Category Archives: HOMILIES

3rd Sunday of Easter

3rd Sunday of Easter

ACTS 2.14, 22-28
1 PETER 1.17-21
LUKE 24.13-35

During the weeks after Easter, the church puts us in touch with the first men and women who experienced the risen Jesus in an attempt to deepen our appreciation and understanding of this, the linchpin of our faith. In describing those early believers, Gunther Bornkamm once remarked, “The men and women who encounter the risen Christ in the Easter stories have come to an end of their wisdom. They are alarmed and disturbed by his death, mourners wandering about the grave of the Lord in their helpless love. . . like the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, their last hopes are destroyed” (Jesus of Nazareth, Harper and Row, New York. 1960). Therefore it is erroneous to think that the resurrection narratives can be explained away as a human invention or as a product of wish-fulfillment on the part of Jesus’ disciples. After Jesus’ death, they were at a loss; it was only through their revelatory experiences of the risen Lord that the disciples began to understand the Jesus event as a work of God which forever changed the course of human history. As the early believers explained in today’s first two readings, Jesus was sent according to the set plan and purpose of God; through his dying and his resurrection God has worked miracles, signs and wonders in our midst (Acts). All our faith and hope as believers are centered on this mystery (1 Peter).

In his assessment of the resurrection appearances and of the gospel narratives which have preserved these experiences, Bas Van Jersel suggested that these texts were intended not only to inform would be believers concerning the fact of Jesus-risen but also as an interpretation of his resurrection for the life of the disciple (“The Resurrection of Jesus”, The New Concilium, Herder and herder, New York. 1965). In other words, accounts such as the one recorded in today’s gospel help us to understand that faith in the resurrection is not confined to a past event; nor is it relegated solely to a future moment when we also be raised by God from death. Rather, the resurrection appearances represent the church’s understanding concerning the permanent presence of the risen Lord with us now. How and in what manner do we experience him among us? What are the implications of his presence? How must it influence our faith? our life style?

Matthew, in his gospel, told his readers that they would find and experience Jesus in the hungry when they fed them; in the thirsty when they gave a drink of water; in the stranger to whom they gave a welcome; in the naked whom they clothed, in the ill whom they cared for and in the prisoner whom they visited. In another passage, the evangelist assured his contemporaries of an experience of Jesus’ presence whenever and wherever two or three would gather together in prayer (Matthew 25.35-36, 18.20). For his part, the fourth evangelist offered the assurance of Jesus’ abiding presence in the gift of the Spirit. Like Jesus, the Spirit would teach the disciples, remind them of his words and works, guide them to the truth and be with them always (John 14.16).

In today’s gospel, Luke reminds believers that the ultimate encounter with the permanent presence of the risen Jesus comes in the breaking open of the Word and in the Breaking of the Bread which is the Eucharist.

ACTS 2.14, 22-28

The book of Acts has sometimes been called the account of how the proclaimer became the proclaimed. In Acts, Luke builds a bridge between Jesus. who came in human flesh with a ministry of healing and reconciliation. . . who died on the cross for the salvation of all peoples. . . who rose in victory over death and sin to live forever. . . and the church. whose presence in the world continues to manifest the saving plan and purpose of God in human history. In this excerpted pericope. Peter and the Eleven are portrayed as empowered by the Spirit and intent upon proclaiming the good news of salvation just as Jesus had been endowed with the Spirit when he inaugurated his public ministry (see Luke 4.14-21). Among the Israelites, there was a widespread belief that God had “closed the heavens” and that the Holy Spirit had descended on no one, prophet or leader, since the last of the canonical prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi (Jerome Crowe, The Acts, Michael Glazier Inc., Wilmington. 1983). Aware of this belief, Luke made it clear in his account of Jesus (Luke) and of the church (Acts) that God rent the heavens and came down (Isaiah 63.19) and has poured out his Spirit on all of humankind (Joel 2.1).

Like the other sermons or discourses in Acts, Peter’s reflects a Lucan hand. A literary technique, popular and well documented in Hellenistic literature, speeches or sermons attributed to key character in a story were actually a careful composition of the author and served a vehicle of the ideas he wished to convey to his readers. Constituting approximately one quarter of the book of Acts, the twenty-four discourses vary in form and content; by incorporating these sermons into Acts, Luke has addressed the missionary apologetic and ecclesial concerns of his readers.

In this particular section of Peter’s Pentecost sermon, Luke defends the manner of Jesus’ ministry and death on the cross as a part of the “set purpose and plan of God” (vs. 23) for our salvation. As Joseph Fitzmyer has explained, Luke focuses on “the inbreaking of divine salvific activity into human history with the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth among mankind.” Everything that happened to Jesus, even his ignominious passion and death, as well as everything that will happen to the church because of its faith in Jesus “is a manifestation of a plan of God to bring about the salvation of human beings who recognize and accept the plan.” (The Gospel According to Luke, Anchor Bible, Vol. 28, Doubleday and Co., New York. 1981). But God’s saving plan did not end on Calvary; indeed God raised Jesus to life thereby breaking the grip of sin and death upon believers.

By citing Psalm 16, Luke drew on the support of the Hebrew scriptures, as the other evangelists and Paul, particularly when the intended audience of the discourse was Jewish (vs. 22). This psalm and others like it (e.g. Pss. 22, 110, 118) were used extensively by the early church in their efforts to present Jesus as the promised Savior and authentic fulfillment of Israel’s messianic hopes. Today its words continue to strike a chord in the hearts of those who understand Jesus as the center and culmination of the two testaments (Old Testament New Testament) of our faith.

1 PETER 1.17-21

Someone whose uniqueness distinguishes him/her from the mainstream of human society or whose ideas and values are unsynchronized with those of the general population is often said to “march to the beat of a different drummer.” In his letter to the Christians of Asia Minor the pseudonymous author of 1 Peter encouraged his readers to aspire to a similar description. Having been delivered by Christ from the futility of their former way of life, Christians should subsequently conduct themselves in a worthy manner. More often than not, this required that they cease or forego certain activities while dedicating themselves to a life-style which was consonant with the grace of their Christian vocation.

Earlier in his letter the author had characterized the life of a person before being redeemed as one dominated by ignorance and inordinate desire (vs. 14). As William Barclay (“Peter,” The Daily Study Bible, The St. Andrew Press, Edinburgh. 1975) explained, the pagan world was suffocated by ignorance, convinced by its philosophers that God was unknowable. “It is hard,” said Plato, “to investigate and find the framer and the father of the universe; and if one did find him, it would be impossible to express him in terms which all could understand.” Aristotle spoke of God as the “supreme cause, by all men dreamed of and by no men known.” Coupled with this burden of frustrated ignorance was an attitude of self-abandon with regard to the senses. Whereas “desperate poverty prevailed at the lower end of the social scale,” the higher echelons were notorious for their “sheer fleshliness.” By their own historians’ accounts, Romans and Greeks were shamelessly indulgent. At one banquet, Emperor Vitellius served two thousand fish, seven thousand birds and thousands of dollars worth of peacock’s brains and nightingales tongues. Martial tells of women who had reached their tenth husband; Jerome wrote of a woman married to her twenty-third husband, she being his twenty-first wife. But believers in Jesus, having been rescued from such godlessness were to live otherwise!

In terms reminiscent of the exodus from Egypt, the author of 1 Peter called his readers to be reverent sojourners, faithful to their constant companion on their journey through life, viz. Jesus. By his blood they had been redeemed and through him they had the joy of knowing God. No longer simply the supreme cause who could not be known or understood but only dreamed of, God, the loving Father had revealed himself and his saving plan in the person and mission of Jesus.

Like the recipients of 1 Peter, believers on the brink of the twenty-first century live in societies that are often characterized by interests and values contrary to those of the gospel. This ancient Christian author reminds his readers that their baptismal commitment calls them to center their faith and hope in God (vs. 21) and to “march to the beat of his drum.”

Journey to Emmaus

Like the two disciples making their way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, contemporary believers of Jesus live after the fact of Jesus’ resurrection and in the interim between his two advents. Like Cleopas and his companion, we search for the daily experience of Jesus which sustains and strengthens our hope and which inspires our faithful discipleship. In their encounter with the risen Lord, we learn of the manner in which he remains present until his climactic appearance in glory.

In this superb narrative, Luke has provided his readers with a treasure of Christological and apologetic insights drawn from the different levels of gospel tradition. At the very basis of the story was the experience of the first witnesses of Jesus, vindicated by God and risen from death to glory. Surrounding that primitive core of gospel kerygma was the ongoing experience of the church in Syrian Antioch in the mid-80s C.E. In the almost two generations following Jesus’ death on the cross, the Antioch Christians had been encountering the risen Lord in the sacramental breaking of the bread. For his part, the evangelist had structured this narrative in a recognizable liturgical pattern. In both word (vs. 27) and sacrament (vs. 30) the risen Lord is made known and communicated to the believing community.

Notice the motif of delayed recognition which informed this and most of the other resurrection narratives. Initially, the disciples did not recognize Jesus because he was transformed by the glory of his resurrection. Nevertheless, Luke was careful (as were the other evangelists) to underscore the continuity between the Jesus whom the disciples had known during his ministry and the risen Lord whom they were now encountering. He taught them, ate with them and open their eyes to the knowledge of his presence.

