Behold, Lamb of God…
Once upon a time, there was a boy who spent many hours building a model sailboat. When he put it in the local river, however, it moved away from him quickly. He chased it along the bank, but the strong wind and current carried the boat away. The heartbroken boy knew how hard he would have to work to build another sailboat. Downriver, a man found the beautiful boat, took it to town and sold it to a toy store. Later, the boy was walking through town and noticed the boat in the store window. He explained the situation, but the shopkeeper didn't believe him and said that the only way to get the boat back was to buy it. The boy wanted it back so much that he did exactly that. Then he looked at the boat and said, "Little boat, now you're twice mine: I made you and I bought you."
God created us in his image and likeness. And when we were lost He came to bring us back, He paid with His blood. Today John the Baptist introduces Jesus, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." Christ as Lamb of God is a title familiar to us.
The first place we come upon the concept of the Lamb of God is in the 53rd chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Although this was written six hundred years before Jesus, it describes the feelings of God’s people as they look at Jesus on the cross. It’s short, so let me quote it:
“It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole; by his stripes, we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.
Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers; he was silent and opened not his mouth.”
“Lamb of God” for Jews, this brings a familiar image. The phrase 'Lamb of God' was not new; it was a reference to the Passover lamb, the lamb in Exodus which was slain and whose blood set the people free from slavery in Egypt. Every year at Passover the Jews recalled this event, and a lamb was slaughtered in the Temple. Here in Jesus, says John the Baptist, we have the real "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." This phrase also echoed Isaiah's prophecy about the Suffering Servant: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter" (53:5).
The ancient instructions for killing and eating the Passover lamb said, "You must not break any bone of it" (Ex 12:46). And so, John says, the soldiers did not break Jesus' legs as he hung on the Cross but pierced him instead with a lance. Later, near the end of the century, in John's apocalyptic vision he saw "between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered" (Rev 5:6) that is, dead and raised up again.
In the Eucharist, at "the breaking of the bread" we proclaim the Baptist’s testimony. Our traditional fraction anthem is the Agnus Dei – “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, has mercy on us/grant us peace.” In this prayer, we give expression to our deepest understanding of the identity and purpose of Jesus Christ as our Lamb and Lord. By his life of love and sacrifice, we believe and affirm that he is the one who came and continues to come into a broken life/world to take our sins upon himself.
Thank You! I would like to express gratitude to everyone who participated in the Ministry Survey last weekend, and if you were not in church, please consider filling out one now. They are available at the entrances. Everyone’s participation brings vibrant life to our ministries. Thank You!
Johnny's Mother looked out the window and noticed him "playing church" with their cat. He had the cat sitting quietly and he was preaching to it. She smiled and went about her work. A while later, she heard loud meowing and hissing and ran back to the open window to see Johnny baptizing the cat in a tub of water. She called out, "Johnny, stop that! The cat is afraid of water!" Johnny looked up at her and said, "He should have thought about that before he joined my church."
Do you remember your baptism? Most of us don’t. Once I was baptizing a baby. When I poured the water on his head in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he turned his head and looked at me with a question “where is this coming from?” In another baptism, a baby was ready to jump in the baptismal font and play. What did you do at your baptism?
Last weekend we celebrated Epiphany, the revelation of the Lord. This weekend again we celebrate God the Father reveals his Son: Baptism of the Lord. We can see a beautiful painting in the Gospel: the Baptism of the Lord. We can see here all three persons of God was present. Jesus Christ, the second person of God, standing at the Jordan River. We hear the voice of the Father from heaven and Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove.
We know the Exodus story from the Old Testament, a journey from slavery to the Promised Land. In that journey, the Israelites crossed two rivers. We all know the story of crossing the Red Sea. It was the beginning of the Exodus story. The end of the Exodus story is crossing the Jordan River and entering the Promised Land.
In the New Testament, at the Baptism of the Lord, it begins the new Exodus story. It echoes the Old Testament. Jesus is the new Moses who is going to bring humanity out of slavery eternally. When David was anointed as king with oil in the Old Testament, Jesus was anointed with “the Spirit of God” at the baptism. Jesus is the true king. First Exodus leads to earthly Promised Land, but the new Exodus leads us to heavenly Promised Land.
