2Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Rom 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
4th Sunday of Advent- on the Gospel
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16
Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
Mothers of Christ
Some nursery school kids were preparing a Christmas play. Little Cynthia did not like the part she was assigned to play. She wanted to change parts with her friend Monica. When the teacher asked her why, she answered, “Because it is easier to be an angel than to be the mother of Christ.” The little girl is certainly right. To be the mother of Christ is no light matter. Yet difficult as it sounds, that is exactly what we are all called to be. In fact, we could say that even though Jesus was born in Bethlehem, his real desire is to be born in the hearts of believers, to be re-produced by believers.
Mother of Christ is a title we usually reserve for Mary. But Mary is mother of Christ in two senses. She is mother of Christ in the physical sense that she carried Jesus in her womb and gave birth to him. This is an unrepeatable event and an honour that no other human being could share with her. But she is also mother of Christ in a spiritual sense. In a spiritual sense the role of being mother of Christ is available to all Christians. We all, men, women and children, can and should become mothers of Christ. The idea of Christians called to be mothers of Christ is very common among Christian mystics. The Dominican priest mystic, Meister Eckhart, said that God made the human soul for her to bear the divine Son, and that when this birth happens it gives God greater pleasure than the creation of heaven and earth.
What is this spiritual motherhood of Christ and how does it happen? For the answer we need to go right back to Jesus himself.
While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50)
This shows that (a) Jesus expects his followers to be not only his brothers and sisters but his mothers as well, and (b) the way to be the mother of Jesus is by doing the will of God. Spiritual motherhood of Christ is attained by saying yes to God, even when God appears to demand from us what is humanly impossible, like asking Mary to be a virgin mother. To become mothers of Christ we need to make the prayer of Mary our own: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
This prayer of Mary has been know as the world’s greatest prayer. It is the prayer that brought God down from heaven to dwell in the soul and body of a lowly young woman. It is the prayer that brought about the greatest event in human history, God becoming human in Jesus. It is a prayer that changed forever the course of human history some 2000 years ago. This prayer is so very different from what has been called the world’s most common prayer, the prayer in which we try to get God to do our will. The world’s most common prayer says, “My will be done,” whereas the world greatest prayer says, “Thy will be done.”
Yes, little Cynthia was right. It is not easy to be the mother of Christ. But in today’s gospel Mary shows us how. It is in hearing God’s word and saying yes to God even when God’s will seems to go against all our plans and hopes for the future. As Christmas draws near, Mary reminds us that the best Christmas, in fact the only true Christmas, is that Christ be born not in the little town of Bethlehem but in the inner sanctuary of our hearts.
4th Sunday Advent – Cycle B
Homily # 1
So, how’s your Advent going? Hopefully, most of your Christmas shopping is done and you can relax and reflect a little on where you are in life. Perhaps, we should, not only look back on our lives, but also look ahead toward where we are going. Our Blessed Mother was able to look forward when she said “yes” to God in today’s gospel.
The question I’ve got for all of us today is this, “Have we chosen the “right” God? Our Blessed Mother certainly did. Let’s see if we can focus in on what I mean.
The point is this. Everybody has faith in something or somebody. Mary had faith that the angel Gabriel wasn’t some figment of her imagination or that God wasn’t playing some kind of practical joke on her.
And, in what or whom do we place our faith? When we were younger, perhaps some of us placed our faith in our good looks or our luck or our money. We made decisions based on what (or whom) we believed in. Some of our choices were good and some, as we look back on them, were just plain wrong. Maybe we betrayed someone who trusted us and now, when we look back, we deeply regret it and would take it back in a second, if we only could. Maybe we chose to have sex with our boyfriend or girlfriend to keep him/her from leaving but they did anyway.
When we were young, we just knew that everything in life was going to be great. We were going to meet the boy or girl of our dreams, fall in love, get married and live happily ever after. We’d have a great job and make lots of money. We and our loved ones would never make bad choices or get sick or die.
