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Transfiguration of Our Lord by Fr. Joel

 

In the first reading, Abraham was asked by God to leave his pagan country and go to aninvite God into your life unknown land in order to receive God’s blessings. Abraham obeyed and he was richly blessed by the Lord. And through Abraham many people are being blessed. Saint Paul in the second reading encouraged Timothy to be strong in bearing hardships as he witness to the gospel of Christ. The Gospel today is the story of the transfiguration of our Lord Jesus at the mountain before three of his disciples. Jesus became transformed and he was shining brightly like the sun. Moses and Elijah appeared and the voice of God was heard from the clouds. Moses represented the law, Elijah represented the prophets, and Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

Shortly before going to Jerusalem to suffer and die, Jesus took three of his disciples up the mountain to pray and be with God the father. At this time the disciples were doubtful of Jesus because he had said to them that he was going to suffer and die in the hands of the leaders of the Jews. The disciples could not understand why Jesus would suffer and die since he was the messiah. Therefore, Jesus took them up the mountain to encounter God and his glory. While at the mountain, they saw a glimpse of his glory and it was very beautiful. As a result Peter wanted to make some tents for them to stay back at the mountain and continue to enjoy the beautiful experience. This experience strengthens the faith of the disciples in Jesus as the real messiah. They also learn that his suffering and death were necessary for the salvation of the world. The voice of God confirmed to them that Jesus is his beloved son in whom he is well pleased.

The transfiguration of Jesus at the mountain prepared Jesus and his disciples for his suffering and death of in Jerusalem. It became clear to the disciples how important the suffering and death of Jesus on cross were to the salvation of the world. Therefore, as Christians, we must not only have faith in Jesus but we must also work hard for our salvation. Carrying the cross is part of our experiences as Christians. We must go out of our comfort zones and away from evil like Abraham did in order to receive God’s blessings. We must embark on a spiritual journey with faith carrying our crosses and following the footsteps of Jesus to a destination known by God. It is only through the cross that we can gain salvation. We must allow God to guide and mold us according to his will before we can be qualify to enter his kingdom.

As we continue with our Lenten observances: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, let us be encouraged to persevere against temptations and hardships. We are encouraged today never to give up our struggles against the devil. If we are faithful in our Lenten observances, we shall obtain the graces we need to overcome evil and experience the glory of God.

The mountain symbolizes a place of encounter with the Lord. Lent is a moment in which we encounter the Lord in our lives. The disciples of Jesus encounter God on the mountain and their faith was strengthened. This encounter prepared them for the suffering and death of Jesus in Jerusalem. They were also challenged to do greater things for God. The encounter of the transfiguration of Jesus teaches us the importance of the cross, suffering, and sacrifice in our lives as Christians. Without suffering and sacrifice no success and victory can be achieved. There are no short cuts or easy ways to success and the kingdom of God. We must be ready to endure hardships and tribulations before we can receive the crowd of glory.

In order to experience transformation in our lives, we need to get out of our comfort zones and work hard for it. To experience positive change in our lives, we must climb the mountain of transfiguration. To prolong the experience of a beautiful encounter with the Lord, we must build befitting tents for the Lord in your lives. To encounter divine power in our lives, we must open up our hearts and invite God into our lives. To be transformed in our lives, we must listen to and obey God’s instructions. To experience God’s glory we must avoid the life of sin but begin to live the life of holiness. To enjoy the glory of God, we must be ready to carry our crosses and journey with Jesus to Calvary. This season of lent gives us the opportunity to be united with Jesus in his suffering and death so that we can share in his resurrection and glory. We are called to pray, fast, detach from worldly pleasures, and be kind to one another during the season of lent. We are called to embrace the cross because it is the key to our salvation. If we choose sweet, easy, and pleasant ways of life, we shall all perish, but if we choose the tough, hard, and unpleasant way of life as suggested by Jesus, we shall survive and inherit the kingdom of God.

