Thoughts To Live By…

Posts Tagged ‘Sunday Homily

Feast of the Sto. Nino
Mk: 10:13-16

Today is the Feast of the Holy Infant Jesus popularly known in the Philippines as the Feast of Sto. Nino. As we celebrate this Feast we commemorate the mystery of the Incarnation when God humbled Himself, stripped Himself of divine glory and splendor, and became human being in all things except sin. Like any other human being he was conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As a human child who was under the guidance, protection and care of Joseph and Mary he “grew in body, age, wisdom, grace and holiness before the eyes of God and man” (Lk 2:52).

As we celebrate the Feast of the Sto. Nino we are called and challenged:

  • To be humble like a little child. As Jesus warns: “Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (Lk 14:11). “Verily I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). The greater you are, the more humble you should behave, then you will find favor with the Lord” (Sir 3:18). “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34).
  • To recognize, respect and protect the dignity and human rights inherent in every child, children and youth of today especially those who are threatened or victimized by hunger and malnutrition, sexual abuse, war, domestic violence, forced labor and various forms of manipulations and exploitations. Jesus, fearing that everybody will abuse them because “the basest men delight to trample upon the humble” (Mt 18:6), warns: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of God” (Mt 10:10-11). “Whosoever shall receive one of such little children in my name receives me, and whosoever receives me, receives not me, but him that sent me” (Mk 26-37; Mt 18:5).
  • To progress in wisdom and to grow daily in our faith and works of love. Every disciple is called to moral and spiritual maturity and perfection. Every follower is called to the fullness of Christian life and perfection of charity. Like Jesus may we advance not only in body and age but most importantly, in wisdom, grace and holiness.

To make our celebration more meaningful and fruitful, let us strive to be humble; cleanse ourselves of pride, arrogance and vanity; welcome, love and serve Jesus in the least, last and lowest in our society; and, lastly, imitate the children in their nothingness, lowliness and dependence before God.

Useful Articles:

Feast of the Infant Jesus
Mt: 18:1-5, 10

Robert Fulghum wrote in the KANSAS CITY TIMES, “Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

“These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody . . .
  • When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. “

This writer has captured part of what Jesus meant when he said, “Unless you become like little children, you won’t enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Source: Hugh Duncan

Sunday Gospel Reflection: Mk 1:7-11
Feast of the Lord’s Baptism

One time three pastors were discussing about bat infestation in their churches. “I got so mad,” said one, “I took a shotgun and fired at them. Some got killed but the majority are still up there.” “I tried pesticide spray,” said the second pastor, “but those damn bats gave birth to new ones.” “I haven’t had any more problems,” said the third pastor.”What did you do?” asked the interested two. “I simply baptized them,” he replied. “I haven’t seen them in church since!”

Indeed, like those bats, after baptism many Christians are never seen in church again. This is what the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines called “unchurched.” “Unchurched” has three categories:

First, the “nominal catholics.” These refer to the catholics in name only or the so-called KBL (Kasal, Binyag, Libing) Christians. Or, as one Bishop described it: Katolikong nakaalala lamang sa Dios tuwing panahon ng Kulog at kidlat, Baha at bagyo, Lahar at lindol. Or, as someone put it, Christians who come to church only three times in their whole lifetime – when they are “hatched, (in Baptsm) matched (in Marriage), dispatched (in Funeral Rite)” … to the cemetery or memorial garden.

Second, the “uninformed and unformed faithful.” These refer to that many baptized Catholic Christians who grow up grossly ignorant of religious instructions and their obligations as Christians and were not formed by Christian values and virtues.

Third, the”uninterested parishioners.” These refer to the majority of Christian parishioners who are indifferent, lukewarm and uninvolved to the mission and goals of the parish. In particular, uninterested to get involved with any program, project and activity of the parish.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus is baptized not because he is a sinner but because he wants to be in solidarity with us especially in our journey towards the Kingdom of God. That he is with us and is one of us. Furthermore, the baptism of Jesus is more of  a revelation of who he is and what his mission should be. As William Barclay writes: “So in the baptism there came to Jesus two certainties–the certainty that he was indeed the chosen One of God, and the certainty that the way in front of him was the way of the Cross.”

