Announcement of the Birth of Jesus
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
Stories about the Infant Jesus abound. Among the many stories, the following is my favorite which is actually a legend involving St. Jerome as narrated in Father Arthur Tonne’s book. One Christmas night, right in the very grotto at Bethlehem, St. Jerome was praying and thinking about the birth of Jesus. Suddenly our Lord appeared to him as an infant surrounded by a dazzlinglight.
“Jerome,” the Infant asked, “what are you giving me for my birthday?” ‘Divine Infant,” replied the saint, ‘I give you my heart.”
“Yes, but give me something more.” “I give you all that I am.”
“There is still something more that I want.” “Divine Infant, I have nothing more. What is that I can give you?”
“Jerome give me your sins. Give me your sins that I may pardon all of them.”
“Divine Babe,” exclaimed the saint, “You make me weep.”
And the strong man, filled with love of the Infant Jesus, wept for joy.
What does the story tell us? Simple – we can please the Infant Jesus by giving him our sins through confession, that we may prepare a clean and fresh heart for his coming in the Holy Eucharist. (Fr. Fred Reyes, SVD Bible Diary 2002)nobody deserves gifts; nobody is entitled to favors. Gifts and favors reflect the generosity of the giver, not the worthiness of the receiver.
If you notice, the gospel does not begin with what Mary does; it begins with what God does through Mary. When Mary is chosen to be the mother of God’s Son, God’s choice of her not a reward for a dedicated work or an answer to Mary’s prayer. Rather, God’s choice of Mary is the result of God’s freedom to choose Mary from among all women; his choice makes her worthy, as his love has made her full of grace. This truth is reflected in what Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for He has looked on the lowliness of his handmaid. Yes, from this day forward, all generations will call me blessed for the Almighty has done great things for me.”
Because of God’s mysterious preference, because he has freely chosen to look on Mary in such a way, because he has made her full of grace, all generations – as we today – call her blessed. For God graced Mary for a purpose, for a mission that was not for herself: her mission in the plan of God was to give Jesus to every generation of the human family.
Some people suspect that because Mary was so blest by God, this makes her no longer really human. Certainly, Mary has a unique role to play in history; as the Church teaches, she “occupies a place in the church which is the highest after Christ and closest to us.” But being chosen by God for such a task does not exclude Mary from the human race; God’s choice of her does not free her from making her choice of God. Mary was asked to put her freedom, her whole person at the service of God’s plan.
The difference between us and Mary is not that Mary was chosen while we are not; rather, it is that she fully responded to be chosen for her role while we remain hesitant and half-hearted about responding to what God asks of us. God has chosen all of us. This great truth was expressed by St. Paul when he wrote: “God chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence,” (Eph 1).
Like Mary, we face God’s choice of us: like her, we are challenged to say yes. If we could see ourselves as the result of God’s choice rather than a mobile mistake, we might be keener to say yes! God has chosen every single person; he has a role for each of us. He waits for our choice and puts our freedom at his service.
God’s word to Mary in today’s gospel is a word of supreme value: “Rejoice, highly favored.” Perhaps we do not really believe that God favors us, maybe we have reached the stage where we don’t think we are worth anything anyway. So today, let that be God’s word to you: “Rejoice, highly favored,” for I have chosen you to be holy and to live through in my presence. Yes, you! Rejoice. (Fr. Deng Fabiosa, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
There is a fairytale about a prince who went into a serious training to win the heart of a princess. He tried every charm in his book, but she had her eyes fixed elsewhere and married a penniless woodcutter who didn’t do anything to win her favor. The woodcutter was chosen because of the mysterious preference of the princess’ love. And the prince was left to wonder why he couldn’t earn the love of the princess. After all he had done all the right things.
Like our friend, the bewildered prince, when we see how some people are chosen we ask, “What did they do to deserve that?” we presume that they must have done something special and we get tangled up trying to scrutinize their performance for some clue. And in all this we forget the freedom of the one who chose them in the first place.
In today’s gospel we celebrate the extravagant love of God who freely chose Mary to be the Mother of His beloved Son. God’s choice of Mary made her “full of grace.” If grace is God’s gift, Mary was full of God’s gift. There is no point in asking what Mary did to deserve that: she didn’t do anything to deserve it, because it was sheer gift.
