Saturday, December 26, 2009


1Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28: 1John 3:1-2, 21-24.,Gosple: Luke 2:41-52

A kindergarten teacher was helping one of her students put his boots on. He asked for help and she could see why. With her pulling and him pushing, the boots still didn't want to go on. By the time the second boot was on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost whimpered when the little boy said, "Teacher, they're on the wrong feet." She looked and, sure enough, they were. It wasn't any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on, this time on the right feet. He then announced, "These aren't my boots." She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and scream, "Why didn't you say so?" like she wanted to. Once again she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off. He then said, "They're my brother's boots. My Mom made me wear them." She didn't know if she should laugh or cry. She mustered up the grace to wrestle the boots on his feet again. She said, "Now, where are your mittens?" He said, "I stuffed them in my boots .

Kids can drive you nuts sometimes. It is part of their growth process. Elders who are not directly involved with them or not directly responsible for their growth look at their pranks and enjoy them, but not really the parents. Each child born in this world is a mystery. Sam Levinson says “Each new born child arrives on earth with a message to deliver to mankind . Clenched in his little fist is some particle of yet unrevealed truth, some missing clue. He must be treated as top sacred”. Each child that comes into the world proclaims that God has not given up on this world.

The confessions of the church hold that Jesus is "fully human, fully God," and in today's familiar story from Luke, we can see both sides. Jesus, fully human, is growing up as all mortals must. In the process, Jesus has scared his parents half to death as all teen-agers do. Jesus is asking questions, as should we all, and he is listening to learn, as all we must. And in this story, we see the twelve-year old Jesus fully divine with everyone amazed at his understanding and his answers. We hear Jesus declaring his unique relationship with God the Father as only the Son can do.
On the last Sunday of the year, the church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. Today’s gospel describes how the Holy Family of Nazareth lived according to the will of God, obeying all the Jewish laws and regulations, and brought up Jesus in the same way, so that He grew in wisdom as well as in the favor of God and men.
Children are integral part of the family. If any couple at the time of their wedding decides to do away with children in their marriage, their marriage is invalid before the eyes of the church. Parents and children together make the family. Not the couples alone. Children are gift from God. Couples who don’t have children in their marriage due to biological factors stand before the community as prophets proclaiming to the couples having children that Children are gift from God, you don’t deserve to get them by the fact of your marriage. See we don’t have children, though we like to. So take care of your children as responsible parents. God trusts you with a great responsibility.
Luke gives a detailed story of Jesus’ infancy, with the details of Jesus’ first visit to the Temple of Jerusalem to take on the obligations of the law when he was twelve years old. Every adult Jew (12 years and above) who lived within fifteen miles of Jerusalem had to attend the Passover feast.
Since women and children in a caravan started earlier than men, on the return leg of the trip, Joseph and Mary each thought that Jesus, newly promoted to adult status, was with the other group. But Jesus had actually lingered behind in the Temple, attending the Sanhedrin classes on religious and theological questions as an eager student of Mosaic Law. The gospel tells us that he returned with his parents to Nazareth and there grew up like any other child. Here the evangelist gives a pertinent piece of advice to all the children and youth specially. He obeyed his parents and discharged all his duties to God, to his parents and to the community, faithfully “advancing in wisdom and age and favor before God and man”.
Joseph and Mary were a model family in which both parents worked hard, helped each other, understood and accepted each other, and took good care of their Child so that He might grow up not only in human knowledge but also as a Child of God. To find answer to what makes a family holy we don’t need to go anywhere, just look at the life of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. For example consider the life of Joseph. No Husband ever went through struggles and pain more than what Joseph had to go through. He found his wife pregnant even before he had any relations with her. He experienced humiliation because he could not find a place for her wife to give birth to her son. He had to flee to Egypt at midnight. But he did all this faithfully. In all these things, what he did consistently was that he obeyed God. He knew precisely whom to obey. He subordinated every thing to the will and purpose of God. That made him holy and his family holy. When Mary asked Jesus, “Why did you do this to us?” Jesus replied, “Didn’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?” For Jesus, Joseph and Mary, the Father’s business was the number one priority. That made them Holy.

A senior Judge of the Supreme Court recently congratulated the bride and groom in a marriage with a pertinent piece of advice: “See that you never convert your family into a court room; instead let it be a confessional. If the husband and wife start arguing like attorneys, in an attempt to justify their behavior, their family becomes a court of law and nobody wins. On the other hand, if the husband and the wife -- as in a confessional -- are ready to admit their faults and try to correct them, the family becomes a heavenly one.” Mary and Joseph did not turn their accusing fingers on each other when they found that the boy Jesus was not with each of them. Natural reaction of any husband or wife would be to accuse each other on finding that their dear child is lost. They serve as great model to families to face any challenge in their life.

