Second Sunday of Advent — B

“Enough is enough!”  That seems to be the reason why so many flocked to John the Baptist.  They have had enough of their old way of living what with corruption and oppression and those in power ‘tying up heavy burdens and placing them on people’s shoulders but not willing to lift a finger themselves.’  John appears as a new voice in the wilderness, pointing to a new dawn and a new way of doing things.  His baptism was a shedding of an old tired life so as to entertain this new way.  John uses the word ‘repent’ but it didn’t have the puritanical connotations that we associate with it today.  He was calling, not for self-incriminating scruples but for a radical open-mindedness.  The Greek word is metanoia, coming from meta which means “beyond” and nous which refers “to the mind.” Thus, metanoia can be seen as a call to go beyond our typical or normal mindset.  It speaks of a change of vision, of life that will bring about a transformation of the way we live. Continue reading

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First Sunday of Advent – B

Welcome to Advent — the season of joy, hope, and expectation.  The source of our joy and hope is not in ourselves, but in Jesus who is coming to us.  Jesus is already with us but we are hoping that this Christmas he will be with us in a deeper and more meaningful way.  The problem is not on Jesus’ side, for he is always with us.  The problem lies with ourselves — we are not always with him.  Our hope this Christmas is that Jesus will be born anew in our hearts; that Jesus will reign in our hearts so that we can say with St. Paul, ‘I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me.’  When Jesus fully lives in me all will be well for then our hearts will be overflowing with love and gratitude.  Continue reading

Feast of Christ the King – A

In the movie, Shawshank Redemption, apart from the main story of Andy who was wrongly imprisoned, there is the rather poignant story of Brooks Hatlen.  He was an inmate from 1905 to 1954.  Although his crime is never revealed, murder is presumed due to his lengthy prison sentence.  He was the librarian of the prison starting in 1912 and was friends with Andy.  Brooks was paroled in 1954 but by then he was totally institutionalised and was hopelessly lost in the outside world.  He got a job at a store but still couldn’t cope in this utterly alien world and committed suicide soon after.  Continue reading

Thirty Third Sunday of the Year – A

We are not on earth as museum keepers, but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life 
and prepare a glorious future.”

This quote from St. John XXIII sets the tone for today’s gospel.  We have each been graced by the Lord for the service of others. If I hide the talents the Lord has given me, others are thereby deprived. Most of us need some encouragement to place our gifts at the disposal of others. Part of our Christian vocation is to give others courage, to encourage them. A couple of verses beyond where today’s second reading ends, Paul writes: “Build each other up, as indeed you are doing.” In these difficult times for the church, the ministry of encouragement is vital. Now is not the time to hide the Good News in the ground out of fear. Rather, it is a time to encourage each other to share this treasure so that the church may become all that God is calling it to be. Continue reading

Thirty-Second Sunday — A

The first generation of Christians was convinced that Jesus, the Risen Lord, would quickly return full of life. It wasn’t to be. Little by little Jesus’ followers had to prepare for a long wait. It’s not hard to imagine the questions that arose among them. How to keep alive the spirit of those early years? How to stay awake until the Lord comes? How to nourish their faith without letting it go out? We are faced with similar questions today.  How to be faithful to Jesus in a secularized and materialistic world?  How to hold fast to his vision and mission with so many other winds and doctrines around? Continue reading

Thirty-First Sunday — A

At the end of John’s Gospel Jesus told Peter that he was going to be led where he didn’t want to go.  I used to think Jesus was referring to Peter being led to his cross or maybe in his old age, fumbling around with a walking stick and led by a nurse.  But now I’m associating it with the conversation that went before where Jesus commanded him, ‘feed my lambs, feed my sheep!’  If Jesus is still on the leadership theme, then it’s possible that he is implying that a true leader cannot just do his own thing but must be willing to be led by others.  He must have his ear to the ground and be willing to be guided by the Holy Spirit speaking through his community. This may well mean going where he did not want to go.  Continue reading

Thirtieth Sunday of the Year — A

St. Therese, the Little Flower, lived an obscure life and died in obscurity at the young age of 24.  As she was laid to rest it seemed like she was just another nun: born, was good, died.  Holy, no doubt; but nothing to write home about.  Except for one thing.  The prioress asked her to write her memoirs two years before she died. Therese, under obedience, took a year to fill six exercise books. She presented them to the prioress who put them in a drawer unread.  A year after Therese died, the memoirs were published in a small edition of 2,000.  That turned out to be the first spark in a storm of glory that ignited the world.  Miracles started to happen: conversions, cures, even apparitions.  St. Therese became the most popular saint on the planet. Continue reading