As Jesus broke open the word for them (“he interpreted for them every passage of Scripture which referred to him”, vs. 27) the disciples’ hearts began to burn within them (vs. 32). They implored him “Stay with us!” (vs. 29). Then, in a manner which recalled his last supper with them before his cross, he took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to them; at that point, they came to know him. The searching, hoping fire in their hearts was transformed into recognition and faith.

Luke draws attention to the significance of this moment by declaring, “with that, their eyes were opened” (vs. 31). Opened eyes (a term mentioned eight times in the New Testament, six of which are in Luke-Acts) indicated a deepened understanding of revelation. In this instance, the disciples’ opened eyes meant that they had begun to comprehend the mystery of Jesus, dead, risen and ever present. Jesus’ disappearance at the point of recognition (“he vanished from their sight,” vs. 31) was not a disappointment but yet another signal that the risen Lord would remain forever with his disciples in the breaking of the bread and in the sharing of his word.

The experience of those early disciples is ours at every Eucharistic celebration. With fire in our hearts, the word reveals who he is; in the blessed and broken bread the paschal experience is renewed, We who hear the word and share the bread are nourished and sustained. Jesus lives; he stays with us. Hope and faith are not in vain.

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Defense of the Resurrection and Easter Sunday

Defense of the Resurrection and Easter Sunday

On the first day of the week, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about eleven kilometres from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

And Jesus said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’

Jesus asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that Jesus was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see Jesus.’

Then Jesus said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over,’ So Jesus went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Jesus; and he vanished from their sight.

The two disciples said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scripture to us?

That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. These were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’

Then the two disciples told what had happened on the road, and how the Lord has been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (Lk. 24.13-35)

IS THERE LIFE AFTER DEATH?

Madonna the great singer, attempted to answer the question of, “Why am I here?” by becoming a diva, confessing, “There were many years when I thought fame, fortune, and public approval would bring me happiness. But one day you wake up and realize they don’t… I still felt something was missing… I wanted to know the meaning of true and lasting happiness and how I could go about finding it.”(The Oprah Magazine, “Oprah talks to Madonna,” January, 2004, 120.)

Others have given up on finding meaning. Kurt Cobain, lead singer of the Seattle grunge band Nirvana, despaired of life at age 27 and committed suicide. Jazz-age cartoonist Ralph Barton also found life to be meaningless, leaving the following suicide note. “I have had few difficulties, many friends, great successes; I have gone from wife to wife, and from house to house, visited countries of the world, but I am fed up with inventing devices to fill up 24 hours of the day.” Josh McDowell, The Resurrection Factor (San Bernardino, CA. Here’s Life Publ., 1981).

Pascal, the great French philosopher believed this inner void we all experience can only be filled by God. He states, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which only Jesus Christ can fill.” William R. Bright, Jesus and the Intellectual (San Bernardino, CA. Here’s Life Publ., 1968),If Pascal is right, then we would expect Jesus to not only answer the question of our identity and meaning in this life, but also to give us hope for life after we die.

Can there be meaning, without God? Not according to atheist Bertrand Russell, who wrote, “Unless you assume a god, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan, 2002),

Russell resigned himself to ultimately “rot” in the grave. In his book, Why I am not a Christian, Russell dismissed everything Jesus said about life’s meaning, including his promise of eternal life.

But if Jesus actually defeated death as eyewitnesses claim, then he alone would be able to tell us what life is all about, and answer, “Where am I going?” In order to understand how Jesus’ words, life, and death can establish our identities, give us meaning in life, and provide hope for the future, we need to understand what he said about God, about us, and about himself.

Summing up, I use the words of Arthur Ashe, the legendary Wimbledon player as he was dying of AIDS, which he got due to infected blood he received during a heart surgery in 1983. From world over, he received letters from his fans, one of which conveyed. “Why does GOD have to select you for such a bad disease”?

To this Arthur Ashe replied. The world over 5 crore children start playing tennis, 50 lakh learn to play tennis, 5 lakh learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to semi final, 2 to the finals, When I was holding a cup I never asked GOD “Why me?”.

And today in pain I should not be asking GOD “Why me?”

Life after death promise keeps us Sweet, Trials keep us Strong, Sorrow keeps us Human, Failure keeps us Humble, Success keeps us Glowing, But only GOD KEEPS US GOING….. EVER STRONG…

THE FACT OF CHRIST’S RESURRECTION


The main sources which directly attest the fact of Christ’s Resurrection are the Four Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul. Easter morning is so rich in incident, and so crowded with interested persons, that its complete history presents a rather complicated tableau. It is not surprising, therefore, that the partial accounts contained in each of the Four Gospels appear at first sight hard to harmonize. But whatever exegetic view as to the visit to the sepulcher by the pious women and the appearance of the angels we may defend, we cannot deny the Evangelists’ agreement as to the fact that the risen Christ appeared to one or more persons. According to St. Matthew, He appeared to the holy women, and again on a mountain in Galilee; according to St. Mark, He was seen by Mary Magdalene, by the two disciples at Emmaus, and the Eleven before his Ascension into heaven; according to St. Luke, He walked with the disciples to Emmaus, appeared to Peter and to the assembled disciples in Jerusalem; according to St. John, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the ten Apostles on Easter Sunday, to the Eleven a week later, and to the seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberius. St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15.3-8) enumerates another series of apparitions of Jesus after His Resurrection; he was seen by Cephas, by the Eleven, by more than 500 brethren, many of whom were still alive at the time of the Apostle’s writing, by James, by all the Apostles, and lastly by Paul himself.

Here is an outline of a possible harmony of the Evangelists’ account concerning the principal events of Easter Sunday.

The holy women carrying the spices previously prepared start out for the sepulcher before dawn, and reach it after sunrise; they are anxious about the heavy stone, but know nothing of the official guard of the sepulcher (Matthew 28.1-3; Mark 16.1-3; Luke 24.1; John 20.1).

The angel frightened the guards by his brightness, put them to flight, rolled away the stone, and seated himself not upon (ep autou), but above (epano autou) the stone (Matthew 28.2-4).

Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome approach the sepulcher, and see the stone rolled back, whereupon Mary Magdalene immediately returns to inform the Apostles (Mark 16.4; Luke 24.2; John 20.1-2).

The other two holy women enter the sepulcher, find an angel seated in the vestibule, who shows them the empty sepulcher, announces the Resurrection, and commissions them to tell the disciples and Peter that they shall see Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28.5-7; Mark 16.5-7).

A second group of holy women, consisting of Joanna and her companions, arrive at the sepulcher, where they have probably agreed to meet the first group, enter the empty interior, and are admonished by two angels that Jesus has risen according to His prediction (Luke 24.10).

Not long after, Peter and John, who were notified by Mary Magdalen, arrive at the sepulchre and find the linen cloth in such a position as to exclude the supposition that the body was stolen; for they lay simply flat on the ground, showing that the sacred body had vanished out of them without touching them. When John notices this he believes (John 20.3-10).

Mary Magdalen returns to the sepulchre, sees first two angels within, and then Jesus Himself (John 20.11-l6; Mark 16.9).

The two groups of pious women, who probably met on their return to the city, are favored with the sight of Christ arisen, who commissions them to tell His brethren that they will see him in Galilee (Matthew 28.8-10; Mark 16.8).

The holy women relate their experiences to the Apostles, but find no belief (Mark 16.10-11; Luke 24.9-11).

Jesus appears to the disciples, at Emmaus, and they return to Jerusalem; the Apostles appear to waver between doubt and belief (Mark 16.12-13; Luke 24.13-35).

Christ appears to Peter, and therefore Peter and John firmly believe in the Resurrection (Luke 24.34; John 20.8).

After the return of the disciples from Emmaus, Jesus appears to all the Apostles excepting Thomas (Mark 16.14; Luke 24.36-43; John 20.19-25).

The harmony of the other apparitions of Christ after His Resurrection presents no special difficulties. Briefly, therefore, the fact of Christ’s Resurrection is attested by more than 500 eyewitnesses, whose experience, simplicity, and uprightness of life rendered them incapable of inventing such a fable, who lived at a time when any attempt to deceive could have been easily discovered, who had nothing in this life to gain, but everything to lose by their testimony, whose moral courage exhibited in their apostolic life can be explained only by their intimate conviction of the objective truth of their message. Again the fact of Christ’s Resurrection is attested by the eloquent silence of the Synagogue which had done everything to prevent deception, which could have easily discovered deception, if there had been any, which opposed only sleeping witnesses to the testimony of the Apostles, which did not punish the alleged carelessness of the official guard, and which could not answer the testimony of the Apostles except by threatening them “that they speak no more in this name to any man” (Acts 4.17). Finally the thousands and millions, both Jews and Gentiles, who believed the testimony of the Apostles in spite of all the disadvantages following from such a belief, in short the origin of the Church, requires for its explanation the reality of Christ’s Resurrection, for the rise of the Church without the Resurrection would have been a greater miracle than the Resurrection itself.

  1. OPPOSING THEORIES

By what means can the evidence for Christ’s Resurrection by overthrown? Three theories of explanation have been advanced, though the first two have hardly any adherents in our day.

