Category Archives: HOMILIES

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



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.





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.”


. 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.





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.






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.

[ BACK ]





Child’s Definition of LOVEA group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, “What does love mean?” The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.  See what you think:

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore.  So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too.  That’s love.” Rebecca – age 8

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.  You know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy – age 4

“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl – age 5

“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” Chrissy – age 6

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri – age 4

Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.” Danny – age 7

“Love is when you kiss all the time.  Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.  My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss” Emily – age 8

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen,” Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)

“If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,” Nikka – age 6

“There are two kinds of love.  Our love.  God’s love. But God makes both kinds of them.” Jenny – age 8

“Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.” Noelle – age 7

“Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.” Tommy – age 6

“During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared.  I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.  He was the only one doing that.  I wasn’t scared anymore,” Cindy – age 8

“My mommy loves me more than anybody.  You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.” Clare – age 6

“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” Elaine -age 5

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.” Chris – age 7

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.” Mary Ann – age 4

“I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.” Lauren – age 4

“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” Karen – age 7

“Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.” Mark – age 6

“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it.  But if you mean it, you should say it a lot.  People forget,” Jessica – age 8

Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge.  The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.  The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.  Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

Love and Joy are the traditional theme for the third Sunday of Advent. As Advent progresses, love-joy becomes the dominant human expression. Introduced with Mary’s glad, if surprised, response to her selection as the mother of Jesus, soon angels, shepherds, and magi are not only heralding but joyfully celebrating the unfathomable entrance of God into the world as a baby.

Mirroring the joy build-up of Scripture is the escalation of positive human emotion for many-though not all-during this time of year. The Christmas season buds with awareness, love and builds with anticipation. Ideally, the march toward great joy is not only characterized by gift-sharing, social gatherings, and television classics, but solemn moments of spiritual exploration and introspection.

Realities of around us 

While Advent represents a sky of widespread hopefulness, such sky is not unclouded. Advent/ Christmas season can be more grueling than glorious for those whose lives are already highly stressed. Caregivers, including clergy, are especially vulnerable. Higher than normal expectations and demands during the holiday season may be enough to topple persons who have already been living on the edge of emotional collapse.

Moreover, domestic violence increases as persons feel unable to fulfill what they perceive to be minimal family obligations and responsibilities. Alcoholism, depression, drug addiction, shaken baby-syndrome, suicide, and homicide are horrific signs of the inability to cope with stressors often exacerbated during the holiday season. Thus, perhaps as at no other time in the liturgical year, is the historic therapeutic function of African American preaching and worship more important than during Advent and Christmas.   

Luke 7:18-35 may be characterized as the last earthly sighting of Jesus by John the Baptist. Luke is the only gospel which contains all three viewings. John’s first sighting of Jesus occurs while he is still in the womb of his mother. It is a spiritual visioning of Jesus that causes baby John to leap in the womb of his mother Elizabeth (Luke 4:1).

The second sighting occurs on the banks of the river Jordan. For days, months, and years, John, infant-turned-iconoclast, had been, with intensity, preaching, baptizing and looking; preaching, baptizing, and looking; preaching, baptizing, and looking. Finally one day he shouted, “There he is!” He’d caught sight of the one who would “baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 7: 16).

Lastly, Luke records a third sighting of Jesus by John. However, the noticing of him in Luke 7:20 is strikingly different from the earlier ones. The earlier sightings evidenced certainty and excitement.  John seemed to know who Jesus really was before Jesus was even born. Moreover, John’s unbridled enthusiasm while still in Elizabeth’s belly and on Jordan’s bank argues for his being acknowledged as the first one who ever “shouted” about Jesus. Yes, Mary, the mother of Jesus, shouts in Luke 1:46-55 but her shout, no less magnificent than John’s, is inspired by what God has done (something worth shouting about) more than it is about who Jesus is.

However, by Luke chapter seven, certainty and enthusiasm are dimmed by John’s status behind bars. Glad certainty about Jesus turns to simmering suspicion about him:

“Are you the coming one or do we look for another?” (Luke 7:20).

Considering Luke 7, alongside earlier texts that have John “seeing” Jesus, allows the preacher to address the matter of the changing seasons of faith. It is not always that we see Jesus with “glad eyes.” Sometimes, because of circumstances and choices, our vision of Jesus is blurry and not joyous. But, blurry vision is still vision. And our vision of Jesus does not determine Jesus’ vision of himself or how he sees us. Whatever our plight, Jesus is always God’s son and, in his eyes, we are always God’s children. And there is this good news, too good not to be true: even when we are not certain about God, God is certain about us. This is why we can serve with joy and gladness as officers in the Church and as stewards of God everywhere, even in troubled times.

Ways of Loving Care

Hospitable and loving behavior towards others is lauded in this text of practical spirituality.  Even more importantly, such behavior is linked to God. The word God is said four times between verses 10 and 11. If believers have any doubt about what is the source of what often are difficult behaviors to practice in pressure situations, the doubt is answered with “God.” Godly behavior would be untenable without God. Precisely because God loves so, we can love so. Precisely because God welcomes so, we can welcome so.

