Monday, 26 December 2016

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!

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph
1st Reading: Genesis 15:1-6;21:1-3: God promised Abraham that he would have a son and countless descendants. Although it seemed unlikely, Abraham trusted in God’s word.
2nd Reading: Hebrews 11:8.11-: From the beginning of the human face, we have examples of people who remained faithful to God in good times and in bad.
Gospel: Luke 2: 22-40: Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple to present him to God.
It is called the holy family because God himself made the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and they did the will of God according to God’s plan. They never disobeyed God’s command but loved Him with obedience and humility and walked always in His directions.
God established the first human family of Adam and Eve in His own image and likeness and gave them freedom to live as a holy family but they disobeyed Him; whereas the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph always obeyed Him and loved Him.
Today our families are in danger falling apart; divorce, separation, violence, murder, abuse, abortion, injustice, inequality, gay marriage  etc are signs of destruction of family, society and the church. The society or the church will never grow if the true meaning of family values are ruined. Unity and indisobility are the main fundamental character of a married life. Rights, respect, obedience, support and kindness are needed to be a stable and fruitful family life.
The holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph is a great example for us today to live according to God’s plan and obedience to God’s command. The holy family played the vital role in the salvation history and continued the work of God. God loved us so much and He has been always faithful to us; so let us love, serve and glorify Him and be faithful to Him at all time.
As God’s chosen race and his saints let us try to live as the body of Jesus Christ and a family of true love, peace, joy, compassion, kindness, generosity, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. We are all the children of one God in His beautiful creation to live joyfully and give life to others as Jesus did.

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 lession 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.