(1)The Swoon Theory

There is the theory of those who assert that Christ did not really die upon the cross, that His supposed death was only a temporary swoon, and that His Resurrection was simply a return to consciousness. This was advocated by Paulus (“Exegetisches Handbuch”, 1842, II, p. 929) and in a modified form by Hase (“Gesch. Jesu”, n. 112), but it does not agree with the data furnished by the Gospels. The scourging and the crown of thorns, the carrying of the cross and the crucifixion, the three hours on the cross and the piercing of the Sufferer’s side cannot have brought on a mere swoon. His real death is attested by the centurion and the soldiers, by the friends of Jesus and by his most bitter enemies. His stay in a sealed sepulchre for thirty-six hours, in an atmosphere poisoned by the exhalations of a hundred pounds of spices, which would have of itself sufficed to cause death. Moreover, if Jesus had merely returned from a swoon, the feelings of Easter morning would have been those of sympathy rather than those of joy and triumph, the Apostles would have been roused to the duties of a sick chamber rather than to apostolic work, the life of the powerful wonderworker would have ended in ignoble solitude and inglorious obscurity, and His vaunted sinlessness would have changed into His silent approval of a lie as the foundation stone of His Church. No wonder that later critics of the Resurrection, like Strauss, have heaped contempt on the old theory of a swoon.

(2) The Imposition Theory

The disciples, it is said, stole the body of Jesus from the grave, and then proclaimed to men that their Lord had risen. This theory was anticipated by the Jews who “gave a great sum of money to the soldiers, saying. Say you, His disciples came by night, and stole him away when we were asleep” (Matthew 28.12 sq.). The same was urged by Celsus (Orig., “Contra Cels.”, II, 56) with some difference of detail. But to assume that the Apostles with a burden of this kind upon their consciences could have preached a kingdom of truth and righteousness as the one great effort of their lives, and that for the sake of that kingdom they could have suffered even unto death, is to assume one of those moral impossibilities which may pass for a moment in the heat of controversy, but must be dismissed without delay in the hour of good reflection.

(3) The Vision Theory

This theory as generally understood by its advocates does not allow visions caused by a Divine intervention, but only such as are the product of human agencies. For if a Divine intervention be admitted, we may as well believe, as far as principles are concerned, that God raised Jesus from the dead. But where in the present instance are the human agencies which might cause these visions? The idea of a resurrection from the grave was familiar to the disciples from their Jewish faith; they had also vague intimations in the prophecies of the Old Testament; finally, Jesus Himself had always associated His Resurrection with the predictions of his death. On the other hand, the disciples’ state of mind was one of great excitement; they treasured the memory of Christ with a fondness which made it almost impossible for them to believe that He was gone. In short, their whole mental condition was such as needed only the application of a spark to kindle the flame. The spark was applied by Mary Magdalen, and the flame at once spread with the rapidity and force of a conflagration. What she believed that she had seen, others immediately believed that they must see. Their expectations were fulfilled, and the conviction seized the members of the early Church that the Lord had really risen from the dead.

Such is the vision theory commonly defended by recent critics of the Resurrection. But however ingeniously it may be devised, it is quite impossible from an historical point of view.

It is incompatible with the state of mind of the Apostles; the theory presupposes faith and expectancy on the part of the Apostles, while in point of fact the disciples’ faith and expectancy followed their vision of the risen Christ.

It is inconsistent with the nature of Christ’s manifestations; they ought to have been connected with heavenly glory, or they should have continued the former intimate relations of Jesus with His disciples, while actually and consistently they presented quite a new phase that could not have been expected.

It does not agree with the conditions of the early Christian community; after the first excitement of Easter Sunday, the disciples as a body are noted for their cool deliberation rather than the exalted enthusiasm of a community of visionaries.

It is incompatible with the length of time during which the apparitions lasted; visions such as the critics suppose have never been known to last long, while some of Christ’s manifestations lasted a considerable period.

It is not consistent with the fact that the manifestations were made to numbers at the same instant.

It does not agree with the place where most of the manifestations were made. visionary appearances would have been expected in Galilee, while most apparitions of Jesus occurred in Judea.

It is inconsistent with the fact that the visions came to a sudden end on the day of Ascension.

Keim admits that enthusiasm, nervousness, and mental excitement on the part of the disciples do not supply a rational explanation of the facts as related in the Gospels. According to him, the visions were directly granted by God and the glorified Christ; they may even include a “corporeal appearance” for those who fear that without this they would lose all. But Keim’s theory satisfies neither the Church, since it abandons all the proofs of a bodily Resurrection of Jesus, nor the enemies of the Church, since it admits many of the Church’s dogmas; nor again is it consistent with itself, since it grants God’s special intervention in proof of the Church’s faith, though it starts with the denial of the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, which is one of the principal objects of that faith.

(4) Modernist View

The Holy Office describes and condemns in the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh propositions of the Decree “Lamentabili”, the views advocated by a fourth class of opponents of the Resurrection. The former of these propositions reads. “The Resurrection of our Saviour is not properly a fact of the historical order, but a fact of the purely supernatural order neither proved nor provable, which Christian consciousness has little by little inferred from other facts.” This statement agrees with, and is further explained by the words of Loisy (“Autour d’un petit livre”, p. viii, 120-121, 169; “L’Evangile et l’Eglise”, pp. 74-78; 120-121; 171). According to Loisy, firstly, the entrance into life immortal of one risen from the dead is not subject to observation; it is a supernatural, hyper-historical fact, not capable of historical proof. The proofs alleged for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ are inadequate; the empty sepulchre is only an indirect argument, while the apparitions of the risen Christ are open to suspicion on a priori grounds, being sensible impressions of a supernatural reality; and they are doubtful evidence from a critical point of view, on account of the discrepancies in the various Scriptural narratives and the mixed character of the detail connected with the apparitions. Secondly, if one prescinds from the faith of the Apostles, the testimony of the New Testament does not furnish a certain argument for the fact of the Resurrection. This faith of the Apostles is concerned not so much with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as with His immortal life; being based on the apparitions, which are unsatisfactory evidence from an historical point of view, its force is appreciated only by faith itself; being a development of the idea of an immortal Messiah, it is an evolution of Christian consciousness, though it is at the same time a corrective of the scandal of the Cross. The Holy Office rejects this view of the Resurrection when it condemns the thirty-seventh proposition in the DecreeLamentabili”. “The faith in the Resurrection of Christ pointed at the beginning no so much to the fact of the Resurrection, as to the immortal life of Christ with God.”

Besides the authoritative rejection of the foregoing view, we may submit the following three considerations which render it untenable. First, the contention that the Resurrection of Christ cannot be proved historically is not in accord with science. Science does not know enough about the limitations and the properties of a body raised from the dead to immortal life to warrant the assertion that such a body cannot be perceived by the senses; again in the case of Christ, the empty sepulcher with all its concrete circumstances cannot be explained except by a miraculous Divine intervention as supernatural in its character as the Resurrection of Jesus. Secondly, history does not allow us to regard the belief in the Resurrection as the result of a gradual evolution in Christian consciousness. The apparitions were not a mere projection of the disciples’ Messianic hope and expectation; their Messianic hope and expectations had to be revived by the apparitions. Again, the Apostles did not begin with preaching the immortal life of Christ with God, but they preached Christ’s Resurrection from the very beginning, they insisted on it as a fundamental fact and they described even some of the details connected with this fact. Acts, ii, 24, 31; iii, 15,26; iv, 10; v, 30; x, 39-40; xiii, 30, 37; xvii, 31-2; Rom., i,4; iv, 25; vi, 4,9; viii, 11, 34; x. etc. Thirdly, the denial of the historical certainty of Christ’s Resurrection involves several historical blunders. it questions the objective reality of the apparitions without any historical grounds for such a doubt; it denies the fact of the empty sepulchre in spite of solid historical evidence to the contrary; it questions even the fact of Christ’s burial in Joseph’s sepulchre, though this fact is based on the clear and simply unimpeachable testimony of history.

 

Acts 10.34a, 36-43; Col 3.1-4 (Or 1 Cor 5.6b-8);

 

Jn 20.1-18, In the afternoon Lk 24.13-35

 

 

 

THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME 24-01-2010

DEAR FRIEND IN CHRIST, DUE TO MY PREACHING COMMITMENTS IN THE UAE FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH (9TH NOVEMBER TILL THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER – 2009) A FEW HOMILIES MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON THE HOMILY PAGE. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING. GOD BLESS.

FR. RUDOLF V. D’SOUZA OCD


THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
24-01-2010

Once upon a time, there was a man who was imprisoned for stealing and involving himself in violence. He spent 10 years in jail and on the day he was released, he was a happy man. He comes home, and meets all his family members. He was a changed man. There was no anger, no impatience, he seemed relaxed and content. Then he sees a big cage at his home with so many love birds chirping. He watches them and at one point goes near the cage and opens the door and lets all the birds fly free. When questioned by his family members, he affirms the invaluable beauty of freedom and respect to all. Well, he was an enlightened changed man for sure.

HOW TO BOIL A BULLFROG? – LESSON OF TRUE FREEDOM

Years ago some scientists did a simple experiment on a bullfrog. They threw a bullfrog into a container of boiling water, and the bullfrog instantly popped out of the boiling water. Next they put the bullfrog into a container of cold water. The bullfrog liked it and stayed in the container. The scientists then turned on the heat at the bottom of the container. As the water got warmer, the bullfrog relaxed and took a nap. The bullfrog was so comfortable that it stayed in the container and was “cooked”.

Most of us are in the “comfort zone”. We have a house to go home to, a nice bed to sleep on, food in the fridge, a group of friends to mingle with, along with some basic necessities of life. We have worked hard to get to where we are now. So why should we change this? The truth is most of us are like the bullfrog, because we feel warm and comfortable, we refuse to get out of our comfort zone, and prefer to stay where we are. In life we are either creating or disintegrating. There is no such thing as “staying where we are”, because there is always movement. So if we are not moving ahead in life, we must by nature, be moving in the opposite direction.

