Sunday, 9 December 2018

SUNDAY-3rd Week of Advent:Year- C
First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18: The Lord will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.
Second Reading: Philippians 4:4-7: The Lord is very near.
Gospel: Luke 3:10-18: What must we do?
The Plain Message of John the Baptist: A Message for All Ages, Lk 3:7-20
The message of John the Baptist was powerful, a message for all ages.
1. He preached condemnation (v.7)
2. He preached repentance (v.8)
3. He preached against pride (v.8)
4. He preached judgement (v.9)
5. He preached social justice (v.10-14)
a. The people: were to love and care enough to share their material possessions
b. The tax collectors: were to love and care enough to stop exerting their authority and cheating people
c. The soldiers: were to love and care enough to provide security and service to the nation
6. He preached the Messiah’s coming (v.15-17)
a. The Messiah’s person
b. The Messiah’s baptism
c. The Messiah’s judgement
7. He preached many other things (v.18)
8. He preached against sin in high places (v.19-20)
a. He preached against the governor’s sin
b. The result: he was arrested
Thought: Most people are prideful. They feel they are special enough to be acceptable to God, that God would never reject them. They feel acceptable because they have godly parents, have been baptized, are not bad, are good enough, religious, members of the church and regular worshippers etc.
What is most important is to walk in the way of the Lord and to establish God’s kingdom on earth.
We the Christians are happy and joyful people the fact that we have already been forgiven, the Lord is already in our midst, the Lord is very near (Phil 4:5) and through prayer, we can obtain whatever we need (Phil 4:6).
The way to salvation is open to everyone; repentance and love for neighbour are the only conditions required to be saved.

Advent: Week 2: Saturday: Year C
1st Reading: Ecclesiasticus/Sir: 48: 1-4. 9-11: Elijah will come again.
Gospel: Matthew: 17: 10-13: Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him.
Jesus did not allow the three disciples Peter, James and John the brother of James to share their experience about the transfiguration of Jesus because it could not be understand by the people immediately. It was just incredible to grasp until after the resurrection. This charge to keep silent baffled the disciples because the scribes had always taught that Elijah was to come and proclaim the Messiah (cf. Mal: 4: 5). Even the disciples of Jesus did not understand the true meaning of Messiahship of Jesus so they asked such question. Jesus explained them clearly and said that John the Baptist was the prophet like Elijah who was to come. The people killed him; the Messiah too was to suffer at the hands of the people. God is there to strengthen Jesus and the disciples to suffer and to die for the kingdom of God.
I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins. (Jn 8: 24).
Thought: Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Believe in him is absolutely essential.

Advent: Week 2: Friday: Year- C
1st Reading: Isaiah 48: 17-19: If only you had been alert to my commandment.
Gospel: Matthew: 11: 16- 19: They heed neither John nor the Son of Man.
The Message Given to a Childish Generation:
Every generation has its privileges. The privileges are used properly by some and ignored and abused by others. It was a privilege to know Christ personally but the vast majority have ignored and abused Christ; therefore most do not know God personally or in a community living.
Jesus called his own generation was a childish generation or wicked generation or a perverse generation. They turned away from right and good to that which was corruptible. They acted contrary to the evidence, truth and justice. They were wrong headed, mindless and contrary and did not receive the truth. Jesus message is applicable to every generation.
1.    There is the childishness of this generation:
They acted like children with playfulness and lack of seriousness in life. They were fault finders, mindless and playful who never be pleased with God/Jesus.
a.    They accused John the Baptist of separation. John practised the disciplined life, poor life and simple living in his food, drinks, clothes and shelter. They called him, he is possessed by the spirit and he is mad.
b.    They accused Jesus of worldliness. Jesus was very opposite of John. He was accused of being a glutton, drunkard, sinner and friend of immoral people.
John preached a gospel of repentance and separation and Jesus preached a gospel of liberty and justice. But they found fault with both and accepted neither. They wanted to do their own way as they wanted. So there was the inconsistence in their thinking and doing. They did not think about the reason and logic behind God’s glorious plan in Christ the Messiah to save their lives.
Thought: there are two approaches to righteousness: the separatist approach of John and the social approach of Jesus. They majority rejected both approaches. Jesus did not condemn John’s approach and John did not condemn Jesus’ approach where as both supported each other and worked for the kingdom of God on earth for the greater glory of God and salvation of humankind.

