Thursday, 25 December 2014

New Year
1 January: New Year’s Day: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
I. Reading: Numbers 6:22-27: They are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.
II. Reading: Galatians 4:4-7: God sent His Son, born of a woman.
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21: They found Mary and Joseph and the babe...When the eight day came, they gave him the name Jesus.

On this first day of the New Year, we gather as one family to celebrate the feast and solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God who is also the mother of the Church and of all. There are three main reasons to celebrate today:
i.                   To honour Mary, for having been chosen to be the Mother of God.
ii.                 To ask for God’s blessings throughout the year that starts today.
iii.              To pray to God peace in the world.
We see words of blessings in the first reading. God has been blessing us so we need to bless our children and people in the name of God. In the second reading, God has blessed us by giving his own Son Jesus in the appointed time (kairos=fullness of time/grace-filled) to set free the humankind from the slavery of sins, death and all corruptions.  Mary gave us Jesus and Jesus gave us Mary to be our Mother, as Jesus taught “the Our Father...” he also thought us “Our Mother.” So let us call and honour Mary our Heavenly Mother who gave birth to the redeemer. The Gospel is proclaiming the Good News of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem who is the king of Peace to save the world.
This New Year is God’s precious gift to us who invites us to work for peace throughout the world in this present violence and conflicts. Let us bear in mind that peace too is the gift of Jesus to us: “Peace I give you, my own peace I give you” (Jn 14:27). Only by keeping Christ’s peace in our hearts shall become the peacemakers in the world. Peace within us and peace around us should be our programme throughout the New Year.

Wishing you a Happy New Year & God’s Peace & Joy!

31 December:
I Reading: 1Jn 2:18-21: You have been anointed by the Holy One and have all received the knowledge.
Gospel: John 1:1-18: The Word was made flesh.

A.   Jesus the Living Word: The First Witness of John the Baptist (Jn 1:1-5)
This passage is the one of the summit of Scripture. Jesus Christ, the Son of God is...
·        The Word of God
·        The Creator of life
·        The Very Being and Essence of Life
These three thoughts we need to understand their meaning. If Jesus Christ is the Word of God, then people must hear and understand that Word or else be lost forever in ignorance of God Himself.
1.     Christ is Eternal (v.1-2)
a.     Pre-existence
b.    Co-existence
c.      Self-existence
2.     Christ is the Creator (v.3)
a.     Positive statement
b.    Absolute statement
3.     Christ is life (v.4-5)
a.     The source of life
b.    The answer to darkness
i.                   Shines in darkness
ii.                 Conquers darkness

B.   Jesus the Light of the World: The Special Witness of John the Baptist (Jn 1:6-8)
John’s role sole purpose on earth was to witness and bear testimony to the Light of the world. It is a dynamic example for every believer. The purpose of the believer is to bear the same witness as John: Jesus Christ is the Light of the world.
1.     A man sent from God (v.6)
2.     A man with a mission (v.7)
a.     To bear witness
b.    That men might believe
3.     A man who was great, but was not the Light (v.7).

C.   Jesus the Light of Men: The Second Witness of John the Apostle (Jn 1:9-13)
The world is in desperate straits. It is full of darkness-the darkness of sin and despair, of sickness and death, of corruption and hell. The darkness looms over the whole world. This is the problem dealt with in the present passage. There is hope in Jesus Christ, for Christ is the True Light, and light dispels darkness.
1.     Christ was the Light (v.9)
a.     The True Light
b.    His mission: to give light to the people
2.     Christ was tragically rejected by the world (v. 10-11)
a.     He was in the world, but he was rejected
b.    He came to his own people, but they rejected him
3.     Christ was wonderfully received by some (v. 12-13)
a.     How: by believing
b.    Result: became sons of God
c.      The source of becoming a child of God: a new birth
i.                   Was not of man
ii.                 Was of God