Then reality came along. The song by Billy Joel called “Piano Man” pretty well sums up this reality. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s about people who come into a bar where Billy Joel worked in his early days as a piano player. One verse sadly describes a man who comes up to Billy Joel and says, “Son, can you play me a melody? I’m not really sure how it goes. But, it’s sad and sweet and it sounded complete when I wore a younger man’s clothes”.
I picture this man to be about 50ish whose life hasn’t turned out like he wanted, like he had hoped, like he had dreamed. He comes into the bar to take the edge off of his loneliness and his lost dreams. You see, when he looks at himself in the mirror every morning, it reminds him that he’s not the man he used to be, the man he should have been, the man his parents prayed he would become.
So, when he hears the piano man, these old hidden memories and hopes come back. We know what he’s trying to say, don’t we? At one time—at a younger time—he knew his dreams and hopes would turn out better than they have. But, one day, those hopes and dreams faded away, maybe because of the choices he made or the choices that were thrust upon him by other people or by just pure bad luck.
Remember, as I mentioned earlier, everybody has faith. Everybody believes in something. As the years go by, what we believe in begins to shape us and change us into what we are today. Maybe we’re happy and at peace with the way things turned out. Maybe we’re not.
Regardless, Advent and Christmas have the power to bring us back home—not to our street address, but home in the sense of who we are called to be—a home that asks us whether or not we have chosen the right God. This season doesn’t ask only, “What have I become” or “Why I am this way”. This season tells us and shows us that there is a God who is so madly in love with us that He couldn’t stand being far away from us—a God who isn’t just God Almighty but a God of true love also—a God who became one of us to show us the way to His heart and to an inner peace while we still walk the earth.
Jesus asks us, “Have you found someone to share your heart with? Are you at peace with yourself and the people around you? Do you know that I love you with a love that you can’t even begin to imagine on this earth”?
For myself, I love this time of the year. I love seeing families come home. I love seeing the kids back from college. I love listening to your stories. Most of all, I love the God who has given me everything good—my wife and family, my profession and the ability to be here with you as your deacon. My blessings are too numerous to count.
If you don’t feel that you have many blessings at this time of the year, remember that, if we are able to trust that God is really there and that He truly loves us—that this isn’t some practical joke or a figment of our imagination, God will help us change. He will help us see our blessings which are all around us.
We, like our Blessed Mother, can say “yes” to God. If you only will, I guarantee it that you’ll never ever be the same again. Do it! Say yes to God with a true heart. Mary did it and it changed the world. Can you?
Homily # 2
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16 (11B)
Romans 16: 25-27
If you have children between the ages of four and ten years of age, or have had children who are now much older, you know by the look in their eyes that something special is to happen very, very soon…their eyes sparkle in anticipation….boys are at their best behavior…better than any other time of the year…even the girls are more helpful that they usually are…yes, they know that the special time of the year is about to arrive. They have been hearing about it since the day after Thanksgiving…they have had a special ADVENT…they are preparing for the arrival of, you guessed it…SANTA!
Now that’s not all wrong…they are still very young and have not yet learned to appreciate the real things of value. But they are for all of us who have grown up, a great example of how we should have spent Advent…behaving the way we should behave, not for some great or many presents…but for the greatest gift of all, the arrival of Christ…not
the Christ child in the crib but the Christ we will all face some day. Advent is another one of those special times of the year that the Church sets aside to remind us of our on going preparation for the day when we will meet Christ face to face.
How have we spent this Advent season? It is time to look at how we have been preparing ourselves and if we have fallen short of our own expectations there is still time to do something about it. Have we found ourselves making use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation ? Have we spent extra time in prayer or have we just gone along with our old routine? There is still time…time to go to Confession, time to spend time in prayer, in spite of the business of the season.
In the Gospel today we hear Mary’s response to the Archangel Gabriel “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” Mary’s attitude should be our attitude…. TO DO THE WILL OF THE LORD. But, some will say, what is the will of the Lord? Well recently I heard a teacher preparing seven year olds for their first Holy Communion say to them “What are the first three commandments about”…their reply, “all about God” and the next seven she said…they responded,” all about how we treat our neighbors, that is, how we are to treat one another.”