THURSDAY-2nd Week of Advent:Year-C
1st Reading: Isaiah 41: 13-20: I, the Holy One of Israel, and your Redeemer.
Gospel: Matthew: 11: 11- 15: A Greater than John the Baptist has never been seen.
What Jesus did was reprimand the crowd. He vindicated John and his mission, reminding the forgetful and the fickle that John was the forerunner, and he claimed that he was the true Messiah.
1.    John was the greatest of natural men/women, yet not as great as the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.
2.    John launched a violent over throw of the kingdom.
i.                He stirred people to storm and rush into the kingdom just as an army storms or rushes into a city. Cf. Lk 16: 16.
ii.              A person must storm the kingdom to enter it. Cf. 2 Tim 2: 3-4; Heb 11: 6.
iii.            A person who really wishes to enter heaven will storm it. That is he/she will endure anything to enter heaven. Cf. Lk 9: 23; Rom 12: 2; Eph 4: 23.
3.    John was the last of an age- the age predicting the Messiah. John ended the age of the Old Testament prophecy. He was the last of a long line of prophets who predicted the coming of the Messiah. He was the one whom God raised up to be the end of one era and the beginning of the new era.
4.    John was the promised Elijah, the forerunner who was to proceed the Messiah. John was not Elijah in person, but he was like Elijah in spirit and power and work (Jn 1: 21-23).
5.    A person must hear. A person has ears in order to hear. Let everyone hear the message of Christ Jesus. Cf. Mt 13: 16; Prov 18: 15.
Thought: God expects us to use the faculties we have in order to receive His message: we have eyes to see His Work, hears to hear His Message, mind to reason the Truth, hand to work His Works, feet to go where He wishes. We are to be as committed to the Messiah as John the Baptist was.

WEDNESDAY-2nd Week of Advent:Year-C
1st Reading: Isaiah 40: 25- 31: The Lord Almighty gives strength to the wearied.
Gospel: Matthew: 11: 28- 30: Come to me all who labour.
The Great Invitation has given to this generation:
Jesus points two pictures in this passage. One is the extreme weariness and the other is extreme pleasure. His invitation is open to all to experience his true joy and peace and offering so much to those who are over burdened and wearied in this busy world.

1.    The first great invitation to this generation is “Come to Me.”:
a.     Who is to come? The weary and the burdened, exhausted and despairing, extremely tired and weighed down, ready to stop and collapse.
b.    Why should the weary and the heavy laden come to Christ? He will give them rest of true peace, joy and happiness.
c.     What are the conditions for receiving this rest? There is only one condition that he/she must come to Christ.

2.    The second great invitation to this generation is, “take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”
a.    Why should a person take up the yoke of Christ? Why should a person learn from Christ? There are three reasons:
i.                Jesus Christ is gentle and humble.
ii.              We will find rest. Cf. Hebrews 4: 1-13.
iii.            Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. The yoke refers to person’s life and task while on earth. The word “easy” (chrestos) can mean well-fitting. Christ is saying that his yoke is his life and task, are fitted to a person to live with Christ.
b.    What are the conditions for finding this rest? Only one condition that the person must come to the Lord and learn of him how to live and labour under his leadership, guidance, direction and care on earth.
Thought: Jesus Christ is gentle and humble. He cares and looks after us. He is concerned and compassionate to us at all time with an unconditional love and care.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk. (Isaiah 55: 1).

TUESDAY-2nd Week of Advent:Year- C
1st Reading: Isaiah 40: 1-11: God consoles his people.
Gospel: Matthew 18: 12- 14: God does not wish the little ones to be lost.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep: The Supreme Example of Caring
This is one of the most famous parables shared by Jesus- the parable of “The Lost Sheep” or the parable of “The Seeking Shepherd.” It holds a great message for both the believers an
d the unbelievers, and Jesus applies it to both. Two things show this.
i.                The words “These little ones” refer to genuine Christian believers and the word “Lost” refers to the unsaved person. Cf. Mt. 18: 5-10.
ii.              On this particular occasion Jesus was speaking to his disciples (Mt 18: 1). In Luke Jesus shared the same parable with a different audience and directed it more toward the lost.
Some believers are weak, never having grown in the Lord; others cool off and wander away; still others backslide into sin and shame. Some are stubborn towards the Lord.
The one who strays and the one who is lost are always with us. Mt. 18: 14.
1.    Jesus came to save the lost: This is why he came to earth to save what was lost. It means Christ willingly and deliberately left the glory of heaven and his equality with God and made himself nothing.
2.    Jesus seeks every single one that is lost.
a.    The sheep wandered away.
b.    The sheep was sought by the shepherd (Jesus Christ).
c.     The sheep was sought in the mountain. He does not send another person to after the lost sheep but by himself he goes out with love.
d.    The shepherd is patient and enduring. He seeks until he has found.
e.     The shepherd seeks every path, ridge and crevice.
3.    Jesus may or may not find the lost one: Finding the lost sheep is not sure and easy task. It depends on the positive response of the lost sheep.
4.    Jesus forgives and receives over the recovered one: Great joy is there because the sheep was almost lost forever is found now and the task is successful after lots of thoughts, energy, time and effort to find the lost.
5.    God wills that not a single one be lost: Jesus wants each one of us to become the member of God’s family as brothers and sisters on earth.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Thought: God loves, cares and forgives every single person those who willingly come to Him trusting in the power of God.
What a lesson for us! The concern of God for a single soul!