The families in today’s society are facing disintegration. The devil upgraded and modernized his tactics to destroy the families. First of all, he makes our lives busy with too many attractive activities and programs. They present these things as vitally important and unavoidable. He convincingly presents religion as a private enterprise and makes us believe that God and religion can wait. So people push God away from the center of their life and make it one among many. When God is pushed away from the center of our life, then I become the center of my life. My primary concern becomes the glorification of my self and not of God .Devil is successfully using the tactics of taking God away from the family by keeping us and our children busy.

The second step to the disintegration of families is Redefining the divine institution of Marriage. Marriage is and marriage can be only between a man and a woman. This is natural law. Even the animal kingdom follows this natural precept. There are concerted attempts from certain corners to destroy this sacred reality of marriage. If their intention is to procure the same economic right and privileges of the married couple to them, they could do it very well through other means. It is time to wake up. As we celebrate the Feast of The Family, let us be aware of it and take bold steps to form our families after the image of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Theodore Hesburg says “ the best thing a father can do to his children is to love their mother”. And I would say the best thing a mother can do to their children is to love their father. Joseph and Mary loved their son by loving each other. Let the families we live be blessed by the presence and assistance of the Most Holy Family.

Friday, December 25, 2009


All religions involve mankind's effort to get back into a stable and healthy relationship with God - that's why they can appear to be so similar. But Christianity is the only religion in which mankind's effort to find God is met by the unimaginable event of God himself deciding to come down into human nature so that he can be more easily found.
It's like, the farmer who stayed home on Christmas Eve because he didn't believe in Jesus. A terrible snow storm started, and outside the living room window he saw a gaggle of wild geese huddling together in confusion, trying to keep warm. He rushed out into the storm and opened his barn door. Then he went over to the geese - barely able to see them through the blizzard. He tried to coax them into the barn. Then he tried to scare them in. But they just kept jumping away from him, squawking and flapping their wings in self-defense. After 20 minutes and no progress, he gave up and went back inside. He stood in the warm living room staring out at the geese. And he thought: "If only I could become a goose myself, then I could lead them into the barn and save them." And with that thought, he fell on his knees, right there in the living room, and started to cry. He realized that that's exactly what God had done on the first Christmas night - and that he had been spending his life squawking and flapping in the wrong direction. Christmas tells us that God became one like us, like us in everything but sin. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He became man so that he could approach humans in a non-scaring and non-frightening way.
St.John says He came to his own and his own did not accept him. God never presents himself in revelation in a manner in which we are forced to believe. I imagine, if it weren’t so, there would have been no atheists or non-Catholics. We are always left with an option, for that is God's way. Thus, one person can say "Its a miracle, while another says "It's coincidence." Certainly there were thousands of people in Palestine but only very few people saw and heard and understood what took place that night. The choirs of angels singing were drowned out by the haggling and trading going on in the Jerusalem bazaar. There was a bright star in the sky but the only ones apparently to pay any attention to it were pagan astrologers from the East. If anyone did see Mary and Joseph on that most fateful night, they were too preoccupied with their own problems to offer any assistance.

The Child born today is God's new deed: But this is not announced in the excited voice of the advertisers; it is a silent deed. He is the Word made flesh, but he lies there as helpless to speak as any infant. Only in silence can this silent Word be heard. The new blade of grass does not make a scene or a noise; neither does the Word made flesh. God comes to us in the whisper of the breeze, not in peals of thunder or earthquake as the prophet Elijah experienced. So we need to be quiet and calm to enter into the presence of the World made flesh.

