Regional Bishops Councils
Catholic Council of India
Catholic Religious of India
Clergy and Religious
Dialogue and Desk for Ecumenism
Education and Culture
Justice, Peace and Development
Scheduled Castes/Backward Classes and Tribal Affairs
St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences
National Biblical, Catechetical, and Liturgical Centre
National Vocation Service Centre
National Institute for Social Communications, Research and Training
Society for Medical Education, North India
Church In India
Dioceses of India
Canon Law (Latin)
CCEO (Oriental Code)
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope John Paul II
Saints in the Catholic Church
Election of a new Pope
Appointment of a Bishop
Who is a Cardinal?
December 22, 2013
December 22, 2013
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Loving, responsive obedience to God by St. Joseph is the central theme of today’s readings, with special emphasis on the Virgin Birth of Jesus.
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah gives a sign from God to King Ahaz of Judah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (Is 7: 14). Matthew considers this prophecy as one of the most descriptive and definite prophecies foretelling the future messianic king, Christ, to be born as a descendant of David. In the second reading, Paul also asserts that Jesus was a descendant of David and thus the Messiah: "from David according to the flesh" (Rom 1: 3). Paul explains that Jesus was made Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead. Then he provides a sweeping summary of God's mighty acts in history through Jesus Christ. Today’s Gospel, from Matthew, focuses on the person and role of Joseph. In order for Jesus to fulfill the messianic prophecy given by Isaiah, Joseph had to accept Jesus as his son, making Jesus a legal descendant of David because Joseph was a descendant of David. Hence, Matthew makes it clear that Jesus was not the biological child of Joseph. But because Joseph was the husband of Mary at the time Jesus was born, Jesus was legally the son of Joseph and thus a descendant of David.
1) Like Joseph, we need to trust in God, listen to Him and be faithful. Although we may face financial problems, job insecurity, tensions in the family and health concerns, let us try to be like St. Joseph, trusting and faithful. Instead of relying on our own schemes to get us through life, let us trust in God and be strengthened by talking to Him in fervent prayer and by listening to Him speaking through the Bible.
2) We need to experience Emmanuel in our lives and change the world: The good news and the consoling message of Christmas is that the child Jesus still waits today to step into our hearts—your heart and mine—and to change us and the world around us by the beauty of God's love, kindness, mercy and compassion. Let us take some time to welcome the Christ Child into our heart and lives this week, so that He may change our world of miseries with the beauty of that love. 3) Do we have any gift for our "Birthday Boy?” Let us check to see if Jesus is on our list this Christmas and if we have a special gift in mind for him. A heart filled with love for God and our fellow-human beings is the birthday gift which Jesus really wants from us. Hence, let us prepare our heart for Jesus, filling it with love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness on this Christmas and every day of our lives 4) Let us be a Christmas gift to others: The greatest gift we can give to those we love, is to have faith in them, believe in their dreams and try to help them realize them. We need to believe in the dreams of our husband, wife, children, parents, heroes, leaders and friends, then try our best to help them realize those dreams.
Fourth Sunday of Advent Is 7: 10- 14; Rom 1: 1-7; Mt 1: 18-24
1: "You'll know tonight.” It was a few days before Christmas. A woman woke up one morning and told her husband, "I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Christmas. What do you think this dream means?" "Oh," her husband replied, "you'll know the day after tomorrow." The next morning, she turned to her husband again and said she had the same dream, and received the same reply. On the third morning, the woman woke up and smiled at her husband, "I just dreamed again that you gave me a pearl necklace for Christmas. What do you think this dream means?" And he smiled back, "You'll know tonight." That evening, the man came home with a small package and presented it to his wife. She was delighted. She opened it gently. And when she did, she found -- a book! And the book's title was The Meaning of Dreams. Today’s gospel tells us how Joseph had a dream and how he reacted to it. (Rev Samuel Candler.
2: Emmanuel - God with us: Over 100 years ago Father Damien deVeuster, a Belgian priest, began working with lepers on Molokai, a small Hawaiian island. Father Damien found a source of fresh water in the mountains and developed a system to bring it down to the colony. He built the first sanitation system and clinic. He and the lepers constructed a chapel for worship. Each Sunday Father Damien would begin his sermon with these words: "You lepers know that God loves you." This went on for years. Finally, one Sunday Father Damien began his sermon this way: "We lepers know that God loves us.” Father Damien had contracted leprosy. Yet he went on loving and serving until his death in 1898. Even as Father Damien cast his lot with the lepers, Jesus, Emmanuel, invested himself totally with us sinners. "He was bruised and wounded for our sins. He was lashed, and we were healed." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel"(Mt 1: 22-23). (Dr. William R. Bouknight).
3: Beauty and the Beast: Today’s Gospel message is a bit like the story of Beauty and the Beast, the animated film nominated for the Oscar Award in 1991. In that film, Beauty stepped into the ugly world of the Beast, not because he was loveable, not because he deserved her, but because she loved her father. But the world of the beast did not change right away, even though Beauty was there. The servants, who shared the curse of the Beast, warned him that Beauty might be the one they had been waiting for, but the Beast continued to rage and scream and roar, finally sending Beauty away. On her way home, she was attacked by the wolves, and Beast saved her. As Beauty returned and nursed the wounded Beast back to health, they began to bicker and blame each other, until in one beautiful moment, Beauty stepped into the heart of the ugly beast. From that moment on, the Beast began to change slowly. He started to laugh and play. And then, finally, Beast realized that he loved Beauty, and in an amazing act of love, he released her to find her father. Beauty and her father returned to the ugly world of the Beast to warn him of the danger of the townspeople's attack, but they were too late. In the fighting, Beast had been stabbed, and as he lay dying, Beauty confessed her love for him. And the spell was broken. Beast was changed by the love of Beauty. Because Beauty stepped into the ugly world of the Beast, Beast was changed, little by little, until one day he was transformed into a wonderful handsome prince. In Jesus, God stepped into our ugly, beastly world as Joshua (Savior), and Emmanuel (sign of God’s permanent presence with us), to change it, to bring to it – to us – the beauty of the love of God's kingdom. But change comes slowly. Yes, just look at our world. There are so many ugly people, so many beastly things happening. But, there are some people who are changing and some who have been changed by the beauty of God's love, and both begin loving others. Today’s Gospel describes the changes that occurred in St. Joseph and in the Holy Family.
