Monday, December 27, 2010

Feast of the Holy Family

The Sunday Gospel [December 26, 2010]

Mt 2:13-15, 19-23

The Flight to Egypt

13When [the magi] had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” 14Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 15He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

19When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. 23He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazorean.”

The Holy Family and the Families of Migrants

Today’s feast highlights Christmas as a celebration of the family—in both theological and socio-cultural senses. It is a theological celebration because it involves God who sent his beloved Son to “make his dwelling” among human beings, to become incarnate and, thus, to be truly a part of the human family. God is not just “the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named” (Eph 3:15). In sending his Son Jesus to form a family with Joseph and Mary, God has truly become a family member!

Christmas is also a socio-cultural celebration. Apart from weddings and funerals, at no other time of the year do Filipinos gather as families than at Christmas. As the season draws near, our airports, piers, and bus terminals teem with people going the same direction—home. Balikbayans are veritable Christmas trees: they come home loaded with gifts and goodies. For those who cannot come home, the season becomes particularly poignant. Christmas exposes most keenly the “lights and shadows” of Filipino families, their joys and hopes, their sorrows and anxieties.

Matthew tells us that the Holy Family also has its share of lights and shadows. The bright side comes with the arrival of the Magi who pay homage to Jesus and bring him gifts. The dark side is presented in today’s Gospel: the Holy Family is forced to flee Bethlehem to escape the murderous design of King Herod. It becomes a family of migrants.

The flight into Egypt recalls Pharaoh’s persecution of God’s people and the birth of Moses who would someday lead the people into freedom. Thus, the Child Jesus embodies and experiences the exodus story of Israel. Someday, like Moses, he will save his people—from the slavery of sin.

The experience of the Holy Family calls special attention to a particular group of families—the families of migrants. The phenomenon of migrant workers touches Filipino families because some 8 million of our people are working abroad. Newsweek (Oct. 4, 2004) refers to Filipinos as “workers for the world” and examines the cost of the absence of one parent or both parents on family life and children. While labor migration serves as an economic stopgap for our beleaguered economy, it also exacerbates the country’s social problems, including juvenile delinquency and marital breakups.

Among local migrants are the families of those obliged to be away for long periods, such as members of the armed forces and sailors. There are families with no home; families discriminated against for cultural, political, or religious reasons; and families of prisoners and outcasts.

Pope John Paul II writes in his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio (n 77) that the families of migrants should be able to find a “homeland” everywhere in the Church. It is the task of the people of God to look after them, and to appeal especially to government agencies to see to it that migrant workers find employment, that they are reunited with their families, that they are respected in their cultural identity, and that their children are given the chance to learn a trade and practice it.

Charity begins at home. Even as we pray and contribute our share for the betterment of Filipino migrants, let us open our eyes and hearts to the conditions of “migrants” among us. We entrust each family to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Because Jesus himself knew the vicissitudes of a family in exile, we have in him a merciful Lord who sympathizes with the plight of our families. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

[Diary 1437]
Christmas Eve [1937]. After Holy Communion, the Mother of God gave me to experience the anxious concern she had in Her heart because of the Son of God. But this anxiety was permeated with such fragrance of abandonment to the will of God that I should call it ' rather a delight than an anxiety. I understood how my ' soul ought to accept the will of God in all things. It is a pity I cannot write this the way I experienced it. My soul was plunged in deep recollection all day long. Nothing could tear me away from this recollection, neither duties, nor the business I had with lay people.

Source: Divine Mercy in My Soul: by Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, published by Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Stockbridge, MA 01263, USA, 4th Print 2005 ISBN 81-7109-594-1

Note: If you like my post then consider buying the Book "Divine Mercy in my Soul" from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception website. The owner of this blog have no other intention but to spread and proclaim the "Divine Mercy" here in cyberspace.

Monday, December 20, 2010

4th Sunday of Advent

The Sunday Gospel [December 19, 2010]

Mt 1:18-24
The Birth of Jesus

18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. 19Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 20Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. 21She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,/ and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” 24When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Guardian of the Redeemer

Chosen to be the mother of the Son of God, “the Word-made-flesh,” Mary shared in the mystery of the Incarnation like no other human being. But there was someone else who shared it with her, and he, too, was involved in the same salvific event: her betrothed, Joseph of Nazareth.

