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ADVENT II [A] (Dec 8): Is 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12
Introduction: On the one hand, salvation is God’s doing, and we cannot earn His blessings. We are saved by His grace. On the other hand, we must cooperate with God’s grace because God 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 spiritually preparing for the annual celebration of Christmas, the Lord’s first coming, as we reform and renew our lives by repentance and works of charity.
Scripture lessons: The first reading describes how God will reform the lives of His Chosen People by sending the Messiah. Because of the bad example of the unfaithful successors of King David, the Chosen People were wavering in their loyalty to Yahweh. Hence, in the first reading, the Lord God, through His prophet, Isaiah, tries to dispel their fears and to stir up hope among His people with His promise of a new Davidic King (a son of Jesse), who will establish peace and a glorious Kingdom of justice on earth. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 72), the Psalmist pictures the Messiah as one who will show compassion to the poor, the lowly, and the afflicted. In the second reading, Paul is praying for the reformation of the Jewish Christians of Rome and instructing them to draw endurance and encouragement from the Old Testament books. They are to live in harmony with Gentile Christians, accepting them as equal, brothers and sisters, while they wait together for the second coming of Jesus. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptizer urges the Pharisees and Sadducees to give evidence that they mean to reform their lives so as to recognize and be ready to meet and accept the promised Messiah. He challenges them to repentance, conversion and renewal. He tells the common people, who expect the Messiah to come soon, to act with justice and charity, letting their lives reflect the transformation that will occur when the Messiah enters their lives. In the same way, as we prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas, John advises us to “prepare the way of the Lord.”
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.
Life messages: 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 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, soothe frictions, face family responsibilities, work honestly, and treat our employees justly. Let us share our love with others as selfless and humble service. “Do small things but with great love” advise St. Theresa of Lisieux and St. Teresa of Calcutta (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 confidently for his second advent at the end of the world.
Greetings in Christ,
On this Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent, falls the date of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 8th, the patronal feast day of the United States of America. To give special recognition to this day honoring Our Blessed Mother, we are instructed by the liturgy of the Church of the United States to honor this feast on Monday, December 9th, although it is not a holy day of obligation for this year.
The Gospel this Sunday emphasizes that John the Baptist is the precursor of the Messiah; he is not the long-awaited Christ. John appears as a Jewish preacher proclaiming a message of repentance, rooted in the tradition of Isaiah the prophet (40:3). The word repent literally means “to change one’s mind,” but as used here strongly suggests the “radical change” warranted by the kingdom of heaven’s urgent coming. The message of John the Baptist brings great urgency: There is no time to lose! The final judgment is close at hand, as “the ax lies at the root of the trees.” We prepare for the Lord’s coming by repenting of our sins. Please avail yourself of the Reconciliations we offer in the parish each week (Thursdays from 6:00 to 7:00 pm, and Saturdays from 4:00 to 5:00 pm), or especially during the additional Reconciliation time on Wednesday, December 18th at 6:30 pm in the Church.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
Greetings in Christ,
Welcome to the Season of Advent – the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is coming to dwell among us, but without sin.
Today’s Gospel, for the first Sunday of Advent, sets the theme for the entire Advent Season: watchfulness! Throughout, the emphasis will be that no one except the Father knows when the Lord’s “coming” will happen. This does not mean that no one should worry. On the contrary, because we do not know the exact time, we should all live in a constant state of vigilance. Like in the days of Noah, (Gen 6:11-13), when they had no clue what was about to happen, life went on as usual right up until the moment of the flood. The ignorance of the people caught them off guard, “so will it be also for the coming of the Son of Man”. The moral of the story is not difficult to determine: Stay awake and remain watchful! No one knows when that final day will come.
Everyone must live in a constant state of preparedness. This is not easy to do, especially if the waiting has been going on for a long time. As the urgency diminishes, the level of preparedness lessens significantly. In many ways, this season of Advent is aimed at stirring up in our hearts the urgency needed to live in a constant state of preparedness.
