2nd Sunday of Advent – December 8, 2019

2nd Sunday of Advent – December 8, 2019

Adv2A19.   Isaiah 11:1-10.  The chapter before this in Isaiah describes the destruction and conquest wrought by the Assyrian army over a substantial part of Israel.  God used Assyria to punish his sinful people.  Chapter 11 looks forward to a future time when God will restore his just rule by raising up a ruler from the line of Jesse, David’s father.  The new ruler shall have the spirit of Lord so to make of Israel a new creation, the sinful Israel having been annihilated by the invaders and even the new ruler himself.  Faithful to the Lord, he will be just and gracious as the Lord is just and gracious.  “There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for all the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water cover the sea.” “For his dwelling shall be (so) glorious” that “the Gentiles shall seek (it) out.”

Matthew 3:1-12.   In fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy, “A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths,” “John the Baptist appeared to make the people ready for Jesus.  John said of Jesus, “He will baptize you with Holy Spirit and fire; whereas “I am baptizing you with water” only.  John’ water cleanses whereas Jesus’ fire purifies and refines like gold in a furnace.  As “wheat is gathered into the barn”, he will gather those who are truly repentant of their sins in heaven.  Also as the chaff is burned, in his “coming wrath” so too “he will burn with an unquenchable fire” those who do not repent.  In effect he is telling us also, “Bear good fruit (or we) will be cut down and thrown into the fire” that gets rid of all who are worthless because of sin.

Romans 15:4-9.  Paul commends to his readers the strength and resolution of spirit to face the difficulties of bringing Christ to a world that is so self-centered, materialistic and in denial of eternal truth so to live just for the day and the moment. The Scriptures help us to build that endurance and courage that give us hope that the final victory belongs to those who belong to Christ. To give glory to Jesus and his salvific work requires his followers to think in harmony and be of one accord so to speak with one, unified voice.  What was promised to the patriarchs belongs to all, even the Gentiles.  Jews and Gentiles unite in the Messiah himself.

2nd Sunday of Advent – November 30, 2016

Adv2A  11/30/16

Isaiah 11:1-10   “On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom, it says in our first reading this Sunday.  The last line reads, “On that day, the root of Jesse set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.” Jesse is David’s father and so represents the Davidic dynasty, which was decimated with the Babylonian Captivity.  However there still remained a stump from which came to be Jesus, the promise of an eternal peace and joy.

Matthew 3:1-12   “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” In other words, get ready to meet Maker and Judge.  You will be judged according to the “good fruit” of God working within you.  John makes it clear that they will not be judged righteous just because they were born Jewish (or us, Catholic).  “Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and throw into the fire.”

“The one who is coming is mightier than I.”  “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance.”  He will baptize you with Holy Spirit and fire,” the fire of an intensity of life in the Lord.

He “will gather wheat into his barn(heaven), but the chaff (those who do not repent) he will burn with unquenchable fire.”(hell)

Romans 15:4-9.   The Scriptures Paul speaks about here are the Old Testament readings which we can interpret to have references to the future Messiah, Jesus.  That is the way, I believe, the first reading is to be understood.  “Think in harmony with one another”   A church that operates harmoniously will be a wonderful symbol of Jesus presence on earth.  Paul writes “Christ became a minister of the circumcised (the Jews) to show God’s truthfulness, to confirm the promises of the patriarchs, but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.”  Jesus is Messiah/Savior of all peoples to the glory of God.

1st Sunday of Advent – December 1, 2019

Adv1A19.   Isaiah 2:1-5.   At the beginning of book of Isaiah, Isaiah condemns his people for not having walked in God’s ways. In our passage Isaiah pictures for God’s people, who have wandered astray, the glorious joy it is to truly live obeying God’s will.  It is as if heaven were here on earth, when we walk in the light of God’s path on earth.

