Announcement of the Birth of John
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
From the earliest recorded writings of Sacred Scriptures, we are told that we are made in the image and likeness of our God. This unique relationship of God with creature and creature with God – stands as an important element in scripture’s message.
Soon we will remember and celebrate the birth of our Savior. It is a mystery that boosts our confidence in who we are and in what we are destined to become. We are destined to join God in the glory of the heavenly court. We ask ourselves today the question: “Does Christ’s Incarnation cause a stirring in our hearts and in our minds when we try to contemplate this incredible mystery? How does it touch our lives? (Fr. Emeterio dela Paz, SVD Bible Diary 2002)
There is a saying: ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” This seems to be Zechariah’s thought in today’s gospel after the angel Gabriel gave him great sounding news: Elizabeth and he are about to have a child. And because he doubted the angel’s word, Zechariah was struck dumb. What the priest failed to see was that with God everything is possible. Let’s considering the following points:
First, God had a plan for man’s salvation. It may have taken centuries to unfold, but the plan was going to be realized. And Zechariah and Elizabeth had a role to play: to be the parents of the precursor of the Savior. That both of them were old was irrelevant in this case, for nothing is impossible with God. What about us? Are we ready to be used by God for His purposes? Are we eager to do God’s will in our lives even though it is difficult? Saint Francis prayed: “Lord, make me in instrument of your peace?” what does God want us to do for Him?
Second, God chooses whom He wills. He chose Zechariah, Elizabeth and others for His purposes. And He chose each and everyone of us for a special task or calling, this is why He created us. Are we going to miss and lose the mission God has in mind for us? Is it the priesthood or religious life, or single blessedness or married life? Yes, we are unworthy but our task is to be like Mary, a servant of God’s will.
Third, God carries out His plan. It may have taken a long time for the Savior to appear but He did. In life we have our own time and we have God’s time. Usually when we want something, we want it our own way, in our own time. This is wrong, for we should allow God to work out His plan in our lives in His own time. What we need to do is to be ready at all times to do God’s will when, where and how He will it. This is the way of God’s servant.
God has a purpose for out lives. Are we fulfilling it? May the Holy Spirit guide us that we may accomplish that for which God created us with love. (Fr. Lino Nicasio, SVD Bible Diary 2005)
When was the last time you let God do the all the talking and doing?
My mom was so displeased after she learned for the first time from our neighbors and family friends that I was contemplating to enter the priesthood. After I got her reprimand for being so insensitive I thought I blew up all my chances, lost my credibility and gust to sit down with both my parents over the matter. To add to my anxiety, I was worried they’d use the full college scholarship which I earlier earned from a government agency as an excuse to dissuade me from pursuing my plan. As a strategy, I sought the help of our parish priest then (Fr. Faustino Bisol), who in turn also sought the parish priest of the neighboring town (then Fr. Arturo Bastes, SVD now the bishop of Sorsogon) to speak with my parents and implore them on my behalf. As planned, they did all the talking and as the saying goes, everything is history.
When the angel Gabriel broke the news to Zechariah about her wife bearing a child despite her age, he found it too unbelievable. Overwhelmed, he was unsure of the implications of this affair. Scared and feeling inadequate he didn’t know how he was going to break this news to his kinsfolk without being labeled as mentally deranged.
God, however, spared Zechariah from undue burden. God intervened and did all the talking for him. Zechariah was rendered, “speechless and unable to talk until the days these things take place” (v. 9). And when all these things had taken place God emancipated the couple from the religious- cultural shame that their being childless kept them from many long years.
Didn’t Peter remind us to “cast all your anxiety upon Him because he cares for you,” (1Pt 5:7)? God truly cares for us! He did care for Zechariah and Elizabeth blessing them with a child for remaining “righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly,” (Luke 1:3). Indeed, if we learn to leave all our troubles and worries to God’s care, He’ll do all the talking and doing for us. (Fr. Nielo Cantilado, SVD Bible Diary 2006)
A five-year old boy was dying in Calcutta. The medicine that could save him was available only in Europe, so the frail and old father of the boy approached Mother Teresa and desperately begged for help. The saintly founder of the Missionary of Charity painfully confronted the teary-eyed man: “I’m sorry…I have no such medicine. But trust God. The Good Lord will provide.”
Feeling hopeless, the man was about to leave the center when a mail package from abroad was delivered. The sisters then excitedly opened the box full of medicine… from Europe! The very medicine the man needed for his dying son was on top of the package. Mother Teresa saw the medicine and called the man who was already at the doorstep. She said: “God is truly good. He must have touched the hearts of our donors to send these medicines before you needed them. They arrived in time while you’re still here. God always prepares the way for our needs.”
God prepared the way for our needs and for our salvation. He sent His angel to joyfully announce to Zechariah that his wife, old and barren, would bear a son. Zechariah’s prayers for Elizabeth were heard and their son, John, would soon prepare the coming of Jesus. Likewise, God sent His angel to the wife of Manoah to announce that she though barren would bear a son. She would name him Samson, and like John, was to be consecrated to God. He would deliver Israel from the power of the Philistines.
