The King of Peace

Sunday readings in brief 1 Advent A

Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalms 71(72); Romans 15:4-9; Mathew

The King of Peace

Dear friends, today is the Second Sunday of Advent year A. The main theme of this week is The Messiah King of Peace who is coming to us. Peace is one of the most essential and universal needs for all creatures. Where there is peace, there is development and prosperity. Where there is no peace, there is destruction and death. Because of the lack of peace, many people in the world live in pain, the environment is polluted and there is a lot of death.

 God sent his only Son to bring peace to the world. the Prophet Isaiah tries to paint a picture of the days of this Messiah who was promised to the whole world through the chosen people of Israel. He will be full of wisdom and insight, counsel and power, knowledge and fear of the Lord. He will judge justly and not from hearsay (judging from hearsay is one of the leading causes of hatred and conflict among communities) but with integrity. During his days, there will be such peace that there everything will coexist without conflict, a cow will be friends with the bear the infant plays over the cobra’s hole, etc. The challenging question to us who are reliving this moment every year is, do we embrace the peace that Christ brings us?

One of the signs of the existence of peace is unity and coexistence among people from different ethnic backgrounds, political affiliations, and different religious beliefs. There is a big difference between being peaceful and being calm. Many nations are said to be peaceful but when you go to the ground you realized that people have no genuine peace but are muscled or coaxed to be calm. The problem is that calmness is time bound and one day all will explode in search of true peace. Though Christ came from the Jewish people, his mission was to bring the whole world together making all brothers and sisters of one God the Father. Though Christianity has spread all over the world and has done a lot to unite the world not only in faith but also in unity and solidarity, there is still those who misguide others to discriminate against their neighbors because of their beliefs. These are agents of the evil one, disguised as ministers of the Gospel.

The main protagonist today is John the Baptist who announced the coming of the Messiah and point him out to the world. When he went around calling people to repentance, he was astonished to see the Pharisees and the Sadducees also coming to be baptized. He knew that they were not after repentance but want to play safe. They called themselves sons of Abraham but they had no faith in Jesus and even plotted his death on the cross. Today we have many such people who claim to be Christians but who do not live a single Christian value. They visit the Church on occasion just to play safe. John rebuked them for claiming to be sons of Abraham yet they had nothing in common with him.

Dear friends, it is not enough to be baptized and claim to be a Christian. What will make us worthy of heaven is our conduct. We must conduct ourselves in accordance with our calling as Christians among them being ambassadors of peace in our communities. I invite us today to reflect on the true meaning of peace and ask ourselves whether we are peaceful or just calm.

Have a peaceful Sunday.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee SVD

Second Sunday of Advent Year A

Second Sunday of Advent Year A

First reading Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm 72                                                                   

Second reading Romans 15:4-9

Gospel Matthew 3:1-12

Dear friends, today is the second Sunday in the Advent season, a period preceding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ; as we light the second candle today, the word of God is inviting us to reflect on the theme: “The time for repentance has come”. The advent season is a moment of repentance and conversion as we are waiting for the Savior.

Thus in the first reading, we hear how the prophet Isaiah through poetic language expresses the future life on the earth. He begins this passage by introducing the expression “on that day” which refers to God’s time in the Biblical language. The prophet has located us in the future moment; a period chosen by God himself on his own accord to fulfill his will through the messiah.  At that particular moment, God will choose someone from the stump of Jesse the father of king David to accomplish a specific mission. In order to fulfill this, God will give him his own Spirit (the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, and the fear of the Lord). This is an indication that the branch that will grow out of the root of Jesse will be the Messiah. His role will consist of governing and rendering the right judgment upon the earth.  He will exterminate injustice by putting to death all those who do evil things.

At the same moment, there will be reconciliation, union, and harmony on the face of the earth; the wild and domestic animals and human beings shall stay together on the holy mountain of the Lord. This will happen because the earth shall have the full knowledge of the Lord. Prior to that day, the people of God and the Gentiles must go through the process of conversion and repentance in order to appear holy before the Almighty God on his holy mountain.