Have you thought about the ten commandments recently? Can you remember them? Sometimes we want to think of that as something we did when we were small children and have grown beyond, but in reality, it is something we should reflect on everyday of our lives. When we do and try to live by them, it is only then that we to can respond as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane…”Father, not my will, but thy will be done” For it is in doing God’s will that we are able to look forward to that time when we will come face to face with Jesus and do so with the same expectations that children look forward to Christmas….a time of GREAT JOY.
Now we cannot look at Christmas only as adults, we should also look at it as if we too have the eyes of children. For children, Christmas is a time they receive gifts from an unselfish source of goodness, usually their parents and other older family members.
We adults also have a source of unselfish goodness, a God who, like a good parent, only wants the best for his children, you and I. Our lives are permeated with the Christmas spirit when justice, love and peace rules our every action, every day …. before and after Christmas. Take the true Spirit of Christmas with you each and every day – be a child of God’s love.
Make this last week of Advent, a real time of preparation for the coming of Jesus!
Homily # 3
There is great wisdom in knowing how to receive a gift. Without doing too much damage to the Prayer of St. Francis we might say, “It is in receiving that we give.” For we often find it easier to Give and Do for others. It is often hard for us to receive and let others be servant for us.
Why is this so? The Christian message does stress the importance of service and helping others. The Christian is to be the person for others as much as we are for ourselves. We are to follow the example of Jesus and Mary. Both placed the needs of others ahead of their own.
Mary goes in haste to rejoice with and minister to Elizabeth during her pregnancy. Jesus continually is about the work of Kingdom: healing and forgiving sins. The disciple of Jesus must follow in his footsteps.
Beyond such a notion of Christian discipleship, we don’t like to be in the debt of others. When we receive, others give. This gives them power over us and places us under an obligation. We find this uncomfortable.
We are not sure we can live up to the gift. We are well aware of gift giving and Trojan Horses — there is a hidden price to be paid. We are afraid of manipulation and control from the gift giver. All of this combines to make us suspicious of gifts and those who give gifts.
In our first reading we see that King David wanted to give God a gift — a house or temple. God would have none of it. Is God ungrateful? No. God wants it understood that he is in control of his creation, people and covenant. There is a bit of arrogance in David’s proposal.
Our relationship with God is not one of mutuality. It is we who receive from God all that we are and have. All is gift from our loving God. Our response to the God who gives good things is gratitude. We become aware that all of our existence is the result of “Grace upon Grace.”
Does this mean that God wants nothing from us? Not at all. God does not want a temple made of brick and wood. God wants our hearts and love. God wants us to respond to his self-revelation.
Consider Mary in our gospel from St. Luke. The angel Gabriel comes bringing good news. Mary is to be highly favored by God. She will be the human instrument though whom salvation will enter our history.
Mary is highly gifted by God. Yet, St. Luke tells us that the news of giftedness “deeply troubled” Mary. She was not sure this was a gift! Mary was anxious about the gift.
Yet the importance of Mary’s response for us is crucial: “I am the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.” These are words of absolute trust. Yes, there is fear. Yes, there is anxiety. But more so there is trust.
God is worthy of our trust. He is faithful to his word. Trusting faith does not mean full understanding. We must often make a “leap of faith.” This is not a blind, irrational jump into nothingness. Rather, we are called to surrender in loving trust to the God who cares and is totally involved with our lives and history.
Mary knew that God’s gift was not a removal of her freedom and humanity. In fact, she knew and trusted that God was about enhancing our humanity and freedom. St. Paul puts it so well in his letter to the Romans, “To him who is able to strengthen you in the gospel … may glory be given through Jesus Christ unto endless ages.”