Matthew 24:37-44. In the verse before our reading starts (Matthew 24:36), Jesus says: “But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”  Jesus is speaking out of his humanity and not out of his divinity, since as the Son of God he must know.  The emphasis that Jesus wishes to bring out is that we do not know when Jesus will come to call us out of this world, whether it is his Second Coming at the end of the universe or our own individual death.  Be prepared to be called at any moment and do not be mesmerized by daily routine left unable to see much beyond one’s surrounding everyday world.

Romans 13:11-14.  “Brother and sisters: You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.”  The theme of gospel is repeated.  “Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”  Darkness is to live daily as if there is no other reality other than what see and can put our hands on.  The light is to live in a faith that sees the fullness of the truth that is even more genuine than the one we live in now because it is forever and this earthly one is not.  “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” Paul makes this overstatement to bring out the necessity to be primarily a spiritual people because that will protect us from hell and enable us to reach heaven.

1st Sunday of Advent – November 23, 2016

Adv 1A          11/23/16

Isaiah 2:1-5.                  God will to establish his dominion over this earth.  All peoples will come to him to be instructed in his ways and walk in his paths.  No longer shall nations war against one another.  He shall rule over all the nations and all will be subject to him.

Matthew 24:37-44.               In Noah’s time people went about their daily routine, not knowing that some would suddenly be saved and some lost.  Likewise, one day unknown to anyone Jesus will come, taking his own to himself and leaving the rest behind.  Since we  know neither the hour nor the day when Jesus will come the second time, we must always be prepared for him.

Romans 13:11-14.                            The routine of this earthly world can put us to sleep to the things of the heavenly world.  “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.  For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” “Let us then throw off the works of darkness,” the improper “desires of the flesh” and “put on the armor of light” that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Christ The King – November 24, 2019

34CKing19.    2 Samuel 5:1-3.   Of David the Lord said, “You shall shepherd my people and shall be commander of Israel.”  Following God’s will the elders of Israel anointed David king of Israel.  In his Chosen People God establishes a precedent that God will name a King over his People.

Luke 23:35-43.   As a ridicule, Jesus’ enemies call him king and messiah who cannot save himself, much less others.  As a people who have cut themselves off from God’s salvific work in Jesus, Jesus’ enemies have no idea that, by the very act of offering himself up on the cross, that infinitely loving act redeems us from our sins. Those who revile Jesus are unable to understand that in the very act of Jesus’ suffering and death, he acts as the King who conquers sin and death.  By accepting his sacrificial pain and suffering and death for our redemption, Jesus saves us.  The criminal, hanging on the cross next to Jesus, does understand the sublimity of Jesus’ action, saying “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Given every reason not to believe in Jesus as king, yet he believes and accepts Jesus as king. He is the one we traditionally call the Good Thief, the only one in the Scriptures whom Jesus names a saint who will be with him in Paradise.

Colossians 1:12-20.  He is not an earthly king.   In what way then is he king?  As David was shepherd and king, Jesus shepherds us out of the power of darkness, leading us by the infinite power of his light to his kingdom of holiness.  In Jesus’ humanness he makes visible the holiness that is not of this world.  All things were created through him and for him and in him.  God the Father created all things but God the Son brought all things to share in the divine holiness by “making peace by the blood of the cross.  Through his resurrection from the dead he is preeminent in leading all to eternal life.  He holds all things together with him at the center like gravitational force drawing all to live and be by binding us to the divinity of God. He is the head with the church as his body with him having total authority over the church. “All the fullness was pleased to dwell in him,” since he himself shares in the fullness of the Godhead.

Christ The King – November 20, 2016

34CKing16

2 Samuel 5:-3.  David the shepherd is anointed as King David, king of Israel.  He serves as an earthly image in time and space of the divine king of the universe Jesus Christ, who is beyond time and space.

Luke 23:35-43.  “The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself.”  If Jesus were to speak then, he would say, “I am here on the cross because I am saving you.  I do this by my own free will out of love for you.  I am the only One who can offer a truly appropriate sacrifice to my Father to redeem you from your sins because I am divine.  I am the only One equal to the task because I am God.”

