Is. 61:1-2,10-11; 1Thess 5:16-24; Jn 1:6-8,19-28
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
3rd Sunday of Advent- on the Gospel
Isaiah 61:1-2; 10-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
The Christ We Do Not Know
Advent is a time we prepare for the coming of the Lord: his coming to us sacramentally at Christmas, his coming to us individually at the end of our lives, and his coming to us collectively at the end of time. Now, suppose we are told that the Christ whom we are waiting for is already here in our midst as one of us, what difference would that make? Here is a story of the enormous difference that the awareness of the presence of Christ among us could make in our lives as individuals and as communities.
A certain monastery discovered that it was going through a crisis. Some of the monks left, no new candidates joined them, and people were no longer coming for prayer and consultation as they used to. The few monks that remained were becoming old and depressed and bitter in their relationship with one another. The abbot heard about a holy man, a hermit living alone in the woods and decided to consult him. He told the hermit how the monastery had dwindled and diminished and now looks like a skeleton of what it used to be. Only seven old monks remained. The hermit told the abbot that he has a secret for him. One of the monks now living in his monastery is actually the Messiah, but he is living in such a way that no one could recognize him.
With this revelation the abbot goes back to his monastery, summons a community meeting and recounts what the holy hermit told him. The aging monks look at each other in unbelief, trying to discern who among them could be the Christ. Could it be Brother Mark who prays all the time? But he has this holier-than-thou attitude toward others. Could it be Bother Joseph who is always ready to help? But he is always eating and drinking and cannot fast. The abbot reminded them that the Messiah has adopted some bad habits as a way of camouflaging his real identity. This only made them more confused and they could not make a headway figuring out who was the Christ among them. At the end of the meeting what each one of the monks knew for sure was that any of the monks, excepting himself, could be the Christ.
From that day, however, the monks began to treat one another with greater respect and humility, knowing that the person they are speaking to could be the very Christ. They began to show more love for one another, their common life became more brotherly and their common prayer more fervent. Slowly people began to take notice of the new spirit in the monastery and began coming back for retreats and spiritual direction. Word began to spread and, before you know it, candidates began to show up and the monastery began to grow again in number as the monks grew in zeal and holiness. All this because a man of God drew their attention to the truth that Christ was living in their midst as one of them.
In today’s gospel John the Baptist tries to announce the same powerful message to the Jews of his time who were anxiously waiting for the coming of the Messiah. John tells them: “Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal” (John 1:26-27).
The reason the Jews of Jesus’ time could not recognize him as the Messiah is that they had definite ideas on how the Messiah was going to come. The Messiah would suddenly descend from heaven in his divine power and majesty and establish his reign by destroying the enemies of Israel. No one would know where he came from, humanly speaking, because he came from God (John 7:27). So when finally Jesus came born of a woman like every other person, they could not recognize them. He was too ordinary, too unimpressive.
After 2000 years, are we now better able to recognize Christ in the persons of the ordinary men and women in our midst together with their unimpressive attitudes, habits and appearances?
3rd Sunday of Advent- on the Epistle
Isaiah 61:1-2; 10-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
The Christian Obligation to Rejoice
Among the most neglected of all our Christian obligations is the obligation to rejoice. Just as the word of God commands us to believe and to love, so does it command us to rejoice. On the third Sunday of Advent, the church reminds us of this often forgotten obligation.
The 3rd Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete is Latin for “rejoice.” It is a command taken directly from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, as in today’s second reading: “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). It is a positive command, one that we are supposed to keep at all times and in all circumstances. It is not a conditional command that we keep only when things are going well with us.
The command to rejoice, like every other command, is demanding. As we sing in the Lord of the Dance, “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back.” Author Leo Buscaglia tells a story about his mother which shows that it takes a lot of faith to rejoice. His father came back from work one day and announced that he had lost all his money because his business partner had duped him and ran away with their firm’s funds. That same evening, his mother went out, sold some of her expensive jewelry, and bought food for a sumptuous feast. People criticized her for reckless spending at a time when poverty was staring her in the face. But she told them that “the time for joy is now, when we need it most, not next week.” Her courageous act rallied the family and gave them the hope they needed to face the future with confidence and trust that God was in control.
Paul begins by telling us what we must do at all times. “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). At all times and in all circumstances we must rejoice, pray and give thanks. He adds that this command reflects the will of God for those who come to Him through Jesus Christ. As followers of Christ we know that life on earth is not always rosy, but life after death is bliss. Our hope is not in this life only. That is why we are able to rejoice in good times and in bad, as Jesus himself did.
Next, Paul tells us what we must never do, what we have to avoid at all costs. “Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22). We must not stifle the Spirit, despise the word of prophets or indulge in any form of evil. Paul is asking us to activate and nourish the spiritual part of our lives. As humans we have a material and a spiritual life. Some of us pay all attention to the material, neglecting the spiritual dimension. You can see it in the way we prepare for Christmas. We take more care to decorate our homes more than we do to clean up our souls. We are more concerned with the gifts we give to family and friends than we are with the gift of self we should make to God. Advent is a time to prepare not only materially but also spiritually for the coming of the Lord.