John and Samson indeed are comparable to the medicine given to the old man for his dying son. In all these, God provided for the sources of deliverance. In the same manner, God always prepares the way for the resolution of our needs, troubles and problems. God is already touching the hearts of persons as He listens to our prayers. He continues to touch people to share what they have to those who have none. He may be touching you right now because somebody is praying and begging God for help. Through you, God continues to prepare the way of Jesus to be born into the hearts of other people. This will surely make your Christmas, and others too, more meaningful and relevant.
In this situation, we can sincerely proclaim before God: “My mouth shall be filled with your praise and I will sing your glory!” (Fr. Arlo Yap, SVD Bible Diary 2007)
In big families, say with ten or more children, it is easy to be forgotten. A child could ask something from a parent, only to find out that due to his/her parent’s other tasks, the request was forgotten. Not so with God. In today’s gospel, we read how God fulfills His promise of salvation by revealing to Zechariah the birth of a son, the forerunner of the Redeemer. Let us reflect and learn from Zechariah’s experience. Zechariah lived a life faithful to the Lord. He and his wife Elizabeth “were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.” Just as a parent would not refuse an obedient child’s reasonable request, so God will not refuse the prayer of a righteous person, one who seeks to please the Lord at all times.
Zechariah persevered in prayer. The angel Gabriel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard.” Zechariah and Elizabeth were childless but Zechariah kept on praying and praying and praying and praying….and the result? The angel declared, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son and you shall name him John.” God grants our reasonable requests but in his time, not ours.
Zechariah learned the value of trusting the Lord completely. Unfortunately for Zechariah, he thought the angel’s message was “too good to be true.” And he paid for it by being struck and dumb, which of course was resolved happily a little later in the story. The lesson for us is clear: trust the Lord completely.
In the Advent/Christmas season, we have quite a number of prayer-requests to the Lord. It would be a good idea to remember the lessons from Zechariah: live a life pleasing to God, persevere in prayer and trust the Lord completely. (Fr. Nilo Nicasio, SVD Bible Diary 2009)
December 19, 2016 Monday
What is my hope for my family this Christmas? What is my greatest hope? How about Zechariah and Elizabeth? What is the greatest hope of this couple? The annunciation of the birth of John to this holy couple, despite their old age and incapacity to have a child, is an announcement of God’s hope.
John is God’s gift of hope to his parents, to their household, to Israel and to all of us.
Advent is a gift of hope, of expectant hope to the Church and to the whole humanity. The object of our hope is God alone, the God who is really the Hopeful One, the God who continuous to hope in us. To hope is to be totally trusting and con dent in God. To hope is to keep us from discouragement.
Hope redirects our troubled hearts towards God.
Benedict XVI, in his Encyclical Letter on Christian Hope has said, ‘Man’s great, true hope which holds rm in spite of all disappointments can only be God—God who has loved us and continues to love us to the end, until all is accomplished.’(Spe Salvi, 27) Fr. Dante Barril, SVD | CKMS, Quezon City Bible Diary 2016
SAMSON AND JOHN. The readings for today speak about two sons. The first reading’s son is named Samson. The son in the second reading is named John. Let us compare and let us contrast.
The similarities: both Samson and John were born from mothers considered sterile. These women were not expected to give birth and yet each became pregnant and gave birth to Samson and to John respectively. Both Samson and John did not know how a barbershop looks. No shaver ever touched the head of Samson. In the case of John he also maintained a wild-look appearance. Both of them were considered filled with the Holy Spirit even while in the womb of their mothers.
In contrast: Samson was muscular, John was ascetic. A contrast, Samson was a combatant. He led his people against the Philistines. In the case of John, he was not a warrior. He was a desert figure and he fasted many days and many nights.. his attitude towards life was always prayer. John and Samson were both killed in a bloody manner. Samson, as you know, died violently with the crushing of the temple and John died violently because he was beheaded.
What do Samson and John teach us? Did their mothers expect them to be born? No. Did they want a life like that? They definitely did not ask for it. Did they want to die like that? They did not want to die like that. Did they want to live like that, longhaired and looking wild? They did not like to live that way. They would have wanted to live as ordinary mortals. One thing that surfaces in both Samson and John and what is it? Openness to God. Expect surprises from God because the one who will give directions is God. God tells us what to do.
Unfortunately, when we pray, we tell God what to do. We tell God what to do with the war. We tell God what to do with the sickness. We tell God what to do with the problems of the world. But the question is, do we ever ask God: “Lord, what do you want us to do?” Let us remember that He is God and we are not. Unfortunately, we are a people who want to play the games and we call ourselves or we act and talk and think like God. Samson and John teach only one word: Openness. Be open. Expect surprises from God. Even if we don’t like what these surprises ask us to do, we have to do them, nonetheless because God tells us to do them. They did not like what they had to do. They were hesitant. They were reluctant but they obeyed because God willed it.