“It is inevitable that some defeat will enter even the most victorious life when we are not cautious. The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated… it is finished when it surrenders.” True freedom proclaimed by Christ is not the one that leads us to laziness, rather to hard work and never giving up.

Homily:

During the Ordinary Sundays of this year it is Luke’s story about Christ that we will be following. Today’s Gospel passage is in two distinct parts. It begins with the opening paragraph of Luke’s account. It is addressed to a friend, Theophilus. Luke implies that Theophilus has already been instructed orally in the message of Jesus but Luke will now present him with an accurate and orderly account of Jesus’ life and teaching. Luke clearly acknowledges that he himself never saw Jesus. His gospel was written at least 50 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Yet he wants to assure his friend that what he writes is accurate and is based on the experiences of people who did know Jesus personally. At the same time, it is important to remember that Luke, like the other evangelists who have differing versions of the same events, is not writing a biography. His first purpose – as we see in the second part of today’s passage – is to tell us the meaning of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for our personal lives and why we should accept and follow Jesus as our King and Lord.

A preparation for his work

The second part of today’s passage involves a jump in the text. We leap from the opening paragraph of Luke’s gospel to Jesus’ first public appearance in his hometown of Nazareth. In between are the story of the Annunciation, Zachary and Elizabeth, the births of John the Baptist and of Jesus, the baptism of Jesus and the temptations in the desert. We have, in other words, jumped from chapter 1 to chapter 4 in our text. All that has been described before is really a preparation for today’s scene. For what we are seeing here is the solemn inauguration of Jesus’ public life and mission. Immediately before this he had been down at the River Jordan with his cousin, John the Baptist, and, following his baptism, he had his strange experience in the desert [to be discussed on the First Sunday of Lent]. So the Gospel says that Jesus “with the power of the Spirit in him” (arising from his Baptism and his triumph over the Evil One) “returned to Galilee”. Galilee is the northern province of Israel to which Jesus belonged. And he went back to Nazareth “where he had been brought up”.

A purposeful journey

Luke very deliberately has Jesus start his work here. His public life will be a single, direct journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem, the focal point of the story told by Luke in his gospel and in the Acts. Unlike the other accounts, there will be no going back and forth between Galilee and Jerusalem. And it is in Jerusalem, the city of peace, that Jesus will suffer and die. It is here that he will rise to life and become our Lord and Saviour. And it is from here too that his disciples will go forth to every corner of the world with the Good News.
So it is that on this first day he goes into the synagogue “as he usually did” on the Sabbath day. (Jesus was an observant Jew. His attacks were never on the Law as such but on its interpretation and abuses. He came, as he said, not to destroy, or replace, the Law but to fulfill it.)

There were no priests in the synagogue, which was simply a prayer hall. The priests were in the Temple, the only place where sacrifice was held. Every male Jew had a right to read the Scriptures and to speak to the assembly.

Mission statement

As Jesus stood up to read, a passage from the prophet Isaiah was given to him. It was a passage about the coming Messiah. What happens now, of course, is that Jesus is announcing that he himself is that Messiah. He applies the words of the prophet to himself. “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me [at his baptism], for he has anointed me.” “He has anointed me.” That is a way of saying “I am a king”. A king was proclaimed by anointing. We remember the prophet Samuel anointing David as king. The Greek for Messiah is “Christos” (Cristos) and it means “the anointed one”. Saviour King, Messiah, Christ – they here all mean the same thing. Jesus Christ means Jesus King. “Christ” is an explanatory title; it is not a name. And what kind of king is Jesus going to be? There immediately follows a proclamation, a programme or manifesto of what we can expect from him. Today we might call it a ‘mission statement’. The words are to be taken both literally and symbolically.

Good news for the disadvantaged

They are addressed directly to the materially poor, those in prison, the physically blind, the oppressed and exploited of the world. While Matthew speaks of “the poor in spirit”, Luke addresses the beatitude directly to “you who are poor, weep, are hungry and oppressed”. The message for them is one of hope, of healing and of liberation. This will come about not by some miracle but by the transformation of those who, aligning themselves with Jesus, can put an end to these things. But the message is surely to be understood symbolically as well, so as to include all of us.

So, in addition to the materially poor, there are those who are emotionally underdeveloped, those who are lonely or rejected, those who are crushed by their need to be surrounded by material plenty. all are poor, really poor. And they include all of us at some time.

The unfree

In addition to those held in captivity, especially those who are unjustly in prison but also those who, guilty of some crime, need conversion and reconciliation, there are many, many who are far from free. Very few people indeed are truly free and many actually fear true freedom and the responsibility that goes with it. True freedom is something for all of us to pray for. “Give sight to the blind.” There is a kind of instinct that makes people in some cultures consult the blind as sources of a special insight. Physical blindness is far less disabling than the blindness that comes from prejudice, ignorance, jealousy and other emotional blocks. Most people, said a writer, “lead lives of quiet desperation”. Societies which often boast of their freedom create sometimes unbearable pressures on people. We need to become aware, here in our own society, to what extent we are living under pressures we could well do without.

A shared life

How do Jesus’ words reach us today? The answer, I believe, is in today’s Second Reading. The problem with our Christian living is that it is so individualistic. We try to manage things on our own. And that is even true of the way we try to live our Christian lives. But it is not the picture that Paul describes here. He sees the multiplicity of Christians as living members of one Body. Each member interacts in a constant giving and receiving. And each member gets the same respect. In fact, it is the “weakest” and “least honorable” parts which receive greater attention. That is how the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel become living realities. For it is in mutual giving and receiving as one Body that we enable each other to experience the enrichment (overcoming our poverty), the vision (banishing our blindness), and the freedom (removing the oppressions and addictions) which Jesus wishes us to have.

Finally, we cannot help noticing the contrast between the proclamation of the Law in the First Reading and that of Jesus in the Gospel. The Law was essential for dignity, human rights and freedom but there is a new ingredient in what Jesus gives – compassion. That’s what makes the difference.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 17-01-2010

DEAR FRIEND IN CHRIST, DUE TO MY PREACHING COMMITMENTS IN THE UAE FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH (9TH NOVEMBER TILL THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER – 2009) A FEW HOMILIES MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON THE HOMILY PAGE. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING. GOD BLESS.

FR. RUDOLF V. D’SOUZA OCD


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
17-01-2010 

DREAM OF FLIGHT
In the late 1800s, a well-known bishop was travelling the United States, speaking to religious and academic leaders. At one of his stops, he was invited to have dinner with some prominent leaders. During the dinner he was asked, “What do you think the future holds for us?” After a moment’s pause, he replied, “The future is bleak, and in my opinion, we have discovered all there is to discover, created all there is to create, and invented all there is to invent.” One of the leaders

commented, “I think someday, man shall learn to fly like the birds.” To this, the bishop replied, “You are mad, flight is only reserved for the angels.” With that statement he stormed out of the room. The good news was that the bishop’s last name was Wright! Years later, his two sons Orville and Wilbur, made the dream of flying real on the windswept salt marshes of Kitty Hawk. 

SUCCESS PRINCIPLES
We live in a world full of riches. We have to be open to the idea of change. What is needed to tap into the vast potential of this world are new and better “ideas”. Never under rate yourself and others. Others will ridicule and laugh at your ideas but you will have the last laugh at the end. Can you imagine Jars of water becoming Wine? 

MOTIVATIONAL QUOTE
“There is no royal road to anything. One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.” Jesus’ mission was a mission of wisdom. He made water into wine, turned ordinary Jars into deposits of sweetest wine.  If you are with Jesus, everything is going to be possible. 

NEW CREATION (John 2:1)
John tells us that on the third day a wedding took place in Cana. This is an interesting detail because through most of his gospel, John is not specific about time. The two main places where he counts sequences of days are the raising of Lazarus and in these first two chapters. When John counts days, he does so for a specific purpose. In this case, when John says this wedding happened on the third day, we need to reckon this counting as a part of the greater sequence in chapters 1 and 2. After counting all the days enumerated from chapter 1 and chapter 2, we find that this wedding takes place on the seventh day. John, in his subtle manner, parallels these seven days of Jesus’ early ministry to the creation week. The six days of calling disciples ends with a

seventh day of rest at a wedding party. John uses this new creation imagery to

highlight the significance of Jesus’ ministry.

Now, combine this creation imagery with the Old Testament images of wedding banquets and new wine. Passages like Isaiah 55:1; Joel 3:18; and Amos 9:13-15 use this imagery to symbolize the coming end of the age. Go back later and read these passages within their greater context. John combines the creation imagery and the end-times imagery to indicate that Jesus provides something more than a personal self-help program. Jesus makes possible a renewal for all of creation. John explains this renewal through the rest of the gospel, but in this passage, we get a glimpse of how it affects our relationships, our wholeness, and our purpose.

