI told us not to believe in prediction of the end of the world! We believe that the end of the world is not only the end of the physical world, but the end of the evil world, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The gospel tells us that Jesus Christ will come in a cloud with power and great glory and we are to stand erect and lift up our heads, because our liberation, redemption and salvation is near at hand! The salvation which Jesus Christ began in his First Coming will be completed, perfected, fulfilled and fully realized in his Second Coming!

The gospel also tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by detaching ourselves from the material world. The gospel tells us not to be engrossed in our material pursuits and worldly pleasures; but to stay awake, to keep vigil and to pray.

The second reading also tells us about the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. St. Paul and the Thessalonians believed that the end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus was imminent, that is, in their lifetime!

In the second reading St. Paul prayed that the Thessalonians increase in love and love one another and love the whole human race as much as St. Paul loved them. St. Paul also prayed that they be holy and blameless for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

Finally, St. Paul exhorted them to live the Christian life and to grow in the Christian life!

The first reading is a prophecy on the First Coming of Jesus Christ, but for us it is a prophecy on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The first reading tells us that Judah will be saved and Israel (Jerusalem; NJBC) will live in safety and Jerusalem will be called ‘The Lord-our-righteousness’, that is, ‘The Lord-our-salvation’! (Fuller; GNB) Thus we read in the first reading:

“In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” (Jr 33:16; HCSB)

The responsorial psalm is a “Prayer for Guidance” (HCSB; CSB) to God our Savior.

Thus the response:

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” (Ps 24 (25): 1; SM)

And thus the first stanza:

“Lord, make me know your ways. Lord, teach me your paths. Make me walk in your truth, and teach me: for you are God my savior.” (Ps 24 (25): 4-5; 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 detaching ourselves from the material world and from worldly pleasures, and by staying awake, keeping vigil and praying (Gospel); by loving one another and loving the whole human race, and by being holy and blameless, and by living and growing in the Christian life (Second reading); and by doing good works (Opening Prayer).

We also prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by repentance and by going to confession; by reading the Bible and the Sunday Mass readings; by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church; by being Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas) to the poor and needy, especially to the poor and needy children; by going Christmas caroling and proclaiming the good news of Christmas; and by attending Bible-Sharing, Prayer-Meetings, BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, etc.

A happy and blessed Advent to all of you! Amen!

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 18th Nov 2018

Theme: THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Daniel 12:1-3;
  • Psalm 15 (16): 5. 8-11. R/ v. 1;
  • Hebrews 10:11-14. 18
  • Mark 13:24-32

Today is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical year B. Next Sunday will be the last Sunday of the Liturgical year. As we come to the end of the Liturgical Year the readings today tell us about the end of the world, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ will come a second time when he will win over all!

The gospel today tells us of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The gospel tells us that he will come in the clouds with power and glory and his angels will gather all his chosen ones and bring them to heaven! Thus we read in the gospel:

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven”. (Mk 13: 26-27; SM)

The gospel also tells us that we do not know when Jesus Christ will come a second time, not even the angels, not even Jesus Christ himself! Only God the Father knows when Jesus Christ will come a second time! Thus the gospel ends by telling us:

“But as for that day or hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.” (Mk 13:32; SM)

That is why the Gospel Acclamation today tells us to be always prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:

“Stay awake and stand ready, because you do not know the hour when the Son of Man is coming.” (Mt 24:42. 44; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the end of the world. The first reading tells us that at the end of the world the dead will rise to life! The virtuous will rise to everlasting life, but the wicked to everlasting damnation. The wise who instructed many in righteousness will shine like the vault of heaven and like the stars of heaven! (HCSB) Thus we read in the first reading:

“Of those who lie sleeping in the dust of the earth many will awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting disgrace. The learned will shine as brightly as the vault of heaven, and those who have instructed many in virtue, as bright as stars for all eternity.” (Dn 12:2-3; SM)

It is significant that the resurrection of the dead is mentioned for the first time in the Old Testament! (NJBC; CCB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to trust God, because he is the only one who can save us from death and give us life and happiness! (CSB)

