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Category Archives: TODAY’S THOUGHT 2018

THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-35 – 5th DAY IN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS: Saturday, 29 December 2018 

The old man Simeon, who hobbed one day to the Temple, stands for the anawim, that small group of people who kept the spirit and the letter of the Law. This old man never wavered in his faith that God’s word to Israel would come true. And it did – right before his eyes!

To keep faith does not mean that we put our doctrines and religious practices in formaldehyde. It means that we live them out and hand them on by example. Faith is not simply an intrapsychic event.

The real depth of our Christmas celebration is not found in the emotional surcharge we receive at Christmas but in its carryover into the days afterwards. If there is real victory over darkness inside us by the Christmas light, it will show up in our behavior for all the world to see.

 

Jakarta, 29 December 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2018 in MARY, TODAY'S THOUGHT 2018

 

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THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS

Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:13-18 – 4th DAY IN THE OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS: Friday, 28 December 2018

The Innocents were massacred in numbers that are unknown to us. Bethlehem was a small town and scholars suggest that thirty or forty may have been involved.

The reference to Rachel crying for her children is very touching. Rachel had been the younger of Jacob’s two wives. She was not as fruitful as the other wife and endured great ridicule for that. Finally, she gave birth to Jacob’s two youngest sons, Joseph and Benjamin. When she died, she was buried at Ramah, north of Betlehem.

Centuries later, during the exile, the tribe of Benjamin was decimated and Jeremiah described Rachel as weeping for her children. Now, as the innocents are slain in an area that used to lie within the territory of Benjamin, Rachel weeps again for her children.

These children stand for all innocent people caught in the crossfire. Their presence during the Christmas season reminds us of another dimension of the Incarnation. With all the light the Lord has brought, the darkness is with us still.

The pockets of darkness around and in us highlight the Light and show us the precise places it has yet to reach.

Jakarta, 28 December 2018

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THE CANTICLE OF ZECHARIAH (BENEDICTUS)

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 1:67-79 – SEASON OF ADVENT: Monday, 24 December 2018

The Benedictus of Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, is filled with Old Testament allusions to the glory of God and His promises to His people. It is the promise that God will be with His people in their darkest night.

The canticle celebrates the prophet of the Most High, John the Baptist, who will prepare the way and the  people. On this Christmas eve, we prepare in an immediate way for the celebration of the Lord’s birth among us. The great promises to David (see First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16) have been fulfilled in the person of Mary and the family tree of Joseph. Mary was the true ark of the old and new covenants. In the dark deep of her body, one Testament came to an end as another began.

Christmas is a time for us to renew our covenant with the Lord. We look at the love and power of God that took shape in Mary’s womb and came among us in a flush of blood and water both in Bethlehem and on the cross. From that very human event divine life forever became a human possibility. We now can be the Temples that house the glory of God.

The long night of waiting is over. Now, we celebrate new birth in Bethlehem and in our lives.

Jakarta, 24 December 2018

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THE CANTICLE OF MARY

Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30″

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 1:46-56 – SEASON OF ADVENT: Saturday, 22 December 2018

The Magnificat (the Canticle of Mary) celebrates the great reversals of history. The barren give birth; virgins conceive; those without faith are converted into great saints; the powerful trip up.

If we look back over the past century, we can review the great names that dominated the world scene for a number of years: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt, etc. The philosophies, trends and fashions of those days are largely gone. God’s justice rushes like a powerful current throughout the human story. It has washed to the side those who opposed it.

Just as the spark of life deep within Mary was proof that the ancient promise would come true, so the spark of the Holy Spirit deep within us is proof that the Gospel promises will come true for each us.

Woven into the events of history and our lives is the mighty current of God’s justice and grace.

Jakarta, 22 December 2018

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THE VISITATION: A SHARING OF JOY AND FAITH

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-45 – SEASON OF ADVENT: Friday, 21 December 2018

The reasons why Luke included the Visitation scene are significant. Not only did he want to show the close link between Jesus and John the Baptist but also the inherent superiority of the Lord even at this early point in their existence.

At its most obvious level, the Visitation is a sharing of joy and faith, something to which we Catholics are not accustomed. At Christmastime, we gather for Christmas Mass but seldom talk with each other about the implications of the Incarnation. Each of us has a private theology of it which, regrettably, we keep private. We share food, time, presents with others. But the deepest, most personal and most memorable gift we have share with others is our faith.

Our relationship with the Lord is a spiritual extension of the Incarnation. To include others within it is a great gift at Christmas.

Jakarta, 21 December 2018

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Posted by on December 21, 2018 in TODAY'S THOUGHT 2018

 

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THE ANNUNCIATION

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 1:26-38 – SEASON OF ADVENT: Thursday, 20 December 2018

The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic message is seen in today’s Gospel reading. The familiar annunciation scene is filled with the atmosphere, music, phrases and spiritual scenery of the Old Testament prophets.