As we celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord we are reminded of the necessity of baptism in relation to our salvation and the mission entrusted to us when we were baptized in the Lord. Is baptism really necessary? Yes, because baptism is or calls us to:

B – bath of rebirth. Original and actual sins are washed away and the baptized becomes a new creation
A – anointing with the Holy Spirit. The baptized, like Jesus, is anointed as priest, prophet and king.
P – erfection of Charity and Fullness of Christian life when it is no longer I who lives in me but Christ.
T – otal dedication and commitment to live the truth of faith in every moment and aspect of life.
I – nterior repentance and conversion toward new life in Christ.
S – eal of salvation. The baptized is sealed with indelible character that he belongs to Christ and marked to be saved.
M – ission to bear fruits of good works, holiness and evangelization.

St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians reminds us that to glorify God is to be “in the church and in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:21). Hence, faith and baptism are joined as preconditions of salvation (Mark 16:16). It is, therefore, fitting and praiseworthy to renew our baptismal promises to love God above all and to reject Satan and all his wickedness.

Useful Articles:

Feast of Epiphany
Mt: 2:1-12

The Feast of Epiphany that we are celebrating today is popularly known also as the Feast of Three Kings. The Germans were the ones who “coined”  and popularized this “Feast of Three Kings.”  Based on the German tradition it was assumed that there were “three kings” because of the presence of the three gifts, namely, gold, frankincense and myrrh which were very expensive during that time that only a King can afford to give it as a gift.

If we go back, however, to the biblical texts of the Gospel According To Matthew we will discover that there were no mention of the word “king.” There were no mention also of the word “three.”  What were being mentioned only was the term “magi” which literally means “wise men,” “learned men,” or “enlightened astrologers.” But they were not the “fortune tellers” or the “manghuhulas” that we have today.

What is something definite in the story is that there were wise men from the East who, under the guidance of the star, had searched and found the infant Jesus with Mary his mother. They knelt down and worshiped the new-born King, opened their gifts and offered him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts have symbolical significance to the divine identify and mission of Jesus. Gold symbolizes the kingship of Jesus. Frankincense symbolizes the divinity of Jesus. Myrrh symbolizes the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross that brought about our salvation.  Having warned not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

What is epiphany? “Epiphany” means “manifestation” or “appearance” of God in the person or humanity of Jesus.  It is also a revealing scene and event when God was pleased to  disclose His identity, mission and plan of salvation not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. Epiphany also means an illuminating discovery or realization that Jesus, indeed,  is the “Immanuel” the “God-with-us.”

What  are the significance or implications of Epiphany in relation with our sanctification and salvation?

First, epiphany tells us that in Jesus, God became visible and audible for us. Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God.  In him the fullness of divinity dwells (see Col 1:15). St. John the Evangelist rightly describes the mystery of Incarnation in his Prologue when he wrote: “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; And the Word was made flesh; and He dwelt among us” (see Jn 1:1-5, 9-14).  For John, however, Jesus is not only the “Word Made Flesh’ but also the “Love Made Flesh” when he declared: Through him we have seen and believe in the Love of God for us (1 Jn 4:16).

Second, epiphany tell us that the in Jesus God once again became accessible to us. In Jesus we have once again access to the Father. In Jesus we have once again access to the Father’s Kingdom. In Jesus we have once again access to the fullness of truth and grace that God alone can give. As Jesus himself declared: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6).

Third, epiphany tells us the God wants all men and women to be saved and to come to the fulness of truth (1 Tim 2:3-4), that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). The kingdom of God is intended for all men and women of all generations. God does not want anyone to perish eternally in hell. Salvation, therefore, is inclusive not exclusive.

What are some of the challenges for all of us? Like the wise men let us keep on searching for the fulness of truth. Once we found the truth let us adhere to the truth. Like the wise men let us also acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior and do him homage.  Like the wise men let us also open our gifts and offered them to Jesus which is the greatest gift of God the Father to His people. Of course, not gold, not frankincense, not myrrh but our body, our self, our whole life.  As St Paul exhorted the first early Christians in Rome: “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is the kind of spiritual worship God wants from  you” (Rm 12:1).


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