The story of the Virgin Birth is at the heart of our Christmas celebrations. Hence, today’s readings focus on the story of the Virgin Birth. In the first reading, God gives a sign through the prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz of Judah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7: 14) Matthew considers this one of the most descriptive and definite prophecies foretelling the future messianic king, Christ, to be born as a descendant of David. Paul, in the second reading, also asserts that Jesus was a descendant of David and thus the Messiah, being: "descended from David according to the flesh" (Rom 1: 3). Paul also explains that Jesus was made Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead. Then he provides a sweeping summary of God's mighty acts in history through Jesus Christ. Today’s Gospel, from Matthew, focuses on the person and role of Joseph. In order for Jesus to fulfill the messianic prophecy given by Isaiah, Joseph had to accept Jesus as his son, making Jesus a descendant of David because Joseph was a descendant of David. Hence, Matthew makes it clear that Jesus was not the biological child of Joseph. But because Joseph was the husband of Mary at the time Jesus was born, Jesus was legally the son of Joseph and thus a descendant of David.
The first reading:
The undivided kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon was divided, at Solomon's death in the late eighth century BC, into a northern kingdom, Israel, and a southern kingdom, Judah. Assyria, the dominant power in the region controlled, among others, Israel and Syria. These two liege states were planning to rebel against Assyria. Their kings pressured Judah's King Ahaz, the eleventh Jewish king of Judah in ten years (735 to 715 BC), to join them. [See 2 Kg 16, ff and 2 Chronicles 28 for Ahaz' history.] When he refused, they began to plot to overthrow him by attacking Judah. Instead of trusting in God, Ahaz planned to ask for help in holding his throne from his overlord, the pagan Assyrian king, a request which later led to the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah. Confident that his God, Yahweh, would protect Judah and its king, the prophet Isaiah told Ahaz to have faith in Yahweh and not to ally himself with Assyria. But Ahaz wouldn’t listen; he was determined to go ahead with his alliance. (In order to appease the Assyrians, Ahaz had replaced the altar in the Temple with an Assyrian altar and had sacrificed his firstborn son to the Assyrian god Moloch). Isaiah told Ahaz that the Lord wanted him to ask God for a sign of the truth of what Isaiah was saying. Ahaz had already made up his mind to rely on Assyria instead, so he refused to ask for a sign, using the excuse that it would be tempting God to do so. In frustration, Isaiah announced God’s sign anyway, the birth from a virgin of a son, whose very name, “Emmanuel” ("God is with us"), would assure everyone that God was really with His people.
Matthew understands the passage from Isaiah as promising the birth of an ideal descendant of David, the Messiah. Despite Matthew's citation from Isaiah, Isaiah probably wasn’t consciously prophesying Jesus' birth in Is 7:10-14, and certainly was not predicting that birth exclusively. The Lord God, through Isaiah, was giving King Ahaz a sign which had to be recognized instantly, not 700 years later in Jesus. Besides, the Hebrew word almah which we translate as "virgin," meant only a woman who had not yet delivered a baby. Hence, the almah Isaiah mentions probably would be Ahaz' wife, Abia, and the Emmanuel would be their soon-to-be-born son Hezekiah. The promised son of Ahaz would be faithful to Yahweh and would institute a series of religious reforms that would undo many of Ahaz’ accommodations to Assyrian religious practices. Hence, many modern Bible scholars do not believe that the immediate identities of Isaiah's "virgin" and "Emmanuel" were Mary and Jesus. That prophecies, the work of the Holy Spirit, can have several fulfillments often centuries apart, is axiomatic in the Church, which relies on the Holy Spirit as her Guardian against error, as Jesus promised would be the case. The Letter to the Hebrews provides multiple instances of this kind of reading of Biblical texts. Matthew's citation, which does identify the "Virgin" as Mary and "Emmanuel" as Jesus, provides what is probably the final fulfillment of the prophecy.
: The reading from St. Paul's letter to the Romans also emphasizes that Jesus was a descendant of David and thus the Messiah ["descended from David according to the flesh" (Rom 1: 3).] At the beginning of this letter, Paul briefly summarizes the Gospel, the core of Christian faith, as including two things. One is that Jesus was descended from David according to the flesh. The other is that he was made Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead. Jesus' birth is significant because of his death and resurrection for our salvation.
The Christian congregation in Rome was small, not yet persecuted and still meeting in someone's home. These were the first-generation converts - some Jewish, some Gentile. In his letter to the Romans, Paul was introducing himself to them, and establishing his authority. That was necessary because the church in Rome did not know Paul personally, having heard only that he was a former persecutor turned Apostle. In the first sentence, Paul describes himself as "set apart to proclaim the Gospel ...," and later, "favored with Apostleship." The rest of the introduction is a summary of the Gospel and of the Divine Plan Paul serves. Paul sees how Jesus' coming and his own mission to non-Jews is prefigured in the Hebrew Scriptures. Paul does not use the name Emmanuel for Jesus, but he does provide a sweeping summary of God's mighty acts in history through Jesus Christ.
While Mary is featured prominently in Luke's account of Jesus' birth, Matthew brings Joseph to the forefront, because Jesus becomes part of David's lineage through Joseph (1:1-17). Luke tells us of Mary's obedience (Luke 1:38) and Matthew of Joseph's obedience. Luke tells the story of the angel's appearance to Mary (Luke 1:26-38), but Matthew tells us only that the child was from the Holy Spirit. But why does the Church couple Ahaz with Joseph in today's readings? Because of the stark contrast between the two men, both faced with difficult situations. One of them, Ahaz, relied on his own wits and schemes. Joseph relied on his trust in God. One of them sacrificed his own son to appease others and showed no mercy. The other spent his life in protecting his foster-son. And so we see in Joseph, in sharp contrast to Ahaz in the background, the just and righteous man that he is.