We all believe in Jesus - at least to some extent. So why don't we experience his joy and peace as deeply and constantly as we would like to? It is because we don’t pause enough to see him. It's because we don't trust him enough. We are afraid to let Christ rule our lives completely - we are afraid to let him be the King that he was born to be, that he truly is. We are like the inn-keeper in the Gospel passage. Our lives are crowded - filled with personal pleasures and hopes, maybe even with unhealthy relationships and habits. And Jesus comes knocking on the door of our hearts and wants us to let him in. But we are afraid that if we do, there won't be room enough for our little idols. So we let him stay in the stable, out back, where we can keep an eye on him, where we can be sure he doesn't clean out our closets and junk drawers. But unless we give him free rein, he cannot give us his true peace and joy. Instead of being like the inn-keeper, we need to be like Mary. When Jesus knocked on the door of her life, she put all her plans aside. She risked her reputation and her engagement; she opened every closet and every junk drawer to Christ. Let’s Accept Him and allow Him to turn our life inside out and upside down. And he wants to come not as a mighty warrior, but as a little baby, because he wants us to hold him in our arms, to adopt him, to make him the companion of our lives.
He chose to be born in a smelly, damp, cave near Bethlehem, a cave full of moldy straw, a cave that shepherds used as a stable for their dirty sheep during storms. Maybe our souls are like that cave, and we don't really believe that God's love can get in there. But Christmas proves that it can. He wants to come into the smelly, dark caves of our hearts and fill it with the light, joy, and peace that will come from convincing us that he hasn't given up on us. And so we greet one another today by saying "Merry Christmas." Be merry, be joyful, not just because a baby was born 2,000 years ago, but because God has entered into our world to draw us into His Presence. For we have been chosen by the Son of God to be holy.
Every Christmas reminds us that we still need this Savior to be reborn in our hearts and lives to free us from our evil addictions and unjust, impure and uncharitable tendencies.
As Emmanuel, Jesus is present to us in the sacraments (especially in the Holy Eucharist), in the Holy Bible, in the praying community and in each believer, while His Holy Spirit transforms us into the "Temples of the Holy Spirit.” Christmas reminds us that we are bearers of God with the missionary duty of conveying Jesus to others around us by loving others as Jesus did, through sacrificial, humble and committed service. Sharing Jesus, Emmanuel living within us, with others, should be our best Christmas gift to others.

Thomas Merton speaks of Christmas this way. "Christ is born to us today so that He may appear to the whole world through us. This one day is the day of His birth, but every day of our mortal lives must be His manifestation." Let’s ask the Lord the grace to be his ambassadors living out his legacies, living out his will so that the world may come to know him through our lives. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


The Gospel reading says that on hearing Mary's greeting to Elizabeth,
the child in Elizabeth's womb leapt for joy. Mary and Elizabeth's
encounter was a sharing of joy. Each had her own reason for a great
happiness but thought of the other's happiness. Joy that is shared is
doubled. It was a special joy because it found its source in God.
Wherever Mary goes, she provokes an explosion of joy like at the
wedding in Cana. In today's Gospel, the baby leaps for joy. Elizabeth
shouts her joy at being visited by the Lord in Mary's womb, and in
Mary's Magnificat the poor exult for joy because their liberation is
close at hand.

Mary is proclaimed blessed by Elizabeth because she believed that the
promise made to her by the Lord would be fulfilled. God made so many
promises to the chosen people of Israel through the prophets. But when
their fulfillment was delayed, the people doubted the word of the
Lord. They preferred to place their trust in themselves and in their
plans and it ended in total failure. Mary instead is blessed because
she trusted God. She was sure that in spite of all appearances to the
contrary, the word of the Lord would be fulfilled.

Maybe our communities and all of us today could be called blessed
because we have believed the word of the Lord. Let us try to question
ourselves, for instance, if we are really convinced that the promises
God made in the Beatitudes to the peacemakers, the non-violent, those
who offer the other cheek, those who do not seek vengeance, will
really be fulfilled. Perhaps we do believe in God but maybe only to a
certain point especially when God asks us to do something that goes
against human common sense. Mary is teaching us that it is worthwhile
to place our trust in the Lord; not just when it suits us or
occasionally but always. Perhaps in these next few days before
Christmas, we need to ask ourselves: "Where are we going to find him,
the Messiah, the expected Savior? Is it on the surface of life?

As one family, let us prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord in
faith, in simplicity, in humility and in availability. Christmas is a
family feast. Let us learn to give up our inflexibility and
stubbornness and be good to one another. Forgive one another and do
our share in creating a hearty atmosphere in our home. Give God all
the chances of becoming human in our home, in our family, in the union
of our married partnership, in the oneness between parents and
children. So many things can become signs of our availability and of
God's graciousness. All these signs combine to become the sacrament of
our Christmas this year: God becomes man and He becomes human among
us, in our homes, our hearts, our community and in our world.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent III Sunday C

