Saturday, December 23, 2017

Who is this Child?

"You have found favor with God."  (Luke 1: 30).

Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent.  It is also Christmas Eve and the end of the Advent Season.  Christmas Season begins tonight.

The Archangel Gabriel told Mary:  "You have found favor with God."  (Luke 1: 30).  I hope you too have found favor with God after 4 weeks of preparation for this great feast.

During the Advent Season, we met the following Bible characters and hopefully learned a few things from them:
Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus.
Joseph, the silent, faithful and obedient husband of Mary.
St John the Baptist, the single-minded, humble and courageous precursor of Jesus the Messiah.
Isaiah the prophet, who prophesied about the Messiah as no other prophet did.

The time of waiting is now over. As we welcome the Christ Child at Midnight Sunday, let us rejoice and be convinced that our God has truly come to save us and that He is indeed Emmanuel, the God who is with us.

Friday, December 22, 2017

When Jesus knocks at the door of your heart on Christmas day, what will be your response.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me."  (Revelation 3: 20).

These are the words of Jesus to John in a vision in the Book of Revelation.  What do you think of these incredible words?  What is your response?

In a few days, we celebrate Christmas.  Jesus will be standing at the door of your heart begging you to let Him in.  Decide in advance how to respond.

"O King of all nations and keystone of the Church; come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!" (Gospel Acclamation, Saturday before Christmas).

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hannah prayed for a son and the Lord gave her Samuel.

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him."  (1 Samuel 1: 27).

This is the testimony of Hannah, the mother of Samuel to the high priest Eli.  Hannah is one of my favorite Bible characters. Why?
Hannah believes in prayer.
She believes in miracle.
She has an incredible spirit of gratitude.

Let us relish her hymn of gratitude to God:

“My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory.”

“The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.”

“The LORD puts to death and gives life he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich, he humbles, he also exalts.”

“He raises the needy from the dust;
from the dung heap he lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.”  (1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8).

Everything you need to affirm you, to give you the consolation of the truth from the Scriptures is here in the hymn of Hannah.

"O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!"  (Gospel Acclamation, Friday 3rd Week of Advent).

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How do you handle the inspiration and ideas dropped into your mind by the Holy Spirit?

"Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”  (Luke 1: 45).

Mary could have disbelieved the message of the Archangel Gabriel. But she chose to believe.  And for this, Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit pronounced her blessed.

Whenever God wants to do a big thing in my life, the first thing He does is give me the faith to believe that the project can be done.

As a high school teacher, I suddenly conceived an idea to go to London to do graduate studies. I had no scholarship nor money.  But mysteriously, I believed I could do it. The mission was accomplished.

At one time, I had the desire to buy a land and build a home in the city I was living.  Again I had no money but mysteriously believed it was possible.  To make a long story short, the project was accomplished on time.

Make no mistake about it.  Both the inspiration and power came from God. I did not know it at the time. But I knew it was not the power of positive thinking.

Scripture pronounces blessed he who believes that what was spoken to him by the Lord would be fulfilled.

How about you?  How many inspirations and ideas have you lost through unbelief?   Ask the Lord to give you the gift of Faith.

"O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!" (Gospel Acclamation, Thursday 3rd Week in Advent).

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mary prepared herself through Prayer and Scripture to receive the message of God.

"Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favor! The Lord is with you!" (Luke 1:28)

The Angel Gabriel also said to Mary:

+ Mary, do not be afraid, you have won God's favor.

+ The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow.

+ For God's promises can never fail.

Mary answered:

+ You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.

I like very much the reminder that God's promises never fail. Here are a few other instances of this word:

+  With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19: 26, Mark 10: 27)

+  What is impossible for man is possible for God (Luke 18: 27)

+  With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1: 37)

+  Nothing will be impossible for them (Genesis 11: 6)

+  Nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17: 20)

+  I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4: 13)

"O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!"  (Gospel Acclamation, Wednesday 3rd Week of Advent).

Monday, December 18, 2017

Abba Father, remove our barrenness.

"But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years."  (Luke 1: 7)

"There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren and had borne no children."  (Judges 13: 2 - 3).

Barrenness is the theme the Holy Spirit appears to give the Church today to chew and digest in this Tuesday of the final Week in Advent.  The scriptures come from Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25 and Luke 1: 5-25.  

I sense the Lord asking me: "What fruits have you produced for my Kingdom?" Tough question.

Are you also barren in an area that matters most in life?  What God did for Zechariah and Elizabeth and Manoah and his wife, God can do for you and for me.  Let us pray to God to open our hearts in faith.

Abba Father, in Your mercy, take away all barrenness and bitterness from our hearts and make us fruitful so that we can glorify Your Name.  Amen.

"O root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
Come to save us without delay!"  (Gospel Acclamation for Today).

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Lord Jesus, prepare our hearts to experience Your presence this Christmas.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1: 23).

But Jesus is also God in us and God for us. 

At a moment of great crisis many years ago, I was inspired to read Exodus 14: 13-14.  I did and realized that God was with me.  I became calm and peaceful convinced that God would help me.  God is the Unseen Actor.  He wanted me to be a spectator.  I overcame my fears and triumphed in the crisis. Just as I experienced Emmanuel on that unforgettable occasion, you too can experience Him anytime you wish.  How?

You can experience Emmanuel when you receive the Eucharist or  when you sit quietly before the Blessed Sacrament and exercise your faith in His promise.  You can experience Jesus when you pray or when you read the word.  Again it is very important to consciously affirm your trust in the promise He made to be always with you.
We can experience God when we read devout books.  When you pray, you speak to God.  When you read, God speaks to you.  (St Vincent de Paul). 

How awesome it will be for you and me to know with certainty that  Jesus, God-with-us is indeed with us. 

Consider for a moment what this will mean for you.  Awareness of His mysterious presence conquers fear, worry and doubts.
 If Jesus is with you, then all is well; all is accomplished.

"Father, help us to keep in mind that Christ our Savior lives with you in glory and promised to be with us until the end of time….." (Collect  in the 7th Sunday of Easter).

"O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!"  (Gospel Acclamation, Monday 3rd Week of Advent).