November 30, 2013

Novena to Immaculate Conception

Mary, Mother of the New  Evangelization

Day 1


Scripture Passage: Luke 1: 46 - 55

Marian Reading:
Mary is the Virgin in prayer. She appears as such in the visit to [Elizabeth], when she pours out her soul in expressions glorifying God, and expressions of humility, faith and hope. This prayer is the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Mary's prayer par excellence, in which there mingles the joy of the ancient and the new Israel…. In her exultation Mary prophetically declared in the name of the Church: 'My soul proclaims the glory of the Lord....'

At Cana, Mary appears once more as the Virgin in prayer: when she tactfully told her Son of a temporal need she also obtained an effect of grace, namely, that Jesus, in working the first of His "signs," confirmed His disciples' faith in Him.

Likewise, the last description of Mary's life presents her as praying. The apostles "joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1:14). We have here the prayerful presence of Mary in the early Church and in the Church throughout all ages, for, having been assumed into heaven, she has not abandoned her mission of intercession and salvation. The title Virgin in prayer also fits the Church, which day by day presents to the Father the needs of her children, "praises the Lord unceasingly and intercedes for the salvation of the world."
(Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, #18)

An Our Father
A Hail Mary
A Glory Be
The invocation: Mary, Immaculate Help of Christians, pray for us

Immaculate Conception Novena

The Novena preparing for the Immaculate Conception begins today.

She is the Queen of the New Evangelization.

The Church invites us "trusting in the help of Mary, the Church in America desires to lead the men and women of the continent to encounter Christ. This encounter will be the starting-point of authentic conversion and of renewed communion and solidarity. Such an encounter will contribute greatly to strengthening the faith of many Catholics, helping them to mature in strong, lively and active faith. (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America)

Each day a reading with a theme will be posted

Please make the Novena, both with prayer and with other ways that are suitable for you to prepare for the celebration (This year the feast will be on Monday, December 9)

(Image by Bartolome Murillo)

1st Sunday of Advent - A (December 1, 2013)


The Coming of the Son of Man

All of the parables/examples used by Jesus in this passage affirm that the Son of Man will come in the most ordinary moments of life.  The list includes eating, drinking, marrying, giving in marriage, men being out in the field, and women grinding grains at the mill.  It is in those ordinary moments and activities that the Lord will come.

In fact, with the Incarnation, the first coming of the Son of God, every human reality can and indeed is an encounter with the invisible God.  Jesus is the Emmanuel, God with us.  The Kingdom of God is here, in the midst of our daily life and ordinary responsibilities of our calling.

God surely is present to us in moments of prayer, in God’s words, in the Sacraments, and other spiritual realities.  And the same God is present to us in the events of our daily life, in ourselves, and in the people around us. 

If we are sensitive to the Lord’s presence in the here and now, then we are ready for his second coming among us, whenever that might be.

On the contrary, we can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, and lose sight of the presence of the Emmanuel, God-with-us.

Advent calls us to train our interior eyes to see the God-with-us, and recognize Him in our ordinary life.  Then, we will be ready to celebrate His first coming at Christmas, as well as His second coming, whenever that might be.

1st Sunday of Advent - A (December 1, 2013)


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November 23, 2013

Christ the King - C

Luke 23: 35 – 43

Jesus – God Saves

The verb “to save” appears four times in this passage.  Ironically, it is used all four times by those who oppose Jesus: the rulers, the soldiers, and the first of the two criminals crucified with him. 

The rulers acknowledge that Jesus “saved others.”  Probably unintentionally, they testified that Jesus had been true to his identity – the name Jesus means “God saves” [1].   However, they do not pronounce that name “Jesus.”

The soldiers and the criminal express the common expectation people have on a king – a king ought to save himself. 

Interestingly, only the one criminal addresses Jesus by his name [2].  He recognizes who Jesus truly is.

Jesus the King saves.  But he saves others.  

He has done so throughout his ministry.  He identifies his mission as “[coming] to seek and to save what was lost” [3].  And he continues to do that even to the end. 

[1] In Matthew 1:21, “the angel of the Lord” announces the name” Jesus” and its meaning in instructing Joseph, “You are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

[2] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke, Sacra Pagina series.  Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 378. 

[3] Luke 19: 10

Christ the King - C (November 24, 2013)


November 16, 2013

33rd Sunday - C


It Depends on How We Take It

Will suffering happen?  Yes

Will there be tragedies?  Yes

How about persecution? Yes

Jesus lists them all: wars, insurrections, earthquakes, famines, plagues, awesome sights and mighty signs.  For his followers, He then adds arrest, persecution, prisons, hatred, and even death.

We can be live in fear.

Or we can see all of these in the way of Jesus.  “It will lead to your giving testimony.”   It is in moments of trials, sufferings, and persecution that Jesus’ followers can be witnesses to who Jesus is and what he has done. 

Wasn’t the cross the fulfilment of God’s plan of salvation for the human race?  Wasn’t it the culmination of God’s love?

And Jesus affirms us that we are never alone.  “I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking….”  And “Not a hair on your head will be destroyed.”

33rd Sunday - C (November 17, 2013)


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November 8, 2013

32nd Sunday


The Everlasting and the Fleeting

The Sadducees, in making up an absurd scenario, illustrate their denial “that there is a resurrection.”  They cannot see beyond the here and now of this fleeting world. 

Consequently, they, the temple priests [1], find Jesus a threat to their earthly authority and power.  They build their lives and power on their short-sighted value system of things that do not last.   They make things that one day will die their gods.

Jesus invites us to live truly as children of the living God whose value system is everlasting.  

While we live in this world, God blesses us with fleeting things to sustain us.  May we never allow those created and fleeting things replace the ever-living Creator.

[1]  Footnote on Luke 20:27 and Matthew 3:7, The New American Bible, Revised Edition, 2011.

32nd Sunday - C (November 10, 2013)


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November 2, 2013

31st Sunday - C


The Joy of God’s Forgiveness

There are two conflicting reactions to Jesus and his treatment of Zacchaeus.

The people who are with Jesus “begin to grumble” because he is going to the house of a sinner.

Prior to this incident, this kind of reaction was typical of the Pharisees and scribes when they criticized Jesus for welcoming, and for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. [1]

This time, they “all” grumble.  And in this case, the pronoun “they” refers to the disciples and all those who have been traveling with Jesus as he continues his journey to Jerusalem.

Why do they all grumble?  Is it because unlike other tax collectors who Jesus reaches out to before, Zacchaeus is a big time “bad guy”?  He is “the chief tax collector.”  His crime is well known.   Or is it because Zacchaeus seems to get off the hook too easily?  Probably both!

Zacchaeus, on the contrary, “receives Jesus with joy.”

Like his fellow tax collector in the parable of last week’s Gospel passage (Luke 18: 9-14), Zacchaeus acknowledges that he is a sinner.  He climbs the tree “for he is short in stature.”  But can this explanation also indicate his moral stature in the eyes of the people around Jesus?  Morally, he surely is “short in stature.”  He probably knows that he does not belong in that crowd. 

And like the other tax collector, Zacchaeus accepts God’s mercy.  As a result, he can “receive [Jesus] with joy.”

To admit that one is a sinner, and to accept God’s forgiveness are the conditions of joy.

[1] Luke 5:30 and 15:2, Footnote, The New American Bible, Revised Edition, 2011.

31st Sunday - C (November 3, 2013)


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