Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mary, Mother of God

Where are we going?

Luke 2:16-21

Whenever we think of the New Year, we always think about good luck, a time of blessings and abundance  to the point of making it our annual ritual.

Perhaps this New Year, we may start with something different.  How many of us have actually pondered things over like Mary?  Before we can ask for blessings of abundance this coming year, can we ask the question, "Why is God giving me another year of life?  What does he want me to do?"

Mary, in pondering all these things in her heart, as well as pondering the baby Jesus in her arms, had the opportunity to see everything as God sees, even the future till our time today.  Mary is very much a part of our lives; thus, the title Mother of God and Mother of the Church.  She saw the whole humanity on the road to heaven.

May we reflect also on the following:

First, reflect the future of humanity

Where is humanity going with all the violence and sin around us?  Could we opt to start changing the course of the future from destruction to building up; from wounding to healing?  The theme of the Pope Francis' message for the Prayer for the World Day of Peace centers on active non-violence as the way to peace. Peaceful non-violent action is not cowardice.  It is actually working for real and authentic peace without resorting to killing or violence.  Pope Francis said, "Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all."

Second, reflect on the meaning of our lives

Where are we actually going with all the things we are doing?  Do you think we're living meaningful lives?  Are we getting closer to God?  Perhaps we can use Pope Francis' message as he quotes Pope Emeritus Benedict, " “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’” (Pope Benedict XVI, Feb. 18, 2007)  Our inclination to active non-violence depends on our orientation as sons and daughters of God and therefore not prone to doing violence against our neighbors.

Third, reflect on God himself

Mary pondered all these things in her heart as she looked on Jesus, her Son.  Let us also look on Jesus.  Search through his heart and move from there.  He wants to change the world for good; are we ready to join him?  Are we ready to do God's will?  Have we understood Jesus enough?

Pope Francis' New Year message puts it:  "This is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives: to apply the Beatitudes in the exercise of their respective responsibilities. It is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost. To do so requires “the willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it a link in the chain of a new process”.  Ultimately, a life well-lived is a life lived in God.

These are the things we can do for the coming year; how exciting our lives would be because the year would not be filled with our schedules but with God's schedule; not our wills but God's will!  It's an exciting year indeed!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Day

Jesus, Lord

Luke 2:1-14

Right this very day, Christmas day, light has shown upon us; hope is in front of us; the Child is born.  He is set to purify us and refine our ways.

Contemplating at the scene, we can just sigh in awe and wonder, letting the baby speak to us; he is using the language of love.  He reveals to us who he is.  Who is Jesus to us?

Savior

Jesus means "Savior".  God saves.  "He will save people from their sins."  (Mat. 1, 21)  We have destroyed so much life, in ourselves, in others, and in God's creation.  The more we know, live and share Christ, the more things and people will be restored as God wills them to be.

Christ

Christ means "anointed".  Jesus is the Christ because he is consecrated by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit for his redeeming mission.  Let us acknowledge our anointment in Jesus so we can also take part in the work of redemption.

Lord

By this title we recognize Jesus as the sovereign king over nature, demons, over sin, and over death, above all by his Resurrection. "His name is above every other name." (Phil. 2, 9)  Let's manifest Jesus' kingship by prioritizing him in our lives.

"swaddling clothes"

God's beloved Son is wrapped in swaddling clothes, a sign of abject human poverty.  He would not be identified with the rich, proud, and powerful.  Jesus' title as Son is manifest in his obedience to the Father.  So too our conduct in this life will be subjected to the Father's will.  "This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased."  (Matt. 3, 17)  Let the concern of our lives be on how to please the Father.

Let us dedicate all the time of our lives not in enriching ourselves but in getting to know who God is in Jesus Christ.  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

4th Sunday of Advent, A

Fulfill the Lord's command

Matthew 1:18-24

For the fourth Sunday of Advent, the cycle is nearly complete.  All the advent candles are lit.  We are ready to receive Christ this Christmas.

In the first reading, Ahaz did not recognize the Christ; nevertheless, God himself who gave the sign: a virgin shall bear a son and she shall name him, "Immanuel", which means "God-is-with-us".

In the gospel, Joseph wanted to divorce Mary quietly so as not to put her to shame.  But the Angel Gabriel appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins."  Joseph is different from Ahaz in that he took Mary as his wife to fulfill the Lord's command.

What does it take for us to fulfill the Lord's command?

Strive to grow in faith

As it is not easy for today's generation to fulfill the Lord's command, but it is easy for people to follow the ways of the world, let us strive to grow in faith.  Faith enable us to know the language of God more than the language of the world.  Faith is nourished in the Church.

Strive to listen 

Listen not with the physical ears, but with our hearts.  Be sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit.  Know the signs of the times.  Discern.  Then we shall know where God is.

Live out

Live out what we have learned.  Put faith into action.  Then we shall see the saving works of the Lord.

Let us be like Joseph, not losing opportunity to heed God's command to take Mary as his wife.  We may lose the chance to serve Jesus.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

3rd Sunday of Advent, A


Rejoicing

Matthew 11:2-11 

"Gaudete" means rejoicing.  But what the people of this generation rejoice in?  Malls? Money? A lot of gifts and merrymaking?

We have to distinguish what is true and false rejoicing.  If we feast on what is fleeting, what serves the self, orsurely, what is evil, then that is extremely false rejoicing.  There cannot be any joy except in Jesus alone.

The gospel points out the sources of true rejoicing:

First, the poor are helped

In the gospel, it says, "The blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor;"  If we see that life in the community is flourishing - the ignorant are taught, the poor are helped, the sick are visited, those who are dead in sin are raised to life in the Spirit; that is true rejoicing.  We need to invest in these every moment of our lives.


Second, Jesus in the ordinary

Jesus asked, "What did you go out to see? ... a man wearing fine clothes?"  Only in recognizing the presence of Jesus in each one of us can we detect true rejoicing.  Even the most ordinary person can be an instrument of Jesus.

Third, Jesus above all others

In the gospel, it says, "A greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is."  We are referring to Jesus, our Lord and King, and all that He stood for; we should prioritize Him in our lives.  This also symbolizes the triumph of goodness in the world, especially the goodness that comes from Jesus, who will bring about the final d
efeat of evil.

These are the sources of true rejoicing that the world cannot supply.  These will surely lead us to the ultimate good - God himself.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Inspirations at your Fingertips!: 2nd Sunday of Advent, A

Inspirations at your Fingertips!: 2nd Sunday of Advent, A: Integrity Matthew 3:1-12  The readings for the second Sunday of Advent reflect a quality that is present in John the Baptist and of cour...