The Baptism of the Lord was the inauguration of the new Exodus. Then began his ministry of the miracle at Cana, opening the eyes of the blind, healing the sick, bringing out prisoners from confinement, feeding the five thousand, instituting the Eucharist to remain with us forever, and offering on the cross, poured out blood to give us new baptism, to wash away our sins. Through his passion, death, and resurrection, he gave us Sacraments to prepare us to go out bring the same ministry he did.
When we walk into the Church, most of us dip the fingers of our right hands into the holy water font and bless ourselves when we came into the church. Why? This blessing is supposed to remind us of our baptism. And so when I bless myself with holy water, I should be thinking of the fact that I am a child of God; that I have been redeemed by the Cross of Christ; that I have been made a member of God’s family and that I have been washed, forgiven, cleansed and purified by the blood of the Lamb and I have been sent out to bring the Good News by serving one another.
Thank you: I would like to thank you, everyone, who serve in our cluster parishes in different ministries. Your time, talent and treasure make our cluster vibrant and life-giving. Thank you.
An 8-year-old asked, "How come the kings brought perfume to Jesus? What kind of gift is that for a baby?" His 9-year-old sister answered, "Haven't you ever smelled a barn? With dirty animals around, Mary needed something to freshen the air."
Happy New Year!! We are still in the spirit of Christmas and it prepares us to receive the New Year. This year the first Sunday of the New Year 2020 is Sunday of Epiphany.
Most of us have sweet memories of the time that our parents first brought us, as little children, to kneel at the Christmas crib and marvel at the peaceful scene before us. The baby Jesus has his arms reaching out as if to embrace everyone in the world. That image sums up perfectly the meaning of His Epiphany, or manifestation, to the three wise men from the East: Jesus, in sharing our humanity, invites men and women of all nations and races to share in His kingdom.
The wise men are from the East, but from where in the East? There are three predictions about the place. Some predict that they are from Persia; some others say they are from Babylon. The third prediction is from Arabia. Today’s first reading from the book of Isaiah gives us more approval from the third prediction which is Arabia. In the first reading, we read, “Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.” Matthew is looking at the prophecy of Isaiah which tells us about the non-Israelites bringing gifts to the Lord. In Psalm 72, we read today that “The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts; the kings of Arabia and Sheba shall bring tribute. All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him.”
The Magi were not members of the Chosen Jewish People, so the Epiphany today shows Jesus came for all people. The Magi shows us that there is no substitute for an open heart and mind. Jews knew about the coming of Jesus, but they did not recognize his birth. But Magi came looking for a king. On their way to Bethlehem, where did inquire first for a king? They inquired at the palace. Who else is likely to be there? A royal family. But the Magi came to a cave or a stable where they found a poor family, with animals and perhaps a few shepherds. Of course, they found their King: “falling to their knees, they did him homage.”
Today, another character in the Gospel is Herod. He does not have an attitude of reverence and respect for Jesus. Herod pretends that he is just as respectful to Jesus as the wise men. He tells them, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” These words were not out of respect, but out of fear.
Jesus came for everyone. Some rejected him out of fear like Herod, others came and worshiped him out of love like shepherds and Magi. Father revealed his son to the world. Jesus reveals to us every day of our life: in the Eucharist and other sacraments, devotions, in our sisters and brothers. Do we recognize him?
Like the Magi, let us open our minds and hearts to receive Child Jesus and offer Jesus our gifts on this feast of Epiphany. What are the gifts we can offer: the first gift might be friendship with God. God wants our friendship in the form of wholehearted love, commitment and devotion. The second gift of this season is the gift of peace: seeking God’s peace in our own lives through prayer, sacramental life and daily meditation on the Word of God. A thirds gift might be friends with others expressed by encouraging them by our visits and helping them in their needs. A fourth gift might be the gift of reconciliation: repairing damaged relationships in and outside our families. Let us become a gift to God and one another.
We are still in the spirit of Christmas. As we celebrate The Holy Family; let us pause for a moment to look at the Holy Family and our own families and families around the world. Let us look at the joy of the family and the challenges of the family. Pope Francis said, “It is necessary to rediscover the plan drawn by God for the family, to reaffirm its greatness and irreplaceability in the service of life and society.”