NEW RELATIONSHIP (John 2:2-4)
Jesus brings renewal to our relationships. Look at verses 2-4 to see the changing relationship of Jesus with his mother. Notice how Jesus responds to his mother. The NIV translates it: “Dear Woman, why do you involve me.” Some translations make it sound much harsher. Jesus is respectfully and gently distancing himself from his mother. Rather than addressing her as mother, he calls her “woman.” He subtly indicates that the nature of their relationship is changing. Until now, she had enjoyed special privilege as Jesus’ mother, but now she had to begin to learn how to be a disciple. This process would be painful for her. She would feel rejected; she would watch Jesus die; and she would also come to realize that she too had to kneel at the cross of her king. She would have to let go of some of the privileges of mother, but in so doing the new relationship would give her something greater and deeper than before. This is not to say that Jesus stopped being Mary’s son, but only that the nature of the relationship changed: the old transformed into something new. If that was true for Mary, then it is also true for us. When our relationship with Christ is the most important relationship in our life, it transforms all our earthly relationships into something new. Not only does Christ give instructions for relationships in this book, but he also renews and transforms us from the inside.

This inner transformation enables us to view our relationships less from the perspective of “What can this person do for me?” and more from the perspective of “How does our relationship bring glory to God?” It enables us to turn off the TV and tune in to our children. It enables us to forego a Saturday of golf to spend time with a lonely aunt or a lonesome uncle. It enables us to say, “I’m sorry,” to affirm the good in the other person. When we bow to Christ as our king, we learn to sacrifice our wants so that we may show the love of Christ to those around us.

NEW PERSPECTIVE ON PURIFICATION (John 2:5-10)
Not only does Jesus bring renewal to our relationships, but he also brings renewal to our wholeness. Look at verses 5-10. The six stone jars contained water used for the ceremonial washing of guests’ hands and cooking utensils. These washings were not just to take care of dirt. God’s demand for purity was administered through the tedium of countless sacrifices and washings. The unspoken belief is that through proper observance of the ritual for cleaning the

outside, we’ll be clean on the inside. We’ll be whole before a holy God.  The ritual is not a magical formula that makes the connection happen, but rather it is a gateway through which a true seeker can find that connection. The ritual is an aide to focus the individual’s reach to connect with that undefinable “something out there.” It still seems that there is a yearning for something we can do to connect us to eternity. Christ comes on the scene and blows rituals away. He takes the instruments for the ritual and uses them in a totally new way. Rather than the jars being used as instruments through which man can reach to God, the jars become vehicles for God’s blessing to man. What once held water that man used to wash and to approach God now held wine generously provided by God for man’s enjoyment. Whereas wholeness was once achieved through ritual, it now comes through relationship with a living, breathing person who provides the best wine for the feast. Jesus gives us a new way to become whole.

NEW LEVEL OF BELIEF (John 2:11)
Not only does Jesus bring renewal to our relationships and to our need for wholeness, but he also brings renewal to our very belief. Look at verse 11. The miracle is called a sign, and at that sign his disciples believed. Jesus’ words and deeds were signs about who he is. In the same way, the Scriptures themselves, and the evidence of the transformed lives of those in the church, are signs proclaiming Christ as King. So we’ve seen that Christ brings renewal to all things, and that this passage highlights renewal in relationships, wholeness, and faith. As I said before, it’s done in the context of a party. This was not a somber occasion – this was a celebration! Wedding feasts in those times could go on for days. This was a festive affair. Similarly, the renewal that Christ works within us is a cause for celebration. We in the church should be celebrating and partying because of what God has done and is doing in his people.

BAPTISM OF THE LORD JESUS 10 JANUARY 2010

DEAR FRIEND IN CHRIST, DUE TO MY PREACHING COMMITMENTS IN THE UAE FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH (9TH NOVEMBER TILL THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER – 2009) A FEW HOMILIES MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON THE HOMILY PAGE. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING. GOD BLESS.

FR. RUDOLF V. D’SOUZA OCD


BAPTISM OF THE LORD JESUS
10 JANUARY 2010

Once I was in the parish office, there comes a Hindu family wanting to become Christians. I told them, that it is a process by which they have to be introduced to Christianity. I asked them a simple question: “why do you want to become Christians?” They answered, “Father, we have wonderful Christian neighbours, their life is so great, they are charitable, helpful that we were deeply inspired by them. They helped us when one of our family members was seriously ill, and they even stayed with the member for a long time in the hospital. Now that we have this great experience we want to be like them. We also read Bible with them, and they instruct us. That is why we want to become Christians.” Then I said to them that they have to undergo one year of intense course. But they said, they were even ready for 2 years course to become Christians.

Baptism: The Door of the Church
The Sacrament of Baptism is often called “The door of the Church,” because it is the first of the seven sacraments not only in time (since most Catholics receive it as infants) but in priority, since the reception of the other sacraments depends on it. It is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, the other two being the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Once baptized, a person becomes a member of the Church. Traditionally, the rite (or ceremony) of baptism was held outside the doors of the main part of the church, to signify this fact.

The Necessity of Baptism
Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel. In His encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Christ made it clear that baptism was necessary for salvation: “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ.

Baptism of Desire
That doesn’t mean that only those who have been formally baptized can be saved. From very early on, the Church recognized that there are two other types of baptism besides the baptism of water.

The baptism of desire applies both to those who, while wishing to be baptized, die before receiving the sacrament and “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of conscience” (Constitution on the Church, Second Vatican Council).

Baptism of Blood
The baptism of blood is similar to the baptism of desire. It refers to the martyrdom of those believers who were killed for the faith before they had a chance to be baptized. This was a common occurrence in the early centuries of the Church, but also in later times in missionary lands. The baptism of blood has the same effects as the baptism of water.

The Form of the Sacrament of Baptism
While the Church has an extended rite of Baptism which is normally celebrated, which includes roles for both parents and godparents, the essentials of that rite are two: the pouring of water over the head of the person to be baptized (or the immersion of the person in water); and the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Minister of the Sacrament of Baptism
Since the form of baptism requires just the water and the words, the sacrament, like the Sacrament of Marriage, does not require a priest; any baptized person can baptize another. In fact, when the life of a person is in danger, even a non-baptized person-including someone who does not himself believe in Christ-can baptize, provided that the person performing the baptism follows the form of baptism and intends, by the baptism, to do what the Church does-in other words, to bring the person being baptized into the fullness of the Church. In both cases, a priest may later perform a conditional baptism.

Infant Baptism
In the Catholic Church today, baptism is most commonly administered to infants. While some other Christians strenuously object to infant baptism, believing that baptism requires assent on the part of the person being baptized, the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, and other mainline Protestants also practice infant baptism, and there is evidence that it was practiced from the earliest days of the Church.

Since baptism removes both the guilt and the punishment due to Original Sin, delaying baptism until a child can understand the sacrament may put the child’s salvation in danger, should he die unbaptized.

Adult Baptism
Adult converts to Catholicism also receive the sacrament, unless they have already received a Christian baptism. (If there is any doubt about whether an adult has already been baptized, the priest will perform a conditional baptism.) A person can only be baptized once as a Christian-if, say, he was baptized as a Lutheran, he cannot be rebaptized when he converts to Catholicism.

While an adult can be baptized after proper instruction in the Faith, adult baptism normally occurs today as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and is immediately followed by Confirmation and Communion.
The Effects of the Sacrament of Baptism

Baptism has six primary effects, which are all supernatural graces:

  • The removal of the guilt of both Original Sin (the sin imparted to all mankind by the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden) and personal sin (the sins that we have committed ourselves).
  • The remission of all punishment that we owe because of sin, both temporal (in this world and in Purgatory) and eternal (the punishment that we would suffer in hell).
  • The infusion of grace in the form of sanctifying grace (the life of God within us); the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; and the three theological virtues.
  • Becoming a part of Christ.
  • Becoming a part of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.
  • Enabling participation in the sacraments, the priesthood of all believers, and the growth in grace

BAPTISM OF THE LORD JESUS 10 JANUARY 2010

DEAR FRIEND IN CHRIST, DUE TO MY PREACHING COMMITMENTS IN THE UAE FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH (9TH NOVEMBER TILL THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER – 2009) A FEW HOMILIES MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON THE HOMILY PAGE. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING. GOD BLESS.

FR. RUDOLF V. D’SOUZA OCD


BAPTISM OF THE LORD JESUS
10 JANUARY 2010

Once I was in the parish office, there comes a Hindu family wanting to become Christians. I told them, that it is a process by which they have to be introduced to Christianity. I asked them a simple question: “why do you want to become Christians?” They answered, “Father, we have wonderful Christian neighbours, their life is so great, they are charitable, helpful that we were deeply inspired by them. They helped us when one of our family members was seriously ill, and they even stayed with the member for a long time in the hospital. Now that we have this great experience we want to be like them. We also read Bible with them, and they instruct us. That is why we want to become Christians.” Then I said to them that they have to undergo one year of intense course. But they said, they were even ready for 2 years course to become Christians.

Baptism: The Door of the Church
The Sacrament of Baptism is often called “The door of the Church,” because it is the first of the seven sacraments not only in time (since most Catholics receive it as infants) but in priority, since the reception of the other sacraments depends on it. It is the first of the three Sacraments of Initiation, the other two being the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Once baptized, a person becomes a member of the Church. Traditionally, the rite (or ceremony) of baptism was held outside the doors of the main part of the church, to signify this fact.

The Necessity of Baptism
Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel. In His encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Christ made it clear that baptism was necessary for salvation: “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ.

Baptism of Desire
That doesn’t mean that only those who have been formally baptized can be saved. From very early on, the Church recognized that there are two other types of baptism besides the baptism of water.