We are going to have a better Christmas if we always remember Jesus is God and I am not. So ask Jesus, “What do you want me to do?” and stop telling Jesus what to do. He is in control; we are creatures. Be open to the God of surprises.
December 19, 2012
St. Augustine Moi
Late Advent Weekdays:
Jgs 13:2-7, 24-25a
Announcement of the Birth of John
5In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah… 8Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God… 11the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. 12Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. 13But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. 14And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of [the] Lord. … 19And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. …
21Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. 22But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute. 23Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. 24After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, 25“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”
He was unable to speak. Zechariah and Elizabeth are blessed by God. In their old age they are gifted with a child. God takes away the disgrace associated with barrenness.
The Gospel pinpoints the value of silence. God speaks in silence. Zechariah is rendered speechless after questioning the possibility of Elizabeth begetting a child in her old age. Elizabeth goes into seclusion for five months, relishing God’s marvel for her and Zechariah.
That we may not get lost in shopping sprees and “midnight madness” sales for Christmas, let us find time to speak to God in the silence of our hearts. That we may not be too preoccupied with what to eat, where to celebrate, and what to wear, let us pause in silence to listen to God’s voice. When we must take a serious decision, act or speak on a delicate issue, let us seek God’s counsel in prayerful silence.
I will trust God. I will not doubt or question his ways.
4th Day, 19th December Year A: Theme: With HOPE, we can face our darkness…
Readings: Judges 13: 2-7. 24-25; Luke 1: 5-25
The short reflection on the 4th day of Misa de Gallo is taken from the Gospel reading: “The angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.” (Luke 1: 13).
The Old Zechariah and his barren WIFE, Elizabeth, remind us of waiting in hope… They believed and held on in hope. Their prayers were heard and a son was given them. John reminds of Samuel, Samson and Isaac… they are all “sons of promise”.
Out of ‘barrenness’ often comes the greatest creativity. We now know this is the very nature of God’s whole creation like the very origin of the universe. And the only thing that can endure deep doubt or anxiety is deep faith. You will not allow yourselves to enter into complexity, ambiguity, mystery, or the partial darkness that everything is, without a very strong faith. You will close down.
I have found that people, like Zechariah and Elizabeth, who can tolerate ambiguity and hold darkness are those who rise to great faith. Faith gets purified every time you go through the cycle of doubt and failure. On this wheel just about everything is purified: our self-image, our God-image, our worldview.
Bapa Jun Mercado, OMI facebook.com/jun.mercado
An angel speaks to Zechariah: “Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son.” Zechariah and Elizabeth are the central figures in today’s readings. A descendant of Aaron, Zechariah was a priest by heredity.
In Zechariah’s time, priests were so plentiful that they drew lots to see who would serve in the Temple.
Zechariah’s life was marred by tragedy. His wife was childless (and sterile). Sterility was grounds for divorce in Jesus’ time, but Zechariah and his wife remained together.
God blessed the old couple in a remarkable way. (God heard their prayers.) They conceived a son, who became John the Baptist, whom Jesus called history’s greatest man (Luke 7:28).
How do we handle tragedies in our lives? What role does prayer play in them?
“The chief pain of most trials is not so much the actual suffering itself, as our own spirit of resistance to it.” Joan Nicholas Grou- (Mark Link SJ, Illustrated daily Homilies Seasons and Feasts, 1987:45).
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Luke 1: 5-15 “The Real Christmas Gift”
The Day’s End 12-19-13 (The True Christmas Gift) from The Day’s End on Vimeo.
A Homily adapted from a sermon by Robert Austell
Advent is meant to be a time in which we prepare both for Christmas and for Jesus’ return. I think for many of us, this can be one of the most hectic times of the year. Kids are in special programs at school and at church. There are Christmas parties of all kinds – with the office, neighbors, friends and family. There is shopping to be done, and many us will travel. All of these activities have their special place in the season, but today let’s look at the Gospel in a way that may challenge us to try something a little different this year.
Today’s Gospel speaks of the story of a miracle pregnancy – not Mary’s, but that of her cousin, Elizabeth. Zechariah and Elizabeth were also in a busy time of year. Zechariah was a priest, and as was the custom, rotated through various duties at the Temple. At this particular time, he was scheduled to offer the, “Incense Offering” inside of the Temple. This high honor typically only happened to a particular priest once or twice in a lifetime. It was the closest an ordinary priest would come to the presence of the Lord in the Holy of Holies. The people would have been at worship in the Temple courtyards while this offering was going on.
It was there that Zechariah had a vision of an angel, who came with news from the Lord. “Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, were going to have a baby.” Like Sarah and Abraham before them, Zechariah and Elizabeth were past child-bearing age, and Elizabeth had been unable to conceive when they were younger. She was barren, an emotional and challenging thing in any place and time, but particularly so in a culture where children and family were so very important.
