Here is a quiz for you. You are sleeping. You are dreaming. A big lion is chasing you. You try to run away and you see a tiger coming in front of you. You turn sideways, but on every side, you turn to, you find a ferocious animal coming after you. How can you escape? The answer is: Wake up. Advent is a wake-up call.
We are in the advent season, starts the new liturgical year, year B. Pope Benedict XVI once wrote: "The purpose of the Church's year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart's memory so that it can discern the star of hope. It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us, memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope."
On the First Sunday of Advent reading tells us “watch.” The Romans divided the night into watches of three hours each, and there were four watches to the night. Jesus says in the Gospel, “Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.” Just in a general sense, it is hard to watch and wait during the night time. The gatekeeper needs to be vigilant and awake when the master is coming. We see this message all the Gospels. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come” Matthew 24:42.
In the First reading prophet Isaiah speaks for his people. They were in Babylonian exile and just coming back to Promised Land. We can see all kinds of emotional feelings in this reading. On one side we see hope, at the same time we can see guilt, outrage, and asking for help. Isaiah agrees that people were not faithful. Isaiah was pleading that God will remain with them and his presence will change the people. In the second reading, St. Paul gives thanks to the Christian community in Corinth. He recognizes their faith and living out the spiritual gift. They were in watch for their faith and entering into the fellowship with Jesus.
What should we need to watch in this Advent? The first is the immediate watch and wait for the celebration of Christmas. The second is the watch and wait for the second coming of Christ. The first half of the advent readings will help us to reflect on the second coming of Christ and the second half of the advent reading will invite us to reflect on the birth of Child Jesus.
How we want to watch and wait during this time? The first watch - find time for the Lord. During the pandemic it may be hard, still can find ways to celebrate our faith. Read scripture, find time to pray every day, or attend Mass in person or virtually, and so on.
The second watch – reach out to others. St Teresa of Avila tells us, “Christ has no body now on earth, but yours; no feet, but yours. It is your eyes through which Christ’s compassion looks out to the world; your feet with which he must walk about doing good; your hands with which he blesses humanity; your voice with which his forgiveness is spoken; your heart with which he now loves.” Jesus invites us to be near and dear to others for him.
Let us be with Mary who spent time in prayer and being present to Elizabeth who was in need of help. Happy Advent!
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?
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. We celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King- King of the Universe, which marks the end of the Liturgical year A, and next Sunday, we begin First Sunday of Advent begins the liturgical year B.
The Gospel reading for this Solemnity is the conclusion of the discourse which portrays the final judgment. Even though it says it is a parable, but it really saying about the shepherd who separates righteous sheep and wicked goats. The criteria for the separation or judgment will be the deeds of mercy which has done for the least of Jesus’ brothers. Jesus told his disciples when they were commissioned and sent out, “Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward” (10:42). Jesus, our King, identifies himself with the least of our sisters and brothers. He says, “I was hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, imprisoned.” The question for us, did we recognize him.
In the first reading from the Book of Ezekiel, portrays a shepherd who gathers his sheep. Israelites were in Babylonian exile. God told them through the prophet that God, the good shepherd, will pasture them and give them rest and bring them back. At the end of the first reading we read like this, “As for you, my sheep, says the Lord GOD, I will judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats” (11:17). Matthew in Gospel (25:32-33) says the same thing going to happen at the judgment.
In the second reading Paul tells us that death came through Adam, but we all receive life through the risen Christ. He is the source of our strength; he is our good shepherd who offered as a ransom for our failures. He is our King who came from the house of King David.
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!!
Thirty Third Sunday of Ordinary time, Pope Francis invites us to celebrate the World Day of Poor. Mother Theresa of Calcutta was summoned to the court on the charges of converting children to the Catholic faith. When she stood in the dock, the judge asked her if the charges were true. She asked for a baby to be given to her. She held the baby in her arms and said, “This child I picked up from the dust bin; I don’t know to what religion this child belongs or what language it speaks… I give this child my love, my time, my care, my food… but the best thing that I have in my life is the faith in Jesus Christ. Can’t I give this child the best I have in my life?” The case was dismissed in favor of Mother Theresa.