Today’s Gospel tells us of the origin of Mary’s pregnancy: she was with child through the power of the Holy Spirit. Matthew, who focuses on Joseph, simply states the situation. It is Luke who describes fully and explicitly the child’s conception. The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:31-32). Without hesitation, Mary answers yes to what is clearly God’s plan (“May it be done to me according to your word”). Her “pregnancy” becomes visible to Joseph with the passing of weeks. At this point, Luke’s text coincides with Matthew: Joseph seeks an answer to the unsettling question of Mary’s pregnancy as well as a way out of what he perceives as a difficult situation.

God has shown Mary her part in the plan of salvation. Here, in the parallel “annunciation,” God introduces Joseph to the mystery of Mary’s motherhood. While remaining a virgin, she, who by law is his “wife,” has become a mother through the power of the Holy Spirit. The invitation to Joseph is to take Mary home as his wife, and when the child in her womb comes into the world, he should give it the name “Jesus.” In other words, God entrusts to Joseph the responsibilities of an earthly father as regards Mary’s Son.

“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” The “upright” Joseph who thought of divorcing Mary shows a readiness to do what God asks of him, a readiness that is similar to Mary’s. He takes Mary in all the mystery of her motherhood. Although he does not respond verbally to the angel’s announcement, Joseph manifests the same “obedience of faith” that Mary shows and that Jesus will ask of his disciples. By this obedience of faith, one commits oneself entirely to God.

Pope John Paul II wrote a beautiful apostolic letter on the person and mission of Joseph. He called it Redemptoris Custos, “Guardian of the Redeemer.” Before Joseph can exercise fatherhood and guardianship of Jesus the Redeemer, he has to guard the mystery of the Incarnation—together with Mary and in relation to her. He has to be placed by God on the path of Mary’s “pilgrimage of faith.” Joseph’s way of faith is totally determined by the same mystery of the Incarnation.

References to Joseph are few. This is consistent with our picture of him as a simple and quiet man. But he is also a good and responsible guardian, and if the boy Jesus “grew in wisdom and favor” before God and humankind (Lk 2:52), it is due in no small measure to Joseph.

By his encyclical Quam¬quam Pluries (August 15, 1889), Pope Leo XIII declared St. Joseph the Patron of the Universal Church. Since then the Church has implored the protection of St. Joseph. In our days, Pope John Paul II writes: “Commending ourselves to the protection of him to whose custody God ‘entrusted his greatest and most precious treasures,’ let us learn from him how to be servants of the ‘economy of salvation.’ May St. Joseph become for all of us an exceptional teacher in the service of Christ’s saving mission, a mission which is the responsibility of each and every member of the Church” (Redemp-toris Custos, n 32).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy

[Diary 687]
Once, as I was going down the hall to the kitchen, I heard these words in my soul: Say unceasingly the chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world know My infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy.

[Diary 754]
+The Lord's Promise: The souls that say this chaplet will be embraced by My mercy during their lifetime and especially at the hour of their death.

[Diary 811]
When I entered my solitude, I heard these words: At the hour of their death, I defend as My own glory every soul that will say this chaplet; or when others say it for a dying person, the indulgence is the same. When this chaplet is said by the bedside of a dying person, God's anger is placated, unfathomable mercy envelops the soul, and the very depths of My tender mercy are moved for the sake of the sorrowful Passion of My Son.

[Diary 848]
While I was saying the chaplet, I heard a voice which said, Oh, what great graces I will grant to souls who say this chaplet; the very depths of My tender mercy are stirred for the sake of those who say the chaplet. Write down these words, My daughter. Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them.

Source: DIARY, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul © 1987 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.  Stockbridge, MA 01263.  All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Note: If you like my post then consider buying the Book "Divine Mercy in my Soul" from the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception website. The owner of this blog have no other intention but to spread and proclaim the "Divine Mercy".

Sunday, December 12, 2010

3rd Sunday of Advent

The Sunday Gospel [December 12, 2010]

Mt 11:2-11
The Messengers from John the Baptist

2When John heard in prison of the works of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to him 3with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 4Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. 6And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” 7As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. 9Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.’ 11Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Light and Hope in Troubled Times

The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of gladness and rejoicing because of the proximity of Christ’s birth. The spirit of Christ¬mas begins to fill the air as people look forward to the start of the revered Filipino tradition of Misa de Gallo. Still, our hearts are filled with a mixture of hopes and fears, of joy and sadness. We are participants, not mere spectators, in the battle between good and evil, between light and darkness.