In fact, having many children was part of the covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and to be barren was especially difficult for a couple who were “heirs” of that promise. And like Abraham and Sarah before him, Zechariah fearfully recognized the angel for who he was, but found the message unrealistic. And this was no hazy promise of one day having a child. This was a full-on vision and promise with details including the baby’s name, calling, and future. He was to be called John, be raised under strict guidelines, and promised to be a prophet like Elijah. And Zechariah asked the question any of us probably would have asked, “How can this be?” (Or, we might add, “Are you sure you’ve got the right guy?”)
Now here is where a miraculous story gets even more interesting.
Because Zechariah asked how he would know this for certain, the angel (Gabriel) told him that he would be unable to speak until the baby was born. Gabriel attributes this action to Zechariah’s unbelief, but the muteness is not a punishment, but a SIGN that God was at work. Let’s take a moment and ponder the meaning and usefulness of that sign, and then a corresponding decision made by Zechariah’s wife, Elizabeth. Zechariah asked for a sign. He said, “How will I know this for certain?” As if an angel appearing with a word from God wasn’t enough… and the answer he got was silence.
SO, was being struck with an inability to speak, “the sign?”
Or did being silent allow him the quiet and reflection to recognize God at work?
In the case of Zechariah, I think being made mute was itself the sign; but I think it also afforded him the opportunity to really ponder God’s word to him through the angel. It probably slowed him down and gave him a lot more opportunity to listen since that was all he could do. What about your life? Has God provided opportunity for you to really listen to him? Or maybe it’s not something God has caused, but nonetheless invites you to make use of… an illness, some time off between jobs, a broken down car. The point here isn’t so much the specific sign, as it is taking the time to listen to God. Zechariah needed to listen and give attention to God because God had spoken and God was acting, and those things are true for us as well.
God has spoken and is speaking all the time.
And God has acted and is acting in and around us all the time!
But Are We paying attention? (Pause)
There is a second example in the Gospel for us of someone paying attention to God. After Elizabeth became pregnant, she “kept herself in seclusion for five months.” Now, our minds might be quick to think that a pregnant woman in seclusion means shame or embarrassment, but look at Elizabeth’s reasoning. She is anything but shamed. The Gospel reads: “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when he looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.” Her barrenness was shame to her; her pregnancy was the Lord’s blessing.
Whereas Zechariah’s voice was taken away from him without a choice, as a sign, and then allowed him to ponder the promise of the Lord, I believe that Elizabeth made a conscious choice to be still and wait on the Lord. She withdrew to receive the favor and blessing the Lord had promised to her. Certainly the pregnancy also served as a very real and tangible sign to her of the Lord’s promise. But, her solitude afforded her the opportunity to really ponder what the Lord was doing, and was going to do, through this miraculous birth.
Today’s Gospel can give us a special lesson as well, as we look forward to Christmas – the celebration of the arrival of Jesus into the world. Whether silence and solitude has been your active choice or not, we should make time this Christmas season to pay attention to God. We should Pace ourselves; prioritize; and if we have to, just say ‘no’ in order to have some moments of quiet reflection, listening for what God is saying and doing in our lives, and in the lives of those around us. As important as the once-in-a-lifetime offering in the Temple was, God was doing something even more important with Zechariah and Elizabeth. As important as Christmas parties, decorating, shopping, and travel are, don’t miss what God is also doing.
I can’t think of any more important thing each of us could do this Christmas season than to seriously make some space in our life for silence and solitude before the Lord. It may be in the quiet of Holy Communion in just a few moments. It may be taking the family on a drive to the mountains to get the tree, or taking some time to read the Christmas story to your kids. It may be in the car in the parking lot at the mall, taking 5 minutes to pray before jumping into the fray. It may even be stopping by the adoration room to just be in his presence. Zechariah and Elizabeth were privileged to bear and raise the last great prophet who announced the arrival of God into the world. Their preparation and contemplation of that blessing and honor came through paying attention to what God was saying and doing.
God is also inviting each one of us to participate in what He is doing.
Our paying attention to God this Christmas season not only prepares us for a real and meaningful experience of Christmas, but also for serving God in that special way that we were uniquely created for.
And for all of us who look for, and can see, God in the events and people who surround us,
We will truly find,
the Real… Christmas Gift…. indeed!