This text may be used to encourage church leaders to be out front in exhibiting compassion and understanding. To do this is to see Christian leadership in a larger light. More than taking charge of a group or an initiative, Christian leadership is about leading in offering love, forgiveness, and grace to others. Who can question the need for such lavish soulful leadership in our churches and our world today?

Challenges of Love

The focus texts can be brought together with a beautiful challenge to pastor and people alike to see each other as God sees them. Jesus’ response to the questioning of John was to really look, to consider what was actually being done to help people: “The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.”  (Luke 7: 32) Peter implores the first believers to be first in blessing each other as God blesses each one of them. As we see with the eyes of faith, let us see with the eyes of God. Beholding each other through God’s eyes has a positive, powerful influence on our attitudes and actions toward each other. If joy is to take hold of our hearts this Advent season, it will only be done if we see others as God sees them.

Soft or delicate in texture and consistency; easily broken, cut, compressed, chewed; not strong or robust; unable to endure hardship and fatigue. If we were developing a list of characteristics needed for living in a world where violence and danger were ever present, perhaps “tender” would not make our final list of desirable attributes. On the other hand, tender’s original meaning, “to stretch, hold out,” might cause us to think twice about the matter. Would the violence and danger in our world be lessened by the presence of more people who could stretch past their fears and with perseverance, work and wait for redemptive new ways of seeing, listening, and thinking?  





Thomas Edison tried two thousand different materials in search of a filament for the light bulb. When none worked satisfactorily, his assistant complained, “All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing.”

Edison replied very confidently, “Oh, we have come a long way and we have learned a lot. We now know that there are two thousand elements which we cannot use to make a good light bulb.”

We hear of John, previous to our text, as the babe that leaps in Elizabeth’s womb (1:41). After his birth we hear the song that his father, Zechariah, sings about his role in preparing the way for the “mighty saviour” (Luke 1:67-79). Yet, between his birth and his appearance in our reading there is no mention of John. The scripture does not tell us when he enters, or how long John is in the wilderness. It is only conjecture, but perhaps John is sent into the wilderness away from his parents, away from civilization to be tested and to endure a trial that teaches him to depend solely on God.

We know John will speak out against wrong and be imprisoned (Luke 3:19-20), then beheaded by Herod (Mark 6:28). We know the one whom he heralds compares him with prophets of old and praises him (Matt 11:11-13). What we do not know is how this unlikely messenger moves to the edge of the wilderness, just beyond positions of power and orderliness, to call the people back to God, cajoling them into a baptism of repentance (metonia) for the forgiveness of sin. We can conjecture that it is God who empowers John the Baptist to be able to cry out, to all within the range of his voice, to be washed in water, and see the coming salvation of God (3:6).

Paul, another unlikely messenger, thanks and congratulates the followers of Christ in Philippi for believing and “proclaiming God’s message.” He prays that they continue to grow in a fuller condition of love and that this condition might influence how they live their lives. Paul calls us all to live so that Jesus would be proud.

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways.” Yes, I know I am quoting a Michael Jackson song, and even as I write I know you the reader may groan. With all the previous media attention around Michael Jackson’s death in June of this year, these are the words that come to mind as I think about John’s cry of repentance (metonia). Metonia word-translated repentance from the Greek can be interpreted as “a change of mind.” It implies a sense of regret or remorse. The very potent lyrics of Jackson’s song, “I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat. Who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their need” implies the regret of not seeing what is right in front of him. The song, composed by Seidah Garrett, is calling us to stop and change our minds.

John the Baptist’s call is similar. He steps out of the wilderness in a clear strong voice calling us to stop ignoring God. “Prepare the way of the Lord,” John cries. Later he will tell those gathered how. (Luke 3:11) But how do we? As we move closer and closer to the most commercialized day of the year, in a time of recent economic crisis, how do we “make his paths straight”? Could the economic crisis, which might be thought of as a wilderness experience, help us depend solely on God? This Advent can we change our minds about money, power, status, and our sense of orderliness? I believe we can. We are empowered by God through the waters of our baptism; we are promised the forgiveness of sins; we can change our minds. Yes, I know Michael Jackson is an unlikely messenger of repentance but as he sings, he calls us to “Take a look at ourselves and make that change.”

Repent and believe the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repentance is a way of getting back on track. It is a time to be self introspective. I have been preaching now in the UAE and I myself feel the power of working among people. Repentance really gives people another chance for a change, a change that can bring them immense joy and a change in their attitude makes them really happy and healthy people.

John the Baptist did just the same inviting people to repentance. Asking them to change their old ways and keep updating with the new ones that lead them to the joys of God’s Kingdom.

Father what can I do? I do not know to get reconciled with my wife. I said start with a smile on your face. Change your basic attitudes towards her. Look for creative ways of dealing with her. Be sure of this sooner than later you will find changing waves in your wife’s life style.

Basically we know that our mistakes make us perfect. We need to learn from them, that is the secret of our success. If you are afraid of making mistakes, you will never arrive anywhere.






To the disciples’ delight the Master said he wanted a new shirt for his birthday. The finest cloth was bought. The village tailor came in to have the Master measured, and promised, by the will of God, to make the shirt within a week.