The goodness and joy of the Holy Family are Mary and Joseph trusted in God and Baby Jesus was the joy of the family. The Gospel for the feast Holy Family for this year is from the Gospel of Matthew which tells us one of the challenges of that family. Mary and Joseph with Child Jesus in the manger, the angel appeared to Joseph and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.” The Gospel says, the angel appeared to Joseph, I assume Mary and child Jesus might have been sleeping.
We may not have to do what they had to do, but if we look at the families around the world, we may see thousands of families may have to flee for their child, faith or political reason. Are we aware of them?
Let us come back to our life. Another story of the Holy Family is the story of the finding of Jesus in the Temple. The Holy Family had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover; but on the way return, Mary and Joseph discovered that Jesus, who was only twelve years old, was not in the caravan. This Gospel passage was the reading for last year. Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus for three days, finally finding Him in the Temple amid the doctors of the law. When they found Jesus, the Gospel says, “they were astonished”; and Mary expressed her concern to Jesus, saying, “Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”
As a parent how many of you experienced this feeling? Our days, even six or seven years old will say, “Mom/Dad, I know the way around.” When your teenager says, “Mom/Dad, I am old enough to know, don’t worry.” As a parent, you worry anyway, right? Can you think of a moment of astonishment? I am sure you can find lots of days you were in great anxiety. When a child says, “I know…” or teenager says, “I am old enough…” they don’t know exactly, but they are saying we are ready to explore/learn and grow. We have to look at it with astonishment, watch them grow. When Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple, what Jesus asked them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Jesus asked the question, but still followed the direction of his parents and went with them. As a child or teenager, are you ready to listen?
Family is a place to learn to listen. If we want to listen, we need time. Do we have enough family time? It is not in the car, but at home, around the table. A time to pray together, a time to eat together, a time to laugh together and so on. The Holy Family was not in a perfect setting, but the model of our families. Our families are perfect. Let us ask the Holy Family to bless our families.
I would like to express gratitude on behalf of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, to all those who donated towards our stain glass window projects. It is done and looks beautiful. Also, you might have noticed some new spotlights, so we can enjoy our beautiful stained glass windows. Thank you goes to Tom Miller's electrics for donating the lights and doing the work. He is still working on to make it brighter. Thank you.
"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." During Advent and Christmas season these words echo in our ears from the Scripture, Christmas songs and so on. Christmas…look at the lights in the neighborhood, decorations, music, people are so happy, there are groups going around and singing a carol. I love the season of Christmas. Do we have a moment to stop everything and experience the peace and joy of the Christmas, beautiful smell of fresh leaves of Christmas trees, wreaths, and so on? We are busy with Christmas shopping, baking cookies, writing cards, wrapping gifts and so on. As a priest I am worried, whether the church looks beautiful or not, how it is music coming along, working on my homilies and so on. We all need to find time to experience the joy and peace of the season.
Recently I listen to a Christmas son which starts with these lines:
“Christmas is all about you and God get-together forever
Christmas is all about you and God stay together forever.”
Two thousand years ago, God the Father was searching for parents to entrust His Son-Emmanuel, so he can stay with us and share the Good News with His people. Every Christmas reminds us of the Good News-the birth of Emmanuel-God is with us.
I might have shared with this life story of a father who had two children with special needs. They were twins and both of them died a month apart. When Dad started to talk about his two children, his eyes broaden wide and raise a big smile on his face.
He started to explain the story. He said God was looking down from heaven, holding two precious babies in his hands and was waiting in search of parents who will take care of these children with love and care. And God saw him and his wife and gave them those two children. They took care of those two children. They relocated their life for the care of those two children, one of them gave up the job to find time to spend time with the children.
Emmanuel- God is with us. He came to stay with us. Mary wants to share with us the Christmas story. She will tell us it was not easy to accept the call and to live that story. It was totally against the custom. Joseph wants to share his story. It was not easy for him either. But both of them listen to the angels, followed the guidance of the Lord. They both got together with the Lord and stay together.
What is our story? What we want to give each other at this Christmas. I think the most precious gift we can give is Time. Then the other gifts have more value and meaning. The husband gives time with his wife and vice versa. Parents time with children and children do the same. Find time to spend with God. The child is born, God’s newest deed, “Emmanuel”, God is with us!!
Mary was pregnant with Jesus and they had to go to the city of David, Bethlehem. Darkness came, and everyone was looking for a place to stay, Joseph and Mary were among them.