God sends the Son with the good news of salvation so that we might grow into the full measure of our humanity. God’s good news is one of strengthening us in the good news of who we are — sinners who are forgiven and loved. The glory of God is the human person fully alive. And the proof is to be found in the gift of Jesus.
Homily # 4
We are nearing the end of the Advent season when we have been anxiously awaiting the coming of our Savior, not only as an anniversary of his birth but also when he comes again. I hope we have all spent the past three weeks in preparation for His coming, because there is a very short period of time left until we celebrate the great feast of the birth of our Savior. And for some there is a relatively short period of time before they will come face to face with our Savior.
In much the same way, the faithful Jewish people were also anxiously waiting for the coming of their Savior two thousand years ago, and of course Mary was one of them. They were waiting for a Savior who would give them freedom from the Romans, quite different from the one who would come and truly set them free, free from our sins. Mary was also waiting differently than the rest of the Jewish people, for she had been living her life in a far superior manner than the others.
Based on the greeting that the angel Gabriel gives her “Hail, full of Grace. The Lord is with you” we know that she is sinless. We know from the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception that Mary was free from sin from the moment of her conception by a singular grace of God. But it was Mary herself, since the time she reached the age of reason, that fought the temptation to sin and succeeded. Through self-control, discipline and her reliance on God she was able to reject temptation and avoid sinning as we do. Mary had to make a conscious effort to include God in her decision making at every step along her life. And more, she had to agree to do things God’s way instead of how she might really want to do them.
In the gospel, we see Mary as a young teenager being visited by an angel sent from God. That alone would probably shock us; I don’t think I have ever been visited by any heavenly bodies. Yet it doesn’t seem to faze Mary. She listens to his message, and is told that she (an unmarried girl) is with child. The only question she presents to the angel is “How can this be,” once explained to her that it is through God, she seems to immediately except the burden this will place on her life.
In those days, an unmarried girl in similar circumstances could be stoned to death for her condition. Yet Mary, who has made every decision in her life based on what God would do, once again decides to place her trust in God and do things His way. In just a matter of moments she responds “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” She is literally placing her life in God’s hands. But then what else should we expect, she has placed her life in His hands every moment of her life.
Mary is a remarkable example for us of someone who involves God in all that they do. For many of us we go through our daily life living it as best we can. We pray to God, asking for His help and guidance once in a while but probably not truly involving Him in all that we do. Do we even bother to involve Him in the big decisions of the day?
At school we are faced with many decisions, some involve pressure that is being put on us by our peers. In those cases, quite often we only think of the short term. It seems easier to neglect God and do what our peers want us to do, since we have to deal with them every day. We sometimes forget that we have to deal with God every day as well. But some how our peers seem to be more visible than God.
At work many of our decisions have repercussions on others, maybe those we work with or those that our job has us interacting with. Do we always consider the affect that our decisions are going to have on others? Is what we decided to do acceptable in today’s society but not quite in line with our baptismal promises of loving God and neighbor? Do we ever ask God what we should do?
Do our decisions at home with our family always involve thinking of all of them first and ourselves last? Like Mary, we should involve God in all of our decisions, but what a big difference it would make even if we only remembered to count on Him on the big decisions in our lives: those which are life altering and have effects on others.
Let us use Mary’s situation in today’s gospel as an example. How many women do you think today, who find themselves facing an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy, think to involve God in their decision of what they should do about it. I believe that if they would and act in accord with His answer, we could erase the word “abortion” from the English language.
By Fr. Jerry Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:19:00 12/21/2008
THE story is told about a teacher who told his class that she will give $10 to the child who can name the most famous man who ever lived. An Irish boy said, it was St. Patrick, a Swiss boy said, it was St. Nicholas de Flue. A Filipino boy said, it was Dr. Jose Rizal. The teacher refuted all of them saying those they mentioned were not famous worldwide. Finally a Jewish boy said: “Jesus Christ!” The teacher congratulated him but wondered why he mentioned Jesus Christ since he was a Jew. “Deep in my heart, I know it’s Moses, but, ma’am, business is business,” the boy said with a smile as he pocketed the $10.