DIYOS NA KAPAMILYA AT KAPUSO NATIN! : Reflection for 4th Day of Christmas Novena – SIMBANG GABI – December 19, 2014 – YEAR OF THE POOR
Hanggang saan ba ang ating pagtitiwala sa Diyos? Lagi nating naririnig ang mga katagang “God is good all the time and all the time God is good!” Ngunit ito ba ay napatutunayan natin sa ating pagtitiwala sa Kanya? Minsan ay may isang sirkero na nagtangghal sa isang pampublikong lugar. Nagtali siya ng isang kable sa magkabilang gusali at nagsabi sa mga taong panoorin ang kanyang gagawin. Dala ang isang mahabang patpat ay tumulay siya sa kable na walang kahirap-hirap. Hangang-hanga ang mga nanonood at muling nagsalita ang sirkero. “Ngayon ako naman ay tutulay sa kable na nakasakay sa bisikleta. Naniniwala ba kayong magagawa ko ito?” “Oo, naniniwala kami! Alam naming mahusay ka at magagawa mo iyon!” At kinuha nga ng sirkero ang kanyang bisikleta at nagsimulang pumadyak at walang hirap na tinawid ang bisikleta sa kabilang gusali. Palakpakan ang mga nanonood ngunit muling nagsalita ang sirkero: “Wag muna kayong pumalakpak. May isa pa akong gagawin. Muli kung itatawid ang aking bisikleta sa kable na may angkas sa likod! Naniniwala ba kayong magagawa ko ito?” “Oo, naniniwala kami na magagawa mo yan sapagkat napakahusay mo!” sabi ng mga nanonood. “Salamat! Ngayon nangangailangan ako ng isang volunteer para umangkas sa aking bisikleta? Mayroon bang may gusto sa inyo?” Tumahimik ang lahat. at isa-isang umalis… Ang Pasko ay kuwento ng Diyos na nagkatawang tao upang makasama natin. Kung hihiramin ko ang slogan ng ABS-CBN, ang Diyos naging KAPAMILYA natin. Ngunit ang Diyos na nagkatawang-tao ay hindi lang naging bahagi ng sangkatauhan, Siya rin ay nakiisa sa atin, maliban sa kasalanan, at nagpakita ng malasakit at pagmamahal sa ating. Kung hihiramin ko ang slogan ng GMA7, ipinakita ng Diyos na Siya ay KAPUSO natin! Ngunit sa kaibla nito ay marami pa rin ang nag-aalinlangan sa Kanya. Katulad ng pag-aalinlangan ni Zacharias na nag-alinlangan na kayang gawin ng Diyos ang imposible na ang kanyang asawang si Isabel ay magbubuntis at manganganak. Bagamat may katwirang mag-alinlangan si Zacahrias sapagkat matanda na sila ng kanyang asawa, ay hindi niya napagtanto na ang kaharap niya ay ang anghel Gabriel na sugo ng kataas-taasang Diyos minsan ng nagpamalas ng Kanyang kapangyarihan at kadakilaan. May Zacharias din sa bawat isa sa atin. Sa kabila ng kabutihan na ipinapakita ng Diyos ay sinusuklian natin ng pag-aalinlangan. pagwawalang-bahala, pagkagalit, at kung minsan pa nga ay pagtatatwa ang Kanyang alok na pagmamahal. Kung minsan dala marahil ng maraming provlema at pagkabigo ay nalilimutan nating may Diyos na “mas malaki pa” sa ating mga suliranin at alalahanin sa buhay! Magtiwala tayo sa Kanya sapagkat may Diyos na nakiisa at nagmalasakit sa atin… may Diyos na naging KAPAMILYA AT KAPUSO natin! Ipinaskil ni kalakbay ng kabataan
Friday, December 18, 2015
December 19 MISA DE GALLO – UNSA MAN ANG BILI UG KATUYO-AN SA MATAG BATA NGA MAHIMUGSO NING KALIBOTAN? Ang tigulang nga magtiayon nga si Zacarias ug Isabel gihatagan sa Dios sa dugay na nilang gipangandoy – usa ka anak nga tawgo’g Juan, ngalan nga nagpasabot, “Ang Ginoo manggiloloy-on”. Ang matag tawo nga mahimugso usa ka gasa sa Dios, dako og bili, ug adunay papel sa kalibotan. Si Juan gipakatawo ubos sa gahum sa Dios aron mag-andam sa dalan sa Mesiyas. Sa samang paagi, ang matag usa kanato gasa sa Dios para sa atong mga ginikanan ug para sa kalibotan. Si Mark Twain nag-ingon: “Ang duha ka importanteng adlaw sa atong kinabuhi mao ang adlaw sa atong pagkahimugso ug ang adlaw kanus-a kita makaamgo nganong ani-a kita ning kalibotan.”
- Atong handumon ug ipanglista ang mga tawo nga giisip natong gasa gikan sa Dios para kanato ug para sa kalibotan. Maghunahuna ug mag-andam kita og makahuloganong gasa nga atong ihatag kanila. Bulak nga adunay kaubang sulat sa pag-ampo, o simple nga butang nga inubanan og “Thank You Message”, o kaha, pagkaon nga may kaubang sulat-panghinaot (wishes) sa umaabot nga bag-ong tuig.
- Diha sa pag-ampo, mamalandong usab kita kon unsa may tuyo sa Ginoo sa iyang paghimo kanato. Posted byAbet Uy
WHY CAN’T I SEE GOD’S MIRACLES? – “But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words,” – Luke 1:20
An 11-year-old kid asked me, “Why can’t I see God’s miracles?”