In the gospel reading, saint Matthew tells us about the mission of John the Baptist. His mission consisted of proclaiming repentance and the conversion of the hearts of the Jewish along the line that got corrupted like their fathers in the Old Testament. The time that prophet Isaiah is mentioning about in the first reading has arrived; the time of the Messiah (Jesus Christ).  He did this from Jerusalem going through all the regions of Judea. He challenged the Pharisees and Sadducees to put aside their hypocrisy in order to embrace Jesus fully for they were known for their wickedness and since they were religious leaders, they have led astray many of their followers. He also baptized with water that cleanses sins and made people ready to receive the baptism of Holy Spirit which Jesus himself will give.

            Those who accepted the baptism and the message of John the Baptist were people who lived harmoniously in their different communities and treasured the Scriptures.

In the second saint Paul reminded the Romans why the Scriptures are written: according to the apostle, it was written to alert the people of God to have the spirit of encouragement and steadfastness or endurance. It means that Christ’s followers must be identified by these two characteristics. Where encouragement and endurance are present, there must be also harmony and unity. The harmony that comes from God, harmony through which brothers and sisters are able to advise and challenge each other when things are going wrong. Paul finished his admonition by reminding the Romans that Jesus Christ came to live with the circumcised people and by doing so he draws to himself the Gentiles as well. That means that on the holy mountain of the Lord, all nations shall be present.

Brethren, the time of repentance and conversion is a time whereby we are called upon to (1) quest for the full knowledge of God, (2) get involved in God’s mission, and (3) live a life of unity and harmony.

  1. Quest for the full knowledge of God: to have a full knowledge of someone is to enjoy a personal and intimate relationship with that person (Gn. 4:1). When that person is the Lord, the relationship demands and prompts the fear which shows itself in moral concern (Gn. 20:11), obedience (Ex. 20:20”, sensitive conduct (Ne. 5:9, 15), loyalty (Ps. 2:11), and worship (Ps. 5:7). In brief, the knowledge of God in the Biblical language takes into consideration moral discipline, obedience to God, sensitivity conduct, loyalty, and the worship.

However, we notice that there is injustice, wickedness, and perpetual fear between humans and animals because we haven’t yet had the full knowledge of God. So today we are called upon to grasp the full knowledge of God and the advent period is the best moment to do so through serious meditation on the Holy Scriptures.

  •  Get involved in the mission into God’s mission: Just as John the Baptist was involved entirely in announcing and proclaiming the time of repentance and conversion to his contemporaries, we are also invited to do so in order to save souls. The advent season is a time of conversion and repentance but it’s also a season of getting involved in the mission of God. And this mission must begin from within us; we cannot preach what we ourselves we are not leaving, in others words, the acts of conversion and repentance must be noticed in our lives before we can proclaim it to others. Those who will join God in his holy mountain where all the living creatures shall be together are people who must first undergo the process of conversion.
  • Live the life of unity and harmony: by living harmonious life, we are drawing people to God’s kingdom and we are spreading the knowledge of God to all nations for God is unity and lives in perfect harmony with God the Son and the God Holy Spirit but also to his creatures.

Dear friends, the time of repentance and conversion has come, let us purify ourselves in order to be in harmony with God but also with other creatures of the Lord.

Fr. Issere Agre, SVD

Waiting and Preparing

Sunday reading in Brief 1 Advent A

Is 2:1-5; Ps 121(122); Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44

Waiting and Preparing

Dear friends, today is the first Sunday of Advent and the first day of the new Liturgical Year A. we have just concluded the liturgical cycle of three years A, B, and C. The readings from both the Daily and the Sunday missal are those that we read in Advent of 2019. However, though they are the same, the message they convey to us today is very new. This is because the Word of the Lord is the oldest and the newest at the same time. It cuts across all generations inspiring, consoling, uplifting, teaching, warning, admonishing, and correcting the people. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mt 24:35).

Advent is the time of waiting and preparation for the coming of the Lord in our lives just as the people of Israel waited and prepared for the coming of the promised Messiah. The only difference is that while for the people of Israel the messiah had not yet come, for us he has already come. As the Church of Christ, we relieve every year the events of that first advent seeking to renew our spirits and amend our lives so that the Messiah could be reborn in our hearts on Christmas. We could compare both the Advent and the Lenten seasons with the routine service we give to machines and vehicles every now and then to keep them working well. Just as the car engine needs new lubricants, changing the worn-out parts and tightening the loose parts for the car to function well, our lives too get clogged with many things that prevent us from living according to the demands of our baptism.

