Monday, December 31, 2018

When the fullness of time...

"When the fullness of time had come..... The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger."  (Galatians 4: 4, Luke 2: 16).

Today is January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.  God our Father in His mercy begins all good things and brings them to fulfillment. He is pleased to grant us new beginnings in this Year of grace.

"The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!"  in 2019. (Numbers 6: 24 - 26).

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever."  (Hebrews 13: 8).

May God bless us all in 2019 in his mercy.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

How to be a new person in 2019.

"Children, it is the last hour.........we know this is the last hour."  (1 John 2: 18).

Today indeed is Monday, December 31, 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas.  The beloved Apostle and Evangelist screams in the first Reading: LAST HOUR!

What shall we do? First review 2018 and note carefully the blessings and mercies of God. Then give thanks.
This is the hour that many people fine-tune the New Year Resolution.  I will share with you frankly a very simple and easy to keep resolution that can transform your life and bring you much peace and joy.

#1.  Pray always.
#2.  Pray about everything.
#3.  Pray everywhere.
(Cf Philippians 4: 6 - 7).

The most powerful prayer is just one word: Jesus.

St Augustine teaches:  "If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, all is well."

If you start with prayer, your day will be blessed.  A body in motion continues in motion. (1st law of motion).

"The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.
To those who accepted him
he gave power to become the children of God."  Jn 1:14, 12).

Be a new creation in 2019!
"Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come."  (2 Corinthians 5: 17).

SeekFirst Community wishes you and your family a 2019 full of faith, peace, patience, kindness and good health and prosperity.
Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Imitating the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

"The shepherds went in haste,
and found Mary and Joseph and the Infant lying in a manger."  (Luke 2: 16).

Today is the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

We celebrate the shining example of family peace, love and harmony the last Sunday of the year.  Why do we celebrate this feast? So that we may imitate and practice the virtues of family life so richly portrayed in this family.  We may be sure that this family observes the first rule of family togetherness and charity: "A family that prays together stays together."  Now that you have been reminded of this heavenly wisdom, blessed are you if you do it.

"God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them."  (Sirach 3: 2).

Blessed is the one who teaches his children this golden rule.

"Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." 
(Colossians 3: 15, 16).

Friday, December 28, 2018

Good has fulfilled His big Promise.

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled."  (Luke 2: 29).

Who spoke this famous words which the Church uses in its nightly prayer?  His name is Simeon and his profile by Luke the Evangelist is below:

"Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God."  (Luke 2: 25 - 28).

Simeon is an old prophet who is righteous, devout and had waited for the coming of Christ with unflinching constancy. No wonder he was a good friend of the Holy Spirit who is mentioned 3 times in the short passage above.  Simeon is famous for his accurate prediction of the role of Mary in salvation history:

“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”  (Luke 2: 34 - 35).

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple brings together in one holy place important Bible characters: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Simeon and Anna.
God fulfills His word in His own way and His own time.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Who are the Holy Innocents?

“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”  (Matthew 2: 13).

December 28th is the Feast of the Holy Innocents.  These are about 20 babies whom Herod slaughtered in an effort to kill the the Infant Jesus.

"The innocents were slaughtered as infants for Christ; spotless, they follow the Lamb, and sing for ever: Glory to you, O Lord."  (Entrance Antiphon).

"[Herod] ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under." (Matthew 2: 16).

Consider this: Even after the heinous infanticide of Herod, God is prepared to forgive him completely if he acknowledged his sin and asked for mercy.
"If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing."  (1 John 1: 9).

No sin is too great to be unpardonable.
"But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world." (1 John 2: 1 - 2).

"We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the white-robed army of martyrs praise you."  (Cf Te Deum).

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.

"This is John, who reclined on the Lord’s breast at supper,
the blessed Apostle, to whom celestial secrets were revealed
and who spread the words of life through all the world."  (Entrance Antiphon).

Today is the feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist. John penned the 4th Gospel, 3 New Testament letters and the Book of Revelation.

John gives us the eye-witness account of the majestic mystery that is Jesus Christ, the Word of life:

"What was from the beginning,
what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life." (1 John 1: 1).

He waxes stronger: 
"What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." (1 John 1: 3).

Christmas is a good time to commit fully to Jesus Christ so that your fellowship with us will be complete.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Feast of St Stephen, the first martyr.

"You will be hated by all because of my name." 
(Matthew 10: 22).

December 26th, a day after Christmas is the feast of St Stephen, the 1st martyr of the Christian Era.

We still have 3 full weeks of the Christmas season. A season of festivities, rich food and choice wines, music and merry making.  Why spoil the fun with a gory story of bloody and cruel killing?  Is it because birth and death are opposite sides of the same coin?  Listen to the Book of Ecclesiastes:
"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die."  (Ecclesiastes 3: 1 - 2).

Jesus Christ promised His followers that "You will be hated by all because of my name."   (Matthew 10: 22).

Stephen was the first disciple to bear witness. The word witness in Greek means martyr.
Who is Stephen?  His profile is Christ-like:
"Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people."  (Acts 6: 8).

He [Stephen], filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  (Acts 7: 55).

