Romans 10: 9-18; Matthew 4:18-22
St. Andrew with St. Thomas by Lorenzo Bernini
In the first three gospels Andrew is not mentioned except in lists of the Twelve. But in John’s gospel he appears three times, and in each case he is introducing other people to Jesus! First of all, his brother, Simon Peter. Then in John 6:8 he is bringing forward a boy with five loves and two fish. And in John 12:20-22 he is bringing some Greeks to Jesus. Meanwhile he himself managed to remain almost invisible.
Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44
Advent is a powerful liturgical season ordered to the mystery of Christ's coming. He comes as the Prince of Peace to establish the ways of God as the standard of all that is genuinely human - and He does this personally for each one of us. This is what Isaiah 2:1-5 indicates - the mountain of the Lord is not merely raised up physically, but spiritually, above all other human affairs and powers. What is his mountain but the place where we meet Him? It is a place of theophany. It is at once the Temple Mount, and the mountain of our own hearts. The place of encountering the living God is meant to be the center of human activity, the apex of each life. Christ comes into our lives to bring us to this place of deep contemplation where the creative power of God's word is manifest and peace is established.
The Signs of the Times
Today’s readings speak of signs. What are we to make of the signs of today’s world? In the gospel, the fig tree is a sign of the nearness of the “Kingdom of God.” We are encouraged to be aware and alert to the signs of the times. The signs of the presence of God.
What are the signs of our times and how do I read them? We experience international crises, suicide bombers, and natural disasters. We witness women and men weeping, wailing, and mourning the loss of spouses, sons and daughters. We watch as families devastated to the breaking point crawl in rubble, mud and wreckage in search of children and loved ones maimed, or buried alive. We are told that our oceans, air, forests, and lands are polluted, in danger of biological death. These scenes do not come as dreams and visions, but are readily available on television. It is almost too much to take in. Where is God? Doesn’t God care?
Daniel 3:68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74
As we head toward Advent, we begin to hear readings that refer to the end-time revelation of Christ, the second coming. These end-time passages often lead people to speculate about the when and the what of the ultimate end-time events. Ironically, that is precisely what Jesus and the Gospel writers do NOT want us to focus on. Think of Mark 13:32: “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” So, DON’T go figure.
The Third Ordinary National Assembly of the Union of the Catholic Apostolate, India 2019 was held in Shanti Niwas Renewal Centre, Bilaspur, on November 8-10, 2019 with the theme: Celebrating, Living and Sharing the Word of God.
The participants (72) consisted of GCC President Ms Donatella Acerbi, Pallottine Missionary Sisters’ Vice General Sr. Josephina D’Souza and General councilor Sr. Liberata Niyongira, Ex-officio members of the NCC of India, Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate, Missionary Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate, Khristsevikas, Cenacle Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Pallottine Fathers from different Provinces, and representatives of the UAC in India.
In today’s Gospel reading, Luke continues his theme from the day before in addressing the persecution in the early Church. In fact, the language that Luke uses is quite disturbing since he describes that one who embraces Jesus will be hated and subjected to pain and perhaps even killed. Further, he states that a Christian could be handed over even by relatives, friends, parents, and siblings. This is indeed an alarming warning that Luke is passing on to the early Christian Community.
Our reading from Luke describes a scene with Jesus having a conversation with a group of people by the temple who are admiring the beautiful design and stonework of this place of worship. Jesus shares a prophecy of the destruction of the temple, indicating that they shouldn't count on the strength and beauty of these stones as they will be nothing but rubble in the future. He paints a pretty bleak picture of a time of war and destruction which sounds pretty familiar to us today. However, in the midst of this doom and gloom message about the future, Jesus paints a picture of hope. He said that even if it seems like the sky is falling, don't panic; even if all seems chaotic around you, keep your head. He continues to describe future catastrophic events, culminating with the ultimate reality of his coming and the power of his presence in the midst of this despair. He shared this hope because he knew that in the face of seemingly impossible world events, we have a hope that goes beyond the scope of our reality. We have spiritual eyes to see the bigger picture of God's peace in the midst of chaos, spiritual ears to hear God's still, small voice in the midst of the noise, spiritual perception to know that God has a bigger plan and a spiritual heart to keep hope when things seem impossible.
November 11th is a very significant and festive day for the people of Poland, as they celebrate their Independence Day. It has become a tradition in Cameroon that all Polish missionaries gather for prayer and recreation on that day. Initially, meetings were organized at the Pallottine Polish mission stations. For several years, however, we have been meeting in Atok - at the Divine Mercy Sanctuary of the Diocese of Doumé Abong-Mbang, where Bishop Jan Ozga is the leader of the Church. Every year, Bishop Jan (presently the only Polish bishop in Cameroon) - presides over the solemn Mass, proclaims the Word of God and gives the latest information on the life of the Church. The meeting is always attended by the Polish Honorary Consul in Cameroon - Ms. Mirosława Etoga and other digniteries.
I need to reflect continually on Jesus' story of the Widow's Mite. Too often I find myself judging others -- especially "street people" -- harshly using society's standards and judging by externals. In this story Jesus reminds us that society's standards are often not his standards. Jesus judges our lives and our actions not by external appearances by the quality of our love.
2 Samuel 5:1-3
Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
This is the Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Today is the last Sunday of Ordinary Time. Next Sunday, we begin Advent. It is a wonderful time to acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and as the King of the Universe. I think that this can only happen for me when I step back a bit and enter a little process of reflection. I have to begin by confronting a few things in myself. First of all, I'm not the King of the Universe. That may sound ridiculous, but it is an important recognition. This world does not revolve around me, as I sometimes want it to. I am not its Master. I am actually very small and very powerless. On one level, it helps me to look at the immnesity of the Universe and to feel how incredibly tiny our world is and how tiny I am in it. On another level, it is helpful for me to let myself experience the tremendous complexity of this world. I tend to be overwhelmed at the divisions, the conflicts, the wars. I read about the amazing scientific discoveries that continue to reveal the mystery of life and the marvelous ways everything is connected and related. Pope Francis offered us a powerful picture of our planet, with an integrated vision of all of us having an effect on each other, in his encyclical "On our Common Home." The more I let this world be so big, and the universe itself be big beyond imagining, the more I can approach the mystery of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.