Friday, November 29, 2013

Advent-1 Is 2:1-5; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44

Today marks the beginning of the season of Advent, a time of prayer and preparation -- a time-out from hectic distractions, and a time-in for quiet nourishment from the beautiful Advent scriptures. It's a time for inner activity of prayer, and outer works of generosity to our neighbor.

In the first reading from Isaiah, God invited the divided kingdom of Israel to climb the holy mountain to His house. There He will melt down their swords, and turn their hearts to thoughts of peace.

The second reading from Paul to the Romans insists that we wake up, and throw off the works of darkness. If we follow Paul's advice to walk in the light, then Advent is a time for sincere riddance of sinful ways and sluggish response to the teaching of Jesus and His Church.

has explained that Jerusalem, the epicenter of the Old Covenant, will be destroyed to make definitive way for the New Covenant. He has explained that the world itself will eventually be destroyed to make way for the new heavens and the new earth.

God wants us to know that our time is limited, that our lives and history itself will come to an end.
He wants us to know this, because he wants us to use our limited time wisely, living as true Christians.

All the three readings of today describe the manner how our waiting should be! The waiting of a Christian is not a passive waiting devoid of any creative activity.  It is not a waiting in laziness. But this waiting is an invitation to walk in the ways of the Lord – the way of justice, the way of charity, the way of forgiveness, the way of simplicity and the way of altruism.

Advent is a time of invitation to be engaged in action. In the mind of Paul the whole life of a Christian is waiting to meet Jesus. It is not a call to be passive and do nothing. But it is a call to be actively engaged in the daily affairs of life. To be instruments in the hands of God. God worked among His people  through the medium of chosen people. Today we are the instruments at the hands of God.

This text indicates that the end will seem to be a peaceful and normal time, with people eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and working in their homes or businesses.  In this routine normal life, it might be easy to forget the "coming of the Son of Man."   In a reference to the story of Noah, Jesus says that the sin of the people was placing too much emphasis on the normal cares and necessities of life.  They were too concerned with eating and drinking – just as we are during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays.  Jesus reminds us that there is something more important than feasts or weddings: the Son of Man will come to us unexpectedly, either at our death or at the end of the world, and that could be at any moment.   Since God will show up without an appointment, we must be prepared at all times. 
Advent is a time to turn our attention to the three comings of Christ: his first, 2000 years ago; his last, sometime in the future, and his ongoing one, through his grace, his providence, and the sacraments - when we turn our attention to these three comings of Christ, we will see something new, something different.

Somebody has said: If you would like to keep Christ in Christmas, keep Advent in Advent.” If our preparation is serious enough our Christmas will be rewarding. The Jewish scholars knew when and where the Messiah would be born. They gave the clear knowledge to Herod. But they themselves failed to move any finger to go meet the Messiah. But the wise men from the East made a long tiresome journey to find the Messiah and they were fully satisfied by their effort.

How are we going to be alert and watchful ?  Every morning when we get up, let us pray, “Lord, show me someone today with whom I may share your love, mercy and forgiveness.”  Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, "Whatever you do in your family, for your children, for your husband, for your wife, you do for Jesus."  Every night when we go to bed, let us ask ourselves, “Where have I found Christ today?”  The answer will be God’s Advent gift to us that day. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

CHRIST THE KING: II Sam 5:1-3; Col 1:12-20; Lk 23: 35-43
Describing the crucifixion scene, today’s Gospel teaches that Christ became the King of our hearts and lives by His suffering, death and resurrection. In most of the Messianic prophecies given in the Old Testament books the Messiah, is represented as a King coming from the dynasty of David.  The New Testament tells us that Jesus is the long-awaited King of the Jews.  In the annunciation  record we read: “The Lord God will make him a King, as his ancestor David was, and he will be the King of the descendants of Jacob forever and His Kingdom will never end.” (Lk.1:32-33).
When the Magi heard about the birth of a king for the Jews they set out with royal offerings- Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. After 33 years, the same king stood elevated on the cross with the inscription INRI, (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum - "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews").  The soldiers made a crown of long, sharp thorns and put it on his head, and they put a royal purple robe on him, and shouted, "Hail! King of the Jews!"(John 19)

When Pilate asked the question: (Jn 18: 33) “Are you the King of the Jews”? Jesus made this answer, “You say I am a King. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (Jn 18: 37).

The Kingdom of God is the central teaching of Jesus throughout the Gospels.  The word Kingdom appears more than any other word throughout the four Gospels. Jesus begins His public ministry by preaching the Kingdom.  "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:14).

The first person to formally recognize Jesus as king was a condemned criminal.  He captured the Lord's heart with his humble request: “Jesus remember me when you come in your kingly power.” When the whole crowd at the foot of the cross ridiculed Jesus, he was able to grasp the real meaning of Jesus’ kingship. His faith deepened in the dark moments when Jesus’ divinity became obscured. 

In the 1920s, a totalitarian regime gained control of Mexico and tried to suppress the Church. To resist the regime, many Christians took up the cry, "Viva Cristo Rey!" ["Long live Christ the King!"] They called themselves "Cristeros." The most famous Cristero was a young Jesuit priest named Padre Miguel Pro. Using various disguises, Padre Pro ministered to the people of Mexico City. Finally, the government arrested him and sentenced him to public execution on November 23, 1927. The president of Mexico (Plutarco Calles) thought that Padre Pro would beg for mercy, so he invited the press to the execution. Padre Pro did not plead for his life, but instead knelt holding a crucifix. When he finished his prayer, he kissed the crucifix and stood up. Holding the crucifix in his right hand, he extended his arms and shouted, "Viva Cristo Rey!" At that moment the soldiers fired.
When we accept Jesus as the King of our lives, then everyone and everything else falls into its proper place. We are also challenged to find Christ the King in every one around us. As loyal subjects of Christ the King, we are invited to treat others with justice and compassion as Jesus did, especially those whom we consider the least important. 
Jesus Christ still lives as King, in thousands of human hearts all over the world. He said in Lk.17:21 “the kingdom of God is within you”. His kingdom is within each of our hearts and he rules in human hearts that accepts him and gives him supremacy in their lives.  The cross is his throne and the Sermon on the Mount is his rule of law.  His citizens need obey only one law: “Love others as I have loved you" (John 15: 12).  His love is selfless, sacrificial, kind, compassionate, forgiving and unconditional.   His rule consists in seeking the lost, offering salvation to those who call out to him and making friends of enemies. 

Let us conclude the Church year by asking the Lord to help us serve the King of Kings as He presents Himself in our every day life by reaching out to those suffering around us.