Saturday, January 01, 2022

The Solemnity of the the Epiphany of the Lord.

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” (Matthew 2: 2).
The three Magi followed the star hundreds of miles before they found Jesus.

"They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2: 10 - 11).

Sunday 2nd January 2022, in the Season of Christmas is the great Solemnity of the Epiphany.

What is the Epiphany? This is the day when the Divine Child Jesus was shown or revealed to Gentiles represented by the three Wise Men.

Brothers and sisters, this is really a beautiful feast that offers us great insight into the mystery of salvation. Our salvation, redemption, assumption into Christ depends on one thing, only one thing: FAITH! Examples:

#1 The Magi, wealthy lords from the East entered the room where Christ lay with His simply clad mother and father in a sparsely furnished room . They saw and Believed that this is He.
#2 Simeon and Anna entered the Temple during the Presentation of Jesus to His heavenly Father. They saw a simple couple with two small pigeons, the offering of the poor. They saw and they Believed that this is He.
#3 At the crucifixion, Jesus' battered body was hanging between two thieves. One of the thieves turned his head slightly and looked at Jesus. He saw and Believed that this is He, the Savior of the world.
#4. The Roman officer who had seen many crucifixions saw the demeanor of Jesus hanging from the cross said: This is the Son of God.

In all four instances, our examples walked by faith and not by sight or feeling.

In the feast of the Epiphany, we celebrate the fullness of time when God revealed His only Begotten Son to the nations through the Magi by the guidance of a star.

All nations become coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Cf Ephesians 3: 6).

When you became a member of the Body of Christ through Baptism, you were asked: What do you seek from the Church of the living God? We know that the first thing we seek is Faith. Faith opens the door to every good thing in the world.

I believe in God the Father.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son.
I believe in the Holy Spirit.
I believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I believe in life everlasting.

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The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mother of God.

"When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb." (Luke 2: 21).

Saturday 1st of January 2022, in the 8th Day of the Octave of Christmas is the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. As we celebrate the New Year, the beginning of the secular calendar, Mother Church celebrates the feast of St Mary as the Mother of God.

In our key Scripture for this Solemnity, we reflect on the important occasion of the naming of Jesus. On the eighth day of His circumcision, the Infant Child of Mary was named Jesus. In the Hebrew world, naming a child is a big deal. The name of the child is even a bigger deal. The child of Elizabeth and Zachary was named John in a ceremony surrounded by relatives, friends and neighbors and they named the little boy John, a name which means "God is gracious."

Mary and Joseph named their little Son, Jesus. A name that was bestowed by the Angel Gabriel at His conception. Jesus means "God saves." The name indicates who Jesus is and what Jesus will do as a person. He will be always our God who saves us from sin.

In her great joy at the conclusion of the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Church by a universal acclaim by the people, bestowed on Mary the title Theotokos, a name which means "God Bearer."
This confirms the prophetic utterance of Elizabeth:
"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).

Hail, Holy Mother! Happy Feast Day! You gave birth to the King, who rules heaven and earth for ever.  (Cf Entrance Antiphon).

Happy New Year friends. May 2022 brings you much peace and tranquility.

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Thursday, December 30, 2021

Is this the Last Hour?

"Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour." (1 John 2: 18).

Friday 31st December 2021, 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas is also the feast of St Sylvester I.

On the Last Day of 2021, we celebrate the life and sanctity of Pope St Sylvester 1st. Sylvester was elected to the Papacy on the last day of 314 and he died on the last day of 335. Today is the last day of 2021.

Sylvester served the Church at a very turbulent transition in Church history. Arian heresy and the Donatist schism threatened to destroy the Church. Then Constantine appeared by Divine Providence and offered the Church relief and peace in 312 AD by legalizing and granting amnesty to Christians. Pope St Sylvester attended the famous Council of Nicaea where the Nicene Creed recited by Christians of all faith today was ratified and promulgated. Pope St Sylvester contributed a great deal in the expansion of Christianity in the Roman Empire.