Finally, Paul tells us how to achieve the ideal life of God’s children to which he calls us. It is not something we achieve by dint of will power or human effort alone. It is something that God Himself accomplishes in us. “May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). The life of holiness to which Paul invites us this Advent is the life of God in us. It is God in us who makes it happen. Our part is mainly to say yes to God, to surrender totally to Him. It is hard for us to live a life of rejoicing always, but the One who calls us to this life is one who always gives us what He commands. He is faithful, and He will do it in our lives. So be it. Amen.
3rd Sunday Advent – Cycle B
Homily # 1
Among the many ways we might receive the word of God, we can hear and read it in the context of its presumed original setting. In today’s first reading, Isaiah’s beautiful prophecy of glad tidings to the poor, healing of the broken hearted and liberty to captives is the likely promise of restoration of homeland and freedom to an exiled and defeated ancient people, the Israelites, Isaiah is also speaking to us. .
We could also investigate the word from the point of view of the author and the author’s audience. This could be our focus, whether we investigate the historical situation of the Hebrew people and the actual time a prophecy was recorded or look into the matter of this prophecy’s presence in the gospel of Luke, when Jesus reveals his ministry in Nazareth’s synagogue. No matter what might have been on Jesus’ mind and lips, the use of Isaiah was certainly in the minds and hearts of the early Church’s articulation of its encounter with Christ.
A third level of our engagement, a third type of focus, is presented by the context of our own lives and times: how we receive and respond. In some ways, it is this focus which is so difficult to hold. For if we allow ourselves to stand unmasked and unguarded before the Word of God, we may be shaken and transformed. That may frighten us.
It might seem safer to read and hear the gospel as if it all applied to something that happened long ago. we are willing to stop at its historical meanings or its dogmatic implications. But that is not the full range of its voice. It is spoken to us here and now. That is why Jesus’ use of the Isaiah passage in the fourth chapter of Luke is particularly suggestive. After he gave the scroll back and all eyes were fixed on him, he said, “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen. It is fulfilled for us as we hear it, today, 2000 years after Jesus spoke.
This is why Jesus’ use of the Isaiah passage in the fourth chapter of Luke is particularly suggestive. After he gave the scroll back and all eyes were fixed on him, he said to the, and to us, “This text is being fulfilled today even as we all listen.”
It is fulfilled in our own hearing of it. Thus we are the Israelites receiving the promise that God will make “justice and praise spring up before all the nations.” We are the Thessalonians “waiting for the coming of the Word,” advised not to stifle the Spirit or despise prophesies. We must in some make John the Baptizer’s words our own.
It is easy to to objectify and externalize God’s voice in the world. The poor, the broken hearted, the blind, the captives were back then and out there. But Jesus insisted that Isaiah’s words were not for previous generations. They were for the present, they for our present with the conflict in Iraq, the riots in France and the killing of 1,400,000 unborn children here in the United States each year.
Even if we accept His words, however, for the present time, we still have a struggle to take them to heart. Perhaps we presume that the broken hearted of our world must be healed; perhaps we think we ought to work for an end to abortion, perhaps we imagine ourselves challenged to work for the poor. But this is not the deepest point of this revelation.
For the prophecy is fulfilled in my, our, very receiving of it addressed to us. It is you and I who are the poor. We are impoverished, not only in matters of our personal vulnerability but our inability to save and heal ourselves, our utter incapacity to manage our way through life and love. We need to allow Jesus to come into our hearts in 2005.
As we have heard the words of Jesus, today, let it first be fulfilled in our hearing of His word. Oh God, be with US, be our Emmanuel. Come to our poor inadequacy. Open our tired eyes. Free us — all of us. Unlock our hearts and minds.
If we do not encounter the Word of God on this most primary level, all the historical reflections or on the words of Christ will not move us. All the high speculative theologies in he world will not transform our hearts.
We must, in effect, take upon ourselves the attitude of the Baptizer.
Today, these words are FULFILLED IN MY HEARING THEM.
JESUS IS HERE.
Homily # 2
Our Christian religion has many examples of men and women giving their lives to the service of Jesus. The bonds between men like John the Baptist, the apostles and later, the Saints, are an example that the Christian religion is a happy religion. By happy I mean that we are confident in the teachings of Jesus and of his promise of eternal salvation. Compared to some other religions, ours is accommodating to both sexes and to all nationalities.
Yes, men and women have different roles in life but there is not the total dominance of the men as is found in some religions. That’s why I believe that today’s Gospel has such a encouraging message ….. the message of John the Baptist.
John seemed happy with his role in history. The Jews were confused. They sent priests and Levites to question John. They asked, “Who are you?” It was if they couldn’t figure out why the man could have such devotion to a cause they know nothing about. John simply told them, “I am not the Christ.”
They asked “Are you Elijah” and he answered, “I am not.”
“Are you the prophet”, they asked and John answered, “No”.
Finally those who came out were exasperated and asked, “Well,.
who are you, so that we can give some answer to those who have sent us?”
It would seem they were worried about not being able to tell their superiors anything about John other than he was a holy man and was baptizing people in the Jordan river.
John is a perfect example of what we all should be. He wasn’t concerned about the being a rich or powerful man. He didn’t give those who visited him some indications he was a very important man.
Why was he here ….”I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all like John the Baptist. He was very confident that he was on the right mission. He promised. “there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
As we might say, “John had it all together. He knew exactly why he was here ……. “TO MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE LORD.”
