Tuesday, December 16, 2014

4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B)


Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
Lk 1:26-38


Click to go to << Fourth Sunday of Advent (B) 2011 >>
Click to go to << Fourth Sunday of Advent (B) 2008 >>

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B)



A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light.
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

Click to go to << Third Sunday of Advent 2011 >>
Click to go to << Third Sunday of Advent 2008 >>

We have in one of our schools a facility called “Joy Center”. It used to be the place where the students go during break time to play table games and board games such as ping pong, table football, pool, Games of the Generals and chess. It’s aptly called the “Joy Center” because the boys go there to have fun, to enjoy themselves.

In the same way the Third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” or “Joy Sunday” because with Christmas getting closer, we feel happy. And to highlight the joyful spirit of this Sunday, the color of the candle of the Advent wreath and of the vestment of the priest is pink. An alternative color for the vestment is rose.

Of course, this Sunday is not the only Sunday that is joyful. The whole mood of Advent is joyful. And it is because the spirit of Christmas itself is one of joy.

The joyful spirit of Christmas is expressed in the holiday character of the season. Schools, offices, buildings, parishes and streets are adorned with Christmas lights, Christmas trees, lanterns, and Santa Claus. Christmas songs are heard over the radio. We hold Christmas parties in schools, and in offices. We give and receive gifts and Christmas cards. We wear new clothes. The 13th month pay and Christmas bonus are awaited with eagerness.

All of these are good. But they are not enough to express the joy of Christmas. The joy of Christmas comes from giving. And this giving is to celebrate the giving that happened on that first Christmas: “God so loved the world that he GAVE his only Son that those who believe in him may not perish but have everlasting life.”

A Grade Six pupil experienced for himself the joy that comes from giving. It is a practice to hold a Christmas party in schools. Following the suggestion of their teacher, the class decided that they will share the joy of Christmas with other kids. And so they invited some children from an orphanage to attend their Christmas party in school. It was after this party that I met this Grade Six pupil. He couldn’t contain his pride and happiness. He said, “Father, I never thought I would feel this happy.” I asked him why. And he replied, “Because I saw the orphaned children very happy. That made me very happy.”

What I am suggesting is that you make your Christmas joyful by giving. Just like that Grade Six pupil, make your Christmas joyful by making others happy. Let’s see the ways.

1. Why don’t you share some of your Noche Buena or Media Noche with your neighbors?

2. I have seen street children who cannot go to school because they have to make a living by rummaging through garbage. Why not prepare sandwiches for them? Or buy some hamburger, for example, and give it to them.

3. You can also go to an orphanage or an old people’s home or the jail and give them gift packs or food, like spaghetti and ice cream. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B)



And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals." 
Mk 1:1-8


Click to go to << Second Sunday of Advent (B) 2011 >>
Click to go to << Second Sunday of Advent (B) 2008 >>

Do you know that they celebrate Christmas in Japan like we do here in the Philippines? Is there any difference? 
Yes, there is. Their Christmas is just a holiday. In the Philippines it is both a holiday and a holy day. What makes Christmas a holy day? We celebrate it with faith. The Japanese celebrate Christmas without thinking of Christ. We celebrate Christmas because of Christ. We celebrate the birth of Christ, the Savior of the world.

There are only three birthdays that we celebrate in the Liturgy: the birth of John the Baptist on June 24, the birth of Mary on September 8 and the birth of Christ on December 25. And the reason why celebrate their birth is their important role in the plan of salvation. John the Baptist prepared Israel for the appearance of the Messiah. Mary, of course, is the one through whom the Messiah was born into the world. Jesus Christ is the Messiah.

When we celebrate our own birthdays, one of the things we need to do is to think about is the role that God has given us in this world. That role is what gives meaning to our life on earth. That role answers the question: Why was I born into this world? So let us ask ourselves: Do I know what that role is? How well have I been fulfilling it?

Are there deeper reasons for celebrating the birth of Jesus? Yes, there are.

In the first place, when we celebrate Christmas, we are also celebrating the love of God for us. In St. John’s Gospel, we read: “For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son so that those who believe in him may not perish but have everlasting life.” It was because God loved us that he did not abandon us to our sins. It was because he loved us that he sent us a Savior.

Secondly, when we celebrate Christmas, we are also celebrating the “pagmamalasakit “ of Jesus Christ for us. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity agreed to become a human being so that he may suffer and die on the cross to pay the price of our redemption. In Romans 5:7-8 St. Paul declares: “Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Christ died for us – that is the “pagmamalasakit” of Christ that I am talking about.

There may be more reasons for celebrating Christmas, but I end with a third reason. When we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the fulfillment of a promise made by God right after Adam and Eve sinned. He promised not to abandon them but to send a Savior. This was the promise: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will strike at your head, while you strike at its heel” (Gn 3: 15). Christmas then is a celebration of God’s keeping his promise. Our God then is a God who is true to his word. He is a God who has “palabra de honor”.

We have found at least three reasons for celebrating Christmas. How then should we prepare for  Christmas so that it does not become just a holiday but a holy day above all else? Again when we say holy day, we mean to say that our celebration is inspired by faith. And faith tells us that Christmas is about the birth of our Savior. So how do we prepare for the celebration of the birth of the Savior?

