FAITH & WORSHIP
THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD
Today's Feast is takes place forty day after Christmas. And, it is in a way another 'Epiphany', another revelation of God's presence and promise.
How strange and marvellous God's return to the Temple after his long absence. At last the hope of Israel is fulfilled, though in a manner at once more mundane and spectacular than any prophet could have dreamed. In today's Gospel, the Lord returns as a tiny child in the arms of his parents. This God, this King of Glory, not only comes to his people in order to show them compassion, but in his great mercy allows them to look down on him, to adore him, to hold him though he is infinite. Further, he becomes subject both to the Law and to everything else constitutive of human life that he might be our salvation and might reveal God's perfect love in a manner we can grasp and be drawn to.
JESUS THE LAMB OF GOD
Jesus is being publicly acknowledged and announced by John; this is John's role and vocation. He is the herald and witness who asks us to prepare a way for the Lord. John is a message in time; Jesus on the other hand is the Word for Eternity. John, while recognising his own mission says of himself; I am not worthy to untie his sandals; he must increase and I must decrease. This is not about John thinking less of himself, but rather appreciating humbly his role in being the messenger of God who leads and points people and us today to Jesus.
The two titles that John gives Jesus; Lamb of God and Chosen One of God are important. They are not just names, they are what Jesus does and who he is. They describe his identity and his mission. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world because he is the Chosen One of God.
When we were baptised, we become one with Jesus in his life, death and resurrection which also includes the forgiveness of our sins. Through the waters and blessing of baptism we are washed, made new and cleansed. Then we, as his followers, like John are called to be the messengers and witnesses of Jesus. Being baptised gives us the right to call ourselves sons and daughters of God; it also gives us the responsibility of living as witnesses to Jesus and of being his followers and friends in our daily lives.
Our vocation as disciples of Jesus is twofold; firstly to hear the word of God that he speaks to us and then secondly to live this word in our daily lives as his witnesses in the world. It is through the quality of our lives that we give witness to Jesus. It is said that we live our faith more through our actions and what we do rather than what we say.
Br Michael Moore OMI
THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
John was baptizing as a call to and sign of interior repentance. Jesus had no need to repent. But, nonetheless, He comes to John. John resists at first but Jesus insists. Why did He receive baptism?
The baptism of Jesus is another manifestation of Christ, another epiphany. Christ's baptism inaugurates his mission. In an analogous way, our Baptism inaugurates our mission as Christians.
Through our own sacred baptism, we too are connected to Jesus and to God. When we were baptised, we became members of God's family. We became sons and daughters of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus. Through our baptism we are immersed in God, we are cleansed and we become a new creation. It is through the sacrament of baptism that our deepest nobility and dignity come.
Take a moment today to remember and appreciate your own baptism through which you became a son and daughter of God. In silence, hear these words spoken to and about you; 'You are my beloved, with whom I well pleased.'
FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY
Today as we celebrate the Epiphany, we recall that Jesus is born for everyone and the whole universe. The word 'Epiphany' means to show or to reveal. God is not distant, silent or remote. God is with us personally in the very person of Jesus. When Jesus speaks, we hear God speaking; when we see the face of Jesus as the Magi did, it is God eyes into which we look. No one is outside the loving gaze or embrace of God through the person and presence of Jesus.
Beginning something new can fill us with anxiety, especially a new year. We don't know what will happen to us or what lies ahead of us. But we are not our own; God is with us. There is the modern parable about the woman who was worried about the new year. She prayed to God saying.; 'Lord, give me a light so that I can find my way as this year starts.' There was silence. Then she heard God say, 'No, I will not give you a light. You take my hand and we will walk into the new year together.' We are not our own as we continue this New Year.
The Nativity and the Epiphany call us to remember and celebrate the deep mystery and reality that God is with us in the most personal and intimate way possible. To repeat, God is now no longer distant, remote or silent. St. Paul's letter to the Colossians reminds us of this and encourages us with these profound words: "The Secret is that that Christ is in you".
Christ is in you and in me! When the shepherds looked at Jesus, they saw someone like themselves who later said, I am the Good Shepherd. When these visitors from East offered their gifts, they too saw one like themselves, who later said, Yes, I am King. Take some time these days to look into crib; who and what do you see? Do you see yourself in this child's face? Do you see someone like just like you?