John the Baptist, the voice in the wilderness, the voice of Advent, is being muffled. Herod Antipas has put him in prison because, true to his witness as prophet, he denounced Herod’s in¬¬ces¬tuous marriage to Hero¬dias.

Today’s Gospel suggests that John in his prison cell has heard reports about Jesus. He asks if Jesus is the Awaited One. Perhaps he himself is expecting a fiery figure.

To John’s messengers who query if he is the one who is to come, Jesus responds not with a yes or a no but with an allusion to Isaiah’s prophecy (Is 35:5-6, First Reading). Instead of talking about the fiery judgment of the expected Messiah, Jesus cites the restoration to wholeness of men and women—salvific signs that God is doing on behalf of humanity.

Despite John’s doubts about him and his works, Jesus praises his precursor. John is firm, quite unlike a reed in the wind that is all too easily swayed. He is dressed simply, unlike those with wealth and power.

As we anticipate the celebration of the Incarnation, let us take another look at the precursor. John is neither fuming about his stay in prison nor praying for deliverance. He receives news about Jesus and reflects on these. He shares with his disciples the meaning of all that he has heard. He patiently tries to discern if this Jesus is truly the Messiah. And when he receives Jesus’ reply, he spends more time pondering on what he has heard and seen.

Eugen Drewermann, a German priest and psychotherapist, muses: “Here is a man who tied himself to a way of hoping, a yearning for the future, and of proclaiming this future in the name of God, and then, when this promised future finally came, it looked completely different from what he expected. Indeed, it was hardly recognizable. This happens to us and our expectations, too. Do we have the power then to once again change ourselves, from law to grace, from morality to understanding, from human striving to simple being?… What John wanted comes to pass, but entirely from within. It is not whipped into being with the rod of fear; instead, it grows out of the power of a milder climate.”

Like John, instead of being dismayed by the situation in which we find ourselves, we could ponder on the meaning of our Lord Jesus Christ and the good news that he brings. Let us spend time questioning, listening, seeing, and remembering that Jesus, born in a manger, hanged on a cross, and risen from the dead, is alive and with our Father in heaven. God continues to rule our lives with mercy and justice, acting in his time according to his plan of salvation, despite appearances to the contrary, despite the horrors of our times. Let us act with faith, endure with hope, doing all with love. “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and late rains. You too must be patient” (Jas 5:7-8).

Friday, December 10, 2010

True Greatness is in Loving God and in Humility

[Diary 424]
In the evening, I just about got into bed, and I fell asleep immediately. Though I fell asleep quickly, I was awakened even more quickly. A little child came and woke me up. The child seemed about a year old, and I was surprised it could speak so well, as children of that age either do not speak or speak very indistinctly The child was beautiful beyond words and resembled the Child Jesus, and he said to me, Look at the sky. And when I looked at the sky I saw the stars and the moon shining. Then the child asked me,Do you see this moon and these stars? When I said yes, he spoke these words to me, These stars are the souls of faithful Christians, and the moon is the souls of religious. Do you see how great the difference is between the light of the moon and the light of the stars? Such is the difference in heaven between the soul of a religious and the soul of a faithful Christian. And he went on to say that, True greatness is in loving God and in humility.

Source: DIARY, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul © 1987 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.  Stockbridge, MA 01263.  All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Note: If you like my post then consider buying the Book "Divine Mercy in my Soul" from the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception website. The owner of this blog have no other intention but to spread and proclaim the "Divine Mercy".

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary Principal patroness of the Philippines

Lk 1:26-38
Announcement of the Birth of Jesus

26The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” 35And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.


If you have any experience of motherhood, you know that it takes a lot of faith. In many ways, it’s something beyond your control. Suddenly you have a new life inside you. You do your best to nurture that life, but you don’t know how everything is going to turn out. You do everything you can to ensure that your child will be loved and supported. Still you have to trust God for the big picture.

As we honor Mary today, let’s remember the deep and trusting faith she had. She didn’t comprehend how she could give birth to the Messiah, but she still said “yes” to God’s plan. She was told she would suffer greatly because of her child, but she still obeyed. She faithfully took care of Jesus, endured his crucifixion and death, and stayed true to him until the end.

