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!”

 

33rd Sunday of the Ordinary Time B

“He will gather his elect from the four winds.”

Today we are celebrating 33rd Sunday of the ordinary time. Next weekend is the feast of Christ the king. Just two weeks are left for the conclusion of the liturgical year. So, as we move to the end of the liturgical, we are given to reflect upon the end of times, death, judgement heaven and hell. Sometime we may feel awkward to think this because everything is going on fine. But the holy mother church wants us because this earth is not our permanent place to live. We are pilgrims, journeying to the house of God, heaven which is our permanent place. For this we need to be aware and attentive living our faith, trusting in God. We need to keep ourselves from slothfulness though know no time. Today all readings speak about end of times.

Just now we heard gospel reading taken from St. Mark chapter 13. The whole chapter deals with end times. He has brought in to us images from the old testament, what the Jews believed. When the darkness appeared on the world, you know the end is near. Jesus would appear to gather his people from all the corners of the world. He has also given us the image of fig tree. Through this image he tells us that those who have lived their faith, will receive their salvation. They will have peace and joy of God in his kingdom.

The first reading is taken from the book of prophet Daniel. The author of this book is encouraging his people at the time of distress and persecution, asking them to remain faith to their God and religion. We heard about arch angel Michael, who would protect their struggles. God’s holy will people will rise to everlasting life and the wise people will shine like the stars against the dark of the night. God has dominion all over.

The 2nd reading is from the letter to the Hebrews. In there Jesus is presented as a high priest, offered the sacrifices once and for all our sins as a fulfilment of all the sacrifices. Therefore, there is no further need of any offering for sins. We need only to accept the gift forgiveness. Christ has consecrated us to god his father and has made us perfect in his sight.

A Sunday school teacher asked his class, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the Church, would that get me into Heaven?  “NO!” the children all answered. “If I cleaned the Church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?” Again, the answer was, “NO!”  Again, the teacher asked, “Well, then, if I were kind to animals and gave candy to all the children, and loved my wife, would that get me into Heaven?” Again, they all answered, "NO!" “Well then how can I get into Heaven?”  A five-year-old boy shouted out, “YOU GOTTA BE DEAD!” Good insight for a five-year old!

Let us pray to God for his grace so that we all may live our faith actively everyday and be prepared.