Saturday, December 31, 2011

Today's Gospel Reading - December 31, 2011 with reflection

1st READING - 1John 2:18-21
P S A L M - Psalms 96:1-2, 11-12, 13
R: Alleluia, alleluia
The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who accepted him he gave power to become the children of God.
R: Alleluia, alleluia
John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. 12 But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13 who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full  of grace and truth. 15 John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, 17 because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.
my reflections
t h i n k : When we receive Jesus into our lives, we receive the light of the world, which casts out the darkness.


Today is the last day of the year 2011. In less than 24 hours, we will bid goodbye to 2011 and welcome 2012. If you are reading this reflection, then you are probably one of the many who do not want 2011 to pass by unnoticed and unreflected.

They say there are two ways of seeing the year end. There are those who stay up to make sure the old year leaves. There are those who stay up until midnight to see the New Year come in. They say the first group are the pessimists, the second optimists. The first group ends and begins the year with regret and bitterness. The second group ends and begins the year with hope and positive attitude.

To which do you belong?

Choose to be an optimist. Your 2011 may not be perfect. Many things may have happened in 2011 that you would rather forget. An optimist does not try to forget 2011; he tries to transform it. An optimist cannot change the past, but he can change the way the past affects him. An optimist chooses to be a victor, not a victim. He chooses to see his mess as a message. He chooses to see his setbacks as opportunities to make a grand comeback.

So what will it be for you for 2012?

You have the power to choose.  Fr. Joel O. Jason
Reflection Question:
I’ve shared this with you before: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” What are you doing now to create your future?
Lord Jesus, for all that has been, thanks! For all that will be, amen!
St. Melania, pray for us.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jesus, the failed Messiah?

Fr. Shay Cullen

(His columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line)
The truly amazing thing about the birth of Jesus Christ, called the Messiah, Son of David, Son of Man, Son of God, Saviour, Teacher, Rabbi, Master, healer, as he is named throughout the gospels, is that he never claimed those titles for himself other than the simplest thing of all, “Son of Man” which means “ordinary human being”. He used it 70 times of himself as written in all the four gospels.
He never claimed to be the Messiah, the gospel writers interpreted his mission as that. The Messiah was supposed to be a fiery warrior-leader come into the world to arouse the patriotic spirit of Israel and throw out the occupiers, bring back the kingdom of the ancient King David and right all wrongs. But Jesus was born as a non-violent peace-maker calling all to repent, of their own free choice and help create a spiritual and socially just way of life, where justice, fairness, and respect for all would be the rule. The other commandment of that spiritual kingdom is to love God and others as one’s self.
He was born poor, in the humblest place imaginable – a smelly animal shelter his birth witnessed by animals. Let’s respect them too and save them from cruelty and extinction.
What is it then that caught and held the world’s attention for 2000 years? To the non-believer he was a homeless itinerant preacher that ran afoul of the authorities in a corner of the vast Roman Empire and was a dismal failure in his time.
He was a champion of the poor and questioned the unequal system and irresponsible rich that neglects the hungry and the sick and used money and power to exploit them. Today he would strongly reprimand the greedy bankers, politicians and medical merchants who treat the old and the sick as exploitable commodities. He had no forgiveness for child abusers and said a stone should be tied around their neck and they be thrown into the ocean. For exploiters of the poor he challenged them to repent and make restitution and do penance.
Christmas is also about Mary, the mother of Jesus and Joseph who guided them as they fled Herod’s death squads. Mary’s prayer “The Magnificat” is about trust and hope for freedom from hunger and oppression. God, Mary says, planned a world where justice, equality and truth would overcome evil and kings and tyrants would be thrown down from their thrones and the rich would be sent away empty, while the hungry would have their fill and the downtrodden would be lifted up. That powerful prophecy delivered by a woman became the mission of Jesus. It is a message that inspires millions from then until now.
Women were to have their rightful equal place in the Kingdom but sadly generations denied it to them and today women are still struggling to establish more and more their true position of dignity and equality. This is our mission too.
Jesus gave us an extraordinary example of unselfish sacrificial love. He inspired the poor and questioned and challenged the rulers of his time and their unfair ways. They judged him a heretic, a serious political threat, a subversive and blasphemer no less, and they executed him with the ironic mocking sign over his head “King of the Jews”.
They feared they would lose their status, wealth and entitlements because of him. They were driven by the same materialistic madness loose in the world today and all people of good will are challenged to share and use money in a responsible way to build a more just world. A Christmas gift for the poor is great but what about the rest of the year?
As the wise say a shroud has no pockets, we can’t take it with us. So we can donate money wisely to a trust fund to help the abused children, exploited women and all the victims of human rights violations for years to come. The Preda Foundation Trust Fund is doing this.
Working for justice and freedom of children and women from slavery can help change unjust and corrupt system and bring about a happier society based on the love and care of our neighbors. That’s what Christmas is all about.

