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.
I don’t know if you noticed it, but that’s a pretty strange exchange of messages between our Lord and John the Baptist.
First of all, John the Baptist requests his disciples to ask our Lord a bizarre question. Thrown into prison for denouncing the sins of Herod Antipas, John the Baptist hears about the miracles of our Lord and sends his disciples to ask: “Are you the One who is to come, or should we look for another?” Now why would he ask a question like that?
This homily was delivered on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to the Ateneo de Manila Junior High School on the 8th of December 2016.
Just when I thought I had seen the best and last of J.K. Rowling, she surprises us with a wonderful prequel to the Harry Potter series called “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Its protagonist, Newt (played by Eddie Redmayne in the film), is a wizard from England who wields the usual magician’s wand, but also carries a strange suitcase.
This homily for the 2nd Sunday of Advent is based on Matthew 3:1-12.
John the Baptist is the kind of friend you would probably not invite to a Christmas party. After all, who wants to hear bad news at a party? We want to be regaled with funny and feel-good anecdotes, not somber reminders of our weaknesses and even threats about our sins. But that’s what John the Baptist does. He tells us not what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.
This homily is based on Matthew 24:37-44 for the First Sunday of Advent.
For many of us these days, despair is a real temptation. Some of us have actually sworn to keep away from our newsfeed and just get ourselves inebriated in premature Christmas carols. Can the news in the country, in the US, and in the world get any worse? And I don’t know about you, but today’s Gospel, which opens the season of Advent, is no help as far as lifting our spirits is concerned.