Sunday, 8 December 2019

Monday, December 9, 2019 - The Immaculate Conception - Will you say YES to all that God wants to do through you today even when you fully cannot understand why?


To read the texts click on the texts:Gen3:9-15,20; Eph 1:3-6,11-12; Lk 1:26-38


The feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated on December 8, was established as a universal feast in 1476 by Pope Sixtus IV. He did not define the doctrine as a dogma, thus leaving Roman Catholics free to believe in it or not without being accused of heresy; this freedom was reiterated by the Council of Trent. The existence of the feast was a strong indication of the Church's belief in the Immaculate Conception, even before its 19th century definition as a dogma.

The Immaculate Conception was solemnly defined as a dogma by Pope Pius IX in his constitution Ineffabilis Deus on December 8, 1854. The Catholic Church believes that the dogma is supported by Scripture (e.g., Mary's being greeted by the Angel Gabriel as "full of grace") as well as either directly or indirectly by the writings of Church Fathers such as Irenaeus of Lyons and Ambrose of Milan. Catholic theology maintains that since Jesus became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, it was fitting that she be completely free of sin for expressing her fiat. In 1904 Pope Saint Pius X also addressed the issue in his Marian encyclical Ad Diem Illum on the Immaculate Conception.

In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

The Gospel text chosen for the feast of today relates a scene immediately after the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist and contains the announcement of the birth of Jesus. There are many similarities in the annunciations to Mary and to Zechariah. The angel Gabriel is the one who makes both announcements. Both Zechariah and Mary are called by name and exhorted not to be afraid. Both ask a question of the angel, and it is the angel who tells them what name each child is to be given.  It is the angel who predicts what each child will turn out to be. However, even as there are similarities, there are differences in the narratives. While the announcement to Zechariah comes in the Temple and as a result of his fervent prayer, the announcement to Mary comes (apparently) when she is in her home and it is unanticipated. While Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth are advanced in age, Mary has not yet stayed with her husband, and so is a virgin. The birth of John to parents who are past the age of child bearing is a miracle, but even greater is the miracle of the birth of Jesus, who would be born through the Holy Spirit, and to a virgin. Even as John the Baptist goes with the spirit and power of Elijah, Jesus will be called “Son of God”. Luke clearly wants to show John as great, but only the forerunner of the Messiah, Jesus, who is greater.

In response to the announcement of the angel, Mary, like Zechariah, asks a question. While both questions seem similar, it is clear that Zechariah’s question expressed doubt and asked for a sign, as is evident in the angel’s words before Zechariah is struck dumb. Mary’s question, on the other hand, is a question asked in faith. Mary did not question the truth of the revelation like Zechariah did.

The evidence that what the angel has announced will indeed take place is the pregnancy of Elizabeth, for nothing is impossible for God. Mary responds, not merely with a Yes, but by asking that the Lord work in her to accomplish all that he wants.
The annunciation would not have been complete without Mary’s trusting, obedient response.

Today, many assume that those whom God favours will enjoy the things we equate with a good life: social standing, wealth, and good health. Yet Mary, God’s favoured one, was blessed with having a child out of wedlock who would later be executed as a criminal. Acceptability, prosperity, and comfort have never been the essence of God’s blessing. The story is so familiar that we let its familiarity mask its scandal. Mary had been chosen, “favoured,” to have an important part in God’s plan to bring salvation to God’s people, but it is unthinkable that God would have forced Mary to have the child against her will. Mary is an important example, therefore, of one who is obedient to God even at great risk to self.

When we think of or reflect on Mary, the one word that comes to mind to describe her whole life is the word, AMEN, a word which may be translated, “so be it”, “your will be done”, “do whatever you want to do in my life”. This was, indeed, Mary’s constant response to every situation in her life, especially when she could not understand why things were happening the way they were. The text of today is, then, a call and challenge to each one of us, that we, too, like Mary, might be able to say YES to all that God wants to do in our lives. It is a challenge to be open and receptive to the Spirit of God, so that we, too, might be able to give birth to the Saviour in our hearts.