Pope Francis says, ““The hope of the poor will not perish forever” (Ps 9:19). These words of the Psalm remain timely. They express a profound truth that faith impresses above all on the hearts of the poor, restoring lost hope in the face of injustice, sufferings, and the uncertainties of life.”
Eucharist is the perfect example of Jesus’ self-giving. These days so many people have to receive Spiritual Communion due to COVID 19. This weekend, when we receive him in Holy Communion, spiritually or sacramentally, let us make a promise that we will go out and courageously invest our God-given gifts to serve one another.
We are at the end of the liturgical year and on this penultimate Sunday, the reading invites us to reflect on being prepared. We have the first reading from the book of Proverbs. It is an anthology of collection of sayings and instruction. This weekend reading is a poetic explanation of a worthy wife who brings many blessings by properly using God-given gifts. In the second reading, Paul advises us to keep awake and encouraging and building each other up as we wait for the “Day of the Lord.”
Today’s Gospel put in front of us a question: Are we using our talents and gifts primarily to serve God? The parable of the talents challenges us to do something positive and constructive with our talents. The talent was a unit of coinage of high but varying value depending on its metal (gold, silver, copper) and its place of origin. A denarius was the normal daily wage. A talent is 6,000 denarii or 20 years of daily wages for a six-day workweek.
In the parable, one got five talents second two, and the third one each. Even one talent was a huge amount. But the person who got the one buried in the ground. During Jesus’ time, it was not unusual to guard valuables by burying them in the ground (Matthew 13:44).
In this parable, Jesus says, “For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” We read in Matthew 13:12, “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” The person who got the one talent, as punishment, he loses the gift he had received, that is now given to the first servant, whose possessions are already great.
Through this parable, Jesus reminds us that we should be always live in the presence of God, and doing the work of God to glorify him and for the salvation of all.
Congratulations: Let us congratulate our Junior Confirmation Candidates as they make their Commitment ceremony. They are asking for our prayers and support. Let us remember them in our prayer coming days and months as they make their immediate preparations.
A tour group was riding in an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. At about the 102nd floor, a woman asked the tour guide, “If the cables on this elevator break, do we go up or down?” The tour guide answered, “Well, that depends on how you are living.”
The month of November is dedicated to praying for our loved ones. We celebrated All Saints Day and All Souls day. We celebrate Mass of Remembrance this weekend. It is an opportunity to remember all those who have passed from last November to this November, remember them with names and join their families with prayer.
We are towards the end of the liturgical year and the reading reminds us about being prepared. This weekend all three reading one way or other way talks about wisdom. In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, wisdom is embodied as a woman. Wisdom is a gift from God. It comes to those who are worthy and searching to receive. In the second reading, Paul shares the Christian Wisdom with early Christians in Thessalonians that through death and resurrection Jesus saves us. His second coming will be soon.
In the Gospel, we see wise and foolish women. At a wedding, we are familiar with the groom waiting for the bride. It is not that long either. During Jesus’ time, they had different customs. Once they are engaged, they are considered as couples, but they both live with their parents. The wedding could take place anytime within two weeks. The groom will come to get the bride for the wedding. So the bride had to be in a state of constant alert during those two weeks. Those days there was not much means to inform. The groom does not inform in advance, he could come any time during this period. When the groom went to the bride’s house to pick her up for the wedding he would have to negotiate with her relatives the gifts he would give for the privilege of being able to marry her. Sometimes it could drag on for a time. There is a lot happening during this time. All of sudden, there was an announcement for bridesmaids to come out to meet the bridegroom. The bridegroom will send a man before him along the street to should, “Behold, the bridegroom is coming.” We know five of the ten virgins, they didn’t have enough oil to go out and meet.
Matthew 25:10 says, “While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.” We read in the book of Revelation 19:9, “Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These words are true; they come from God.” The wise one had extra oil, and they were prepared, so they could enter for the wedding feast.
The question for us, how can we be ready? Matthew 7: 24, we read, “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” Our good deeds are the oil for the lamp, being prepared to receive the bridegroom, Jesus.
Veterans Day: Veterans served our country. We honor them for their many sacrifices. Let us thank them for their dedication and commitment. Happy Veterans Day!
Congratulations to our First Reconciliation students and parents: They are preparing for First Reconciliation and making their Commitment ceremony this weekend, lets congratulate them and include them in our daily prayer.