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!”

 

The Feast of Pentecost C

 

“As he has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit”

Today we are celebrating solemnity of Pentecost. Pentecost literally means 50th. It is a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the Passover feast by the Jews, and it is a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus by the Christians. The Jewish Pentecost was originally a post-harvest thanksgiving feast.  Later, the Jews included in it the remembrance of God’s Covenants with Noah after the Deluge and with Moses at Mt. Sinai. Pentecost (Whitsunday), with Christmas and Easter, ranks among the great feasts of Christianity. On Christmas we celebrate the birthday of Christ in His Physical Body. Today is the birthday of the Church, of all those who have been reborn into His Mystical Body.

 On the day of Pentecost, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send the Advocate or Paraclete. The gift of the Spirit would enable them to fulfill Jesus’ commission to preach the Gospel to all nations.  Today’s Gospel passage also tells us how Jesus gave to the Apostles the power and authority to forgive sins.  “Receive the Holy Spirit.  For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”  These wonderful words, which bind together inseparably the presence of the Holy Spirit and the gift of forgiveness, are referred to directly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  But they have a much wider meaning.  Those words remind us of the Christian vocation we are all have, to love and forgive as we have been loved and forgiven, in the world of today, which is often fiercely judgmental and vengeful. We have to be living witness to world like shining light. 

Once upon a time a little candle stood in a room filled with other candles, most of them much larger and much more beautiful than she was. Some were ornate and some were rather simple, like herself. Some were white, some were blue, some were pink, and some were green. She had no idea why she was there, and the other candles made her feel rather small and insignificant. When the sun went down and the room began to get dark, she noticed a man walking toward her with fire on a stick. She suddenly realized that the man was going to set her on fire. “No” she cried, “Don’t burn me, please!” But she knew that she could not be heard and prepared for the pain that would surely follow. To her surprise, the room filled with light. She wondered where it came from. To her delight, she realized that the light came from herself. Then the man struck another fire stick and, one by one, lit the other candles in the room. Each one gave out the same light that she did. During the next few hours, she noticed that, slowly, her wax began to flow. She became aware that she would soon die. With this realization came a sense of why she had been created. “Perhaps my purpose on earth is to give out light until I die,” she mused. And that’s exactly what she did. God created you and I to produce light in a dark world. Like that little candle, we all can produce the same amount of light, no matter how small we are or what colour we might be. But we can’t produce light until we receive it from God, the light of the world.

Graduates you are stepping forward in the world which is filled with challenges, be close to God, listen to the Holy spirit and be shining light to others doing good.