Monday, December 9, 2019 - Gen 3:9-15,20; Eph 1:3-6,11-12; Lk 1:26-38

Monday, December 9, 2019 - Gen 3:9-15,20; Eph 1:3-6,11-12; Lk 1:26-38


  1. What does Colossians say we have obtained in Christ?

  2. An inheritance
    A blessing
    A grace

  3. Over whose house would the child rule forever?

  4. God's house
    The house of Joseph
    The house of Jacob

  5. What did the man name his wife?

  6. Mary
    Elizabeth
    Eve

  7. In which month was the angel sent by God?

  8. Seventh
    Ninth
    Sixth

  9. In which month of her conception did the angel say Elizabeth was?

  10. Sixth
    Seventh
    Eighth

  11. Who did the woman say tricked her?

  12. The man
    The devil
    The serpent

  13. When does Colossians say God chose us?

  14. When we were born
    When we were conceived
    Before the foundation of the world

  15. Why did the man say he was afraid?

  16. Because he had sinned
    Because he was naked
    Because he had lied

  17. What was the name of the angel sent by God?

  18. Raphael
    Michael
    Gabriel

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. Mary's response got us a Saviour
    We must imitate Mary in saying "Let it be done to me"
    God choose and graces us

Thanks for taking the Quiz. I hope it makes the word of God more relevant. Let me know on errolsj@gmail.com. Suggestions are always welcome.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Sunday, December 8, 2019 - YouTube Reflections


When we look around at the injustice, poverty, division and disharmony that continue to exist in our world, it is not easy to believe that the Messiah King has indeed come and set his seal over all humanity. But he has indeed come.

The challenge then is to go back to “our root” Jesus Christ and continue to keep our gaze fixed on him. We continue to learn from him that only in dying to ourselves can we hope to be born to new life and be gathered up like wheat into his barn.

Sunday, December 8, 2019 - Second Sunday in Advent - Keep on keeping on


To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12
Zion is here and again like in Chapter 2, the center of the peaceful cosmos described in these verses by the prophet Isaiah. This peace is seen on two levels. The first is on the level of the future king’s (“A shoot”) character and rule. He will be filled with the spirit of the Lord and will have the gifts required to judge fairly and not by mere appearances. The ruthless and wicked will be judged with integrity and fairness. The poor and the meek will be protected completely. The second level is seen in the peaceful cosmos where humans, animals and the rest of nature will live in harmony without the need to destroy each other.

In these verses of the penultimate chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul begins by exhorting his readers to the hope Christians must attain through the examples of endurance, perseverance and hope found in the scriptures. This perseverance or refusal to give up must lead to tolerance and harmony found in the example of Christ himself. Christ is the only model on which Christians must base their words and deeds.

“The voice in the wilderness” found in the Gospel text of today belongs to John the Baptist who uses strong images to describe what the coming of the Messiah will entail. Though particularly strong with the Pharisees and Sadducees, John calls all people to repentance. No one is excluded. This repentance must be shown in action and not merely words. Like in the case of the king mentioned by Isaiah, “the one who follows” will here separate the wheat from the chaff. While the wheat will be gathered into the barn, the chaff will be burned in a fire.

In what is known as the third “Emanuel prophecy” Isaiah prophesies about whom many thought would be King Hezekiah. He was prophesied as one who would be filled with the gifts of the spirit which were wisdom, insight or understanding, counsel, power or might, knowledge and fear of the Lord. However, he did not come up to the expectations of the prophecy and of the people and so people began to look for a new successor to King David who would fulfill this expectation.

The world had to wait for eight centuries for this expectation to be fulfilled in its entirety. It was fulfilled in every single aspect in the person of Christ. He was and is the one who continues to stand as an ensign or signal to all peoples everywhere. He is the one who though he followed John the Baptist was more powerful than John the Baptist could ever hope to be and who baptizes not merely with water but with the Holy Spirit and fire.

In his coming and in his person he invites each one of us to make a choice. We can choose to be struck with the rod or to be judged with integrity. We can choose to burn in an unquenchable fire or to be gathered up into God. The choice is entirely up to each one of us. It must also be remembered that just because we have the name Christian and have been baptized does not necessarily mean that we have chosen life over death. The choice that we make has to be shown in our lives.