Zeph. 3:14-18a,: Phil. 4:4-7,Gosple: Lk 3:10-18

A few years ago The Reader’s Digest reported the story of an attractive and successful business woman who noticed a small lump behind her ear as she was brushing her hair one morning. As the days went on, she noticed that the lump was getting larger, so she decided to see her doctor. Her worst fears were confirmed. The doctor told her that the lump was a large tumor that would require immediate surgery. When she awoke following the surgery, she found her entire head wrapped like that of a mummy. She could see herself in a mirror only through two tiny holes cut into the wrapping. When the bandages were removed after a week she was shocked to see that her once attractive features had become disfigured by a facial paralysis caused perhaps by damage to facial nerves during the removal of the tumor. Standing before the mirror, she told herself that she had to make a choice whether to laugh or to cry. She decided to laugh. Although the various therapies tried were unsuccessful in alleviating the facial paralysis, the decision to laugh in the face of adversity allowed this woman to carry on with her life with joy, giving encouragement to those with similar paralysis.
Today is “Gaudete” Sunday. Today we light the rose candle of the Advent wreath, and the celebrants wear rose vestments to express our communal joy in the coming of Jesus, as our Savior. The rose color signifies "rejoicing." Advent is a time for joy, not because we are anticipating the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, but because God is already in our midst. Christian joy does not come from the absence of sorrow, pain or trouble, but from an awareness of the presence of Christ within our souls.
St. Paul tells us to "rejoice in the Lord always." He doesn't say, "rejoice when things go your way." Or "rejoice when you are feeling good." No, he simply says, "rejoice always." Why it is necessary for a Christian to always rejoice.

St. Paul himself gives the reason in the second sentence: "Your kindness should be known to all." Inner joy leads to kindness.* The person who goes around sullen, angry and bitter has a hard time treating others with kindness. On the contrary, the angry person often treats others harshly. St. Paul presents joy, constant joy, as not just a good thing, but as a duty.

The people in today's Gospel think John the Baptist must be the Christ, when all he is doing is telling them things they already know. The tax collectors know they shouldn't cheat their own people. The soldiers know they shouldn't practice extortion. But hearing it out of someone else's mouth is challenging. John isn't calling them to a radically different life. He doesn't tell the tax collectors to stop collecting taxes. He doesn't tell the soldiers to give up soldiering. He simply calls them to do what they already know to be right.
There's nothing foolish in these people's wanting to go to someone who sees their moral situation more clearly and can say the things they know to be true, but have conveniently forgotten. And they respond to being recalled to themselves, reminded of what they already know, with a certain kind of awe.
John, however, knows that that will not be enough on its own, that what he offers is not the transformation that they really need. Repentance, which is John's message, is a very important part of what we all need, but it will only be part of what will save us.
We are waiting with eager anticipation for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas because God in Christ is offering us far more than that. Jesus is not just setting us back on our feet, recalling us to the faithful following of God's law. He is doing that, but he offers so much more. Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire. That baptism is much more than a sign of repentance, much more even that a simple forgiveness of sins, if by that we just mean a wiping of the slate clean. We're not just set back on our feet: the love of God is poured into our hearts.

Repentance is not just changing our minds, or feeling sorry for something that we have done, or even making bold resolves that we will never participate in certain conduct again. Instead, repentance means to turn around and go in another direction. The prodigal son realized of his wrong when he was living with the pigs, but he did not stay there realizing that, he walked towards the home, to meet the Father. What John the Baptist wanted his audience to hear was: Not just repent of your sins but Turn your life toward this one called Messiah as well. This is not negative or down-faced. Rather, it breaks the chains of oppression and death that hold us back. So repentance is for rejoicing. Repent Your Way to a Merry Christmas.

We are all to a greater or lesser degree tax collectors and sinners. They had the honesty to admit it and asked John what they should do in order to be ready to welcome the Messiah. Let us ask today what we should do if we mean to welcome Christ sincerely at Christmas. The secret of happiness consists in being faithful to one’s commitments and responsibilities while at the same time enjoying life. It is easy to be happy when we are doing what we want. But to find happiness in what we have to do is a blessing from God. As Mother Teresa says, “Do small things but with great love.” Let us rejoice and enable others to rejoice following the words of John the Baptist during this advent season.