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT 2017

THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

 

 

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Man & Woman of Honor by Fr. Joel

Both Mary and Joseph were honored by God and were given great responsibilities tofamily-of-honor contribute in the history of our salvation. They became the parents of the savior of the world. They came from very humble backgrounds, full of humility and sense of dignity and reverence for God. Hence they accepted to do his will in spite of the challenges that accompany doing that.
In the first reading Prophet Isaiah said that God will give his people a sign: ‘’the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.’’ This prophecy is fulfilled in the gospel passage of today. The gospel reading gives us the story of how the birth of Jesus came about. Mary was betrothed to Joseph. According to their tradition, that was an official engagement. But before they could come to live together, Mary conceived through the Holy Spirit. Mary, in spite of the lack of understanding and the fear of what could happen to her afterward accepted with great humility the will of God to be conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Joseph was disturbed and disappointed about Mary’s pregnancy. However, Joseph being a good man did not want to expose Mary to public disgrace, instead he wanted to divorce her quietly. While still thinking on what to do with this issue, the angel of Lord came to Joseph in a dream and encouraged him to take Mary as his wife. This is because the pregnancy of Mary was of the Holy Spirit. It was God’s design and the child will be called Jesus, the savior of the world.
With this explanation by the angel, Joseph took Mary as his wife and became the foster father of Jesus. This also made Jesus a legitimate heir to the thrown of David since Joseph was descendant his. Joseph accepted the will of God and provided for Mary and Jesus as a responsible husband and father. Joseph demonstrated great sense of responsibility, love, and respect for the dignity and privacy of the woman and family issues. Joseph is a true man of honor.
Christmas is a celebration of the fulfilment of God’s promise to his people. God gave his son to the world through Mary and Joseph in order to save the world. We thank and praise God in the psalm for giving us the king of glory, Jesus Christ, as our savior. As we celebrate Christmas, let us learn some very important lessons from the Holy Family of Nazareth. Mary and Joseph accepted the will of God in their lives. Let us learn from them to accept God’s will in our lives as well. Joseph did not want to disgrace Mary in public. Please let us learn from him how to respect the dignity and privacy of our spouses, friends, and family life. We have lost the sense of dignity and decency in our society today. Many of us are quick to take marital, family, and friend’s issues to the public courts or call in the police. Worse still, some of us discuss very private issues on public social media. It is not everything that we should discuss in a public forum. Please save you, your spouse, family members, and friends the public embarrassment.
In the second reading, Saint Paul encouraged us to receive the grace of God and become his messengers and spread the gospel to the whole world. Christmas season offers us the opportunity to do so. At Christmas we have the opportunity to honor family members, friends and neighbors. This includes: giving instructions, corrections, songs, gifts, time, calls, and text messages; telling the truth, visiting one another especially the less privilege in hospitals, nursing home, prisoners and the poor in our society. Remember proclaiming the gospel is not compromising the gospel. We must proclaim the truth as it is and bear witness to it in our lives. Let us proclaim Jesus to the whole world with our joyful songs and celebrations. Merry Christmas!!!

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT (A)
JOSEPH A MAN OF HONOR AND MARY WOMAN OF HONOR

We Rejoice & Celebrate the Coming of Christ by Fr. Joel

The third Sunday of advent, is traditionally called ‘’Gaudete Sunday’’ which means ‘’rejoice’’ or ‘’Rose Sunday’’ that is why we wear rose vestments for this mass. The rose color symbolizes the joy of the celebration today. It represents the lightening of the dark violet color of the rest of the penitential season of advent. This lightening has two significant, namely: Firstly, it is a sign that the coming of light, Jesus Christ into the world is very near; secondly, it signifies the joy that accompany the coming of this light, Jesus Christ.

It is because of this reasons that our readings are centered on the theme of ‘’Joy’’. This is to tell us that Christmas is near and so begin to celebrate with carols, music, drums, bells, and all the musical instruments. We praise God for his wonderful deeds to us. He brought us salvation through his son Jesus Christ.

