Sunday, December 28, 2014

Homily for Today

Good morning my brothers and sisters in Christ. I trust that your spirits are still shining as holy families during this very special liturgical time frame.

Today's Feast of the Holy Family and the readings that we have just heard are both in perfect harmony with the Season of Christmas. Both examples teach us to respect and love one another in perfect union. The family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Abraham and Sirah, both lived righteous lives in the eyes of the Lord God.

As we have heard from the First Reading, the Word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision. Today, the Word of the Lord comes to us through the Church, the priests, the Church Sacraments, Tradition, and through the readings of the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, as God came to His loved ones in the days of Holy Bible according to His past Divine Plan, He comes to us today according to His present Divine Plan for us.

As today's First Reading revealed to us, Abraham and Sarah were childless and advanced in age. They were concerned that whatever they possessed, it would be handed down to a slave as their heirs. But, God told Abraham that this was not so. If he was to look up in the sky at all the stars, God promised that his descendants would be as many as those shining lights.

Abraham believed the Word of God that was fulfilled and his faith made him righteous in the eyes of the Lord. It is the same with us. After having received the Sacrament of Baptism through faith in Jesus Christ, if we believe and obey the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church that were instituted by our Lord on earth, then our Sacramental living faith makes us righteous in the eyes of God.

Through the faith of Abraham began the progressive growth of God's chosen people. Once, God's chosen people was limited to the Jewish Nation. But now, since the glorious resurrection of Christ, it has been extended to all the Gentiles of every nation, that including us. Therefore, as God's children, Abraham is our spiritual father.

In a way, all of us are spiritual parents. The priest, when he baptizes an infant or a new convert, a transformation takes place within the person. Being born again, the new convert becomes a new creation of the godly seed. As such, the priest becomes the spiritual father of those that he baptizes.

The parents, when God blesses them with the gift of a new baby or an adopted child, the parents are not just biological or adoptive parents. They are also the spiritual parent of the new baby or the adopted child, being responsible for its upbringing in the living faith.

To remain righteous in the eyes of God, the priest has to obey God by ministering to his new spiritual children and equally, the parents have to obey God by teaching the Word of God to their children. This is a big responsibility, one that protects the holiness of the spiritual family.

By obeying God in our living faith, we are assured of His ongoing blessings. Abraham and Sarah had their child because they believed and obeyed. Because the priests believe and obey, their ministries continue generation after generation, some of the newly baptized spiritual children becoming priests. Because the parents believe and obey, their children will raise their children in the living faith, this increasing the number of spiritual children to the original parents. Everyone is rewarded according to his work.

As Abraham believed in faith and set out for a place where he was to receive his inheritance, not knowing where he was going, we are also called to walk in blind faith, not knowing where God's Divine Will will lead us. Being moved by the Holy Spirit, we answer our calling, doing God's work, and trust in the Lord to provide what is best for our spiritual growth. While we do not know what tomorrow holds for us, our faith, hope and trust tell us that this is the best thing to do to remain in favour with God as holy families.

As Abraham had his faith tested when God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, we are also tested by God. Sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives so He can test our love for Him, our perseverance, our faith in the blessed hope to come or even for the purpose of sanctifying us in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In the end, it makes us all better children of God, shining holy families.

When listening to today's Reading from the Gospel of Luke, we heard how Mary and Joseph also had to obey God. As the parents of Jesus, they were not exempted from their spiritual obligations to the Jewish law. As you have been commanded by Jesus to present your children to be baptized, Mary and Joseph also had to present Jesus at the Temple to the Lord, offering the necessary sacrifice that was required by law.

As we heard today, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. He was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel. Through the Holy Spirit, it had been revealed to Simeon that he would not die until such time as he had seen the Messiah. Guided to the Temple by the Holy Spirit, Simeon finally experienced God's promise when he saw Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus. Holding Jesus in his hands, he praised God.

When Simeon told Mary and Joseph what had been revealed to him about baby Jesus, His parents were amazed. Now, in the Temple, there lived an 84 years old widow by the name of Anna who was a prophet. She spent her days worshipping and fasting, praying day and night. At the moment when Mary and Joseph were finished with Simeon, Anna came and began to praise God and to speak about the Child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

As we can appreciate, the experience that Mary and Joseph enjoyed by the presences of Simeon and Anna were blessings of God. In the same way, we as spiritual parents are also blessed by God. Our experiences may not be as outstanding as the ones enjoyed by Mary and Joseph. Nevertheless, we are still blessed in many ways through our spiritual children.

If we are to open our hearts, our eyes and our ears, surely, the Holy Spirit will guide us regarding the need of our spiritual children. When we see a child that has a God given talent in music, we are to encourage this talent for the glory of God. When we are told by someone to start teaching our children how to pray at an early age, we should view this as someone who is speaking as God's instrument to ensure that we will have holy children. In many ways, the Holy Spirit moves daily in our lives, sometimes even speaking through our children for our own spiritual benefit. We should always keep our hearts, our eyes and our ears open!

United in respect and love, as family members, we should all strive to be holy children of God who live in holy families. As Mary and Joseph, Abraham and Sirah, all placed their faith in the Lord God, we also should place our faith in the Lord God. For it is He who is the provider of all good things.

Today, the Lord God reminded us that He loves us. He reminded us that He wants us to be holy families, living by the example of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Through today's readings, the Lord God reminded us that He blesses those who obey Him and live their faith in Christ.