Monday, December 7, 2009

DECEMBER 8. Feast Of Immaculate Conception

Genesis 3:9-15, 20: Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12,Gosple: Luke 1: 26-38
A humor going around like this: The Pharisees brought the woman, caught red-handed in adultery, to Jesus for judgment. He said, "Let the person who is without sin cast the first stone." They fell silent, and then, all of a sudden, a stone came flying from the crowd. Jesus looked up, surprised and amused, caught the stone and then said, "Hold it, mother? I was trying to make a point, here." This gives a humorous slant to the Catholic belief that Mary was born immaculate to lead an immaculate life.
Mary’s prophecy given in her Magnificat, “Behold all generations will call me blessed,” was fulfilled when the Catholic Church declared four dogmas of faith about her: 1-Immaculate Conception, 2-Perpetual Virginity, 3-Divine Maternity, and 4-Assumption. The Immaculate Conception is a dogma based mainly on Christian tradition and theological reasoning. It was defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX . It reads thus :“From the first moment of her conception, Mary was preserved immune from original sin by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, savior of the human race.” (CCC). This declaration means that original sanctity, innocence and justice were conferred upon her, and that she was exempted from the evil effects of original sin, except for sorrow, pain, disease and death, the temporal penalties given to Adam. The Fathers of the Church from the fourth century believed and taught that the Blessed Virgin Mary had been kept free of all traces of sin by the grace of God because she was to become the Mother of the Lord Jesus. Church history makes known to us that as early as the seventh century, there was a liturgical observance that proclaimed the Blessed Virgin Mary to be free from sin. Mary herself approved it by declaring to Bernadette at Lourdes: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
Proofs from Holy Scripture:
1) God purified prophet Jeremiah in the womb of his mother and anointed John the Baptist with His Holy Spirit before John’s birth. (Jer. 1/5: “Before I formed you in the womb of your mother I knew you and before you were born, I consecrated you”). Hence it is reasonable that God kept the mother of His Son, free from all sin from the first moment of her origin.
2) The angel saluted Mary as “full of grace”. This greeting means that she was never, even for a moment a slave of sin and the devil. Scripture says “ one who commits sins is a slave of devil.
3) Gen. 3/15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman and her seed shall crush your head.” The woman stands for Mary and the promise would not be true if Mary had original sin.
Argument from reason:
1) If we were allowed to select our mother; we would select the most beautiful, healthy and saintly lady. That’s what God did.
2) The All-holy God cannot be born from a woman who has been a slave of the devil, even for a moment in her life.
The celebration of this feast calls us to place an honorable position to Mary in our life. Saints used to say :to Jesus through Mary. Mary first gave Jesus to the world, she keeps giving Jesus to the church and the world.
An outdoor statue of Mary at a church in St. Mary’s, Kansas was especially popular with native Americans. Over the years, it lost most of its paint so that Mary's eyes looked as if she were blind. When a new pastor wanted to repaint the statue, the tribal chief opposed it vigorously saying, “We could never make her look as beautiful as she is in heaven. On the other hand, if we keep the statue the way it is now, it reminds us of how Mary looks down on us from heaven. Her eyes are blind to our faults, but her ears are open to our prayers. Mary is also called the refuge of sinners and the prayer memorare says “ that it is never heard that anyone who went to her protection left unaided.
Let us ask her to obtain for us the grace to respond as generously to God's call as she did and to be as faithful in discipleship to her Son as she was. On this feast day, let us ask her to be with us, to guide us, to protect us through her prayers of intercession with her Son, and to share her privilege with us, making our bodies worthy resting places for her son. And let us learn to respond to God always as Mary said : "May it be done in my life according to your will." .

Sunday, December 6, 2009


ADVENT II: BARUCH 5:1-9; PHILILPPIANS 1:4-6, 8-11; LUKE 3:1-6

Carl Michalson, a brilliant young theologian who died in a plane crash some
years ago, once told about playing with his young son one afternoon. They tussled playfully on their front lawn when Michalson accidentally hit the young boy in the face with his elbow. It was a sharp blow full to his son's face. The little boy was stunned by the impact of the elbow. It hurt, and he was just about to burst into tears. But then he looked into his father's eyes. Instead of anger and hostility, he saw there his father's
sympathy and concern; he saw there his father's love and compassion. Instead
of exploding into tears, the little boy suddenly burst into laughter. What he saw in his father's eyes made all the difference!
The sharp blow of God's message to us is: Repentance. But, look into your father's eyes. What he offers you is forgiveness and that makes all the difference. Repent and you will be forgiven.

On the second Sunday of Advent, we hear the words of the ancient prophet, Malachi.
Malachi tells of a figure who is coming "to prepare the way for the Lord."
He speaks of a messenger who will purify people's hearts. "God is sending an
emissary," writes Malachi, "who comes intending to cleanse your souls."

In this world we find a lot of warning signs: At an intersection, the green light changes to yellow. At the theater the house lights flash. At the airport terminal the boarding call comes over the intercom. At school zone and railroad crossings the lights begin to flash. Tornado siren screams before the tornado hits. On the football field the two-minute warning sounds. They are signs or warnings that we need to prepare ourselves for what is about to happen. Advent and lent are the times the church rings the warning bells. And those who heed the call are found prepared to receive the Lord.

Each year, the second and the third Sundays in Advent center on John the Baptist, reminding us that if we want to prepare properly for the coming of Jesus we need to listen to the Baptizer’s message. The evangelists realized the importance of John’s message. Hence all the four of them wrote about John’s preaching, while only two of them described the nativity of Christ. The Baptizer proclaimed the coming of God’s Kingdom and preached a ceremony of immersion as a response that was to symbolize the interior repentance that leads to forgiveness.