Christmas is a time of strong emotion for everyone. During this season, we look to the past and to the future. In between, we try to arrange and experience some Christmas joy. This is exactly how the Church celebrates Christmas.

We look back to our prophetic tradition to see its real meaning in the light of the incarnation. We view the future in the light of the incarnation and in between we try to prepare ourselves to experience Christmas joy. As time passes, we come to see the heart of Christmas not in the holiday atmosphere as much as in the hope, faith and joy that Christmas uncovers deep inside ourselves.

Prayer and love are the heart of the Gospel and the heart of Christmas.

Jakarta, 20 December 2018

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THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST IS ANNOUNCED

Today’s Gospel Reading:  Luke 1:5-25 – SEASON OF ADVENT: Wednesday, 19 December 2018

There was a glut of priests in those days, so Zechariah had to wait his turn to offer sacrifice.

John the Baptist had been so popular a figure that the people traced his beginnings back to show that he was chosen by God from the very start. We read about Samson (first reading: Judges 13:2-7,24-25) and John on the verge of Christmas for two reasons.

In trying to understand who Jesus was and what He did, the first Christians looked to familiar role models from their Jewish past. We do the same when we compare the style of a new president with those of his predecessors. It enable us to connect the new and unknown with the old and familiar.

The models to which the early Christians looked were Moses, David, Samson the deliverer, John the Baptist. The remembered qualities of these heroes were all collected in Jesus.

Secondly, Samson and John were chosen from their conception as was Jesus. Their role in salvation history was no accident. In the same way, the incarnation was part of God’s saving design. All the events of sacred history lead up to it, and the rest of salvation’s story follows from it. 

Jesus, Samson and John the Baptist were set apart by God for a special mission. The same is true of us.

Jakarta, 19 December 2018

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Posted by on December 19, 2018 in TODAY'S THOUGHT 2018

 

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IT BEGAN WHEN THE WORD OF GOD FIRST BECAME FLESH

Today’s Gospel Reading:  Matthew 1:18-24 – SEASON OF ADVENT: Tuesday, 18 December 2018

As the early Church reflected and prayed over the great deliverance from sin achieved by Jesus’ death and Resurrection, they gradually came to see that the decisive moment did not begin on Calvary. The Kingdom had begun much earlier when the Word of God first became flesh at the moment of Jesus’ conception.

Matthew traces the beginning of the Day of salvation back to the Annunciation when Mary first consented to be an instrument of God’s plan. In our own lives, the great breakthroughs in the realm of the spirit and in our personal ventures did not come from nothing. They were the end product of a great deal of effort and preparation.

If we have known moments of deep personal peace, it is because we have battled for it and had long before decided to submit ourselves to the presence of the Holy Spirit.

In the same way, the great Passover of the Lord on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday did not come from nowhere. It was the end result of a lifetime of Jesus’ obedience to the Father that began when Mary as a young woman said: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 NAB).

 Our simple moments of submission can give birth to periods of great achievement.

Jakarta, 18 December 2018

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THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS CHRIST

Today”s Gospel Reading: Matthew 1:1-17 – SEASON OF ADVENT: Monday, 17 December 2018

This is a famous Gospel reading that nobody likes to read. It seems to be only a series of names begetting other names.

Just as any genealogy reveals a great deal about an individual, so Jesus’ genealogy tells us a great deal about Him. These names evoke a rich and sacred drama. As they tumble out, we see Israel’s movement from a loose web of tribes into an empire and then to an occupied state.

It is a story of the spiritual maturation of a people from the days of Abraham’s sacrifice to the Judaism of Jesus’ day. Just as our family history is poured into us, so this entire Jewish panorama was poured into Jesus.

He was every inch a Jew, in the full rush of Jewish history and tradition. He transformed the entire Jewish heritage that flowed through Him. He released the promise from its special attachment to a particular people and made it available to everyone. The majesty and failures of Judaism now belong to all of us. The great figures of the Old Testament are our spiritual ancestors in Christ.

We are now the bearers of the new covenant.

Jakarta, 17 December 2018

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JESUS TALKS ABOUT ELIJAH

Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 17:10-13 – SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT:  Saturday, 15 December 2018

In this post-Transfiguration scene, Jesus reminds His disciples that Elijah had indeed come in the person of John the Baptist. It was once more piece of corroborating evidence of Jesus’ Messiahship.

Peter had admitted Jesus to be the Messiah. Jesus then told the disciples that both Messiah and disciples would have to suffer. This disconcerted them so deeply that they needed the Transfiguration experience to strengthen their faith. After seeing Moses and Elijah in conversation with the Lord, they realized that the momentous and awaited event of great redeeming significance was about to take place.

For the Lord to come to us in power as Messiah, we need to prepare ourselves. That is the function of our remembrance of John the Baptist. He represents the self-examination that is the critical prelude to a deeply satisfying and redeeming Christmas experience.

Through the liturgy, John the Baptist still calls us to prepare a way in our hearts and lives for the coming of the Lord.

Jakarta, 15 December 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in TODAY'S THOUGHT 2018

 

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