Fr. Albert B. Becher, Pastor
I ADVENT [A] (Dec 1) Is 2:1-5; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44
Introduction: Today we begin our yearly pilgrimage through the events of our history of salvation starting with the preparation for the birthday celebration of Jesus and ending with the reflection on his glorious “second coming” as judge at the end of the world. We are entering the Advent season. Advent means coming. We are invited to meditate on Jesus’ first coming in history as a baby in Bethlehem, his daily coming into our lives in mystery through the Sacraments, through the Bible and through the worshipping community and finally his Second Coming at the end of the world to reward the just and to punish the wicked. We see the traditional signs of Advent in our Church: violet vestments and hangings, dried flowers or plain green plants and the Advent wreath. These signs remind us that we must prepare for the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts and lives, enabling him to radiate his love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness around us.
Scripture lessons summarized: In the first reading (Is 2:1-5), Isaiah describes his prophetic vision of all nations making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, affirming their Faith in the one true God. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 122), is a joyous hymn originally sung as pilgrims journeyed to the Temple in Jerusalem. They prepare us for our yearly pilgrimage.
In the second reading (Rom 13:11-14),, Paul exhorts the Roman Christian community to get ready to meet Jesus in his Second Coming by discharging their duties properly and by freeing themselves from their former pagan tendencies toward excessive drinking, sexual promiscuity, jealousy and rivalry. We, too, are challenged to make spiritual preparations for Christ’s birth in our lives.
In today’s Gospel (Mt 24:37-44), Jesus warns us of the urgency of vigilant preparation on our part that we may meet him as our Judge both at the end of our lives on earth and on the day of the Last Judgment when he comes in his glory. Jesus reminds us of how the unrepentant and ill-prepared evil people were destroyed by the flood in the time of Noah and of how a thief would break in and plunder the precious belongings of an ill-prepared house owner. Using the additional examples later, Jesus repeats his warning for us to be vigilant and well-prepared all the time, doing the will of God by loving others.
Unheeded warning: Early Sunday morning, June 30, 1974, a hundred young people were dancing to the soul-rock music at Gulliver’s in Port Chester, on the border between New York and Connecticut. Suddenly the place was filled with flames and smoke. In a few minutes 24 were dead, burnt by fire, suffocated by smoke, or crushed in the exit passage by the escaping youngsters. According to the Mayor of Port Chester, the dancing crowd ignored the repeated and frantic warnings given by the band manager when he noticed the smoke. Today’s second reading passes on to us the warnings given by St. Paul, and today’s Gospel gives Jesus’ warning to be vigilant and prepared for his coming as our Judge.
Life message: We need to be alert and watchful while spiritually preparing for Christmas by offering our daily work to God for His glory, by practicing more self-control in resisting our evil habits and inclinations, by seeking reconciliation daily with God and our fellow-humans, and by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness as we extend our unconditional forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Let us begin each day by praying for the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ rebirth in our hearts and lives. Is Any room for baby Jesus in our homes and our hearts? Fr. Peter
“THINK ABOUT IT”
THANKSGIVING DAY IN THE USA – Sir 50:22-24; I Cor 1:3-9; Lk 17:11-19
Introduction: Today is a day of national thanksgiving 1) for the blessings and protection God has given us, 2) for our democratic government and the prosperity, we enjoy, 3) for our freedom of speech and religion, and 4) for the generosity and good will of our people.
History: The winter of 1610 at Jamestown, Virginia, had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. When help arrived in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a thanksgiving prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God. President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789. President Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, established Thanksgiving Day as a formal holiday to express our thanks to God. In 1941 Congress passed the official proclamation declaring that Thanksgiving should be observed as a legal holiday the fourth Thursday of each November.
