Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Just man shall live by faith.

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall ­conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel." (Isaiah 7: 14)

Sunday of the 4th week of Advent. Ahaz, King of Judah and the anti-hero of today's Scripture Readings refused to ask for a sign from God. God wanted to help his beleaguered nation from certain crushing defeat. The sign was to encourage Ahaz to believe that God meant business.

Who is the hero of today's Scriptures?
“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. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 20 - 21).

The anti-hero, Ahaz is governed by pride and selfishness. The hero, Joseph is ruled by the spirit of faith and obedience. He is the Just man of Habakkuk: "The just one who is righteous because of faith shall live." (Habakkuk 2: 4).

The anti-hero despises the numerous signs God sends him to assure him of His presence and faithfulness. The hero is always in the lookout for the sign of Jesus-Emmanuel: the Savior who is with us, who has become an active Presence. We adore You O Christ and bless You.

Jesus-Emmanuel I trust in You.
Jesus-Emmanuel I surrender myself completely to You.
Jesus-Emmanuel take care of everything.

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Friday, December 20, 2019

Feast of St Peter Canisius, Catechist and Evangelist.

"Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1: 41 - 43).

Saturday 21 December 2019 is the first of St Peter Canisius of the Society of Jesus. (1521 - 1592), Priest and Doctor of the Church. Born in Holland. Worked all his life in Germany. Called the Apostle of Germany because of his key role in rolling back the advance of Lutheranism in Germany. He participated in the Council of Trent as a theologian. He founded several Jesuit Colleges. He wrote a famous and popular Catechism which was published in several languages and went into many editions.
The Church teaches that Jesus Christ is glorified when we honor the saints. I honor St Peter Canisius as my patron saint.

"Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1: 45). Elizabeth said this to Mary, thereby identifying Faith as one of Mary's strongest gifts. Our saint of today, St Peter Canisius must have been a man of great faith to have bloomed in a time of the greatest challenge to the Church.

"O Key of David, who open the gates of the eternal kingdom, come to liberate from prison the captive who lives in darkness."

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Thursday, December 19, 2019

How can this be?

“The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." (Luke 1: 35).

Friday 20 December 2019. To Mary's perplexed question: "How can this be?" we learn a revelation that gives joy and consolation to the heart.

Most of us are tense and nervous when we start a new project. The student teacher stepping into the classroom for the first time; the young doctor faced with his first surgical operation. All complex tasks are intimidating for the first time. Remember that Mary must have been 13 or 14 when she experienced the Annunciation.

Mary's question "how can this be?" would be normal to most people. It is the Archangel Gabriel's response that is pure consolation. God shared with every Christian His life-giving Spirit to abide with us forever. The Spirit is Paraclete, Advocate, Friend and always present in us and with us in all types of situations. My favorite title for the Holy Spirit is the Voice that speaks in Court. He has saved me from certain hardship in litigation by putting the right words in my mouth at precisely the right moment.

The Church teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Where Mary is, there is the Holy Spirit. It is not easy to know and cherish Mary without knowing and cherishing the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life.

"O Key of David, who open the gates of the eternal kingdom, come to liberate from prison the captive who lives in darkness."

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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Dreamer and silent powerful Partner.

“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).

Wednesday of the 3rd week of Advent. Here comes Joseph! The three members of the Holy Family are named in our Gospel of today. Mary, Joseph and Jesus Emmanuel.

While Mary spoke sparingly in the Gospels, Joseph the husband of Mary bore silent witness to the Gospel through his robust faith and humility. God communicated with Joseph through dreams and Joseph showed exceptional docilty and obedience. He protected Mary staunchly during her pregnancy and provided for his family through his manual labor.

Jesus Christ is glorified when we honor the saints. First in rank is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Next is St Joseph. In the Communion of the Saints, Mary and Joseph are very powerful intercessors in the Court of Heaven.

The name of Joseph is in the Canon of the Mass, coming after that of the Virgin Mary.  Pope Francis added the name of St Joseph to the three other Eucharistic Prayers. The cult of St Joseph is solid and universal in the Church. Thanks to what I read from the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila, I have a deep devotion to St Joseph and place my work under his powerful patronage.

"O Ruler of the House of Israel, who gave the law to Moses on Sinai,
come and save us with outstretched arm." (Gospel Antiphon).

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Monday, December 16, 2019

This is the family of Jesus Christ.

"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers." (Matthew 1: 1 - 2).

Tuesday of the 3rd week of Advent is the 17th Day of December, we are a week from the Eve of Christmas. The Church starts singing the O - Antiphons. The Gospel today is from the Genealogy of Jesus Christ according to St Matthew. Are you one of those bored by the Genealogy? Do you consider the Genealogy meaningless?

Some years ago, I had the fortune of engaging three bright Mormon young men in a weekly Bible conversation for seven weeks. I did not know much about the Mormon faith and did not have enough time to read up. So I prayed to the Paraclete, the Voice that speaks in Court to help me. The answer to that prayer was delightful and unforgettable.

The Mormons claimed that the need for a new Christian religion was because the Christian religion founded by Jesus Christ apostasized from the time of Emperor Constantine. So God was angry and not only rejected the Church but abrogated His promises. Right? I asked. Right, they answered in chorus. Then let us turn to the Gospel of Matthew. Each of my Mormon friends took turn in reading the Genealogy according to St Matthew. I asked if they were familiar with the life story of the principal characters in the Genealogy.

The Genealogy teaches that God is merciful and faithful. God did not choose the best and unfiltered humanity. He chose whom He pleases, a mixed bag.

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." (Ephesians I: 5 NLT).

God is faithful to His intentions and promises. He is not Yes and No. He is always Yes.
"The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11: 29).

"O Wisdom of the Most High,
ordering all things with strength and gentleness, come and teach us the way of truth."

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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Who gave you this authority?

“By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21: 23).

Monday of the 3rd week of Advent. A confrontation between the chief priests and elders with Jesus over Authority. Consider the following facts:

The kingdom that Jesus came to set up has some commonalities with earthly kingdoms. For example :
1. King
2. A realm/domain
3. A government
4. Laws
5. Citizens

When Jesus threw out the money changers from the Temple, the recognized authorities of the Temple questioned His authority.
"Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” By this question, Jesus points to the chief priests and elders the existence of a different type of authority.

In the trial of the Apostles Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, we see the Teacher Gamaliel allude to a different authority:
"So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.  But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” They were persuaded by him." (Acts 5: 38 - 39).

The truth is that the Kingdom of God is already here and now. The Church is the seed of that Kingdom.
Where does the Pope get his authority? Not from the barrels of the gun as some dictators believe. Stalin quipped:  "How many military divisions does the Pope have?" Jesus answered that question to Pontius Pilate:
"My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place."

The question for us is:
Does King Jesus reign over your heart and mind and finances? If not, Advent is the Season of grace to place your life under the authority of Jesus Christ.

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