D.   Jesus the Word Made Flesh: The Third Witness of John the Apostles (Jn 1: 14-18)

“The Word became flesh”-God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was made flesh and blood; He became a man. No greater message could ever be proclaimed to man.
1.     Jesus Christ, Incarnation: Christ became flesh (v. 14):
The incarnation did take place. He came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. The word “flesh” (sarx) is the same word that Paul used to describe man’s nature with all its weakness and tendency to sin (1Cor 3:1-4; 15:42-44; Rom 5: 12-21; 8:1f; 2Pet 1:4 etc). This is a staggering thought. Jesus Christ is God-fully God, yet Jesus Christ is a man-fully man (cf 1Jn 4:2-3). Jesus Christ (the Word) became flesh to correct and to counteract the corruption of flesh (2Pet 1:4; 1Pet 1:18-19, 23-25; Jn 3:16). He became flesh in order to become “a life giving spirit”, the Saviour who could quicken and make alive all those who would trust Him (1Cor 15:45; 1Pet 3:18; Rom 8: 11 Eph 2: 4-5).
2.     Proof 1: the first proof of the incarnation is that Jesus Christ dwelt visibly among us (v.14)
a.     His glory (shekinah) which means that which dwells or dwelling- bright clouds-OT. Ex 40:34-38)  was seen
b.    Full of grace and truth
3.     Proof 2: the second proof of the incarnation is John the Baptist bore witness of the superiority of Christ (v.15)
4.     Proof 3: the third proof of the incarnation is the fullness and grace of Christ which was given to us. Men have received the fullness and grace of Christ
a.     Not by law
b.    By Jesus Christ
5.     Proof 4: the fourth proof of the incarnation of Christ- God’s Son alone has seen God (v. 18)
Thought: The message is Christ, the Light of the World.

30 December:
I Reading: 1Jn 2:12-17: Anyone who does the will of God remains forever.
Gospel: Luke 2:36-40: She spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
Anna’s Praise: The Child Jesus is Praised by a Prophetess & Jesus’ Growth as a Child.
Nothing is known about Anna except here. She was the daughter of  Phanuel, the place where Jacob wrestled with God face to face (Gen 32:24-30). She had descended from the tribe of Aser. She was a person of enormous devotion to God and lived as though face to face with God, ever receiving His grace and sharing His grace with others. Soon after Semion’s prediction about the child Jesus’ was the Salvation of God, now a woman, Anna bore the same witness. Both man and woman acknowledged the child to be the Messiah, the Salvation of God. Today all or every generation are urged to hope in Him for Salvation. Jesus is our hope.
1.     She was a prophetess.
2.     She never lost hope over many, many years.
3.     She never grew bitter in the face of sorrows just after seven years of marriage became a widow and lived till eighty-four years of old.
4.     She never ceased to worship God night and day. Fasting and praying.
5.     She knew the child instantly and gave thanks.
6.     She shared the message with all believers.
7.     Jesus’ growth as a child- he was led by his parents to fulfil all the law.
8.     He was reared in Nazareth.
9.     He grew as a child: physically, spiritually and mentally.
10.                        He possessed God’s grace and wisdom.

Thought: God led Mary and Joseph to fulfil all the law for the child Messiah.

29 December:
I Reading: 1Jn 2:3-11: Anyone who loves his brother is living in the light.
Gospel: Lk 2:22-35: A light to enlighten the pagans.
Simeon’s Prophecy: Jesus’ life and fate foretold (2:25-35)

It was time for the child to be dedicated and offered up for God’s keeping and care. The parents took the child to the temple and offered to God as the first born child. Simeon was a man who loved God very much, so much that God was able to use him in a most magnificent way. He used Simeon to proclaim one of the greatest messages of all time: the events and fate of the child Messiah’s life.
1.     Simeon, a man who walked close to God:
a.     A man who was righteous and devout
b.    A man who looked for the Messiah
c.      A man who was led by the Holy Spirit
d.    A man who was given an usual promise
e.      A man who saw and held the Messiah
2.     The child was God’s salvation:
a.     The source of peace
b.    The One appointed to be God’s salvation
c.      The One prepared for all people
d.    The light to unbelievers
e.      The glory to believers
f.      The parents marvelled at the predictions
3.     The child was to cause the rise and fall of many
4.     The child’s fate was sealed
a.     His fate: to be opposed and put to death
b.    His purpose: to reveal the inner thoughts of man’s heart
Thought: Believers must long for the Messiah with all hope and patience for his return.