Crisis in the family:
Jewish marriage started with an engagement arranged by parents, often between children. Prior to marriage, couples began a year-long betrothal very much like marriage except for sexual rights. Betrothal was binding and could be terminated only by death or divorce. A person whose betrothed had died was considered to be a widow or widower. Joseph found that Mary was pregnant without his knowledge. Now, the law required that Mary be stoned to death, because she would have been considered an unfaithful wife, and the baby would have been stoned to death with her. In Deuteronomy 22:23-24, the penalty for adultery was death by stoning at the door of her father’s house as she had disgraced her father. Since Joseph was a just man of great mercy, he resolved to divorce Mary quietly so that he might not cause her unnecessary pain. In doing so, he shows us Christ-like compassion in the face of sin. He also demonstrates a Godly balance between the Law of Torah and the Law of Love. And then in a dream he learned that the child had been conceived by the Holy Spirit, and that he was to be the foster-father of the Christ, claiming him by naming him, and then rearing him. Joseph, through trust and faith in God, accepted his mission as the foster-father of the Son of God.
God’s message through His angel:
This is the first of three occasions on which an angel appears to Joseph in a dream. In each instance, the angel calls Joseph to action and Joseph obeys. He doesn't have a speaking part. In this first instance, the angel commands Joseph to take Mary as his wife. In Mt 2:13, the angel will tell Joseph to take the mother and child to Egypt to escape Herod's wrath. In Mt 2:19, the angel will, at the death of Herod, tell Joseph to return to Israel. The angel begins by saying, "Joseph, son of David," alerting us to Joseph's lineage. It is through Joseph that Jesus will be of the house and lineage of David. Mary's role is to bear a son, and Joseph's role is to name him. By naming him, Joseph makes Jesus his son and brings him into the house of David. After each of the three angelic apparitions in his dreams, Joseph obeys the angel's commands without question or pause. His hallmark is obedience -- prompt, simple, and unspectacular obedience. And in this sense, Joseph prefigures the Gospel of Matthew's understanding of righteousness: to be righteous is simply to obey the Word of God. Joseph's obedience allows Jesus to be adopted as a true Son of David; it is Mary's role that allows Jesus to be born Son of God. In the end, Joseph obediently took Mary as his wife, in spite of his fears, and he claimed her Son as his own by naming him. In spite of his earlier decision to divorce this woman quietly, Joseph nurtured and protected and watched over and loved both Mary and her child.
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (Is 7: 14). Matthew and early Christians understood Mary as the Virgin and Jesus as the Son in the prophecy, although the prophecy found its original fulfillment in Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz and his wife, Abia. In the Old and New Testaments, there are two possibilities for the word we translate “virgin”: a Hebrew meaning and a Greek meaning. In Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, the word for "virgin" used in the Isaiah prophecy is “almah,” which simply means “young woman who has not yet delivered a baby” as explained above. But in Greek, the language of the New Testament, the word for "virgin," parthenos, means someone who has not been sexually active with anther person, who has never had sexual relationships with another. With the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, the Hebrew "almah" in Isaiah's prophecy became the Greek parthenos, and brought the more complete meaning of "virginity" in our terms, with it. So in the Gospel reading for today, where Matthew 1:23 cites Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel,” as the explanation for the events he has just related, the full meaning of parthenos makes it plain that the final fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy was to be found in Mary as the untouched Virgin who, by the power of God, gave birth to Jesus as Emmanuel without a human partner. In the Old Testament, virginity (meaning the state in a woman of never having had sexual intercourse), was highly prized. A virgin was someone who was precious. Rebecca was not merely a young woman; she was a virgin. The Bible is very emphatic about that. There were several laws to protect the virginity of women. That is, parents made arrangements for their daughters to be married, and they expected their daughters to be virgins. In fact, Christ's birth 'did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it.' And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the 'Ever-virgin.' (CCC #499). [The doctrine of the Virgin Birth of the Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man is crucial to our Redemption (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27, 34). First, let’s look at how Scripture describes the event. In response to Mary’s question, “How will this be?” (Luke 1:34), Gabriel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35). The angel encourages Joseph to not fear marrying Mary with these words: “What is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). Matthew states that the virgin “was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). Galatians 4:4 also teaches the Virgin Birth: “God sent His Son, born of a woman.”] “Question of the Week.”
Jesus the Emmanuel:
The name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew Yehosua, which means 'YHWH is salvation'. The first Joshua, the successor of Moses, saved the people from their enemies. The second Joshua (Jesus) will save the people from their sins. The people did not expect a Messiah who would save them from their sins, but one who would deliver them from their oppressors. The fulfillment of prophecy is important to Matthew. He mentions fulfillment of prophecy eleven times (1:22; 2:15, 17, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 26:56; 27:9). In Hebrew, El is a short form of Elohim, a name for God. Immanu-El means "God with us." Emmanuel describes Jesus’ role or vocation. Jesus' calling is to save his people from their sins and to manifest God's presence. Matthew thus begins his Gospel with the promise that Jesus is God-with-us. He will end the Gospel with the promise that Jesus will be with us "always, to the end of the age" (28:20). Matthew understands that in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, God is with us, reconciling the world to Himself. He is the reassurance in the flesh that God has not given up on us, but will remain with us. The real event of Christmas is that God comes to change the world and each of us -- not just through a historical virginal conception and a baby lying in a manger, but through the God who is with us today, shattering our self-righteous attitudes and seeking to move us beyond our fears, freeing us from our bondages.
1) Like Joseph, we need to trust in God, listen to Him and be faithful. We are here in this church, three days before Christmas, because, like Joseph, we are faithful, and we trust in God, His power and His mercy. Although we may face financial problems, job insecurity, family problems and health concerns let us try to be trusting and faithful like St. Joseph. Instead of relying on our own schemes to get us through life, let us trust in God and be strengthened by talking to Him in fervent prayer and by listening to Him speaking through the Bible. Let us remain faithful and prayerful, imitating Joseph and Mary, the humblest of the humble, the kindliest of the kindly, and the greatest-ever believers in God's goodness and mercy, and welcoming Jesus into our hearts and lives this Christmas.
2) We need to experience Emmanuel in our lives and change the world: God who entered our world through Jesus some 2000 years ago is at work in the world. But the question is, if God has come to be present in our lives and our world, then why are there so many lives which are unhappy and beastly? Why are people so hostile, hating each other, and why do so many love-relationships turn sour? Why is there domestic violence? Why is there child abuse? Why is there war in at least a dozen countries of God's good earth at any given time? Why are so many people homeless and hungry, even in rich countries? The good news, and the consoling message of Christmas, is that the child Jesus still waits today to step into our hearts—your heart and mine—and to change us and the world around us by the beauty of God's love, kindness, mercy and compassion. Let us take some time to let the Christ Child enter our hearts and lives this week, so that He may change our world of miseries with the beauty of that love.