* * *
In today’s Gospel (Lk. 1, 26-38) we read about Mary who lived and believed in Christmas 100 percent. She had a lot of doubts and questions, but she believed in the angel’s message that “nothing will be impossible for God.” That’s full and total Christmas.
* * *
For many of us, it’s almost Christmas, but not quite. All the trimmings of Christmas have blinded us and have diverted our focus from the Christ-child. And so it is that, so engrossed in our preparations and decorations, we forget the birthday celebrant, the person. And because of the pressures and the rush, we forget that Christmas is all about persons, and not so much about collections and celebrations.
* * *
We have adulterated Christmas. This dawned on me when I greeted a government official “Merry Christmas,” and he greeted me back: “Merry Christmas, Father, without malice!” At first I could not make out the “without malice” part. Later on, I realized that the “Merry Christmas” greeting especially in some government offices meant asking for gifts or money. That’s how low we have gone in terms of honesty and transparency in our country to the point that a simple innocent greeting such as “Merry Christmas” has become a suggestion, a demand, or even a threat.
* * *
Almost Christmas, but not quite, for those who look at the Nativity scene and focus on the gold, frankincense, and myrrh instead of the Holy Family. Our lack or surplus of money should not affect the Christmas spirit in our families.
* * *
Almost Christmas, but not quite, for those who focus on the goats and sheep at the Nativity scene and think of parties, drinks and food and forget to share their bounty to so many suffering and hungry people around them, and who also forget spiritual food for their own malnourished souls, especially during Christmas.
* * *
Almost Christmas, but not quite, for those who focus on their worldly, political, and economic agenda at Christmas, instead of just being grateful, obedient and humble before the God-child whose only agenda was to do His Father’s will, and whose only mission was to serve and to love.
* * *
Almost Christmas, but not quite for those who look at the Nativity scene and focus on the ugliness and stench of the manger, and forget the dirt and mess in their own hearts and in their relationship with God and with others. Purity of heart, that’s what Christmas is all about for Joseph, Mary and the Infant. Hopefully, too, for us.
* * *
Finally, almost Christmas, but not quite, for those who look at the Nativity scene and focus on the Three Kings and become so engrossed on power, or staying in power by all and by any means, and forget that all power comes from God and should be used for God and for His people, not for themselves.
* * *
Is there anything “impossible” in your life right now? Like Mary, may we learn to trust, believe and hope against all odds. Like Mary, may we be open to the “Big Picture” that God presents to us, and may we see that whatever has happened, whatever is happening, whatever will happen are according to His will, timing and plan. Unless and until we learn to be submissive and obedient to God, it is almost, but not quite Christmas in our lives.
* * *
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas (without malice!). More so, I wish you all a “Mary Christmas.” Mama Mary’s first Christmas was simple but pure, poor but joyful, bare but love-full, insecure but hopeful.
* * *
Think about it: There were people who were with us last Christmas and are no longer with us this Christmas. And, there are people who are with us this Christmas who may not be anymore with us next Christmas. So why don’t we make it the best Christmas yet? Let us not postpone our conversion. Let us not postpone our loving.
* * *
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, remind me it’s almost Christmas but not quite, if love and peace are not in my heart. Amen.
4th Sunday of Advent- on the Epistle
By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
Celebrating a Mystery
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16
The story is told of William Phelps who taught English literature at Yale back in the early 1900s. Once, as he was marking an examination paper just before Christmas, Phelps found a near-blank answer sheet on which a student had scribbled, “Only God knows the answer to this question. Merry Christmas.” Phelps returned the paper with this note: “God gets an A. You get an F. Happy New Year.” On this last Sunday before Christmas, the Church, using the closing words of Paul to the Romans, in the 2nd reading, invites us to celebrate the great mystery known only to God for ages, which has now been revealed to believers in Christ.
