December 8th, 2016
First Reading Isaiah 35:1-6,10
In the day of the Lord, all sorrow and mourning will cease.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 146:6-7,8-9,9-10
The Lord will save his people.
Second Reading James 5:7-10
Be patient, and be ready; the coming of the Lord is near.
The third Sunday of Advent is called the "Gaudete Sunday" -- Rejoice Sunday, the Sunday of joy. The Liturgy speaks of Joy in order to give us courage since our hearts can easily become frightened and weighed down by the hardships we face. We can lose patience in our sufferings as we await the coming of the Lord. That’s what happened to John the Baptist as we hear in today’s Gospel. He is in a dungeon, the victim of a petty tyrant and his vengeful, immoral consort. It is just possible that, in the dark, vile hole of a prison John is having some doubts about Jesus as the Messiah. Therefore Jesus gives John the reassurance, echoing the words of the Prophet Isaiah, that He is truly the awaited messiah. All of us are searching for happiness, but why are so few truly happy and even those who are happy are only happy for such a short time? It is because our approach is wrong. We go up the wrong side and we decide to take the wrong way up. Revelation says: "God is love," but man has tried to reverse the phrase so that it says: "Love is God"! Thus, when we say, "Happiness is God," we divinize our little experiences; we make happiness into an idol. This explains why he who seeks God always finds joy while he who seeks joy does not always find God. Therefore let us pray that we will always ‘seek joy in the Lord’
December 2nd, 2016
First Reading Isaiah 11:1-10
A descendent of Jesse will usher in a time of peace.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 72:1-2,7-8,12-13,17
The Messiah will bring justice and peace to the nations.
Second Reading Romans 15:4-9
Both Jews and Gentiles glorify God for the salvation found in Christ Jesus.
The Church’s use of John the Baptist over the Advent Season invites us to join John’s audience in these days of preparation. The kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the one who is able to separate the wheat from the chaff is coming. John never saw a superhighway, but he uses the image in order to prepare the way for the coming of the world’s most wonderful and most extraordinary traveller, the Messiah Jesus, into our lives. The highway John wishes to construct is within our hearts. It hasn't a number, but it does have a name-conversion. Conversion results when a person realizes profoundly that the message and the life of Jesus make sense and is infinitely desirable. Conversion takes place when Jesus and his message cut through the moments of pain, tears, worry, fear and uneasiness in our lives. Conversion means meeting Jesus in his word and allowing Him to become directly involved in our lives. Once this happens, life can never be the same for us.
November 25th, 2016
First Reading Isaiah 2:1-5
Isaiah describes his vision in which all nations are gathered together by God in peace.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 122:1-2,3-4,4-5,6-7,8-9
Rejoicing, let us enter the house of the Lord.
Second Reading Romans 13:11-14
Be prepared, salvation is near.
Today we begin a new season of Advent and it is its 1st Sunday. Now, in the general literal sense, the word 'advent' means 'coming of someone,' but in the Christian Liturgical sense it specifically implies to 'the coming of Christ.' So specifically therefore, with the start of Advent today, we begin the period of expectation and waiting for the coming of Christ, our Savior — his birth on the first Christmas day. But actually, the Lord comes to us in three ways: the first coming of Jesus about 2000 years ago when he came as our Savior (Coming in history), the second coming is the glorious return of Jesus in future at the end of time (Coming in Majesty) and the third coming is situated between the first two comings. It is Jesus' daily coming into our hearts here and now at every moment of every day in the sacraments – very specifically through the Eucharist, and therein lies a challenge for us as well as a comfort (Coming in Mystery). Thus in a general sense, the period of Advent encompasses all time viz. Past, Present & Future. So, a Christian in this sense is always a citizen of Advent. Therefore, it is not surprising that we begin the new Liturgical Year this Sunday, with the same theme of 'the coming of Christ', where we ended it last Sunday.
November 16th, 2016
First Reading 2 Samuel 5:1-3
David is anointed king.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 122:1-2,3-4,4-5
Enter the house of the Lord rejoicing.
Second Reading Colossians 1:12-20
Hymn to Jesus as the first-born of all creation.
Gospel Reading Luke 23:35-43
Today, the last Sunday of ordinary time the Church in a special way invites us to celebrate Jesus Christ our anointed king who overcame suffering and death, and so brought us out of darkness into his kingdom of light. On 7th July 2009, during the funeral of Michael Jackson, the presiding pastor said: “Behold the king of pop ready to face the King of the world.” Today (34th Sunday), the entire world stands still and bows to the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Rev 17, 14), and the Holy Mother Church celebrates the feast of Christ the King and Sovereign ruler of the Universe (Dan 7, 14). Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King in 1925 in response to growing nationalism and secularism. In initiating this feast, the Church wanted to take our worship of Jesus from the privacy of our hearts and to proudly proclaim his public reign as well. The title of the feast was “Jesu Christi Regis” (Our Lord Jesus Christ the King). Again, in his 1969 motu proprio Mysterii Paschalis, Pope Paul VI gave the celebration a new title: “Iesu Christi universorum Regis” (Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe). He also gave it a new date: the last Sunday in the liturgical year and assigned to it the highest rank, that of “Solemnity.” As we celebrate this feast let us ask ourselves: “Who reigns in my heart? Jesus or the evil one? Am I happy to be a subject of His kingdom? What are the values of his kingdom that I admire and try to inculcate into my life?