May God's Words be sealed in our hearts so we may never forget our spiritual responsibility towards others, our loved ones, our relatives, our neighbours, our co-workers, and even the strangers, so we may all share in the joy of being holy families in Christ.

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

  • First Reading: Sirach 3: 2-6, 12-14
    2 Children, hear the judgment of your father, and so do that you may be saved.
    3 For God hath made the father honourable to the children: and seeking the judgment of the mothers, hath confirmed it upon the children.
    4 He that loveth God, shall obtain pardon for his sins by prayer, and shall refrain himself from them, and shall be heard in the prayer of days.
    5 And he that honoureth his mother is as one that layeth up a treasure.
    6 He that honoureth his father shall have joy in his own children, and in the day of his prayer he shall be heard.

    12 Glory not in the dishonour of thy father: for his shame is no glory to thee.
    13 For the glory of a man is from the honour of his father, and a father without honour is the disgrace of the son.
    14 Son, support the old age of thy father, and grieve him not in his life.
  • Psalm: Psalms 128: 1-2, 3, 4-5
    1 Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: that walk in his ways.
    2 For thou shalt eat the labours of thy hands: blessed art thou, and it shall be well with thee.

    3 Thy wife as a fruitful vine, on the sides of thy house.

    4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord.
    5 May the Lord bless thee out of Sion: and mayest thou see the good things of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

  • Second Reading: Colossians 3: 12-21
    12 Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience:
    13 Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also.
    14 But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection:
    15 And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful.
    16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God.
    17 All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
    18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as it behoveth in the Lord.
    19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter towards them.
    20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
    21 Fathers, provoke not your children to indignation, lest they be discouraged.

  • Gospel: Luke 2: 22-40
    22 And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord:
    23 As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord:
    24 And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons:
    25 And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was in him.
    26 And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
    27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law,
    28 He also took him into his arms, and blessed God, and said:
    29 Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace;
    30 Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,
    31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:
    32 A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
    33 And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him.
    34 And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted;
    35 And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.
    36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was far advanced in years, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity.
    37 And she was a widow until fourscore and four years; who departed not from the temple, by fastings and prayers serving night and day.
    38 Now she, at the same hour, coming in, confessed to the Lord; and spoke of him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel.
    39 And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth.
    40 And the child grew, and waxed strong, full of wisdom; and the grace of God was in him. 

Prayers for Today

"Lord Jesus, you are my hope and my life. May I never cease to place all my trust in you. Fill me with the joy and strength of the Holy Spirit that I may boldly point others to your saving presence and words of eternal life."

 Jesus, you were a small child in your Mother’s arms. You were a baby who needed the protection of Joseph. You felt their goodness and love. Today I want to celebrate this love of your family. I want to enter into this love and bring it also to my own family. I believe and trust that you will help me in this.

 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Pope Francis: Christ's birth more powerful than history of sin

.- The birth of Jesus – a light that shattered the world's darkness on Christmas night – witnesses to God's love for mankind amid a history marked by “violence, wars, hatred and oppression,” Pope Francis said.

“Through the course of history, the light that shatters the darkness reveals to us that God is Father and that his patient fidelity is stronger than darkness and corruption,” he emphasized. “This is the message of Christmas night.”

This theme of Christ's light defeating the darkness of sin on Christmas, rooted in God's patience, closeness, and tenderness towards his creatures, was at the center of Pope Francis' homily during evening Mass on Dec. 24 at the Vatican.

Before the liturgy began in Saint Peter's Basilica, there was the chanting of “Kalenda” – a traditional chant recounting the events leading up to Christ’s birth. After this, the Holy Father unveiled and prayed before a small statue of the Child Jesus which laid in front of the main altar above St. Peter’s tomb. The statue, which itself rested upon a stand holding the Scriptures as a symbol of the Word Made Flesh, was then venerated with flowers by a group of children, one from Syria, representing all corners of the world.

Reflecting on the readings for Christmas night following the chanting of the Gospel, Pope Francis in his homily recalled Isaiah's prophecy of Christ's birth as “the rising of a great light which breaks  through the night.” As recounted in the Gospel, the “sign” given to the shepherds by the angels was that of “a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).

This “sign,” the Pope said, “is the humility of God taken to the extreme; it is the love with which, that night, he assumed our frailty, our suffering, our anxieties, our desires and our limitations.”

In the liturgy of Christmas night, Pope Francis said, the Savior's birth is presented as “the light which pierces and dispels the deepest darkness,” his presence canceling “the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery,” and ushering “in joy and happiness.”

In turn, having entered God’s house, we too have “passed through the darkness which envelops the earth, guided by the flame of faith which illuminates our steps, and enlivened by the hope of finding the ‘great light’.”

“By opening our hearts, we also can contemplate the miracle of that child-sun who, arising from on high, illuminates the horizon.”

Pope Francis recalled the “violence, wars, hatred and oppression” which unfolded following Cain’s murder of his brother Abel, recounted in Genesis chapter four.

Notwithstanding this history marked by violence and conflict, “God, who placed a sense of expectation within man made in his image and likeness, was waiting,” and “continued to wait patiently in the face of the corruption of man and peoples.”