I answered her, “Most of the time, we look for big miracles. See that fish in the aquarium? When it floats in the air, we see it as a miracle. When people float, we also think the same. But miracles are not always like that. When we breathe the air that we don’t see or touch, that’s a miracle. When we open our eyes in the morning, that’s a miracle, too. We should also look for miracles in ordinary things.”
Like Zechariah, we, too, doubt God’s amazing grace. We fail to appreciate it. It could be right under our noses but we don’t see it. Oftentimes, it’s because we’re expecting it to come in another form.
We need to have the heart of a child and allow God to open our eyes to His grace. Life is full of miracles; we just have to believe and see the world around us with eyes of wonder so that we can recognize miracles even in the ordinary. When we truly believe, there’s no room for doubt.
Let’s start counting our miracles! Ma. Luisa De la Cruz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reflection: Do you look for dramatic and sensational miracles? How can you appreciate God’s daily miracles in the ordinary?
Dear Holy Spirit, help me to see with the eyes of faith the daily miracles the Father sends my way. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
WHEN GOD CLOSES A DOOR – “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard.” – Luke 1:13
I was excited. Our academic leaders had assessed the varied gifts of our team of faculty and staff. We had our team assignments perfectly outlined. I had a clear vision of how the school year would unfold — this was going to be “the best school year ever!” I prayed for it, and as a team we claimed it.
In less than a week, one of our best teachers informed me she was resigning. She felt called by God to bring His message of hope and love to kids in the public school. How could I go against a decision that clearly came from prayerful discernment? I had to step aside and give up our original plans. I was discouraged.
In my heart, I felt the Holy Spirit reminding me: “All things work for good” (Romans 8:28). I stood up from my bent posture, smiled and proclaimed: When God closes a door, He does not open a window for His children — He opens a gate!
In less than two weeks, a new teacher joined us with credentials and experience far exceeding what we were looking for. Marc Lopez (email@example.com)
Reflection: Are you afraid? Choose to walk by faith. When God closes a door — He opens a gate!
Our Father, I choose to trust You despite my fears. I choose to walk in the center of Your will today. Grant me Your grace to do this. Amen.
GOD DELAYS – Today, we read about the angelic visitation to Zechariah. While Zechariah was offering incense at the Holy of Holies (where the Ark of the Covenant used to be kept until it disappeared in one of the many foreign occupations that happened in Israel), an angel told him that his wife Elizabeth, long barren, will bear a son. A child was seen as a great blessing in those days, when properties, position, privileges and power were passed through bloodline. Zechariah and Elizabeth, therefore, also longed for a child, preferably a son.
However, now that this was to take place, Zechariah could not believe. He elaborated this before the angel: “How can I believe this? I am an old man, and my wife is elderly, too.” Zechariah felt that the time for hoping has long passed; nature says they had passed the days of expected childbearing. He and his wife had resigned to fate and the way of nature.
The coming of Jesus as Messiah had also been long hoped for by the Chosen People. The feeling of Zechariah could have reflected this waning hope in Israel where one after the other — Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Greeks and Romans — took turns invading and pillaging the land. In all these, there was no sign of a prayed or Messiah.
Many of us who go through a lot in life may probably feel the same way. God takes too much time before He acts. But of course, who are we to question God? Our concept of time is kronos (chronology) and we are concerned with the conservation of our limited time, and so we would like to make the best of every moment. God’s sense of time, however, is kairos (fulfillment), and for Him everything and every event have their best seasons.
To have great faith in God, therefore, means not just to hope — but to hope with patience. Let us pray that this virtue be one of our Advent blessings. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP
REFLECTION QUESTION: Be in touch with your impatience. What are your reasons for being impatient? Bring this to prayer.
I trust You, Lord, for Your plans for my life. I believe that Your delays are not denials; sometimes they are a redirection to Your perfect will for me. Amen.
Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25a; Lk 1: 5-25
Today we are invited to reflect on the experience of these great men and women mentioned in the first reading as well as in the gospel
In the first reading from the book of Judges, Manoah and his wife were barren and had no children. Similarly in the gospel of Luke, Zechariah and Elizabeth were also barren and childless. Although, the two couples were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments blamelessly, being childless is considered a curse for the Jew at that time even until now. However it turns into a blessing because the birth of Samson and John the Baptist were part of God’s plan to save humanity. Both Samson and Baptist had to share in the mission. This is what the angel said to Mary “ Behold Elizabeth your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age and this is the sixth month for her who is called barren, for nothing is impossible for God”.( Luke 1: 36-37)
The mission of Samson was to deliver the people of Israel from the power of the Philistines (Judges 13:5). How about John the Baptist? God assigned John the Baptist a mission to fulfill: turning many children of Israel to their Lord and preparing a people fit for the Lord. (Luke: 1; 17)
Each and every one of us also has our own mission in life as a Catholic. At this moment let us reflect and sincerely ask ourselves what mission God wants you and me to fulfil as we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ.