The response and the first verse of the responsorial psalm tell us to trust in God. Thus we pray with the psalmist:

“Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you. O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup; it is you yourself who are my prize.” (Ps 15 (16): 1 and 5; SM)

Verses 10 and 11 tell us that God is the only one who can save us from death and give us life and happiness. Thus we pray with the psalmist:

“For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay. You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, at your right hand happiness for ever.” (SM)

The second reading is a continuation and a conclusion of the second readings of the past few Sundays. Again, the second reading compares the Levitical priesthood of the Jews of the Old Testament with the priesthood of Jesus Christ in the New Testament:

(i) The Levitical priests offer sacrifices everyday, but their sacrifices cannot take away sins.

(ii) Jesus Christ offered himself once and for all and has taken away all our sins and made us holy.

(iii) We do not need the sacrifices of the Levitical priests anymore. We already have the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We only need the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Thus we read in the second reading today:

“All priests stand at their duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking sins away. Christ, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins. .… By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying. When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.” (Heb 10: 11-12a. 14. 18; SM)

Today in the Mass, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Church makes present, real and effective, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our salvation; and today in the Mass, we receive the Holy Spirit, to help us prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! A happy and holy Sunday to all of you! Amen!

THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST (Year B) – 24th June 2018

Theme: JOHN THE BAPTIST PREPARED THE PEOPLE FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD

  • Isaiah 49:1-6;
  • Psalm 138 (139): 1-3. 13-15. R/ v. 14;
  • Acts 13:22-26
  • Luke 1:57-66. 80

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist. We celebrate the Birth of John the Baptist, because he prepared the people for the coming of the Lord!

The gospel today tells us about the birth, circumcision and naming of John the Baptist. John was born of old age parents and his mother was barren. John’s birth was from God. John was circumcised to initiate him into the people of Israel. The name John means “God is gracious”! God was gracious to John’s old age barren parents in the birth of John and more importantly, God was gracious because John heralded the coming of the Lord! (Lefrois) The gospel ends with the people asking:

“What will this child turn out to be?”

The answer is in the Canticle of Zechariah (CSB):

“As for you, little child, you shall be called a prophet of God, the Most High. You shall go ahead of the Lord to prepare his ways before him.” (cf. Lk 1:76; Gospel Acclamation; SM)

Indeed the second reading tells us that he will prepare the way of the Lord by proclaiming a baptism of repentance and by declaring that he was not the one the people imagined him to be and that the one was coming after him whose sandals he was not worthy to undo! Thus we read in the second reading:

“God has raised up for Israel one of David’s descendants, Jesus, as Savior, whose coming was heralded by John when he proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the whole people of Israel. Before John ended his career he said, ‘I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.’” (Ac 13:23-25; SM)

The first reading is taken from the second of four suffering servant songs of Isaiah. The first reading was chosen to tell us about the birth of John the Baptist (Fuller), but more importantly, the first reading tells us about our Savior Jesus Christ whom John heralded!

The first reading tells us that our Savior Jesus Christ will come as a Suffering Servant of God. Though innocent, he will suffer and die for the salvation of sinners! Vicarious suffering! Vicarious sacrifice!

Thus he will be “the light of the nations” (Is 49:6; SM). Light in the New Testament symbolizes three things: (i) Light symbolizes faith in God as opposed to unbelief which is darkness and blindness. (ii) Light symbolizes life, happiness and contentment as opposed to death, misery and unhappiness which is darkness. (iii) Light symbolizes good as opposed to evil which is darkness. (Lk 2:32; Acts 13:47; Jn 8:12b; NJB)

More importantly, the three are connected, that is, faith in God brings new life from God and that new life is good! Most importantly, in the end, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death and good will over come evil! And that would be the salvation of the world! Thus we read in the first reading:

“I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49:6; SM)

The responsorial psalm was also chosen to tell us about the birth of John the Baptist (Fuller), thus the response: “I thank you for the wonder of my being”. (Ps 138 (139): 14; SM)

But originally, the responsorial psalm tells us that God is all knowing! (NJBC)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God is all knowing. God knows even our “thoughts” and our “ways”! (vv. 1-3) The second and third stanzas tell us that God knows us because God created us! (vv. 13-15)

To know is to love! We cannot love someone we do not know! God knows us, loves us, and saves us, so that we can be happy with him forever! We know God, love God, and serve God, so that we can be happy with him forever! To know is to love, to love is to serve, and to serve is to be happy forever! The same is true of knowing, loving, serving and being happy with our neighbor forever!

