Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mary, our torchbearer for 2018

Mary, Mother of God

Year B, Luke 2:16-21

Happy New Year!

The Church totally unites herself to God for another year of his presence and glory.  The Blessed Mother, the Mother of God is our torchbearer for 2018 and the next years to come.  She carries for us the following:

The light to shine and direct our steps and guide our decisions in life. She is the "morning star" as mentioned in the Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Her state of Immaculate Conception is that of a bright light that illumines our minds, hearts, souls, and being and orients our lives to God.

Second, the ability to see the wonders of God.   There are two characters in the story of Christmas that describes this "seeing".  First, the shepherds who were endowed with the gift to see the majesty of God through the humble appearance of the Child in the stable.  The second one is in Mary's heart as she pondered all these things.  Pray that we may see the Lord in the daily events of our lives.

Third, incorporation into God's family.  Jesus was incorporated to the Jewish family through the circumcision.  But now, we make sure to be incorporated in God's family by active and conscious participation in being "Church", the family of God.  With the our support and service to one another, the future of families will remain bright, because all are servants and disciples of the Lord.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Orient to become God's family

The Holy Family

Luke 2:22-40

We look up to the Holy Family through which Jesus was raised to be the perfect Messiah that he truly is - grown to maturity, filled with wisdom, and God's favor was with him.

God wishes us to celebrate Christmas by incorporating us into his family through the Holy Family.  What are the signs of God's family?

First, God's family is rooted in his commandment: Honor thy father and mother.  Honoring our parents is honoring God who is is first and foremost, our Father.  Our parents are the transmitters of the faith to the children.

Second, God's family is equipped with a vision: "You may now let your servant go in peace, because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all nations to see".  Eventually every family efforts should lead us to a deeper knowledge, relationship, and awareness of Jesus' presence in our world - like seeing him in every man and woman.

Third, God's family is committed to perfection each day: "Jesus grew in maturity; he was filled with wisdom; and God's favor was with him."  Growing in maturity and in God's favor is a life-long commitment that needs to be realized in a day-to-day bas
is.  Perfection is not a goal; it is the way.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas: a world of justice, love, and peace

Christmas Day

Midnight mass

Luke 2:1-14

Words cannot express the profound effect of this humble night, unknown to the powerful, but revealed to the lowly shepherds; on how the whole world that was supposed to tremble on the coming of God, silence and peace overpowered it, with the Child born in the vilest of all places - a manger reserved only for animals; a place only the shepherds know what it is for.

But let us learn from the story of the humble birth of the Son of God and what it means to us who wish to be one with him:

First, he wishes to save his suffering people, not inflict judgment on them.  He is the Wonder-Counselor Isaiah was talking about in the First Reading; the source of peace that comes from good counsel.  He truly touches our hearts and enlightens our minds by his loving presence.

Second, his path is abject poverty, not wealth or power.  Why?  Simply because we have placed our brothers and sisters in a state of abject poverty caused by our selfishness and greed.  We thought power and wealth could make us live, but we contribute to to death and suffering.  Christ chose to stay with the lowliest of his people, so we may find ourselves devoting our lives to help, assist, comfort, and free them.  This becomes our vocation or calling in this life.

Third, he chooses the path of peace to change the world.  The option to take the path of active non-violence is so compelling that we are led to it to reach out to others, to uphold justice and speak against death and corruption, to turn weapons of violence into tools for farming and abundance; and to change the hearts of our children towards God.

It is probably ineffable at this point to actually describe the depth of Christmas; nevertheless, stay close to the manger where the poor Child lays, and the new world will open - a world of justice, love, and peace.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Fulfilling the promise of Christmas

4th Sunday of Advent

Luke 1:26-38

As we approach the blessed moment of redemption which is very imminent, our readings contain the fulfillment of the promise made to David and until now is being fulfilled in our hearing.

David was blessed by God because of his faithfulness, and God's kingdom shall be established in him.

In the gospel, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive a son and name him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.

What are we looking for this Christmas? Let us not be lost in the petty concerns of Christmas; rather, let us focus on the One who is to come into our lives, reflecting on these three things:

First, "He shall be called Son of the Most High" - As we are familiar with Jesus as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, we remember that part of the restoration of God is that fathers would be reunited with their children.  Jesus becomes the fulfillment of that reunion between God and man.  We turn to him to be reunited to our Father for all eternity.

Second, "He will be a descendant of David and will rule over the house of Jacob" - We are also familiar with King David and how he ruled Israel in justice and mercy, and God's favor was upon him.  We now remember that part of the real meaning of Christmas is to acknowledge that God established his kingdom, not only through David and his descendants, but through the living Church established by Jesus to be His living body here on earth.  Let us renew what it means to be a living Church and we shall experience the real meaning of Christmas.

Third, "His kingdom will have no end" - This phrase gives us the glimpse of what is to come - the establishment of the reign of God in all eternity.  We only need to reignite our faith in Jesus, be active in the Church, and be the Lord's disciples for all eternity.

Let the real Christmas be upon us, Jesus' eternal reign in our lives.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The poor celebrate Christmas

3rd Sunday of Advent, C

John 1:6-8,19-28

Every time Christmas comes, a parish calls its members to include the poor in their Christmas list.  This gives a powerful message that Christmas is not just about merry-making, eating good food, and exchanging gifts.  The only gift worth exchanging is us when we become God's gifts to others, especially the poor, the least, last, and lost.

The words of Isaiah regarding the one anointed by the Lord to bring glad tidings to the poor are the exact words Jesus read when he began his public ministry.  Coming from mouth of Jesus, the world is transformed to one where the poor are not ostracized; rather, they become recipients of God's overly abundant graces.

What does it mean to be God's living gifts of Good News to the poor?

First, the Word. The Word itself is Good News!  We need to be immersed more in God's word as it serves as light to our lives, molding our decisions and moving us into action.  Allot significant time to be immersed in God's word to transform our lives for good.

Second, the Light.  John the Baptist is not the light.  But he speaks for the light.  He gives witness to the light.  When we are absorbed in the Word, it lights our lives.  We see the world in a different light, God's light.  Even the poor is seen in a different light.  When we diagnose the cause of poverty in greed and selfish, otherwise known as the darkness of life, we do well to start giving of ourselves to help them.

Third, Jesus.  He is the one whom John the Baptist is referring to; the one whose sandal-strap he is not worthy to undo.  This is the very message of Christmas; Jesus is the One we are waiting for all this time.  If we only know the real meaning of the Church as the Body of Christ, then we would know how to be the living gifts or Good News to the poor.  Knowing that God is with us, "Emmanuel", his saving actions would now be possible through us men and women of the time.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Real preparation for Christmas

2nd Sunday of Advent, B

Mark 1:1-8 

How are we preparing for Christmas?

The Christmas rush is now creeping to our bones.  Such panic is exhibited to meet the deadline lead to the blessed day as well as the much-need vacation for the family.

The readings cry out "Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths."   How do we prepare for the Lord's coming?

First, remember the God who cares.  We can't place our security in material things.  Only God is our good shepherd.  Only he can straighten crooked paths.  Do we feel confident in knowing who God is and what he can do to our lives?

Second, conversion.  All John's teachings lead to a process of conversion, from sin to grace and from self to others and God.  Everything leads to conversion.  Reflect: do our actions lead to a change of heart and life?

Third, walk the talk.  John lived in total poverty and simplicity.  Obviously, God is the one taking care of him, imbibing him with the power that comes from the Holy Spirit.  All thoughts and words manifest in our actions.  Only then can we realize if our actions are leading us to God.

Real preparation comes when it is not us who live but Christ who lives in us.