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Saturday, November 27, 2010



(Recorded in Australian Catholic Radio Online)

The first Sunday of Advent  opens the new liturgical calendar of the Church.   We could even say that today is the new year in the Church.  The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means the coming of an important person or an event.  In the Christian world, Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus.
There are three ways of Jesus’ coming namely: the first Christmas which happened 2,000 years ago, secondly the Parousia which is the end of time and thirdly the coming of Jesus in between the first Christmas and the Parousia which happens in the Church, in the Sacraments and in our daily encounter with Him.
We also have three kinds of time that corresponds to the three comings of Jesus:  the cosmic time which corresponds to the repetition of events like day and night or the four seasons of fall, winter, spring and summer which come back every year.  That is why we celebrate Christmas year after year. Next is the historical or chronological time which is  measured by years, months, days, hours, seconds which are unrepeatable.  Lastly the kairos which is a blessed time or a time of grace.
If we understand this background on time, what do we prepare then during Advent?   Some are preparing for Christmas, that is why we decorate our homes with Christmas trees, lanterns and other stuff that remind us of the joy of the season.  But the season of Advent is more than preparing for December 25th which is a cosmic time.  More than all our preparations for Christmas, the Church reminds us to prepare for the Parousia.  This is the reason why these past three Sundays we have been reading the Apocalyptic readings most especially in our gospels. 
Last Sunday we read the apocalyptic gospel of St. Luke about the end of the world.  In our gospel today, we read the apocalyptic account by St. Matthew.   Apocalyptic literature has lots of imageries which were used both by the Old Testament and New Testament writers to strengthen the hearts of believers during a very difficult time, most especially during persecution where they suffered because of their faith.  As a “resistance literature” it encouraged believers to hold on to their faith because that was the time of God renewing history through His powerful presence.  Oftentimes, this event is preceded by suffering and pain by most believers. 
Our gospel today relates the flood during the time of Noah which was a way of renewing the earth; it was God’s way of cleansing the world in preparation for the beginning of a new humanity.   No one was prepared except Noah and his family.  Parousia is likened to that event.  The Church is like Noah’s ark.  She gives us opportunities to prepare for the coming of the New Beginning.  During the time of Noah, the people did not care and they might be laughing at Noah and his family for  building such huge ark, until the flood came and wipe them away.
Let us take a look at Kairos which is a blessed time or a time of grace.   When God enters into our time and we into the time of God, that moment of our encounter with God is a Kairos.  This happens when we gather together as a Church and celebrate our faith together as a people.  When we hear God’s Word.  It is Kairos.  When we participate in the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection in the Holy Communion.  It is Kairos!  When after the Eucharist, we become witnesses of our faith to the world.  It is Kairos!
St. Matthew reminds his community and all of us to be always ALERT and WATCHFUL!  This is not to instill fear but a sense of vigilance and preparedness.  The Kairos we are experiencing now is just but a preparation for the historical time when everything will have to pass away to give way for the birthing of the New Heaven and New Earth where the justice of God will reign.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Homily: Christ the King


In the liturgical calendar of the Church, there are 34 Sundays in the ordinary time and the last Sunday which is today is the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Although our gospel today is taken from St. Luke, we might as well consider some of the accounts in the others gospels to give us a bigger perspective on the concept of the kingship of Jesus.  In our reflections, let us consider the inscription above the head of Jesus which was normally the charge or the crime of the criminal being crucified.  I think most of us are familiar with it which is INRI.   They are actually Greek words  for Iesous Nazarenus Rex Iedaeorum which is translated as Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.  In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, the inscription reads “ This is Jesus, the King of the Jews”.   So the NRI that we know of is actually that of St. John’s account which gives us a more theological understanding.
According to St. John, it was Pilate who wrote the inscription and we need to understand this.  Remember that it was the Jews who brought Jesus to Pilate.  When Pilate asked Jesus:  “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus replied “Do you ask this on your own, or others have told you about me?..  My kingdom is not from this world… Pilate asked him “So you are a king?”  Jesus answered “You say that I am a king.  For this I was born, and for this I came to this world, to testify to the truth…”  During the trial, Pilate believed that Jesus was innocent and tried everything to release him and yet the chief priests and the Jews cried out “If you release him, you are no friend of Caesar.  Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”  When Pilate heard this, he said to the Jews “Here is your King”. When the chief priests asked that it should be changed to “This man said, I am King of the Jews”, Pilate answered “What I have written, I have written”.  What is so important about this account?  Remember that Pilate represented Rome and when Rome has spoken, that was it!  It was only St. John who made mention that the inscription was written in the three major languages during that time: Hebrew, Latin and Greek.  This means that the truth on the kingship of Jesus is not limited only to the Jews but to the whole world as well.  Jesus’ kingship is universal. 
 The inclusion of the words “Jesus of Nazareth” in the inscription was also meant to be a mockery by Pilate?  The king of the Jews is from Nazareth, it’s baloney and absurd.  But that’s the reality.  The Jews had been  waiting for a king to save them. Mighty and strong.  And here, we see Jesus as depicted by St. Luke mocked and jeered upon “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Messiah”.  If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”  Here is the King who would not save himself because he was not thinking of himself.  In fact, the first one he saved from the cross was a fellow criminal “Amen I say to you, today  you will be with me in paradise.”
What is the kingship of Jesus to us at present?  The world is watching on the monarchy of England.  Will Prince Charles be a king? Will Camilla be a queen?   People around the world are excited over the engagement of Prince William and Kate.  Remember that the kingship of Jesus is not of this world as he proclaimed before Pilate.  We do not consider ourselves as subjects of Jesus.  When we were baptized, we were initiated to participate in the three offices of Jesus being priest, prophet and king.  And that’s who we are.  We could even say, in a spiritual sense, there is a royal blood that is running in our veins.  The second reading from the Letter of Paul to the Colossians reminds us of this: Jesus is our head, the firstborn from the dead.  And we are all his members. We belong to the Kingdom of God.
As we end the liturgical calendar this Sunday, the Church reminds us that Jesus at the end of time will reign.  I f we want to be part of his kingship, we just have to be faithful to him.