“Through the course of history, the light that shatters the darkness reveals to us that God is Father and that his patient fidelity is stronger than darkness and corruption. This is the message of Christmas night.”

The birth of Christ, he said, gives rise to the way in which we reflect on the tenderness of God “who looks upon us with eyes full of love, who accepts our poverty, God who is in love with our smallness.”

“How do we welcome the tenderness of God?” he asked. Rather than merely seeking God, we should ask whether we allow ourselves to be found, and loved, by God.

“Do we have the courage,” the Pope continued, “to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us, or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today!

“The Christian response cannot be different from God’s response to our smallness,” he said. Rather, “when we realize that God is in love with our smallness, that he made himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to him.”

In this light, Pope Francis called on the faithful to pray for “the grace of tenderness in the most difficult circumstances of life,” and “of closeness in the face of every need, of meekness in every conflict”.

Turning once again to the reading from Isaiah – “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” – the Holy Father said this light was not seen by the arrogant and proud. Such persons “made laws according to their own personal measures,” and “were closed off to others.”

However, Pope Francis added, the light was seen by those “unassuming,” and “open to receiving the gift of God.”

He concluded his homily by calling on the faithful to pray to the Blessed Mother, asking her to “show us Jesus!”
After the Mass, Pope Francis processed through the basilica carrying the statue of Jesus and placing it in the indoor nativity scene.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!

 Truly a wonderful day as we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have not really written much of late so an update on this Christmas Day.
 Still wrestling with my problems but I have a much better and more appreciative attitude to what goes on between me and god.
 I have learned that I have to look at things differently and with different eyes and understanding to really see what God has done in my life and how it is through what Jesus wants of me that I can achieve this.
I have wrestled with that last step but when I allow it to be life is wonderful, rich and truly satisfying. Alas though I don't always see things that way. A lot of the time the secular world dictates what happens around me as it does many of us and sucks me into it's vortex. The materialism, the need to be richer, bigger better than your neighbour instead of the simple words that Jesus has taught us, to love our neighbor.
 One would think that well if it is better to live the way Jesus tells us to it would be easy but it is not at least not for me.
 I am truly blessed this Christmas Day with what I have around me everyday, my family and my church with this there is no other wealth more important or precious.
 Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Christmas Homily

Christmas Greetings to all of you my brothers and sisters in Jesus! I pray to God that you are all enjoying a wonderful Feast on this very special day that commemorates the birth of the Infant Jesus. For today is a time of great joy for all the nations throughout the world.

During today's First Reading from the Book of Isaiah, [Is. 52:7-10] we heard of the second time when it had been proclaimed to the people that God was coming into the world through Jesus. Earlier in the Book of Isaiah, God had spoken tenderly to the people of Jerusalem through the prophet Isaiah. The Heavenly Father told the people that they had served their term, that their penalty had been paid for their sins, that they had received from the Lord's hand double for all their sins. [Is. 40:2]

Following this, God commanded that Isaiah speak up by saying that a voice cries out, "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God..." [Is. 40:3-6] Running on the mountain ridges, [Is. 40:9-10] the messenger proclaimed the good news.

After the delivery of the good news, began the reconstruction of the wall of Jerusalem, the City of God. Now, for the second time, the good news was being proclaimed to the people. The echoed words were, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'" [Is. 52:7] These same words are also found in Nahum 1:15, Romans 10:15 and Ephesians 6:15.

When those who were rebuilding the wall and the people within the City of Jerusalem heard the good news that sank into their hearts, they literally visualized before their eyes that the Lord God was restoring Jerusalem. [Is. 62:6-7]

The people of Jerusalem were called to join into a hymn of thanksgiving to God. [Is. 52:9-10; Zeph. 3:13-8, Lk. 1:26-33] The words of the song announced the good news to Jerusalem, that the Lord has comforted His people, having redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord opened His holy arm before the eyes of all the nations so the ends of the earth could see His salvation. [Is. 52:7-10]

As we have just heard during the Old Testament reading, long ago, God spoke to the people in many and various ways by the prophets. But, when Baby Jesus was born, things changed. Now, God was going to speak to us through His beloved Son. For it is Jesus, through whom all things were created, that God had appointed as heir over all things.

Jesus is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being. Whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father. [Jn. 14:9] For in Jesus the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily. [Col. 1:9, 2:9]

Jesus, the Son of God, sustains all things by His powerful Word. When He had made the perfect human sacrifice as the Lamb of God for the remission of the sins of the world, He sat down at the right hand of the Father. His work on earth as Jesus in physical form was completed. Now, in conjunction with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is ruling over His spiritual Kingdom in Heaven and on earth.

Through His glorious Resurrection, Jesus who had set aside His Divinity by taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness and being found in human form, [Phil. 2:7] had become superior to all the angels as the name that He inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For, what angel has God said to, "You are My Son, today I have begotten you."? Or to what angel has God said, "I will be Your Father and you will be My Son."? And when God brought Baby Jesus into the world as the firstborn, He said to all the hosts of Heaven, "Let all God's angels worship Him."

Yes, on this day, two thousand years ago, all the hosts of Heaven obeyed God and worshipped Baby Jesus, the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Redeemer of the world. What a sight this must have been!

Jesus, God incarnated, is the Word of God. He was with God in the beginning and He is God. All things were created through Him. Nothing that exists had its existence without Jesus.