Among the letters that Paul wrote to churches in the New Testament, that to the Romans stands out as the only one written to a church that Paul had never visited. This shows how important the church in Rome was in the thinking of the early Christians. Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire, the centre of the known world of the time. The early Christians understood the arrival of the gospel in Rome as the arrival of the gospel to the whole world. For them the centre and the end of the earth was Rome. So, Paul could, in Romans 10:18 ask the rhetorical question, ” But I ask, have they not heard?” and give the answer, “Indeed they have; for ‘Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.’” At the beginning of the letter, he thanks God “because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world” (Romans 1:8).
That the free gift of salvation, promised by the prophets of old in the Hebrew Scriptures was now, in Christ, available to all humankind, Jews and alike was, for Paul, the Good News. This was the secret mystery hidden in ages past but which has now been revealed through the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Thinking of this mystery makes Paul explode in praise in the 2nd reading, Romans 16:25-27:
Now to God who is able to strengthen you
according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery
that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed,
and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles,
according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith
to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.
The chosen Twelve Apostles received three years of apprenticeship under Jesus and still did not get it. It would take the number one apostle, Peter, the Rock, many more years of growing in the faith and the benefit of a special revelation from God to discover this mystery. Only then would he declare in turn, “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).
It is hard for most Christians today, who take our possible salvation in Christ for granted to appreciate the epoch-making importance of this revelation that defined where the Jewish religion ended and the Christian religion began. Yet, it is the revelation of this most important mystery of God that we celebrate at Christmas. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
Paul tells us in this short passage that the purpose of this revelation was to bring about the obedience of faith (Romans 16:26). This enigmatic expression can be understood either as the obedience that comes from faith, or the faith that comes from obedience, or the faith that equals obedience. Either way, it means that in Christ, the relationship between faith and obedience is no longer that of either … or but of both … and. God wants His children to serve Him by faith and obedience, not by faith alone, and not by obedience (good works) alone.
As Christmas draws near, let us join Paul in glorifying God for the wondrous thing He has done for us by sending us his only begotten son. Let us resolve that this year’s Christmas celebration will not be another Christmas-as- usual but a heartfelt celebration of divine grace.
By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD
December 16, 2011, 11:24pm
MANILA, Philippines — On the eve of the graduation of a senior class in high school, a dedicated, unassuming teacher was invited to a class farewell party.
In her inspirational talk, the teacher said, “Someday you will all be successful in life. But remember, a peso is not a peso without one centavo. I am that CENTAVO in your success.”
* * *
As we ponder on the mystery of Christ’s incarnation (becoming human), we cannot help but think of Mary as the lowly “centavo” instrumental in the birth of Christ, much like that teacher to her students.
Without Mary’s “fiat” (Latin for consent), we would not be celebrating Christmas today or salvation history would have been rewritten. That’s how crucial the role of Mary was.
* * *
One important lesson we can learn concerns knowing the will of God. For us ordinary mortals, knowing God’s will is not as easy as Mary’s dramatic Annunciation.
Sometime ago, a distraught lady, who has been reading our columns, came to see me expressing disappointment with God. “I’ve always been praying that God will guide me in all that I do. But when I had my car repainted, it turned out a dismal failure. To think that I’d already paid the full amount.”
* * *
“I contracted another painter, but it failed again! Why does God not help me when I always pray to Him?
“What did you expect God would do?” I asked. “Well, that He would give me a sign against hiring the services of those incompetent painters!”
* * *
I told the lady that God does not work normally through direct signs and miracles. God works through our talents, our decisions, and judgments after discernment.
After praying over your problem, I said, it would have been better if you asked the advice of people who knew about the matter. Knowing the will of God ORDINARILY can be known through the laws of the country and God’s laws summed up in the 10 Commandments.
* * *
When Mary accepted the will of God, she journeyed to assist her cousin Elizabeth in her delivery. Riding on a donkey to the “hill country” was certainly no picnic, especially in her pregnant condition! Hence, doing God’s will is not always easy.