What can we learn from the life of St Stephen?
#1.  There is a price to pay in honest and genuine Christian life.
#2.  Nobody can live this life without the help of the promised Paraclete (Helper).
#3.  Jesus Christ is the "true and faithful witness."  He leads by word and example.  He fulfills every promise He makes.

So do not be afraid....
"When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say."  (Matthew 10: 19).

Jesus Christ will be the rock of refuge, a stronghold to save you.  He will always be your rock and fortress.  Trust in His holy and powerful name. (Cf Psalm 31: 3 - 4).

Monday, December 24, 2018

Happy Birthday Jesus!

  “Your God is King!”  (Isaiah 52: 7).

Happy Birthday O Emmanuel! We celebrate today the wondrous mystery of Your Incarnation, God born Man in the tiny village of Bethlehem. You did not disdain to be born of Your Virgin Mother.  You became God-with-us, God-in-us and God-for-us.

My friends, today is the day we have been waiting for.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news,
Announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation." (Isaiah 52: 7).

Now, let us celebrate!
"With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout with joy to the King, the Lord." (Psalm 98: 6).

SeekFirst Community wishes you and your family and friends a very joyful and holy Christmas.  We pray you will receive Jesus, the Child God who is our King with great joy.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

God will fulfill every promise He makes.

"Behold, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son into the world."
(Cf. Galatians 4: 4).

The Church exalts in the truth of God's faithfulness in the proclaimed word today:
"Behold, everything is fulfilled which the angel promised to the Virgin Mary."  (Antiphon to the Benedictus on the 4th Sunday of Advent).

The 2nd Reading today lists some of the promises of God to King David (2 Samuel 9 - 16).  Behold everything is fulfilled which God promised to David:

"And I will make your name like that of the greatest on earth......
I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Saul who was before you.  Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever."  (2 Samuel 9 - 16).

My friends, behold everything will be fulfilled which God promises you.  Let us chant our Yes and Amen and gratitude with the Psalm below:

"The favors 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."  (Psalm 89: 2 - 3).

This too God has fulfilled.
"Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant."  (Luke 1:  70 - 72).

"O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal ligt, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death."

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Peace our Lord is coming soon.

"He [Jesus] is peace."  (Micah 5: 4).

We are two days away from the solemn festival of Christmas?  Let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves:  Do we really know who we have been preparing to receive?

The Prophet Micah calls Jesus "Peace" in the first Reading. Jesus is not just the Prince of Peace but Peace incarnate.

Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit calls Jesus "my Lord."  Jesus is Lord means literally that Jesus is God.  The Angel Gabriel said to Mary:  "“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."  (Luke 1: 35).

The Lord be with you.
Peace be with you.
The Lord is Peace Himself.

The Child we are expecting in two days will "be ruler in Israel."
He is the King of the Universe and His origin is "from ancient times."  (Micah 1: 1).

"God and Father, you looked in pity on fallen man and redeemed us by the coming of your Son. Grant that we who profess our firm and humble faith in the incarnation of our Redeemer may have some share in his divine life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

Friday, December 21, 2018

Nothing is sweeter than the joy of answered prayer.

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request."
(1 Samuel 1: 27).

Friends, let me share with you frankly. There is nothing as sweet in religion as the joy of answered prayer.  If you have experienced it, you know what I mean. If not, ask yourself why.  Among my favorite Bible characters, Hannah, the mother of the Prophet Samuel stands close to the front of the line. She is a woman of great faith and power, generosity and humility.  The Evangelist Luke must have been inspired by her personality in crafting the profile of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is not an accident that the two most powerful women in salvation history are featured in today's Mass Readings just 3 days to the Solemnity of Christmas.

Speaking of the radical generosity of Hannah and Mary, read the word below and consider how many women you know who could make such offer to God.  Give away their only son?
"Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.” 
(1 Samuel 1: 28).

Mary and Hannah are spiritual warriors and winners.  Let us savor the Responsorial Psalm of today's Liturgy taken from the Song of Hannah and be blessed by the word of God.

"My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior."

“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).

"O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!"

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The waiting is almost over.

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

Our waiting is almost over. Four days to Christmas.  Advent is a Season for waiting. Joyful expectations which we know can never fail.  There are two certainties in our Christian experience:  Christmas and the Eucharist.  There must always be Christmas.  There must be the Eucharist every day, everywhere.  Fresh loaf from the Baker waiting for you. Thank You Father for your mercies and faithfulness.

Today is the feast of St Peter Canisius (1521 - 1597), priest and Doctor of the Church.  Peter Canisius of the Society of Jesus was a renowned teacher, author and catechist.  He was a very gentle apologist.  I ask for his Intercession every day.

"O God, who for the defence of the Catholic faith made the Priest Saint Peter Canisius strong in virtue and in learning,
grant, through his intercession,
that those who seek the truth
may joyfully find you, their God,
and that your faithful people
may persevere in confessing you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."  (Collect in the feast of St Peter Canisius).
St Peter Canisius pray for us.

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Virgin shall give birth to Emmanuel.

"The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel."  (Isaiah 7: 14).

What do we know about the true and full identity of the Emmanuel?

"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.”  (Luke 1: 32 - 33).

Emmanuel is Son of God.
He has a throne. Therefore He is King.
He will rule over the House of Jacob forever.
His Kingdom (the House of Jacob) will last forever.