What has come into the world through Jesus who is the Giver of life is eternal life, the eternal assurance of the beatific vision of God in His heavenly Kingdom. Jesus came as the Light of all people, answering the hope of all by showing the way to eternal life, joy and peace.

When Jesus, the Light of God, came into the darkness of the world that was lost in sin, sin did not overcome Him. He who created all things, came into the world and the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own people and His people did not accept Him.

But, to all those who did receive Him, who believed in His Name, He gave the power to become children of God. For, being born again of water and Spirit [Jn. 3:5] (Catechism # 1215) of the Godly seed, [1 Jn. 3:9, 5:18] they were not born of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man.

And so it is that the Word of God took human form and lived on earth. Many have seen His glory, His glory as of a Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.

Through Jesus, we receive grace after grace. At first came the Law into the world through Moses. But now, grace and truth came into the world through Jesus Christ. While no one has ever seen God, it is Jesus who is God and who is close to the Father's heart, who has revealed God the Father to mankind.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, a Child was born for us. As you look at Baby Jesus in the manger, always remember that the fullness of God dwelled in Him. In Jesus was the fullness of the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. [Col. 1:9, 2:9] Those who know Jesus, they also know the Father for they are One.

The mystery of Christmas tells us that through Jesus, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit came into the world as One in bodily form. As we have heard during Advent, the Holy Spirit came upon the Blessed Virgin Mary at her moment of conception. Jesus Himself told the people repeatedly that He was One with the Father, that the Father was in Him, and that those who have seen Him, have seen the Father.

Through Jesus, the invisible Heavenly Father took physical form. Through Jesus, the Holy Spirit dwelled until Jesus commended His Spirit into the hands of the Father. [Lk. 23:46]

Baby Jesus came into the world for each and everyone of us, so that we may be saved. Through Jesus, our living faith that is manifested through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church leads us towards the Light of God and the truth as our assurance of salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. Let us never forget this! From the time we rise in the morning to the time we go to bed at night, let us always be thankful to Jesus for manifesting to us the goodness and love of God.

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) Mass During the Day Lectionary: 16

Reading 1IS 52:7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!”

Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
for they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD restoring Zion.
Break out together in song,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the LORD comforts his people,
he redeems Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations;
all the ends of the earth will behold
the salvation of our God.

Responsorial Psalm PS 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6

R/ (3c) All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
his right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R/ All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R/ All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R/ All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R/ All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Reading 2HEB 1:1-6

Brothers and sisters:
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways 
to our ancestors through the prophets; 
in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son, 
whom he made heir of all things 
and through whom he created the universe,
who is the refulgence of his glory,
the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say:
You are my son; this day I have begotten you?
Or again:
I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me?
And again, when he leads the firstborn into the world, he says:
Let all the angels of God worship him.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A holy day has dawned upon us.
Come, you nations, and adore the Lord.
For today a great light has come upon the earth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. 
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light, 
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God, 
to those who believe in his name, 
who were born not by natural generation 
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision 
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying, 
“This was he of whom I said, 
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me 
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses, 
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, 
has revealed him.

OrJN 1:1-5, 9-14

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. 
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God, 
to those who believe in his name, 
who were born not by natural generation 
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision 
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

Some Prayers for Christmas Morning

"Lord our God, with the birth of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, your glory breaks on the world. As we celebrate his first coming, give us a foretaste of the joy that you will grant us when the fullness of his glory has filled the earth."
 


Lord, thank you for this Christmas day. I believe that you became a little child to redeem me and show me the Father’s love. I love you. Your birth shows the depth of your love for me. I choose to recommit myself today to be a Christian in love with you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

He is Coming!

"And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."Luke 2:10

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Homily for Today


Welcome my brothers and sisters in Jesus to today's celebration of the Holy Mass that commemorates the Fourth Sunday of Advent. In three days, we will unite again to celebrate the coming of the Light of God into the world. Today, we will review the fulfillment of God's promise of the coming Heavenly Kingdom through Christ. Of His Kingdom there will be no end.

Beginning with today's First Reading [2 Sam. 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16] from the Second Book of Samuel, we heard that when David was king over the Jewish people, God had brought peace to his land. Through King David, God had delivered the nation from all its enemies.

In appreciation for the greatness of the Lord God's victory over His enemies, king David went to the prophet Nathan, expressing his concern that while he was living in a beautiful wooden house of cedar, the Lord God dwelled in a tent. Now, a tent might have been suitable for God when His people were moving around because of persecution. But now that their home had been established and their victory had been secured, surely, God deserved something better than a tent.

Hearing king David's concern for a dwelling place for God, the prophet Nathan told him that God was with him. As such, he should do whatever his heart calls him to do so God may have his rightful place among His people. But, God had other plans! That night, He spoke to Nathan, telling him to give a message to His servant king David.

In a way, God's words went like this: "Oh yea, are you, king David really going to build a house for Me, your God, to live in? Who took you from the field where you were a shepherd who followed the sheep to place you as a prince over Israel? Have I not been with you everywhere you went? Did I not destroy your enemies before your eyes?"

What God was implying was that no human being could build a house that could hold God? A house is not good enough. An eternal Kingdom is better. And no one but God could build an eternal Kingdom!

Considering king David's love for God and his righteous heart that desired to provide the best for the Lord, God made a promise to king David.