Let’s not complain and sulk when things don’t turn out according to our wish. When I was in grade school, the five of us siblings would complain of our meager baon (allowance). Our strict father would cut us saying, “Stop complaining. You’re much better off than those kids who can’t go to school!” That would silence us.
* * *
As we go about our final preparations for Christmas, let’s remind ourselves of Mary’s important role in the birth of the Redeemer. Also, let’s follow God’s will through joys and sorrows, through thick and thin. MARY CHRISTMAS!
* * *
The Lord is with us!
By: Fr. Jerry M. Orbos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
11:02 pm | Saturday, December 17th, 2011
The story is told about Jesus and Santa Claus meeting each other in heaven. Jesus said: “You know Santa, I am jealous of you.” Whereupon Santa asked: “Why so, dear Lord?” And Jesus answered: “Soon it will be my birthday, but, it is you the people are preparing and waiting for.”
* * *
In today’s Gospel (Lk. 1, 26-38) we hear of the preparations that led to the birth of our Savior. I must say I am impressed with the efficiency of the search committee in heaven. How on earth did they “Google,” and find a simple girl in an unknown village somewhere in the land of Israel to become the Mother of the Savior? I must also acknowledge the temerity of the Divine Plan that rested on the “yes” of a virgin to conceive sans relationship with a man. What if she said “no”? What if she refused to cooperate? Was there a Plan B?
* * *
More than impressed, I am touched by the reaching out of the Divine to us mortals. The message of the annunciation is the importance of each one of us in the eyes of God, and the respect of the Divine for our free will. Yes, we count on God’s heart.
* * *
There is a song titled “Somewhere Out There.” What an assuring and heartwarming message to know that “someone’s thinking of you and loving you tonight.” But more heartwarming is the reality that this Great Someone is now not just “out there” but has already come down here and loves us in flesh and blood. All because a simple girl said “Yes,” “Fiat,” “Thy will be done”!
* * *
What made Mary say “yes”? It was the greeting “The Lord is with you” from the Angel Gabriel. It made her accept her calling and made her overcome her fears. May this greeting, “The Lord is with you,” help us too whenever we go through difficult, and even impossible, situations. Our greatest assurance is that the Lord is with us no matter where, no matter what.
* * *
Forty-year-old cancer patient Lea continues to call me at about 7 p.m. every night before she sleeps just to receive God’s blessing over the phone. All she holds on to is the assurance that the Lord is with her in her pain and terminal illness. I am so touched by her simple, humble, hopeful faith. Yes Lea, the Lord is with you!
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Take note that all that people need to know really is that the Lord is with them. I often ask myself if we are really making this message heard and felt. All too often, we tell people about rules, issues, doctrines, obligations, and we forget to proclaim unto them God’s living and loving presence in their joys and pains in the here and now.
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Further down the line, I often ask myself with concern and fear: Are we really connecting with the young, with the worldly, with the poor and the marginalized? Are we really communicating with them, and is our message really coming through? I hope that we do not wake up one day and realize that we have lost them, or are no longer relevant to them.
May we all feel the Lord’s personal presence this Christmas. To do that we all have to have some quiet moments and let Him make His presence felt, and that happens if we take time to have time with Him. Focus on Jesus, not so much on Santa Claus, nor on the Three Kings and their gifts, nor on the shepherds and their lambs. Lessen on shopping and partying, and add on loving and praying. May we also make God’s presence felt by others, especially the poor, the sick, the needy and the marginalized this Christmas. Remember, Christmas is making God’s love present and alive in the here and now.
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Want to feel real Christmas joy and not just Christmas happiness? Start with yourself. Be reconciled with God, and with people you have wronged or have wronged you. And forgive yourself for whatever failures because you are loved without conditions. Remember, “The Lord is with you!”
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Do something good to others secretly this Christmas. Have a “project” that only you and God know, and you will experience that joy which the world cannot give nor take away.
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Please remember that the Savior was born in a lowly manger, to remind us to stop becoming a manager. Let God be the manager of our lives so stop managing people, stop managing life, and stop managing Christmas itself. Letting go and letting God is the best way to make Christmas a reality. Remember, there is a God… and you’re not Him!