Biblical examples of thanksgiving: (1) Today’s Gospel describes how one of the ten lepers Jesus healed, a Samaritan, returned to Jesus to express his gratitude while the nine Jewish lepers did not care to thank the healer. Jesus asks the pained question, “Where are the others?” The episode tells us that even God expects gratitude from us. (2) In 2 Kings 5:1-9 Naaman the leper, the chief of the army of the Syrian king, returned to the prophet Elisha to express his thanks for the healing of his leprosy with a gift of 10 talents of silver, 6000 pieces of gold and six Egyptian raiments as gifts. When Elisha refused the gifts, Naaman asked for permission take home two sacks of the soil of Israel to remember the Lord Who healed him, and he promised to offer sacrifices only to the God of Israel. (3) Jesus’ example of thanksgiving at the tomb of Lazarus: “Thank you Father for hearing my prayer…” (Jn 11:41-42). (4) St. Paul’s advice (Eph 5:20): “Give thanks to God the Father for everything.”
The Eucharistic celebration is the most important form of thanksgiving prayer for Catholics. In fact, Eucharist is the Greek word for thanksgiving. In the Holy Mass we offer the sacrifice of Jesus to our Heavenly Father as an act of thanksgiving, and we surrender our lives on the altar with repentant hearts, presenting our needs and asking for God’s blessings.
“Thank you.” 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.”
Life messages: 1) Let us be thankful and let us learn to express our thanks daily. a) To God for His innumerable blessings, providential care and protection and for the unconditional pardon given to us for our daily sins and failures. b) To our parents – living and dead – for the gift of life and Christian training and the good examples they gave us. c) To our relatives and friends for their loving support and timely help and encouragement. d) To our pastors, teachers, doctors, soldiers, police and government officers for the sincere service they render us. (Fr. Tony)
# 2: But whose hand? A schoolteacher asked her first graders to draw a picture of something they were thankful for. She thought of how little these children from poor neighborhoods actually had to be thankful for. She reasoned that most of them would no doubt draw pictures of turkeys on tables with lots of other food. She was surprised with the picture that Douglas handed in. It was the picture of a human hand, poorly drawn. But whose hand? The other children tried to guess. One said it was the hand of God because He brings the food to us. Another said it was the hand of a farmer because he raises and grows the food. Finally, when the others were back at their work, the teacher bent over Douglas’ desk and asked whose hand it was. “Why, it’s your hand, teacher,” he mumbled. Then she recalled that frequently at recess she had taken Douglas, a scrubby, forlorn child, by the hand. She did it with many of the children and never thought much about it. But Douglas did. You see, she refreshed his spirit and he never forgot it.
# 3: Two lists: Perhaps Daniel Defoe gave us some good advice through his fictional character Robinson Crusoe. The first thing that Crusoe did when he found himself on a deserted island was to make out a list. On one side of the list he wrote down all his problems. On the other side of the list he wrote down all of his blessings. On one side he wrote: I do not have any clothes. On the other side he wrote: But it’s warm and I don’t really need any. On one side he wrote: All of the provisions were lost. On the other side he wrote: But there’s plenty of fresh fruit and water on the island. And on down the list he went. In this fashion he discovered that for every negative aspect about his situation, there was a positive aspect, something to be thankful for. It is easy to find ourselves on an island of despair. Perhaps now is the time that we should sit down and take an inventory of our blessings.
SIMPLE THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR.
“I am thankful for the mess to clean up after a party because it means I am blessed with friends.
I am thankful for the taxes I pay because it means that I am employed.
I am thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snugly because it means I have had enough to eat.
I am thankful for my shadow that watches me work because it means I am out in the sunshine.
I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
I am thankful for all the complaining I do about the government because it means we have freedom of speech.
I am thankful for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.
I am thankful for my big heating bill because it means I am warm.
I am thankful for the lady behind me in church who sings off-key because it means I can hear.
I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.
I am thankful for weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.
I am thankful for the alarm that goes off early in the morning because it means I am alive.”
