THE HANDS OF SIMEON

downloadThis reflection is based on Luke 2:22-40 on the Feast of the Holy Family.

A Jesuit companion shared a copy of this painting with our community during our Advent recollection. It’s probably the great Rembrandt’s last and unfinished painting, discovered in the master’s workshop the day after he died. It is a painting of Simeon the Prophet, the man to whom God had made a special promise: that he would not see death until he could lay his eyes on the Christ.

And true enough, that apparently ordinary day, as Joseph and Mary presented the Christ Child to the temple for the traditional Jewish blessing and sacrifices, the prophet Simeon was led by the Holy Spirit to them. The canticle he uttered upon receiving the Holy Infant in his arms remains one of the loveliest in the entire Scripture. It is today more famously known as the ‘Nunc dimittis’ based on its first line: Continue reading THE HANDS OF SIMEON

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THE BUSIEST ANGEL OF CHRISTMAS

4167478132_5664872fca_bThis homily, based on Luke 1:26-38, was delivered at the English Martyrs’ Parish.

There is one character who has worked very hard behind the scenes for Christmas. We hear about this character during Advent, and he shows up at least a couple more times at Christmas, but given all the many things going on at Christmas, we understandably don’t get to shine the spotlight too often on him. I am, of course, referring to the angel Gabriel. Continue reading THE BUSIEST ANGEL OF CHRISTMAS

THE QUIET ART OF LETTING GO

S JosephThis homily, based on Matthew 1:18-25, was delivered at the Simbang Gabi for the Filipino community at Charing Cross Hospital Chapel.

In today’s Gospel story, we have the angel of God appearing to Joseph in a dream. By this time Joseph has already discovered Mary’s pregnancy, and he knows the child cannot be his. Joseph never says a single word in the entire gospel, but we can imagine how heartbroken he must have been. Continue reading THE QUIET ART OF LETTING GO

THE TEMPTATION OF THE BAPTIST

imageThis reflection is based on John 1:6-8, 19-28.

This event in the life of John the Baptist sounds like it’s more than a simple press conference. Here we have him interviewed successively by priests and Levites, as well as Pharisees. All of them interrogate him about who he is: “Are you the Christ? Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet?”

The Baptist takes this opportunity to clarify who he is and who he is not, correcting the misconceptions about him. He is not the Christ–nor is he Elijah, nor the Prophet. He is but “the voice crying out in the desert,” to prepare the way for the Christ. Continue reading THE TEMPTATION OF THE BAPTIST

WHAT THE MESSENGER DIDN’T KNOW

487px-Virgin_with_Child_and_Saint_John_the_Baptist-Biagio_dAntonio-MBA_Lyon_B438-IMG_0303This homily is based on Mark 1:1-8.

First to appear on the Advent stage is the familiar but disturbing figure of John the Baptist, the so-called “forerunner and messenger of the Lord.”

We’ve met this guy before: We’ve read about the announcement of his birth before his cousin’s. Yes, that other Annunciation where things didn’t exactly go well: His father Zechariah understandably thought himself and his wife way beyond the age limit for biological parenthood, the angel uncharacteristically lost his cool, and poor Zechariah consequently went speechless for virtually nine months. His prophet son, of course, eventually more than made up for that long silence.

Continue reading WHAT THE MESSENGER DIDN’T KNOW