John's baptism was not a proselyte baptism converting Gentiles into Jews. Instead, it was a baptism for the forgiveness of sins, and it required repentance (metenoia, a change of being}, which implied a turning around to proceed in a new direction. Baptism itself is a purification ritual and John was inviting people to be purified of the unholy elements in their lives. Quoting the prophet Isaiah, John the Baptist declared, “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth” (Lk 3:5). If a king were planning to travel, work crews would be dispatched to repair the roads. Ideally, the roads for the king's journey would be straight, level, and smooth. John considered himself as the courier of the king. But the preparation on which he insisted was a preparation of heart and of life. "The king is coming," he said in effect. “Mend, not your roads, but your lives. A smooth road means nothing to God, but a repentant heart means a great deal. Hence, the truly important goal for us is to prepare our hearts to receive the Lord. True repentance hates the sin, and not merely the penalty; and it hates the sin most of all because it has discovered and felt God's love.

Billy Graham, had these comments about the disease running rampant in our
world: "We're suffering from only one disease in the world. Our basic problem is not a race problem. Our basic problem is not a poverty problem. Our basic problem is not a war problem. Our basic problem is a heart problem. We need to get the heart changed, the heart transformed." This is the call of John the baptizer today.

As we walk farther into the Advent we need to prepare the way for the Messiah in our hearts: We have to fill in the “valleys” of our souls which have resulted from our shallow prayer life and a minimalist way of living our faith. We have to straighten out whatever crooked paths we’ve been walking, like involvement in some secret or habitual sins or in a sinful relationship. If we have been involved in some dishonest practices at work or at home, we are called to straighten them out and make restitution. If we have been harboring grudges or hatred, or failing to be reconciled with others, now is the time to clear away all the debris. If we have been pushing God off to the side of our road, if we have been saying to Him that we don’t really have the time for Him, now is the time for us to get our priorities straight. And we all have to level the “mountains” of our pride and egocentrism.

John's message calls us to confront and confess our sins. We have to turn away from them in sincere repentance and receive God's forgiveness. There are basically two reasons why people who have recognized their sins fail to receive forgiveness for them. The first is that they fail to repent. But the second is that they fail to forgive. Jesus was very explicit about this in Matthew 6:14 and 15. He says, "For if you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." Is there someone I need to forgive today? We must not let what others have done destroy our lives. We can't be forgiven unless we forgive. We must release our bitterness if we are to be able to allow God to do His healing work in our lives. Let’s heed to the call of John the Baptist to prepare our hearts for real Christmas in our lives.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Frist Sunday of Advent.

Today we begin Advent, the first season of the liturgical year. The word Advent means coming, coming of Jesus as a saving event. In fact, the Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent begins with a warning. Jesus says:
“Be vigilant so that that day will not come upon you as a surprise.” Evidently, this is in reference to the Second Coming of Jesus. One may wonder why we talk about the Final Day on the very first day of the year. It is not by accident. It is important that we must be aware of our destination before we begin our journey. Jesus came into history not to keep us here on earth but to prepare us to stand before the Lord holy and undefiled and lead us to eternal life. Thus incarnation is complete with the Second Coming of Jesus where He presents us to the Father.

Whether Advent is all about Jesus’ first coming in the history or His second coming at the end of time what is important for us is his coming in our life. During this Advent, therefore, our challenge is how do we make the coming of Jesus a reality in our life. Definitely there are numerous ways. I would like to mention three of them.

1. Keep the Focus on the Reason for Celebration

There is this story. One day a few ladies came to a restaurant. They were in a very happy- go- lucky mood. Out of curiosity the manager asked them. “Why are you here, today? What is special?” “Oh. Today is the birthday of my only child. We are here to celebrate it,” one of the ladies said. “Where is the child? I would like to greet him,” he said. “We did not bring him. He is at home.” she said. “Do you think he would have allowed us to enjoy this food if we brought him with us? He would be a real disturbance,” she added. A birthday celebration with out the birthday baby being present! The focus of the celebration was shifted from the center to the periphery. Advent is a holiday season for many. Naturally people are busy with buying and sending gifts, organizing parties and so forth. All these are important. They are part of the celebration and life is meant to be a celebration. But, the Gospel reading on this very first day of Advent begins with a warning; Jesus says, “Be vigilant and Stay awake.” If we are not vigilant, there is a danger of missing the REASON for our celebration. The reason for this season is Jesus: the Birth of Jesus and the second coming of Jesus. If we are not attentive to the coming of Jesus, his coming becomes a non -starter in our lives.