When we look around at the injustice, poverty, division and disharmony that continue to exist in our world, it is not easy to believe that the Messiah King has indeed come and set his seal over all humanity. But he has indeed come. Why then do we seem to prefer to choose death over life? Isaiah seems to offer an answer to this question when he speaks of the “knowledge of the Lord” which we seem to have lost. The consequence of this knowledge is indeed harmony and transformation but because we have lost it we are caught up in disharmony and sameness. Paul takes this point further when he reminds us that we may not have persevered and lost hope. We have removed our gaze from Christ and have stopped relating to each other the way he relates to us. We have instead of being selfless preferred to be selfish, instead of reaching out have preferred to be locked up in our own small worlds and instead of enduring and persevering have lost hope and given up.

The challenge then is to go back to “our root” Jesus Christ and continue to keep our gaze fixed on him. We continue to learn from him that only in dying to ourselves can we hope to be born to new life and be gathered up like wheat into his barn.

Sunday, December 8, 2019 - Isa 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12

Sunday, December 8, 2019 - Isa 11:1-10; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12


  1. With whom will the wolf live?

  2. Its cubs
    The lamb
    The lion

  3. Who appeared in the wilderness of Judea?

  4. Jesus
    John the Baptist
    The Egyptians

  5. Like whom will the lion eat straw?

  6. The cow
    The bull
    The ox

  7. How will the shoot judge the poor?

  8. With mercy
    With righteousness
    With weighing scales

  9. With whom will the leopard lie down?

  10. The lamb
    The kid
    The lion

  11. What will be the belt round the loins of the shoot?

  12. Righteousness
    Integrity
    Faithfulness

  13. From whose stump will the shoot come?

  14. Judah
    Jesse
    Joseph

  15. Who will graze with the cow?

  16. Its calves
    The bull
    The bear

  17. How will the shoot decide for the meek of the earth?

  18. With equity
    With mercy
    With grace

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. We must never give up
    We must keep on keeping on
    Repentance means looking anew

Thanks for taking the Quiz. I hope it makes the word of God more relevant. Let me know on errolsj@gmail.com. Suggestions are always welcome.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Saturday, December 7, 2019 - YouTube Reflections


The mission that Jesus inaugurated continues even today. It is, even now, a mission that must consist of both word and action. The word that is spoken must be a word that enhances and builds up.  The action that is performed must be an action that heals and makes whole.

Saturday, December 7, 2019 - Will you speak an enhancing word today? Will you perform a healing action today?


To read the texts click on the texts: Isa30:19-21,23-26; Mt 9:35-10:1,6-8
The text of today begins with what is known as a Summary statement. It states succinctly the ministry of Jesus which is both word and action. It forms an inclusion with a similar summary in 4:23 and thus brackets what comes between, namely the Sermon on the Mount (Chapters 5-7) and the Miracle Cycle (Chapters 8-9). Through this Summary, Jesus is portrayed as Messiah in words and deeds. This Summary statement and Jesus’ observation of the crowd, who appear to him as harassed and helpless sheep without a shepherd, serves also as an Introduction to the Mission Discourse in Matthew (10:1-42) which is the second Discourse in the Gospel of Matthew.

By placing this Introduction at the beginning of the Mission Discourse, Matthew succeeds in conveying that the Mission of the Disciples is at one with, is continuous with, the Mission of Jesus. Like Jesus, they, too, are called to say and do.  They, too, are called to word and action. They, too, are called, like Jesus, to make the Kingdom that they proclaim a tangible reality.

The disciples’ mission is not voluntary activity initiated by them; rather, they are chosen, authorized, and sent by God through Christ. It is his authority with which they are sent. They are to speak and act in Jesus’ name. The content of their missionary proclamation is that the kingdom of heaven has indeed come. This is a kingdom that is not theoretical but extremely practical and down-to-earth. This is why the verbal proclamation has to be accompanied by action. The actions they perform are actions of healing, of making whole. Since the kingdom of heaven is given by God freely and gratuitously, their proclamation and actions must also be done freely and without charge. God’s kingdom cannot be purchased and need not be purchased, since it is God’s free gift.