A week went by and a disciple was dispatched to the tailor while the Master excitedly waited for his shirt. Said the tailor, “There has been a slight delay. But, by the will of God, it will be ready by tomorrow.”

Next day the tailor said, “I’m sorry it isn’t done. Try again tomorrow and, if God so wills, it will certainly be ready.”

The following day the Master said, “Ask him how long it will take if he keeps God out of it.”

Preparation: Some of us prepare for a journey, others prepare to deliver a speech and many others who prepare daily for their job, work and do some assignments to fulfill the expected results. Hence, during this Advent season we too are requested to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Well in Europe preparations for commercial Christmas began three months ago selling specially the lottery tickets of EL GORDO, that has a prize money of 25 million Euros. One who wins will be just not in his/her normal life. One who wins that lottery will be feeling as it were on cloud 9 or in heaven already. But this is too worldly; the things of this world will pass away. But the things that really matter are God’s kingdom deep within us. Therefore a preparation would be really justified in order to invite the Lord into our hearts and to make him the ruler of our life.

To some, today’s celebration of the First Sunday of Advent is a reminder that there is less than one month before the arrival of Christmas. To others, it means that the rush is on to put twinkling lights around the house, to buy what is needed for the Christmas pastry cooking, to shop for presents. And to others yet, it means to make peace with relatives so all may enjoy a wonderful family Christmas as Christ intended it to be.

According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, Advent means three things:

(1) It means to prepare ourselves to be worthy of celebrating the Christmas anniversary of the Lord’s coming into the world as the incarnate God of love.

(2) It means that through the Sacrament of Holy Communion and through grace, we are to prepare our souls as fitting abodes for the coming of the Redeemer.

(3) It means to prepare ourselves for the final coming of the Lord as our Judge, either at death or at the end of the world, whichever may come first.

Today three readings from the Holy Bible prepare us to be spiritually uplifted according to these three goals of the Season of Advent.

The First Reading from the Book of Jeremiah, insists that during the days of the Old Testament, the Lord God repeated the promises that He had made to Abraham and to His descendants. [Gen. 22:15-18] To Abraham and his offspring, God had promised to bless them, that they would be as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And they shall possess the gate of their enemies and by his offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves.

Over and above this, God was now promising that a righteous Branch would spring up from the descendants of King David, the righteous One executing justice and righteousness in the land. While the Jewish people of those days took these words as meaning to indicate the coming of a King and a worldly kingdom, that was not what God was referring to. He was referring to a spiritual Kingdom in which Christ, the offspring, [Gal. 3:16] would be the First fruit of many to follow. [1 Cor. 15:20, 23] God was speaking of the spiritual Kingdom that was promised to Abraham, he who was to become the spiritual father of all those who live by faith. [Rom. 4:13-8] God was speaking of the Mystical Body of Christ.

For just as the Father has life in Himself, He was going to grant the Son also to have life in Himself. [Jn. 5:26] Through the mystery of the incarnation, He the Father who is the Righteous One [Rom. 10:3] was going to give all authority [Jn. 5:27; 1 Pet. 3:22] to His Son, the Righteous One who was being called to execute justice and righteousness in the land. Through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, we as the living saints of the Holy Catholic Church receive our righteousness. As such, “the Lord is our righteousness.” [Jer. 33:16]

Today’s Gospel Reading echoes the fulfillment of the promises of God the Father through the glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ. While the Reading appears to contain prophecies of days that are ahead of us, such is not the case. Today’s passage from the Gospel of Luke was taken from Chapter 21, verses 25 to 28 and 34 to 36. One particular verse of importance was omitted, that being Luke 21:32, where it states, “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all things have taken place.”

Jesus stated that all the signs mentioned during today’s Gospel Reading were to be fulfilled before the passing away of the generation that lived in His days. As such, the signs that He was giving to His followers have to be perceived as representative of the ending of the age of the Old Testament and the beginning of the new age, when the New Covenant was made during the Last Supper.

As Saint John states it, “But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” [Jn. 21:25] While the Holy Bible does not tell us everything that happened after the Resurrection of Jesus, there is sufficient information provided in other passages to tell us that these things have come to pass.

When a reference is made in the Holy Bible to “the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” tradition tells us that this is a reference between the great battle between Archangel Michael and Satan, at which time Satan was casted out of Heaven. [Lk. 10:18; Rev. 12:7-10]

On the subject that “Christ redeemed us,” [Rom. 3:24; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7] that truth is made known to us through the teachings of the Catholic Church and our ongoing profession of faith.

Regarding seeing the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory, when Jesus called Nathanael as a follower, He told him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see Heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” [Jn. 1:51] We can only accept as truth that this came to pass as Jesus promised to Nathanael because Jesus is the truth. God cannot lie. [Tit. 1:2;] No falsehood is found in Him. [Heb. 6:18]

Today’s Gospel Reading tells us to be on our guard so our hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, so the day of the Lord will not catch us unexpectedly, as in a trap. No one knows when he will die! No one knows when he will appear before the Lord God to be judged for his worldly behaviour! As such, no one can prepare himself as one prepares himself to go on a holiday.

Therefore, Divine wisdom tells us that we should always be prepared! We should immediately be prepared in case the Lord calls us tonight during our sleep. Before our bedtime tonight, if anything needs to be done, it must be completed. For there may be no tomorrow.

