From the Pastor's Desk
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:How can I prepare myself for the coming of Jesus, at Christmas and at the end of time?
Advent is a time of waiting for Christ, allowing Jesus to be reborn in our lives. It is also a time for purifying our hearts by repentance and for renewing our lives by reflecting on and experiencing the several comings (advents) of Christ into our lives. Besides his first coming at his birth, Jesus comes to our lives through the Sacraments (especially the Eucharist), through the Word of God, through the worshipping community, at the moment of our death and, finally, in his Second Coming to judge the world.
In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah waits and hopes for an ideal descendant of King David who will bring security, peace and justice to God’s people. Christians believe that Jeremiah’s waiting and hoping were fulfilled in Jesus. Jeremiah assures us that the Lord our justice will fulfill His promises, and, hence, we need not be afraid in spite of the frightening events and moral degradation all around.
The Psalmist expresses the central idea of patient, vigilant and prayerful waiting for the Lord in today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 25), asking Him to make known His ways to us, guide us, and teach us.
In the second reading, Paul gives instructions about how Christians should conduct themselves as they wait for “the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones." We are advised to "strengthen our hearts in holiness" (3:13) and "abound in love for one another" (3:12).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus prophesies the signs and portents that will accompany his Second Coming and encourages us to be expectant, optimistic, vigilant and well-prepared: “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” (Luke 21:28). Jesus wants us to face the future with confidence in God’s providence.
Life messages: 1) We need to prepare ourselves for Christ’s second coming by allowing Jesus to be reborn daily in our lives. Advent is the time for us to make this preparation by repenting for our sins, by renewing our lives through prayer and penance and by sharing our blessings with others. Advent also provides an opportunity for us to check for what needs to be put right in our lives, to see how we have failed and to assess the ways in which we can do better. Let us accept the challenge of Alexander Pope this Advent season: “What does it profit me if Jesus is reborn in thousands of cribs all over the world and not reborn in my heart?"
2) A message of warning and hope: The Church reminds us that we will be asked to give an account of our lives before Christ the Judge, both at the moment of our deaths and at Jesus’ second coming. Today’s readings invite us to assess our lives every night during Advent and to make the necessary alterations in the light of the approaching Christmas celebration. Amid the tragedies that sometimes occur in our daily lives and the setbacks in spiritual life, we must raise our heads in hope and anticipation, knowing that the Lord is coming again.
Feast of The Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8)
It is a dogma based mainly on Christian tradition and theological reasoning. It was defined in 1854 by Pope Pius IX as a dogma of Faith through ineffable Deus. Definition: From the first moment of her conception, Mary was preserved immune from original sin by the singular grace of God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race. (CCC #491). This means that original sanctity, innocence and justice were conferred upon her, and that she was exempted from all the evil effects of original sin, excluding sorrow, pain, disease and death which are temporal penalties given to Adam. (Catholic Encyclopedia).
Evidences: (A) From Church tradition: The Immaculate Conception is a dogma originating from sound Christian tradition. Monks in Palestinian monasteries started celebrating the feast of the Conception of Our Lady by the end of the 7th century. The feast spread as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Italy (9th century), England (11th century), and France (12th century). Pope Leo VI propagated the celebration, and Pope Sixtus IV approved it as a Feast. Finally, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma of Faith. Mary herself approved it in 1858 by declaring to Bernadette at Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” (B) From Holy Scripture: 1) God purified the prophet Jeremiah in the womb of his mother (Jer. 1:5 --“Before I formed you in the womb of your mother I knew you and before you were born, I consecrated you”), and anointed John the Baptist with His Holy Spirit before John’s birth as John’s mother attests. (Lk 1: 43-44 – “And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.” Hence, it is reasonable that God kept the mother of His Son free from all sins from the first moment of her origin. 2) The angel saluted Mary as “full of grace.” The greeting means that she was never, even for a moment, a slave of sin and the devil. 3) Gen. 3:15: -- “I will put enmity between you and the woman and her seed shall crush your head.” The woman stands for Mary, and the promise would not be true if Mary had original sin. (C)-Argument from reason: 1-If we were allowed to select our mother, we would select the most beautiful, healthy and saintly lady. So did God. 2-The All-Holy God cannot be born from a woman who was a slave of the devil, even for a moment in her life. “Deus potuit, decuit, fecit.” (Don Scotus).
Life messages: Every mother wants her children to inherit or acquire all her good qualities. Hence, our Immaculate and holy Heavenly Mother wants us to be holy and pure children. Let us honor her by practicing her virtues of Faith and obedience. Let us respond to God’s grace by using it to do good to others
There are only two Days besides Sundays as Holydays of Obligation for us Catholics to attend Mass here in Hawaii. Those two days are: Feast of Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8) and Christmas (Dec. 25). So, please be reminded of this date Dec. 8 as our Holyday of obligation. We have two masses; Friday (Dec. 7) 6:30. PM vigil Mass and Saturday (Dec. 8) 7.A.M Mass. Saturday evening mass is for Advent second Sunday.