In the first reading, prophet Isaiah saw a vision about the days when Jerusalem, the city of the chosen people that was numerously destroyed by external forces, will stand tall and all will go there looking for peace. In those days, the prophet says there will be neither war nor the need for weapons. Injustice, bad governance, and negative competition between neighbours cause tension and conflict. People look for weapons to fight or protect themselves from aggression. However, the message of Christ is that of love, tolerance, justice, and peace.

Advent season is also a time for personal recollection to weed out any bad manners that we may have gathered in the course of the year. St. Paul tells us that daylight has come hence we must abandon all the bad things that we have been doing in the cover of darkness. When God created us, he put in us the conscience that indicates to us when we are doing good and when we are doing evil. Just the way Adam and Eve hid from God because of sin, there are those things that we are afraid of doing during the daylight when people can see us. Those are the things that we need to abandon as we wait and prepare for the coming of our Saviour.

God has given human beings tremendous abilities to discover and transform things on earth to suit their liking. However, God has given no man the ability to know when the last day will be. In his wisdom, God has reserved the knowledge of the things to come to himself for the good of human beings. Were we to know our end or our fate, the world would be very chaotic.

There are things that all living beings do which cannot in any way tell our footing in front of God. Jesus tells us that even during the time of Noah, people were eating, drinking, marring, and getting married while ignoring the cries of Noah about the imminent floods. When the day of the flood came and swept them all, no one even noticed.

Today, many think that becoming prosperous in material things and positions on earth is a sign of blessings. Well, while this is part of God’s blessing to his people, it is not a sign that we are in God’s favor. People become wealthy and prosperous out of proceedings of corruption, theft, and injustice. Even people who consider themselves atheists, and the baptized who do not go to Church or worship eat, drink, marry, and get married, they have good harvests, their flock increase, etc.  The correct measure of having God’s favour whether rich or poor is love, unity, and true peace that our Messiah brought on to us. We may be prosperous in material things but these cannot buy peace.

Dear friends, as we begin again liturgical cycle with the advent season, let us first look back and see what we have gathered from year C and be ready to learn more from this year A. let us also ask ourselves what our measure of true prosperity is.

Have a blessed Advent Season

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

First Sunday of Advent Year A

First Sunday of Advent Year A

First reading Isaiah 2:1-5

Psalm 122

Second reading Romans 13:11-14a

Gospel Matthew 24:37-44

Brethren, today we are starting a new season according to the liturgical calendar advent season. We notice a change inside our churches, the altar clothes are being changed into purple or violet. This season is a time of spiritual preparation in view of the Christmas celebrations. It reminds us of three things: the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ which happened more than 2000 years ago, his presence among us, and his second coming. The word advent comes from the Latin term adventus meaning “arrival” or “coming,” particularly the arrival of an important personality in the Roman Empire (king or military groups return from battles). On this first Sunday of Advent, the liturgical readings are inviting us to reflect on the theme: “Be watchful”.

Thus in the first reading prophet Isaiah drew the attention of his contemporaries to the establishment of the dwelling place of the Lord. This took place on mount Zion. God has chosen his dwelling place among his people. This is a sign that God is nearer to his nation, the people of Israel; but also to all nations “and all the nations shall flow to it”. Mount Zion is not a tourist place but on the contrary, a place to meet God himself. As his dwelling place, he will judge all nations without exception. In the later days, God will involve his Only Begotten Son in judgment. Jesus Christ is seen as a judge but also as an adviser. He has performed the role of the adviser in the day’s gospel by telling his disciples to be ready “for the Son the man is coming at the hour you do not expect”. He warns his disciples about his second coming “the eschatological coming” in which he himself does not know the angels except the Father however, this coming is imminent and affirmed just as on the day of Noah.

Saint Paul also talked about this in his letter to the Romans when he said “for the salvation is nearer to us now than you to wake from sleep”.  In the second of today’s apostles, Paul is encouraging Romans to live wholeheartedly life means that they must follow Jesus’ footsteps in everything. By the time of saint Paul Romans were known for all kinds of notorious pleasures (drunkenness, debauchery and so) but these are contrary to the Christian faith.

On this first Sunday of Advent, I would like to emphasize how to be watchful as we are excepting Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The first step is to be aware that the dwelling place of God is among us, the second step is to know that the coming of Jesus is near and the third and last step is how to live a wholehearted life.