This is the last hour. The Apostle John warned.
The "Antichrists have appeared." Have you seen any? These are some of the characteristics of the Man of lawlessness from the Christian Scriptures :

Temporary success
Mass seduction
Son of perdition
Opposed Christ.
Rival of Christ
(Cf 2 Thessalonians 2: 3 - 12; Matthew 24: 23 - 26).

Before he became Pontiff, Pope St John Paul II warned in 1976 at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia that we are now facing the final confrontation between the Antichrist and the Church. Remember how King Henry VIII caught over 300 English Bishops napping in 1535? Only Bishop St John Fisher earned the crown of Martyrdom. Below is a prophetic teaching of the Church on the Antichrist from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh."   (CCC 675).

Is the current pandemics the beginning of the Last Hour?
Do not be asleep. Be vigilant and pray at all times so that you may not fall into severe temptation. Do not become an Anti-Witness. This is the Last Hour.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Anna spoke about Jesus to everyone who was expecting the Messiah.

"There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer." (Luke 2: 36 - 37).

Thursday 30th December 2021, 6th Day in the Octave of Christmas.

Anna, the Prophetess dominates the Gospel Reading as if today is her patronal feast day. Who is Anna and why is she one of the humble and powerful evangelists in the Gospel?

#1 Anna lived in the Temple for decades and gave herself completely to worshiping God, praying and fasting.
#2 Apart from Mary, Joseph and Simeon, Anna was one of the very first people to see Jesus as an Infant. She knew who He is at once and she carried Him in her arms! Wonderful!
#3 Anna is one of the very first Evangelist to announce the Good News.
"And coming forward at that very time, she [Anna] gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem." (Luke 2: 38).

What can we say about the character of Anna? The answer is from the first Reading: 1 John 2: 15 - 17).

"Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever." (1 John 2: 15 - 17).

Anna retired to the Temple after she lost her husband as a young woman. She chose not to remarry or hang around and enjoy her husband's wealth.

Brethren, the story of Anna teaches us that it is good to serve the Lord faithfully. Anna and Mary are two examples of great faithfulness in serving God not for one year or 10 years or 50 years but day after day all life long. But what is most admirable is the faithfulness of God. The Bible says that faithfulness is the essence of who God is. Both Anna, Mary and Joseph responded to the faithful love and mercies of God to them.
May we do the same.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Feast of St Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, Martyr.

"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 Messiah of the Lord." (Luke 2: 25 - 27).

Wednesday 29th December 2021, 5th Day in the Octave of Christmas is the feast of St Thomas Becket. (1118 - 1170). English. Martyr. St Thomas Becket, also known as St Thomas of Canterbury was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder on December 29th 1170.

Our key Scripture introduces us to a man whose name is Simeon. Who is this holy old man? According to the testimony of holy Scripture, Simeon is:
#1 A righteous and devout man. (Reminds us of Saints Joseph, Stephen, Barnabas).
#2 Simeon was one of the faithful who actively awaited the coming of the Messiah Jesus, foretold over 700 years before. With the appearance of John the Baptist, the expectation for the coming of the Messiah became fever pitch.
#3 Simeon was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit promised Simeon that he would not die until he sees Jesus with his eyes.

Simeon is immensely important in salvation history. This is why:
He was inspired to present himself in the Temple the very day Mary and Joseph brought Jesus for His presentation to the Lord, His Father. Here is what Simeon said, words that are used by the Church in prayer every night:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Luke 2: 29 - 32).

Simeon gave an eloquent testimony to the faithfulness of God. God made a promise over 700 years ago. He had not forgotten it. In the fullness of time, God fulfilled His promise to the letter and here is the Prophet Simeon to bear witness to the truth.

Whenever I read this Scripture, I am reminded of the radical faithfulness of God. Our God is a Promise Maker and a Promise Keeper.