All the great OT women hoped to be what Mary was – the mother of Jesus, the Redeemer. But she was his mother in a very special way: He chose her to be his mother. None of us could ever do that with our mother. God designed her to be Jesus’ mother but he also respected her. He had to get her consent.
Now just imagine that you had a chance to choose you own mother. Would you not give her all the best qualities you could find? She would be the most perfect, nicest person in the world. Remember that since Jesus had no human father, he inherited all his human qualities from her. He must have looked, spoke and acted very much like her.
The non-Catholic poet Wordsworth has written of Mary: “She is our tainted Nature’s solitary boast.” We think that it is completely natural and normal for any son to be honored and pleased if we honor his mother. We also believe that it is natural for any treasured mother to have a special influence with her son. That is why we ask Mary to stand by us as we pray. We hardly ever say the Our Father without automatically adding the Hail Mary. As a little story has it, once a king invited a little child to take as many candies it could fit his hand. The little child said to the king, “I would rather have my mommy take them for me; she has a bigger hand.”
Mary is surely the favorite person in Christ’s life, even now. Should she not also be the same in our life? ( Fr. Frank Mihalic, SVD Bible Diary 2006)
Once a Japanese confided to his American doctor: “Me no come. She no come. But baby come! How come?”
In today’s gospel episode of the annunciation, a puzzled Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary, could have said the same thing when he found out that Mary was pregnant and yet they did not live together.
But the angel said to Mary, “You will conceive and bear a son.” Mary replied: “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” and the said in reply: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
Mary said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” With these words, she expressed her fiat or consent.
We can say Mary was blessed because she was told of God’s will through an angel. How about us, ordinary mortals? How can we know His will in our life”
A distraught lady once called me up, complaining: “I had my car repainted but what turned out was clearly a rip-off. To think that I’d paid the full amount. Disgusted, I contracted another mechanic-painter. I had high hopes the job would turn out to my expectation since the guy advertized his services in the car promo exhibition. Pero palpak na naman.
“Why did God not help me since I’m always praying?” what did you expect God would do?” I asked. ‘Well, that he would give me a sign against the services of these incompetent painters!”
Discreetly, I told the lady that God does not ordinarily work that way. If He enlightens you by some private revelation or sign, fine. But God does not easily dispense miracles nowadays. God works through our talents, our decisions and judgments.
People today are asking, “How can I know the will of God? How do I know if God wants this or that to be my partner for life….or this kind of business or this religious vocation?”
God works through secondary causes. After praying and discerning over a problem, it would be prudent to ask the advice and guidance of relatives, friends and others who are knowledgeable on the matter.
Another way of knowing God’s will is through the Scriptures, the word of God. Likewise the church is our sure guide when it comes to faith and morals.
The will of God is further manifested to us in the duties and responsibilities of our state of life. And, very concretely, it is seen in the particular circumstances of our life, or in the so-called “signs of the times.”
St. Alphonsus de Liguouri once said: “All holiness consists in the love of God; but the love of God consists in conformity to the will of God; therefore, all holiness consists in conformity to the will of God.”
Just as Jesus always sought God’s will, we should likewise do the same. And more importantly, DO it. (Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD Bible Diary 2007)
POWER OF GOD, PURITY OF HEART. The story of annunciation is very familiar. In fact, this gospel text is read at many other times of the year. Because of the familiarity of the text,, it might also lose its power over us. Just for the sake of recall, the Annunciation text has three components.
First, the power of God is given to human beings. It is power from above.. that was the angel’s greeting: “The power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The love of God is sent to human beings and because the love of God is sent to human beings, human beings are no longer the same. One who is touched with the grace of God always changes. The power of God is always given to those who ask for it and to those who do not ask for it. The Spirit of God comes upon us.
The second component of today’s gospel is that the power of God is met by the purity of human hearts, the purity of Mary’s heart. The virginity of Mary is met with a power given by God and when power given by God and the purity of hearts of human beings come together, a mathematical equation can be put on the board: POWER + PURITY = PRESENCE. Because the power of God was met with the purity of the human heart, then God is made present in the world. Because of power of God is met with the virginity of Mary’s heart, God becomes present in the world. The Word is made Flesh and God takes human flesh. God can be touched, God can be experienced and God can be seen because the power of God is met with the purity of the human heart.
