Saturday, December 21, 2013

O Emmanuel, Our King and Giver of Law

"The Lord and Ruler will be coming soon, and His name will be called Emmanuel, because He will be God-with-us."  (See Isaiah 7: 14; 8:10)

O Come Emmanuel!
How do we know that Jesus is truly with us as He promised?  Because He said so.  We walk by faith and not by sight.  If Jesus is not with us, we would not have any peace.  Our problems will completely overwhelm us.  If Jesus is not with us, there will be no hope for the future.  There will be no hope of rising from illness or recovery from a serious financial crisis.  No hope of finding a new job after losing one.   It is because of His abiding presence that we can sing with joy.  It is also because of His presence that demons have not made mince meat of us.

Thank you Jesus for your presence.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Sign of Emmanuel

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel."  (Isaiah 7: 14)

King Ahaz had already decided to seek foreign against the coalition massed against Judah. The situation was not just critical but an emergency.  The prophet Isaiah appeared and told the King not to seek any foreign aid.  God had promised to help him.  For King Ahaz at this stage of the crisis, it was like a parent who had already decided that surgery was the last option for a critically sick child. If you are such a parent, what would you do if a prophet comes along to urge the surgery not to proceed because God will miraculously heal your child.  That was the situation of King Ahaz.

God realizing that Ahaz was in a difficult situation offered him an incentive to faith.

"Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as Sheol, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!"  (Isaiah 7: 10 - 12)

King Ahaz refused to ask for a sign.  He had already made up his mind what to do. The Lord God was determined however to give one of the greatest signs in the Bible.

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel."  (Isaiah 7: 14)

The Virgin Mary is a sign.

"And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2: 12)

The Infant Jesus wrapped in a swaddling clothes is another sign that points to the life and work of this Child.

What sign do we have today that what we believe is true?  The Catholic Church is the sign. It is the sign of the presence of Jesus in the world.  There are four marks that point to this sign always and everywhere in the world:  The Church is one; the Church is holy; the Church apostolic; the Church universal.  These four marks have always been the means of recognizing the Catholic Church everywhere.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christ our King is coming

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1: 20 21)

Joseph had three good reasons to be worried.  First, was his deep disappointment that after what he considered a prayerful discernment his choice of Mary as a wife was a failure.  Second was his deep regret with Mary herself.  Mary was reputed as the holy, chaste and wise virgin of the town.  Now, she appeared to be like everyone else.  Finally, Joseph was saddened with the  failure of divine guidance.  Divine guidance is promised in the scriptures especially for those who walk in God's ways.

Amidst such forebodings, Joseph went to bed for another restless night.  But this night was different from other nights.  It was the night of the second Annunciation.  The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and revealed that Mary was with child by the power of the Holy Spirit.  And with this, the peace and faith of Joseph in God was fully restored.

It happens that in our own life, we might go through a period of severe test of faith like Joseph.  The test could be in the areas of family, finances, job, health, property and tools.  In such period, wouldn't it be wonderful to enjoy a visitation of an angel telling us that everything is alright and urging us to be patient for a little time because what is going on is a set up by God.  Alas, most of us would never enjoy any such visit by an angel.  This is because the message of God for us has been communicated in the scriptures.  Here are a few examples:

God is with us.  He is Emmanuel.(Matthew 1: 23)
"The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."  (Exodus 14: 14)
"Endure your trials as 'discipline.'"  (Hebrews 12: 7)
"Be still, and know that I am God."  (Psalm 46: 10)
"Do not be afraid and do not dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's."  (2 Chronicles 20: 15)
"Not by might, nor by power, but my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts."  (Zechariah 4: 6)

There are many such scriptures in the Bible which we can appropriate and apply to our situation.
"Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire."  (2 Peter 1: 4)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Come to us Jesus and bring us peace

"Hear the word of the LORD, you nations,
proclaim it on distant coasts, and say:
The One who scattered Israel, now gathers them;
he guards them as a shepherd his flock."  (Jeremiah 31: 10)

By divine providence, Israel was scattered as the sower scatters the seeds.  In the nations were they were scattered, they became the foundation for the sowing of the Gospel.  As harvest is gathered in due season, Israel will be gathered up by the Lord.

"I will bear a witness to you in the world, O Lord. I will spread the knowledge of your name among my brothers,alleluia!"  (Psalm 17: 50; 21: 23)

"Say to the fearful of heart:
Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
he comes to save you."  (Isaiah 35: 4)

Come Lord Jesus!  Come quickly!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rejoice in the Lord

Philippians 4:4
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice."

Isaiah 35:4
"Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”

Thank you Lord for my Disappointments