In simple words, God said, "I will raise your name like the name of the great prophets so it will be remembered forever. I will personally select a place for My people and I will firmly establish them so they may live in their own place. No one will ever force them to move or oppress them again as has been happening since the days when judges were appointed over the people. The people will find rest from their enemies."

God continued by saying that He would bless king David with children. And after king David has died, from his offspring, God would establish His Kingdom.

At this point, it is important to note that God is referring to someone who will descend from king David. The Kingdom that will be established will be "His" Kingdom (with a capital H). God continued by saying that He would be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Him. To clarify this, the Heavenly Father was talking about being a Father to Jesus and Jesus being a Son to Him.

God finished by saying that through Him, through Jesus, king David's family tree and His Kingdom shall be remembered forever by the Lord. The throne of king David shall be established forever.

Keeping in mind other contents of the Holy Scriptures, when we summarize what God had just said, we heard of His promise that at the coming of Jesus, God would establish His Heavenly Kingdom. The Kingdom would be establish at that time, not later in time, not 1,000 years later or 2,000 years later, but at the time of the coming of Jesus as the Messiah, as God incarnated.

During today's Second Reading [Rom. 16:25-27] from the Book of Romans, we heard Saint Paul tell us that God is able to strengthen us in the Spirit of Truth. Through the words (the gospel) of St. Paul, God makes known to us His mysteries. God spiritually disposes the minds of the believers who hear the proclamation of Jesus, He Who revealed God's mystery that was kept secret for centuries and which has now been revealed. This knowledge and understanding of the Divine wisdom of God's mysteries through Christ was made known to all (the Gentiles) according to the Divine Will of God, to bring everyone in obedience to God through faith in Christ. For the eternal glory belongs to Jesus Christ.

In other words, St. Paul was saying, listen to and obey the words of Jesus Christ. For through Jesus, the salvation of mankind has come to all, the Jewish nation and the Gentiles. The Kingdom of God has come on earth as it is in Heaven. It is not a Kingdom that can be seen but rather a spiritual Kingdom. [Jn. 18:36] God's Kingdom is among you. [Lk. 17:20-1] Through Jesus, you will find the complete fulfillment of God's promises to the prophets.
[In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father's one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one. (Catholic Catechism # 65)]
How did all this come to pass? Today's last Reading from the Gospel of Luke [Lk. 1:26-38] answers that question.

God sent an angel called Gabriel to a small town in Galilee called Nazareth. The angel appeared to a virgin called Mary who was engaged to be married to Joseph, a descendant of the house of David.

According to the Rheims, 1582 A.D. English translation of the Latin Vulgate Version of the Holy Bible, the angel said to Mary, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women." [Lk. 1:18] Imagine an angel appearing to you and saying those words. Surely, you will answer, "What?" Being human as we are, but free from all traces of sins, the Blessed Virgin Mary was also confused and wondered what kind of greeting she was receiving.

Then the angel said to Mary, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God." To find "favour with God' means that the grace of God is with you. It also means that God has chosen you. Continuing, the angel said, "you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

In response to the words of the angel Gabriel, Mary said, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" By now, the Blessed Virgin Mary must have really been confused. An angel appeared to her. He tells her that she will have a Son when she is a virgin. He tell her that her Son will inherit the throne of David when the Jewish people no longer has any kings ruling over them. And he tells her that her Son's Kingdom will be eternal. In other words, thinking worldly, it was like saying that the Son of Mary would never die so that He could rule eternally over His Kingdom.

After all, were the people of the Jewish nation not waiting for a worldly Kingdom to come? That was their understanding of God's prophetic Words. God never said that He would establish an earthly Kingdom but rather an eternal Kingdom.

To add to all these impossibilities, the angel said to Mary that she would become pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit and that her Son will be holy, He being the Son of God.

As a sign to the Blessed Virgin Mary that all this was truthful, the angel announced that her cousin Elizabeth who was in her old age would also conceive a son, she presently being six months pregnant.

Hoping against all hopes, the Blessed Virgin Mary, submitted herself to the Divine Will of God and answered, "Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." After all nothing was impossible to Almighty God. The Blessed Virgin Mary, as a young Jewish girl, was very familiar with the Scriptures. She knew of all the great things that God had done for her people, how He freed them from slavery, how He divided the Red Sea, how He brought them to the Promised Land, etc...

Then the angel departed.

Today's Readings revealed to us that there will be no end to the Kingdom of Jesus. In three days, Christmas Day will descend upon us. On that day, we will commemorate the arrival of Jesus in the world as the promised Messiah to establish His Divine Kingdom in fulfillment of God's promises.

As we continue to celebrate the Holy Mass, let us remember that the Lord Jesus is with us, here and now, having established His spiritual Kingdom on earth on the Day of Pentecost. May we remember that by partaking in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist in the visible Body of Christ, we are participating in a great feast that is taking place in the invisible Kingdom of God on earth.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

 

Reading 1 2 sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
“Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?’

“It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.”

Responsorial Psalm ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 27-29

R/ (2a) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The promises of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R/ For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.”
R/ For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.’
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.”
R/ For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2 rom 16:25-27

Brothers and sisters:
To him who can strengthen you,
according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages
but now manifested through the prophetic writings and,
according to the command of the eternal God,
made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith,
to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ
be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Alleluia Lk 1:38

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel lk 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Homily for Today


May I welcome you all to the Lord's house of Worship on this beautiful day. With the approach of Christmas Day, how appropriate it is for all of us to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.