3) Do we have any gift for our "Birthday Boy?” Let us check to see if Jesus is on our list this Christmas and if we have a special gift in mind for him. We all know the pleasure of finding the right present for our husband or wife, for our children, a good friend, a parent. What special gift are we giving to Jesus this year to honor his birth, and what do we expect from God? God sent Jesus from heaven to earth to give us human beings what we really need most in life: hearts filled with love. That is the gift which Jesus really wants from us, and that is what you and I really need from God this Christmas – a heart filled with love. We have tons of wants. We are like children with a catalogue before Christmas, circling all our wants by the dozens. But we have one essential need: a heart filled with love. God wants to give each of us a heart filled with love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness on this Christmas and every day of our lives.
4) Let us be a Christmas gift to others: The greatest gift we can give to those we love, is to have faith in them, believe in their dreams, and try to help them realize them. We need to believe in the dreams of our husband, wife, children, parents, heroes, leaders and friends, then try our best to help them realize those dreams.
Prepared by Fr. Antony Kadavil (email@example.com) and published in the CBCI website by the Office for Social Communications. You may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for weekday homilies, and a dozen more additional anecdotes
December 15, 2013
December 15, 2013
Third Sunday of Advent
Today’s readings invite us to rejoice at the rebirth of Jesus in our lives as we are preparing for our annual Christmas celebration. Today is called Gaudete Sunday because today’s Mass begins with the opening antiphon: “Gaudete in domino semper,” i.e., “Rejoice in the Lord always.” So, to express our joy in the coming of Jesus as our savior into our hearts and lives, we light the rose candle in the Advent wreath, and the priest may wear rose vestments.
The prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, encourages the exiled Jews in Babylon to rejoice because their God is going to liberate them from slavery and lead them safely to their homeland. In the second reading, James the Apostle encourages the early Christians to rejoice and wait with patience for the imminent second coming of Jesus. Finally, in the first part of today’s Gospel reading, Jesus encourages John the Baptist in prison to rejoice by casting away his wrong expectations about the Messiah and simply to accept Jesus’ healing and preaching ministry as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy of Isaiah. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Matthew presents Jesus, the true Messiah, paying the highest compliments to John the Baptist as his herald and the last of the prophets, and giving special credit to the courage of John’s prophetic convictions, asking his listeners to rejoice in the greatness of his herald.
1) We need to learn how to survive a faith crisis: If John the Baptist, even after having had a direct encounter with Jesus, the Messiah, had his doubts about Jesus and his teachings, we, too, can have our crises of faith. On such occasions, let us remember the truth that all our Christian dogmas are based on our trusting faith in the divinity of Jesus who taught them, and on his divine authority which he gave to his Church to teach what he taught. Hence, it is up to us to learn our faith in depth and so to remove our doubts.
2) “Go and tell others what you hear and see.” We rejoice at the thought that Jesus is going to be reborn in our lives, deepening in us His gifts of love, mercy, forgiveness and the spirit of humble and sacrificial service during this Christmas season. Hence, let us joyfully share God’s bountiful grace, forgiveness, and mercy with others. What Jesus commanded John’s disciples, he commands us as well: Go and tell others what you hear and see. This means that we have to share with others our experience of the rebirth of Jesus within us,
3) We need to open our hearts and let God transform our lives: Today’s readings remind us that our lives can also be transformed if we are patient and place our trust in God. The message of Advent is that God is present among us, in our everyday lives. We must prepare our hearts to recognize and welcome Him by allowing a metánoia (a change of thinking about God, ourselves, and the world) to take place in us during Advent.
Third Sunday of Advent: Is 35:1-6, 10; Jas 5:7-10; Mt 11: 2- 11
1: Unfinished Play:
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American writer. When he died in 1864 he had on his desk the outline of a play he never got a chance to finish. The play centered around a person who never appeared on stage. Everyone talked about him. Everyone dreamed about him. Everyone waited for his arrival. But he never came. All kinds of minor characters described him. They told everybody what he would do. But the main character never appeared. –The Old Testament is something like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s play. It too ended without the main character’s putting in an appearance. Everyone talked about the Messiah, everyone awaited his arrival. But he never came in the Old Testament period. In today’s reading, we hear Isaiah describing what the Messiah would do by bringing salvation to all mankind. Today’s Gospel tells us that when the real Messiah came, even the last prophet and the Messiah’s herald, John the Baptist, could not believe that he was the expected Messiah. (Mark Link S. J. in Sunday Homilies)
2: Gaudete Sunday smile:
A number of years ago, a young college student was working as an intern at his college’s Museum of Natural History. One day while working at the cash register in the gift shop, he saw an elderly couple come in with a little girl in a wheelchair. As he looked more closely at this girl, he saw that she was kind of perched on her chair. The student realized that she had no arms or legs, just a head, neck and torso. She was wearing a little white dress with red polka dots. As the couple wheeled her up to the checkout counter, he turned his head toward the girl and gave her a wink. Meanwhile, he took the money from her grandparents and looked back at the girl, who was giving him the cutest and the largest smile he had ever seen. All of a sudden her handicap was gone, and all that the college student saw was this beautiful girl, whose smile just melted him and almost instantly gave him a completely new sense of what life is all about. She took him from being an unhappy college student and brought him into her world - a world of smiles, love and warmth. With the lighting of the third rose candle of the Advent Wreath among the purple candles and the priest’s wearing the rose vestments, we are reminded that we are called to live with joy in our world of sorrows and pain. (Fr. James Farfaglia)
Michael Jordan playing with country kids?
One evening at the country park, a group of teenage boys was playing basketball. A tall, bald, African-American man strolled up. The man watched for a few minutes, then asked if he might play with them. He made three point jump shots and lay-ups and hooks with the ease of a pro. The stranger played for about fifteen minutes with the teenagers, gave them some pointers, thanked them for letting him play, and disappeared. The stranger didn't tell the teenagers his name. They'd seen Michael Jordan on TV, and he looked like him. But could this stranger who came to a remote village actually be Michael Jordan? In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist asks the same kind of question about Jesus. Could this gentle Jesus with a band of fishermen as his disciples be the real Messiah, the long awaited Anointed One of God, while the Messiah he heralded was a firebrand?