Let me share my little secret. When I feel that the world is caving in and my tears of hopelessness are just about to fall, I look down at my hands. I stretch my fingers and I start to count … my blessings. I say to myself, “I have 10 fingers … 1-2-3-4-5 … I can move all of them. My skin is clear. I can see. I can hear. I can talk. I can walk. I have a family. I have a home. I have friends. I have a job. Not everyone has these. I am a very lucky person. I am whole and I can cope with this minor setback.” Try it. In your darkest hour, at the height of a most unfortunate situation, count your blessings by starting with your fingers. —Ruby Bayan-Gagelonia
Today, upon a bus, I saw a very handsome man,
And wished I were as beautiful.
When suddenly he rose to leave,
I saw him hobble down the aisle.
He had one leg and wore a crutch.
But as he passed, he passed a smile.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two legs; the world is mine.
I stopped to buy some candy,
The lad who sold it had such charm,
I talked with him, he seemed so glad,
If I were late, it’d do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me,
“I thank you, you’ve been so kind.
It’s nice to talk with folks like you.
You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes; the world is mine.
Later while walking down the street,
I saw a child I knew.
He stood and watched the others play,
but he did not know what to do.
I stopped a moment and then I said,
“Why don’t you join them dear?”
He looked ahead without a word,
I forgot, he couldn’t hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two ears; the world is mine.
With feet to take me where I’d go,
With eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
With ears to hear what I’d know.
With loving family friends to enjoy life
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine,
I’ve been blessed indeed, the world is mine.
Thanksgiving Day Prayer
Oh, Heavenly Father,
We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.
We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service,
That Thy gifts to us may be used for others.
Prayers for Thanksgiving Day 2019
We thank and praise You, our Heavenly Father, for establishing and preserving our nation in freedom, for giving us a rich land in which to dwell, and for providing us with an abundance of the fruits of the earth. In order that we might live in peace and be good stewards of all that You provide, grant us Your grace to recognize Your gifts and to live as good citizens. Give us grace to offer You ourselves as living sacrifices to the glory of Your holy name and the betterment of mankind. Of all Your many blessings, chief among them is the peace we have with You on account of the precious Blood of Jesus Christ shed for us for the full remission of all our sins. We thank You for Your great love in sending Your Son to be our Savior, in calling us out of our rebellion and into fellowship with Him. We give You thanks that You have done this apart from any worthiness in us.
Forgive us for those times when we grow complacent in Your love, not living out our baptismal identity but instead taking Your gifts for granted. As the great day of Christ’s return draws ever closer, teach us each day to cling to You, that we may on the Last Day stand eternally before Your throne, giving You our unending thanks and praise; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
CHRIST THE KING (Nov 25)) (Dn. 7:13-14; Rv 1:5-8; Jn 18:33b-37)
Central theme: This Sunday, at the end of Church’s liturgical year, the readings describe the enthronement of the victorious Christ as King in Heaven in all his glory. Instituting this Feast of Christ, the King in 1925, Pope Pius XI proclaimed: “Pax Christi in regno Christi” (the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ). This means that we live in the peace of Christ when we surrender our lives to him every day, accept him as our God, Savior and King and allow him to rule our lives.
Scripture lessons: The first reading, taken from the book of Daniel, speaks of the mysterious Son of Man (with whom Jesus would later identify himself), coming on the clouds, glorified by God and given dominion that will last forever. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 93), proclaims, “The Lord is King,” celebrating the God of Israel as King over all creation. In the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, the risen Christ comes amid the clouds as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last of all things. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asserts before Pilate that he is a king and clarifies that that his kingdom “does not belong to this world.” He rules as King by serving others rather than by dominating them; his authority is rooted in truth, not in physical force, and his Kingdom, the reign of God, is based on the Beatitudes. Jesus has come to bear witness to the truth: about God and His love for us, about Himself as the Son of God and about us as the children of God. There are plenty of texts proving the kingship of Jesus both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament of the Bible. (See the Exegesis).