The mission that Jesus inaugurated continues even today. It is, even now, a mission that must consist of both word and action. The word that is spoken must be a word that enhances and builds up.  The action that is performed must be an action that heals and makes whole.

Saturday, December 7, 2019 - Isa 30:19-21, 23-26; Mt 9:35-10: 1, 6-8

Saturday, December 7, 2019 - Isa 30:19-21,23-26; Mt 9:35-10:1,6-8


  1. How will the light of the moon be on that day?

  2. Very bright
    Like the light of the sun
    Like a bright light

  3. What kind of bread does the Lord give?

  4. Wheat flour
    Adversity
    Finest wheat

  5. Whom did Jesus summon?

  6. The twelve disciples
    His family members
    The crowds

  7. What payment were the disciples to demand?

  8. Full payment
    Half payment
    No payment

  9. What kind of water does the Lord give?

  10. Water of affliction
    Living water
    Flowing water

  11. Where will cattle graze in that day?

  12. In green pastures
    In broad pastures
    In narrow pastures

  13. How many fold will the light of the sun be on that day?

  14. Six
    Seven
    Eight

  15. Which inhabitants are told they will weep no more?

  16. Judah
    Judea
    Jerusalem

  17. How did the crowds appear to Jesus?

  18. Lost and bewildered
    Like sheep without a shepherd
    Like people who knew what they wanted

  19. What is the message of the readings of today?

  20. We must speak words that enhance
    We must think before we speak
    The Kingdom is a gift from the Lord

Thanks for taking the Quiz. I hope it makes the word of God more relevant. Let me know on errolsj@gmail.com. Suggestions are always welcome.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Friday, December 6, 2019 - YouTube Reflections

Heart blindness closes itself to another point of view. It is a blindness that refuses to look anew at things, events, and people. It prefers the pessimistic and dark side of life.  Heart blindness can only be healed when one turns in faith to God, manifested in his Son, Jesus. 

Friday, December 6, 2019 - Have you tried seeing with your heart instead of only your eyes? What difference does it make?


To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 29: 17-24; Mt9:27-31
Chapters 8 and 9 of the Gospel of Matthew are known as the “Miracle Cycle” of Matthew, because in them we find ten miracles in series of three miracles each. The fact that the Miracle Cycle follows immediately after the Sermon on the Mount and that both are framed by a summary statement in 4,23 and 9,35 is an indication that Matthew’s intention is to show, through such placement, that Jesus is the Messiah, in words (through the Sermon on the Mount) and in deeds (through the Miracle Cycle).

Many regard this story as a doublet of the healing of blind Bartimaeus found in Mk 10:46-52.  Matthew’s story, however, has the healing of two blind men and does not name them. A similar story of the healing of two blind men is found in Mt 20:29-34, and since, in both cases, the one blind man of Mark has become two blind men in Matthew, he pieces the story together with details and elements from his own sources.

The story begins with the blind men following Jesus. While on the one level, this will mean walking behind Jesus, on the deeper level, it means that they are doing what disciples are called to do. Their address for Jesus: “Son of David” (this is the first time in the Gospel that Jesus is called “Son of David”) and “Lord” indicates that they are believers. They have faith. Though physically blind, they are able to see who Jesus is and see the extent of his power to heal them. This faith is the reason why they receive their sight.

The command of Jesus to the blind men not to tell anyone what he had done is disobeyed by them. While some see the command as retention of Marks’ messianic secret (the Markan Jesus tells some of those whom he heals not to make it known, since he does not want people to mistake the kind of Messiah that he has come to be), others see it as an illustration by Matthew that not everyone who says “Lord” obeys the will of the Father manifested in Jesus. These have faith, they themselves say, but yet they do not do.

Blindness is not only an external ailment or limitation. The fox says to the Little Prince in Antoine Saint De Exupery’s book “The Little Prince”: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” There is, thus, also blindness of the heart. As a matter of fact, in many cases, blindness of the heart is worse than blindness of the eyes. Heart blindness closes itself to another point of view. It is a blindness that refuses to look anew at things, events, and people. It prefers the pessimistic and dark side of life.  Heart blindness can only be healed when one turns in faith to God, manifest in his Son, Jesus.