The common theme running through today’s readings is one of joy and encouragement. The readings stress the need for patience in those awaiting the rebirth of Jesus in their hearts and lives. They give us messages of hope—for people almost three millennia ago, for people at the beginning of the first millennium and for people today. Today is called Gaudete Sunday because today’s Mass begins with the opening antiphon: “Gaudete in domino semper,” i.e., “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Today, to express our joy in the coming of Jesus as our savior, we light the rose candle, and the priest may wear rose vestments. The prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, encourages the exiled Jews in Babylon to believe that God is going to save them and transform their lives. In the second reading, James the Apostle encourages the early Christians to be patient, “because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Finally, in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus encourages John the Baptist to cast away the popular political expectations about the Messiah and simply to accept his healing and preaching ministry as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy of Isaiah.
First reading: Is 35: 1-6, 10:
Isaiah tries to stir up in his exiled brothers and sisters the hope of their return to Israel by assuring them of the saving power of Yahweh in their lives. He reminds them that it was through their disloyalty to God that they had lost their liberty, had been taken as slaves to Babylon and had lived there in servitude for sixty years (598-538 BC). The Jews were finally set free by Cyrus (who had captured Babylon), and were allowed to return to their native land, rebuild the Temple and serve their God once more as His Chosen People. The prophet assures them that God will lead them back to their land in this second exodus (6th century B.C.), as He led their ancestors from Egypt to the Promised Land in the first exodus (13th century BC). He is going to do three things for them. 1) He will transform the wasteland lying between their land of exile and Israel into a new Garden of Eden to facilitate their journey. 2) The weak and the sick will be strengthened for the journey. 3) They will reach their destination singing and crowned with glory. The assurance of this second exodus is chosen for Advent, because both Exodus events foreshadow the coming of the Messiah.
Second reading: James 5: 7-10:
The expectation of Jesus' imminent return did not last very long in the early Church. Even within Saint Paul's lifetime, that expectation had waned. The Apostles advised the Christians to bear witness to Christ through their heroic lives without waiting for the Parousia in their lifetime. Hence, in the second reading, James encourages the fearful, frustrated and persecuted early Christians to be patient. Like Isaiah, James tries to show his Christian community that what they have been hoping for has already happened. Though he stresses patience and determination, James also reminds them that "the Judge stands at the gate." Just as the prophets believed that what they were proclaiming was already happening, the Christians needed to behave as though the risen Jesus were already influencing their lives. James uses the analogy of a farmer who must wait patiently for the ground to yield its fruit. In the same way, we must trust that God is bringing abundance into our lives, although we cannot see it yet. St. James' warning is clear: If anyone among you has hitherto neglected his duties to God, let him listen now to that warning and put his conscience and his life right with God.
Today's Gospel describes how Isaiah's vision of Israel's glorious future is fulfilled unexpectedly by the coming of the promised Messiah and by his healing and preaching mission. But the Jews in general expected a political Messiah who would reestablish the Davidic kingdom after overthrowing the Roman government. Hence, most of them were scandalized by Jesus’ peaceful preaching and shameful death. The disciples of John the Baptist continued to insist that John was indeed the Messiah, and they awaited his return, causing problems to early Christians. Hence, all four Evangelists highlighted John’s important role as the Messiah’s herald but emphasized that John’s was a secondary and subordinate role in salvation history. Matthew, in the second part of today’s Gospel, presents Jesus, the true Messiah, as paying the highest compliments to John the Baptist as his herald and the last of the prophets, and to the courage with which John proclaimed his prophetic convictions.
John’s reasonable doubts.
Scripture scholars over the centuries have wondered why John sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he were the one who was to come. There are two possible explanations: 1) John knew that Jesus was the Christ and, as a prisoner, he wanted his disciples to follow Jesus as their new master. So he sent them to ask Jesus this question and presumed that, once they had met Jesus, they would see for themselves that he was the Messiah and so would become followers of Jesus. 2) John began to doubt Jesus’ identity as the promised Messiah. The silent healing, preaching, saving, and empowering ministry of Jesus was a surprise to John and to those who expected a fire-and-brimstone Messiah. Besides, Jesus had not yet fulfilled John's prediction that the One-to-come would baptize the repentant in the Holy Spirit. Nor did Jesus conform to popular Jewish beliefs about a warrior and a political Messiah who would bring political, social, and economic deliverance to Israel. Instead, Jesus pronounced blessings on the poor in spirit, the meek, and peacemakers (5:1-11). He called his disciples to love their enemies (5:42-48). He warned his disciples not to judge others (7:1-5). For John, these teachings might have seemed to weaken rather than to strengthen the Messiah’s cause. Furthermore, Jesus moved away from Jerusalem, the home of the Temple and the center of religious authority, and began his ministry in Galilee among the common people (4:12). John proclaimed the power of the coming Messiah to bring in a new age, and instead found himself imprisoned in the dungeon of Herod’s prison-fortress at Machaerus, southeast of the Dead Sea. He may have been wondering why the expected Messiah was not setting him free as Isaiah (61:1) had predicted. John may have found sympathetic doubters among his own disciples who might have wondered how the Messiah could leave their own teacher in prison, and how He could usher in the kingdom without political or military might. This may have been why John sent his disciples to dispel his doubt, asking: "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”
Generosity to dispel doubts meets humility to accept correction
: Instead of criticizing Jesus or breaking away from him, John approached Jesus through his disciples. The disciples asked Jesus whether he was the one to come or if they should look for another. John may have had his doubts, but he was open to hearing Jesus say that he was, indeed, the one! John must have recognized the scriptural allusions behind Jesus' answer. Isaiah 29:18 speaks of the deaf hearing and the blind seeing. Isaiah 35:6 speaks of the lame leaping like a deer. Isaiah 26:19 speaks of the dead becoming alive. Isaiah 61:1 speaks of good news for the oppressed, the brokenhearted, captives and prisoners. These were signs of the Messiah's coming. Jesus could have rebuked John for his doubts, but instead offered him a blessing. Jesus had not lived up to John's expectations, but John did not allow that to be a stumbling block (skandalizomia). Soon enough, Jesus would deal with the people of his hometown, who took offense at him (13:57). Complimenting John, Jesus says that John is the fulfillment of Malachi 3:1 ("See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me"), presenting the Baptist as the end-time messenger, the forerunner of the Messiah.