MONDAY-2nd Week of Advent:Year- C
1st Reading: Is. 35: 1-10: God himself is coming to save you.
Gospel: Luke 5: 17-26: We have seen strange things today.
Jesus Proves His Amazing Power to Forgive Sins
This passage deals with forgiveness of sins-the important issue that ever confronts man. Can a person’s sins be forgiven? Is Jesus Christ the one who has the power to forgive sins?
1.    An investigative committee visited Jesus.
a.    They were representatives from everywhere: the Pharisees and teachers of the law.
b.    They were to investigate Jesus’ claims
c.     Jesus’ power was set to face the opposition
2.    The approach necessary for forgiveness of sins
a.    They sought help of Jesus.
b.    They believed and had confidence in Jesus’ power to forgive sins and to heal.
c.     They persisted despite enormous difficulty.
d.    They sought forgiveness. The man was definitely seeking forgiveness of sins as well as healing of body. Jesus saw their faith, the faith of the friends as well as of the sick man and forgave the man’s sins. Jesus did not say, “Friend, God forgives your sins.” He said, “Friend I forgive your sins.”
3.    The power necessary to forgive sins: The power of God alone.
4.    The proof that Jesus can forgive sins that He is the Son of Man.
a.    His Word and the fact that it works proves His deity.
b.    His claim proved His deity. He is God, the Son of Man.
c.     His power proved His deity. Jesus spoke the Word, and the man arose. He was healed immediately by the Word healing of the Lord and he was forgiven by the Word of forgiveness. God’s Word proved itself.
d.    His impact proved His deity. The man praised God. The people were amazed, and they praised God and were filled with awe (fear and reverence).

Thought: Jesus has both the power and will to speak the Word of forgiveness and healing to those who seek it.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

SUNDAY-2nd Week of Advent:Year- C
First Reading: Baruch 5:1-9: God means to show your splendour to every nation.
Second Reading: Philippians 1:3-6. 8-11: Be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
Gospel: Luke 3:1-6: All mankind shall see the salvation of God.
The Forerunner, John the Baptist: The Pivotal Point of History
The coming of Jesus Christ was the pivotal point of human history. When he came to earth, earth saw the Son of God Himself (1Jn 1-3). Jesus is the King of kings, the Lord of lords and the God of very God, the Messiah. The Messiah needed a forerunner (John the Baptist) who would prepare for His coming.
1. He was a man who launched the most pivotal point of history (v.1)
2. He was a man called out of the wilderness (v.2)
3. He was a man who preached repentance and forgiveness of sin (v.3)
4. He was a man who cried out apocalyptically: Prepare, make the paths of God straight (v.4-6)
a. Humbled shall be exalted
b. Proud shall be made low
c. Crooked shall be straightened out
d. Rough shall be smoothed
e. God’s salvation shall be seen
Thought: John the Baptist’s preaching aroused thousands and changed the lives of multitudes and stirred them to prepare and to look for the Messiah. How shall we prepare and preach the Good News of Jesus Christ today?