The story of Annunciation does not end with Mary. The story of Annunciation continues up to this day no longer through Mary alone but through us. The power of God continues to be sent to us. The power of God continues to be given to us. But presence is not accomplished because that power is not met by purity of heart. The power is not met with human acceptance. The power is not met with words like, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.” The power is not met with the words, “How can this be since I do not know man.”
We are running out of virgins and we are running out of pure people. We are running out of saints. We are running out of heroes. We can only really understand true power if that power of God is received by heroes and saints. If the power of God is always met by purity and virginity, then we won’t have to go looking for God. Every person will be Mary, giving birth to Jesus in the Third Millennium.
Keep those thoughts in mind because if we cannot find God in the world right now, it is not because God is lacking in power. It can only be because we are lacking in cooperation. It is not because God is stingy in sharing His Spirit. It is only because we can no longer say, “How can this be, I am a virgin.” It is because we can no longer say, “Let it be done to me. Not my will but yours be done.”
That is why the Season of Advent is colored purple. Purple is the color of conversion. Purple is the color of repentance. Let us have a good Christmas by reconciling with God and with one another. Let us go to confession, make our hearts pure. If only the power of God is always met by purity, by cooperation, then we would have no problem with God being always present in the world, experienced by all of us. (Bp. Soc Villegas Love Like Jesus pp. 130-131)
Posting also the 5th Day…
5th Day, 20th December Year A: God fulfills his promise…
Readings: Isaiah 7: 10-14; Luke 1: 26-38
The short reflection on the 5th day of Misa de Gallo is taken from the Gospel reading: “Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus’.” (Luke 1: 30-31)
In Mary, God has fulfilled his promise to humankind… a son with power of the Most High who shall rule over the whole creation forever and his kingdom will have no end. Mary is our “connectivity” with Jesus, the Lord.
Mary is an abiding presence in the life of her son, Jesus, and in the life of the apostles and the early Church. At the Cenacle, Mary, the mother of the Lord, stayed with the disciples as they await the coming down of the Holy Spirit.
Presence is a noun, not a verb; it is a state of being, not doing. States of being are not highly valued in a culture which places a high priority on doing. Yet, true presence or “being with” another person carries with it a silent power — to bear witness to a passage, to help carry an emotional burden or to begin a healing process. In it, there is an intimate connection with another
We allow our Blessed Mother, the mother of the Lord, to be present with us as we journey through life. It is a presence that often and repeatedly strikes us by the healing power of connection created simply by being fully there in the quiet understanding of another. In it, none of us are truly alone.
The power of presence is not a one-way street, not only something we give to others. It always changes us, and always for the better. Bapa Jun Mercado, OMI facebook.com/jun.mercado
MISA DE GALLO DECEMBER 20 – LUKAS 1:26-38. Unsa may gidala nga mensahe sa pagkahimugso sa batang Jesus? Sa ebanghelyo ni San Lukas, si Arkanghel Gabriel nag-ingon kang Maria: “Ayaw na kahadlok kay gikahimut-an ka sa Dios. Ug tan-awa, manamkon ka sa imong sabakan ug matawo kanimo ang anak nga lalaki ug panganlan mo siya og Jesus.” Ang ngalan nga Jesus nagagikan sa Griyegong “Iesous”, nga tugbang sa Aramaic nga ngalan “Yeshu’a”. Sa mga Judio, ang maong pangalan adunay kalambigitan sa buhat sa pagpangluwas. Sa ebanghelyo ni San Mateo (1:20), ang anghel nagpahibalo kang Jose pinaagi sa damgo nga ang iyang sinayoran nga si Maria manganak og usa ka batang lalaki nga pagatawgon og Jesus kay luwason niya ang katawhan sa ilang mga sala. Daygon ug pasalamatan nato ang Dios tungod sa Iyang paghatag kanato og Manluluwas diha kang Jesus. Posted by Abet Uy