1) We need to learn how to survive a faith crisis:
From a theological perspective, this entire episode helps us to understand how the experience of a faith crisis can play a role in our spiritual and emotional development. If John the Baptist, even after having had a direct encounter with Jesus the Messiah, could question, doubt and revise his faith, then so can we. If disillusionment is a necessary precondition for a more resilient faith, then we, too, must be open to its possibilities. In moments of doubt, despair and disillusionment, we are, indeed, in good company. Occasional doubts – even horrifying doubts – are one thing, but doubts that persist in the face of every Biblical remedy demand careful attention. Let us remember the truth that all our Christian dogmas are based on our trust and faith in the divinity of Jesus who taught them, and on his divine authority by which he authorized the Church to teach what he taught. It is up to us to learn our faith in depth, so that God will be able to dispel our doubts.
2) “Go and tell others what you hear and see.”
In medieval times, this day—the Third Sunday of Advent—was called Gaudete Sunday, as an equivalent to Laetare Sunday during Lent. As we pray today, we also rejoice that the Lord does not fail to show his power and might. We rejoice at the thought that Jesus is going to be reborn in our lives, deepening in us His gifts of love, mercy, forgiveness and the spirit of humble and sacrificial service during this Christmas season. During this season, let us joyfully share God’s bountiful grace, forgiveness, and mercy with others. What Jesus commanded John’s disciples, he commands us as well: Go and tell others what you hear and see.
3) We need to open our hearts and let God transform our lives:
We, too, should be encouraged by today’s readings. They remind us that our lives can also be transformed, if we are patient and place our trust in God. The message of Advent is that God is present among us, in our everyday lives. We must prepare our hearts to recognize and welcome Him. “If a man is the center of his [own] life, everyone around him becomes hell for him because everyone around him interferes with him and obstructs what he wants to do” (Jean Paul Sartre). Let us believe in our hearts the Gospel message about Jesus given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Will we allow the Holy Spirit, through these Gospel reports, to create a metánoia (a change of thinking about God, ourselves, and the world) in us during Advent?
Prepared by Fr. Antony Kadavil (email@example.com) and published in the CBCI website by the Office for Social Communications. You may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for weekday homilies, and a dozen more additional anecdotes
December 8, 2013
December 8, 2013
Second Sunday of Advent
One page synopsis
On the one hand, salvation is God's doing, and we cannot earn His blessings. Today's first reading, from Isaiah, emphasizes that, through his Son, God does all the saving. On the other hand, we must cooperate with God because He cannot force his bounty upon us. That is why John the Baptist in today’s Gospel summons us to play our essential part by leading lives of repentance, conversion and renewal, thus preparing the way for the Lord's second coming. We start this process by preparing for the celebration of Christmas, the Lord’s first coming.
Because of the bad example of the unfaithful successors of King David, the Chosen People were wavering in their loyalty to Yahweh. Hence Isaiah, in the first reading, tried to dispel their fears, and stir up hope among his people with God’s promise of a new Davidic King (a son of Jesse), who would establish peace and a glorious kingdom of justice on earth. In the second reading, Paul was praying for the Jewish Christians of Rome and instructing them to draw endurance and encouragement from the Old Testament books. They were to live in harmony with Gentile Christians, accepting them as equals and brothers and sisters while they waited for the second coming of Jesus. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptizer warned the Pharisees and Sadducees to give evidence that they meant to reform their lives so as to recognize and accept the promised Messiah. He challenged them to repentance, conversion and renewal. He told the common people, who expected the Messiah to come in the near future, to act with justice and charity, letting their lives reflect the transformation that would occur when the Messiah entered their lives. In the same way, as we prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas, John advises us to "prepare the way of the Lord.
We need to prepare for Christ’s coming by allowing him to be reborn daily in our lives:
Advent is the time for us to make this preparation by repenting of our sins and renewing our lives through prayer, penance, and the sharing of our blessings with others. Let us remember the oft-repeated words of Alexander Pope: "What does it profit me if Jesus is reborn in thousands of cribs all over the world and not reborn in my heart”? He means that Jesus must be reborn in our heart during this season of Advent and every day of our lives, radiating his love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness and spirit of humble service to the world through our lives.
2) We need to answer the call for a change of life.
John the Baptist, challenges our superficial attempts at change, demanding that, while obeying the commandments faithfully, we must correct our relationships with others, mend ruptures and frictions, face family responsibilities, work honestly and treat employees justly. Let us share our love with others as selfless and humble service. "Do small things but with great love". (Mother Teresa). Therefore, following John's advice, let us celebrate the memory of Jesus’ first advent, prepare for Jesus’ daily advent into our lives through the Sacraments and the Bible, and wait for his second advent at the end of the world.
Second Sunday of Advent : Is 11: 1-10; Rom 15: 4-9; Mt 3: 1-12
1: Accept divine forgiveness by true repentance:
An attempt was made in 1985 by some fans of O. Henry, the short-story writer, to get a pardon for their hero who had been convicted a century before of embezzling $784.08 from the bank where he was employed. But a pardon cannot be given to a dead man. A pardon can only be given to someone who can accept it. Back in 1830 George Wilson was convicted of robbing the U.S. Mail and was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but he refused to accept it. The matter went to Chief Justice Marshall who concluded that Wilson would have to be executed. "A pardon is a slip of paper," wrote Marshall, "the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. Hence, George Wilson must be hanged." For some, the pardon comes too late. For others, the pardon is not accepted. Today’s readings remind us that the Advent is the acceptable time for repentance and the acceptance of God’s pardon and renewal of life.