Today’s Second Reading from the First Letter to the Thessalonians gives us sound advise as to how we should prepare ourselves. Which ever comes first, that we depart from this world before the final return of the Lord Jesus or He gloriously returns with His saints on the last day, either way, we should abound in love for one another and for all. Our love should not be limited to our friends, but also for our enemies. Our love should not be limited towards those we are talking to, but also towards those we are not talking to. Our love should not be limited to those we can forgive, but also towards those we have difficulty forgiving. “For with the judgment you make you will be judged and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” [Mt. 7:2]

To be fully prepared, we must have holy hearts so we will be blameless before our God and Father. To achieve this goal, we must walk with the sanctifying Holy Spirit who disciplines us to increase our holiness. We must maintain pure minds at all time. We must receive the Sacrament of Confession to maintain our ongoing righteousness by the grace of God. We must receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread, so we will qualify to inherit the eternal Heavenly Kingdom as children of God. We must do all what is humanly possible to continually remain in communion with God on a daily basis.

Not knowing when the coming of the Lord shall be for each and everyone of us, we must persevere in our living faith. Indebted to Christ for our redemption, we cannot allow ourselves to take a break from our living faith. For a shipwreck in our faith by allowing our human nature to take over our spiritual commitment could cost us our blessed hope among the saints and angels in the continuous presence of the Lord Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we received the gift of a new heart and a new spirit, over and above the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to help us and guide us in our spiritual lives. During the coming week, let us embrace a spiritual attitude so the Season of Advent may become something special for us. May Advent be a true moment of preparation for each and everyone of us in the expectation of the coming of Jesus at Christmas, at death, or at the last coming of the Lord, which ever may come first.






Once upon a time there was a childless King who wanted to choose a worthy successor to his throne after he passed away.

He called all the young children in his kingdom to his palace one day and said: “It has come time for me to choose the next King. I have decided to choose one of you as my successor, as my Crown Prince, and groom you to be the King after I am gone.”

The amazed children listened spellbound as the King spoke: “I am going to give each one of you a seed today – Just One Seed. It is a very special seed. I want you all to go home, plant the seed, water it, nurture it, and come back here to me exactly one year from today with the plant you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring to me and whoever grows the best plant will be the Crown Prince, the next King after me.”

There was one small shy boy who was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed from the King.

He went home and excitedly told his mother the whole story.

She helped him get a pot and some planting soil, and he planted the seed and watered it regularly and nurtured it carefully.

Twice every day, in the morning and in the evening, the small shy boy would water the seed lovingly and watch to see if it had germinated and grown.

After a few days, some of the other children began to talk about their seeds and the lovely plants that were beginning to grow, but the small shy boy kept going home and checking his seed, disappointed that nothing was growing from his seed.

Days passed, then weeks, and months, but still there was no sign of a plant growing from the small shy boy’s seed. But the small boy still kept lovingly watering his seed regularly hoping that it would germinate.

By now the others were talking about their wonderful healthy plants but small shy boy didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure, but he kept persevering and nurturing his seed with love and dedication in the optimistic hope that his seed would someday sprout a plant.

Six months went by and there was still no sign of a plant in the small shy boy’s pot.

Everyone else had exquisite tall plants, but he had nothing to show.

Inwardly he feared that maybe he had killed his seed but the small shy boy didn’t say anything to his friends and kept on tenderly watering and nurturing his seed with dogged determination and doting devotion in the fond hope that his seed would grow and blossom into a beautiful plant.

Finally, one year passed, and all the children of the kingdom brought their plants to the King for inspection.

The small shy boy was scared and did not want to take his desolate plant-less pot with just the soil and seed to the King, but his mother encouraged him to go, to take his pot with him, and to be honest about everything.

The small shy boy felt fearful and nervous, but he listened to his mother and took his barren pot to the King.

When the small shy boy arrived at the King’s Palace, he was astonished to see the variety of beautiful and exotic plants grown by all the other children.

Totally crestfallen, the small shy boy put his desolate pot on the floor and everyone jeered in derision and mocked him. A few children felt pity for him and tried to console the small shy boy.

Suddenly the King arrived, looked around the hall appraising the plants and showered words of praise to the gathered children: “It is really amazing – you all have really grown fantastic beautiful plants, trees and flowers. I am truly impressed. Today, one of you is going to be selected as the Crown Prince to be the next King!”

The small shy boy shivered with tremors of trepidation and overcome with shame tried to hide in the back.

The King’s eyes searched all over and suddenly he saw the small shy boy at the back of the hall with his barren pot.

The King ordered his guards to bring him in front of the throne The small shy boy was terrified. “When the King sees my pot, how badly I have failed in the task he gave me, he is sure to punish me!”

Seeing how frightened the small shy boy was, the King stepped down from his throne, walked down towards the petrified boy, lovingly put his hand on the small shy boy’s shoulders and announced: “This boy is your new King!”

The small shy boy could not believe his ears – it was unbelievable that the King should select a failure and loser like him who couldn’t even sprout his seed be the Crown Prince.