All the doors were locked, the inns were full…It was a busy day in Bethlehem, Everyone was busy…Mary and Joseph found a place and Emanuel was born in a manger…The shepherds and Kings came in adoration…The Angels sang “Glory to God in the highest…” The rest of the city was busy; the birth of the King was not noticed by many.
This Christmas let us find time to spend with Child Jesus. Let us make a resolution to find time every week to spend with him. Emmanuel-God is with us! I wish you all Merry Christmas!
Congratulations: Philip Wagner completed lay leader of prayer training and commissioned last weekend at Immaculate Conception. The lay leader of prayer is commissioned to lead the community in prayer in the absence of priest. Congratulations Phil and thank you for your commitment..
The third Sunday of Advent is Sunday of Joy. It’s called Gaudete Sunday because today’s Mass begins with the opening antiphon: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” The theme for this weekend is joy and encouragement. We light the Rose Candle and rose vestment, a sign of joy.
On Rejoice Sunday, sets a joyful expectation for the Lord’s birth and the second coming of the Lord. At the same time, he continues to come into every day of our lives. St. Teresa of Calcutta, when she noticed her sisters showing signs of sadness, would say "get out with the people." They saw Jesus in the people.
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. The ultimate salvation comes through the coming of Jesus. In the second reading, James the Apostle encourages the early Christians to be patient, “because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Today’s Gospel reading, we see John the Baptist and Jesus sending the message to each other.
John the Baptist is the last and greatest of the prophets of the old covenant. He fulfilled the essential task of all the prophets – preparing the way for Messiah. John pointed others to Jesus the Messiah at the River Jordan when he cried; behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
When King Herod throws John into prison, he sent his disciples to Jesus. John told them to ask Jesus, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." Here, Jesus encourages John the Baptist to accept his healing and preaching ministry as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy of Isaiah.
Jesus told John’s disciples, “Go and tell John what you hear and see.” Joy is here among the people because they can see, hear, talk, and walk. They are healed physically, emotionally and spiritually. They are rejoicing.
What really makes for lasting happiness? Happiness comes from relationships. Jesus decided to come and embrace humanity, because He wants to relate with us, bring us back to joy. Many of our seniors will tell you that they really love their husbands or wives and continued to do so after their spouse died. In our faith, we believe that our loved ones who have gone before us are with the Lord watching over us now and waiting for us to join them later on. That makes us happy.
The greatest relationship we can possibly have is the one that brings us the greatest joy. That is the relationship with Jesus Christ. Real happiness comes from the encounter with God. May the preparation before Christmas bring us authentic joy at Christmas!
Child Jesus will ask you and me the same question he asked John’s disciples, “What we hear and see?” Do we see lots of joy around us?
Happy Feast of Immaculate Conception!
The Pharisees brought the woman, caught red-handed, before Jesus for judgment, and Jesus said, "Let the person who is without sin cast the first stone." They fell silent, and then, all of a sudden, a stone came flying from the crowd. Jesus looked up, surprised and amused, and then said, "Hold it, mother? I was trying to make a point, here." This is a humorous slant to the Catholic belief that Mary was born Immaculate to lead an immaculate life.
December 8 is Feast of Immaculate Conception. Because the Sunday of Advent takes precedent over Immaculate Conception, Feast day is transferred to Monday, December 9th. At the same time, we celebrate at Immaculate Conception parish because it is parish feast, we are going to celebrate the feast of Immaculate Conception along with Second Sunday of Advent. It is because more parishioners can participate in the celebration.
I take this opportunity to wish everyone the Happy Feast of Immaculate Conception, especially to Parishioners of Immaculate Conception as we celebrate the patron Saint of our parish. I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this celebration beautiful, especially the Christian Ladies and KC’s for preparing the breakfast. I would like congratulate also our Confirmation Candidates and first reconciliation candidates who are introduced at Immaculate Conception and St. Anthony.
Mary was chosen and brought her to this world without sin. In the book of Genesis, we read, "The man called his wife Eve because she became the mother of all the living." Mary, the new Eve, bought Jesus to this world to give us life. If we look at Jesus' life, he starts his public ministry at the wedding of Cana in the presence of his mother Mary. And Mary was present throughout his life. Mary was there at the foot of the Cross, at his death and then at the Resurrection. At the foot of Jesus gave Mary as our Mother, mother of humanity.