As Pope Leo the Great reminds us; O Christian be aware of your dignity and nobility, it is God's own life that you now share.
Br Michael Moore OMI
FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY
Matthew 2:13-15; 19-23
This Sunday, we remember and celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. While Mary is called to be the Mother of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirt, Joseph also has major part to play in the life of Jesus. Unlike Mary, we actually don't know a lot about Joseph. According to the gospels, he is not present for the public life of Jesus. Joseph, like Mary was called by God; he too was unsure and perhaps even worried and anxious. He is assured and strengthened with the words, 'Do not be afraid.' God who called him will not abandoned him. Neither Joseph nor Mary knew what lay ahead of them as parents; but they accepted in hope and trust what God asked of them. They responded in faith and lived everyday of their family life believing that God was with them. They were not free from the daily trails, worries and anxieties of parenthood or family life.
Today, perhaps is a day for us to take some time to think about our own families and from where we come. It is said that we can choose our friends but not our families. Our own families are given to us as a gift from God, and in return we are given to them as gifts. All our families are sacred and holy places; they are the places where ideally we can truly be ourselves and still be loved!
Bethlehem means "house of bread." The nativity scene we set up at home reminds us that Jesus is the bread of life: He is the one who nourishes our love, He is the one who gives our families the strength to go on and to forgive us.
Emmanuel: God is with us.
'The mystery of Jesus that took place over 2000 years ago must be lived to day and every day. The Word of God that found a dwelling place in and through Mary comes to knock on our hearts this Christmas and every Christmas, today and every day'. John Paul II
At Christmas; we remember and we celebrate. We recall and tell the story of how, where and when Jesus was born. We remember how Mary and Joseph travelled to Bethlehem looking for shelter. We tell the story of the shepherds and the kings arriving to see this child. Then we celebrate the difference Jesus has made to us and continues to make in our lives and in the world.
We have to be careful that we don't just think of Christmas as something that happened in the past in a country far from us. The birth of Jesus ripples and echoes through the centuries right down to us today into our homes and families, wherever we are. We are asked not just to experience Christmas and the birth of Jesus as just a nice romantic thing that we see on Christmas cards. Through the birth of Jesus, God enters our world, our time and our lives. In and through the person of Jesus, God reaches out to embrace each of us and speak to us. Through the birth of Jesus, God comes and lives amongst us and deep within us. So Christmas is not just about remembering the birth of Jesus; it is also about celebrating the presence of Jesus in our world and lives this very day and every day.
This Christmas Day and the days that follow are wonderful days; they are full of magic and meaning. They are days to rejoice and celebrate with friends, family and neighbours. Perhaps we could take just a few minutes each of these days to remember what we are actually celebrating. We are celebrating 'Emmanuel': God - is - with - us; not just for today or the remaining twelve days of Christmas, but forever.
This Christmas, may the Light of Christ and Christ the Light fill our hearts, our homes, our families and our daily lives with all the love, joy and presence of God.
Fourth Sunday of Advent
God chooses ordinary humans to be part of his plan for the world. It is through Mary, Joseph and countless millions throughout history that God's kingdom is proclaimed and built. (...) Today, each of us is called by God personally with these words; 'I call you by your name, do not be afraid. You are precious to me and I love you.' In whatever way we can, today you and I are called to make God real in and for the world.
What good is to me, if the birth of Jesus takes place eternally, but does not take place within myself? What good is it to me if Mary and Joseph are filled with the Holy Spirit, but I am not also filled with the same Spirit? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to Jesus, if I do not also give birth to Jesus here and now in my time and in my own situation?
(Meister Echkart: 1260 - 1327)
"I am offering you life or death. . . . Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live in the love of Yahweh, your God, obeying his voice, holding fast to him" (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
Third Sunday of Advent
The Advent season is divided into two distinct periods: the first period prepares us for the second coming of Christ, the second period prepares us for the birth of our Savior.
The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word meaning "rejoice." This Sunday is so named because "Rejoice" is the first word in the entrance antiphon for today's Mass taken from Philippians 4:4,5: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near." This Sunday is a joyful reminder that our salvation is near.