2: John’s invitation is to practice the octopus evangelism of mega-churches as opposed to the sponge evangelism of traditional churches:
Most traditional churches are pretty good about sponge evangelism. We soak up visiting folks with warm welcome, ushers offer them seats of their choice, many members greet them with miles of smiles. But octopus evangelism of mega-churches is something else. It means reaching, stretching, finding, touching, drawing in those who are in need of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ and may not have even realized it yet. Mega-churches are growing, not primarily because of their programming or preaching, buildings, video screens or cute, thirty-something pastors. They are growing primarily because members are actively inviting others to join them in worship. Eighty percent of all first-time visitors to a church come because a friend or neighbor invited them. It's the active verb...inviting, reaching, gathering...which makes all the difference. A mega-church is a non-denominational, Bible-centered Christian congregation that draws thousands of people to its weekly services. The phenomenon started about thirty years ago as a way to bring people back to the basics of Christianity - a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You may have heard of Rick Warren, pastor of a mega-church in southern California whose book, The Purpose-Driven Life, has over 20 million copies in print. You may also have heard of Joel Osteen, author of two national bestsellers, who runs a mega-church in Houston, Texas that attracts 38,000 people to its Sunday services and 200 million households to its television broadcasts. You may even have heard of Bill Hybels [HIGH-bills], the founder of what many consider the first mega-church ever - Willow Creek Community Church, near Chicago, Illinois – that currently has more than 100 ministries operating out of its home base. These are just some of the better known mega-church leaders, but mega-churches are springing up throughout North America, and they are even sending missionaries abroad. One little known fact about these mega-churches is that more than 25% of their members are former Catholics whom nobody in their former parishes actively invited to the liturgical celebrations and whom nobody involved in various church ministries.
3: The artist’s reconciliation
: Leonardo da Vinci painted the fresco (wall painting), "The Last Supper," in Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan in three years (1495-1498). A very interesting story is associated with this painting. At the time that Leonardo da Vinci painted "The Last Supper," he had an enemy who was a fellow-painter. Da Vinci had had a bitter argument with this man and despised him. When Da Vinci painted the face of Judas Iscariot at the table with Jesus, he used the face of his enemy so that it would be present for ages as the man who betrayed Jesus. While painting this picture, he took delight in knowing that others would actually notice the face of his enemy on Judas. As he worked on the faces of the other disciples, he often tried to paint the face of Jesus but couldn't make any progress. Da Vinci felt frustrated and confused. In time, he realized what was wrong. His hatred for the other painter was holding him back from finishing the face of Jesus. Only after making peace with his fellow-painter and repainting the face of Judas was he able to paint the face of Jesus and complete his masterpiece. Be reconciled with your fellow human beings, says today's Gospel. (http://www.lifeinitaly.com/art/last-supper.asp)
4: Waiting for the Lord to be reborn in our lives:
Waiting, an inevitable and even necessary aspect of human life, is not something that most of us relish. We wait in lines: in order to purchase groceries; to be served at popular restaurants; to be assisted in a bank; at stop signs and traffic signals; at amusement parks; to see a play or film. We must also wait for flowers to grow and bloom; for babies to be born; for wounds to heal; for bread to rise and cheese to age; for children to mature; for friends to call; for love to deepen. Statisticians have estimated that in a lifetime of 70 years, the average person spends at least three years waiting! Today’s readings invite us to wait for the rebirth of the Lord in our lives with repentant hearts and renewed lives.
On the one hand, salvation is God's doing, and we cannot earn His blessings. Today's first reading, from Isaiah, emphasizes that, through his Son, God does all the saving. On the other hand, we must cooperate with God because He cannot force his bounty upon us. That is why John the Baptist, in today’s Gospel, summons us to play our essential part – leading lives of repentance, conversion and renewal and thus preparing the way for the Lord's second coming. We start this process by preparing for the celebration of Christmas, the Lord’s first coming. All the kings who succeeded David proved to be increasingly unfaithful, bringing eventual defeat and destruction upon the nation. Because of the bad example of their leaders, the Chosen People were wavering in their loyalty to Yahweh. Isaiah, in the first reading, tried to dispel their fears and stir up hope among his people by God’s promise of a new Davidic King (a son of Jesse), who would establish peace and a glorious kingdom of justice on earth. His kingdom would be a return to the time of peace before sin entered the world. In the second reading, Paul was praying for the Jewish Christians of Rome and instructing them to draw endurance and encouragement from the Old Testament books. They were to live in harmony with Gentile Christians, accepting them as equals -- brothers and sisters -- while they waited for the second coming of Jesus. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptizer warned the Pharisees and Sadducees to give evidence that they meant to reform their lives so as to recognize and accept the promised Messiah. He challenged them to repentance, conversion and renewal. He told the common people, who were filled with expectation that the Messiah would come soon, to act with justice and charity, letting their lives reflect the transformation that would occur when the Messiah entered their lives. In the same way, as we prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas, John advises us to "prepare the way of the Lord."
First reading: Is 10: 1-11:
Explaining how God would respond to the sincere conversion of his people, Isaiah reported three oracles concerning a future king. The first two oracles (Isaiah 7:10-17, 9:1-6), were probably delivered to King Ahaz. Today’s reading gives the third oracle as a prediction of the first coming of Jesus, the Messiah. Isaiah prophesied that the Spirit of God with His sevenfold gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord would appear in the promised Messiah. God who had called Abraham would fulfill His word by sending to them a king who would rule with wisdom and justice, and would have the true spirit of the Lord. The reading also portrayed this messianic kingdom as a return to the perfect harmony of paradise. The Spirit would enable men to create a world in which “the wolf can be a guest of the lamb, and a leopard can rest next to a young goat.” The message for us is that, if we allow the Spirit of God to work in our lives, we will be able to live in peace and harmony, even with those who threaten and disturb our lives. There can be no true love of neighbor or true respect for his rights where there is no love for God. Hence, we must strive to give God his rightful place in our daily lives and to follow the path that leads to justice and peace on earth.
Second reading: Rom 15: 4-9:
Perhaps this reading is in the Lectionary today because it recommends patience, and this is the season of patient waiting for the Lord to come. It also contains a very seasonal statement about why the Lord came: to fulfill God's promise to the Jews and to extend mercy to the Gentiles. Paul reminds the newly-converted Roman Christians, many of whom are Jews, that the Sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament are still a source of instruction, encouragement, and hope. The sacred Scriptures are useless unless they are employed to control the Christian's relations with others (Rom 15: 4-9). Hence, he advises the Judeo-Christians and Gentile Christians of Rome to “live in harmony with one another according to the Spirit of Christ Jesus,” by being less judgmental and more understanding and benevolent. Paul also reminds the Romans that Jesus came to fulfill God's promise to the Jews and to extend mercy to the Gentiles. Hence, he encourages the Roman Christians to “accept one another” as Jesus Christ has accepted them. This reading reminds us to wait patiently for the coming of the Lord during this Advent season and shows us how to live as we do so.