I believe that we will only discover our true mission when we take time to come to the Holy Eucharist, listen to the Word of God and let His Word and Body transform us. Then and only then, will we be able to love and live out our mission in our daily life, in the family, and the work place as well. How? By sharing with others what we have felt and experienced in the holy Eucharist not only by words but first and foremost by our life testimony of loving and giving. This is our mission- to know Christ and to make Him known to others in our own way and in our own places.
What is our mission in life?
The day of the Christmas pageant finally arrived. Kaitlin was so excited about her part. The parents were all there to watch the performance of their children. At the edge of the stage, Kaitlin sat quietly and confidently. Then the teacher began: “A long time ago, Mary and Joseph had a baby and they named him Jesus”. She continued, and when Jesus was born, a bright star appeared over the manger”. At that cue, Kaitlin got up, picked up a large star, walked behind Mary and Joseph and held the star up high for everyone to see. When the teacher told about the shepherds coming to see the baby, the three young shepherds came forward, and Kaitlin jiggled the star up and down excitedly to show them. When the wise men responded to their cue, Kaitlin went forward a little to lead the way. Her face was as brilliant as the original star must have been. The play ended. On the way home Kaitlin said with great satisfaction, “I had the main part.” You did? Her mother questioned, wondering why she thought that. “Yes, she said, because I showed everybody how to find Jesus”.
How true! To show others how to find Jesus, to be the light of their paths- that is the greatest role and mission we can play in life. Are we true to our mission of showing others how to find Jesus? Fr. Martin Kuzhivelil CMI
Monday of the 4th Week of Advent
Jgs 13: 2-7. 24-25a; Ps 70: 3-4a. 5-6ab. 16-17; Lk 1: 5-25
A Mission of Restructuring Community Life
Linking the Old and the New
Today’s Gospel speaks to us about the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Zechariah (Lk 1, 5-25). The Gospel of tomorrow will speak about the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary (Lk 1, 26-38). Luke places both of these visits side by side to each other, in such a way that we may identify the differences between one visit and the other, between the Old and the New Testament. The first annunciation took place in a temple, to a priest and during the cultic context whereas the second one revealing a New Testament was purely in a domestic setting to an ordinary village lass. There are also close parallels in Luke’s Infancy Narrative between the birth of John the Baptist and that of Jesus. The First Reading, too, provides a prototype for today’s Gospel story as it describes the birth of Samson.
God amidst the most Pitiable
The annunciation to Zechariah, about the birth of a son to his elderly wife, already past child-bearing age was clearly a birth which, in normal circumstances, should not have happened. In a society where having children, and especially boys, was a wife’s primary duty, to be unable to produce children was a terrible shame and was the ultimate failure. One had been chosen as wife was only for this purpose and this purpose alone whereas love and affection had very little to do with it. And it was, of course, presumed that it was the wife and not the husband who had failed. That is why widows in the Scripture are listed as among the most pitiable of people. Such women, might still be quite young, due to the loss their husbands in war, accident or disease, are deemed as “second-hand material”, who were not eligible for re-marriage and so could not be mothers. Being the mother of a son is what women were meant to be. A woman who could not be a mother was less than a person.
God’s unique Intervention
Right through the Scriptures – in both the Old and New Testaments – the births of significant people happen in circumstance which point strongly to some divine intervention. So there are in the Bible a number of incidences where elderly women who had never borne a child are, through the intervention of God, blessed with a child, usually a son. So here, too, Elizabeth’s barrenness is seen less as a curse than as a preparation for something special. Today’s first reading recounts one of these – the birth of Samson. What is peculiar to all these stories is that the child to be born has a very special role given to it by God. So in today’s reading, too, there is a sign of God’s intervention in the birth of John the Baptist. He is no ordinary child. He has been chosen out for a very special purpose, to be the forerunner of Jesus, the last of the great prophets of the Hebrew Covenant.
- The Belief that nothing is impossible with God: Once in a while we also pass through this episode of unbelief and lack of faith. Amidst this episode, let us not lose focus on the fact that nothing is impossible with God for those who believe and have faith. We may have dreams or aspirations in life that may seem impossible for us to achieve and we naturally doubt. But let us not doubt let us continue to silently work for that seemingly impossible dream. Then let us leave everything to God’s providence let us ask Him to bless and guide us as we aspire for this impossible dream.
