Tag Archives: 2018-12

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Cycle C

First Reading
1 Samuel 1:20-22,24-28 (The first reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Sirach 3:2-6,12-14.)
Hannah dedicates her son, Samuel, to the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 84:2-3,5-6,9-10 (The psalm from Cycle A may also be chosen, Psalm 128:1-5.)
Those who dwell in the Lord’s house are happy.

Second Reading
1 John 3:1-2,21-24 (The second reading from Cycle A may also be chosen, Colossians 3:12-21)
We are God’s children now.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:41-52
The boy Jesus is found in the Temple.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. This feast is part of the Christmas season, and we should place today’s Gospel in the context of what Luke’s Gospel tells us about the birth of Jesus. Luke has been answering the question “Who is Jesus?” through his stories of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. Today’s Gospel reading continues this theme. It has no parallel in the other Gospels and is the conclusion of Luke’s Infancy Narrative.

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus are presented in this Gospel as a faithful Jewish family. They are participating in the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, an event shared each year with family and friends. When Jesus is found, Luke describes him as seated in the Temple in the midst of the Jewish teachers. Although he is young, Jesus seems not to need teaching about his Jewish tradition. In his dialogue with these learned teachers, Jesus astounds them with his insight and understanding. Jesus is a child of Israel. His Father is God.

The dialogue between Mary and Jesus contains many references to family relationships. In fact, in this Gospel reading Mary and Joseph are never identified by name. Instead they are referred to by their relationship to Jesus. Ultimately, this emphasizes Luke’s point about the identity of Jesus. When Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple, they question Jesus and express their anxiety. Jesus replies in words that many have thought to be disrespectful. Jesus says that he was never lost; he was at home. Jesus is God’s Son, and he is in his Father’s house. Luke will continue to suggest that faith in Jesus establishes new family relationships as he describes Jesus’ public ministry.

In Luke’s Gospel, Mary’s importance is even greater than her role as Jesus’ mother. Mary is the first disciple and will be present with Jesus’ disciples after his Resurrection at Pentecost.- loyolapress.com

Archbishop John Wong’s Christmas Message 2018

THEREFORE the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)  How humbling it is for us each time when we contemplate on the mystery of Emmanuel – God is with us, and on the reality of how God chose to reach out to us by becoming one of us!

If we just take a moment to look at how fallen our world is, we will realize that we are living in a culture that has lost touch of what faith and the meaning of love truly mean; a culture that flows with the current of secularism and relativism. God’s design for every human person to be dignified is slowly being washed away by this current. We see a trend where every individual is now allowed to determine what they want to believe. The truth is no longer objective, but subjective to one’s right in deciding what is truth for themselves.

My dearest brothers and sisters, we truly have fallen behind; and the world needs a saviour! God is relentless when it comes to reaching out in love to His people. God had each of us in His mind when He planned to send His Son, Jesus Christ. God planned, God prepared, God brought to fulfillment, and God became. That is what Christmas is all about. God’s love is manifested because He chose to become one of us; taking upon himself every aspect that a human being can ever possibly experience or go through.

No matter what our circumstance may be at this present time – be it a personal struggle, a family problem, a financial burden, a work issue, or dealing with the loss of a loved and dear one, or just the pain of feeling and suffering alone, may we all find comfort and joy, knowing that this Christmas, He is coming to us and He is with us. He is not just with us, in a vague and general sense, but He comes to meet each of us exactly where we are at in our individual lives. In our joy, in our pain, in our suffering, in our incapability of making sense of what is going on in our own lives, in our brokenness, in every possible circumstance we are going through – God is right here, with us, and He truly understands.

Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Saviour; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state? (Catechism of the Catholic Church 457).

No one can put it more beautifully than what is stated in our Catechism. God is moved when He sees His children suffering, and He draws near to them at once, and at all costs, even if it meant descending to human nature. This is TRUE LOVE.  This Christmas, True Love comes down once again and wants to dwell in our hearts.

But are we prepared to welcome this Love into our hearts at this Christmas? Will Love find any room in our hearts when He comes this Christmas? How can I prepare my heart for Christmas? It is too easy to get carried away with the hustle, bustle and busyness as we draw nearer to Christmas, especially in our world today, where Christmas is extremely secularized and commercialized. While there is nothing wrong to celebrate Christmas in festivity and merriment, let us take a moment this Christmas to truly reflect on the true meaning of what we are celebrating, which is found in Christ, the “Word made flesh” in the most vulnerable form – a baby, born in a stable, on a still night.

Therefore, we may say that making room for Love to enter our hearts, means taking time to be silent in our hearts. Let us not miss the sound of the Baby Jesus’ cry when He arrives. May He find room in each of our hearts when He comes.

The great Venerable Fulton Sheen once said, “How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You cannot find peace on the outside, but you can find peace on the inside, by letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body, namely, let Christ be formed in you.”

Let us not be afraid to respond to the mystery of God’s great love this Christmas. Let us be unafraid to come as we are and surrender to Him our sins, our brokenness, our weaknesses, our lacking, and all our struggles. Let us not be afraid to let Christ form our being! In the words of one of the greatest saints, St Therese of the Child Jesus, “A God who became so small could only be mercy and love.” God chose to come as a helpless infant to us. May we too, come to Him in our most vulnerable state and surrender to His love this Christmas.

I would like to end with the words of St Teresa of Calcutta as an invitation to all of us: “At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark this season of Christmas by loving and serving others with God’s love and concern.”