In today's Gospel John the Baptist was languishing in prison awaiting death. He wondered if Jesus was the Messiah. John's doubt is understandable; he needed to know if his life had been worthwhile. Jesus' yes is shown by his fulfilling the hopes Isaiah preached: "Be glad, rejoice, see, hear, leap, sing" are all words of joyful hope. Today's readings remember us that the beginning of salvation is already mysteriously present to us, but also yet to be fulfilled in the coming reign of God. We can find glimpses of God's work among us. Even more, we help to prepare the way for God's kingdom by our words and our deeds. This message is indeed a cause for rejoicing.
Second Sunday of Advent
REFLECTION for the SECOND SUNDAY of ADVENT
'Prepare the Way of the Lord.'
8th December 2019
Today's readings prepare us for the Incarnation and Christmas. In the reading from Isaiah we have one of the great messianic prophecies. In the Gospel, John the Baptist proclaims 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!' His message is profound: we have reached the time of fulfilment, this is the day of our salvation. In turning towards God today, we may well receive the strength we require to keep walking on the road to life. This is the truth Jesus brings to all peoples: fullness of life in his presence. God's own desire, made abundantly clear in Jesus, is to draw close to us in our human gifts and limitations, and to meet us at the crossroads of our lives. Let us pray for the gift of courage and strength to 'prepare the way of the Lord', that we may meet God in our own life's circumstances.
First Sunday of Advent:
Waiting in Joyful Hope
1st December 2019
During Advent, we wait in joy, in hope, and in anticipation for the coming of Christ into our lives in new ways.
Jesus, King of Compassion
Sunday 24th November 2019
Today as a Church, we conclude our liturgical year and celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. The Gospel we proclaim shows the great mystery of our faith: In the moment of his crucifixion, Jesus is shown to be King and Savior of all.
As the leaders jeer, the thief crucified by his side recognizes Jesus as Messiah and King, and finds salvation. We are confronted with the crucified Jesus, whom faith tells us is King and Savior of all. Jesus is King of a Kingdom based on love, mercy, service, justice and reconciliation. The inscription placed on the cross contains the profoundest of truth. Today's Gospel invites us to make our own judgment. With eyes of faith, we, too, recognize that Jesus, the crucified One, is indeed King and Savior of all.source: https://www.loyolapress.com
Trust God's Mercy and Protection
Sunday 17th November 2019
The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans was history (70 A.D.); Luke's Gospel, Catholic scholars propose, was written between 80 and 90 A.D. His audience was probably Gentile Christians. Luke here tries to interpret the fall of Jerusalem for them and to locate it in God's plans for humankind (salvation history). At the same time, Luke is suggesting to his audience that there will be a considerable elapse of time before Jesus' final coming. Luke's listeners have likely seen much upheaval and are anxious to know if these are the signs of Jesus' coming. Luke is urging greater patience.In the second part of today's Gospel, Jesus warns that his followers will face persecution for their beliefs. Luke presents persecution as an opportunity for the followers of Jesus for "It will lead to your giving testimony" (Luke 21:13). In persecution God's wisdom and power will be shown in the example of followers of Jesus. Perseverance in the face of persecution will lead to their salvation.
Jesus is assuring his followers that God is present to all believers, even in times of trouble. Ultimately, Jesus will witness to this with his own death. As disciples of Jesus, we try to follow his example, trusting in God's mercy and protection, even when we are facing difficulties.
He is God of the Living
Sunday 10th November 2019
Our true identity is that we are children of God. In Today´s Gospel, Jesus proposes that the possibilities of resurrected life are beyond our imaginations. To spend time worrying about resurrected life is to miss the point. The point is eternal relationship with God is possible, for God is the God of the living, ". . . for to him all are alive."
I Must Stay at Your House Today!
Sunday 3rd November 2019
When God does find us, we must be attentive and listen rather than be anxious to speak. God will make no demands of us. God will not ask us to change. God will simply keep revealing that, in Jesus, he is unconditional love.
I read the lives of many saints and great spiritual men and women, and it seems that they have become real members of my spiritual family, always present to offer suggestions, ideas, advice, consolation, courage, and strength. It is very hard to keep your heart and mind directed toward God when there are no examples to help you in your struggle. Without saints you easily settle for less-inspiring people and quickly follow the ways of others who for a while seem exciting but who are not able to offer lasting support. I am happy to have been able to restore my relationship with many great saintly men and women in history who, by their lives and works, can be real counselors to me. Henri Nouwen
Eyes of Compassion
Sunday 27th October 2019
...the importance of not judging or condemning, not even our own past, and of looking at people with immense compassion and love in the way Jesus looked at the adulterous woman and made her discover her own goodness through the eyes of Jesus and thus find the strength to "sin no more."