As we celebrate the Solemnity of The Birth of John the Baptist today, let us thank God for John the Baptist, and let us thank God especially for Jesus Christ whom he heralded, and let us ask God to help us to be John the Baptist, to prepare the way for the Second Coming of the Lord, to prepare the people for the Second Coming of the Lord by announcing the Gospel of the Lord! A happy and blessed feast day to all of you!

 

Amen!

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 19th November 2017

Theme: PREPARE FOR THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST: DO GOOD WORKS 

  • Proverbs 31:10-13. 19-20. 30-31
  • Psalm 127:1-5. R. v. 1
  • Thessalonians 5:1-6
  • Matthew 25:14-30

Today is the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, or the 33rd Sunday of the Liturgical Year A. As we come to the end of the Liturgical Year, the readings today tell us about the end times, the end of the world, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The readings today tell us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by doing good works!

The gospel parable tells us of a man who went abroad. Before he went abroad he gave his servants talents to trade with. To one he gave 5 talents, to another 2 talents, and to a third 1 talent. The first servant made 5 more talents, the second servant made 2 more talents, but the third servant buried his 1 talent in the ground. When the master returned after a long while, he said the servant who made 5 more talents, ‘Well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater, come and join in your master’s happiness’! He said the same to the second servant who made 2 more talents, but to the third servant who buried his 1 talent, the master said, ‘You wicked and lazy servant’! And the master continued, ‘As for this good-for-nothing servant, throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth’!

The Church has chosen the gospel reading of today to tell us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by doing good works!

It is important to note that the sin of the third servant who buried his talent is not the sin of commission, but the sin of omission! The third servant was sent to hell, not because he stole, killed, or committed adultery, but because he did nothing! He did not love, serve, and do good works! To go to heaven, it is not enough not to commit sin; we have also to love, serve, and do good works!

The first reading from the book of Proverbs is about the perfect wife! The first reading tells us that the perfect wife is an asset to her husband. Besides other housework, she also makes wool, linen cloth, spins her own thread, and makes cloth (GNB). Besides her housework, she also helps the poor and the needy! But most importantly, she is a wise woman, that is, a woman who ‘fears the Lord’! (NJB/NAB) In fact, ‘the fear of the Lord’ is the theme of the book of Proverbs, which begins with ‘the fear of the Lord’ (1:7) and ends with ‘the fear of the Lord’ (31:30)! The perfect wife is wisdom personified, the fear of the Lord personified!

The fear of the Lord is not a slavish fear, but a reverential fear, a religious fear, a devotional fear, a respectful fear, and a loving fear of loving children for their loving parents!

Again, we have to see this second reading in the context of today’s liturgical theme, that is, we have to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by ‘fearing the Lord’ and doing good deeds! In fact, we cannot do good deeds, without first fearing the Lord!

The responsorial psalm takes up the theme of the first reading, that is, ‘fear the Lord and walk in his ways’; fear the Lord and obey his will; fear the Lord and keep his commandments; fear the Lord and do not sin; fear the Lord and do good deeds! (127:1)

Again, we have to see the responsorial psalm in the context of today’s liturgical theme, that is, prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by fearing the Lord and doing good deeds!

Finally, St. Paul tells us in the second reading in his first letter to the Thessalonians that we do not know when is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We do not know the time or the day! The Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be unexpected and sudden! We have always to be vigilant, watchful, awake, sober and prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

Today in this Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us His Holy Spirit to do good works to prepare for his Second Coming, so that when he comes he will say to us, ‘well done, good and faithful servants; you have been faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your Master’s happiness’!