SATURDAY-1st Week of Advent:Year- C
First Reading: Isaiah 30: 19-21. 23-26-He will be gracious to you when he hears your cry.
Gospel: Matthew 9: 35-10: 1. 6-8-: When he saw the crowds he felt sorry for them.
The Mission of Jesus as the Messiah, His Call & Commission to His Disciples.
1.    The mission of Jesus Christ was to minister. Four things are covered about his ministry in verse 35.
a.    Method: Went forth: He went through all the towns and villages.
b.    Place: Everywhere: all the cities, villages and countryside.
c.     Work: Teaching, Preaching and Healing ministry.
d.    Message: The Good News of the Kingdom. He/she has to proclaim only the message of Jesus and not the message of his/her own.
2.      The Twelve Disciples were called to Him (Verse 1): The twelve were called earlier to be “fishers of me” to give life to lifeless (Mt 4 18-22; 9: 9; Jn 1:35-51). Christ was now calling the twelve to go forth in the fulfilment of their first call. In a sense, we may say they were called twice (Mk 3: 14; Jn 12: 26). They received their commitment call for formal training for three years to be with him, learning how to become “fishers of men.” They received their commissioning call for practical training to be sent to cast out demons with authority...; actually go out to “fish for men.” 
There are three steps in the call of the disciples to the ministry.
a.    The discipleship call: The divine call and initiative takes place first and they followed him. Cf. Jn 1: 35.
b.    The commitment call: Although there were so many people, only twelve committed people were chosen for his work with enthusiasm.
c.     The commissioning call: Jesus commissioned them to go forth with the message of salvation.
3.    Jesus’ commission to His Disciples: it was the very first expedition they had been sent out on all alone. Jesus carefully instructed them for his mission work.
a.    First, go to Israel, to the lost of one’s own house.
b.    Second, preach the kingdom of heaven is near.
c.     Third, minister, sharing freely.
Thought: A person is sent forth by Jesus and the ministry is not a profession; it is commission. Christ calls and commissions. The kingdom of heaven necessitates repentance. The apostles preached repentance (Mk 6:12). Ministering to the needs of people shows God loves and cares for people and the minister is a minister of love and care.

FRIDAY-1st Week of Advent:Year- C
I Reading: Isaiah 29:17-27: That day the eyes of the blind will see.
Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31: The blind men who believe in Jesus are cured.
This passage includes the example of two blind men who had desperate and hopeless needs. God wants from people is the very same thing a parent wants from a child-faith and trust, love and dependence. God wants a person to believe and trust Him to love and depend upon Him. This is clearly seen throughout his passage.
1.    The unceasing cry for sight:
There was the unceasing cry for sight. This cry came from two blind men who were apparently sitting beside the road begging. They began to follow after Jesus, crying out as fast as they could shout, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” They took the very steps necessary to have their needs met.
a.    The blind men followed Jesus.
1.    They acknowledged his Messiahship.
2.    They cried for mercy
3.    They sought after him
b.    Jesus’ response: A readiness to help because of his compassion and love.
1.    His question. “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes Lord, they replied.” They recognised Jesus as their Messiah, the Saviour of the world. This is seen in saying “Son of David” the Messianic title used for Jesus by these simple and desperate blind men.
2.    His touch- cured them
3.    His power based on faith
c.     Jesus’ instruction: Focus on me, not on the miracle or on self. “Be Humble”. Jesus wanted these men to set a dynamic example in humility. Apparently they had a heart that would tend toward boasting in their miracle and in the change wrought in their lives.
Thought: The men persisted and kept after Jesus. They followed him right up to his house. The point is they would not give up until he helped them. Persistence, a true cry for help, is not rudeness to Jesus. The two men helped each other and fought together to get to Jesus.
“And without faith, it is impossible to please God...” (Heb 11: 6).
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Jesus Christ. (Rom 10: 17).
For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Mt 7: 8).

THURSDAY-1st Week of Advent:Year- C
Gospel: Matthew 7:21.24-27: The person who does the will of my Father will enter the kingdom of heaven.
I Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6: Let the upright nation come in, she, the faithful one.
The Wise and  Foolish Builder, Mt 7:24-27
Several applications are clearly seen this picture of house building. Jesus teaches us how to build a life like a house.
1. A wise builder: Hears the instructions and obeys them
a. He builds a house
b. he builds upon a rock
c. He faces a storm
d. He built wisely: The difference is the foundation
2. A foolish builder: hears the instructions and does not obey them
a. He builds a house
b. He builds upon the sand
c. He faces a storm
d. He built foolishly: suffers great destruction-the difference is the foundation.
Thought: The wise in heart shall receive more and more instructions from the Lord. His/her life will be directed by God. Building upon the rock takes time and commitment and energy.
A hearer only deceives himself or herself. The doer is the person who is to be blessed. He/she will withstand the storms of life. Jesus Christ is the only one foundation for every life (1Cor 3:11).