When I first read today's First Reading, [Is. 61:1-2a, 10-11] I recognized God's prophetic and symbolic language that was being spoken through the great Prophet Isaiah.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me." In these Words, we hear those of the Lord Jesus who was sent by God the Father for the salvation of mankind.

"He, God the Father, has sent Jesus to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."

The Heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son Jesus to bring the good news regarding the approach of the eternal Kingdom. Through Christ, the invisible Kingdom of God was about to be instituted on earth and in Heaven.

The glorious Kingdom of God which Jesus, the King of kings, reigns over at present, had its beginning in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples on Pentecost Day. [Lk. 24:18, 33, 47-9; Acts 1:3-4, 2:1-5] The invisible Kingdom of God that has its Divine Throne in Jerusalem is manifested through the Sacraments of the visible Holy Catholic and apostolic Church that has its seat in Rome and that possesses the Keys to the Kingdom of God. Both, the invisible Kingdom of God and the visible Catholic Church form the glorious Mystical Body of Christ that includes all the past and present saints who are found in Heaven and on earth.

Jesus came to proclaim liberty to the captives, to release the prisoners. When Adam chose to disobey God, he fell from the grace of the Lord. Consequently, he and all his descendants inherited the sinful nature. God's Kingdom in the Garden of Eden had been corrupted and taken over by the fallen angel Satan who elevated himself as the present prince of the physical world. To correct this, to free those who were captives of Satan, prisoners of his grip, the Heavenly Father sent His only beloved Son to reclaim the Heavenly Kingdom. As the rightful King of the Divine and eternal Heavenly Kingdom, God reinstated His reign through Christ who is the Lord incarnated.

In God's love, the brokenhearted once more had the opportunity to inherit the Heavenly Kingdom of God through the Sacraments of the holy Catholic Church. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, God's children could now receive the gifts of the new heart and spirit, both being protected by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Through this Sacrament, God's children would be made righteous for all the sins committed prior to their Baptism. This righteousness would be maintained through the Church Sacrament of Reconciliation. Finally, to receive their salvation, God's children would have the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread.

Proclaiming the year of the Lord's favour, we should all rejoice in the Lord. He has provided us with the means to inherit our salvation, not because of our works, but because of His infinite grace. By the grace of God the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God, our souls find salvation through the Church Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.

On the last day of this world, when will take place the resurrection of all the physical bodies, at the twinkle of an eye, the physical bodies of those of us who are saved will be transformed. Suddenly, we will be changed in the glorious image and likeness of the resurrected Christ.

Indeed, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland and a bride adorns herself with her jewels, God is progressively clothing us with the glorious garments of salvation. He has already covered us with the robe of righteousness through the Sacrament of Confession. And He has already covered us with the robe of eternal life through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

As the earth brings forth its shoots and a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, the Lord God is causing righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. We, God's children from all over the world, are the branches that receive life from the Tree of life, Christ Himself. As new creations who belong to the Kingdom of God, as living stones, we are called to shine as lights in the world. How gracious the Lord has been towards us!

During today's Second Reading, [1 Thess. 5:16-24] we were told to always rejoice, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. We should always rejoice because God has done great things for us as previously mentioned. We should always pray to secure our daily communion with the Lord God. We should always give thanks because all things come from God for the purpose of our sanctification as His children. We should do this in the Name of Jesus because it is through Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, that we receive our salvation.

Then, we are told not to quench the Spirit. To quench the Spirit means to choke the Holy Spirit to the point that we can no longer hear His inspirations in our hearts. Jesus gave us the indwelling Holy Spirit to sanctify us. Through the Spirit of God, we learn to respect the words of the prophets because in the Holy Scriptures we find the promises of God the Father. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to test everything, perceiving what is good so we may hold fast to it. We have the ability to perceive what is evil so we may abstain from it. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, our Guide, our Comforter, the source of Divine knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

Through the Spirit of the God of peace, it is God Himself who sanctifies us entirely, soul, spirit and body. It is by His power through the Church Sacraments that we keep our soul and body sound and blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord who calls us is faithful and He will keep His promises [Jer. 31:31, 33; Ezek. 11:19-20; 18:31, 36:26-7] as long as we genuinely and persistently strive to walk our living faith in Christ.

During today's Gospel Reading, [Jn. 1:6-8, 19-28]we heard that God had sent John the Baptist as a witness to announce the coming of the Light that is found in Jesus Christ. John the Baptist testified that he was the voice crying in the wilderness, telling all to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord. Proclaiming a baptism of repentance by water, John testified that the year of the Lord's favour had now arrived.

John also testified that he was not worthy to untie the thong of His sandal of the one who was coming after him. So great was the Divine Presence of the Lord, the King of kings, that John the Baptist felt unworthy to even untie the thong of His sandal. These words echo the spiritual attitude that we should embrace towards the greatness of the Lord Jesus.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, today's heavenly message through the reading of the Holy Scriptures is one of servitude. We are called to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour. In a few days, Christmas Day will arrive upon us. Christmas Day is a special day that commemorates the year of the Lord's favour.