Friday, December 23, 2011


1st READING - Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24
P S A L M - 
Psalms 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
G O S P E L - 
Luke 1:57-66

Two days before the whole Christendom celebrates the birth of Christ, our Gospel narrates to us the birth of John the Baptist. The story of His birth is not superfluous to the story of the birth of Jesus. The role of John the Baptist is clear: to prepare the way of the Lord, to point out the coming Messiah.

Just in case you don’t notice, there is in the world right now a subtle yet manifest attempt to conceal the person of Jesus; perhaps not only during Christmas but for all times.

Watch CNN and you will hear the anchors greet you, “Happy Holidays” and not “ Merry Christmas.” They do this out of political correctness. The presence of Christ in the word Christmas might offend the sensibilities of non- Christians watching their program. At the same time last year, the State of Denver prevented their students in a choral contest from singing “ White Christmas” and asked them to sing “White Holiday” instead. And when the students were sent off for vacation, they were told to enjoy not the Christmas holidays but the “winter” holidays.

Make no mistake about it, the subtle eradication of Christ from Christmas has become a blatant political hostility against anything and everything Christian.

Of John the Baptist, the people asked in today’s Gospel, “What will this child be?” He is to be the courageous forerunner, the bold proclaimer of Jesus and His Gospel, to the point of losing his head in martyrdom.

Today let us ask for a little of John the Baptist’s courage. Make a conscious effort to show the world that you are a Christian. Do not abbreviate “Christmas” to “Xmas” even if it means a little more ink and effort in your typing and texting. Better yet, write Christ in bold letters in your Christmas greetings so that your wishes may become not only greetings but an act of faith and proclamation as well. Fr. Joel O. Jason
Reflection Question:
Are you looking at these days of Christmas simply as holidays or as holy days?
Pray repeatedly this ancient Christmas hymn: Gaudete! Gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria Virgine Gaudete! (Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born of Mary the Virgin, Rejoice!)
St. Dagobert II, pray for us.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


1st READING - 1 Samuel 1:24-28
P S A L M - 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8
G O S P E L - Luke 1:46-56

When I was a little boy, I was intrigued by a large cucumber I saw in school. It was just an ordinary cucumber but it was in the strangest place. The cucumber was kept inside a bottle on a shelf. This cucumber was many times too large to go through the neck of the bottle and I wondered how it was able to pass through it.

It was a constant puzzle to my young mind and my teacher would always tease the class that it was a magic trick of hers. Until one day, in one of her lectures, my teacher finally explained that when the cucumber was very tiny, it had been passed through the narrow neck and then was allowed to grow while still attached to the vine. It was little but it grew inside the bottle while attached to the vine.

