Saturday, November 23, 2019

Solemnity of Christ the King.

“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”  Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” (Luke 23: 37 - 38).

Sunday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time is the Solemnity of Christ the King. Today marks the end of this Liturgical Year.

We hear that Christ reigns from the Cross. What does this mean? On the last confrontation with the Jewish authorities inside the Temple, "Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." (John 2: 19).  Jesus was referring to the Temple of His body as representing the old law and dispensation. That Temple was destroyed on the Cross. The veil of the Temple was torn in half at the death of Jesus and the entire Temple destroyed 70 years later. And from the Cross emerged not a Temple but a Kingdom. The seed of that Kingdom exists in the Church. Now let's see what the Church says:

"Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ's Passover. Until everything is subject to him, "until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God." That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ's return by saying to him: Marana tha! "Our Lord, come!" (CCC 671).

"The Lord sits as King for ever.
The Lord will bless his people with peace." (Psalm 28: 10 - 11).

Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.

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Friday, November 22, 2019

You will be like angels.

"Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 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: 34 - 36).

Saturday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time. The Gospel of today addresses a very important curiosity about the end times and the last things. What is heaven like? Will my husband recognize me? Will my family be together? How about my pets?

Last Sunday, we discussed Heaven and Hell in our RCIA class. It soon became evident how hard it is to imagine the other world. Jesus strikes a familiar New Testament theme about Heaven when He says:
"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."

It is going to be everlasting life for those who are chosen. I like very much what Jesus says about the chosen being like angels. The promise of Heaven and eternity becomes even sweeter in this promise:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2: 9).

Let these promises fill your hearts with peace and joy and comfort one another with these holy thoughts.

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Feast of St Cecilia, Patron saint of musicians.

"On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had desecrated it [Temple], on that very day it was rededicated with songs, harps, lyres, and cymbals.  All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success." (1 Maccabees 4: 54 - 55).

Friday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Cecilia (+ 3rd century) Virgin and Martyr. St Cecilia is the patron saint of music and musicians. Her name is mentioned in the Roman Canon. Music plays a central role in the worship and liturgy of the Church. St Augustine says that to sing is to pray twice.

Our first Reading from  1 Maccabees is a fitting Scripture to celebrate the feast of St Cecilia. The Maccabees reconsecrated the desecrated Temple on the 25th day of Chislev "with songs, harps, lyres, and cymbals."

At the heart of religion is worship. At the heart of worship is praise and thanksgiving. God loves music. It has been my great joy to listen to about 20 minutes of music every morning. This gift of music makes my day. I thank God for this wonderful blessing.
Let us lift up musicians and artists today in our prayers.

St Cecilia pray for us.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We will not obey the wicked orders of the king.

"But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: “Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that they forsake the religion of their ancestors and consent to the king’s orders,  yet I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors.  Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments." (1 Maccabees 2: 19 - 21).

Thursday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time is the feast of the Presentation of the three year old Virgin Mary in the Temple. Here is what the Church says about this feast:
"The Church preserves the early tradition that as a small child, Mary was presented to the Lord by her parents in the Temple. This celebration calls our attention to the total dedication of Mary to God's service and her obedience to God's plan. We, too, are called to serve God joyfully and without seeking any human glory in return." (Roman Missal).

In our key Scripture today from 1 Maccabees, Mattathias stood his ground and declared: "I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors.  Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments." Do you see that such a stance means death sentence for the person. This statement is not made lightly.
Remember Eleazar, the 90 year old man who was bludgeoned to death for refusing to eat meat forbidden by the law? Scripture says that Eleazar made up his mind ahead of time on what to do in such a situation. (Cf 2 Maccabees 6: 23).

In a similar cross road in the early history of Israel, Joshua declared:
"If you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24: 15). Joshua had decided that come what may, he would serve the Lord.

"Offer praise as your sacrifice to God; fulfill your vows to the Most High. Then call on me on the day of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.” (Psalm 50: 14 - 15).

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Martyrdom of a mother and her 7 sons.

"Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother who, seeing her seven sons perish in a single day, bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord." (2 Maccabees 7: 20).

Wednesday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time. Our first Reading is the incredible story of how a strong and holy mother watched her seven sons martyred one after the other rather than submit to the profanation of their faith. She died last. What are some of the lessons of this incredible story?

"Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with your brothers.” (2 Maccabees 7: 29).

In the words of Jesus:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10: 28).

This most admirable mother who birthed her seven sons into heaven is type and shadow of the Blessed Virgin Mary who walked the way of the Cross with her Son Jesus and stood under the Cross for hours to watch Him die for us.

In the Gospel of today from Luke 19, the Parable of the Ten Gold Coins, Jesus teaches:
"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).

Faith may well be our greatest asset. What are you doing with your talents?

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Monday, November 18, 2019

How Eleazar died with dignity.

"But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood; and so he declared that above all he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God." (2 Maccabees 6: 23).

Tuesday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time. The 1st Reading from the 2nd Book of Maccabees tells us of how Eleazar, the 90 year old noble man died a martyr's death.

What is the great lesson for us in this Scripture? Never think or say: It is insanity to imagine that such a persecution could ever happen today. We learn that "Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years." In the fight against sin and evil, you must make up your mind what to do, how to act in different compromising scenarios. If you don't, you may find yourself compromised "for the sake of a brief moment of life." (2 Maccabees 6: 25). The English Hierarchy under King Henry VIII in the 16th century were completely unprepared for persecution.  Except St John Fisher, all succumbed to the threat of the King and renounced their faith.

Why does the Holy Spirit give the Church this Scripture today? Be vigilant and pray always. O that you would listen to His voice, harden not your hearts.

"Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God,
the constant gladness of being devoted to you, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.. " (Collect, today).

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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Bartimaeus wanted to see so badly.

 “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” (Luke 18: 37).

Monday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time. Our Gospel story of today is the story of the Blind man called Bartimaeus in the Gospel of Mark.

Why is Bartimaeus a very interesting character and why is the story of his healing filled with spiritual lessons? A Pre-Advent Parish Mission two years ago at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus inspired me with interest in Bartimaeus.  The teaching on Bartimaeus on Day 1 of 4 of the Mission was keynote and made a permanent impression on me. This is why:

Bartimaeus was prepared for this moment.  Fortune favors the prepared person. What would you do if you hear that Jesus is passing by a couple of blocks from you? No one could prevent Bartimaeus from meeting Jesus. Bart has an urgent and pressing problem which he determined that only Jesus can resolve. Problems are good for everyone. 

Jesus saw the faith and enthusiasm of Bartimaeus and said to him: “What do you want me to do for you?”  The blind man replied, “Master, I want to see.” Bart was direct.  No beating about the bush.  Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way."  (Mark 10:  49 - 52).

Bartimaeus became a disciple of Jesus. St Ignatius Loyola teaches that desire transforms a man. Some social scientists have stated that we get what we desire with intensity. What do you desire most in your heart? Desire makes a man.

Ask the Holy Spirit with persistence to purify your desires and replace them with God's promises.

"Now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4: 8).

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