As the Lord God commands us today through the words of the great Prophet Isaiah in the Book of Isaiah, the words of St. Paul in the First Letter to the Thessalonians and the words of John the Baptist in the Gospel of John, we are to prepare ourselves to commemorate with great joy the special year of the Lord's favour. To do so, we must repent of our sins so that we may once more become righteous in the eyes of the Lord at His coming. The Lord God invites each and everyone of us to remember during the next few days to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that on Christmas Day, we may receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread, our assurance of salvation through Christ. May we all prepare ourselves accordingly so that on Christmas Day, we will all celebrate with great joy in righteousness the year of the Lord's favour.

Third Sunday of Advent Lectionary: 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading 1 is 61:1-2a, 10-11

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.

Responsorial Psalm lk 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54

R/ (Is 61:10b) My soul rejoices in my God.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
R/ My soul rejoices in my God.
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
R/ My soul rejoices in my God.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
R/ My soul rejoices in my God.

Reading 2 1 thes 5:16-24

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

Alleluia Is 61:1 (cited in Lk 4:18)

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel jn 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,’

as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

A Few Prayers for Today

"Lord Jesus, make me a herald of your word of truth and grace. Help me to be a faithful witness of the joy of the gospel and to point others to you as John did through his testimony."

 

 Father in heaven, my heart desires the warmth of your love. My mind is searching for the light of your word. I long for the coming of Christ our Savior. Through this short, intimate encounter with you, I seek to grow in my love for you. You are my strength, my light, my peace, my joy, my life. 

 

 Blessed Lord, you are the source of lasting happiness and genuine peace of soul. Help me to base my interior strength on the certitude of your love for me. Help me to recognize your greatness and my nothingness, so that I will be more ready to be emptied of my selfishness and be a faithful instrument of your love. Give me the grace to take on my mission with fervent zeal and to bring it to completion.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Homily for Today

Taken from Catholic Doors


Greetings my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus. Observing your presence here today, the angels of Heaven must be rejoicing. Surely, their praises and songs must be echoing in Heaven. For the angels have great joy each time a soul repents and is saved by coming to the Lord Jesus. Your presence here today is a sign that the salvation of the Lord Jesus is being manifested in you by the grace of the Heavenly Father and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The message from today's readings tells us to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus. With the approaching of Christmas, the day when we will be celebrating the incarnation of God on earth, we are reminded how the people of the Old Testament waited for the arrival of Baby Jesus as the promised Messiah. Through the New Testament readings, we are reminded of the patience of the Lord in His second and final coming that will serve the purpose of our salvation, the Lord not wanting any to perish.

Travelling back through time, let us imagine that we were living in the days of the great prophet Isaiah. It was about 700 years before the birth of Jesus. Through the great prophet Isaiah, God was speaking to His people.

As Biblical history tells us, God's chosen people was not always faithful to Him. When the people lived righteously by obeying the Commandments, they received Divine blessings. When they lived in sin, they were punished. Now the day had arrived when God was revealing to those who lived in Jerusalem that they had served their term. They had paid double the penalty for their sins of unfaithfulness.

Through Isaiah, God told the people to prepare the way for His coming. They were not told when He would come, if it would be in a year, ten years or a hundred years. As Biblical history reveals to us, many generations went by before the Lord Jesus was born, in fact, about seven hundred years.

As John spoke symbolically in his writing of the Book of Revelation, God also speaks symbolically in what follows. The people were told that every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low. The uneven ground shall become level and the rough places a plain. When studying ancient Scriptures, we learn that the word mountain is symbolic of people of high positions, those who are proud.

The words of Isaiah echo the words of the Virgin Mary in the Magnificat. "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly." [Lk. 1:51] These words also echo the words of Simeon to Mary when Baby Jesus was presented at the Temple. "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many shall be revealed." [Lk. 2:34-5] In other words, Isaiah's prophecy meant that the humble would be raised and the proud would be lowered. The first shall be the last and the last shall be the first.

Then, the people of Jerusalem were commanded to go to the top of a high mountain and to shout the good news, announcing the blessing that would originate from Jerusalem. What was the good news? "Here is your God!" The mystery of the incarnation of God was about to be revealed. "For in [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily." [Col. 1:19, 2:9] God would be dwelling physically among His people. Through Christ, the promised invisible spiritual Kingdom of God would arrive on earth, starting in Jerusalem. [Acts 1:4, 7, 2:5]

In the First Reading, it was mentioned that the Lord God would come with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. Looking back in history, when did Jesus come with might? If we ask this question with a worldly heart, we will not perceive the answer for it takes a spiritual heart to know what is spiritual. [Rom. 8:5-7]

The might of the Lord came when His Kingdom was founded on earth. Throughout the New Testament, we find clues here and there as to the coming of the invisible spiritual Kingdom of God. In Luke 10:18, when the seventy disciples of Jesus returned from proclaiming that the Kingdom of God has come near [Lk. 10:9], they boasted of how the demons submitted to the Name of Jesus. Jesus answered by saying that He watched Satan fall from Heaven like a flash of lightning.

In Revelation 12:7, we read of the war that broke out in Heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. In Revelation 12:10-1, we are told that the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, he who accuses them day and night before God. He was conquered by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.