We have often been told to ‘go to hell’, but the good news today tells us to ‘go to heaven’! Go to heaven! This is the good news!

Amen!

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 12th November 2017

 

Theme: WE PREPARE FOR THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST BY DOING GOOD WORKS 

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  • Matthew 25:1-13

Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time or 32nd Sunday of the Liturgical Year A. And as we come to the last 3 weeks of the Liturgical Year, the readings tell us about the end time, the end of the world, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

The readings today tell us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by doing good works! The gospel tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by doing good works!

The gospel parable tells us of 10 virgins; 5 were wise and 5 were foolish. The wise virgins brought oil with them for their lamps, but the foolish virgins did not bring oil with them! As the bridegroom was late in coming, the virgins fell asleep! When the bridegroom arrived at midnight, the virgins woke up, and the wise virgins accompanied the bridegroom into the wedding hall, but the foolish virgins went to buy oil, and were late, and they did not enter the wedding hall!

Matthew 7: 24. 26 also tell us about the wise man and the foolish man! The wise man listens to the word of God and acts on it, but the foolish man listens to the word of God, but does not act on it! Acting on the word of God and not acting on the word of God distinguishes the wise man from the foolish man respectively! In short, the wise man does good works, but the foolish man does not do good works!

In the gospel of today, the oil symbolizes good works! The wise virgins do good works, but the foolish virgins do not do good works!

Again, the gospel today tells us to do good works to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!

The second reading from 1 Thessalonians also tells us about the “Parousia”! “Parousia” is a Greek word meaning “presence” and by extension, it means “appearance”. “Parousia” means the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! The second reading tells us that at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the dead will rise from the dead, just as Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and they will be taken into heaven with him, and those who are still alive will also be taken up into heaven to be with Jesus Christ forever!

Today’s second reading is taken from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, but if we were to read what immediately follows it, that is, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, St. Paul also tells us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! (CSB/NAB)

Today in this Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and our Risen Lord will give us His Holy Spirit to do good works to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, so that when He comes, he will take us up into heaven with him forever! This is the good news!

Amen!

I wish you a happy, holy and blessed week! Sunday is not the last day of the week, or the end of the week, on the contrary, Sunday is the first day of the week, the beginning of the week, the day of the Sun, the day of the Son, the day of the Resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Sanctification and Salvation of the whole Universe! If you come to Mass on Sunday you will be blessed, graced, and favored, and you will be happy and holy every day of the week! Again, a happy, holy and blessed week to all of you!

 

Amen!

2nd Sunday of Advent (Year A) – 4th December 2016

Theme: ADVENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

  • Isaiah 11:1-10
  • Psalm 71:1-2. 7-8. 12-13. 17. R. v. 7
  • Romans 15:4-9
  • Matthew 3:1-12

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word “Adventus” meaning “Coming”! Advent is a time when we prepare for the Coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!

The two comings are similar in the sense that when Jesus Christ comes, whether at Christmas or at the end of time, he will bring us his love, his mercy, his forgiveness, his peace, and his joy!

The preparation for the two comings are also the same, whether we prepare for his coming at Christmas or at the end of time, we have to pray, to do good works, to practice justice, to make peace, to practice charity towards the poor, to go to confession, etc.!

The difference between the two comings is that the Second Coming completes and perfects the First Coming, which we celebrate at Christmas! In the Second Coming he will complete and perfect the love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, and joy of his First Coming, so that his love, mercy, forgiveness, peace and joy will be complete and perfect in us!

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

 

The first reading from the prophet Isaiah tells us that when Jesus Christ comes, he will be filled with the Holy Spirit and the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Counsel, Insight, Power, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord!

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that when he comes he will bring justice to the earth. Unlike the corrupted kings of Israel, he will judge the poor with integrity and honesty. He will judge the weak with justice. He will strike down the ruthless and the merciless, and he will destroy the wicked!

