Saturday, December 17, 2005

She heard, she pondered, she believed!

"Mary, do not be afraid, you have won God's favor. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus." (Luke 1: 30-31)NJB

Mary in the Annunciation story pondered the message of the angel. She asked for clarification. 'But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?' Then she made up her mind: 'You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.'

All her life, Mary prepared herself to say 'yes' to God. Through Mary's 'fiat' or yes, Jesus became physically formed in her womb. The Annunciation is the celebration of the robust faith of Mary. Mary becomes the model for our true vocation in life. Whoever hears the word of God and ponders it in his heart everyday becomes disposed for God's action. Of the incarnation, St Augustine and St Leo said that Mary conceived the word of God first in her heart and then in her body.

"In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time. She whom the Almighty made 'full of grace' responds by offering her whole being: "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2617)

Pope Leo XIII in Encyclical, Octobri Mense wrote: "The eternal Son of God, about to take upon himself our nature for the saving and ennobling of man, and about to consummate thus a mystical union between himself and all mankind, did not accomplish his design without obtaining the free consent of her who was to become his Mother. She was the representative of all mankind, according to the illustrious and learned opinion of St Thomas, who says that 'in the annunciation was awaited the consent of the Virgin standing in the place of humanity.'"

"The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries" on the Annunciation

Books on Mary

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Eucharist - Great Mystery of Faith

“Take it and eat;’ he said ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them. ‘Drink all of you from this,’ he said ‘for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26: 26 – 28)

The blood of Christ seals the new covenant between God and man. The new agreement between God and man is this: Jesus agrees to die for the sin of man on the cross. Man agrees to accept the sacrifice of Jesus for his salvation. To seal this agreement, man eats the flesh of Jesus and drinks his blood. Whenever we eat his body and drink his blood, this covenant is renewed.

The Church calls the Eucharist, a great mystery of faith. We can never fully understand this mystery. But then understanding is not important, believing is everything. In dying on the cross, Jesus saved us. In giving us his body and blood as the sign of this wonderful covenant, he saves us today.

Thank you Jesus for your precious Body and Blood.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


"But what were once my assets I now through Christ Jesus count as losses"(Phillipians 3:7)

I stood near the historic Arc de Triomphe in downtown Paris, dazzled by the brilliant lights and savory smells of the French capital. Well-dressed men strode liesurely and women in the latest fashion walked in the famous Parisian catwalk. BMWs and Mercedes whirled the huge roundabout. What a spectacle!

I couldn't help myself. I indulged in reverie. This is great life and I wanted it. Great family, big salary, nice homes, fast cars and overseas vacations. For many years, I went the extra mile in search of the good life.

Then I met Christ. Before St. Paul met Jesus, he boasted about his many 'physical qualifications'(Philippians 3:3): He was a Jew, a Pharisee and educated by Gamaliel. After his conversion, Paul wanted only one thing in life: to know Jesus and to serve Him.

What do you value as your greatest asset? Jesus said: "You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24). An encounter with Jesus causes metanoia, a Greek word signifying a radical change of direction. Commitment to Christ changes our values and removes our longing for wealth. He shows us true riches: Faith, hope, love, simplicity and joy.

Knowledge of Christ opens the door to trustworthy fortune. Our happiness no longer depends on material things. We become aware that Jesus who loves us, knows our real needs and provides adequately for us. Moths, rust and robbers threaten worldly riches but cannot touch spiritual wealth. Our fortune is stored in heaven.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Loving Jesus

“What she has done for m e is one of the good works indeed! You have the poor with you always, but you will not always have me.” (Matthew 26: 10)

A street woman shows lavish affection to Jesus. The host who noticed it murmured inwardly. Jesus did not hesitate to claim his right to be loved and for fair treatment. “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” There should be not conflict between and our love and service to the poor and what we owe to God. We owe Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving and love. How do we discharge this duty? “If you do it to one of the least of my brethren, you do it to me.” Jesus is present in our neighbors especially the marginalized and the weakest.

Lord, help us to recognize you in our brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Good Faithful Servant

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25: 21)

The good and faithful servant is praised not for the achievement of great projects but for accomplishing small tasks in a faithful manner. This means that everybody can be a good and faithful servant. Even a child can perform a small task. It is relatively easy to accomplish a small task once. It is much more challenging to do it for one week or one month. But to do that small thing always and everywhere demands a cut above the average. This is the quality of faithfulness.

God has given everyone the ability to do something well. This is our talent or opportunity. God wants us to be faithful in the use of this talent. Many writers have pointed out that what is most encouraging in the above scripture is that the servant is praised not for performing the task in an excellent manner but just by being constant in his line of work. It is comforting to see that I too can be faithful in one thing. What is the one thing I can be faithful in? Perhaps prayer or the study of the word of God. I find a natural attraction to both.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Staying Power

‘They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed……….. So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25: 10 – 13)

: This is the parable of the foolish virgins. The parable teaches perseverance and staying power. Sometime ago, I had a horrible dream. I was in a large Church with many people waiting to receive certificates from the bishop. When the bishop delayed his arrival for over an hour, I left the Church to go to my apartment across the Church to comb my unkempt hair. I have a clean shaven head but in the dream, I had a full head of hair. When I arrived in my apartment, I met unexpected distractions. When I came back to the Church, the ceremony was over and I missed my certificate. I wept like a child in the dream.
The Lord teaches that only those who stay in their post when he calls will be rewarded. “Therefore, stay awake, for you do know neither the day nor the hour.”

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Promotion of the Servant

“What sort of servant, then, is faithful wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give them their food at the proper time? Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at his employment. I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns.” (Matthew 24: 45 – 48)

The faithful and wise servant is constant at his post, unwavering in his duty. He knows what is expected of him and he does it come what may. He has his job description and work plan and he understands what is expected of him. His is not a man of eye service.

The wise and faithful servant is confident of his master’s reward. He places his full trust in the promises of his master. After a long period and suddenly, his master arrives. He rewards him with promotion. “He will place him over everything he owns.”

To be a faithful and wise steward, we need three graces:
  1. To understand the job that the Lord has for us.

  2. To be faithful and constant in doing this job.

  3. To believe in the promise of the Lord to reward our diligence.

Lord, grant us the above graces. Amen!