Bernadette Soubirous at the age of 14 encountered vision of a woman named Mary on hillside grotto. She was a poor young girl so no one believed her, but the vision continued. Finally, the local priest asked Bernadette to find out the name of the woman and she replied Immaculate Conception. Today Lourdes, France where Mary appeared is a great place of pilgrimage and thousands of miracles take place.
Immaculate Conception is not about the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb; it is about the conception of Mary in the womb of Anna. It is beautiful that we get a chance to reflect on the conception of Mary and Jesus during Advent.
The readings for the second Sunday Advent tell us about homecoming. We see a beautiful poem in the first reading from the book of Isaiah. This poem describes the beauty of the coming of Jesus. It reads, “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse…”He is the one who is going to bring the community integrity. He is going to bring peace and harmony. The Baby of Bethlehem comes to establish his reign over the universe, and most especially in our very hearts. Mary brings Jesus for us, He brings us to the true home.
In the Gospel we see John the Baptist is giving the instruction to how to prepare for Jesus. They listened to him and followed the instruction. They received the baptism of repentance and renewed their life, so Jesus can come home – mind and heart.
Shirt over the wings: Grandma Martha was scolding her little grandson on his failure to go to church on a Sunday. “You will never get into heaven the way you are going today,” she told him.
“Well, Granny, the reason that I don’t go is I got a problem. I can’t for the life of me figure how I’m gonna get my shirt on over those wings I’ll have on my way to heaven.” “Never mind about shirts,” said the grandma. “The question in your case is how are you gonna get your hat on over those horns which the bad boys get when they are taken to hell.”
This is the first Sunday of the new liturgical year, the First Sunday of Advent. This year we return to the A cycle of readings, with the gospel focus mostly on the Gospel of Matthew. For those who read the daily readings, they are now from Year 1. The first Sunday of Advent, the ‘Sunday of Hope’ in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, through whom God has promised to save and redeem His people. Today we begin our yearly pilgrimage through the scenes and events of our history of salvation. Advent is a time for looking both backward and forward. We look backward as we prepare to celebrate the historical birth of Jesus. At the same time, we look forward to his Second Coming, as we prepare ourselves to welcome him into all areas of our lives during the Advent season.
St. Augustine had heard what sounded like a child’s voice chanting, “Pick it up, read it.” This was no children’s game, and he understood the words to be addressed to him. He picked up the book that lay on a nearby table, which contained Paul’s letters.
At this moment in his life, Augustine was at the tipping point in his conversion. Opening the book at random, he read the words quoted above from Paul’s Letter to the Romans—today’s second reading—and his transformation was complete! Those words are part of an exhortation which begins: “Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
In the first reading Isaiah reports his vision of all nations gathering on Mount Zion as described also by Micah (4: 1-3) using the image of a pilgrimage. In the vision of Isaiah, Judah is shown as the place to which all nations will come for “instructions in righteous living.” The result will be universal peace.
Jesus teaches us in St. Matthew’s Gospel that his coming for us will be without much or any warning at all. Jesus will come, besides business as usual for our family life, and our usual daily activity. But he will come– and he will take us!
God comes again and again in special ways throughout our lives. One of these is His annual coming at Christmas with the birth of His Son in human form. Let us prepare for it.
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. By being alert and watchful we’ll be getting an extra gift: Christ himself. There is a saying which goes s back to St. Thomas Aquinas: "Without God, I can't. Without me, he won't."
In the first reading we have this beautiful invitation:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”
In this advent, let us focus on this invitation.
Frederich Nietzche, the German philosopher said, “God is dead.” In 1966 Time Magazine published a cover story that asked, “Is God Dead?” Is it God dead or alive for you and me? We celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King- King of the Universe, which marks the end of the Liturgical year. The only a minority will say God is dead, but lots of us live like God is dead. Our God is alive, he is with us.
