The Feast of Christmas A

“God is with us.”

After long forty days’ preparation, we are here to celebrate Christmas, birthday of our lord Jesus. This began as we celebrated thanksgiving, everywhere Christmas decorations, lights and music. As Christians in the Church began with advent prayer, penance and sacrifice. This waiting and preparation picture in lighting different advent candles. Now it is complete. We were very busy doing different things, shopping, cooking, decorating and family coming together. Perhaps, it was wonderful time. This is a beautiful season. On this day, Jesus came to the earth as human beings to make us worthy of God. This is celebration of true God and true man, as our savior and redeemer, born little baby. This is the reason to rejoice.

Tonight’s vigil Mass gospel reading is long. In there, Matthew traces Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham. Though we often skip over these lists of names, the Gospel writers took great pains to compile the genealogies and to make several theological points in the process. Our Lord Jesus Christ was born of a line of ancestors whom Matthew arranges into three groups: 14 Patriarchs, 14 Kings and 14 Princes. The three groups are based on the three stages of Jewish history: i) the rise of Israel to a great kingdom by the time of David, ii) the fall of the nation by the time of Babylonian exile and iii) the resurrection of the nation after the exile. Strangely enough, the list includes a number of disreputable characters, including three women of bad reputation: Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba. Perhaps the Lord God included these women in His Son's human genealogy to emphasize God's grace, to give us all hope and to show us that Jesus is sent to save sinners. Thus, God's powerful work of salvation comes to us under the appearance of weakness. From the beginning, Matthew's account challenges our human expectations as to how God will fulfill our hopes for endless peace, justice, and righteousness. This was done to show that Jesus is truly a man. He had family, as all humans beings he ate and drank. He also felt joys and sorrows, pains and sufferings.

 

This is wonderful to see Christians’ making cribs to prepare themselves for Christmas. In this way, it becomes vivid on the earth the coming of Jesus. It was St Francis of Assisi who assembled the first crib in a cave on an Italian hillside. It was in 1293 that the first crèche was erected in the woods of Greccio near Assisi, on Christmas Eve. The crib was ready, hay was brought, the ox and the donkey were led to the spot. Greccio became a new Bethlehem. The aim of St. Francis was to make the Christmas story come alive for the people of the locality. His idea was to show them how close it was to them and their lives. And it seems that he succeeded.  St. Chrysostom has said, “The God has become son of man, in order to make us sons and daughters of God.”

But he is also true God. In his gospel, Mathew makes it clear. Before, Mary and Joseph came, she was found with baby. Joseph was confused and thought to divorce her. But in the dream appearing the Angel Gabriel told baby is from above, through the Holy Spirit. We also hear, when Mary went to serve Elizabeth in the hill country of Juda, filled with the Holy Spirit spoke out “How does this happen that to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me.”  Even Baby John leaped with joy in the womb of the mother. At the river Jordon, we hear “You are my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” The Gospel chosen for the morning mass tells us how the word which existed from the beginning became incarnate for us and pitched his tent among us. John tells us that he is the light that shines in the darkness and takes away the darkness from within us. In all gospels, we find testimony of God. Jesus is picture of God on this earth. 

This is what we have to understand as we contemplate the scene in the Christmas Crib. That Jesus is the Son of God who adopted human form and who came into our world in order to submit himself to death by human hands. He did this so that in his resurrection he could turn everything to our advantage and so manifest his forgiveness of every human being. This is what Christmas means and it is of the utmost significance for the entire world. It is something that we celebrate and take joy in but it is also something that we know we must proclaim to all those who have not fully understood what it is really about. Our desire this Christmas is that the real significance of the feast permeates our whole lives and changes us. Our wish is that it makes us better people and turns us definitively away from sin. We also want the good effects it has on us to be transmitted to the rest of the human family.

When we continue our celebration, let us be ready to welcome him, look for him and you shall find salvation. True Salvation to the problem of the world is only in him. He only gives us ultimate meaning of life, pain and setbacks. let us read and listen to the word God, try to truly live in accordance with the teachings of Jesus, the Son of God that has come into us. Only then, we shall realize that, together, we could truly build a better world.  

A four-year-old girl went with a group of family and friends to see the Christmas lights, displayed at various locations throughout the city. At one church, they stopped and got out to look more closely at a beautiful nativity scene. “Isn’t that beautiful?” said the little girl’s grandmother. “Look at all the animals, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.”  “Yes, Grandma,” replied the granddaughter. “It is really nice. But there is only one thing that bothers me. Isn’t Baby Jesus ever going to grow up…? He’s the same size he was last year!”

 

19th Sunday of the Ordinary Time C

 

“Do not be afraid, trust in God.”

All of you know Niagara Falls and Stunt on it. A tightrope walker named Charles Blondin who decided to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Thousands showed up. Blondin went to the edge of the falls, put one foot on the rope, and then walked across Niagara Falls. Everyone cheered.  Blondin said, “I am going to do again, but this time, I am going to push wheelbarrow full of dirt.” Blondin pushed wheelbarrow across on the tightrope. Then, he did it again and again. Then, a tourist said, “I believe you could do that all day.” Blondin dumped the dirt and said to the tourist, “Get into the wheelbarrow. I’ll push you across.” Today’s all readings call us to faith, hope and trust in God.

In the second reading we heard about the faith of the people of Israel who trusted in the Lord. We have the example of Abraham who showed constant faith and remained faithful to God. Abraham begins his pilgrimage of faith in his old age to move to a foreign land in answer to the God’s call, not knowing where all of this will lead him. There he lived in tents throughout his entire life, always looking towards to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. In his heart, he desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one, the inheritance of the promises of God. Abraham did shine in his faith and obedience. He believed that though barren, his wife would conceive, even when she was old and beyond the age of conceiving. He believed that although he was in his old age, descendants would be born of him, these numbering as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand on the seashore. When asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, he believed that God could raise someone from the dead and he obeyed God. Abraham had faith in God, patiently waiting to see how the goodness of God would develop. Such faith and patience is the model that all Christians should strive to imitate.

 In the Gospel of today Jesus tells us as he tells his disciples not to be afraid because it is the Father’s desire to give us the kingdom. Further Jesus says where your treasure is, there will your heart be also and calls us to build that treasure which cannot be robbed by any thief or destroyed by any moth.  He leads us to the practical lesson namely to be prepared and ready to receive the Lord at any time.

 Faith is free gift from God. Our Christian faith is based on the personal love of God towards each one of us. Through faith wonders have been carried out throughout the ages. Thanks to faith we ourselves believe in the divine presence and in his providential care. But true faith is nothing without love. It is love which is the driving force of faith; it is love which pushes the men and women living on this earth to believe, with all their heart, in God the Father who is caring for us. Faith and love do good work: together they lead man towards God, towards that food which is the Word of God.

As we continue our celebration, take the message that is given to us is to have deep faith in God and leave behind all things that can draw us away from him. Faith gives us a new outlook, a new set of values, a new world of meaning.