Saturday, November 30, 2019

Advent - A Season of Joy and Expectations Begins!

"Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come." (Matthew 24: 42).

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is the Season when the Church prepares for the memorial of the first Coming of Jesus as a little child in Bethlehem. This remembrance causes us to anticipate His second Coming as Lord and Judge. "Advent is thus a period of devout and joyful expectation."

The purpose of Advent devotions is to cause us to increase our longing for Jesus. The second Reading encourages us to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh." (Romans 13: 14).

Praying more and the study of Holy Scriptures are good ways to be expectant and vigilant.

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Friday, November 29, 2019

The Feast of St Andrew the Apostle.

"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).

Saturday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. The Liturgical Year ends today with the feast of St Andrew the Apostle. Who is St Andrew? Brother of St Peter and the first Apostle to be called by Jesus. He introduced Peter to Jesus. Preached the Gospel in Greece where he was crucified on an X-Shaped cross. St Andrew is the patron saint of Russia and Scotland. 

Two things struck me in the Call of St Andrew:

#1 "And they [he & his brother Simon] left their nets at once and followed him."
AT ONCE: No delay. No hesitation. 

#2 "Andrew told his brother Simon:
We have found the Messiah, the Christ, and he brought him to Jesus." (Cf John 1: 41- 42).
When you have SOMETHING really good to share, who is the first on the list? 

Jesus Christ is glorified when we honor His saints. The Liturgy on this feast of St Andrew brings out this marvelous truth of the Communion of the Saints:

#1 "We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew was for your Church a preacher and pastor, so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.... " (Collect). 

#2 "May communion in your Sacrament strengthen us, O Lord,
so that by the example of the blessed Apostle Andrew we, who carry in our body the Death of Christ, may merit to live with him in glory.Who lives and reigns for ever and ever." (Prayer After Communion).
Use the power of example/biography to climb the ladder of holiness. If she does it, so can I. 


May God, who has granted you
to stand firm on apostolic foundations, graciously bless you through the glorious merits
of the holy Apostle Andrew.
R. Amen.

And may he who endowed you
with the teaching and example of the Apostles, make you, under their protection,witnesses to the truth before all.
R. Amen.

So that through the intercession of the Apostles, you may inherit the eternal homeland, for by their teaching you possess firmness of faith.
R. Amen.

And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit,come down on you and remain with you for ever.
R. Amen."

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Son of Man is the King of Kings.

"I saw coming with the clouds of heaven One like a son of man.
When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7: 13 - 14).

Friday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. The Prophet Daniel gives us an astonishing vision of the Son of Man.

Why does our Scripture for today point to the King and the Kingdom to come? Remember last Sunday, we celebrated the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe? We noted the core themes of His Kingship. Now let us look at the key attributes of the Son of Man from Daniel 7:

#1 Dominion and kingship
#2 Splendor
#3 Everlasting /eternal
#4 Indestructible
#5 Universal

Daniel saw clearly in vision of the night Jesus Christ and the Kingdom He established through His death on the Cross. The seed of that Kingdom exists today in His Church. That Kingdom is unfolding bit by bit as the Church grows every day in charity, faith and hope.

Are you inside the Kingdom or are you outside? You are either for Me or you are against Me. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

His heart is full of joy and gladness because he served the Lord with constancy.

“May your God, whom you serve so constantly, save you.” (Daniel 6: 17).

Thursday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time is Thanksgiving Day in America.

Daniel was accused of breaking the law because he prayed to his God. As a punishment, King Darius had Daniel thrown into the Lion's Den. But Daniel was too valuable for King Darius to lose. He knew palace intrigues got him into the Lion's Den. . Knowing how faithful Daniel has served his God, Darius prayed: “May your God, whom you serve so constantly, save you.”

Have you served your God constantly? Any evidence? If you serve the Lord with constancy, your heart will be filled with constant gladness and lasting happiness, the Church teaches through her Collect Prayer.

On Thanksgiving Day, let us lift our hearts and minds to God:
"Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite; as we come before you on Thanksgiving Day with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman, and child, so that we may share your gifts in loving service.
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." (Collect, Thanksgiving Mass).

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Spirit of Jesus Christ delivered me from the spirit of addiction.

"Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar ordered the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar, his father,had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, to be brought in so that the king, his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines might drink from them." (Daniel 5: 2).

Wednesday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. Tomorrow, Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in America. Is it a coincidence that the Sacred Scriptures is inviting us to reflect on the theme of "Under the Influence."

That America is under the curse of addiction, no honest person will deny. This is the downside of being the richest country in human history. Under the influence of alcohol, Belshazzar desecrated sacred vessels reserved for worship in the Temple of the Lord and committed sacrilege. Both are grievous abominations that are punished swiftly. Recall that under the influence of alcohol, King Herod chopped off the head of John the Baptist.

Here in America, alcohol is one of the long list of our addictions, others are prescription drugs, pornography, TV, etc. There is also a curious addiction to activity which saps energy and mental health because the addict is endlessly moving here and there seeking something to engage himself.

There is good news about many addictions. Sacred Scripture identifies the source of addictions as "sarx", flesh:
"Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.  But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law." The word of God becomes specific:

"Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions,  occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like."  (Galatians 5: 19 - 21).
All the above may be demonic influences.

But if you are guided by the Spirit, you will never be under any kind of influence. The Spirit of Jesus Christ set me free from my own addictions. Now, that I am free, I guard my freedom jealously with the grace of God.

"Even if you have to die, says the Lord, keep faithful, and I will give you the crown of life." (Revelation 2: 10).

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Monday, November 25, 2019

All the kingdoms of this world are passing away.

“All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21: 6).

Tuesday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. We are in the last week in Ordinary Time. The theme of the first Reading and the Gospel centers on the end of the ages.

If the numerous prophecies in the Scriptures do not convince us of the inevitability of the end of all things as we know them, let history convince us. Kingdom after kingdom has risen and fallen. Empire after empire has fallen into the dust heap of history. Where is the Third Reich that Hitler boasted will last a thousand years? It lasted only 12 years.

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe. His kingdom will be glorious, full of splendor and everlasting. Daniel prophesied in the first Reading:
"In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people." (Daniel 2: 44).

Instead of constantly chasing after a kingdom doomed to destruction, make your top priority God's kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from Jesus, not only will you live in peace but everything you need will be given to you abundantly.

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

Is this widow seeking first the kingdom of God?

"As Jesus looked up, he saw rich people putting their offerings into the treasury; then he happened to notice a poverty-stricken widow putting in two small coins, and he said, ‘I tell you truly, this poor widow has put in more than any of them; for these have all contributed money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in all she had to live on." (Luke 21: 1-4).

Monday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Catherine of Alexandria (+310), Virgin and Martyr. "According to tradition, St Catherine was a woman remarkable for her courage and learning." She was martyred under Emperor Maxentius for converting his wife and 200 soldiers. Why do we honor the saints? Because Christ Jesus is glorified in His saints when we honor them.

Why is the Widow's Mite such a powerful story?

++ God does not see people, events and situations as we see them. 

#1 It is not a parable but an eye witness account of what Jesus observed in the Temple. 

#2 The widow came to the Temple with 2 pennies, her last card and put it all in the collection basket.

#3 Jesus watched her do it.

#4 The enduring lesson of the widow's example: All we are and own come from God. We can never outdo God in generosity.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6: 33 NLT).

"Behold, I am with you always,

even to the end of the age, says the Lord." (Matthew 28: 20). 

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