- We too have the Mission of Reconstructing the Community Life: In the announcement of the Angel is expressed all the importance of the mission of the child who will be called John who, filled with the Holy Spirit, will be a person totally consecrated to God and to his mission. “He will bring back many of the Israelites to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him to reconcile fathers to their children and the disobedient to the good sense of the upright, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him”. That is to say, in the child John will take place the expected return of the Prophet Elijah who will have to come to carry out the reconstruction of community life. To reconcile the heart of the parents toward their sons means to reconstruct the fabric of human relationship from the basis and to build up the life in community. This was the mission of John. This was also the mission of Jesus and continues to be today the most important mission to be carried on by you and me. How do I contribute to this mission of Jesus as a Christian? Let us reflect seriously on our own calling by God. Like John, each of us has been called to be a forerunner of Jesus, to prepare the way for Jesus to come into other people’s lives, especially those who have not yet had the experience of knowing him. Dr. John Ollukaran CMI
December 19, 2016: Thoughts on Fourth Day of Simbang Gabi
When angel Gabriel announces to Zechariah that her wife Elizabeth will conceive and bear a child he finds it hard to believe. And he has enough reasons to be so considering that Elizabeth was barren and two of them were already in their old age. In addition to that, Zechariah also finds it hard to tell his relatives, friends and town mates without risking to be accused as insane or possessed by the devil. God, however, saves him from that burden and trouble. God intervenes and does all the talking for him by rendering him speechless until the promise He made to Zechariah through an angel Gabriel was totally fulfilled when the child carried by Elizabeth in her womb was born and was given a name “John” which means “God is gracious.”
The problem with what happened to Zechariah is that he failed to trust the Lord in moment when he could have trusted the Lord most. If only Zechariah had prayed more, If only he had reflected and meditated more, if only he had read and studied more he could have remembered and realized that God made the same promise to some barren couples many, many years ago before him. He could have realized that the Lord made the same promise to Abraham. The Lord made the same promise to Sarah, the mother of Isaac. The Lord made the same promise to the mother of Samuel. The Lord made the same promise to the mother of Samson. All those promises were fulfilled according to what the Lord had said to them.
What is the main lesson to learn from the story?
God is true and faithful to his words and promises. He is a God who neither deceives nor can be deceived by us. Once He made a promise He will faithfully fulfil that promise even though how seemingly and humanly impossible that promise would be. He will see to it that what he had said and promised will come to its fulfillment. Hence, God deserves our absolute trust. He is trustworthy. He deserves our unconditional, exclusive and unparalleled loyalty, faithfulness and obedience. God will not fail us who trust in his words and promises.
Being children of God let us strive, therefore, to be true and faithful to God. Let us strive to be true and faithful to our words and promises and refrain as far as possible from breaking any of them. Let us also strive to be true and faithful to our baptismal promises to reject the glamour of evil and refused to be enslaved by it and to reject Satan the Father of sin and Prince of darkness. Lastly, strive to be true and faithful to your marital promises to love, to serve, to respect and to cherish each other all the days of your life and to be responsible and model parents to you children. That is the best legacy you can give to your children and to the world.
God is trustworthy and those who trust in the Lord will not be put to shame. Trust in the Lord always!
Trust the past to God’s mercy,
the present to God’s love,
and the future to God’s providence.
– Saint Augustine (Fr. Estong Bendita – 2016.12.19)
Friday, December 16, 2016
Reflection for Monday December 19, Fourth Week in Advent; Luke 1:5-25
Are you faithful to the Lord’s command?
The couple Elizabeth and Zechariah were both well beyond their best years as far as having a child is concerned. But God unexpectedly blessed them with a child. Why did God elected to bless them with a child? Perhaps God did so because both were faithful to Him, both were righteous and they both observe blamelessly His commandments and ordinances.
There are things in life that may seem to be impossible already for us to achieve. But we must always remember that nothing is impossible with God. Everything is possible for Him for so long as we have faith and are faithful to Him. This is evidenced by what happened to the righteous couple of Zechariah and Elizabeth.
What if they were not righteous? What if they did not faithfully observe the commandments of the Lord? Perhaps, the Good Lord wouldn’t have blessed them with a child. But they were faithful that’s why God rewarded them with a blessing of life.
I think that most of the blessing that God gives us is anchored on our faith and faithfulness towards Him. This is perhaps the first requirement of God if we want to receive something from Him. But are we always faithful to God? Do we always follow His commandments?- Marino J. Dasmarinas
December 19, 2016
Both readings used in today’s liturgy narrate an angelic annunciation about the birth of a son. In the first annunciation scene, an anonymous angel tells an equally anonymous sterile woman that she will bear a son. She believes this and tells her husband about it, and apparently he believes it too. In the second annunciation scene, the angel Gabriel tells the old priest Zechariah that his old sterile wife will bear a son, despite her age. But Zechariah does not believe this, even though this good news is delivered by no less than an angel. He asks the angel: “How can I believe this? I am an old man and my wife is elderly too.” In Gabriel’s answer we can detect a trace of impatience. He presents Zechariah with his full credentials: “I am Gabriel, who stands before God, and I am the one sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news.” We can almost hear Gabriel add under his breath “You idiot!”
Some Christians are natural skeptics. Skepticism is good to a certain point. But we must reach a point when, after having expressed all our doubts and reservations, we finally take the leap of faith.
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