In today’s Gospel reading, our Lord Jesus repeats what is probably God’s favorite message in the Bible: “Do not be afraid!”
Think of the times when God showed up for the first time before his prophets–or when He sent His angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation, or to Joseph in his dream, or even to that flock of shepherds on the very first Christmas night.
There are claims that this phrase–or its equivalent–occurs 365 times in the Bible–one for each day of the year!
Did you flinch when you just heard the Lord say, “Love your enemies”? My theory is that, if you didn’t, it’s probably because you didn’t hear what he’s trying to tell us today. Or, you didn’t really think of your enemies.
In today’s Gospel reading, our Lord raises the bar beyond our usual moral comfort zones. It’s not enough that we don’t commit murder, he tells his listeners. Treating others with anger is sin enough. It’s great that we’re not committing adultery, he continues. But the bad news is, just nursing lust in our heart already makes us virtual adulterers.
This homily, based on Matthew 5:13-16, was delivered at the EAPI Chapel.
In today’s Gospel reading, our Lord offers us two familiar images of how His disciple should make a difference in the world: salt and light. Like salt to water, we are called to change the world by giving it flavor. Like light to night, the good deeds we do are expected to serve as a shining example to inspire others to do the same.
This homily, based on Mark 4:35-41, was delivered at the St. John Catholic School, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
For me, it’s not easy to read the Beatitudes–not to mention to preach about it. Maybe it’s because in the Beatitudes, our Lord Jesus blesses the very people the world considers cursed. Consider his list:
Humility seems to have gone out of fashion these days. Just look around and listen to all the talk around you. It seems to me that on any given day, brashness trumps humility. Somehow the louder you speak, the more confident you come across, the more blatantly you flaunt your power, the more people–in spite of themselves–sit up and listen.
So today’s portrait of John the Baptist is, frankly speaking, quite astonishing.
This homily, based on Matthew 2:1-12, was delivered at the Asian Institute of Management Chapel on the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.
Finding out that the three kings were neither three nor royalty was not quite as traumatic as that other life-changing discovery about Santa Claus. But to whomever thought of coming up with the three kings–what were you thinking?
For years, we staged Nativity plays that religiously featured them with their precious gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Why, they even had names that not only sounded good together, but also were exotic enough to prove that they had indeed journeyed from faraway lands.
This homily is based on Luke 2:16-21 on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
How do you mother God? Philosophers would be quick to point out that the question makes no sense. God would have no need for a mother: If God is infinite, He would have no beginning. And if He is all-powerful, He wouldn’t require anyone to nurse Him or raise Him.
Except, of course, that for us Christians, God decided to become human. And He didn’t just show up on the face of the earth as a self-reliant grown-up. God opted to go through the entire tedious process of becoming human so that He emerged in our world in much the same way each one of us does–as a helpless baby dependent on and in need of a mother.
Today we listen to the story of the silent man of the Gospel. All through the Infancy Narrative, Joseph, the chosen foster father of Jesus, speaks not a word. Even the father of John the Baptist, the priest Zechariah, who was stricken temporarily mute by the angel, at least manages to get two sentences recorded by Luke: “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” And nine months later, to his relatives he answers in faith: “His name is John.”
But not Joseph, even if–when you think about it–having gone through so much, he could have said a mouthful.