Today, the First Sunday of Advent, we begin our yearly pilgrimage through the scenes and events of our history of salvation. This year we return to the A cycle readings, with the Gospel focus mostly on the Gospel of Matthew. 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.
The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. Their light represents Christ himself, who is the light of the world. We light the candles gradually throughout Advent because we know that the joy of salvation doesn't come fully into our lives all at once. Our life is a journey, a relationship with Jesus that has to be constantly renewed, just as a new candle is lit each week.
In the first reading eschatological vision Isaiah reports the pilgrimage of nations to Mount Zion as described also by Micah (4: 1-3). 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. This prophecy which explicitly concerns the restoration of Jerusalem, at the same time it applies to the one true Church founded by Christ. The new Temple would not only serve the Jewish people but also draw Gentiles.
Jesus teaches us in St. Matthew’s Gospel, Christ’s second coming would take place without much or any warning at all. Therefore, we should be vigilant and ready to meet him any time. The lesson from the flood is an unexpected catastrophe upon those who were unprepared for it. Noah and family were ready, but the rest of them were distracted by the concerns of the world and were destroyed in God's judgment. Again, Jesus explains, “one will be taken…one will be left” means the righteous will be left like Noah and his family were spared and the wicked will be taken like the rest of them taken in Noah’s time.
The only thing we have to do, according to the conclusion of the first reading, is walk in the light of the Lord. The second reading St. Paul clarifies this in today’s second reading from Romans. Paul provides the motivation for the love that is encouraged in Romans 13:8–10 to follow the commandment of love. The moral law must be kept, but we should do so out of love for God and neighbor rather than merely out of fear or obligation.
God comes again and again in special ways throughout our lives. In order to meet him we need to walk in the Light of the Lord. We need to grow in the law of love. We need to stay awake and be ready. Advent reminds us of and helps us to grow in love and walk in the light of the Lord. Each week when we light the light, it removes the darkness, brightens our life, and prepares us to celebrate Christmas. Let us prepare for it.
On Sunday December 12, 2021, Pope Francis in his Angelus told his audience, “The Season of Advent is meant for this: to stop and ask ourselves how to prepare for Christmas. We are so busy with all the preparations, with gifts and things that pass. But let us ask ourselves what we should do for Jesus and for others!” 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." The Advent reading tells us to stay awake. Stay awake in doing good to others and Jesus prepares for the coming of the Child Jesus. Stay awake in living the love of God and sharing for the end of time. Stay awake in sharing the good news for the end of our own times. Walk in the light of the Lord.
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.”
Happy feast of Christ the King! Thirty-Fourth Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King! In 1925, Pope Pius XI instituted the Feast of Christ the King at the close of the liturgical year and he proclaimed: “Pax Christi in regno Christi” (“The peace of Christ in the reign of Christ”). This feast asserts the sovereignty of Christ the King. The disciple of Christ, the citizen of His Kingdom, is called to obey the commandment of love: love your God with all your being and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31).
In the first reading from the book of Samuel, all the elders of Israel came to David in Hebron, David made a covenant with God, and he was anointed as the King of Israel. Soul was the first King, and he disobeyed God, so God chose David. David was anointed King of Israel with all the tribes united under him. In this role, he was the type of Christ who all bear the title the King of Israel although his Kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36).
The Gospel reading reminds us that Christ’s kingship in this life is manifest by the suffering of the Cross. Jesus willingly accepted the punishment of humanity’s offense and through his sacrifice brought to us redemption. Our King is he who laid downs his life for his people. Throughout the Old Testament, we can read the messianic prophecies. At the royal entrance to Jerusalem, the people shouted, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:38). Later when Jesus was arrested the same people shouted, “Crucify, Crucify him” (Luke 23:21). Based on the Gospel of Luke one of the criminals who were hanged railed at Jesus, but in the Gospel of Mark 15:32, both railed him. But the penitent thief receives salvation through the crucified Jesus. Jesus’ words to the penitent thief reveal the destiny of the Christian is “to be with Jesus.”
Jesus invites us to establish his kingdom in our hearts, in our homes, in church, community, and so on. It is an invitation to live in the presence of God. The curtain in the Temple separated the presence of God in the Holy of Holies from the people. It's tearing from the top to bottom signifies that the sacrificial death of Christ opens the path of the people to the very presence of God. While we are here, we are called to establish his kingdom in our hearts, but through our union with the resurrection of Christ, the gates of paradise are open for us.
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving! Mother Teresa told this story in the National Prayer Breakfast address 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!”
First of all, let me take this opportunity to congratulate our First Reconciliation Children and their families. They made their commitment ceremony last Sunday. This Sunday, our Confirmation Candidates make their commitment. We, the faith community with their sponsors, families, and teachers asked you to make a commitment to pray for them and support you in their journey. Congratulations to Our Confirmation Candidates!
