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.