The King escorted the small shy boy to the throne and said to everyone: “One year ago I gave all of you a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But what you did not know is that I gave you all boiled seeds that would not grow. Except this honest boy, all of you have brought me beautiful plants with exotic flowers and even trees with fruit. When you found out that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. This boy was the only one with the sincerity to nurture the barren seed for one whole year with dedication, hope and perseverance and had the courage and honesty to bring me the desolate pot with my seed in it. Therefore, I select him as my Crown Prince to be the next King!”

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels of heaven, he will sit upon his royal throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.” (Mt 25) We worship Jesus Christ as Lord and King because he is victorious in the battle over sin and death. In His resurrection, which we celebrate and in which we participate at every Eucharistic Sacrifice, our Lord established His rule over all creation, and overcame in Himself the effects of the sin of Adam. Christ is Lord, for he has conquered what we fear most and have no power against, the cruel and bitter specter of death. We cannot but exult and shout for joy with the knowledge that we can share in His Resurrection. We share in the Resurrection in the first place by meeting Christ in the liturgy, in Word and Sacrament. The Christ we receive in the Eucharist is the Easter Christ, the risen and glorified Christ as he is now victoriously seated at the right hand of the Father in glory.

The lesson of the final judgment in St. Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25, verses thirty-one to forty-six, makes clear that we are to seek out and to meet Christ wherever he may be found, in a particular way in human life in all its stages and conditions. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” (Mt 25:40)

The Lord associates himself in a mysterious way with the poor. We may have great reverence for His true and real presence in the Blessed Sacrament, and are called to love him with our whole heart, mind soul and strength. Yet, we cannot please God or love Him as we ought if we fail to love our neighbor as our self, doing so for love of Christ. The divine love and life poured out abundantly in the Eucharist is given both for love of God and love of neighbor.

The Catechism teaches that the requirement of charity for our neighbor flows from the presence of Christ by the power of his word and the Holy Spirit.

Christ Jesus who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,’ is present in many ways to his Church: (Rom 8:34) in his word, in his Church’s prayer, ‘where two or three are gathered in my name,’ (Mt 18:20) in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, (Mt 25:31-46) in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But ‘he is present…most especially in the Eucharistic species’. (CCC 1373)

Our Lord Jesus has given His Body and Blood to us precisely so that we may overflow with the same love for others that he has first given to us. It is for this reason that he will judge us at the end of the world on the ways in which we have generously and self-sacrificingly offered ourselves for the life of others in imitation of the way in which He gives of His own life unceasingly for His bride, the Church.

It is fashionable today to take up such causes as feeding the hungry, building shelter for the homeless, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty. These are good and necessary, and a sign that Christ is at work among many men and women of good will. There remain, however, the many who are neglected, abandoned, whose lives are threatened. The Christian will be praised for feeding, clothing and helping the poor, for being with the lonely. These are good works and they must be taken up by the Christian community together with all men and women of good will. The Christian, however, is condemned and attacked for recognizing that these works of charity should also be extended to the confused and rejected young mother, to the unborn child, to the terminally ill, and to all those whose lives are determined to be not worth living.

The kingdom of Christ, a reign of charity and peace, is for all. The Lord sends us out as his disciples so that all mankind may be brought under his reign in the world. We the baptized are the agents through whom the social kingship of Christ will be realized. Our baptism is our commission and our grace for the apostolate.

Today after Mass, with others or with the whole congregation and with priest or deacon leading, pray together the “Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus”, in petition that “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”







A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill? Hands started going up.He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.”He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up.He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. Now who still wants it?” Many more hands went up.

“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. Because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value in God’s eyes. To Him, dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to Him.

AS HE WAS standing in the temple watching scribes and other people coming and going, Jesus saw what any of us would have seen: the “religious” with their long flowing robes, and the common people hurrying in to make their offerings. His comments seemed interesting, even amusing, until I realized where I would be located in this ordinary scene and what Jesus would be saying about me.

Let’s face it, many of us reading this would be the folk wearing the clerical or academic robes, or other special clothes associated with class and power. We wear them to be noticed, as a mark of our station. “Beware of people like this,” Jesus says. “These people who like to be treated with respect, or have the best seats at the dinner parties.” Who wouldn’t like these perks? Nothing wrong here at least not on the surface.

But Jesus looks beneath the surface of things. He sees things from an entirely different perspective. And he sees that there are costs associated with the distribution of power and wealth that we take for granted. He notes these costs by saying these people “devour widows’ houses.” What can he mean by this?

Apparently one of the scandals of Jesus’ time was the insidious way that the religious establishment served the needs of the wealthy and, in clear violation of the Torah, violated the poor, especially those outside the social structures – the widows. The reference to “widows’ houses” could refer to the scribes’ tendency to abuse their role as trustee for the estates of widows, or it could refer more generally to the way upkeep of the temple (a house of prayer) “devoured” the resources of the poor. Either way, the practice of praying had become a cover for injustice. What is worse, then as now many involved with the temple were unaware of the way the structures worked against needy people, for the needy were almost invisible. They didn’t walk and sit among the scribes and religious leaders.