November 8th, 2016
First Reading Malachi 3:19-20
The day of justice is coming, says the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 98:5-6,7-8,9
Sing praise to God, who rules with justice.
Second Reading 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Paul urges the community to follow his example and to earn their keep.
In today’s Gospel Jesusportrays for us, graphically, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. ForJews, the destruction of these two things was equivalent to the end of theworld. Precisely for this reason, the Church uses this gospel passage as one ofits readings for the end of the liturgical year. It wants us to reflect on theend of the world. But what’s the significant it has in our lives? What does itmean to us personally? We read the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus, before Hisprediction of the destruction of the Temple, ‘left the Temple and departed fromit’ (24:1). Jesus not only went out of the Temple, He also departed from it andnever returned to it. He did not depart on His own accord, they drove Him off;He did not reject them, rather they had rejected Him. When He departed from theTemple, its sanctity, glory and defense departed. The most beautiful and magnificentTemple in the world turned into the most ruinous heap. Three days after Hedeparted the veil of the Temple was rent – making everything in the Templecommon and unclean. Woe descends upon anyone from whom the Lord departs. If wedrive away His presence from our souls, it will become desolate, as desolate asthe Temple of Jerusalem. That will be the end of the world to us. When Jesusdeparts from my life, that is going to be my experience of the end of theworld.
November 3rd, 2016
First Reading 2 Maccabees 7:1-2,9-14
Jewish martyrs give witness to their faith, even unto death.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 17:1,5-6,8,15
The just person will live in God's presence.
Second Reading 2 Thessalonians 2:16—3:5
Paul encourages the Thessalonians and asks for their prayers.
In today’s Gospel we find Jesus in reply rejecting the caricature thatthe Sadducees present of heaven, a caricature that suggests that it is a simplecontinuation of the earthly relationships of the spouses. Eternal beatitude isnot just an increase and prolongation of terrestrial joys, the maximization ofthe pleasures of the flesh and the table. The other life is truly another life,a life of a different quality. It is true that it is the fulfillment of allman's longings on earth, yet it is infinitely more, on a different level.Interpreting Jesus' answer to the Sadducees, in an erroneous way, some haveclaimed that marriage has no follow-up in heaven. He does not deny that theymight rediscover in God the bond that united them on earth. If God united themon earth, how could he divide them in heaven? According to this vision,matrimony does not entirely end with death but is transfigured, renewed andmade holy -- it loses those limits that mark life on earth -- in the same waythat the bonds between parents and children or between friends will not beforgotten. In the preface of the Mass for the dead, the liturgy says that withdeath "life is changed, not taken away"; the same must be said ofmarriage, which is an integral part of life. Let us look forward to a gloriouslife in heaven.
October 26th, 2016
First Reading Wisdom 11:22—12:2
God is merciful because all things were created by God.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 145:1-2,8-9,10-11,13,14
Sing praise to God, who is faithful.
Second Reading 2 Thessalonians 1:11—2:2
Paul tells the Thessalonians to remain faithful to Christ until Christ comesagain.
In the figure ofZacchaeus in today’s Gospel, we have a portrait of a lost soul. He is a chieftax collector, a rich man who has apparently gained his living by fraud byprofession and so a“sinner” excluded from Israel’s religious life. ButZacchaeus’ faith & humility bring salvation to his house. He expresses hisfaith in his fervent desire to “see” Jesus, even humbling himself to climb atree just to watch Him pass by. While those of loftier religious stature reactto Jesus with grumbling, Zacchaeus receives Him with joy. Beneath the loving gaze of Christ, the heart ofZacchaeus warms to love of neighbour. From a feeling of isolation, which hadled him to enrich himself without caring about what others had to suffer, hemoves to an attitude of sharing. In another passage of the Gospel Jesus statesthat it is very difficult for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven(cf. Matthew 19:23). In the case of Zacchaeus we see that precisely what seemsimpossible actually happens: "He," St. Jerome comments, "gaveaway his wealth and immediately replaced it with the wealth of the Kingdom ofHeaven" (Homily on Psalm 83:3). And Maximus of Turin adds: "Riches,for the foolish, feed dishonesty, but for the wise they are a help to virtue;for the latter they offer a chance of salvation, for the former they procure astumbling block and perdition" (Sermon 95). And it is only at this pointthat the love of God achieves its purpose, and salvation is accomplished:'Today salvation has come to this house' (v 9)."
October 21st, 2016
First Reading Sirach 35:12-14,16-18
God hears the prayer of the poor.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 34:2-3,17-18,19, 23
The Lord hears and answers the cry of the poor.
Second Reading 2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18
Paul perseveres in faith, confident that God will rescue him.