Wishing you a very Blessed Christmas!

Archbishop John Wong, Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu 


  

Reflections for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

The Nativity of the Lord Christmas Eve

First Reading
Isaiah 9:1-6
To those in darkness, a child will be born who will have dominion over the earth.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 96:1-2,2-3,11-12,13
Sing a new song to the Lord.

Second Reading
Titus 2:11-14
God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:1-14
Jesus is born in a manger in Bethlehem as the angel appears to the shepherds.

Background on the Gospel Reading

During the Christmas season, our liturgy invites us to consider the birth of the Lord from many vantage points. As we begin this season, it is useful to remember that the stories of Jesus’ birth and childhood are found in only two of our Gospels, Matthew and Luke. Throughout this season, we will hear stories from both Gospels. Those Gospels tell different but complementary stories about Jesus’ birth, highlighting items of theological importance about the Incarnation and the salvation that Jesus brings.

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Kironggu Catholics regain sense of belonging, commitment and sacrifice

KIRONGGU, Inanam – For the last fifteen years Kironggu Catholics travelled long distances to attend Mass, as well as to fulfill their parish services or to take part in parish events at the main parish of St Catherine Church in Inanam.

Today the faith community of Kg Kironggu is abuzz with plans and activities to celebrate their first Christmas service on December 24 at the new St Michael Chapel, blessed by Fr David Sham, parish priest of St Catherine barely three months ago.

Sheedy Ng, 50, head of St Michael KUK (Christian Community), enthused about the multiple proposals by the members to build up the community. 

To start with, the KUK launched the Advent Messenger four weeks prior to Christmas, which visited with 60-strong families, preparing them to herald the coming of the Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Eliesa Soidin, 34, secretary of the KUK, who works as a teacher at the local Kironggu School, and a promising Sunday School resource when it is set in place, chipped in “We prepare the carolers, formed mainly by the youth and children, with a catechesis before sending them out, so that they are effective evangelizers.”

The Advent Sunday services were spent focusing on helping the faithful to grasp more meaningfully the season and its celebration, with the help of symbols (Advent candles).

The KUK head added “we look forward to the whole community coming together to spruce up the chapel, putting in place colour lights and the nativity crib. Then only Christmas will be complete, with both the spiritual and physical.”

On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the community would gather for prayer and communion service, and caroling, followed by fellowship.

The Christmas celebration does not end on Christmas Day. It stretches to the Feast of the Holy Family when all families would come together once again for prayer and to bless themselves with a shared meal contributed by each family.

Ng revealed that the coming together under one roof (chapel) is something they treasured and yearned for since the dismantling of the old chapel in 2003.

Soidin shared when the news of the availability of land to build the new chapel broke out, the faithful were filled with overwhelming joy and excitement. The anticipation of the completion of the construction was almost too much to bear.

People came forward spontaneously to respond to the numerous needs, from the clearing of the land, leveling of the access road, building a retaining stone wall to control soil erosion, sponsoring of fans, liturgical item such as the Lectionary, to the sourcing of monetary funds.

It was palpable to see the Kironggu Catholics regaining their sense of belonging, commitment and sacrifice.  Ng revealed that the KUK, whose members are mostly farmers and housewives, was able to raise RM15,000 within a year to cover the expenditure over and above the construction of the chapel.

The chapel was built at the cost of RM50,000 by philanthropist Datuk Victor Paul, on a land donated by former catechist, Joannes Gubud, who is also the adviser for St Michael KUK.

The community, being at the heart of the larger parish community, provides a strong visible and emotional presence in the villages that the Church serves, which would otherwise be lost if KUK members were expected to travel to the larger parish some distance away.

Kg Kironggu is one of the six ecclesial communities (KKD) that come under the care of St Michael KUK.

Small communities like St Michael KUK work well, especially with the presence of a little chapel.  It has a strong identity as a parish church, supporting its members in their lives and becoming a natural place for people to gather to mark life events.

Ng spoke of the exciting plans projected for 2019, from constructing little huts (pondok) to cater to Sunday school classes, to a multipurpose hall (dewan) to cater to community events; from forming a choir with proper catechesis, to encouraging a strong youth participation in the parish/community life with accompaniment by existing leaders. 

Already the migrants from a neighboring oil palm plantation have expressed their expectant joy of becoming “family” with the locals at the chapel.

St Michael KUK encourages its members to become a community of nurture and growth by being involved and engaged.

Already each KKD family has been advocated to live “Creation Justice” by actively planting and beautifying, not only the chapel, but their homes as well.

Interestingly, St Michael Chapel, is the first of its kind in this region to be fitted with a solar panel, providing power to light up the cross on the chapel’s roof. – CS

SHC carolers to target 2000 homes

KARAMUNSING – Sacred Heart Cathedral parish priest Fr Paul Lo commissioned 24 caroling groups to launch the parish Advent Family Visits to 2,000 homes spanning 42 zones from 5-19 Dec 2018.

A 500-crowd of both young and elderly gathered at the foyer of the parish centre, where after a simple rite, Fr Lo sent off the carolers. 

Fr Lo reminded the carolers the purpose of the visits “You are sent by the Church to parishioners and non-Catholics alike, to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to them.  If they are in touch with Jesus, they will be joyfully blessed. And as you bring Jesus to others, you will blessed with joy yourselves.”

The caroling groups would come together again on Dec 23 for the parish “Carol by Candlelight” at the parish centre, beginning at 7.00 pm. – CS

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