28 December: Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs
I Reading: 1Jn 1: 5-2: 2: The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sins.
Gospel: Mt 2: 13-18: In Bethlehem Herod had all the male children killed.
Jesus’ childhood: Facing danger after dangers (Mt 2: 12-23)

Jesus faced dangers from the very beginning of his birth itself. God protected him with his love and care. If God is with us who is against of us? Today we celebrate the feast of the innocents and the martyrs in the church who were killed for Christ by the order and evil actions of Herod at Bethlehem. Today how many innocent children and people are being killed directly or indirectly?
1.     The first danger: Herod plotted to find Jesus (Mt 2:3-8, 12):
a.     Magi miraculously warned
b.    Magi obeyed the words of the angel sent by God, did not obey the words of Herod, the evil man.
2.     The second danger: Herod attempted to destroy Jesus:
a.     Joseph was miraculously warned to flee to Egypt
b.    Joseph obeyed the words of the angel
c.      Scripture was fulfilled: The family sojourned in Egypt
d.    Herod slaughtered the children: prior to this he had killed his two sons and the third son also and killed his ten wives as a cruel man.
e.      Scripture was fulfilled: the prediction of the children’s slaughter
3.     The third danger: Archelaus reigned in Judea:
a.     Joseph was miraculously instructed
b.    Joseph was again miraculously warned: Herod’s son Archelaus was a threat
c.      Joseph obeyed to the words of the angel
d.    Scripture was fulfilled: Jesus lived in Nazareth

Thought: The believers can rest in God’s knowledge and providence. God knows all danger, threat and trial. The believers must always obey the message of God to be safe and sound.

27 December: Feast of St. John, Apostle  & Evangelist
I Reading: 1Jn 1: 1- 4: What we have seen and heard telling you.
Gospel: Jn 20: 2-8: The other disciple, running faster than Peter, reached the tomb first. He saw and believed without entering into the tomb.

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John, the apostle and the evangelist who has written the fourth Gospel, the Apocalypse or Revelation and the three epistles. He is known as the “Beloved disciple” of Jesus in the Gospel. He does not mention his own name, he refers to himself impersonally as “another disciple” (Jn 18:15), “the other disciple” (Jn 20: 2), “the apostle whom Jesus loved” (Jn 13: 23; 19: 26; 21: 7) and finally, as “the one who had leaned on Jesus’ breast at the supper” (Jn 20: 20). John was the son of Zebedee, and one the three (with Peter and James) who were closest to the Lord, present at the transfiguration, the agony in the garden, the raising of the daughter of Jairus.
In doing so, John is expressing his firm conviction of Jesus’ love for him from the very beginning of his first call (Jn 1: 35-39). The lesion we learn from these that each one ought to consider him/herself as “disciple whom Jesus loved”, and keep on loving. In other words, John invites us all to discover Christ’s love for us, to reflect on it, to experience it and realise the love of Jesus in our lives so that our Christian life may become a joyful and witnessing life.

Thought: John saw and believed in Jesus’ resurrection. He did not doubt in Jesus’ resurrection, therefore he did not enter into the tomb to investigate or experiment although he reached first then Peter. Let us see Jesus and believe in the Good News and in the power of Jesus in the Eucharist.

26 December: St. Stephen, First Martyr
I Reading: Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59: I can see heaven thrown open.
Gospel: Mt 10: 17-22: It is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.

Jesus’ warning of persecution (Mt 10: 16-23)
In this passage, Christ was warning his disciples about the coming of future persecutions. The disciples are like sheep in the midst of wolves. They can be expected to be persecuted at any time in any where for the sake of Jesus Christ. He counselled them on how to deal with persecution.
Today we celebrate the first martyr of the Church St. Stephen, the first Christian bearing witness to Jesus Christ by shedding of his blood believing in these encouraging words of Jesus Christ. During the time of trail and persecution, he knelt down and said aloud “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” He could forgive his enemies because he experienced the love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus in his life. Thus he could see heaven thrown open and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God. When the persecutors were stoning him, he prayed, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.”