Stop Trying to Figure God Out
Sunday 27th October 2019
Francis of Assisi grasped something of the mystery of God and, in a particular way, the mystery of God's humility. Although he was simple and not well educated, he had an insight into God that I can only say was profound. Francis did not study theology. He did not try to figure out what God is through reason. He simply spent long hours in prayer, often in caves, mountains or places of solitude, places where he could distance himself from the busy everyday world. Thomas of Celano, the first biographer of Francis, wrote: "Where the knowledge of teachers is outside, the passion of the lover entered." What Thomas perceived is that love, not knowledge, allowed Francis to enter into the great mystery we call "God." As he entered into this mystery he discovered two principle features of God-the overflowing goodness of God and the humility of God. That is why a Franciscan approach to God's humility must begin with Francis. For he was so impressed by God's humility that he spent his entire life striving to live humbly in imitation of God. -
from the book The Humility of God: lia Delio, OSF
God Hears and Answers Prayers.
Sunday 20th October 2019
Patterns and Persistence in Prayer
Today's the parable (Luke 18, 1-8) seems to present prayer as nagging God for what we want, such a reading misses the point. God is not like the judge in the parable, worn down by requests and coerced to respond. The key is found in the description of the judge as corrupt and unjust. Since God can be neither, we must understand Jesus to be saying that if even an unjust judge responds to the persistence of the widow, how much more so will God listen to our prayers. God truly wants to hear our needs and respond generously. It is the final lament of Jesus that gets to the point of the parable. The lesson is about the persistence of the one who prays. God wants us to be like the persistent widow, staying in relationship with God, confident that God hears and answers prayers. Then Jesus laments, "Will such faith be found when the Son of Man comes?" In this lament, Jesus notes how easy it can be for us to lose heart.
St Teresa of Avila
Tuesday 15 October 2019
"It is love alone that gives worth to all things."
"Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee:
All thing pass;
God never changes.
All that it strives for.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing:
God alone suffices."
Let nothing dismay thee:
All thing pass;
God never changes.
All that it strives for.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing:
God alone suffices."
Gratitude is an attitude
Sunday 13th October 2019
Brené Brown suggests: It's not joy that makes us grateful, it's gratitude that makes us joyful. We are not just to cultivate an "attitude-of-gratitude" or simply feel grateful, Brown says, but rather it is about inviting joy into our lives through creative, intentional, tangible practices of gratitude.
- This story is a lesson about faith and reminds us that faith is sometimes found in unlikely places. Ten people afflicted with leprosy cry out to Jesus. Struck with pity, Jesus heals all 10. However, only one is described as glorifying God and returning to thank Jesus.
- Gratitude is an essential virtue to have in helping us to develop and deepen our relationships with people especially our loved ones e.g. parents, spouses, siblings, relatives and even strangers.
- If we have gratitude, bring it to a deeper level to build our relationship with Our Lord. We can do this by being more conscious of God's goodness, His abundantly blessings and His merciful forgiveness.
- Spend time each day to ponder on our relationship with people and more importantly with God. Imagine Jesus is present in your relationships. Try to sense how He would want you to love, forgive and serve others more fully.
- source: https://www.jesuit.org.sg/gp-28wk-ordtime-sunday-13th-october-2019/
God created you to do him some particular service. He has given some work to you that he has not given to another. You have your mission. You shall do good.
John Henry Newman
27 Sunday of Ordinary Time C
A REFLECTION BY
Fr. Errol Fernandes S.J. from Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
The attitude of realizing that one has always been given one's due and that one has simply done what one has to do, is the attitude that Jesus is calling for in the Gospel text of today. Put in another way, it might read: "Let the reward of your action be in the doing of the action itself." This is also the meaning of faith, as explicated both in the first reading of today and in the Gospel.
Faith is not measured quantitatively and thus, in answer to the disciples' plea to increase their faith. Jesus (...) asks them to have faith. There is no question of having too much or too little faith. There is no question of faith having to be increased once one has it. It is enough that one has faith. Then, even if is the size of a mustard seed, it is enough and more.
Click here to keep reading Source https://errolsj.blogspot.com