This past Friday, we celebrated Veterans Day: Veterans Day is the national day to recognize the sacrifices of our nation’s heroes. I read a prayer by St Ignatius of Loyola – a veteran - prayer about heart-felt generosity. It goes like this: Dear Lord, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil, and not to seek for rest; to labor, and not to ask for any reward except that of knowing that I am doing your holy will. Amen. Veterans Day is to honor them for their love and sacrifices for our safety. Our men and women are in uniform in the past, present, and the future, God bless you, and Thank You!
As we approach the end of the liturgical year, the readings invite us to reflect on the end time, death, and final judgment. Do you think the end of the world is near? We hear repeatedly people talk about this subject. Whenever something unexpected occurs we have a tendency to think in this direction.
In the Gospel, Luke narrates the eschatological discourse. Jesus 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 reasons behind this because for them, the Temple was 1) the dwelling place of God. In 1 King chapter 8, we see the dedication of the Temple, and the Lord came from heaven to dwell in the Temple. 2) It was the sole place of sacrifice. Deuteronomy 12 tells that the center of worship is Jerusalem Temple. 3) Jerusalem and Temple were a symbol of heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17&18). So they believed that the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple is the destruction of the universe, the destruction of heaven and earth.
The Temple was the joy of the People of Israel. Its stones were decorated 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 about living in the present.
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.
In the first reading from the book of Malachi, the prophet warns the people of Israel for their pride and evildoings. They were just returned from the Babylonian exile, and they were tempted to follow the former life. Prophet Malachi told them that God had taken note of the goodness of those who feared Him and would have compassion on them on the Day of His coming. But there would be punishment for the wicked and the proud.
The reading wants us to reflect on preparedness. Despite the signs, no one knows the precise moment of the end. So, we must stay ready always.
We began the Month of November with celebration of All Saints Day. They are the example for us to grow in holiness. We strive to grow in holiness, but in different ways: as a priest, religious, married couple and family, singles, and so on. This week we are celebrating National Vocation Awareness week. Vocation in general is openness to God’s call. How do we foster this call? One of the brochures for Vocation Awareness Week talks about seven ways a family can foster vocation: 1) snuggle up and read fascinating age appropriate saints story at bed time; 2) watch a better movie as family (e.g. life of St. John Bosco); 3) Set the record straight, means tell children about real happiness, instead TV tells them what is happiness; 4) Play dress up, let children imagine being a priest or nun and play it out, 5) pray from the heart, have family prayer time and during the family prayer pray for the families, priests and nuns too; 6) Talk about vocations openly; marriage, priesthood and religious life; 7) Befriend priest and religious, invite a priest or a nun at your home.
People often ask me how did I decide to become a priest? I tell them the short answer is because God called me. Then I explain to them how I found out God’s calling: It was through my family, pastor, nuns, youth group and so on. I can say that the youth program called “Cherupushpa Mission League” which made a remarkable influence in making my decision. I was very much involved in this youth ministry. I was a participant at the beginning and in my high school years, I was in the leadership team under the guidance of pastor and nuns. The experience with youth ministry encouraged me in my decision making to become a priest.
These are the little steps to teach our children about vocation: prayer at home, going for Mass as family, teach them be a server, reader, or greeter and so on. Everybody is not going to be a priest or nun. It is their choice, but it our duty to teach them about different vocations and have an opportunity to talk about it and to get to know. When it comes to faith, normally some of the parents tempted to say it is their child’s choice. They cannot choose something they do not know. However, they are exposed to everything else automatically, they should be exposed to faith and its traditions and roots too. Then they can make the right choice. Let us pray for vocations. We all are called to holiness in different paths.
Month of November is dedicated to praying for our loved ones and it is the end of the liturgical year. So, the theme of the reading is tuned to end time and eternal life. The First reading and the Gospel talks about resurrection. In the first reading is the martyrdom of seven brothers with their mother. The willingness to sanctify one’s life rather than transgress. Commandments is a frequent theme in the book of Maccabees. Despite the persecution, the entire family rema ined faithful and offered the supreme sacrifice of their love and fidelity. At the time of death, one told the executioner, “You are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.” We see an amazing witness to their faith.
In the Gospel we see the story of seven brothers married to one woman and, therefore, “Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?” Jesus’ time there were two prominent groups, such as Sadducees and Pharisees. Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. The Sadducees’ question was based on the law of levirate marriage recorded in Dt 25:5–10, to ridicule the idea of the resurrection.
Jesus deals with them on their own terms: first by denying that marriage exists in the next life and second, by deliberately citing Mosaic Law against them. The burning bush episode shows that God identified himself with patriarchs: Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob long after their death Exodus 3:6). It shows that they must still be living beyond their earthly death. Jesus said, God “is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."