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!”

 

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26th Sunday of the Ordinary Time B

09-26-2021

Whoever is not against us is for us.

Dr. Spencer, an Anglican pastor was a wonderful preacher. His congregation loved to hear him. In the course of time people began to feel monotonous and dryness in his homily. One Sunday in the neighboring church a young preacher was there. The congregation loved his preaching because he connected his homily with their situation very well. The following Sunday Dr. Spencer got his church for service. Very few people were there. He asked the reason. He was told that there was a young pastor in the neighboring parish. They were gone to hear him. He thought there might be something good. So, he also went to the church to hear the young pastor. Today’s liturgy of the word gives us a strong warning against jealousy, intolerance and giving scandal and challenges us to live love, tolerance and good exemplary life.

The Gospel reading you heard begins with the issue of how authority is mediated in the Christian community.  Mark presents an incident of the exorcist who was not a follower of Jesus or a disciple and yet could work miracles in the name of Jesus.  The Apostles did not approve of this man and John who belonged to the inner circle tells Jesus how they tried to stop him and point out to him that they alone are the chosen ones and not he.  Jesus also had sent the disciples on a mission where they had worked the miracles and had healed the people and cast out devils.  They had received praises for their good work.  Not only did enjoy some reflected glory in being disciples of Jesus but, through his authority, they themselves were doing some of the very same things. They would have been growing in popularity and public exposure and it looked very much that they were slowly getting into a streak of vanity and arrogance. They could feel that their privileged position is no more secure. That person who was not of their group was found casting out devils. He was not just driving out evil spirits but was doing so in the name of Jesus. So, they tried to put a stop to him. Their concern was not that the person had done an exorcism in the name of Jesus but that he did not belong to their group.  Here we carefully listen to the reply of Jesus tells them that they are not to stop him. He adds that if someone works a miracle in his name is not likely to speak evil of Jesus. The power of exorcism is always from God.


Jesus makes use of this opportunity to enunciate an important principle of discipleship: “Whoever is not against us is for us.” One does not necessarily have to belong to any particular group to effectively evoke the name of Jesus. Anyone who would have the desire, ability, and faith to do so could not be in any way opposed to Jesus.   Such a person is not to be prohibited from acting in the name of Jesus.  There can be a silent disciple and also an active disciple, indicating that salvation is always universal and it belongs to everyone.  God can and does use anyone to do his work. The Church has no monopoly on God’s work or on God’s truth or on God’s love or on God’s power to heal and reconcile. The work of the Kingdom is not confined only to the baptized, although it is certainly their special work.  Outside of the Catholic Church, there are thousands who are doing the work of God in a spirit of total sincerity and commitment. Some of them are Christians of other denominations; some are Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims or animists; some are atheists or agnostics or secular humanists or nothing in particular. Wherever we see God’s work being done we should give our support and be ready to work together with such people. This principle evokes a very broad spectrum for defining discipleship.

In the first reading we heard Moses elected seventy elders and invited them to come to the tent to commission them to do the work. They were given the share of the spirit of Moses. But two Eldad and Medad who also were elected one’s could not be with them. They began to prophesy in the camp. The elders tried to stop asking Moses but he didn’t interfere. He let them continue. By doing this he reminded them God can elect anyone as his prophet.

Today let us pray for all of us for God’s wisdom and knowledge so that we could see in others his goodness. Recognizing their graces and blessings, gifts and talents, praise and thank him though may not be from the flock. We need to help and support them. In this way we can make this earth a better place. This is a mission all of have gotten in Jesus our savior and redeemer.