A prophet on fire with a fiery message: While only two Gospels mention the nativity, all four Gospels introduce Jesus with an account of John the Baptist's ministry (Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-22; John 1:6-9). Matthew puts slightly greater emphasis on John's words than on his action of baptizing. He records a direct quote from John’s preaching: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." There had been no prophet in Israel for four hundred years. But the people had no hesitation in accepting John as a prophet because he was like a burning torch summoning men to righteousness, a signpost to point men to God, and he had the authority of a man of God. He wore garments of coarse camel hair and a leather belt like the prophets that we read about in Zechariah 13:4 and 2 Kings 1:8. He ate what was available in the rocky desert -- wild honey and roasted grasshoppers – which was permissible according to Leviticus 11. The Jews expected Elijah to return prior to the coming of the Messiah (Mal 4:5). John's clothing of camel's hair and leather belt (2 Kings 1:8)) identified him as the fulfillment of that prophecy, and Jesus Himself affirmed John’s role when he said, "I tell you that Elijah has already come (Mt. 17:12)."
Call to repentance:
John's message was not soothing. It cut into the very hearts of men. John denounced evil wherever he found it. He accused Herod of living a loose moral life (14:4), addressed the Scribes and the Pharisees as "brood of vipers" and summoned people to righteousness. His message was "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near" (v. 2), words which Jesus later used to begin his own preaching (4:17), and similar to those the disciples would proclaim (10:7). John justified his call to repentance by announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven was near and that the way to prepare for that day was to repent. Literally, the Greek word for repentance (teshuvá in Hebrew and metánoia) in Greek), means, "to change one's mind and heart," a change of direction or a U-turn. Repentance involves turning around – facing in a new direction -- with a change of heart and a new commitment. Repentance is a daily experience that renews our Baptism. “The repentant person comes before God saying, 'I can't do it myself, God. Kill me and give me new life. You buried me in Baptism. Bury me again today. Raise me to a new life.'" Repentance for us is not a one-time action but must take place daily, because preparing for the Lord is a perpetual task.
John’s baptism as the expression of repentance:
John’s baptism by water was only an external expression of repentance. What he insisted on was repentance that bore real fruit: a turning from worldly values combined with generosity and love. As a sign of true repentance, John urged the tax collectors to "stop collecting more than what is prescribed," and told the soldiers to “stop extortion and false accusation and remain satisfied with their wages.” In short, John’s message was a call for radical conversion, a demand for self-denial, sacrifice and loving service to others. We may have to put an ax to the resentments and biases rooted in our hearts. We may have to winnow out our greed and overindulgence, and we may have to burn the chaff of our impatience. Even though John’s preaching was characterized by scathing criticism, his call for reform was described in Luke’s Gospel as "the Good News" because the arrival of the Messiah would initiate a new reign of forgiveness, healing and salvation.
John’s conditions for belonging to the Kingdom of Heaven:
The coming Kingdom was John’s main theme. While the Gentile convert, Mark, uses the words “Kingdom of God," Matthew follows the Jewish tradition of avoiding the use of God’s name by using the expression "Kingdom of Heaven.” The Kingdom of God is a God-centered, God-controlled life. John wanted people to experience such a life. Everyone who wants to experience this “reign of God" needs to make a radical change in his or her life. That is the call for repentance. We cannot come under the sovereign rule of God without a change of attitude, a change of heart and a change of lifestyle. John not only denounced men for what they had done, he summoned them to what they ought to do. That is why Matthew emphasized the new life of proper fruit-bearing more than the forgiveness of sins. Bearing good fruit is not just doing good things but also doing them for the right reason.
1) We need to prepare for Christ’s coming by allowing him to be reborn daily in our lives:
Advent is the time for us to make this preparation by repenting of our sins, and renewing our lives through prayer, penance, and sharing our blessings with others. Let us remember the oft-repeated words of Alexander Pope: "What does it profit me if Jesus is reborn in thousands of cribs all over the world and not reborn in my heart?" He means that Jesus must be reborn in our heart, during this season of Advent, and every day of our lives, bringing us love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness and the spirit of humble service.
2) We need to accept John’s call for a change of life.
John the Baptist, the stern and uncompromising preacher, challenges our superficial attempts at change, demanding that we take a deeper look. Obeying the commandments is a good start, but we must also examine our relationships with others. We must mend ruptures and frictions, face family responsibilities, work honestly, and treat employees justly. Start where you are, John says. Our domestic and social lives must be put in order. John's voice is sober and runs counter to the intoxicating voices around us today. He calls for rectitude and social consciousness. We must abandon our selfish thirst for consumption and, instead, be filled with the expectation of Jesus' coming. Therefore, following John's advice, let us celebrate the memory of this first advent, prepare for Jesus’ new advent in our lives, and wait for his second advent at the end of the world.
We need to wait prayerfully for the second advent of Jesus
. John’s answer as to how the Jews should wait for the Messiah was that they should wait for the Lord with repentant hearts and reformed lives. We can start by praying from the heart. Let us remember that the Holy Mass is the most powerful of prayers because it transforms us into Eucharistic people, providing the living presence of Jesus in our hearts and his divine life in our souls. Conversion is through Jesus whom we encounter, mainly, through the Holy Scripture and the Sacraments. The Word and the Sacraments are the principal means God uses to give life to men's souls. Daily reconciliation with God, as we ask and receive His pardon for our daily sins, and monthly sacramental confession make us strong and enable us to receive more grace in the Eucharist. Let us read the Bible, pray the Rosary daily and fast once a week all year-round, rather than just during Advent and Lent. After all, we sin all year-round, so let us fast also all year-round by controlling our senses. We could take some time before Mass to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and we should practice forgiving those who offend us. Finally, let us share our love with others as selfless and humble service. "Do small things but with great love". (Mother Teresa).
Prepared by Fr. Antony Kadavil (email@example.com) and published in the CBCI website by the Office for Social Communications. You may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for weekday homilies, and a dozen more additional anecdotes
Church in India
Dioceses of India
Copyright © 2011 CBCI. All rights reserved