1.     Two facts must be kept in mind (v.16):
a.     Disciples are commissioned: sent forth.
b.    Disciples are as sheep among wolves.
2.     Counsel 1: be wise and harmless (v.16).
3.     Counsel 2: beware of men (17-18).
a.     The persecutors: the state and the religionists.
b.    The reasons you will be persecuted:
1. For the Lord’s sake
2. To be a testimony.
4.     Counsel 3: do not worry about a defence (19-20).
a.     God will meet your need
b.    God’s Spirit will speak through you
5.     Counsel 4: know that families will be divided (21).
6.     Counsel 5: endure to the end (22).
7.     Counsel 6: flee persecution (23).
Thought: The Lord’s witness is to have a snake-like mind (clever) and a dove-like spirit (innocent). The Lord’s people and messengers are exposed to a world of evil people (wolves). Therefore be wise or shrewd as snake and be innocent or harmless as dove.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ: Feast of Christmas, Mass at Dawn
1st Reading: Isaiah 62:11-12: Look your Saviour comes.
2nd Reading: Titus 3: 4-7: It was for no reason except his own compassion that He saved us.
Gospel: Luke 2: 15-20: The Shepherd found Mary, Joseph and the baby.
The Messiah had been foretold since the world began in Genesis. The prophecy given by Jacob back in the Genesis was now being fulfilled. The birth of Jesus is in the very beginning of Genesis itself to save the humankind from sin and death which shows God’s faithful love, mercy and forgiveness to the humankind in the world.
1.     God invites Jerusalem to rejoice:
In the first reading of Isaiah, God invites Jerusalem to rejoice with an extraordinary joy. It is obvious that when Scripture speaks of Jerusalem as a Daughter of Zion or a woman or to a mother refers not so much to the city itself but to the people living in it, nay to the whole people of Israel. Yahweh invites Jerusalem to rejoice for two reasons:
i.                   First, because her Saviour was about to come to free the people of Israel in exile who had been for years in exiles. So that Yahweh would purify their sins and they would be called “the redeemed ones”, “the people made holy.”
ii.                 The second reason for rejoicing would be the extraordinary love that Yahweh would henceforth bestow on Jerusalem. Now on Jerusalem would be called “the one her husband for”, the beloved of Yahweh and they would no longer be called “the abandoned one”, “the one cast away.” This is the language Scripture often uses to express God’s deep love for the people of Israel.
What has all this to do with the Feast of Christmas we are celebrating?
It has much to do. God was announcing the two folds event in Isaiah. Firstly, His coming to free his people from exile and take them back home and secondly, His coming in the person of the Messiah, become man to free humankind from the slavery of sin and death and take us all home with Him.
In fact, we are now the “the new people of new Israel”, and the Church, our Mother, “the new Jerusalem.” This is the reason why God invites us to rejoice at Christmas and at all time rejoice whole heartedly , now we are “the redeemed ones” at the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem (Beth=house, Lehem=bread)=house of bread). Jesus truly becomes our food or bread or life and gives us the salvation, the eternal life to all of us. So we are the privileged people to rejoice always.
2.     Paul explains the great change that the coming of Jesus brought to us all:
In the second reading, Paul writes to his disciple Titus who had been appointed to the lead the Church of an island called Crete. He explains God’s love, forgiveness and freedom for humankind although we are unworthy or sinners. So the church invites the Christians today to rejoice, since at Christmas Jesus repeats his coming in our lives at all times.
3.     Why did Jesus become a man? Do we deserve his coming into this world?
Paul would give the answer to these questions in his letter to Titus. There was nothing in human beings that make him/her deserve being saved by God. Only God’s unconditional love and kindness brought Jesus to save us.
Looking at the Babe Jesus in the manger, with the eyes of faith, we should discover God’s goodness reflected in him. Paul tells us that Jesus is “God’s perfect copy” (Heb 1: 3). Jesus is “the living image of his Father.” He revealed his Father’s love for humankind in his own unique love for us which he showed his love through his death on the cross.
4.     How to respond to God’s love today? Is there any way to respond to it?
In today’s Gospel, the shepherds and Mary show us the way to respond God’s love:
a.     The shepherds: The second reading could tell us that the shepherds were not deserved people to receive the first good news of Jesus’ birth who were known as the despites and thieves in the society. Jesus stared his work of salvation with them precisely because they were the ones who needed him most. The shepherds discovered God’s and responded immediately in a wonderful way:
i.                   They believed what the angel said and hurried up to see Jesus.
ii.                 They praised God for His love for them, the Redeemer is born.
iii.              They made known to others what had been revealed to them.
b.    Mary: Like says of her: “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” She kept a precious treasure what she leant about her Son: she did not give up the Word of God when the Angel announced. She pondered over it time and again, always trying to discover the depth of God’s love shown to her to save the world by Jesus.
On this feast of Christmas, both the shepherds and Mary invite us to discover the precious gifts our Saviour has brought for us. Let us try to discover and experience God’s love, mercy and forgiveness in our lives and believe in the power of Jesus and praise Him always for his salvation and proclaim the Good News of Jesus to all the people in the world as the shepherds did.

Thought: How many missed the first coming of Jesus Christ? How many will miss the second coming of Jesus Christ?

Wishing you all “A Happy Christmas!”
May the true PEACE & JOY of the new born Jesus Christ be with you always!