We know that Jesus had magnificent obsession for the theme of the Kingdom. The Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary reveals some of the characteristics of this mysterious Kingdom. The new born King will be radically different from our ideas of kingship.  He will be born of a poor virgin girl from Nazareth in a stable. Before He was two, He will be running for His life to Egypt as a refugee.  His public ministry will be no different from the lowliness of His childhood.

What is the ultimate lesson in this sketch of Jesus?  The Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus of the Church can only be apprehended through faith. The shepherds, the Magi, Simeon and Anna, the Centurion, the Good Thief, etc all have something in common. They looked beyond the physical appearance and material circumstances of Jesus to see Jesus, the Son of God.  Christmas gives us the opportunity to examine our faith.
Do you have absolute confidence in the promises of God?  Then you are ready to meet the Real Jesus at Christmas.

"Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory."  (Psalm 24: 7, 10).

"O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!"

"Nothing will be impossible for God.”  (Luke 1: 37).

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

God's promises never fail.

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

Zechariah and Elizabeth are the elderly parents of John the Baptist.  We meet in this family three important characters in the story of salvation.

"[John] will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb." (Luke 1: 15). His mission is "to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” (Luke 1: 17).

We learn a couple of lessons from the conception and birth of John.

The Angel Gabriel gives the good news to Zechariah in the Sanctuary and not to Elizabeth as is the case with the mother of Samson in our first Reading today. (Judges 13: 2-7, 24 - 25). Nor with Mary who received the message of the Incarnation directly from Gabriel.

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John."  (Luke 1: 13).
Zechariah demurred at such a staggering development and merited a divine reproach. Fortunately, God never cancels His gift or His call. Such is His faithfulness and mercy.

"After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,  “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”  (Luke 1: 24 - 25).

God’s promises never fail.  It will be performed when and how it pleases Him.

O root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people: Come to save us without delay!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Who is Joseph?

"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."  (Matthew 1: 20).

Today's Gospel presents us an opportunity to look at St Joseph, the man chosen by God to be the foster father and guardian of Jesus.  God communicates with us through a variety of ways, viz:
#1. Inspiration
#2. Locution
#3. Sacred Scripture
#4.  Prophetic person /message
#5.  Dream

St Joseph is a man of dreams.  Matthew recorded 4 Dreams of Joseph in the Infancy Narrative:
1. Matthew 1: 24
2. Matthew 2: 13
3. Matthew 2: 19
4. Matthew 2:  22

"When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home."  (Matthew 1: 24).
Joseph is a very docile man. Who does not love the spontaneously obedient child or student?

Joseph is a very just and considerate man.  Consider what he did faced with the evidence that Mary was carrying a child not his own:
"Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly."  (Matthew 1:  19).

Joseph is a man of high purity and chastity. God chose him to be the husband of Mary because God had fitted him with the appropriate graces to protect the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Joseph the humble carpenter is the patron saint of workers.  He understands that genuine labor is collaborating with God where, what and when you are assigned.

Joseph is so fittingly named the Patron of the Universal Church.  Remember that he was the Guardian of Jesus and in his intercessory role, you can believe that Jesus will deny nothing to Joseph.

One week today: Christmas Eve!

"O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!"

Sunday, December 16, 2018

What can we learn from the Genealogy of Jesus Christ?

"The Genealogy of Jesus. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham........
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah."  (Matthew 1: 1, 16).

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of Abraham, Son of David is the plan built on rock, the rock of God's unalterable faithfulness to redeem mankind.  The record of the ancestry of Jesus shows us who God is and how He works in history.

Some years ago, I had weekly discussions with three young Mormon missionaries.  I asked them why they think the world needs a Mormon Church when the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself has been there from the beginning of the new age. "The Church apostasied. Emperor Constantine led the Church astray. So God decided to start all over."  Really? I asked.  Then what is the meaning of the Genealogy? At this point, I asked one of the young men to read the Genealogy in Matthew 1.  I interrupted to point out scores of deviant personalities:  murderer, thieves, prostitute, idol worshippers, etc.  Why did the Holy Spirit allow the Genealogy to end with  "Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah."  (Matthew 1: 1, 16).
They had no answer.
God had decreed that the Redeemer will come out of real humanity.

“The deliverer will come out of Zion, he will turn away godlessness from Jacob;
and this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11: 26 - 27).

"In respect to election, they are beloved because of the patriarchs.  For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."  (Romans 11: 28 - 29).

Again: "The gift and the call of God are irrevocable." Amen!

The Church teaches that it will arrive at its perfection in the Escathon, the End of the age.  As we make our pilgrimage towards our home, the Church labors to grow in the fullness of truth and charity.  Each life committed to Christ hastens the Second Coming.

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Be satisfied with your wages.

"The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?”
He said to some in reply:....
"Be satisfied with your wages.”  (Luke 3: 10, 14).

What you have here is Good News to rejoice your heart and bring you peace on the subject of money.  Let us try to unpack it by stepping aside and allow Scripture to speak.

"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.”  Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 5 - 6).

Do you trust that God will fully provide for you come what may? If you do, you should live in the truth below:

"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."   (Philippians 4: 6 - 7).

The word of God has warnings for the lover of money:

"Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income."  (Ecclesiastes 5: 10 NIV).