Again, Jesus sees things differently. Jesus pays special attention to the poor widow whose clothes were unspectacular and who probably was overlooked by almost everyone. Oh yes, many rich people put in huge sums. That would be impressive, and it was meant to be! But Jesus commended the woman who put in a penny. Why? Because the others did it for show out of abundance; she did it for God with “all she had to live on.”

The question about both clothes and offerings is the same: What is acceptable worship? What is to be done to be “noticed” and who do we want to notice us? Jesus gives us a clue. The scribes gave in order to make a human impression; the widow gave all she had, revealing that she was completely dependent on God. The scribes located – socially and religiously where I am located – became a negative example of trust, while the poor woman, contrary to cultural expectation, provided a positive example of trust. Here, then, is a vivid instance, so common in the Gospels, of the fulfillment of Mary’s song: God has “brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.”

Most commentators on this Gospel passage tend to speak of it as praise for the widow. She gave all the money she had, and so was a remarkable example of generosity. Similarly the widow in the first reading shared all she possessed with the prophet, and also demonstrated extraordinary generosity. Both widows can be seen as images of Our Lord Jesus Christ who gave all for us, even his very life. In this sense the readings show us how radical the Gospel message is. As followers of Christ we are called upon, not just to lead what might be called a respectable life, but to give everything to God. We are to be, not half-hearted disciples, who make all sorts of compromises with the world, but people who find their fulfillment, not in what they have, but in what they are. Instead of hoarding our time and our money, we are called to live generously, putting our trust in God and our faith in eternal life. This is a common interpretation of these passages and it tells us something very important about what it means to be a Christian. There is also, however, another and even more radical lesson here. A Deeper Lesson. There are some commentators on this Gospel passage who argue, quite convincingly in my opinion, that Jesus is not so much praising the widow as he is lamenting the kind of religious culture that encourages people like her to donate her entire livelihood to the Temple. Keep in mind that Jesus has just condemned those scribes who love titles, who seek the front seats in public gatherings, and who desire the praise of others. He accuses them of “devouring the houses of widows.” So in that first part of today’s Gospel passage he appears to be speaking out against the kind of religious leaders who encourage poor widows like this to donate even what they need to live on. The point is not that Jesus disapproves of donating to the support of the Temple. It is rather that he insists giving to the Church must not come ahead of a person’s genuine human needs. We must keep our priorities straight. Remember how, earlier in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus defended his conduct when he healed sick people on the Sabbath. He did so on the grounds that human need comes ahead of Sabbath observance. Recall as well that in Chapter 7 he condemned those religious leaders who refused to support their needy parents on the grounds that they were giving the money to the Temple instead; he called this hypocrisy. So today’s Gospel reading appears to be emphasizing Jesus’ genuine concern about ordinary people and his desire that they be able to satisfy their most basic needs in life. He rejects any sort of religion that ignores those needs. He insists that any kind of religious practice that leads us away from doing all we can to help people live a genuinely human life is false. Such religion dishonours the God who cares deeply about every single person. This Gospel passage also reminds us that, as a Church, we should not find ourselves “devouring the houses of widows.” There is a responsibility to support the Church. However there is also a duty on our part as a Church-community to ask why we want that support. If we seek it to pay our legitimate expenses, to support the preaching of the Gospel, and to have something on hand to assist those in need, then all well and good. However if we seek it so we can look rich in the world’s eyes, so we can be thought strong and successful as a Church, then we are following the wisdom of the world rather than the Wisdom of God. This world treasures honours, money, influence, and regards them as the signs of a successful life. In every age the followers of Jesus are tempted, like the scribes, to buy into that view. We must not let that happen to us. Finally, today’s Gospel raises disturbing questions about the kind of witness we give to our world. All of us need money and we sometimes have to occupy positions of authority. However it is our sacred calling, as a Church-community, and as individual Christians, to be a public sign that the God we serve is the ultimate owner of any money or goods of which we happen to be the temporary stewards, and that this God is a generous Father, not a miser or an uncaring master. We give that witness by the way we use money and authority, and especially by the way we care about the needs of others.


One of the great Christian virtues is liberality, that is, an attitude of generosity in the way we use our time, our talent and our treasure. It is from the Latin word “liber”, meaning “free”. The idea is that if we are free with what we have, we will experience a great personal freedom ourselves. At the same time we must never give other people the impression that God does not want them to have enough to meet their genuine human needs. If we did that, we would be insulting the generosity of God.

31st Sunday in ordinary Time. 2009

31st Sunday in ordinary Time
All Saints Day

[From this Sunday onwards the homily page will not carry the Sunday Readings – Thanks and God Bless
– Fr. Rudolf Valerian D’Souza]

Long time ago, there was an Emperor who told his horseman that if he could ride on his horse and cover as much land area as he likes, then the Emperor would give him the area of land he has covered. Sure enough, the horseman quickly jumped onto his horse and rode as fast as possible to cover as much land area as he could. He kept on riding and riding, whipping the horse to go as fast as possible. When he was hungry or tired, he did not stop because he wanted to cover as much area as possible.

Came to a point when he had covered a substantial area and he was exhausted and was dying. Then he asked himself, “Why did I push myself so hard to cover so much land area? Now I am dying and I only need a very small area to bury myself.”