  1. The dwelling place is among us: In the Ancient Near East, each deity has its dwelling place where its faithful worship. Our God, being more than a deity because he is the Supreme and the Almighty God through whom everything is created dwells everywhere. But for the purpose of being nearer to his nation Israel, he has enthroned himself on Mount Zion. Today, God dwells in each and every heart, therefore we must welcome him and dispose of ourselves in order to receive the graces and blessings from him. The true worship of God begins from the heart; therefore, we need to purify our hearts in order to find favor from him.
  2. The coming of Jesus is near: Dear friends, once we know that the dwelling place of God is our hearts, we will be able to accept the words of Jesus, the Good News that he came to announce. Out of love and compassion, Jesus alerts us about his second coming, we need therefore to get ready to welcome him. The advent season is a time of preparation and is ready to welcome Jesus into our hearts. Are you ready to welcome our Lord Jesus Christ into your life?
  3. Live wholehearted life: Brethren, those who acknowledge the presence of God in their lives and who get ready to welcome Jesus are those who live wholehearted life; in other words, these people live their daily life in accordance with the Scripture and to the precepts of the Lord. Today saint Paul is inviting us to leave the life of sin and embrace life in Jesus Christ.

May this first Sunday of advent help us to get ready as we wait for Jesus Christ during Christmas season. May we be able to celebrate the Christmas event with more of spiritual dimensions.

Jesus Christ: The King of the Universe

Sunday readings in brief 34 Sunday C: Solemnity of Christ the King

2 Sam 5:1-3; Ps 121(122); Col 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43

Who is my King?

Dear friends, I would like to share with you this beautiful excerpt from Universalis with minimum editing. “The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, the sixteenth centenary of the Council of Nicaea at which the doctrine of the consubstantiality of Christ with the Father was defined. Its eschatological character was confirmed by its move, in the calendar reforms of the Second Vatican Council, to the final Sunday of the liturgical year.” This solemnity marks the end of the Liturgical year for all three cycles A, B, and C. Next Sunday will, therefore, be the first Sunday of Advent year A and the liturgical colour will change to purple.

    During its institution, “the Pope asserted that the most effective defense against the destructive forces of the age is the recognition of the kingship of Christ; and, furthermore, a feast which is celebrated every year by everyone is a far better way of deploying that defense than any number of books written by learned people. First, we do; then we come to understand what it is that we are doing.”

    “Each of us has been anointed with holy oil at baptism, as priest, prophet, and king. The feast of Christ the King is thus a good moment to reflect on our kingship and on what “king” means and how to be one. Understanding the feast makes us understand our own call better.” I have heard some Christians claiming that they have been bewitched or are afraid of being bewitched. Witchcraft is a belief in dark powers that were conquered by Christ our King on the cross. When we are baptized, we are delivered from such dark powers and we cannot be subject to them unless we subject ourselves. Only those who believe and practice witchcraft can be subject to them just as only those who are baptized and profess Christ to be their King will be delivered by him from all evil.

    In order to understand our Kingship as a human being, “one possible point of entry is in Genesis, where Adam sits in state and God brings him all the animals for him to give them names. To give names to one’s subjects is the act of a king (as it is in many cultures). The responsibility of a king is then to care for his subjects, which is why we are obliged to act as custodians of creation: something no other creature is. How far that responsibility takes one can then be seen in the King of the Universe, who is simultaneously the ruler of all and the servant of all. He rules in triumph, and he rules from the Cross.” Jesus Christ is referred to as the son of David the king of Israel who was anointed by God to shepherd his people. David was a God-fearing king and the prefiguration of the Messiah King who was promised to perpetuate the kingdom eternally. Christ became the King of the new Israel which comprises people from every tribe and nation.  

    Perhaps a way into a meditation on all this would be to ask, “Over who am I, personally, king?” and hence “Who am I called to serve?” The servant-king identity is what we ought to understand as Christians. The kings of this world use wealth and the power of arrogance to rule over their subjects. Christ our eternal King rules from the Cross where he gives his life continuously for our salvation. He is a king with the attitude of a servant king as opposed to many who are servants but with an autocratic attitude. On the Cross, Jesus demonstrates that he is a non-violent king who forgives and restores those who repent.

Dear friends, having understood what the feast of today entails, I invite us to reflect on how we execute our mandates in the positions of leadership. What attitude do we wear when dealing with the people we are supposed to lead and serve?

Have a blessed Sunday

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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