What does it profit you to be a billionaire at the cost of losing eternal life?

"For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains." (1 Timothy 6: 10).

Because the Lord always provides for His own, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near." (Philippians 4: 4 - 5).

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Lead me. Guide me. Teach me.

"Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.  If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea."  (Isaiah 48: 17 - 18).

O Lord, my Redeemer and Savior, lead me, guide me and teach me.  I have wandered most of my life and learned nothing useful. Now I want to be docile to You.  I will bend my heart to your commandments. I desire your promised prosperity.
You promised that those who follow you will have the light of life.  Yes Lord, I will follow you.

You promised that those who delight in Your word will be like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever they do, prosper.  Lord God, I delight in Your word, let it be done to me according to Your word. Amen. Amen. Amen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Some men are born great. Some achieve greatness.

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist." 
(Matthew 11: 11).

John the Baptist like the Blessed Virgin Mary was chosen from the womb and sanctified for his lofty ministry.  Son of the priest Zechariah and Elizabeth, John had a comfortable career lined up for him by inheritance.  He did not allow this to distract him from his predestined vocation:  "Prepare the way of the Lord."  Speaking of "distraction", why did John chose the lifestyle he embraced? He lived in the desert, cultivated his food, made his clothes, etc.  St John the Baptist saw his mission as unique and critical to the success of the Mission of the Redeemer.  For him, no compromise, no distraction would be tolerated.

As we head to the last two weeks of Advent, let us savor the consolation of the Scriptures from the first Reading today.

"I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the LORD; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel."  (Isaiah 41: 13 - 14).

Our gracious and merciful God kept this promise to John the Baptizer to the very end of his life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

They will be my people.

"Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst—oracle of the Lord.  Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day. They will be my people, and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you." (Zechariah 2: 14 - 16).

The Scripture above from the Prophet Zechariah seems made for the feast we celebrate today in the Church in the Americas:  Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.  The Blessed Virgin Mary was sent by her Son to evangelize the people of Mexico. She appeared to St Juan Diego in 1531.  From this encounter, several millions were baptized in a few years. The Mexicans renounced human sacrifice. They became evangelists of the faith all over S. America and the United States of America.

Incredible fulfillment of what Zechariah wrote:  "Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day. They will be my people, and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you." (Zechariah 2: 14 - 16).

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico City attracts millions of pilgrims yearly.  Pilgrimage to this Shrine is one of my wishlist. I have a consolation price however. I visited a replica of the Shrine in Port Arthur, Texas some years ago.  Two pictures from that visit  hang on my wall.

“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."  (Luke 1: 30 - 31).

Monday, December 10, 2018

Jesus rejoices over one repentant sinner.

"What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray..... And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."  (Matthew 18: 12 - 14).

Heaven rejoices over one repentant sinner.  In Heaven,  Every vote for Jesus counts.  Sadly, I did not figure this out.

Many years ago, I was asked to teach Young Adults Confirmation Class.  I prepared assiduously for it for a couple of months.  On the first day of class, I was excited.  Then the surprise.  There was just one candidate.  I engaged the young man for the the planned two hours.  I had taught the same class for some years. Why was I not told that there would be only one candidate.
To make a long story short, I told the director that I could not continue.

A couple of Sunday after this, a lady met me after Mass and said:  "I am Patrick's mother. I worked so hard to persuade my son to attend the Confirmation class. Now it is all for nothing."

Some time after this, I heard the reproach of the Master Himself from the Altar:  "In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!"  (Luke 15: 7).

I confessed my sin and promised Jesus that in future, I will teach just one person, minister to one person. If every vote counts for the politician, and every dollar for the merchant, one soul should count for me.

"Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated."  (Isaiah 40: 1).

Send Your Holy Spirit upon us O Lord to give us the courage to spread the Good News of Your burning love for us.  Amen.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

As for you, your sins are forgiven.

“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”  (Luke 15: 20).

Before Jesus healed the paralytic man who was lowered from the roof, He forgave his sins.  The healing of the paralytic is part of the healing ministry of Jesus which we read in the first Reading today:

"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.  (Isaiah 35: 5 - 6).

The Readings today are meant to prepare our hearts for Advent and the joys of Christmas.

"It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk."  (Isaiah 35: 9 - 10).

A good examination of conscience and Reconciliation can bring healing to our minds, souls and hopefully body and deliver peace and joy for Christmas and beyond.

"Hear the word of the Lord, O nations; declare it to the distant lands:
Behold, our Savior will come; you need no longer fear."  (Cf. Jeremiah 31: 10; Isaiah 35: 4).

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Prepare your heart for the Lord.

"I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1: 6).

This Sunday, we reflect a bit on the profile of a true and faithful witness. This person was called to ministry before the foundation of the world, sanctified in the womb, preserved from the corruption of society and at the right moment paid the full price for his calling. His name is John the Baptist.  God who began a good work in John was faithful and brought it to a splendid completion.  May the ever faithful God bring the good work He started in you and me to an excellent completion.

"Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths"  (Luke 3: 4).

Brothers and sisters, this is the holy task laid before us this Advent.  Although today is the second Week of Advent, it is not too late to get on board.
How do you prepare the way of the Lord? Exactly the way you prepare yourself for the Coming of Jesus:  Increased prayer, more word of God, more Eucharist during the week.  Good examination of conscience and Reconciliation are of paramount importance.  A house that is untidy and smelly is a gross insult to the King of kings.

"Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.
Those who go forth weeping,
carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy,
carrying their bundled sheaves."  (Psalm 126: 5 - 6).
Those who prepare the way of the Lord by preparing their hearts will be surprised by the delights of the Lord and will sing:
"The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy." (Psalm 126: 2 - 3).

Friday, December 07, 2018

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. (Ephesians 1: 3 - 4).

Mary was chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish as the Mother of the Son of God.
The Church all over the world rejoice with Mary on the Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception, today December 8th.

When the Archangel Gabriel told Mary the astonishing news of the Incarnation, she said:  “How can this be..... And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you... "  (Luke 1: 34 - 35).  No problem said Gabriel. The Holy Spirit will do the job.  I will like to remember this whenever God is asking me to do what I consider impossible.  God also hastened to reassure Mary and strengthen her faith:

"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.”  (Luke 1: 36 - 37).

Do you notice:  "nothing will be impossible for God?” This is a word of God we should never forget.

I like Mary's humble response:  “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”   (Luke 1: 38).

Let us join the Choir of Heaven and  "Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done marvelous deeds" for us in Mary. (Psalm 98: 1).

Our God has indeed done great things for Mary.
"He has clothed her with a robe of salvation, and wrapped her in a mantle of righteousness, like a bride adorned with her jewels."  (Cf Isaiah 61: 10).

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Lord increase our faith.

"On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a scroll; And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.  The lowly shall again find joy in the Lord, the poorest rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."  (Isaiah 29: 18 -19).

This is a fitting Scripture to honor the life of a big man whose feast we celebrate today:  St Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (337 - 397). The Lord filled St Ambrose with the spirit of wisdom and understanding and clothed him in a robe of glory. St Ambrose used his immense talent to shine the light of Christ on many souls. One of these souls is St Augustine whose mother, St Monica convinced to meet St Ambrose. The rest is history so to speak.

"And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!”  (Matthew 9: 27).
Never forget that man's necessity is God's opportunity. These two blind men who have hanged out together for some time probably discussed what it would be like to meet this Jesus. Then without warning, it happened.

“Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him."  (Matthew 9: 28).
Sometimes the Lord gives this little test. These two blind friends were ready with the answer.

"Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”  (Matthew 9: 29).

Note carefully what Jesus said to them: “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
An Advent prayer intention could be:  Lord increase my faith.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday.

December 7th, 2018  -  First Friday in December.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 12th and last month of the year 2018, we look at Promise #12.

#12. "The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour."

Friends, this is a tremendous promise. Let us thank our Lord Jesus Christ for such a generous offer.  I was once close to death.  My priest came and brought the healing Presence of Jesus in the Last Sacraments.  Whenever I think of Promise #12, I remember that awesome occasion and privilege.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Where and how do you build your family home?

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock."  (Matthew 7: 24 - 25).

Any architect, building contractor, surveyor would hail the above divine word as absolute truth and common sense.  When I visited a small town near Corpus Christi after a huge hurricane, I realized that common sense is not so common.  There are still many who built their houses on "sand" and expect them to survive hurricanes and cyclones.  The real point of the teaching of Jesus today is about the choices we make that affect our eternal destiny.  In today's Mass Readings, there are no shortage of good advice to help us. Let us sample a few:

"It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes." (Psalm 118:  8 - 9).

"A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you.”  (Isaiah 26:  3).
You can substitute man or woman.

"Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock."  (Isaiah 26: 4).
When you build your life on the Rock that is Jesus, your life will be safe, solid and secure.

"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call him while he is near." (Isaiah 55: 6).
That means Today. You are not guaranteed Tomorrow.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." 
(Matthew 7: 21).
God does not deceive any person and He cannot be deceived. Don't even try it!

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

What will the Lord provide on this Mountain?

"On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines."  (Isaiah 25: 6).

We see spectacular promises of what awaits us in the New Heaven and the New Earth which in the Gospel is understood as the Kingdom of God in its fullness. The Mountain of the Lord of Hosts will provide rich food and choice wines to the guests.  But there is more:

"He will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken."  (Isaiah 25: 8).

On the Mountain in today's Gospel, Jesus cured the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. (Matthew 15: 30).  Signs pointing to the Messianic Kingdom.

"On the same Mountain, "[Jesus] took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full."  (Matthew 15: 37).  One more Messianic Sign.

The rich food and choice wines of Isaiah and the baskets of bread and fish are types of the Eucharist which will provide sufficient and super satisfying nourishment in the Kingdom of God.

Does this vision seem unrealistic? Not at all! God will fulfill all His promises as Isaiah declared below:

"On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain."  (Isaiah 25:  9 - 10).

Trust in God forever!

Monday, December 03, 2018

It is the Father's gracious will to give you a magnificent Kingdom.

"Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike." (Luke 10: 21).

Abba Father has revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom to the childlike. What are these mysteries?  Since Jesus spoke incessantly about the Kingdom of God in His public ministry, may be these mysteries have to do with the inner workings of the Kingdom.