2. Open to change

The good news of Jesus’ First coming was that He chose a human body as his dwelling place. By assuming a human form He restored human dignity. The human body became the temple of God. The incarnation of Jesus must take place in every human person. The Divine must penetrate into every cell of our lives. Therefore, it is not enough to focus on his coming alone, but we need to prepare our lives to welcome him. We need to allow him to enter into our lives and transform us. Our challenge during Advent is like clay in the hands of a potter. We need to place ourselves in the hands of God and allow him to shape and reshape our image until he forms a pot of his liking. St. Erenaus said this: As long as the clay is wet, moist and supple, the shaping is painless; but on the other hand, if the clay is hardened and reactive, it can break under the influence of the Potter. In Adam, the clay became brittle and hardened, so the shaping became painful and even impossible. What kind of clay are you? We can make the clay of our life moist and supple by doing a number of things: By reading the bible every day during these 25 days; attending Mass on weekdays; preparing for a good confession; attending the bible studies and so forth. Therefore, one needs to ask: What is it that I need to stop doing and what is that I need to start doing during this Advent?

3. Meet Jesus in the ‘Neighbor’

The incarnation of Jesus made every human person another meeting place of God. The uniqueness of Christianity is that we can relate to God only through our neighbors. In the story of the Good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite tried to reach the temple by avoiding the victim on the road. Not they, but the Samaritan who stopped on the way to meet the victim caught the attention of God. Where do I find Jesus? Remember, Jesus was born in a manger, not in a palace or any other place of luxury. Jesus is there where people are struggling to celebrate their life with human dignity…Jesus is there where there is a person in need. During this season, let us try to be generous to people who are in need. Thus let us make this Holiday season a Holy season

Sunday, November 22, 2009


First Reading: Daniel 7:13-14,: Revelation 1:5-8,: John 18:33-37
Many years ago, when Hitler's forces occupied Denmark, the order came that all Jews in Denmark were to identify themselves by wearing armbands with yellow stars of David. The Danes had seen the extermination of Jews in other countries and guessed that this was the first step in that process in their countries. The King did not defy the orders. He had every Jew wear the star and he himself wore the Star of David. He told his people that he expected every loyal Dane to do the same. The King said, "We are all Danes. One Danish person is the same as the next." He wore his yellow star when going into Copenhagen every day in order to encourage his people. The King of Denmark identified with his people, even to the point of putting his own life on the line.

Today is the feast of Christ the King. The king who shed his last drop of blood from his throne, the cross, to save his people. This is actually a pretty new festival in the church year. Its roots go back only to the late 1800's, when the world's great empires--British, American, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Japanese--were all at war or about to go to war somewhere.
After World War I, another pope designated the last Sunday in October as Christ the King Sunday, a day to remember that Christ received power and honor from God and was thereby made ruler of the universe. Eventually, Catholics moved Christ the King Sunday to the last Sunday of the church year, when they were already accustomed to reflecting on Christ's return at the end of time to rule over all creation, a theme which echoes throughout Revelation, the last book of the Bible.

Jesus is king, but he doesn’t force his kingship on anyone, but one has to accept his dominion by one’s own free will.
"Are you the king of the Jews?" Pilate asked. "Is that your idea," Jesus said to him, "or did others talk to you about me?"
Again later Pilate asked “So you are a king” .Then Jesus said: "You are saying that I am a king." With that statement Jesus is again putting Pilate on trial: "You have said it, but is it what you believe?"

Here is a story that illustrates what is going on in this dialogue between Jesus and Pilate: An Amish man was once asked by an enthusiastic young evangelist whether he had been saved, and whether he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior?

The gentleman replied, "Why do you ask me such a thing? I could tell you anything. Here are the names of my banker, my grocer, and my farm hands. Ask them if I've been saved."
Jesus could tell Pilate anything. What is important is what Pilate believes.

In his conversation with Pilate, Jesus finally does imply that he is a king. "My kingdom," he explains, "is not of this world." Not of this world. That's what it takes. That's what it takes to find a King who identifies with his people. A King of heaven, a King of kings from some place other than this world. Here is the twist. This world is His Kingdom, but it does not belong, or is owned or dominated by the ways of this world.
So Jesus is a king of a different order. Servant-leadership is the model that Christ the King has chosen.
The story is told about the baptism of King Angus by St. Patrick in the middle of the fifth century. Sometime during the rite, St. Patrick leaned on his sharp-pointed staff and inadvertently stabbed the king's foot. After the baptism was over, St. Patrick looked down at all the blood, realized what he had done, and begged the king's forgiveness. Why did you suffer this pain in silence, the Saint wanted to know. The king replied, "I thought it was part of the ritual."

