The lamb who was slain is worthy to receive strength and divinity, wisdom and power and honor: to him be glory and power forever and ever. Indeed Christ is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega. Who was, who is and who is to come. We began the liturgical year with Him and today we end it with this special Feast of His: Christ the King. Next Sunday we begin a new one with the first Sunday of Advent.
Most of the feasts of the liturgical year celebrate EVENTS in the life of Christ. This feast however celebrates an IDEA: Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The book of Revelation 1: 5,6 revealed that He is ‘The Ruler of the Kings of the earth’ but then added that we too share in His Kingship for he has made us ‘ a line of kings, priests to serve His God and Father’. Yes, Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and today we celebrate that kingship.READ MORE
Last Sunday, our readings began this reflection about the after-life and urged us to entrust ourselves into God’s hands, for He is the God of the living. Today again the liturgy wants to call our attention to the fact that the end of all things will come and then there will be judgment. That this world, with its beauty will all come to an end. Some how the liturgy paints a frightening picture of this end, with statements like "nation shall rise against nation, plagues and famines, fearful omens and great signs, persecutions and trials" will all take place. Understanding these statements about the end time has distracted humanity all through history. Many sects and groups have arisen to claim to know the exact date of the Lord’s coming, and the failure of previous predictions never seems to discourage them from settling on another date for Armageddon. This continues to confuse and distract many Christians from the actual message about how to prepare for the Day of the Lord. But how should we understand and interpret the message of Jesus about the end of time?READ MORE
Last week the focus was on the evil of pride and the need for true humility which was exemplified by the Tax collector in the Temple. This week the readings continue almost on the same topic to show us another fruit of humility produced by a single action of overcoming pride by another Tax collector, who encountered Jesus the Christ.
Zacchaeus was a rich man that had everything he needed materially in life. According to some commentators he had own all the 4Ps, Power, Pleasure, Pride and even Problems but one thing was lacking. He was not happy. He is lonely because nobody would like to befriend him. He chooses the way that makes him an outcast. Everyone hated tax collectors. His greatest joy was the news making the rounds that Jesus welcomes tax collectors and sinners. Then he want to see Jesus.READ MORE
A news reporter once asked St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) if she had ever been tempted to be proud. Mother Theresa retorted with a smile, “Proud about what?” The reporter replied, “Why, about the wonderful things you have been doing for the poorest of the poor!” Then came her answer, “I never knew I had done anything, because it was God who worked in and through my Sisters and volunteers.”
Today's readings teach us that true humility and repentance for our sins must be the hallmark of our prayers. However, the central focus is on the evil of pride, the need for true humility and the role of God’s grace in our salvation.
Sirach helps us understand why the prayer of the tax collector in our Gospel resulted in his justification, while the Pharisee left the Temple unchanged: “The Lord is a God of justice, Who knows no favorites.” Although the religious man had much about which to brag, it was the tax collector’s heartfelt cry for mercy that was heard in Heaven.READ MORE
Most of us have experienced drowsiness when we try to pray. This can happen when we are dealing with distressing situations and God seems to delay attending to our intentions. The human side of us manifests, and often times ends in frustration and giving up praying completely. Moses, in today's first reading gets fatigued . He grew exceedingly weary holding up his arm in order to give Joshua victory over his enemies. He had to appeal to superior power for help in order to defeat the Amalekites.
Like the Israelites of the time of Moses we too are today in a mortal struggle with dangerous enemies that threaten to kill us. Our modern enemies include among many, deprivation, oppression, alienation, and aggression. To stay safe, we must do what God’s people did in the desert. We must engage in battle with the enemy, throwing the best of our forces into the struggle, and never given up until total victory is achieved. Imitating Moses, we must hold up our hands in prayer to the God who is our source of power and will give us strength.READ MORE
We all know how satisfying it is to receive a sincere “Thank you” for a service truly appreciated. The contrary also holds, of course: how hurtful it is to be consistently taken for granted, without ever a word of appreciation.
The central theme of today’s readings is gratitude – in particular, the expression of gratitude God expects from us as exemplified by today's main characters, Naaman, the Syrian General and the Samaritan.. We also have on the other hand the story of ‘the forgetful lepers’ which reveals God's disappointment and pain at our ingratitude.
Indeed, the readings encourage us to learn from Naaman and the Samaritan on how to live in gratitude to God for we too have been the greatest recipients of His choicest blessings. Their acts of thanksgiving as recorded in the Scriptures deserve some special reflection. The two cured both returned glorifying God. To understand this from a theological point of view , giving praise to God is much more than saying thanks. It’s an act of worship! Saying thanks to a good deed could be just an act of courtesy and not worship; theirs was much deeper. They both were converted and developed faith to worship God. They saw their healing as a privileged experience and that led them to conversion and giving glory to God.READ MORE
Today the church takes us back to the topic on "Faith” and how it works in our lives. What comes to mind when talking about faith is Thomas Aquinas's great statement as he was quoted to have said: "To one who has Faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without Faith, no explanation is possible.” This statement cannot be less true because Faith is the nucleus of all the entire being of every Christian, and more so as it appeals more to the intellect, according to Vatican II Fathers.