The first reading said the deserts and unproductive lands will blossom with abundant flowers and fruits; sorrow and bitterness will be replaced with joy and gladness. This simply means that God will liberate us from the bondage of the devil and bless us with abundant gifts such as: opening the eyes of blind and ears of the deaf, making the lame to leap, losing the tongue of the dump. Therefore, let us rejoice and praise the Lord.

The Psalm said, ‘’ Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God’’. This is a song of thanksgiving to God for granting justice to the oppressed; food to the hungry; freedom to captives; healing to the sick; and protection to the orphans, widows, and strangers. In the second reading, Saint James encouraged us to be patient, persistent in prayer, and doing good works for the coming of the Lord is near. While waiting we should make sure that we are not found wanting when he comes.

The gospel reading demonstrated the fulfilment of the prophecy in the first reading. Jesus was anointed with the spirit to bring good news to the less privilege people.  Jesus started performing wonderful works and miracles for the people. He brought the people healing, joy, and freedom from captivity of the devil. John the Baptist sent the people to see and experience the joy brought them by Jesus. This was to enable them to be convinced and believed that Jesus is the true messiah. When the people met Jesus he showed them his wonderful deeds and confirmed to them that John came to prepare the way for him. Jesus demonstrated to them that he was indeed greater than John the Baptist.  These are reasons for our celebration during this Christmas.

Jesus brings to us good news and joy every day of our lives. We experience healing, miracles, and freedom from captivity of the devil. Jesus is a friend to the poor, sick, orphans, widows, and the oppressed in our society. We shall continue to receive these blessing from Jesus if we listen and follow him. In addition, during our baptism we were anointed with oil and the Holy Spirit so that we can bring the good news to others. Therefore during this Christmas period, we must not forget to bring the good news to other people especially the less privilege people in our society. We should share with the less privilege people our blessings. Let us give the poor gifts of food, clothing, money, toys, smiles, visits, outings, apologies, forgiveness, reunions, and above all the love of God.

Saint Teresa said: ‘’we can cure physical disease with medicine, but the only medicine for loneliness, despair, and depression is love. There are many in the world who are dying for food but many more are dying for lack of love’’. Therefore, this Christmas offers us great opportunities to reach out to those people in need and give them love, joy and peace of Christ Jesus. Think of what you shall give to others but not what you shall get from others. Remember not to celebrate Christmas with malice, anger, hatred, sin, bitterness, and jealousy, instead be joyful bring that joy to people that you come across. Follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ and bring the good news to the less privilege in our society at Christmas.

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT A (GAUDETE SUNDAY)

WE REJOICE AND CELEBRATE THE COMING OF CHRIST

 