Our king Jesus was stabbed in the foot . . . and the hand, and the side and the head and that WAS part of the ritual. And, you and I are the ones who held the staff.
We need to allow Jesus to be the Servant King, the life-giving Master Who gave His life so that we might live more freely His life. The tension of course is that there are so many little personal tyrants within us urging for their places of power. Ego, fear, revenge, pleasure, AND many others struggle for supremacy and control.
In thousands of human hearts all over the world, Jesus still reigns as King. The Cross is his throne and the Sermon on the Mount, his rule of law. His citizens need obey only one major law: “Love God with all your being, and love others as I have loved you.”
The kingdom of God is already here in the sense that Jesus lives within and among us now. But we know also that his presence is obscured by the continued presence of evil in the world. In every moral decision we face, there’s a choice between Christ the King and Barabbas, and the one who seeks to live in his kingdom is the one who says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It can be so much easier to acknowledge the Kingship of Christ in our daily lives more on our lips than deep in our hearts.
As we celebrate the kingship of Christ today, let us remember the truth that he is not our King if we do not listen to him, love him, serve him, and follow him. If Christ is really King of my life, he must be King of every part of my life and I must let him reign in all parts of my life. We become Christ the King’s subjects when we sincerely respond to his loving invitation: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart.
On this great Feast of Christ the King, let us resolve to give him the central place in our lives and promise to obey his commandment of love.

Friday, November 13, 2009

XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary time

DAN. 12:1-3; HEBR 10:11-14, 18; MARK 13:24-32

There is a movie out 2012 which projects the theme of the end of the world in 2012. Numerology tells: according to Mayan calendar the world is going to end on August 13th,2012 at sharp 11:11 am. There have been many instances in the past when people predicted the end of the world at a particular time in history and came to naught. French prophet and astrologer Nostradamus (1503-1566) foretold that the world would end when Easter fell on April 25. This happened 4 time after his predictions; it will occur again in 2038. The Jehovah’s Witnesses frightened gullible followers at least 3 times during the last century with their “end of the world” predictions in 1914, 1918 and 1974. It is this paranoid fear that led people to die in the mass suicides organized by Heaven’s Gate and Jim Jones.
Today’s readings are full of gloom and doom. It is more of a prophetic presentation of a time of distress where all that is usual, predictable and reliable will be shaken. The stars, sun, moon as symbols of order will be replaced by the “Son of Man” coming upon the earth to reestablish the original creational harmony. This readings remind us that we should be well prepared and always ready to meet Jesus at any time, whether at the end of our lives or at the end of the world, whichever comes first. Jesus finishes the discourse by saying: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” We do not know, because we do not need to know. As he said it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority." (Mk 13:32.)
God has seen fit to assure us that history has a purpose, and that it will come to an end, and that we should always keep this in mind. It is enough for us to know that we are part of a story that has meaning and that it will come to a definitive end. At that time, we will receive just recompense for how we carried out our role in the story.
Jesus doesn’t speak about these events in order to scare us, but in order to motivate us. This predictions of the end of the world, are a reminder of his endless love. God loves us all and wants us all to be saved and to live together with him in heaven. It is Good News for us all and we look forward to that Day of Days when God’s purpose is finally achieved. Telling us about it gives us a chance to organize our lives accordingly, to build our lives on the everlasting rock of Christ our Savior.
Jesus says to be watchful. What does it mean to be watchful ? It means three things. First, it means making our personal relationship with God a true priority through daily prayer, ongoing study of our faith, and frequent reception of the sacraments.
Second, it means sharing with others the news that Jesus has shared with us. Jesus died not only for those of us who are here today, but also for those who aren’t. If we don’t tell them the message of Christ, who will?
Third, it means following Christ’s example in our daily lives. Every single day he gives us opportunities to learn to follow his example, getting our souls ready for the great adventure of heaven.
The Second Coming, the New Age, the New Epoch, can and should be happening throughout this day and week. But the Last Judgement is not something we should fear. In a real sense it is something we should rejoice in for it marks the culmination and finalisation of God’s plan for the world. We have all to face death. It is the most significant moment of our lives. It is the moment for which everything else is but a preparation.
In 1999, in the month of July, Pope John Paul II shocked the Christian world when he made these statements in his Wednesday audience:
Heaven, or the happiness in which we will find ourselves, is neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the clouds, but a personal relation [with God]. .. This final condition can be anticipated in a certain sense now on earth.... Moreover, the pictures of Hell given to us in Sacred Scripture must be correctly interpreted. They express the total frustration and emptiness of a life without God. More than a place, Hell is the state of the one who freely and finally removes himself from God, the source of life and joy.
Christ is more interested in the way we conduct our lives this moment rather than tomorrow. He is more eager to see us improve life for others today than He is to remove us from it.

Let us recognize the “second coming” of Jesus in our daily lives through everyday occurrences, always remembering that Jesus comes without warning. But let us not get frightened at the thought of Christ’s Second Coming because he is with us every day in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Bible and in our worshipping communities. We will be able to welcome him in his Second Coming as long as we faithfully do the will of God daily and get reconciled with God and with our brothers and sisters every day.