"My Immaculate Mother also knew sin in all its ugliness and horror. She saw all that sin wrought upon My Body, the very Body she bore in her virginal womb, and, in seeing the ravages of sin on My Body and on My Face, her Heart was pierced by a sword of sorrow in fulfilment of Simeon’s prophecy." (IN SINU JESU, Thursday, March 31, 2016).

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Monday, December 27, 2021

The Feast of the Holy Innocents.

"The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “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).

Tuesday 28th December 2021, in the Octave of Christmas is the feast of the Holy Innocents.

Why this feast and why does it matter?

#1 The Church celebrates the memory of about 20 baby boys whom King Herod slaughtered in his attempt to kill Jesus. These children are martyrs who gave their lives for Christ and are members of the Communion of the Saints.
#2. This feast is perhaps a rude reminder to all of us that the Mission of Jesus is to be Savior and Redeemer. Salvation from Sin and Redemption from the debt of Sin was purchased at the cost of blood. 
#3. The massacre of the Holy Innocents teaches us the mystery of God's mighty, merciful and mysterious Providence. 

God could have eliminated the tyrant Herod, but instead He willed His Son and family to go into exile in Egypt in a cold winter.
Other instances of God's mysterious providence:
#1 God allowed Adolf Hitler to rule for 12 years and caused the suffering and death of millions.
#2 God hardened the heart of Pharaoh and Pharaoh's stubbornness caused the death of many Egyptians.
#3 Other tyrants that were given long ropes are: Nero, Napoleon, Stalin, etc.

Long-suffering is part of God’s divine attributes. Some people have taken this for God's weakness. NO!!! Scripture says:  "For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." (1 Corinthians 1: 25).

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

"The movement of persecution that is about to break out against My Church will focus on three objects. In fact, this has already begun. I will be attacked in My priests; they represent My Eucharistic Face. The face of the priesthood is My Face, once again mocked and covered with mud, spittle, and blood. I will be dishonoured in the Sacrament of My Body and Blood. You will see an increase of sins against the mysteries of My Body and Blood: sacrileges, desecrations, and mockeries. I will be attacked in the weakest and most vulnerable members of My Mystical Body. This too has already begun, but it will increase until it reaches proportions that will oblige My Father to avenge the blood of His beloved innocents." (IN SINU JESU, Wednesday, November 12, 2008). 

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Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.

"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).

Monday 27th December 2021 is the Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist. John wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles and the Book of Revelation. John is an eye witness and a faithful and credible witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the will of God that we learn the truth of the Gospel from credible witnesses. The Church is the credible witness of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ for over 2000 years.

St John's writing of his Jesus experience is an eye witness account. He saw. He heard. He touched. He then bore witness.  His witness which is faithful and true have unlocked for us the secrets of the Word of God.

Our Scripture text for today challenges me to ask: What have I seen today?
+ I have seen the Church gathered for the Eucharist on Christmas Eve to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ.
+ I have seen people come up to receive the Eucharist with great reverence.
+ I saw the beautiful Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in full worship mode on Christmas Day.
+ I have seen Jesus Christ in the person of the priest at the Altar.

What have I heard?
+ I have heard the Good News proclaimed from the Altar.
+ I have heard it proclaimed on television, radio and music.

"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).

"Above all, I renew for you the words I uttered for Saint John from the Cross: “Behold your Mother.” Live in her presence. Honour her at every occasion and in every way possible. Every time you show love and devotion to My most holy Mother, you honour the words I spoke from the Cross, and you put them into practice. “Behold your Mother.” She desires nothing more than to look after you, just as if you were her only son. Her attention for you is not divided, nor is it in any way impaired by the attention she gives to the vast multitude of her children through the ages. Trust in her care for you. Pray her Rosary. Honour her as you have been doing."  (IN SINU JESU, Thursday, January 31, 2008).

Father, we pray that with St John the Evangelist we may share in the hidden wisdom of your eternal Word which You reveal to us at the Eucharistic table. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

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