During his life time Jesus had exercised miraculous powers.  There were no limits to what he could do.  However, he chose not to exercise those powers to his own benefit as he hung on the cross.  Jesus understood what he must do but those around him did not.  “Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ?  Save yourself and us.’”  The other criminal rebukes him, recognizing that they are justly condemned. In compassion for Jesus, he said then, “’but this man has done nothing criminal’.  Then he said, “’Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’.  He replied to him, ‘Amen I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’”   That second criminal, although he himself was in great pain, since he too was in the process of being executed; and, despite the fact everyone else was jeering Jesus, he goes against the crowd to recognize that Jesus is king.  He puts his future in the hands of the crucified, dying king.  He is in essence saying that earthly death has no power over this king.  This king Jesus will triumph.  What a glorious act of faith!  He is rewarded for it with a future place in the kingdom of King Jesus, in Paradise.

Colossians 1:12-20.  God the Father” delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, forgiveness of sins.”  Jesus, as King, daily shepherds us through the narrow gate.  The Scripture scholars think that the last part of our second reading was probably a liturgical hymn.  This hymn announces the preeminence of Jesus, in part, by using the expressions: in him, through him and for him.  This hymn is also a prayer of adoration, recognizing Jesus royal supremacy.

In the Godhead there is one God, yet three persons.  God does everything as one God yet different tasks in relation to humanity are attributed to each person:  God the Father is the Creator; God the Son is the Redeemer; God the Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier. In the hymn of the second reading, the role of the Son is explained more fully to his glory and to the glory of the One God.

 

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 17, 2019

33C19.   Malachi 3:19-20a.    God prophesies that the day is coming when the heat will be like an oven that burns up the proud and the evildoers into nothing but stubble. That statement was in stark contrast to those who give God the honor that is due him, for whom the heat of the sun will gently give healing.

Luke 21:5-15.  As the Sundays of this liturgical year draw to a close, the readings invite us to think of the days when this world is about to end. Jesus predicts, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left stone upon another stone.”  And that was to happen roughly forty years later, when the Romans counterattacked against the Jewish revolution and destroyed the temple in 70 AD.  Since then wars, revolutions and terribly destructive things have happened, still the end has not come.  False saviors have come and gone, persecutions and horrors have been rained down against God’s good people but we survive on.  Although they destroy our bodies as they did the Maccabees, our life in the Lord helps us to persevere on to secure our eternal salvation.  God is faithful to those who are faithful to him.  He walks with us and is our spiritual life within our flesh.  Christ, our life within us, enables us to live to the fullest the life that God has given us.  Those who kill our physical life do not kill our spiritual life.   In our reading Jesus says, “You are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.”  This is but one way that shows he is our only source of strength that will enable us to gain eternal victory.  Our adversaries can put to death a body that was only going to die anyhow.  Their evil actions achieve nothing of value for them but only serve to compel us to seek out Christ even more urgently.  Jesus says, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

2 Thessalonians 3:7-12.   When Paul was ministering to the Thessalonians he did not live off of their donations to him but he continued to work for his own daily bread.  Paul did that, he says, because “we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us.”  As we pass through this world on our way to heaven, Paul is insisting that we do so in an orderly way serving as a model to one another and not as a distraction or disruption.  In Paul’s time there were those who were disorderly, “by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.”  God the Father wishes that his children work daily for the salvation of souls both here on earth and later in heaven.  God constructed this universe in an orderly way as an example of how we are to live in his world.

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 7, 2016

33c   11/7/16

Malachi 3:19-20a    God says that there will be a terrible day of reckoning.   The evildoers will be completely consumed by fire but those who truly respect the Lord will receive the warmth of God’s goodness.  (1 Corinthians 5:10)  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.”  Our behavior has its consequences.  The Lord God alone is the judge of what we do.

Luke 21:5-19     Some people were speaking of the splendor of the temple in Jerusalem but Jesus said that at some time in the future it would all be destroyed.  When would that all happen? Be careful because some people will come who will say that they know from God when the end of the world will come.   Don’t believe them.  Many terrible things will happen but that is still not the end.