What do we know about the Kingdom?  The Kingdom is already here and now. The seed of the Kingdom is in the Church.  Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe and we know His Kingdom is everlasting.  Citizens of that Kingdom will be anointed by the Spirit of the LORD: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and all shall delight in the fear of the Lord.

We know too that in that Kingdom, there will be no death, sickness, wars, hunger, any type of weather catastrophes, etc.  Isaiah captures the perfect peace and serenity that will permeate life in the future Kingdom in these verses:

"Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall graze, together their young shall lie down; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the viper’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
(Isaiah 11: 6 - 10).

When you pray "Thy Kingdom Come!" you understand that
Yes, it is the Father's  gracious will to give us such a wonderful Kingdom.  (Cf Luke 10: 21).

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Go preach the Gospel to all the World.

"It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you."  (John 15: 16).

Today is the feast of St Francis Xavier (1506 - 1552). St Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus with St Francis Xavier.  Francis heard Jesus calling him through St Ignatius and appointing him to go and bear fruit that will last through St Ignatius. His response to Jesus was most generous.

"I will bear witness to You in the world O Lord.  I will spread the knowledge of Your name among my brothers and sisters.  (Psalm 17: 50 ; 21:23 RM).

St Francis traveled to India, Japan and China out of longing for the salvation of souls.  He converted hundreds of thousands of people to Jesus.

Jesus is still calling today:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." 
(Mark 16: 15).

The Internet and smartphone have made it easy today for everyone to respond to the call of Jesus from your home, work, bus, train, plane. In the park, grocery stores, restaurants, etc.

If you do not create contents like blogs or articles, you can distribute contents. How? You receive a daily scripture verse, you share it with friends, family or co-workers via text, email or Facebook or any of the Social media.  Imagine if your friend shares the same scripture verse with one friend.  In 365 days, you may have enabled over 1000 people to read Scripture and become Internet missionaries.  It is not difficult at all. All you need is to say Yes to Jesus.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Enter into the spirit of Advent with hope.

"The days are coming—oracle of the Lord—when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah."  Jeremiah 33: 14).

As Advent begins today, let us give some thought to the concept of Waiting and God's Faithfulness.  What have you waited for in your life?  What are you waiting for now?   Use the Scripture from Lamentations below to enter into the spirit of Advent.

"The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent;
They are renewed each morning — great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, I tell myself, therefore I will hope in him.

The Lord is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him; It is good to hope in silence for the Lord’s deliverance." 
(Lamentations 3: 22 - 26).

To hope in the Lord is to wait for the Lord.

I hope your heart will be warmed by the truth that God fulfills His promises in the fullness of time.

As we wait with expectant faith for God to fulfill His promises to us, we do well to take note of obstacles and barriers that may stand in our way.

"Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap."  (Luke 21: 34).

Friday, November 30, 2018

What are your plans for Advent?

"Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap."  (Luke 21: 34).

Today is the last day before Advent, the beginning of the New Year of the Church.  What is the above Scripture saying to me?  Be careful not to spend the next four weeks before Christmas like the Unredeemed. Parties, shopping, games, etc.  If you do, you will miss out on a lot of graces that Jesus Christ has prepared for you this Advent.

You ask: What should I do?

"Be vigilant that you may have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent." 
(Luke 21: 34 - 36).

"Be vigilant" means: Be alert and watchful through prayer, worship, songs and praises like someone waiting for the arrival of a very important guest.

"Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22: 20).

“These words are trustworthy and true, and the Lord, the God of prophetic spirits, sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.”  (Revelation 22: 6 - 7).

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Go bring someone to Jesus.

"Beside the Sea of Galilee,
the Lord saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and he said to them: Come after me and I will make you fishers of men."  (Cf. Matthew 4: 18-19).

Today is the feast of St Andrew the Apostle.  One of his biographers describes St Andrew thus:
"Andrew went through life leading people to Jesus, both before and after the Crucifixion."  This is the ultimate accolade.  Sacred Scripture puts it this way:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!”  (Romans 10: 15).

“Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” 
(Romans 10: 18).

Jesus may be calling you today to be an Evangelist. Andrew, Simon Peter and the rest of the Apostles have sown the seed. It is up to us to finish the harvesting:

"And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?  And how can people preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10: 14 - 15).

Go bring your brother, cousin, neighbor, friend, colleague to Jesus as Andrew did:
"Andrew told his brother Simon: We have found the Messiah, the Christ, and he brought him to Jesus."  (Cf. John 1: 41-42).

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb is the Eucharist.

"Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
(Revelation 19: 9).

3 days to go before the beginning of Advent.  The Readings are frightful, urgent and escathological, pointing us to the end of the world. In the midst of the grim scenario, we receive a blessing and a hope:
"Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”

The wedding feast of the Lamb is understood by Church militants here on earth as the Eucharist.  We come to this feast by summons or invitation.  Those who receive the invitation of the King to the Eucharist and turn it down with scorn will miss the blessings pronounced in Revelation 19: 9.

Those who cling to deceitful attractions and distractions of the world are warned of what will happen to their beloved kingdom:

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.  She has become a haunt for demons.  She is a cage for every unclean spirit, a cage for every unclean bird, a cage for every unclean and disgusting beast.”  (Revelation 18: 2).

What do you think of this warning of Jesus?
"Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."  (Cf Luke 21:20-28).