Mary has many things to teach us. Like her, we are called to bring Jesus into this world; like her, we too will suffer. When we face challenges and temptations, we can be tempted to forget about our walk with the Lord and just go with the flow. Or we can do as Mary did and proclaim God’s greatness, recognizing that he will look after us if we remain open to the word. “The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.” (Luke 1:53).

Mary is more than just an idealistic example of perfect faith. She is a mother, and she wants nothing more than to bring us to her son, Jesus. Quite simply, she loves us! St. John Vianney tells us, “Mary’s heart is so loving toward us that the hearts of all mothers taken together are but a piece of ice in comparison.” We can go to her, not just for our needs but to ask her help in growing closer to the Lord. In the prayers of the rosary we say to her, “The Lord is with you!” Let’s not forget Mary, who is a privileged “insider” in the heavenly court, and who is already praying for each and every one of us!

“Lord, thank you for your Blessed Mother! May I imitate her virtues and call upon her to help me walk with you! Amen.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Second Sunday of Advent

Mt 3:1-12
The Preaching of John the Baptist

1In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea 2[and] saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 3It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’ ”

4John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him 6and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. 7When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. 9And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

A Man Sent from God

One of the greatest figures of the last century is Pope John XXIII. He was the one who called for and opened Vatican Council II, the ecumenical council that ushered the Church into modern times. He was beatified in 2001, the penultimate step to sainthood.

On October 28, 1958, when Angelo Roncalli accepted his election as Pope to succeed Pius XII, he was asked how he would like to be called. He answered, “John.” The choice was a complete surprise. The last Pope John who died in 1414 had been declared an anti-pope by the Council of Constance. But Angelo said “John” was his father’s name.

Angelo Roncalli proved to be a humble and loving father to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, earning for himself the sobriquet “the Good Pope.” And when people referred to the gift of his person, they would quote a passage from the Prologue of the Gospel of John (1:6): “A man named John was sent from God.” The comparison seems a bit forced. The Pope was a father-figure who conquered the hearts of people with his quiet and serene disposition. The prophet who preached in the Judean desert was an unkempt, terrible figure who forced people to accept the honest truth about themselves. Yet, in their honesty and in their dedication to their mission they were kindred souls.

The Second Sunday of Advent marks the appearance of John the Baptist in the liturgy. The Gospel situates him in the desert place, close enough to the River Jordan where he can baptize people who step forward acknowledging their sins. The core of John’s prophetic cry is for people to repent, to reform their lives. Matthew sees John as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah (v 3). The oracle was an announcement of good tidings to the Israelite exiles: God would visit them and make them return to their homeland. Here, the oracle is given a deeper meaning. God is once again visiting his people to save them. This time, his visitation will not be through the instrumentality of chosen messengers like Zerubbabel, Ezra, or Nehe¬miah. God will visit as in the person of the Messiah, the Emmanuel (Mt 2:23). John does not yet know the Coming One. He only knows that the one he is preparing for is more powerful than he is, so powerful that he considers himself unworthy of even the most humble task of carrying his sandals.

John’s message inspires joyful expectancy. God will visit his people through a divine messenger. At the same time, we are caught up in the urgency of preparing for the coming of the divine messenger. The Coming One will test our hearts with the Holy Spirit and fire. To prepare for his coming, we must deal with our false pride and self-complacency.

People are just as attracted to genuine prophets today as in biblical times. John the Baptist was a genuine prophet. Even the Pharisees and Sadducees who might have thought him “strange” were attracted to him. Herod feared him, yet liked to listen to him (Mk 6:20). Another John—Pope John XXIII—was an authentic human being, who was esteemed for his simplicity, goodness, and faith. In both Johns we have excellent models in preparing for Jesus’ coming.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Spreading Devotion to the Divine Mercy

[Diary 1075]
Souls who spread the honor of My mercy I shield through their entire lives as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the Merciful Savior. At that last hour, a soul has nothing with which to defend itself except My mercy. Happy is the soul that during its lifetime immersed itself in the Fountain of Mercy, because justice will have no hold on it.

Source: DIARY, Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul © 1987 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M.  Stockbridge, MA 01263.  All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Note: If you like my post then consider buying the Book "Divine Mercy in my Soul" from the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception website. The owner of this blog have no other intention but to spread and proclaim the "Divine Mercy".