Christ has conquered, Christ now rules: In the middle of St Peter’s square in Rome, there stands a great obelisk. It about four and half thousand years old and it originally stood in the temple of the sun in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis. But it was bought to Rome by the dreadful Emperor Caligula and it was set right in the middle of Circus of Nero, equally dreadful, that was on the Vatican hill. It was in that Circus that St Peter was martyred, and the obelisk may well have been the last thing on this Earth that Peter saw. On top of the obelisk there now stands a cross. In ancient times there was a gold ball representing, of course, the sun. Now there is a cross however, the cross of Christ, and on the pedestal of the obelisk there are two inscriptions. The first of them in Latin, “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat”, which translated means, Christ has conquered, Christ now rules, Christ now reigns supreme. The other inscription, “The Lion of Judah has conquered”. So here we have the language of victory. Christianity has triumphed by the power of the cross and triumphed even over even the greatest power that the ancient world had known, the Roman Empire, and here in the middle of St Peter’s square stands the obelisk bearing those triumphant inscriptions. (Mark Coleridge Archbishop of Brisbane)
Life Messages: 1) We need to accept Christ the King as our Lord, King and Savior and surrender our lives to him. We surrender our lives to Jesus every day when we give priority to his teaching in our daily choices, especially in moral decisions. We should not exclude Christ our King from any area of our personal or family lives. In other words, Christ must be in full charge of our lives, and we must give him sovereign power over our bodies, our thoughts, our heart and our will. 2) We need to be serving disciples of a serving King. Jesus declared that he came not to be served but to serve and showed us the spirit of service by washing of the feet of his disciples. We become Jesus’ followers when we recognize his presence in everyone, especially the poor, the sick, the outcast and the marginalized in the society and render humble and loving service to Jesus in each of them. 3) We need to accept Jesus Christ as the King of love. Jesus came to proclaim to all of us the Good News of God’s love and salvation, gave us his new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you,” and demonstrated that love by dying for us sinners. We accept Jesus as our King of love when we love others as Jesus loved, unconditionally, sacrificially and with agape love.
Greetings in Christ,
This weekend is a solemnity honoring Our Lord Jesus Christ as the King of the Universe. Today’s Gospel is filled with deep irony. Mockingly, Jesus’ enemies refer to him as “King of the Jews.” This is the meaning of the four letters over Jesus’ head on the cross, INRI. They taunt him that saving himself will prove he is a king. The irony in this is that Jesus is truly worthy of the title, and of even more than a king’s honor on earth. He is the Lord our Savior, the King of all Kings.
Yet, the kingdom and kingship of Jesus is totally opposite from the worldly definition of kingdom and kingship. It is the kingship of humility by dying on the cross, sacrificing himself so we might be saved. His throne is the cross, and his crown is the thorn, and Jesus’ service to us is giving up his life that we may have fullness of life in God. No earthly king has ever done this for us, only Jesus, because of his unconditional love for us. This is the real meaning of his Kingship that we celebrate and honor for today’s solemnity. Let us open our hearts to the throne of Jesus, to rule and guide our lives.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
Greetings in Christ,
The readings this Sunday are filled with hope, not doom or fear. Along with all the terrifying things described in the Gospel, good things happen. Also, these things do not signal an immediate end, so we have time to prepare, and, most importantly, they will give all of us an opportunity to testify to Jesus’ name and his reign. Jesus himself will give each of us the wisdom we need to speak boldly; and most importantly, Jesus assures us that he will be the victor (“all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute”). Some will die, yes. Some will be hated, yes. All we need to do is persevere – that is, to be faithful to our call to follow Jesus – and “we will secure our lives”. Why shouldn’t we be terrified? Because Jesus has promised us that if we persevere, we will live. And we know that Jesus always makes good on his promises.
So, let us carry on living our faith, and refocus our attention on living the Gospel message day-by-day.
Fr. Albert B. Becher
OT 33 [C] (Nov 17) Mal 3:19-20a; II Thes 3:7-12; Lk 21:5-19
Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is “The Day of the Lord” or the “Second Coming” of Jesus in glory, as Judge, at the end of the world. The readings warn us about the final days of the world, our own death and the final judgment.