And isn’t that why each of us is here on this earth? But sometimes we lose sight of our real mission. However, during the season of Christmas we all can become more like John the Baptist. This is not a normal time of the year … this is a special time of the year. It’s special because it is the anniversary of the coming of our Savior. Are we conscious of the fact that this is a special time of the year? Are we preparing to give gifts to our loved ones? Are we preparing for His coming? Do we gather our family around us in a more meaningful way than at any other time of the year? Do holidays like the Fourth of July or Labor Day promote the family and the togetherness that happens at Christmas, and, yes, at Easter.”
Our whole country is preparing for the coming of the Baby Jesus. Yes, it’s a commercial preparation as the mechantst have their biggest income at this time. The whole world knows it’s Christmas time. They may not celebrate the 4th of July or Labor Day but everywhere, Christmas is special.
The whole theme is one of loving, sharing and giving. And that’s what happens when the world pauses to honor Jesus. Many do not believe in his majesty, many do not believe in his commandments but everybody pauses at this time of the year. And if we were to ask someone from another country who is visiting us, “Why are we celebrating?” and we said to them, “Do you know what day it is?” they would reply, “Of course, this is Christmas!!!
Maybe this shows A lack of brotherhood but I honestly couldn’t tell you about the holidays of China, Saudi Arabia or North Korea but everywhere people know about Christmas. They may not adore the child in the manger but they know this is a special time for all of us.
John the Baptist also knew it was a special time. He summed it all up when he said, “I baptize with water but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
And so, we should all rejoice at this time of the year. The business of the world stops to celebrate Christ’s birthday and we should be dedicated to “making straight the word of the Lord.”
Homily # 3
Rejoicing is the theme of the Christmas carols that we are hearing so much these days. “’Tis the season to be jolly. Fa la la …” goes one familiar Yuletide song. Many people are caught up in preparations for a joyful family Christmas gathering, getting Christmas trees, planning holiday meals and parties, and buying Christmas gifts. In today’s first reading Isaiah reminds us that the spirit of joy should find its source in God: “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul. In the second reading Paul tells us, “Rejoice always.”
Paul also reminds us of a second theme of the Advent and Christmas seasons, thanksgiving. In the United States our practice of beginning and ending this time with acts of thanksgiving is very appropriate to a Christian’s sense of what the yearly festival is all about. The official opening of the Christmas season in this country has traditionally been the national feast of Thanksgiving. After Christmas everyone has to write thank you notes. In the fall we give thanks for a good harvest just as our forebears in this land did. Gifts received during the holiday season call us to show thanks to those who have been generous to us. This pattern echoes what Paul says in todays second reading, “Rejoice always … and in all circumstances give thanks.” So too, celebrating the birth of Jesus is an incentive to give thanks to God for the greatest gift of all, the gift of His Son. Paul continues that giving thanks “is the will of God for us in all circumstances.” Times might be good, or they might be bad, but God’s gift of Jesus is always with us in the church through the words of Scripture and the celebration of the sacraments.
You may have noticed that I left out something in quoting St. Paul’s letter. The complete first paragraph of the reading is, “ Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” He tells the Thessalonians, and he tells us to never stop praying. The reason is that without prayer rejoicing can become empty. Many complain that this is what is happening to Christmas. For some the season has become a time for spending and partying with no thought for what underlies the feast. Such forgetfulness is not something new. In the early days of this country the Puritans abolished the public celebration of Christmas because they thought it had become an occasion for behavior that at best had little to do with rejoicing at the coming of Christ. At its worst the days around Christmas became a pretense for drunkenness and revelry that rejected what Christ had taught us about living for God’s Kingdom. Prayer reminds us that joy is not a sentiment to be experienced for the moment. Joy has a cause, the recognition of the presence of something good in our lives. The reason we Christians are joyful at this time we remember that in the birth of Jesus we have proof of God’s love for us, a love still present to us in Scripture and in the life of the Church. Joining in the Church’s prayer helps to remind us of this, our greatest reason for joy.
Prayer during Advent also helps to make us aware that our celebrations at the present time are really only a prelude to and a promise of a much greater celebration still to come. Our present festivity is like John the Baptist pointing to what still lies ahead. It’s important for us to remember that greater joy lies in the future because not everyone feels happy at Christmas time. Some are remembering that this is their first Christmas without the presence of someone dearly loved who died this past year. Others are struggling to care for a seriously afflicted family member. Others are sick themselves with cancer or some other life threatening or disabling disease. For others depression only grows worse as they feel different from others who seem to be having such a good time. Many are worried about the economic and military situation in the world today.
Christmas is not a time to force yourself to be happy. It is a time to remember that God is with us in the bad times as well as in the good. After all, He was with Joseph and Mary when they could find no place but an animal shelter as their very special child’s first home. It is a time to recall that the best Christmas is yet to come, when God will welcome us into His own home blazing with light and good cheer. It is a time to pray that God will make know to us His loving presence whether we are glad or sad. We can pray confidently because we believe with Paul that, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.”
Joy, prayer, and thanksgiving – these are important elements of Christian living that Paul wanted his converts in Thessalonica to remember. They are also a solid basis for a truly Christian celebration at this time of year.
Homily # 4
The third Sunday of Advent is often called “Gaudate” which means, “rejoice”. We count it as the mid-point of this season of anticipation. You noticed that the candle we light today is pink not purple and Father’s vestments are rose suggesting a more rejoicing attitude. At this midpoint we relax our sense of wanting, to see that the long awaited one is almost with us. That longing for the fulfillment of a promise. That special time of preparation and waiting is almost over.