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“Nothing will be impossible for God.” I repeat this line from today’s Gospel especially for those in need of healing, forgiveness and conversion. Like Mary, may we believe, believe against all odds, and continue to believe that God has a plan, that God is in control, and that God loves us more than we can imagine or measure.
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God is a God of surprises. Let us open our hearts and minds to possibilities—and miracles. Let us broaden our horizons, and spread wide our arms in peace and love, and let us dig deep into our pockets too, for the world around us is so much in need of salvation and love.
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A moment with the Lord:
Lord, thank you for being with us, and help us to make others know and feel that you are with them. Amen.
PLANO NG DIYOS… PLANO KO! : Reflection for 4th Sunday of Advent Year B – December 18, 2011
Isang linggo na lang at Pasko na! Bakit nga ba December 25 ang Pasko? Nasusulat ba ito sa Banal na Kasulatan? Hindi mahalaga ang eksaktong petsa ng Pasko. Ang mahalaga ay naniniwala tayo na sa kasaysayan ay naging tao ang Anak ng Diyos at nakipamayan sa atin. Na dahil sa pagtugon ng isang babaeng taga-Nazareth ay nabigyang katuparan ang plano ng Diyos para sa tao. Ito ang nilalahad ng ating Ebanghelyo sa ikaapat na Linggo ng Adbiyento. Kung ating babasahin sa kasalukuyang panahon ay para lamang tayong nagbabasa ng nobela na nakahanda na ang script ng mga tauhan sa kuwento. Ngunit hindi ganoon kasimle ang nangyari. Para sa kay Maria ang lahat ay malaking pagguho ng kanyang personal na plano para sa kanyang buhay. Ang pagbati ng Anghel ay siguradong nagbigay sa kanya ng pagdududa! “Nagulumihanan si Maria” sa mga sinabi ng Anghel Gabriel. Naguluhan siya sapagkat wala ito sa kanyang orihinal na plano. Ngunit ng naipaliwanag lahat ng anghel sa kanya ang nais ng Diyos ay buong puso niyang nasabing: “Ako ang alipin ng Panginoon, mangyari nawa sa akin ayon sa iyong salita.” Katulad ni Maria tayo rin ay nakakaranas na magduda sa ating buhay. May kuwento ng isang mister ang malapit na sa bingit ng kamatayan. Ipinatawag niya ang kanyang asawa at sinabi: “Alam mong bilang na ang mga sandali ko. Nais ko sanang mapayapa ang aking sarili bago ako mamatay. Tapatin mo nga ako, ako ba ang ama ng ating bunso? Napansin kong magkamukha ang panganay at kasunod ngunit napakalayo ang itsura ng ating bunso.” Sumagot ang babae: “Ano ka ba naman? Pinagdududahan mo ba ako? Tunay na anak mo yan no? Pero sigurado ako…yung dalawa, kay kumpare ‘yun!” hehehe… Ang hirap nga naman kapag nasa ganun kang sitwasyon. Marami tayong katanungan sa ating buhay. May mga pangyayari sa atin na mahirap bigyan ng paliwanag. May mga plano tayo na hindi nasusunod at kung minsan pa nga ay bumabagsak. Kalimitan ay hirap tayong magdesiyon sa ganitong mga sitwasyon. Hinahamon tayo ng Ebanghelyong tumulad kay Maria. Bigyan natin ng puwang ang Diyos sa ating buhay. Isama natin siya sa paglutas ng ating mga problema. Mas magandang tanungin kung ano ba ang nais ng Diyos para sa atin sa halip na kung ano lang ang gusto nating mangyari. Sa ganitong paraan ay matutulad din tayo kay Maria na tinawag ng Anghel na “puspos ng biyaya” sapagkat sinangayunan niya ang plano ng Diyos para sa kanya.
See Today’s Readings: Year A, Year B, Year C
Back to: Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)