Scripture readings summarized: Malachi, in the first reading, foretells this Day, which will bring healing and reward for the just and punishment in fire for the “proud and all evil doers.” Although St. Paul expected that Jesus would return during his lifetime, he cautions the Thessalonians, in the second reading, against idleness in anticipating the end of the world. Paul advises the Thessalonians that the best preparation for welcoming Jesus in his “Second Coming” is to keep working and doing one’s duties faithfully, as he did. Today’s Gospel passage underlines the truth that the date of the end of the world is uncertain. Signs and portents will precede the end, and the Christians will be called upon to testify before kings and governors. The Good News is that those who persevere in faithfulness to the Lord will save their souls and enter God’s eternal kingdom. Christ’s Second Coming is something to celebrate because he is going to present all creation to his Heavenly Father. That is why we say at Mass, “We proclaim Your death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection, until You come again.” Since Luke’s community had experienced much persecution, today’s Gospel would have given them a cheering reminder: “Don’t give up because God is always with us!” Jesus’ promise of the protective power of a providing God was meant to encourage His disciples to persevere in their Faith and its practice. Jesus later adds the signs of the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world to prepare His disciples and to remind them to rely upon him for Salvation, not their own power.
Life messages: 1) We must be prepared daily for our death and private judgment. We make this preparation by trying to do God’s will every day, leading holy lives of selfless love, mercy, compassion, and unconditional forgiveness. In order to do this, we must recharge our spiritual batteries every day by personal prayer, that is, by talking to God, and by listening to Him through reading the Bible. Daily examination of our conscience at bedtime and asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for the sins of the day will also prepare us to face God any time to give an account of our lives. 2) We need to attain permanence in a passing world by leading exemplary lives. We must remember that our homes, our Churches and even our own lives are temporary. Our greatness is judged by God, not on our worldly achievements, but on our fidelity to our Faith and our practice of that Faith in loving service of others. How our faithfulness is expressed each day is the most important thing. We are to persevere in our Faith despite worldly temptations, attacks on religion and moral values by the atheistic or agnostic media, threats of social isolation, and direct or indirect persecution because of our religious beliefs. Let us conclude this Church year by praying for the grace to endure patiently any trials, for they are essential to our affirmation of Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
The theater is on fire: The Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, tells the parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each act is more fantastic than the last, and each is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager appears on the stage, apologizing for the interruption. He announces at the top of his voice that the theater is on fire, and begs his patrons to leave the theater immediately, without causing a commotion. The spectators think that it is the most amusing turn of the evening, and cheer thunderously. The manager again feverishly implores them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously. At last he can do no more. The fire races through the whole building engulfing the fun-loving audience with it. “And so,” concludes Kierkegaard, “will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators” (Resource, July/August). Today’s readings warn us about a similar fate if we are not well prepared when the “Day of the Lord” dawns quite unexpectedly, marking the end of the world.
Greetings in Christ,
From the Gospel today, we hear two different points of view between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees believe in the resurrection while the Sadducees deny it. Although the intention of the Sadducees is to embarrass Jesus through their denial and ignorance about the resurrection, Jesus reconciles both mindsets. He teaches something new, and even more, draws both mindsets to their limits, He puts them into the realm of faith. Here, Jesus is the unifier of two conflicting viewpoints about the resurrection, and the new life of living in God’s love.
Jesus calls each one of us, no matter from what viewpoints we may come, nor from what countries, languages, cultures or traditions. There is nothing impossible for God. The only condition is to open our minds and hearts to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to operate and transform our differences into the mind and heart of Jesus, to make us one in God’s love. This is the mystery involved in living the love of a family where each one is totally different, like our Holy Family, united in faith and God’s love. God unites us here by His living words, and the communion of his love, in the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.
Fr. Albert B. Becher