How have we been doing in our preparation? Have we been reading our Advent meditations every day? Did we make it to the Advent penitence service last week? Have we minimized our pre-holiday celebrations? Or, are we just too busy being caught up in a shopping frenzy and partying to have paid much attention to Advent? Well, although we are over half way through, we still have time to make ourselves ready for the great saving Solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord, Christmas. But time is running out.
John the Baptist was doing everything he could to help make the people of his time ready to accept Jesus. This was his calling, his reason for being and he was not going to go about it timidly. In fact many saw him as a “wild” man, a description many of us here would not disagree with, with his camel hair and disgusting diet. But it was his message that caught the attention of those in the area around Bethany and the Jordan.
There is a commercial for a car manufacture were a little boy is standing at the side of the road and as the car races by and he says “Something up”. The same thing John was saying … Something up … Something has happen and you don’t know anything about it and I’m trying to tell you!
So, we should not be overly surprised when the priests and Levites quiz John to try and find out just who he was and what he was really up to.
First, because they were expecting the Messiah, they ask him if he was he. If he were … that would be big news … because most of them were looking for a “blood and thunder” Messiah who would overthrow the Romans, but John said NO.
Then they ask if he’s Elijah. Elijah did some pretty fancy things himself; or rather Yahweh did, in answer to Elijah’s appeal. Remember Elijah among other things was carried to heaven in a chariot of fire. Maybe John’s inquirers are hoping to see some real-life special effects, but John said NO.
Then comes the big question … if you’re not one of these … what are you doing here and why. I’m preparing the way said John, “For there is one among you whom you do not recognize, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
Jesus was there but was not recognized because he was not what they were looking for nor had his time come. Almost 2000 years later, there is still one among us whom we often do not recognize. We sometimes don’t see him in the hungry and thirsty; in the naked and homeless; in the sick and in the prisons because we are not looking for him there. Yet, he is there.
In this season of Advent we prepare for the coming of the Christ child, the Savior of the World, but are we prepared to see him, today, in others and perhaps even in ourselves?
Homily # 5
Today we’re told to rejoice always. But why? Do we rejoice that our Christmas shopping is done? Do we rejoice over things we have? Or maybe we’re rejoicing because we are close to the birthday of our savior.
Did you know that the suicide rate is highest during the Christmas season? We put so much stress on ourselves getting the right gifts, sending out cards and attending parties that we lose sight of what we’re celebrating. What about our elderly, do we visit them and spread a little joy in their lives, or are we to busy trying to be happy. Is this truly rejoicing?
And what about misfortunes in our life. Can we rejoice in them? We should be able to if we look at them in the right light. For example;
A man worked as a carpenter. On this particular day, he was building some crates for the clothes his church was sending to orphanages in china.
On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses, but they were gone.
When he mentally replayed his earlier actions, he realized what had happened; the glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen into one of the crates, which he had nailed shut. His brand new glasses were heading for China
The great depression was at its height and he had six children. He had spent $20 for those glasses that very morning. He was upset by the thought of having to buy another pair. “It’s not fair,” he told God as he drove home in frustration. “I’ve been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and now this.”
Months later, the director of the orphanage was on furlough in the United States . He wanted to visit all the churches that supported him in China , so he came to speak one Sunday at the man’s small church in Chicago .
The missionary began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage.
“But most of all,” he said, “I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year. You see, the communists had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses. I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was simply no way of replacing those glasses. Along with not being able to see well, I experienced headaches every day, so my coworkers and I were very much in prayer about this.
Then your crates arrived. When my staff removed the covers, they found a pair of glasses lying on top. The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued: “Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as though they had been custom made just for me! I want to thank you for being a part of that.”
The people listened, happy for the miraculous glasses. But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought. There were no glasses on their list of items to be sent overseas.
But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an ordinary carpenter realized the master carpenter had used him in an extraordinary way.
There are times we want to blame God instead of thanking Him. Perhaps thanking Him is something we ought to try more often. Remember this in times of trial. Look for the perfect mistakes.
We often fit in God’s plan, but sometimes we aren’t open to his will. The noise and hassle of our lives, especially at this time of year, won’t let us hear God speak to us. Try some quiet time, turn off the radio and the TV and enjoy some quality time with Him.
So the next time you have a problem rejoice, and ask yourself, how is God using me, an ordinary person, today in his miraculous plan.
By Fr. Jerry Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:06:00 12/14/2008
TODAY is “Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday,” so let’s begin with a happy song: “For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow … deny, deny, deny!”
* * *
In today’s Gospel (Jn. 1, 6-8, 19-28) we hear about John the Baptist. We don’t know if he was a jolly fellow, but we know he was a good fellow because he did not deny who he was (“I am not the Messiah”), and was clear on what his role was (“a voice that cries in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord”). What we need in the world, particularly in our country today, are people who have a clear sense of their identity and purpose. Not only jolly fellows, but good, honest, dedicated fellows.
* * *
Someone once said that worse than having no sight is having no vision, or losing one’s vision. And so it is that a lot of good and promising young people start out with so much enthusiasm and idealism, and soon become blinded by the very things they are fighting. This does not happen overnight. It starts with little lies and compromises, until lying and untruthfulness become a part of their system, and before they know it, they have become a part of the system. John the Baptist’s challenge is clear: clarity of purpose and honesty in all things, at all times.