The baptism of desire applies both to those who, while wishing to be baptized, die before receiving the sacrament and “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of conscience” (Constitution on the Church, Second Vatican Council).

Baptism of Blood
The baptism of blood is similar to the baptism of desire. It refers to the martyrdom of those believers who were killed for the faith before they had a chance to be baptized. This was a common occurrence in the early centuries of the Church, but also in later times in missionary lands. The baptism of blood has the same effects as the baptism of water.

The Form of the Sacrament of Baptism
While the Church has an extended rite of Baptism which is normally celebrated, which includes roles for both parents and godparents, the essentials of that rite are two: the pouring of water over the head of the person to be baptized (or the immersion of the person in water); and the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Minister of the Sacrament of Baptism
Since the form of baptism requires just the water and the words, the sacrament, like the Sacrament of Marriage, does not require a priest; any baptized person can baptize another. In fact, when the life of a person is in danger, even a non-baptized person-including someone who does not himself believe in Christ-can baptize, provided that the person performing the baptism follows the form of baptism and intends, by the baptism, to do what the Church does-in other words, to bring the person being baptized into the fullness of the Church. In both cases, a priest may later perform a conditional baptism.

Infant Baptism
In the Catholic Church today, baptism is most commonly administered to infants. While some other Christians strenuously object to infant baptism, believing that baptism requires assent on the part of the person being baptized, the Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, and other mainline Protestants also practice infant baptism, and there is evidence that it was practiced from the earliest days of the Church.

Since baptism removes both the guilt and the punishment due to Original Sin, delaying baptism until a child can understand the sacrament may put the child’s salvation in danger, should he die unbaptized.

Adult Baptism
Adult converts to Catholicism also receive the sacrament, unless they have already received a Christian baptism. (If there is any doubt about whether an adult has already been baptized, the priest will perform a conditional baptism.) A person can only be baptized once as a Christian-if, say, he was baptized as a Lutheran, he cannot be rebaptized when he converts to Catholicism.

While an adult can be baptized after proper instruction in the Faith, adult baptism normally occurs today as part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and is immediately followed by Confirmation and Communion.
The Effects of the Sacrament of Baptism

Baptism has six primary effects, which are all supernatural graces:

  • The removal of the guilt of both Original Sin (the sin imparted to all mankind by the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden) and personal sin (the sins that we have committed ourselves).
  • The remission of all punishment that we owe because of sin, both temporal (in this world and in Purgatory) and eternal (the punishment that we would suffer in hell).
  • The infusion of grace in the form of sanctifying grace (the life of God within us); the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; and the three theological virtues.
  • Becoming a part of Christ.
  • Becoming a part of the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ on earth.
  • Enabling participation in the sacraments, the priesthood of all believers, and the growth in grace.

THE FOURTH MAGI Artaban’s Gifts – 03-01-10

DEAR FRIEND IN CHRIST, DUE TO MY PREACHING COMMITMENTS IN THE UAE FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH (9TH NOVEMBER TILL THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER – 2009) A FEW HOMILIES MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON THE HOMILY PAGE. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING. GOD BLESS.

FR. RUDOLF V. D’SOUZA OCD


THE FOURTH MAGI
Artaban’s Gifts – 03-01-10

In the days of Herod the king, when the Saviour of the world, was born in a poor cave near Bethlehem, an enormous star suddenly lit up the sky over the countries of the East. The star shone with a bright, dazzling light and slowly but steadily moved in one direction, towards the land of the Hebrews. The astronomers, or magi as they were called, took note of this new light. They thought it was a sign from God that somewhere had been born the Great King, whose coming had been foretold in the Hebrew books, the King of Righteousness, the Deliverer of people from evil, the Teacher of a new, righteous life. Several of them, who devoted themselves especially diligently to the study of God’s truth on earth, and were grieved by the extent of men’s wickedness, decided to go seek for the newborn King, to worship Him and serve Him. Just where they would find Him, they didn’t know; perhaps they would have to travel a long time. At that time the route towards the Hebrew land was dangerous. They decided to gather first in a specified place, and then to proceed together in a caravan, following the star in search of the Great King.

Together with the other magi, the great Persian wise man Artaban prepared for the journey. He sold all his possessions, his elegant home in the capital, and with the money he bought three precious gems: a sapphire, a ruby and a pearl. These jewels were extremely costly; a whole fortune was paid for them. Indeed, they were each uniquely beautiful. One shone like a piece of blue sky in a starry night; another burned brighter than a brilliant sunrise; the third surpassed in whiteness the snowy mountain peaks. All of this, together with a heart full of the most fervent, unreserved love, Artaban was going to lay at the feet of the newly-born King of righteousness and goodness.

In his house Artaban gathered for the last time his close friends, said his good-byes and departed on his journey. It was several days’ ride to the gathering place, but Artaban was confident he wouldn’t be late. He had a strong, swift horse; he had precisely calculated the time it would take, and each day he covered the appointed distance. The last twenty-four hours arrived with only a few dozen miles to his destination, and he chose to ride all night in order to arrive by dawn. His faithful horse was still far from worn out; the night breeze was cool; in the infinite sky above shone the new star, like a bright lamp burning before the altar of God. “There it is, God’s sign!” said Artaban to himself, keeping his eyes fixed on the star. “The Great King is coming to us from the sky, and soon, Lord, I shall see You.”

“Faster, my friend! Increase your pace!” he encouraged his horse, gently slapping the reins.

The horse responded, his hooves pounding louder and faster along the road through the forest of palm trees. The darkness began to dissipate; here and there came the chirping of awakening birds. One could sense the nearness of morning. Suddenly the horse drew up short, snorted and started to move backwards. Artaban peered into the half-light and there, almost under the horse’s very hooves, he saw a man lying. He quickly dismounted and inspected the prostrate figure. He turned out to be a Jew, exhausted by a raging fever. One could have taken him for dead but for the weak, barely audible groans which broke intermittently from his cracked lips. Artaban deliberated: to pass by, to hasten to the meeting place, leaving the sick man was something his conscience wouldn’t allow; but to remain with the Jew in order to revive him would take several hours, and he would be late for the rendez-vous; the caravan would leave without him. What shall I do? thought Artaban. I’ll go on, he decided, and he lifted his foot into the stirrup. But the sick man, sensing that his last hope was about to abandon him, groaned so pitiably that its pain resonated in the magus’s heart.

“Great God!” he prayed. “You know my thoughts. You know my efforts to see you. Direct my steps! Is it not your voice of love which is speaking in my heart. I cannot pass by; I must help this unfortunate Jew.”

With these words the magi returned to the sick man; he loosened his clothing and brought him some water from a nearby stream. He refreshed the man’s face and moistened his dry lips. From a pack attached to his saddle his obtained some medicine, mixed it with some wine and poured it into the Jew’s mouth; he rubbed his chest and hands, gave him something to sniff, and so spent many hours with the sick man. Dawn had long ago come and gone, the sun already stood high in the sky; it was approaching noon when the Jew was finally able to get to his feet. He didn’t know how to thank the kind stranger.

“Who are you?” the Jew asked Artaban. “Tell me for whom I and my family should pray to God until the last of our days? And why are you so sad? What grief afflicts you?”

Artaban told him who he was and where he was going. “My friends have certainly left without me,” he said sorrowfully, “and I shall not see the King of my desires.”

The Jew’s face lit up.

“Do not be sad, my benefactor. I can repay you in a very small way for your kindness. In my sacred scriptures it is said that the King of righteousness promised by God will be born in the city of Bethlehem of Judah. Even if your friends have left, you can make you way to Bethlehem and, if the Messiah has been born, you will find Him there.”

The Jew thanked the Persian magi once again and the two men went their separate ways. Artaban turned back; it would be folly to attempt the journey through the desert alone; he needed to hire some men for protection, to buy some camels and load them with provisions and water. A week went by. He was obliged to sell one of the gems in order to equip his caravan, but Artaban didn’t sorrow too much; he still had two gems. The main thing was not to be late in reaching the King. He hurried the servants, and the caravan moved as quickly as possible. Finally, they reached Bethlehem. Tired, dusty, but happy, he rode up to the first house. He went in and showered the host with questions.

“Did some men from the East come here to Bethlehem? Where did they go? Where are they now?”

The mistress of the house, a young woman, was nursing a baby and at first shied away from the stranger, but then she calmed down and related that a few days earlier some foreigners had come in search of Mary of Nazareth and had brought her baby some expensive gifts. Where they had gone-she didn’t know. That very night Mary together with Joseph and the Baby had left Bethlehem to go into hiding.

“People say they went to Egypt, that Joseph had a dream and that the Lord ordained that they should flee from here.”

While the mother spoke the baby fell asleep and a pure smile played on his pretty, innocent face. Artaban hadn’t had time to think about this news, about what he should do next, when a commotion broke from the street: wild cries, the clanging of weapons, women wailing. Half-dressed women, their heads uncovered, their faces contorted with fear, ran through the settlement carrying their infants and crying: “Flee to safety! Herod’s soldiers are killing our children!”

The face of the young mother paled, her eyes grew large. Pressing the sleeping infant to her breast, she could only say, “Save the child! Save him, and God will save you!”

Without a moment’s thought, Artaban rushed to the door; there just beyond the threshold stood the troop’s captain, and behind him could be seen the bestial faces of the soldiers, their swords red with the blood of innocent children. Artaban’s hand as if automatically reached into his chest; he produced a bag from which he extracted one of the remaining gems and gave it to the captain.