Giving Thanks by Fr. Joel

‘’Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. Please accept aguy-at-dawn gift from your servant.’’ Naaman said this after receiving healing from leprosy by God. Naaman demonstrated profound faith, humility, and thanksgiving to God for the healing he received from him. He was humbled by God’s healing power in his life. The prophet, Elisha showed faith in God by giving Naaman instruction to go bathe in the river for his healing. The prophet refused to receive the gifts from Naaman as a sign of his humility. He did not want to take the glory that belongs to God.
The Psalm says, ‘’the Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.’’ This is a song of thanksgiving to God for his wonderful deeds to his people. St. Paul in the second reading demonstrated humility and strong faith in God. In spite of his suffering for the sake of Christ, he remained faithful and gave thanks to him for the salvation Christ brought to the world. In the Gospel, ten lepers asked for healing and were healed but only the Samaritan came back to give thanks to God.
The themes of thanksgiving, faith and humility came up very strongly in the readings of today. To give thanks to God means humility and faith in God. The characters involved here have given us beautiful examples to learn from. Our world is full of pride, unfaithfulness, greed, selfishness, hatred, division, and violent destruction of lives and property. As a result there is depression and lack of peace in our world. God has blessed us with many wonderful gifts in this world. Let us be humble and give thanks to God for everything that we have comes from him. The Lord has been faithful to us, so let us be humble and faithful to him as well. Let us not be carried away by our gifts and achievements and forget that without God we could not achieve anything that we have. So, be humble and give him the glory that is his due.
We experience God’s power and miracles everyday of our lives. Therefore, we need to give him thanks for all of them. Our lives, health, energy, time, seasons, jobs, parents, children, neighbors, and other resources that we have come from God, so, let us give him thanks for all these gifts. Our faith is a gift from God so, let us appreciate him. We go to sleep and wake up afterward, that is a miracle from God, let us give him thanks. We get sunshine, rainfall, the air that we breathe and other beautiful gifts of nature from God, let us give him thanks.
Let us learn from St. Paul be humble, faithful, and give thanks to the Lord in spite of our daily challenges in life. We may suffer imprisonment and hardships in this world but we should be happy that our Lord Jesus has set us free and given us salvation by his suffering and death on the cross. For if we suffer and die with Christ, we shall rise and live with him; if we endure to the end, we shall receive a crown of glory with him; but if we deny him, he will deny us too; even though we are unfaithful, he is faithful.
St. Paul encourages us to remain faithful to God no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in. God is always faithful, merciful, and compassionate to us. We need humility and call on him in times of need for help. If we ask in faith we shall receive his blessings and we should give him thanks for all the wonderful things he has done to us. It is important that we give thanks because God is pleased whenever we do so. God is displeased at ingratitude from us. Therefore, let us learn and teach our children how to give thanks for any favor received from God and from people. Any thanksgiving for favors received by us opens the door for more blessings to come our way. In fact, the best way to ask for more favors is to give thanks for past favors received. But ingratitude will close up the doors so that no more favors will come our way again. Therefore, let us give God the glory and thanks for all the many blessing we have received from him in our lives.

TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
GIVING THANKS TO GOD FOR HIS GOODNESS TO US

Jesus Brought Joy to the World by Fr. Joel

In the first reading of today, Isaiah told the people of Israel who were worried, because they were on exile in Babylon world heartsuffering, to be strong and not to be afraid for their God will save them and bring them joy. James said in the second reading that God chose those who are poor in worldly things to be rich in spiritual things and become heirs to the kingdom of God. In the gospel we see a fulfillment of God’s promises in Jesus Christ as he brought healing to the blind, mute and deaf people. He restored them to good health and brought joy to them.

Many of us are in exile suffering like the people of Israel in Babylon. We have been taken captives and enslaved by the devil and we are living in sin. Many of us are blind, deaf and mute to what the Lord is teaching us in the Bible. Anyone who is stubborn and does not listen to the word of God, that person is deaf. Anyone who refuses to speak the truth proclaimed in the word of God, the person is mute or dumb. When someone refuses to recognize evil, the sufferings, and needs of poor in order to give assistance to them, the person is blind.

Some people find the word of God offensive and have refused to accept it. Some of these people call themselves atheists or agnostics. While other people hate and persecute Christians because of their faith. There are some of us, even though, we did not openly reject the word of God, but we refuse to do what the word tells us. That is, those who are hearers and not doers of the word of God; those who do the very opposite of what the word of God said. Many of us are dumb; we cannot communicate the word of God to others. When you are shy, afraid or nonchalant to communicate the word of God even to your children or family members, let alone strangers, you are dumb.

Jesus brought good news to the world, we need to communicate this news to those who have not heard about it and to those who have heard but do not understand it or accept it. However, you cannot give what you do not have. You need to first of all receive the word of God, see the beautiful message of salvation in it then communicate it to others. Jesus came to rescue us from the slavery of the devil; He carried our sins away and healed our wounds. Jesus was anointed to bring good news to the poor, freedom to those in bondage, healing to the blind, deaf, and dumb (Lk 4:18). We continue to receive all of these from the word of God and the sacraments. Jesus has freed us from any distinctions of class because we all the same under him. Your socioeconomic status does not give you an edge over other in the kingdom of God. In fact, what makes you great before God is your humility and acts of charity to others, especially the poor. Jesus died on cross for our salvation and to bring us joy.