* * *
Perhaps our leaders can learn a lesson or two from our boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. One, Manny works hard to earn his money. He gets beaten black and blue in the process of acquiring his wealth. In contrast, we have government leaders and officials who acquire their wealth by beating our people black and blue. Two, Manny, with all his fame and money, is aware of God’s nearness, and prays: “Lord, it is you, not I!” In contrast, we have government leaders and officials who, so filled with ambition, greed and pride, think of themselves as lords and lord it over others.
* * *
By word, and by deed, are you a voice speaking on God’s behalf? In other words, what are you broadcasting to the world? What message are you bringing across? The time will come when we will be silent and will speak no more. Will we have regrets then that all we broadcast was ourselves, and all the truth we proclaimed were convenient truths and half-lies?
* * *
The Philippine Association of X-seminarians (PAX), in particular the XVDs (ex-SVDs) fully support the crusade of Architect Jun Palafox, who has come out with an inconvenient truth about a Korean project in the Subic Bay area. Now, he is being harassed and intimidated for exposing the environmental abuses brought about by the project. We are asking our people not only to be prayerful but also to be vigilant, to side with the truth and the light, and to work for the truth and the light, so that “the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the Spirit of grace, and that the heart of Jesus may live in the hearts of all. Jun’s SVD formators can rest assured that the seeds of Christian values they have planted in him when he was at Christ the King Seminary have not been planted in vain.
* * *
I would like to correct some errors in my previous columns: the calorie content of bagoong is 78, not 7.8 (Nov. 30, 2008); Mayor Rosauro Buenafe is the mayor of the Municipality of President Roxas, not Roxas City (Dec. 7, 2008). Well, there are honest mistakes and all sorts of mistakes. Whatever. If it is a mistake, then it has to be corrected. Isn’t that what Advent season is all about?
* * *
As we come closer to Christmas with the hard times we are experiencing now, let us remember that the first Christmas was poor and simple. If the “trimmings of Christmas” are not there, let us remember that the first Christmas was wanting and bare. Stay focused on the “Christ” of Christmas.
* * *
There are three levels of Christmas: The commercial level, the survival level, and the spiritual level. May we all be fulfilled on these three! However, let us prioritize. Let us start with the spiritual level, and work our way up. Which level are you in? At any level, may you find the peace and meaning you are looking for.
* * *
Bill Gates was supposed to have said once: “I think everybody should get rich and be famous and do everything he ever dreamed of so he can see that it’s not the answer to happiness.”
* * *
We need more John the Baptists in our country, a few good men and women who will stand up for the truth and serve our people well. We need people who have a sense of mission and sacrifice, people who have survived the system, and thus can change the system. Let us not give up hope. Someday, soon, we hope to see more exciting and more inspiring people leading us, and less disgusting leaders fooling us. Advent is the time for hope, so let’s keep hoping!
* * *
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, remind me that without poverty, there can be no real healing and moving on. Amen.
Joyful in hope despite problems
By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD
December 9, 2011, 10:26pm
MANILA, Philippines — In a class on homiletics, the professor emphasized the importance of making the facial expression harmonize with the homily. “When you speak of Heaven,” he said, “let your face light up with a heavenly gleam; let your eyes shine with glory. But when you speak of Hell — your ordinary face will do.”
* * *
Gaudete, which means “rejoice,” “be joyful,” is the message of this 3rd Sunday of Advent. That’s why the liturgical color is pink.
With the birth of Christ the Messiah, the Sunday tells us to be “joyful in hope” because the Messiah has already redeemed us and now we should do our part in saving ourselves.
* * *
During the time of John the Baptist, people did not know Who or where the Messiah was. People kept looking for Him to come in the guise of some kind of Elijah or their imagining.
The people asked John: “Are you the Messiah?” “No, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight His path” (John 1:23).
* * *
The people then kept missing who the Messiah was when in fact He was right in their midst, prompting the Baptist to exclaim, “There is one among you whom you do not know” (Jn 1:26).
In one of my pilgrimages to the Holy Land, our group visited the tomb of King David highly revered by the Jews. In the course of the tour, I asked the lady tour guide, “What about Jesus Christ? How do you regard Him?” The lady looked sharply at me, her face stiffening, and blurted, “Jesus Christ was an impostor, an ordinary person; he doesn’t mean anything to us.” I was taken aback and much embarrassed before the group. I hurriedly left the shrine — afraid another one would be buried in the tomb!
* * *
How about our modern times? Would we miss the Lord and, worse, reject Him like His countrymen did?
Some say, “If we lived in Christ’s time, we would have loved and followed Him.” Is that really true?
Then why is it in our celebration of Christmas, for instance, we are so much engrossed with Christmas shopping, gift-giving, eating, and drinking that we forget the reason why we’re doing all this?
* * *
There is a story about an elderly lady passing in front of a big mall. Seeing the beautiful “belen” (crib) amidst the lights and Christmas trees outside, she said: “Good Lord, they are putting back Christ to Christmas!”
Or, why don’t we recognize Him in our fellowmen especially among the poor, for whom Jesus said: “Whatever you did to the least of My brethren, you did to Me”? If we are keenly aware of God’s presence in them, would we abuse, torture, or murder them?