The Redeemed marked by the sign of the Lamb are encouraged to:
"Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy. Know that he, the Lord, is God. He made us, we belong to him, we are his people, the sheep of his flock."

Advent is the Season of expectation, praise and singing. Let us not hold back. Our Redeemer is coming.  He will redeem us from these dire predictions.

"O praise the Lord, all you nations, for his merciful love towards us is great.  (Psalm 117: 1, 2).

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Join the army of martyrs.

"Jesus said to the crowd:
“They will seize and persecute you... because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony."  (Luke 21: 12, 13).

Is your faith growing? Are you persevering in daily prayer, Reconciliation, Eucharist and works of mercy?  If your answer is Yes, then your faith is growing.  Your faith will be tested so that it becomes mature and bear fruit.  The branch that shows potential will be pruned.
You may consider your pruning season a very severe trial.  But be comforted by this truth:  "Man's extremity is God's opportunity."

One thing to remember in your period of trial is to be steadfast and constant in your determination not to give up.  At the end of every year, many people make New Year Resolutions.  The person that succeeds in forming the precious new habit is the one that breaks the resolution many times and refuses to give up.  He starts all over again. He or she is the one who will smile at the end of the year.  "By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”  (Luke 21: 19).

Join the army of martyrs (witnesses) by resolving today through your daily witness to the power of God to shock the conscience of the unbelievers.
How many years will the Lord require you to witness? The secret is to take one day at a time as if that day is your last.

"Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life."  (Revelation 2: 10).

And never forget this priceless promise:
"Behold, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age, says the Lord."  (Matthew 28: 20).

Monday, November 26, 2018

Remain faithful until death.

"Remain faithful until death,
and I will give you the crown of life."  (Revelation 2: 10).

As we listen to the End Times Scriptures from Revelation and Luke, it cannot be exaggerated that the counsel to persevere in the Christian life is the most important message today. In a culture of dictatorship of relativism, nothing is sacred anymore.  Not the vow to stick to marriage vows "till death do us part."  Not the perpetual vows of the priests and those in Consecrated life. Not the civil contract between the governed and the governors. We cannot forget that God loves constancy and faithfulness because faithfulness is the essence of who He is.

Although the Lord will come to judge the earth as Scripture teaches, we can never forget that God is full of mercy and always "speaks of peace to his people and his holy ones
and to those who turn to him." (Cf Psalm 85: 9).

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Who shall see the face of the Lord?

"Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come." 
(Matthew 24: 42, 44).

We are in the last week of the Church Year. One week to go. Does it occur to you that these may be the last days on earth for some people?  The message of the Holy Spirit to the Churches these days are urgent and simple:  "Stay awake!  For you do not know when the Son of Man will come."  (Matthew 24: 42, 44).

How much do you long to see the face of the Lord?   (Cf Psalm 24: 6).

But "Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD? Or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain."  (Psalm 24: 3-4).

Sacred Scripture continues in Revelation 14 to refine the profiles of men and women who desire to see the face of the Lord and pray with constancy and sincerity: "Thy Kingdom come!"

"These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.  They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished."  (Revelation 14:  4 - 5).

As we wait with eager hearts for the coming of the Lord, we are comforted by this unshakable truth of Sacred Scripture:
"Behold, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age, says the Lord."  (Matthew 28: 20).

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Celebrate the Solemnity of Christ Our King.

 “My kingdom does not belong to this world."  (John 18: 36).

This Sunday is the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.  It is logical that our key Scripture for today asks the question to Jesus:  If Your Kingdom does not belong to this world, where does it belong?

The answer to the question takes us to the magnificent obsession of Jesus throughout His public ministry:  the King and the Kingdom.  What are the characteristics of the King and His Kingdom?

According to Daniel, the King who receives dominion, splendor and power will be an everlasting King.  "All nations, peoples and tongues will serve him." His reign and His Kingdom will enjoy everlasting security. (Cf Daniel 7: 13 - 14).

But the King who stood before Pontius Pilate as a prisoner is the Son of the lowly Virgin of Nazareth, who came "to bring glad tidings to the poor,
sent to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free."  (Cf Luke 4: 18).
Jesus Christ our King reigns from the Cross. This is the mysterious truth Pilate could not understand. (Cf John 18: 37).
The Ruler of the kings of the earth will inaugurate His Kingdom from the Cross. (Revelation 1: 5).

Our King is the Prince of Peace!

"The Lord sits as King forever. The Lord will bless his people with peace."  (Psalm 29: 10-11).

Friday, November 23, 2018

Where are all the martyrs that died for Christ?

"They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise."  (Luke 20: 36).

Today's Scripture Readings by a peculiar arrangement of Divine Providence correspond to the feast of today.  Today is the feast of St Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions.  St Andrew, a Vietnamese priest was martyred in 1839 along with 117 others, 96 of whom were Vietnamese. Has any other religion the same experience of martyrdom as the Christian faith?  In other words, why is it easier for Christians to accept martyrdom?  Because of the hope of Resurrection!  Christians know that death is not the end of their life.

"Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death, and brought life to light through the Gospel." 
(2 Timothy 1: 10).