The above story is similar with the journey of our Life. We push very hard everyday to make more money, to gain power and recognition. We neglect our health, time with our family and to appreciate the surrounding beauty and the hobbies we love.

One day when we look back, we will realize that we don’t really need that much, but then we cannot turn back time for what we have missed.

Life is not about making money, acquiring power or recognition. Life is definitely not about work! Work is only necessary to keep us living so as to enjoy the beauty and pleasures of life. Life is a balance of Work and Play, Family and Personal time. You have to decide how you want to balance your Life. Define your priorities, realize what you are able to compromise but always let some of your decisions be based on your instincts. Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of Life, the whole aim of human existence.

So, take it easy, do what you want to do and appreciate nature. Life is fragile, Life is short. Do not take Life for granted. Live a balanced lifestyle and enjoy Life!

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character .

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny I hope that you enjoy the above story and moral.

“Any man’s life will be filled with constant and unexpected encouragement if he makes up his mind to do his level best each day.”

Not so long ago, a new pastor was assigned to a parish that was quite divided over the issue of what it means to be a good Christian. One faction was very upset with the previous pastor who did not, in their opinion, give enough vocal support to every pronouncement that came from Rome and who spent way too much time encouraging parishioners to consider issues of social justice. In addition this group wanted at least one Mass a Sunday in Latin and wanted the pastor to preach about the evils of birth control and divorce, forbidding the sacraments, including Christian burial, to those known to be sinning in those matters. The other faction was also upset with the previous pastor because they thought he didn’t go far enough on issues of social justice and spent far too much time encouraging people to pray and meditate and to follow the example of Mary. Representatives of both factions were constantly coming to the rectory to register their complaints. After one knock down drag out session with representatives of both factions, the new pastor wearily wandered into the reception area of the rectory. The teenage girl who answered the phone looked at him sympathetically (because, of course, she had heard much of the shouting match he had just endured) and said, “You know Father, my grandpa always said, “Love God and love your neighbor. That’s what it’s all about.” The pastor smiled, thinking wouldn’t it be great to have her give the homily one Sunday?

WE ARE APPROACHING THE END of the LITURGICAL year. And, in the gospels of these Sundays, we are looking at the final phase of Jesus’ life before his suffering, death and resurrection. He predicts certain things that announce the end of times.

Last week we saw Jesus leaving Jericho on the last stage of his journey to Jerusalem. He healed the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, who, once he regained his sight, saw that the only thing he could do was to go with Jesus on that final journey. Today’s story takes place in Jerusalem itself. The context of the story is important. “Sacrifice” is mentioned in both the Second Reading and the Gospel. There are clear links with the Temple, the Old Testament and Jewish Law. A Scribe approaches Jesus. He is an expert in interpreting the Law. There were more than 600 laws, too many for an ordinary person to grasp. He asks a question which was much-debated among scholars of the day: Of all these many laws which was the most central, the most basic, the one that summed up all the others?

Unlike other occasions, there seems to be no sense of hostility or of a trap being set here. The man just wants to know Jesus’ opinion as a rabbi and teacher.

Positive response

Note how Jesus receives the man. Usually Scribes and Pharisees are presented as hostile to Jesus. It would be natural for Jesus to be on the defensive, to react negatively. But Jesus always takes the person as he or she is. He does not indulge in stereotyping about “typical Scribes and Pharisees” and tarring all with the same brush. We do this so easily with classes, races, age groups (teenagers, older people). We use so many labels. We even stereotype individuals we know before they have opened their mouths, based on our previous experience with them. Jesus accepts and responds to this person here and now as he is. An example which we can all follow and which would save a lot of wear and tear in our relations with people, if we did so.

A new development

To answer the man’s question Jesus quotes from the Jewish scripture, the Old Testament. In answering the question, Jesus begins from where the man is, in an area which will be both familiar and acceptable to him. But he takes two distinct texts and puts them together as one. This is a significant development and one that is absolutely central to the Christian vision. In today’s First Reading from Deuteronomy, one of the books of the Jewish law, one can see that one is urged to love God with all one’s energy and to “keep all his laws and commandments”. There is no mention here of the “neighbour”. That appears in a separate text in a different book of the law (Leviticus 19:18).
The Scribe is obviously pleased with the answer. And he further adds that these two commands are far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.
And it is this dual approach which makes Jesus the perfect priest mentioned in the Second Reading. The priests of the Law were men subject to weakness. “Death put an end to each one of them.” While Christ, “because he remains for ever, can never lose his priesthood”. Jesus is the “perfect” Priest and now the only Priest, because absolutely perfect in his love for the Father and in his love for us.

Like Jesus, we cannot separate our love of God from loving ALL those around us. Sometimes we see our sins just as offences against God, even when action is directed against another person. We may go to “confession”, get forgiveness and feel the matter is finished. We go to God for forgiveness, when what is also needed is forgiveness from and reconciliation with the person we have hurt. If we cannot love the neighbour we can see, how can we love the God we cannot see? (cf. 1 John 4:20) And who is my neighbour? For the people in Jesus’ time, it was a fellow-Jew. Others, even though physically near, were not. Following the teaching of Jesus, however, it is anyone who needs our love, our concern, or who shows love and concern for us, transcending all barriers and independent of like or dislike, approval or disapproval. But some of us can sympathise with the complaint of comic strip character, Charlie Brown: “I love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand!”