* * *
Advent and Christmas are opportunities for us to renew our faith in Jesus. Despite our problems and seemingly hopeless condition, Jesus is our hope and our joy. Don’t take your problems TOO seriously. Jesus came to save us.
Toward the light
By: Fr. Jerry M. Orbos SVD
10:04 pm | Saturday, December 10th, 2011
The story is told about a judge who asked a defendant: “Where will you go if you tell a lie?” The defendant said: “To hell, your Honor.” Then the judge asked: “And where will you go if you tell the truth?” To which the defendant replied: “To jail, your Honor.”
* * *
In today’s Gospel (Jn. 1, 6-8, 19-28), we hear of John the Baptist who told the truth and testified to the Light. He did not pretend to be somebody else: “I am not the Messiah.” He was honest about who he was, and he was clear about his role and mission in life.
* * *
Problems arise when a person becomes dishonest about himself/herself, and when he/she does not become true to his/her calling. Look at history, and see how many dishonest people have hurt so many and caused so much havoc in people’s lives because of their dishonesty, unfaithfulness and deceit. We don’t need to look far. We only need to look at current events and people around us. In fact, we need only to look at ourselves.
* * *
In baptism, the parents and godparents are given the lighted candles to remind them of their duty to pass on the light of faith to the children. The lighted candles are also a reminder for them to become shining examples to the children. With Christmas coming and with our traditional gift-giving to the children, let us also reflect on our light-giving mission unto them.
* * *
If you want to know what it means to testify to the Light, go back and remember the usher/usherette who meets you in a dark movie house and with his/her flashlight, leads you the way, and points you to your seat, so that you can watch and enjoy the movie. Take note: the usher/usherette does not point the flashlight to himself/herself.
* * *
Nobody stays in the limelight forever. the sooner we learn this lesson in life, the better. The other lesson we need to learn is our willingness to just fade away. People who learn these lessons will not need to be dragged away, or to be forced to exit in a shameful way.
* * *
The Blessed Mother was one who never grabbed the limelight from her Son. She always pointed to Him and not to herself. In our present world where there is so much passion for popularity and power, may she be a reminder to us that humility and gentleness of heart are virtues that are necessary, important and relevant.
* * *
Papa used to kid Mama about her smiles being “as rare as December showers.” Well, the climate has really changed, and we have been having not only showers but rain this December. However, last December 7, there was no rain as we celebrated our rosary and Mass vigil at the grotto in Christ the King Seminary, Quezon City. Days before that and after that, we had rain, but on that vigil night for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we had a cool, moonlit December evening. When asked if there was a Plan B in case it rained, Dante Magdangal, an ex-SVD seminarian (XVD) and a member of the Perpetual Rosary Movement, said: “There is no Plan B. We just pray to Mama Mary.” Indeed the Blessed Mother is present and active in these our days! Thank you, Mama Mary!
* * *
Speaking of Mama, we had a beautiful and meaningful 90th birthday celebration for her last Dec. 8. It was attended by relatives and friends through the years. Her nephews and nieces Rolly and Connie Galicia, Ed and Evelyn Galicia, Jun Lopez and their children came all the way from the United States and Canada for the occasion. Her classmates from the Philippine Normal School, Honorata Moreno and Consuelo Dancel, brought the house down with their stories down memory lane. It was a fitting tribute to Mama, a humble, prayerful woman whose only passion and mission in life is to obey God’s will. Thank you, Lord, for Mama, a humble daughter of our Blessed Mother.
* * *
There is so much I want to share about our Mama, but enough to say that her faith is something that amazes and humbles me up to now. The Lord indeed raises the humble and the lowly. Mama is one who says little, but who loves much. Let us thank God for people like Mama who show us the light, and who point toward the light by their very lives!
* * *
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, help me to live in your light, and point always toward you, the Light of my life! Amen.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Advent is a time in which we prepare for the coming of the Lord:
- His coming to us Sacramentally at Christmas,
* His coming to us individually at the end of our lives,
- and His coming to us collectively at the end of time.
And today, within the season of Advent, it is the 3rd Sunday of Advent known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice”. It is a reminder that as Christians, we are to be joyful people.
The joyfulness seen in Catholics, and in their relationships with others should be a witness to the world of the Love of God and the transforming power of His grace to those who embrace Him. This radiating Joy should inspire others to seek the source of such peace. Yet, in our current culture, for many, this joy seems to be lost.
I think for many, it is due to the lack of establishing and maintaining a close relationship with Christ. And also, for some, it is due to their inability to see Christ in those around them.
What if we were told that the Christ whom we have heard so much about, and whom we are waiting for, is already here in our midst as one of us? What possible difference would that make?
I recall a story that can help us understand this question a little better. A certain monastery discoverered that it was going through a crisis. Some of the monks had left, there were no new candidates joining, and people were no longer coming for prayer and spiritual direction as they used to. The few monks that remained were becoming old, bitter, and depressed. Even the relationships between the monks were becoming stressed and unkind. The Abbot had heard about a holy man, a hermit, living alone in the woods and decided to consult with him regarding their problem. The Abbot told the hermit how the monastery had dwindled and diminished and now looked like a skeleton of what it used to be. Only seven old monks remained. The hermit told the Abbott that he had a secret for him. He informed the Abbott that one of the monks now living in his monastery was actually the messiah, but he was living in such a way that no one could recognize him. With this revelation, the Abbott went back to his monastery, summand a community meeting and recounted what the holy hermit had told him. The aging monks looked at each other in unbelief, trying to discern who among them could be the Christ.