The latter had never seen such a treasure; he clutched it greedily and rushed his soldiers away to continue their dreadful business.

The woman fell to her knees before Artaban. “May God bless you for my child! You are seeking for the King of righteousness, of love and kindness. May His face shine before you and may He look upon you with the love with which I am now looking at you.”

Artaban carefully raised the woman to her feet; tears of mixed joy and sadness ran down his cheeks.

“God of truth, forgive me! For the sake of this woman and her child I gave away the precious stone which was meant for you. Will I ever see your face? Here once again I am late. I shall follow after you into Egypt.” The poor magus walked for a long, long time, seeking the King of Righteousness. He traveled through many countries, he saw many different peoples, but nowhere did he find the desired object of his wanderings. His heart ached and more than once he wept bitter tears.

“Lord,” he thought,” how much grief, suffering and unhappiness there is everywhere. How soon will you reveal yourself and bring consolation to people’s lives?”

He helped the poor, cared for the sick, consoled the unfortunate, visited prisoners. From the sale of the first gem he had money, and he spent this on helping his neighbor. The last gem, however, he carefully guarded near his heart, thinking that at least this gift he could some day bring to the King, when he found Him.

Thirty-three years had gone by since Artaban had left his homeland. His figure had become stooped, his hair white, but his heart still burned with love for the One Whom he sought so long.

One day the elderly magus heard that the Anointed One of God had appeared in Judea, and that He was performing many wondrous deeds-by a word He healed the sick, raised the dead, made saints of sinners and hopelessly wicked men. Artaban’s heart began to race with joy.

“At last,” he thought, trembling with emotion, “I shall find you and be able to serve you.”

Arriving in Judea, he discovered that everyone was going to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. There, too, was the Prophet Jesus whom the magus so desired to see. Together with crowds of the faithful Artaban reached the Holy City. He found a great commotion; great multitudes of people were surging along the streets. “Where are they hurrying?” asked Artaban. “To Golgotha. It is a hill on the outskirts of the city where today, together with two thieves, Jesus Christ of Nazareth is to be crucified. He claimed to be the Son of God, the King of the Jews.”

Artaban fell to the ground, weeping bitterly.

“Again… again I am late. I never had the opportunity to see you, Lord, to serve you.” But perhaps it isn’t too late after all. I’ll go to His torturers and offer them my last remaining gem. It may be that I can buy His freedom.

Artaban arose and hastened after the crowd to Golgotha. Suddenly, at one of the cross-streets, a contingent of soldiers barred his way. They were dragging a girl to prison. Recognizing Artaban as a fellow-countryman, she seized a corner of his clothing.

“Pity me!” she begged. “Free me. I too am from Persia. My father came here to trade; he brought me and then fell ill and died. For the debts he incurred they want to sell me into slavery, for a life of shame. Save me. Save me from dishonor, save me, I beg you!”

The old magus shuddered. The former battle again broke out in his heart-to keep the gem for the Great King or give it away for the sake of the unfortunate girl? Pity for the girl won out. Artaban reached into the pouch at his breast and took out his last treasure; he gave the gemstone to the girl.

“Here, buy with this your freedom, my daughter. For thirty-three years I have guarded this treasure for my King. Evidently I am unworthy of bringing Him a gift.”

While he spoke, the sky grew clouded. It was midday and yet it was dark as night. The earth shook and groaned heavily, as it were. Thunder crashed, lightning ripped the sky from end to end; a great cracking was heard; houses shook, walls rocked and stones showered down. A heavy slate tore off the roof and hit the head of the old man. He fell to the ground and lay there, pale and streaming with blood. The girl bent down to help him. Artaban moved his lips in a barely audible whisper. His face was radiant. The dying man was looking at Someone standing invisibly before him. “Lord,” he uttered, “but when did I see you hungry and fed you? When did I see you thirsty and gave you to drink? Thirty-three years I looked for you and not once did I see your face; never was I able to serve you, My King.” Like the slight evening breeze which caressed the hair of the dying man, there came from above a tender, unearthly voice:

“Truly I say to you, all that you ever did for your needy brothers you did for Me.”

Artaban’s face became transfigured. His heart at peace, he lifted his eyes thankfully to heaven and fell asleep unto all ages.

The prolonged journeying of the old magi had come to an end. He had found at last the Great King, the Saviour; his gifts had been accepted.

MARY MOTHER OF GOD HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010

DEAR FRIEND IN CHRIST, DUE TO MY PREACHING COMMITMENTS IN THE UAE FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH (9TH NOVEMBER TILL THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER – 2009) A FEW HOMILIES MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON THE HOMILY PAGE. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING. GOD BLESS.

FR. RUDOLF V. D’SOUZA OCD


MARY MOTHER OF GOD –
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety, but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat singed her small body, the mother remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings continued to live. “He shall cover thee with His feathers and under His wings shall thou trust” (Ps 91:4). Learn to experience the warmth and protection of life beneath the wings of the Almighty.”

“Somebody”Said…

. a mother is an unskilled laborer.
“Somebody” never gave a squirmy infant a bath.

… you know how to be a mother by instinct.
Somebody never took a three-year-old shopping.

… that “good” mothers never yell at their kids.
Somebody’s child never sent a baseball through a neighbor’s picture window.

… a mother can End all the answers to her child-rearing questions in books.
Somebody never had a child stuff beans in his nose.

… a mother always adores her children.
Somebody never tried to comfort a colicky baby at 3 a.m.

… a mother can do her job with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back. Somebody never organized seven giggling Brownies into a cookie-selling brigade.

… the hardest part of being a mother is labor and delivery.
Somebody never watched her “baby” get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten.

… your mother knows you love her, so you don’t have to tell her.
Somebody isn’t a mother.

On New Year’s Day, the octave day of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God. The divine and virginal motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular salvific event: for Our Lady it was the foretaste and cause of her extraordinary glory; for us it is a source of grace and salvation because “through her we have received the Author of life”.

The solemnity of the 1 January, an eminently Marian feast, presents an excellent opportunity for liturgical piety to encounter popular piety: the first celebrates this event in a manner proper to it; the second, when duly catechised, lends joy and happiness to the various expressions of praise offered to Our Lady on the birth of her divine Son, to deepen our understanding of many prayers, beginning with that which says: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners”.

In the West, 1 January is an inaugural day marking the beginning of the civil year. The faithful are also involved in the celebrations for the beginning of the new year and exchange “new year” greetings. However, they should try to lend a Christian understanding to this custom making of these greetings an expression of popular piety. The faithful, naturally, realize that the “new year” is placed under the patronage of the Lord, and in exchanging new year greetings they implicitly and explicitly place the New Year under the Lord’s dominion, since to him belongs all time.

A connection between this consciousness and the popular custom of singing the Veni Creator Spiritus can easily be made so that on 1 January the faithful can pray that the Spirit may direct their thoughts and actions, and those of the community during the course of the year.

New year greetings also include an expression of hope for a peaceful New Year. This has profound biblical, Christological and incarnational origins. The “quality of peace” has always been invoked throughout history by all men, and especially during violent and destructive times of war.

The Holy See shares the profound aspirations of man for peace. Since 1967, 1 January has been designated “world day for peace”.

Popular piety has not been oblivious to this initiative of the Holy See. In the light of the new born Prince of Peace, it reserves this day for intense prayer for peace, education towards peace and those value inextricably linked with it, such as liberty, fraternal solidarity, the dignity of the human person, respect for nature, the right to work, the sacredness of human life, and the denunciation of injustices which trouble the conscience of man and threaten peace.

A woman is a man’s mother either if she carried him in her womb or if she was the woman contributing half of his genetic matter or both. Mary was the mother of Jesus in both of these senses; because she not only carried Jesus in her womb but also supplied all of the genetic matter for his human body, since it was through her-not Joseph-that Jesus “was descended from David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3).

Since Mary is Jesus’ mother, it must be concluded that she is also the Mother of God: If Mary is the mother of Jesus, and if Jesus is God, then Mary is the Mother of God. There is no way out of this logical syllogism, the valid form of which has been recognized by classical logicians since before the time of Christ.

Although Mary is the Mother of God, she is not his mother in the sense that she is older than God or the source of her Son’s divinity, for she is neither. Rather, we say that she is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine person-Jesus Christ, God “in the flesh” (2 John 7, cf. John 1:14)-and in the sense that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ.

To avoid this conclusion, Fundamentalists often assert that Mary did not carry God in her womb, but only carried Christ’s human nature. This assertion reinvents a heresy from the fifth century known as Nestorianism, which runs aground on the fact that a mother does not merely carry the human nature of her child in her womb. Rather, she carries the person of her child. Women do not give birth to human natures; they give birth to persons. Mary thus carried and gave birth to the person of Jesus Christ, and the person she gave birth to was God.

The Nestorian claim that Mary did not give birth to the unified person of Jesus Christ attempts to separate Christ’s human nature from his divine nature, creating two separate and distinct persons-one divine and one human-united in a loose affiliation. It is therefore a Christological heresy, which even the Protestant Reformers recognized. Both Martin Luther and John Calvin insisted on Mary’s divine maternity. In fact, it even appears that Nestorius himself may not have believed the heresy named after him. Further, the “Nestorian” church has now signed a joint declaration on Christology with the Catholic Church and recognizes Mary’s divine maternity, just as other Christians do.