Before those signs come about, the followers of Jesus will be persecuted.  The leaders of the government will be seated before you and judge you.  Jesus promises to give us a verbal defense so that there will be no need to prepare one for ourselves. (Luke 12:11-12  When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.   For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.)  Even people close to us will betray us to the authorities.  No matter what they do to your body; your soul will be safe and sound.  All created things of this world will come to an end.   All those who to make themselves like little gods, going against the one and only true God, will be vanquished.  Only He will be victorious.

2 Thessalonians 3:7-12     Between now and the end time, we must act in an orderly way as we have been taught by the saints of our Church.  “If anyone is unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.” Mind your own business and not that of others.

1 Thessalonians 1:5-7    “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and [with] much conviction.  You know what sort of people we were [among] you for your sake.  And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

We have the responsibility to be a good example to others.  As followers of Jesus we become collaborators in the work of God: to help bring everyone to heaven.

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 10, 2019

32C19.    2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14.   The first and the third readings have seven; in the first, seven sons and their mother; in the third, seven husbands and one wife.  Captured by a conqueror who were hostile to customs that were sacred to the Hebrews, their conquerors were trying make the Hebrews convert to become loyal pagan citizens of the new regime.  The brothers responded, “We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors”  “You are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever.  It is for his laws that we are dying.”  They willingly suffered horribly and were put to death.  They witnessed to a faith that opened them to be strengthened by God in a way that was super human.   They were great Hebrew saints and martyrs.

Luke 20:27-38.  The Sadducees held on to the original Hebrew belief that there was no after life.  So they thought they would resoundingly destroy Jesus in his belief in an afterlife when they presented the case of the woman who was married legitimately to seven husbands one after the other.  They said, “Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?”  Jesus answers that in the resurrection there is neither marriage nor, in effect, any other earthly relationship.  Heaven will be absolutely distinct and different from this world.  Our relationships will no longer be earthly but heavenly.  All relationships in heaven will have God as the center.  We will love one another in Christ far more than we ever loved them while we were in this world.  In the Catholic Church we have religious orders or, what is called, the consecrated life. Nuns, monks, sisters and brothers who give witness to how life will be in heaven by living heavenly life here and now, where God gives us the only reason to have relationship to one another, as God gives his love to us we have love for all others from the love he gives us.  They are consecrated to living life that is given to them out of God’s love for them and not out of or because of any natural motivation.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5.   Paul encourages us “that we may be delivered from perverse and wicked people, for not all have faith.  But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.” Paul continues, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.”  Unless our faith life daily builds itself in a growing appreciation and dependence on God’s love for us then it will fall apart under the strains and stress of life in this world.

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – November 1, 2016

32c

11/1/16

In 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-1 , at that time in the history of Israel, their rulers were trying to force the Jews to give up their Judaism and, instead, practice the religion of the rulers under the pain of severe torture and death.  For the seven brothers and their mother, their life was their Jewish religion and God.  Taking away their earthly life and inflicting horrifying torture were “as nothing.”  Their strength was their faith in their God who would raise them “up to live again forever.”

In Luke 20:27-38, the Sadducees, who did not believe in an afterlife, tried to confront Jesus with a problematic hypothetical situation that they felt proved that there was no afterlife.  Jesus explained to the Sadducees that life in heaven is not the same as life on earth.  There is no need for the institution of marriage in heaven.  My own thought is that we would all deeply love one another spiritually like the angels when we are in heaven.  There would be no need for a marital love through physical intimacy.  Secondly, entry into heaven comes, not through biological reproduction, but through growing spiritually by cooperating with the Holy Spirit to become saints.  (1 John 3:2-3) “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for shall see him as he is.  Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.”.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5, Paul speaks of the encouragement we receive in our hearts and the strengthening we receive to be people of “good deed and word.”  All this is to make us capable of fending off the devil and his “perverse and wicked people”.  Daily we are on our way to our eternal home in heaven but on the way we may be tested by fire.

Life is a struggle in which we will always be victorious as long as we walk with the Lord in the battle.  (Romans 8:31b-32, 37)“If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, will he not also give us everything else along with him?  No, in all these things, we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.”