- Could it be Brother Mark who prays all the time! But has a “Holier-than-thou” attitude?
- Could it be Brother Joseph who is always willing to help? But who is always eating and drinking and can’t fast.
The Abbott reminded them that the messiah had adopted some bad habits as a way of camouflaging his real identity. This only made them more confused and they could not make any headway figuring out who was the Christ amongst them. At the end of the meeting what each of the monks knew for sure was that any of the monks, excluding himself, could be the Christ. From that day, the monks began to treat one another with greater respect and humility, knowing that the person they were speaking to could be the very Christ. They began to show more love for one another, their community life became more brotherly, and their prayers more fervent. Slowly people began to take notice of the new spirit in the monastery and began coming back for retreats and spiritual direction. Word began to spread and before long candidates began to show up and the monastery began to grow again in numbers as the monks grew in zeal and holiness. All this because a man of God drew their attention to the truth that Christ was living in their midst as one of them, actually, that Christ was present in all of them.
As Catholics, baptized and confirmed, we have the spirit of Christ within us. And through the Holy Eucharist, we have the true body and blood of Christ physically united with our bodies. The source of all Love and Joy resides within each and every one of us.
How can we Not be joyful knowing this! (Pause)
But to rejoice, it also takes Faith.
Many of us are experiencing tough times, have lost jobs, are enduring hardships, personal losses, and what appears as insurmountable obstacles. We are even feeling the pain associated with the separation from our Priest, Father Uriel, and all the emotions surrounding the recent occurrence. And yet we are to shine as Joyful witnesses.
Almost seems impossible doesn’t it?
Yet, this is where Faith comes into play. Haven’t we all heard the scripture that “God will not give us more than we can handle.” And that He will give us all that we really need to life. So hearing this…just how do we approach life when so much around us seems troubled?
We are to have faith!
Faith that everything in life, good and bad, has a purpose, and that purpose will be used to help us grow in virtue and holiness. Faith also directs our attitudes.
I can recall from years ago, the power that a mother had on her family at a time of trial and when all seemed lost. One day the father of the family came home from work and announced that he lost all his money because his business partner tricked him and ran away with the companies funds. The likelihood of poverty seemed eminent and despair just around the corner. Yet, that same evening, the mother of the family went out, sold some of her expensive jewelry, and bought food for a family feast. People criticized her for recklessly spending at a time when poverty was staring the family right in their face.
But she told them “the time for joy was now, when we needed it the most, not next week. And that God would provide.” Her courageous act, and deep faith, rallied the family and gave them the hope they needed to face the future with confidence and to trust that God was still in control.
- Do you believe that God is in control of your life?
If so, what do we really have to fear?
Even the severe hardships and trials have a purpose and are used by God for what really is important in life…. Our preparation for eternal life in heaven.
We really do have much to be joyful about! As Catholics, we have gained access into a holy family and a relationship with God. We have been given this family here at Church and in our community. We have been given the opportunity for everlasting life and the assurance that we are loved and will be eternally cared for. Let us look for and see the holiness in each other. Let us honor and respect each other knowing that Christ lives within all of us. Through our example, let us be that voice crying out in the desert and show the world the Joy that radiates through us. Let our faith radiate the truth, that no matter what trial, obstacle, or discomfort comes upon us, we deeply know that Christ is present, and that he will come again offering an eternal life of joy, love, and peace for those who truly embrace him. This is the source of our Joy and our focus here today, on Gaudete Sunday!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Guadete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) …..REJOICE……
Homily – 3rd Sunday of Advent
Rejoice in the Lord Always! Today is the 3rd Sunday in Advent, traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday, Gaudete is Latin for Rejoice.
There is a theme that runs through each of today’s readings and the Gospel. This theme directs us to be joyful, confident, to be free of anxiety and to be satisfied. The first reading from Zephaniah asks us to sing joyfully since the Lord has removed the judgment against us, he has turned away our enemies. He tells us to “Fear Not,” and to Not be discouraged!
So who is this enemy that Zephaniah speaks of?
The enemy is Sin. Through the redemptive plan of our Lord Jesus, sin has been conquered. St. Paul writes in today’s second reading, “Rejoice in the Lord always, I shall say it again: Rejoice!”
Or, as another translation has it, “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord: I repeat, what I want is your happiness” (Phil 4:4). Notice where he says we will find our happiness, “In the Lord.” We will only find true happiness by living the Christian Life. So, to become even happier, what do we do?
We give up sin. We turn our backs on sin. In our Gospel today, 3 times people asked John the Baptist, “what should we do?” Each time he told them to give up something or not to be greedy.
Our journey of conversion is a journey from Wanting and being Greedy and Possessive, to becoming unselfish. That was the journey John the Baptist asked his listeners to make, and the journey we are challenged to make this advent as well. By doing so we will have true joy and happiness to celebrate “Christmas” rather than just “Santa Claus coming to town.” When we turn our backs to sin and follow the Lord it doesn’t mean that we will never again have trouble. Of course we will. We will have troubles and problems as long as we live. But we can still find our happiness in the Lord.
In the season of Advent there is a sense of anticipation and hope that is focused on the coming birth of the Christ. Today’s readings reflect that the activity of waiting in hope for God to act, by sending us a messiah, a savior, involves two aspects – an passive aspect and a more active one.