The First Reading and the Gospel answer that question: “A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.” 

What does this mean? It means remove anything and everything that is an obstacle to meet the Lord. There is really only one thing that can hinder us from meeting the Lord. Sin. But removing sin is a process. (We call this process “conversion”.) It is a process because it is not just about going to confession. Removing sin is also about removing the bad habits, correcting the bad attitudes and avoiding the people, places and things that cause us to sin. And all of these are not easily done. It takes time and effort. And that is why to prepare ourselves for Christmas, we are given four weeks. 

For some of us four weeks may not be enough. But at least come Christmas day, we can offer to the Lord together with the Four Wise Men, all the time and effort we have spent in removing our bad habits, in correcting our bad attitudes and in avoiding the people, places and things that cause us to sin.


Christmas is a holiday. But it is more than a holiday. It is a holy day. And it will become a holy day when our celebration is inspired by faith and centered on Christ. That is why our Christmas greeting should not only be “Merry Christmas” but a “Blessed Christmas”.

Monday, November 24, 2014

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B)


Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.
Mk 13:33-37


Click to go to << First Sunday of Advent (B) 1980 >>

The theme of the Gospel of the First Sunday of Advent is the end of the present age and the beginning of a new world, the end of time and the beginning of eternity, the resurrection of the dead, and the second coming of Jesus Christ as King and Judge.

Jesus Christ is king even now but it is not obvious. At the end of the present age, his kingship will be seen by everyone. He will also judge everyone who was ever born. Evil people will go to hell. Good people will go to heaven.

The resurrection of the dead means that body and soul will be re-united. But the body will be transformed so that it can no longer get sick, nor age nor die. And with the transformation of the body, the present world will also be transformed. How will the new world look like, we do not know. The transformation of good people will actually be the same as the transformation of Jesus Christ at his resurrection.

When Jesus returns, time will also come to an end and eternity will begin. Philosophy explains time as the succession of before and after. Eternity therefore means there will no longer be a before and an after. It will always be now. What does that mean? It simply means there will be no change. That is why if you go to heaven you will always be happy. Unlike here on earth, there is change. One time you are happy. At another time you are sad.

What is the teaching that Jesus gives us regarding his second coming and the end of the old word? He says that we should be on guard and stay awake. Be like the door keeper who is always ready to open the door no matter at what time the master of the house will come.

Why is this the theme of Advent when Advent is supposed to be a four-week preparation for Christmas?

First, Advent means coming. But the first part of Advent is about the second coming of Jesus as King and Judge at the end of time. It is the first part that is a preparation for his second coming. This second coming is called the Parousia. The second part of Advent is about the first coming of Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem. It is in this second part that is strictly speaking devoted to preparing for Christmas.

Advent is a four-week preparation. That is why there are four candles in the Advent wreath. Except for one candle, all three are violet because violet is the color of preparation. But one candle is pink. This candle is lighted on the Third Sunday of Advent. And it is called Gaudete Sunday or Sunday of Rejoicing because as we say in the Philippines, “Ilang tulugan na lang, Pasko na!”

The preparation of Advent is, of course, spiritual and it involves conversion. That is why the liturgical color of Advent is violet as I have said. The liturgical color of Advent and Lent is violet. Is there any difference? Yes, there is. While the period of Lent is low-key, the period of Advent is joyful.

How do we put into practice the teaching of Jesus to be on guard and to stay awake for his second coming?

I see a bit of a problem. While it is entirely possible that the second coming will take place in our lifetime, it is more probable that our death will come first. In other words, it is more practical to prepare for death rather than for the Parousia. However, the spiritual preparation for death is practically the same as the spiritual preparation for the Parousia. So that simplifies matters.
So how do we prepare ourselves spiritually for death and for the Parousia? Just follow this principle: live in such a way that you are always ready to face the judgment seat of God.

Are you living a good Christian life? Go ahead being a good Christian. Huwag pabayaan ang sarili na maligaw ng landas. Are you living a sinful life? Don’t wait for tomorrow to change. Don’t say: “Saka na lang.” Do it now. Now na! Is there someone that you are not at peace with? Take steps now to reconcile. Is there a grudge that you have been keeping inside you for so long? Let it go. Let it go. Move on with your life. Is there a bad habit that has taken hold of you? It may take you a long time to shake it off. But a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Take that step now. Are you not at peace with God? Take steps to return to him. Magbalik-loob sa Diyos. Take the first steps now to do that.

We go to the cemetery at least once a year on the occasion of Undas or Todos los Santos. In a cemetery somewhere in Scotland, a visitor saw this inscription on a tombstone: Consider, friend, as you pass by: As you are now, so once was I. As I am now, you too shall be. Prepare, therefore, to follow me.


How do we prepare for death and for the Parousia? Live in such a way that you are always ready to face the judgment seat of God. And if you are not yet ready, fix your life. Do it now. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

CHRIST THE KING (A)



When the Son of Man comes in his glory,and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne.

Mt 25:31-46

Click to go to << Christ the King (A) 2008 >>

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

33RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A)



You wicked, lazy servant! Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
MT 24:14-30


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome



Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
Jn 2:13-22

Click to go to << St. John Lateran Basilica >>