He said in John 10:10 that he came so that we might have life abundantly. Only those who truly live according to his teaching are truly happy. So open up your heart and mind for him to come in and give joy, and you will in turn give others joy. Do not be shy or afraid to proclaim Jesus to others. Proclaim him by your words and deeds. Present yourself as an instrument in God’s hands to be use to bring healing and joy to our sick world.

23 SUNDAY YEAR B 2015

Rejoice and Speak the Truth by Fr. Joel

A priest came to mass and greeted the people as usual; ‘’the Lord be with you’’ but he was not  advent joyheard by the congregation because the microphone was not working. The priest banged the microphone with his hand and it started working but he did not know. The microphone pick up his voice and broadcasted it loudly to the people as he said; ‘’something is wrong with this microphone!!’’ And the people responded their normal way; ‘’and with your spirit’’ I believe there are times people think something is wrong with the priests’ spirits especially when we preach what people do not want to hear. That is exactly what John the Baptist did to prepare the people for the coming of the messiah. We hear him condemn their evil ways with expression such ‘’brood of vipers’’ he told Herod that it was not right to marry his brother’s wife.

Today we celebrate the third Sunday of advent referred to as ‘’Guadete’’ Sunday, a Latin word which means rejoice. When things are bad and we are suffering, we look for a messiah to save us from the problem. That was the situation of the people of Israel at the time of prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist. That is why we heard from the prophet, Isaiah today foretelling the coming of the messiah to the people. He said the messiah will be anointed with the spirit of the Lord and be sent ‘’to bring good news to the poor, bind up broken hearts; proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to those in prison; proclaim a year of favor for the Lord.’’ St Paul tell us in the second reading to rejoice always, give thanks to God in all circumstances, retain what is good, and refrain from doing evil. Furthermore, the responsorial psalm is the song of joy and thanksgiving by the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Sunday emphases the joy that accompany the birth of Jesus, and it is meant to put us in the mood of joy and celebration as we hear the good news.

This good news sometimes sounds unpleasant to us because of some demands that it brings on us. We have a tendency, as humans, of not accepting anything that is not sweet or anything that does not agree with our world view. And because of this desire for good, sweet, and easy way out of difficult situations, we often fall into the trap of the evil one. He presences us with what we want or like and we easily fall into the trap. That is common, but experience and studies have shown that nothing good comes easy.

Many people came and claimed that they were the messiah, but they were not. John the Baptist was so humble that he said he was not even worthy to undo the strap of his sandals when the people thought he was the messiah. He told them the truth about the messiah. Here, he demonstrated great humility, an example for us to emulate. Jesus bore testimony to John when he said of all those born of women no one is greater than him. And yet he was not ready to admit even being a prophet.

The quest for happiness is one of the greatest needs of life. But how to get this happiness is always the problem. History has shown that truly great and happy men and women were distinguished by their humility in life. Proud people always fall into the devil’s trap by accommodating sins and commit crimes that offend people and society. Proud people are always conscious of self-appreciation and self-affirmation which usually lead to egocentrism, self-centeredness, arrogance, and aggressiveness. The results of these are: pain, sadness, and misery. Preoccupation with our public image and recognition leads to slavery to our ego. So, to be truly great and happy, we have to forget ourselves and commit ourselves to serving others. You must consider yourself last and servant to others in order to be happy. You will become great by making others great; you will become happy by making others happy.

Our world needs many John the Baptists with humility and boldness to identify sin and condemn it. We need humility to reach out to others and say we are sorry, forgive others, make peace, visit with others, befriends others, to share what I have with others, to see others as better than ourselves, to tell others that we are children of the same God. This is the good news that our world need today. We have been called and anointed to preach this good news; to give love, forgiveness, joy, and to speak the truth.

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B