Revelation 11:15 further tells us that the Kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah. Since the day when sin entered the world through Adam, the Kingdom of the world had become the Kingdom of Satan. The Lord Jesus came to reclaim His Kingdom. But this time, God's new Kingdom would be spiritual, consisting of the new creation that all receive through faith in Christ in the Church Sacrament of Baptism. Being born again in Christ and receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are now able to call upon our Heavenly Father as children of God.

As Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There it is!' For, in fact, the Kingdom of God is within you.'" [Lk. 17:21] Through the gift of the new creation, the new heart and human spirit that is bestowed upon man, the new Kingdom of God on earth is being populated. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we have all become participants of the spiritual and invisible Kingdom of God.

Through our new creation and the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Lord gathers us as one in the Body of Christ, leading us through the mother sheep, [Is. 40:11] the Holy Catholic Church that has been instituted on earth by our Lord Jesus Christ.

When reading the Holy Bible, it is important to perceive that the Holy Scriptures speak of a progressive Kingdom of God. At present, the Kingdom of God is coming and has arrived. For those of us on earth who are walking our faith in Christ by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, the spiritual Kingdom of God is coming. For our saintly brothers and sisters who have passed away and who are dwelling in Heaven, the Kingdom of God has arrived.

The final phase of the progressive Kingdom will come at the end of time as we know time, at the end of this physical world. Our old physical bodies will resurrect. Then we will all be judged according to our deeds on earth and our living faith in Christ. Those who persisted in their living faith for the glory of God, at the twinkle of an eye, they will be transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. Then, those who have lived holy lives will inherit the eternal Kingdom of God while those who have lived unholy lives, they will be condemned to their eternal damnation.

When will this last phase of God's Kingdom come? We do not know! In today's Second Reading, we heard St. Peter's warning. Do not ignore this one fact, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years. The Lord is slow, as some think of slowness, about His final promise of the eternal glory that His children will inherit. Why? Because the Lord does not want any to perish, that all come to repentance.

Frequently, we hear, 'Why is it that many good people die so young and the miserable ones live to be so old?' It is because the good people are ready to proceed to Heaven, their salvation being assured in Christ. As to the miserable ones, the Lord is not finished with them as of yet. They have not fully repented through the grace of the Lord. The Lord God is being very patient with them.

But when the Day of the Lord comes, the final phase of God's progressive Kingdom, it will be like a thief in the night. With a loud noise, the heavens will pass away and the elements will be dissolved with fire. Everything that has ever been done on earth shall be disclosed for all to know.

Since these things are to happen in this way, St. Peter asks us, 'What sort of lives should we lead?' We should lead lives of holiness and godliness in the hope of the coming of the Day of the Lord where according to God's Divine promise, in the creation of the new heavens and the new earth, righteousness will be at home for all those who inherit the eternal promise.

Remembering that everything will be disclosed, St. Peter tells us to strive to be known as peaceful people, without spot or blemish. He tells us to consider the patience of our Lord as the assurance of the salvation of many. In simple words, we should not be critical of the Lord's Divine Plan as to when all this will come to pass. It is sufficient to be happy that we have found our salvation in Christ and that we strive by our teachings and living example to assist in the salvation of those who Christ has put on our earthly path.

From the Gospel of Mark, we heard today that John the Baptist was the messenger who came ahead of the Lord Jesus to announce His public life. When John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness, Jesus was already born. But His public ministry had not begun as of yet.

The words of John the Baptist echoed the words of the great prophet Isaiah, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' After waiting for 700 years, the Jewish people were told that the moment had now arrived. Through the baptism of repentance that John the Baptism preached, the people were forgiven of their sins. Here we hear of the people confessing their sins. We see the foundation of the Church Sacrament of Reconciliation. The people were transforming their lives, becoming righteous in preparation to receive the Lord Jesus. Equally, when one receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he is made righteous in the eyes of God so he may receive Jesus in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Through the Church Sacrament of Reconciliation, one prepares the way for the Lord to come into his whole being. He cleans his soul, his mind, his heart, so his body may be suitable for the indwelling Divine Presence of the Lord God.

So great is the Divine Presence of the Lord Jesus that John the Baptist, as a sinner, felt unworthy to stoop down and until the thongs of His sandals. These words echo the words of Simon Peter who also perceived the Divine power of Jesus when he said, 'Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!' [Lk. 5:9]

Today's Gospel Reading finishes by telling us that while John baptized the people with water, Jesus baptized those He loves with the Holy Spirit. [Mk. 1:8] Through Christ, we are sanctified to become in His likeness, holy, righteous, obedient and submissive to God's Divine Will, shining in love towards others and bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Our baptism in the Holy Spirit is ongoing, being reflected by our living faith in Christ, by our walking the path of Christ, by our patient endurance, by our bearing of the daily crosses that the Lord permits to come our way, and forgiving those who trespass against us.

By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus, we allow all these things to happen to us so we may be spiritually transformed to prepare the way of the Lord. Weekly, we unite with our faith community as one to receive Christ in our lives through the Church Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Daily, we remain united in communion with Christ while patiently waiting for His glorious return when all what is seen shall come to an end. United in prayer for the lost souls, we rejoice that the Lord is delaying His final return as the assurance of the salvation of many who otherwise would not be saved. Our patience is credited to us as a sign of our love towards sinners, we wanting that all be saved by the grace of God the Father. For the Lamb of God died for all of us!

Prayer

Lord God, I come from dust and to dust I shall return. You, however, existed before all time, and every creature takes its being from you. ...