In today's readings we get three dimensions of Faith. The theological virtue of Faith enables us to believe something to be true and therefore worthy of trust simply because it has been revealed to us by God. In his instructions to Timothy, Paul, who elsewhere defined Faith as, “the assurance of the things hoped for,” shows Faith operating as a believing, trusting, loving relationship with Christ. Thus, Faith is our acceptance of Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises of God. He goes further to stress the need for a living Faith in, and loyalty to, Christ’s teachings handed down to us by the Church. Finally, Christian Faith is that trusting Faith in God in action, expressed by steadfast loyalty, fidelity and total commitment to Him, resulting in our offering ourselves to Him in those we encounter, through our humble, loving service.READ MORE
Last week the Church admonished us to be prudent stewards with God's given blessings. This week also is a continuation on the same subject matter. However, today's message is more of series of warnings that the selfish and extravagant use of God’s blessings, like wealth, without sharing them with the poor and the needy is a serious sin deserving eternal punishment. The Sunday readings stress the Covenant responsibility of the rich for the poor, reminding us of the truth that wealth without active mercy for the poor is great wickedness. It warns us against making money the goal of our existence.
Again, we read today from the Prophet Amos, issuing a powerful warning to those who seek wealth at the expense of the poor and who spend their time and their money on themselves alone. He prophesies that those rich and self-indulgent people will be punished by God with exile because they don’t care for their poor and suffering brothers. Much consoling is from the Psalmist of today who praises Yahweh, who cares for the poor. St. Paul redirects our attention to that which matters most as he admonishes us to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness” – noble goals in an age of disillusionment – rather than riches. Like Amos Jesus also gives us a warning, pointing to the destiny of the rich man who neglected his duty to show mercy to poor Lazarus. The rich man was punished, not for having riches, but for neglecting the Scriptures and what they taught on sharing his blessings with the poor.READ MORE
The greatest human value that God has blessed us with is life itself. Yes, our faith has taught us that life is far more precious than the money we have, the food we eat or the clothes we wear. This faith also has taught us the place of material things in life. That possessions are only on loan to us, and in time we must leave them all behind. Job's statement of fact in the Bible refreshes our memory about life and possessions: "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.”(Job 1:21). To drive this message home, the church selected these readings today to remind us that we are God’s stewards and that God expects faithful and prudent stewardship from us. They challenge us to use our God-given talents and blessings, like wealth, wisely to attain Heavenly bliss.READ MORE
It is fundamental to our Christian faith to know again and again that God loves the just but does not ignore the sinner, for whom there is always a place in his kingdom. With the amazing warmth in His Kingdom we can always hope for a new heart and a fresh start.
Today we are invited to believe in a loving, patient, merciful, forgiving God who is actively seeking out the lost, wants their repentance and rejoices when the lost are found. We are invited to believe and celebrate a God who is eager to be merciful toward us, not vengeful and punishing but will stop at nothing until everyone is back home to Him, where abundant love awaits all. This Heavenly Father wants to save everyone through His Son Jesus, whom He sent.READ MORE
”If anyone comes to me without turning his back on his father and mother, his wife and his children, his brothers and sisters, indeed his very self, he cannot be my follower,” (Luke 14 :26).
The Church is again taking us back to this unpopular theme about the cost of our loyalty to Christ our Lord. This statement above from the gospel sets a real challenge for both the preacher and the listener. As listeners, l know you will not need explanation of Christ’s words about carrying the cross, because you are more familiar with that teaching , but you definitely will need some convincing of what He meant by “hating father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters” – a teaching that seems to fly in the face of natural affection. Indeed the ways of God are mysterious! However let's see if we can get some answers from the readings.
Yes the church in its wisdom selects the first reading from the Book of Wisdom which instructs us to ask for the gifts of discernment and strength from the Holy Spirit so that we may do the will of God as His true disciples. Truly, we need this gift of divine discerning to understand what St. Paul teaches us in the second reading that detachment and renunciation are necessary for a true disciple of Christ. Also, we need same gift to understand what the Gospel is reminding us today about counting the cost of being a true disciple and follower of Christ.READ MORE
The readings describe the attitudes we should have when we give and when we receive. They also reveal that only those who are humble can receive the gift of God.
That is to say humility is the prerequisite for receiving gifts. Without a humble spirit we are unable to receive gifts as gift. This is because we are too proud or we do not know how to receive with the open hearts of children.
First reading praises the person who is humble. “My son, conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts,” (Sir 3:17). A humble person is conscious of his own weakness, and never rejects wisdom, no matter where it comes from. Such a person will find favor with God and with his friends and neighbors. Pride however raises a barrier to God's graciousness and to communion with our fellows.READ MORE