But most importantly, the first reading tells us that he will bring peace to the earth! There will be peace between God and man, between man and man, and between man and the animal kingdom! It will be a restoration of the peace of Paradise!

In Genesis 3, man rebelled against God, and consequently man was not at peace with God, not at peace with other man, and not at peace with the earth.

In his 1990 World Day of Peace Message, Pope John Paul II quoted Genesis 3:17-19 to tell us that man was not at peace with the earth, so much so that man had to get his food from the earth painfully, and the earth yielded him thorns! The Pope also quoted Genesis 4:12 to tell us that when man tilled the earth, the earth would not yield its fruit to man!

Indeed today with the destruction of the rainforest, the pollution of the environment, the destruction of other species, the ozone hole, the warming of the earth, over fishing, the pollution of the earth with chemicals, the earth will not yield up its food for man!

The first reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes there will be peace between God and man, man and man, and man and the animal kingdom!

Thus the prophesy of Isaiah: “The wolf lives with the lamb, the panther lies down with the kid (of the goat), calf and lion cub feed together with a little boy to lead them. The cow and the bear make friends, their young lie down together. The lion eats straw like the ox. The infant plays over the cobra’s hole; into the viper’s lair the young child puts his hand”!

 

The responsorial psalm helps us to meditate on the first reading, thus the responsorial psalm takes up the theme of the first reading. The response of the responsorial psalm tells us that when Jesus Christ comes there will be justice and peace: “In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails”! Peace forever!

The psalm tells us that he will judge the people with justice and the poor with right judgment. He will save the poor when they cry, and he will save the weak and the poor from oppression and exploitation!

The responsorial psalm relates justice to peace! There can be no peace without justice!

 

But most importantly, the gospel tells us that when Jesus Christ comes he will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! His Holy Spirit will burn away our sins like fire burning away the impurities to purify the gold! Something that even water cannot do! The Holy Spirit of God’s love will burn away our sins!

That is why at a penitential service for our priests, we were told to write down our sins on pieces of paper and burn them with the fire of the paschal candle and throw them into a metal container! The fire of the paschal candle is the Holy Spirit of God’s love and the metal container is hell!

Hell is not a place where God burns you. Hell is the love of God burning away our sins! Hell is the love of God experienced by a sinner! A sinner experiences God’s love as pain, suffering, punishment, purification, purgatory, and hell, for his repentance and conversion, so that he will find the love, mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy, and life of God!

I was brought up by my mother to do good works for fear of hell and for love of heaven! A Muslim woman mystic was asked why she always carried water on one hand and fire on the other! She carried water to put out the fire of hell and she carried fire to burn heaven, because people do good works, for fear of hell and for love of heaven, but not for the love of God! God first loved us! We respond by loving God in return! We do good works because we love God and we love one another! God’s love burns away our sins so that we can love God and love one another!

The gospel today asks us to repent and to convert, that is, to turn away from sin (repent) and to turn to Jesus Christ (convert)! To turn away from sin is not good enough, because we will turn back to sin! We have to turn away from sin and more importantly, to turn to Jesus Christ who will burn away our sins with the Holy Spirit of God’s Love! 

That is why when you go to confession during this time of Advent, it is more important that you listen to what the priest confesses than the priest listen to what you confess!

After you have confessed your sins and received your penance, the priest gives you the absolution with these words:

    “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. And you answer: “Amen”.

   With these words of absolution Jesus Christ burns away your sins with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit of the love and mercy of God! Amen!

 

Besides going to confession during this time of Advent, the Church also asks us to practice justice and to make peace, but more importantly, the Church also asks us to practice charity (from the Latin word “caritas” meaning love) and love, especially to the poor, the aged, the children, the orphaned, the blind, the deaf and the dumb, the sick, etc., by becoming “Santa Claus” to them!

Finally, the Church also asks us to go caroling to share the Good News of Christmas with others, including the pagans!

Thus the second reading from Romans exhorts us: “The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs, it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy, as scripture says in one place: For this I shall praise you among the pagans and sing your name”!

 

Amen!