Loving others, loving ourselves

We are to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. That sounds very demanding. Actually it is often part of the problem. Many, if not most of us, do not love ourselves very much. Many, most would not like others to know us as we feel we really are. Our feelings are echoed in the title of two books by Jesuit John Powell: Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? and Will the Real Me Stand Up?

We go to great lengths to hide our inadequacies, our weaknesses. We spend a lot of money on houses, cars, clothes, jewelry, cosmetics, dining out. Image is all. We need status symbols to prove we are “someone”. Teenagers looking and sounding very “with-it” but actually hiding behind currently fashionable clothes-styles, hairstyles, language, being “cool” and “hip”. Very few people are really themselves in front of others. In computer jargon we say, “What you see is what you get [WYSWYG]”. In other words, what appears on the screen will also appear on a print-out. For people it should be, “What you see is what there is.” This requires total self-acceptance (not the same as self-approval) and integrity, wholeness. Self-acceptance means that I fully acknowledge both my strengths and weaknesses and I am not ashamed of them and I don’t mind if other people know them. Because such a person knows that the key to being loved is to have one’s real self accessible to others.

God and our Neighbour:

Conventionally we say we should first love God. Then, for his sake, we love others. Lastly, self should be denied, sacrifices should be made. We should not be selfish, self-centred. Actually it may surprise us to be told that we cannot not be self-centred. Everything we do is self-centred. We need to go the other way: learn to love and accept self fully. Then, and only then, are we free to look out and reach out to others in love non self-consciously. When I have nothing to hide, it is easy to be myself. And, if others do not like what they see, that is their problem, not mine. And we will then discover that, when we have learnt to love genuinely and unconditionally, we will be loved in return – though not by all. We cannot be loved by all because there are many people out there who are not able to love; it is not because there is anything wrong with me. To want to be loved by everyone is simply unattainable. And when we know what really loving and being loved is (by direct experience), then (and only then?) can we talk about really loving God. All this, says today’s Gospel, is more important than any ritual or sacrifice. It is no good being in church every hour of every day if I am not a loving person.


Jesus said the Scribe was “close to the Kingdom” because he had touched on the essence of living: loving God and loving others as a single but distinct reality. But he is not quite part of it yet. He was not and apparently did not become a full disciple of Jesus. And what makes such a disciple? By this will all know that you are my disciples – that you love God? That you never miss Mass? That you have special devotion to Our Lady? No, none of these by itself. What is essential and sufficient is to love God in loving others and to love others in loving God.

Late Pope John Paul’s daily slogan “do not be afraid” helped him to combat his way towards great heights in sanctity and heightened successful performance during his 26 years of papacy. His humble beginnings as Pope and his rising popularity and a rare combination of his humour, smiling face and attractive personality won him great appreciation and acceptance across the globe. The worldwide media branded him as a ‘hard working and courageous Pope’. I had the most rare opportunity to assist him during the last three days of his agonizing hours of life. He struggled till the end to keep himself serene and lucid and the media people were wondering at how he could resist and be so strong till his last breath and were able to say boldly “amen” to the Lord.

In the early nineteenth century, a young man in London aspired to be a writer. But everything seemed to be against him. He had never been able to attend school more than four years. His father had been thrown in jail because he couldn’t pay his debts, and this young man often knew the pangs of hunger. Finally he got a job pasting labels on bottles in a rat-infested warehouse, and he slept at night in a dismal attic room with two other boys from the slums of London. He had so little confidence in his ability to write that he sneaked out and mailed his first manuscript in the dead of the night so nobody would laugh at him. Story after story was refused. Finally the great day came when one was accepted. True, he wasn’t paid for it, but one editor had praised him. One editor had given him recognition. He was so thrilled that he wandered aimlessly around the streets of London with tears rolling down his cheeks.

The praise, the recognition that he received through getting one story in print changed his whole life. If it hadn’t been for that encouragement, he would have spent his entire life working in rat-infested factories. You may have heard of that boy. His name is Charles Dickens

In Florida, an atheist became incensed over the preparation of Easter and Passover holidays.. He decided to contact his lawyer about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by the constant celebrations afforded to Christians and Jews with all their holidays while atheists had no holiday to celebrate.

The case was brought before a judge. After listening to the long passionate presentation by the lawyer, the Judge banged his gavel and declared, ‘Case dismissed!’

The lawyer immediately stood and objected to the ruling and said, ‘Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances. Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah…yet my client and all other atheists have no such holiday!’

The judge leaned forward in his chair and simply said, ‘Obviously your client is too confused to even know about, much less celebrate his own atheists’ holiday!’

The lawyer pompously said, ‘Your Honor, we are unaware of any such holiday for atheists just when that holiday might be, your Honor?’

The judge said, ‘Well it comes every year on exactly the same date – April 1st! Since our calendar sets April 1st as ‘April Fools Day,’ consider that Psalm 14:1 states, ‘The fool says in his heart, there is no God.’ Thus, in my opinion, if your client says there is no God, then by scripture, he is a fool, and April 1st is his holiday! Now have a good day and get out of my courtroom!!