Just as death of Jesus Christ happened according to the plan and foreknowledge of God so was it for the Vietnamese martyrs and every martyr throughout history.  In his vision, John testified that the 2 martyrs were allowed to complete their appointed work before God allowed them to be killed.

"When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the abyss will wage war against them and conquer them and kill them." 
(Revelation 11: 7).

Brothers and sisters, millions of Christians have laid down their lives for Christ.  Do not be unbelieving and think it was in vain.  "May we never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For the word of the Cross is the power of God to us who have been saved." 
(Cf. Galatians 6: 14; cf. 1 Corinthians 1: 18).

"Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 5: 10).
This is true and faithful word.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Promises of God and the Joy of Answered Prayer.

"How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119: 103).

Many years ago, after I moved to a new parish, I found myself one Saturday morning in a Bible Study group. The pastor was the teacher.  "What is the most important concept in Sacred Scripture?" He asked. Many answers were proffered.  When it came to my turn, I said: "Promises."  For better or worse, Promise has been my key to understanding and applying the Sacred Text to my life. As years go by, God's promises become sweeter and sweeter to me.  Often in my prayers, I play a little chess game with God.  I raise my hands up and say:  "What I am asking for is what You promised. What I am waiting for is what You promised."  Then I make a sweet surrender of the request as to how and when of it to God.

I believe firmly that:
"The law of your mouth is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold."  (Psalm 119: 72).
All the heroes of the Bible fed exclusively on the word of God.

Here are a few Scriptures that have sustained my life in mortal spiritual warfare:

"God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable],
A very present and well-proved help in trouble."  (Psalm 46: 1 AMP).

"Never forget your promises to me your servant, for they are my only hope. They give me strength in all my troubles; how they refresh and revive me!" (Psalm 119: 49 - 50 TLB).

“If this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them – in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” (Acts 5: 38 - 39).
Are you discerning the viability of a project? This may be your Scripture.

"Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!"  (Psalm 27: 14).

The summary of what Sacred Scripture does for me in times of spiritual desolation and warfare is below:

1.  If God is with you, it is accomplished.  No matter the obstacles, delays,
disappointments or personal weaknesses.
2.  No fear. No worry. No doubt as long as the Lord is with you. 
3.  God will finish what He started. (Exodus 14: 13-14; Isaiah 13: 15; 2 Chronicles 20: 15;  Philippians 1: 6)
4. "The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need." (Psalm 23:1).
 5. "I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me." (Philippians 4: 13).

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Do you know what makes for peace?

“If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes."  (Luke 19: 42).

Jesus wept before He said the above words.  At this point in His public ministry, He had labored for three years teaching by words and examples the truth and the ways of God.  He taught them the 8 Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3 - 12).  The Beatitudes is the Magna Carta for the New World Order that Jesus Christ calls the Kingdom of God.  Unfortunately, Jerusalem over which Christ shed tears ignored His teachings and warnings thereby making the prophecy below inevitable in 70 AD.

"They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”  (Luke 19:  44).

How can we repay the Lord for all His goodness to us, especially for His crucifixion, Resurrection and the Church? Let us aspire to join the Choirs of Heaven and sing Him a new song:

“Worthy are you to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.” 
(Revelation 5: 9 - 10).

As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, we thank You Lord Jesus for the prosperity and peace You have given us.  Help us by Your grace to be mindful of the poor, the homeless and the immigrants in our midst.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What have you done with the talent entrusted to you?

“A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return."  (Luke 19: 12).

This is how Jesus started the a parable that is called the Parable of the 10 Gold Coins. 
His fellow citizens rejected the nobleman and his kingship. When he had obtained his crown and returned home, there was reckoning for everyone.  Each person has to answer a simple question:  how did you use the Time, Talent and Treasure that was entrusted to you? Some showed profit on their investment while others failed completely and blamed their Master for their failure.  Those who showed profit were rewarded while those who failed were punished and lost everything.  Jesus then concluded by saying:
"I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."  (Luke 19: 26).

"I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord."  (Cf John 15: 16).

Jesus was rejected as our King during His earthly life, a rejection that has continued till today in many quarters.  But soon we shall see Jesus glorified and see the Court of Heaven honor Him.

“Worthy are you, Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created.”  (Revelation 4: 11).

Monday, November 19, 2018

Is God training you as a daughter or a son?

"Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise."  (Revelation 3: 19).

Years ago at the beginning of my conversion, everything I held dear came crashing down at once.  I was bewildered because I thought I heard Jesus say to me:  “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” I came down quickly and received him with joy."  (Luke 19: 5 - 6).

I remained in a state of material and spiritual desolation for months until one Sunday in August, the Lord took pity on me and spoke to me directly from the Sanctuary during the Liturgy of the Word. This is what I heard: "Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?" 
(Hebrews 12: 7).   This gift of Understanding of this particular word of God to me transformed my Desert Experience, which by the way lasted for more than five years. I knew my trials and tribulations had a purpose: God was training me as a son.  Are you in the Desert? Is God training you as a daughter or a son?  Do not quit. The reward will be unbelievable.

“The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels."  (Revelation 3: 5).

Do not be Lukewarm but be very enthusiastic like Zacchaeus so that you may not hear this reproach:
"So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."
(Revelation 3: 16).

Be ready at all times to open the door for Jesus at the first knock:
“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).