November 23, 1927. The dirty walls of the place of execution resounded with the shout, “Viva Cristo Rey!” Blessed Miguel Pro of Mexico, a priest of the Society of Jesus, lived during a very trying time for the Mexican people. As he was waiting for the shots that would end his earthly life and begin a new life in the kingdom of Heaven, he forgave his executioners, and spreading out his arms in the form of a cross he cried out “Viva Cristo Rey!” “Long live Christ the King!” His cry gave courage and determination to people of Mexico, to restore the reign of Jesus the King in a place where Catholics were persecuted since the time of Elizabeth I of England.
Today in the Gospel two criminals were on the cross with Jesus. One recognizes Jesus as his King, and Jesus promises him Paradise. Everything changes because we are members of his kingdom. We have experienced the love of Jesus. We need to live for Christ. We need to spread this love to others. We cannot be vengeful. We cannot be people of hate. We cannot allow or support any form of prejudice or bigotry. We are the people of Jesus Christ. We cannot join those who live in a way that says, “We don’t need God.”
We do need God. We need to proclaim to others with our lives, “Jesus is your king too.” Jesus, remember us when you come into your kingdom.
Mother Teresa told this story in an address to the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. “One evening several of our Sisters went out, and we picked up four people from the street. One of them was in a most terrible condition. So I told the other Sisters, ‘You take care of the other three: I will take care of this one who looks the worst.’ So I did for the woman everything that my love could do. I cleaned her and put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hands and said two words in her language, Bengali: ‘Thank you.’ Then she died. I could not help but examine my conscience. I asked myself, ‘What would I say if I were in her place?’ My answer was simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said, ‘I am hungry, I am dying, I am in pain.’ But the woman gave me much more; she gave me grateful love, dying with a grateful smile on her face. It means that even those with nothing can give us the gift of thanks.” Happy Thanksgiving!!
I would like to take this opportunity to say “THANK YOU” to all our cluster parishioners, councils and committee members, people serving as different ministers, Cluster staff, benefactors and well-wishers…“THANK YOU!”
The END brings NEW BEGINNING…
Do you think the end of the world is near? We hear over and over again people talk about this subject. Whenever something unexpected happens we have tendency to think this direction. Do you remember the movie "2012?" The premise was that the world was going to come to an end in 2012. As Hollywood hoped, a significant number of people believed that there might be some truth to this. How many of us stopped for a moment and questioned or worried? Did anything happen so far? Every century there were predictions of end of time. There were times predicted closing date.
Jesus in the Gospel portrays for us, graphically, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. For Jews, the destruction of these two things was equivalent to the end of the world. There were three reason behind this, because for them, the Temple was 1) dwelling place of God. In 1 King chapter 8, we see the dedication of the Temple and Lord came from heaven to dwell in the Temple. 2) It was sole place of sacrifice. Deuteronomy 12 tells that the center of worship is Jerusalem Temple. 3) Jerusalem Temple was symbol of heaven and earth. So they believed that the destruction of Jerusalem Temple is destruction of the universe, the destruction of heaven and earth.
The Temple was the joy of the People of Israel. Its stones were inlaid with jewels. The disciples marveled at it. Jesus said it would be torn down, as it was in the year 70 AD. There is a section of the Temple still standing. It’s called the Wailing Wall. People still go there and mourn the fate of the Jewish people, and the fate of all who are persecuted.
Jesus told the disciples that the Temple would be torn down because all material things come to an end sooner or later. Then the disciples asked the big question, the question that so many people want to know: When? Jesus absolutely refuses to say when the end of time will come. All he will tell us is that there are signs of the end. Jesus' point is that his true followers should not be concerned about when the end is, they should only be concerned that they are ready for end so they can be ready.
Jesus foretold many signs that would shake peoples and nations. The signs which God uses are meant to point us to a higher spiritual truth and reality of his kingdom which does not perish or fade away, but endures for all eternity. God works through many events and signs to purify and renew us in hope and to help us set our hearts more firmly on him and him alone.
How would we respond if someone prophesied that our home, land, or place of worship would be destroyed? Early Church were persecuted and they thought the Second coming of Christ is near. They talked about being prepared.
The reading wants us to reflect on being prepared. It wants us to ask ourselves, “How prepared will be for that moment when it comes?” Let us choose one aspect of our Christian life. Let us ask three question about love.
How loving are our thoughts-right now in our life? How loving are our words-right now in our life? How loving are our action-right now in our life?
We are at the end of liturgical year. Next Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, which is the last Sunday of the liturgical year. The end brings new beginning.