If closeness to God is our priority, we learn how to be “detached from things” so that they don’t upset us as deeply as they otherwise might, we learn patience and what we might call the “art of waiting.” And so even when the surface activities and events of our lives are turbulent, as they very often are, beneath the turbulence there is a peace that arises out of that attitude of patience and waiting.
It is something we should consciously ask God for: The quality of calm and interior strength, a sense of contact with Him, carrying us along, especially during periods of upheaval or tribulation. But then there is also a more active aspect of waiting in hope for God to make his presence known, and that is the aspect of actively doing something to prepare ourselves for God’s arrival.
The prophets called this active preparation “Repentance,” and that is what both Zephaniah in the first reading, and John the Baptist in the Gospel passage are encouraging their listeners to do – to repent, to change their way of living, as a means of preparing themselves for the arrival of God.
Like all the prophets, Zephaniah reminds the Chosen people of their responsibilities under their special covenant with God and calls them back to a more faithful following of God. “Turn away from your sins and turn back to God” is almost a one-line summary of the preaching of all the prophets, because “repent” means “To turn around.” So, how do I apply this message to my life?
How do you apply this message to your life? What is John the Baptist telling us, today?
Ask yourself this question, “Do I need to make any changes in my life in response to the Gospel, the Good News? You might say, “I obey the commandments and I listen to the teachings of the church.” But our own goodness is more than a matter of following the rules – it is matter of being open to God’s will, and living accordingly. The teachings of John the Baptist are applicable to all of us. Whatever our role in life is, whatever our job is, Whatever business we conduct, we need to do it faithfully, ethically, and responsibly. We should not be looking for loopholes, for excuses, or for ways to get more that we are due.
If we are to live our lives in accordance with our professed beliefs, we must allow our eyes, and our hearts to notice those opportunities, large or small, to put our faith into action. The word “exhortations” toward the end of today’s Gospel can also be translated “Encouragements.”
John encourages his followers to go beyond the law, to be even better people than the minimum required. When we begin to understand the life Jesus came to give us, we also begin to see why the Gospel is good news, even if it means changing our lives. We then will desire to live a good life out of love for God, rather than just to avoid punishment.
Our good works should be a reflection of God’s presence in our lives and in the world. This can be demonstrated in our families, in our relationships with friends, neighbors, and co-workers: and in our interactions with others that we may encounter. Our efforts to built a better world, a better community, a better parish, a better family, and a better self, are all preparations for the coming of Christ.
So let us Rejoice, and let the goodness in our hearts, and of our actions, be the good news to all those who need to hear and feel it.
The Lord has removed the Judgmental against us. Let us be joyful ! Let us be confident ! Let us be free of anxiety ! Let us be satisfied in our lives !
Rejoice! Because we are Christians
Rejoice! Because we know Christ and He is truly near!
Why be joyful despite problems
by Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD
December 12, 2014
In a class on preaching, the professor emphasized the importance of making the facial expression harmonize with the homily. “When you speak of Heaven,” he said, “let your face light up with a heavenly gleam; let your eyes shine with glory. But when you speak of Hell—your ordinary face will do.”
* * *
Gaudete, which means “rejoice,” “be joyful,” is the message of this 3rd Sunday of Advent. That’s why the liturgical color is pink.
With the birth of Christ the Messiah, the Sunday gospel tells us to be “joyful in hope” because the Messiah has redeemed us.
* * *
UNKNOWN MESSIAH. During the time of John the Baptist, people did not know Who or where the Messiah was. People kept looking for Him to come in the guise of some kind of Elijah or their imagining.
The people asked John: “Are you the Messiah?” “No, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight his path” (John 1, 23).
* * *
The people then kept missing who the Messiah was when in fact he was right in their midst, prompting the Baptist to exclaim, “There is one among you whom you do not know” (Jn 1,26).
In one of my pilgrimages to the Holy Land, I remember how our group visited the tomb of King David. In the course of the tour, I asked the lady guide, “What about Jesus Christ? How do you regard Him?”
* * *
The lady looked sharply at me, her face stiffening and blurted, “Jesus Christ was an ordinary person; he doesn’t mean anything to us.” I was taken aback and very much embarrassed because I was scolded like a child in front of the group. I hurriedly left the shrine—for fear that another one (me) would be buried in the tomb!
* * *
How about our modern times? Would we miss the Lord and worse, reject him like His countrymen did?
Some say, “If we lived in Christ’s time, we would have loved and followed Him.” Is that really true?
Then why is it in our celebration of Christmas, we are so much engrossed with Christmas shopping, endless parties, and feasting that we forget the reason we’re doing all this?
* * *
There is a story about an elderly lady passing in front of a big mall. Seeing the beautiful “belen” (crib) amidst the lights and Christmas trees outside, she said: “Good Lord, they are putting back Christ in Christmas!”
Or, why don’t we recognize him in our fellowmen, especially among the poor, for whom Jesus said: “Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did for Me”? If we are keenly aware of God’s presence in them, would we abuse, treat them unjustly, or even murder them?
* * *
Advent and Christmas are opportunities for us to renew our faith in Jesus. Despite our problems and seemingly hopeless condition, Jesus is our hope and our joy. So, don’t take your problems TOO seriously. JESUS SAVED US. But remember: let’s do our share, too. God helps those who help themselves ourselves.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B,
Back to: Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)