Friday, January 16, 2009

Spreading the Word

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. National Bible Sunday
January 25, 2009

Today would have been the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, but since it is a Sunday, the Mass of Sunday takes liturgical precedence. However, because the Church is celebrating the Year of St. Paul, it is allowed to celebrate the Mass of the feast, with readings from the third Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The Gospel brings to our consideration Jesus calling His apostles: “Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.” (Mk 1:17) Jesus called them to evangelize, to spread the Good News of salvation. After his conversion, St. Paul spread the faith with the same zeal with which he had persecuted Christians. When people want something good or interesting to be known, they say, “Spread the word around.” We have also been called like the apostles to be fishers of men. Therefore, we need to “spread the Word”, that is, the knowledge of Jesus. “The Church forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful…to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 133; Dei Verbum, no. 25; Phil 3:8 and St. Jerome, Commentariorum in Isaiam libri)

Love for children

Feast of the Sto. NiƱo (Proper Feast in the Philippines). Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Holy Childhood Day
January 18, 2009

The feast of the Holy Child Jesus is an opportunity to contemplate the great dignity of the human person, made in God’s image and likeness, especially in the person of children, since Our Lord was also a child once. Jesus tells His apostles to let the little children come to Him. He warns about leading them to sin.

In our times, there are many things that harm children. While violence and other immoral acts committed against children are despicable, we should not forget that there are many other insidious situations that have longer and more permanent effects in culture and society. Among others we can mention divorce and dysfunctional families, abortion, a contraceptive mentality, and a mindset that views children as possessions or playthings of selfish parents. “Life is not an egotistic possession, but a gift to welcome with gratitude; (…) it is not an arbitrary game, but a project of love; (…) it is not a meaningless accident, but a vocation to be realized; (…) it is not a problem that is hard to resolve, by a mystery to be contemplated with humility and wonder.” (Jesus Christ, Word of the Father, Official Catechetical Text in Preparation for the Holy Year 2000, p. 140) Let us not spare efforts in promoting among married couples love for one another and their children, which they can, in turn, pass on to other married couples.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Christian’s call to witness

The Lord’s Baptism
January 11, 2009

With the celebration of the Lord’s Baptism, we end the Christmas season. With His baptism, Jesus began His public life. The liturgy now helps us reflect on Jesus’ mission of teaching and working miracles, leading up to the celebration of the paschal mystery. Today’s feast reminds us of our own baptism. Most likely, we were not aware of what happened since we still would have been babies. However, the Church teaches us that through the sacrament of Baptism, we were justified. That is to say, all our sins, original and personal, were forgiven, and we were transformed into new creatures, adopted children of God, partakers of the divine nature.

Furthermore, “reborn as sons of God, [the baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1270) We participate in Christ’s apostolic mission. We can profess the faith before others most of all through our good example. When we struggle to live virtuous lives despite obstacles and difficulties, when we make time for prayer despite busy schedules, when we live according to the truth and justice, we are bearing witness to Christ.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Jesus came to save all men

Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord
January 4, 2009

Today’s solemnity, the Epiphany, does not only commemorate the visit of the Magi to the newly born Jesus. It also shows us the universality of salvation. Jesus shows himself not only to the Jews, but also to the non-Jews. The word “epiphany” means “manifestation”. Jesus manifests his presence to men. The Savior has been born.

We, who have already received the faith and baptism, rejoice in the fact that Christ has come to us. We now need to struggle to correspond to Jesus’ presence in our lives. However, we also ought to reach out to all those other persons who may have abandoned the Lord or who have never even known Him. Pope John Paul II said in a homily: “Those who have already reached the faith and those who are on the path to finding it share alike in this feast. They participate, giving thanks for the gift of faith, as did the Kings who, filled with gratitude, knelt before the Child. The Church, more aware each year of the vastness of her mission, participates in the feast. How many people are there still who have to be brought to the faith! How many have to be brought back to the faith they have lost! This at times is more difficult than the first conversion to the faith. The Church, however, aware of the great gift of the Incarnation of God, cannot pause, can never stop. She has to seek continually the way to Bethlehem for all men and for all times. The Epiphany is the feast of God’s challenge.” (January 6, 1979).

Friday, January 2, 2009

Honor the Blessed Mother through service to the poor and suffering

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Octave Day of Christmas. Day of World Peace
January 1, 2009

One week after celebrating the birth of the Lord, the Church now honors His mother. It is but fitting that we venerate in a special way she who generously gave herself to God’s plan of redemption. “What will we do for her? What are the gifts we will offer her? Oh would that we could give her what she deserves. We owe her honor, we owe her service, we owe her love, we owe her praise. We owe her honor because she is the Mother of Our Lord. He who does not honor his mother, undoubtedly does not honor the son.” (Beatus Aelredus, Sermo 20, in nativitate beatae Mariae)

The Church also celebrates today the World Peace Day. Pope Benedict XVI has chosen as the theme of his message, “Fighting Poverty to Build Peace.” Towards the end of his message, he says, “At the start of the New Year, then, I extend to every disciple of Christ and to every person of good will a warm invitation to expand their hearts to meet the needs of the poor and to take whatever practical steps are possible in order to help them. The truth of the axiom cannot be refuted: ‘to fight poverty is to build peace.’” Let us pray to our Blessed Mother for the poor and those who are suffering. We can think of concrete acts of service to carry out for those most in need around us: household helpers, family drivers, employees, and those for whom we can do something.