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!