Christmas Day – B

I just got a call last night from a friend saying that this Christmas is very special because it’s the first time in 4 years that they have been together as a family.  They had some divisions in the past but now that’s all water under the bridge and they are together united as a family.  Well, I think that’s fantastic.  That’s the spirit of Christmas, it wants to heal rifts and bring about reconciliation. John B. Keane was an Irish writer and playwright. He talks about ‘the urging’ of Christmas.  He tells of a man who in normal circumstances wouldn’t give you the crumbs from his table, but who, when imbued with the spirit of Christmas, phoned his estranged daughter in England and begged her to come home for Christmas.  The daughter accepted the invitation, and on both sides, all was forgiven.  John B. says he wasn’t half as mean afterward and concludes: ‘So, my friends, take Christmas by the horns – it can work wonders.’ Continue reading


Fourth Sunday of Advent – B

Google Earth is magic.  No wonder news stations use it to introduce us to a new place that we are not familiar with.  From a satellite in outer space it moves in from a continent to focus on a country, then a town, then to a street and finally to a house where something newsworthy is taking place. We are well acquainted with the story of the Annunciation but imagine if this was something new and unheard of before, then Google Earth would be ideal for introducing us to this amazing event. The story begins in heaven, the angels’ abode with God.  Then Google Earth moves from the vastness of outer space to this planet and then to the Middle East.  It slowly focusses on a little area along the Eastern Mediterranean where it looks like a couple of lakes are connected by a river. Eventually, the focus comes down to a particular part of the Earth, and the sea and the river disappear.  All we see is a dusty, little town and, finally, one young woman, presumably going about her everyday business.  Continue reading

Third Sunday of Advent – B

Soon after I was ordained I was invited to the ordination of a classmate.  What stays with me from that happy occasion was the after-dinner speech of his father. It was short and to the point. He spoke of a parish priest greeting the local fisherman at the harbour.  To the priest’s question of ‘how are things?’ the fisherman responded with a tale of woe.  ‘Prices are up, the weather is bad and even when I can get out to sea the fish won’t bite.’  To which the priest responded, ‘Cheer up, God is good!’  ‘Well if God is good,’ the fisherman replied, ‘he’d better stir himself.’  Then the father concluded with one more line.  “Today, God has stirred himself!” Continue reading

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

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