Since denying that Mary is God’s mother implies doubt about Jesus’ divinity, it is clear why Christians (until recent times) have been unanimous in proclaiming Mary as Mother of God.

The origins of a feast celebrating Mary’s divine maternity are obscure, but there is some evidence of ancient feasts commemorating Mary’s role as theotokos. Around 500 AD the Eastern Church celebrated a “Day of the Theotokos” either before or after Christmas. This celebration eventually evolved into a Marian feast on December 26th in the Byzantine calendar and January 16th in the Coptic calendar. In the West, Christmas has generally been celebrated with an octave, an eight day extension of the feast. The Gregorian and Roman calendars of the 7th century mark the Christmas octave day with a strong Marian emphasis. However, eventually in the West, the eighth day of the octave of Christmas was celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus. The push for an official feast day celebrating Mary’s divine maternity started in Portugal, and in 1751 Pope Benedict XIV allowed Portugal’s churches to celebrate Mary’s divine maternity on the first Sunday in May. The feast was eventually extended to other countries, and by 1914 was being celebrated on October 11. The feast of Mary’s divine maternity became a universal feast in 1931.

Let us celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, who can guide us on the path of salvation.

CHRISTMAS 2009

DEAR FRIEND IN CHRIST, DUE TO MY PREACHING COMMITMENTS IN THE UAE FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH (9TH NOVEMBER TILL THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER – 2009) A FEW HOMILIES MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON THE HOMILY PAGE. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING. GOD BLESS.

FR. RUDOLF V. D’SOUZA OCD


CHRISTMAS 2009

A long time ago there was a great General who was faced with a situation which made it necessary for him to make a drastic decision to insure his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his army on shore to face a powerful enemy, whose men outnumbered his.  He loaded his soldiers into boats, and sailed to face the enemies on shore. When they reached the shore, he ordered them to unload the soldiers and cargoes.  He then ordered for all the ships and boats to be burned.

Addressing his men before the battle, he said, “You see the ships and boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win!  We now, have no choice – either we win, or we perish.” They WON!

Life is a battle, either you WIN or LOSE it. But Christ came into this world to win the battle, even at the cost of his own death. That is really Christmas. Life is a battle, but it should be a battle of love as that of Jesus. Even his birth signaled a call of battle between the indifferent people of town and warm people of the countryside.

Christmas feelings – feelings of love within created by happiness and Christmas feelings created first in others Christmas feelings – feelings of special blessings received from God – feelings of higher happiness felt within … millions enjoy Christmas feelings NOW these days, millions even enjoy the very same true Christmas feelings all year long, day after day and Billions are too busy in filing lawsuits, pursuing lawsuits, planning or executing revenge and punishment or are simply busy in planning career, income and wealth management and doing business.

If now during Christmas time you are doing anything else but loving all and using all of God’s bliss pored upon you for your inner healing and for the increase in all people’s healing and overall happiness, then you may have once more mismanaged your entire year, most likely your entire life

On a long term plan we all know that we will return home to God, home to our eternal home in God hence we all know that this only is possible on the basis of lived and applied love

Work is important, work provides us with the means we need to share, to support, to help, to spoil others with our love, to relieve others from their burden of life after many months of most intense work there also needs to be a week long lasting phase of love – improved and increased, spirituality lived and practiced in our all daily life.

Christmas is the feast of forgiveness, of asking forgiveness and of joining heart in heart again with ancient long time enemies. Christmas feelings only can prosper and occur at all in hearts free from revenge, hearts free from old wishes to punish, to destroy, to kill, to take away, to restrict.

Christmas feelings only can live and blossom in hearts free for true love, free to MAKE happy a strong heart – strong by making many people many times happy during many months – such true hearts of love are strong enough to be flooded with God’s love and bliss these very days and all years long we all need healing spiritual healing, emotional healing, mental healing, physical healing,
but healing of any kind only can occur when love flows. It is our own love toward all that first needs to flow and heal all those we ever damaged in our past, past years or decades.

Flowers, hugs, hours to share, money to share, expertise to share, help to share, professional services or products to share are but a few ways we all can prove our love – we all have something valuable to give, to share else we have been too lazy to grow strong and to be useful to all society and all creation.

Start creating Christmas feeling in others day after day create smiles in others create true and lasting happiness in others relief others from any kind of burden they may have in life care about others find out the need, problems and nature of burden others may have known why some people never smile dissolve in love that reason that keeps them from smiling and add a few happy making moments to their lives to make them experiencing Christmas happiness again.

People need to learn to be happy like happy children; people need to learn to make happy to see all others smile like children. This is a battle before which we need to burn the ships of security, ships of hatred, ships of jealousy and ships of indifference. Then we can win a war, we have no choice than win this war. If we do not win we perish, if we win, we are with the PRINCE OF PEACH, JESUS CHRIST BORN AMONG US. GOD WITH US.

WISH YOU ALL
A MERRY CHRISTMAS
AND
A JOY FILLED SEASON OF PEACE AND LOVE

4th SUNDAY IN ADVENT – 2009

DEAR FRIEND IN CHRIST, DUE TO MY PREACHING COMMITMENTS IN THE UAE FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH (9TH NOVEMBER TILL THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER – 2009) A FEW HOMILIES MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON THE HOMILY PAGE. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING. GOD BLESS.

FR. RUDOLF V. D’SOUZA OCD


4th SUNDAY IN ADVENT – 2009

STORY:
A married lady was expecting a birthday gift from her husband. For many months she had admired a beautiful diamond ring in a showroom, and knowing her husband could afford it, she told him that was all she wanted.

As her birthday approached, this lady awaited signs that her husband had purchased the diamond ring.

Finally, on the morning of her birthday, her husband called her into his study room. Her husband told her how proud he was to have such a good wife, and told her how much he loved her. He handed her a beautiful wrapped gift box. Curious, the wife opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible, with the wife’s name embossed in gold.

Angrily, she raised her voice to her husband and said, “With all your money, you give me a Bible?” And stormed out of the house, leaving her husband.

Many years passed and the lady was very successful in business. She managed to settle for a more beautiful house and a wonderful family, but realized her ex-husband was very old, and thought perhaps she should go to visit him. She had not seen him for many years.

But before she could make arrangements, she received a telegram telling her that her ex-husband had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to her. She needed to come back immediately and take care of things.

When she arrived at her ex-husband’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled her heart. She began to search through her ex-husband’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as she had left it years before.

With tears, she opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. Her ex-husband had carefully underlined a verse, Matt 7:11, “And if you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father, who is in heaven, give to those who ask Him?”

As she read those words, a tiny package dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a diamond ring, with her name engraved on it — the same diamond ring which she saw at the showroom. On the tag was the date of her birth, and the words…’LUV U ALWAYS’.

How many times do we miss God’s blessings, because they are not packaged as we expected? Trust HIM always. HE knows what is good for you and may even ignore what you thought was good for you.

Do not spoil what you have, by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

If your gift is not packaged the way you want it, it’s because it is better packaged the way it is! Always appreciate little things; they usually lead you to bigger things!

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country (Luke 1:39)

“Those days” are the first days of Mary’s pregnancy – of the pregnancy of a young girl – probably less than 15 years old – of the pregnancy of a young and unmarried girl living in a small village where such a thing would bring untold shame – no, not UNTOLD, but rather frequently told gossip, that would shame her, her family, and her child for ever. In THOSE days, Mary flees her village and heads for the far away hills.

Travel for other than (religious purposes) was often considered deviant behavior in antiquity. While travel to visit family was considered legitimate, the report of Mary traveling alone into the “hill country” is highly unusual and improper.

Now this is also the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. (This is the “in the sixth month” of Verse 1:26.) But unlike Mary, Elizabeth’s pregnancy has taken away the disgrace she endured among her people. (See Verse 1:25.) For unlike Mary, Elizabeth had been barren, and she and her husband Zechariah were getting on in years. And unlike Mary who had no husband, the angel Gabriel announced their pregnancy to Zechariah:

Even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will … make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke1:15-17).

This is the child – whom we know as John the Baptist – who leaps in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s greeting to Elizabeth.

Normally speaking, matters having to do with the womb are not talked about in public. This is women’s talk and it is usually kept carefully within the private circle. … The fact that Luke reports such female conversation here suggests that he considers the reader a family insider.

Therefore, before moving too quickly to the magnificence of Mary’s Magnificat, it is perhaps wise to pause and sit within the intimacy of these two women’s conversation. To consider ourselves not as distant outsiders, but as invited and welcomed extended family into a blessed conversation between these two women.

Does anything leap for joy within us? Can we feel the stirring of new life? Of age old hopes? Of the impossible longing becoming possible?

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord (Luke 1:45)

And blessed today are we who also believe.

Mary’s song of praise, Verses 46-55, pretty much summarizes the teachings of Moses and the Prophets.

Anyone who thinks the Good News of Jesus Christ is only about one’s personal, individual salvation / forgiveness / justification / redemption will have a hard time preaching this text. This is a text about social reversals / transformation. Those of us who are proud, smart, powerful, high status, and well-fed have a tough text to hear today.

But the text today has moved from a young girl fleeing in shame from her home to that same young girl’s soul magnifying the Lord, and her spirit rejoicing in God her Saviour.

We may not need to flee in shame, but the text is calling us to also move; to also move from whatever space we are in to a space of seeing and naming and rejoicing in all the deeds God is doing to restore the creation to its fair balance.

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