(English) Luke 1: 26-38. What brought the message of the birth of the baby Jesus?In the Gospel of Luke, the Archangel Gabriel said to Mary: “Fear not, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you are to conceive in your womb and be born of thee a son, and you are to give him Jesus. “The name comes from the Greek” Iesous “, which corresponds to the Aramaic name” Yeshu’a “. The Jews, the name is linked to the work of salvation. In the Gospel of Matthew (1:20), the angel told Joseph in a dream that he is engaged to Mary give birth to a boy called Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. We praise and thank God because He gave us a Savior in Jesus
ANG BELEN SA PUSO MO: Reflection for 5th DAY OF CHRISTMAS NOVENA – SIMBANG GABI – Decenber 20, 2014 – YEAR OF THE POOR
Uso pa ba ngayon ang Belen? Upang matawag na Belen dapat ay naglalaman ito ng mga imahe nina Jesus, Maria at Jose. Dapat din ay naroroon ang mga imahe ng mga pastol, ng mga wise men, ng mga hayop. Kapag may kulang puwedeng sabihing hindi kumpleto ang Belen at dahil siyan WALANG BELEN! Ang Belen marahil ang isa sa pinakapopular na simbolo ng Pasko ngunit dati iyon! Maraming bansa ngayon ang wala ng Belen! Sa Amerika na namumuhay na sa sekularismo ay masasabing wala ng Belen sapagkat WALA NA SILANG WISE MEN! Sa Japan na napakaprogressibo ang teknolohiya at marangya ang pamumuhay wala ring Belen sapagkat WALA NG POOR shepherds, Sa Amsterdam na kung saan ay legal ang prostitusyon at pornograpiya ay wala ring Belen sapagkat WALA NG VIRGIN! Pero ibahain natin ang Pinas! Dito sa atin ay maraming Belen! Bakit? Sapagkat MARAMING HAYUP! Ayun naglipana sa Kongresso at Senado at nakapang amerikana pa na may kurbata! Marami rin tayong WISE MEN!Tulad nina TATA LINO! Marami ring POOR shepherds sapagkat nagkalat sa ating lansangan ang mga taong grasa! Marmi ring VIRGINS. Sa katunayan ay may softdrinks pa nga na ang pangalan ay VIRGIN! Pero higit sa lahat, tayo ay DAPAT MAY BELEN sapagkat tayo ay mga taong PIINAGHAHARIAN NG DIYOS! Marami pa rin sa atin ang kumikilala sa Diyos at may takot sa Kanya! Marami pa rin sa atn ang naniniwala na isinugo ng Diyos ang Kanyang bugtong na Anak upang tayo ay maligtas! Sa ating Ebanghelyo ngayon ay ikinuwento sa atin kung papaano ipinanganak ang Mesiyas ayon sa propesiya ng Lumang Tipan. “Maglilihi ang isang dalaga at manganganak ng lalaki na tatawaging Emmanuel na ang ibig sabihin ay “Ang Diyos ay sumasaatin!” At ito nga ay naisakatupara ng Dinalaw ng Anghel Gabriel ang isang dalaga sa Nazaret na ang pangalan ay Maria. “Matuwa ka! Ikaw ay kalugod-lugod sa Diyos! Sumasaiyo ang Panginoon!” wika ng Anghel Gabriel. At ipinahayag niya na siya ang magiging ina ng Tagapagligatas na papangalanan niyang Jesus! Ang sagot ni Maria ang nagsakatuparan ng plano ng Diyos: “Mangyari nawa as akin ayon sa wika mo!” Ang tapong ito ay nagpapakita at nagpapaalala sa atin ng KATAPATAN ng Diyos. Na sa kabila ng ating pagkasalawahan ay may Diyos na nakakaunawa sa atin. At hinihingi naman Niya sa atin ay katapatan din sa ating pagtugon. Nangangahulugan ito ng pagsasabuhay ng ating mga pangako sa binyag at pagpapahalaga sa ating pangalang KRISTIYANO. Sikapin nating maging tapat lagi kay Kristo at huwag ikahiya ang pangalang ito. Maging saksi tayo ng Kristo sa ating tahanan, lugar ng paggawa, paaralan at sa ating pakikitungo sa isa’t isa. Huwag natng dungisan ang pangalang Kristo na nakakabit sa ating pagkatao. Ang Belen ay hindi lamang dapat makikita sa labas ng bahay bilang palamuti o dekorasyon. Ang mensahe ng Belen na KATAPATAN ay dapat nakatangghal sa ating mga puso at ibinabahagi natin ito sa ating kapawa. Ang Belen ay dapat nasa PUSO MO!
Ipinaskil ni kalakbay ng kabataan
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