Jesus draws a bluntpicture in today’s Gospel. The Pharisee’s prayer is almost a parody of thethanksgiving psalms (see for example Psalms 30,118). Instead of praising Godfor His mighty works, the Pharisee congratulates himself for his own deeds,which he presents to God in some detail. The tax collector stands at adistance, too ashamed even to raise his eyes to God (see Ezra 9:6). He prayswith a humble and contrite heart (see Psalm 51:19). He knows that before God noone is righteous, no one has cause to boast (see Roman 3:10; 4:2). We seein the Liturgy today one of Scripture’s abiding themes - that God “knows nofavorites,” as today’s First Reading tells us (see 2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts10:34-35; Romans 2:11). God cannot be bribed (see Deuteronomy 10:17). Wecannot curry favor with Him or impress Him - even with our good deeds or ourfaithful observance of religious duties such as tithing and fasting. If we tryto exalt ourselves before the Lord, as the Pharisee does, we will be broughtlow (see Luke 1:52). This should be a warning to us - not to take pride in ourpiety, not to slip into the self-righteousness of thinking that we’re betterthan others, that we’re “not like the rest of sinful humanity.” If weclothe ourselves with humility (see 1 Peter 5:5-6) - recognize that all of usare sinners in need of His mercy - we will be exalted (see Proverbs29:33). The prayer of the lowly, the humble, pierces the clouds. Paultestifies to this in today’s Epistle, as He thanks the Lord for giving himstrength during his imprisonment. Paul tells us what the Psalmist singstoday - that the Lord redeems the lives of His humble servants. We toomust serve Him willingly. And He will hear us in our distress, deliver us fromevil, and bring us safely to His heavenly kingdom.
October 10th, 2016
First Reading Exodus 17:8-13
Joshua and the Israelites defeat Amalek with the help of God and his servant,Moses.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 121:1-2,3-4,5-6,7-8
The Lord is the Guardian of Israel.
Second Reading 2 Timothy 3:14—4:2
Paul exhorts Timothy to continue to preach the word Timothy received from histeachers.
The Lord is our guardian, beside us at our righthand, interceding for us in all our spiritual battles. In today’s Psalmwe’re told to lift our eyes to the mountains, that our help will comefrom Mount Zion and the Temple - the dwelling of the Lord who made heaven andearth. Joshua and the Israelites, in today’s First Reading, are also told tolook to the hilltops. They are to find their help there - through theintercession of Moses - as they defend themselves against their mortal foes,the Amalekites. Notice the image: Aaron and Hur standing on each side of Moses,holding his weary arms so that he can raise the staff of God above his head.Moses is being shown here as a figure of Jesus, who also climbed a hilltop, andon Mount Calvary stretched out His hands between heaven and earth to intercedefor us against the final enemy - sin and death (see 1 Corinthians 15:26). Bythe staff of God, Moses bested Israel’s enemies (see Exodus 7:8-12;8:1-2),parted the Red Sea (see Exodus 14:16) and brought water from the Rock (seeExodus 17:6). The Cross of Jesus is the new staff of God, bringing about a newliberation from sin, bringing forth living waters from the body of Christ, thenew Temple of God (see John 2:19-21; 7:37-39; 19:34; 1 Corinthians 10:4). Likethe Israelites and the widow in today’s Gospel, we face opposition andinjustice - at times from godless and pitiless adversaries. We, too, must liftour eyes to the mountains - to Calvary and the God who will guard us from allevil. We must pray always (persevere in prayer) and not be wearied by ourtrials, Jesus tells us today. As Paul exhorts in today’s Epistle, we need toremain faithful, to turn to the inspired Scriptures - given by God to train usin righteousness. We must persist, so that when the Son of Man comes again inkingly power, He will indeed find faith on earth.
October 4th, 2016
First Reading 2 Kings 5:14-17
Naaman is cleansed of his leprosy and chooses to serve the God of Israel.
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 98:1,2-3,3-4
Rejoice! The salvation of God is made known to all.
Second Reading 2 Timothy 2:8-13
Those who remain faithful to Christ will share Christ's glory.
Today's readings are about remembering andthanksgiving, healing and salvation. In the Old Testament reading, (SecondKings 5:14-17) Naaman the Syrian remembers to thank Elisha for his cure, andone of the 10 lepers cured by Jesus remembered to turn up and thank his healer.It is the foreigner who returns, who praises God and who expresses gratitude toJesus. When Jesus says: “Your faith has made you well," the blessingcertainly refers to some benefit other than that which all, including the othernine, had received earlier. The verb “made well” is the same very oftentranslated “to be saved.” The stories of the lepers teach us some powerfullessons about remembrance, gratitude, healing and salvation. Grateful heartsare the hallmark of authentic Christians. Those who possess the virtue ofgratitude are truly rich. They not only know how richly they have been blessed,but they continuously remember that all good things come from God. There is anold saying: Justice is when you get what you deserve. Mercy is when youdon’t get what you deserve. Grace is when you get what you don’t deserve. I like you get asked a dozen times a day, “Howare you doing?” I have trained myself to often answer, “More blessed than Ideserve.” Yes, All is gift. Thankful people store up in their grateful memoryall the good experiences of the past, just as the French proverbstates:“Gratitude is the heart’s memory.”
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