In our readings today, we see two women with their sons. In the first reading, Hannah brings the young Samuel to the temple. In the Gospel, Mary speaks of the Child in her womb. What is common in both mothers is that they kept their “little cucumbers” (read: sons) attached to the Vine of God. Both mothers realized that their sons were not their own. They are bound for great things and thus need to be attached to the Vine of God. Hannah consecrates Samuel in the temple, Mary prophesies the marvels that Jesus will accomplish as Messiah.

My mother practiced a similar principle with me and my siblings. From my earliest recollection, she surrounded me with prayer and instruction and the Gospel. She taught me my night prayers. She showed me how to fold my hands and bend my knees in prayer. She guided me in praying the rosary. Thus, like a little cucumber, I grew up safe inside the bottle of the Church.

A confident parent once wrote, “Give me a child until he is seven and I don’t care who gets him after that.” So self-assured! But I guess if your child is strongly attached to the vine, you will have the same confidence. I pray that this confidence be the Advent grace for all parents reading this. Fr. Joel O. Jason
Reflection Question:
Parents, where are your “little cucumbers” at home attached to?
Lord Jesus, You are the Vine, we are the branches. Draw us and keep us close to you. Amen.
St. Hunger, pray for us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Today's Gospel - December 21, 2011 with reflection

1st READING - Zephaniah 3:14-18 (or Song of Songs 2:8-14)
P S A L M - Psalms 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21
R: Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
R: Alleluia, alleluia
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!
R: Alleluia, alleluia
Luke 1:39-45
39 Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be  fulfilled.”


A Catholic priest was invited by a Christian group to speak in their Church about the Catholic devotion to Mary. Before he began his talk, the pastor reminded him firmly that they were a Bible-based community and they do not say prayers to Mary as they were not “Mary worshippers.”

As the priest began, he invited the congregation to stand and pray. “For our opening prayer, please open your Bibles to Luke 1:28 and let us read it aloud together.” They read, “Hail, O highly favored daughter, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” Then the priest invited the congregation to turn their Bibles to Luke 1:42 and asked them again to read it aloud. They read, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Then he said, “My dear friends, you have just prayed the Catholic prayer, Hail Mary.”

The Hail Mary is not a Catholic invention. It is a Scriptural prayer taken directly from Luke’s account of the Visitation which is the Gospel for today. The first part of the Hail Mary is taken from Luke 1:28, uttered by the Angel Gabriel no less. The second part is from Luke 1:42, a tribute spoken by the lips of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. The angel Gabriel honored Mary and so did Elizabeth. There’s no reason why we should not do the same. A Christian who claims to be Bible based should not feel uneasy with the Hail Mary. Ignoring the Hail Mary is not biblical.

The Hail Mary, or any prayer or doctrine attributed to Mary, is not intended for her alone. Every Catholic doctrine regarding Mary is Scriptural, i.e., from the Bible, as well as Christological, i.e., pointing to Christ. We give loving attention to Mary only insofar as she points our attention to Christ. She reminds every Christian, “Do whatever He tells you.”

In a few days, we shall celebrate the birth of our Lord. Mary is inescapably a part of the Christmas mystery and ultimately, of the Christian mystery. We look to Mary as the highest honor of the human race. We worship the fruit of her womb, Jesus the Emmanuel. Fr. Joel O. Jason
Reflection Question:
How well are you acquainted with the Catholic doctrines related to Mary?
In mantra fashion, pray this prayer slowly and with devotion: “Hail Mary, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”
Blessed Andrew Dung Lac, pray for us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


1st READING - Isaiah 7:10-14
P S A L M - Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
G O S P E L - Luke 1:26-38


While driving one time, I noticed the bumper sticker of the car in front of me. It said, “Everyone is entitled to MY own opinion.” It is a satire of the well-known original, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.” But more than a funny satire, I believe it is an illustration of how our world has become what sociologists call the “Generation Me.”

In May 2010, a study came out about the level of empathy among young people. It studied generations of students in the US and revealed a significant drop in the capacity to empathize with others beginning the year 2000. From that year on, the respondents were less attracted and responsive to statements like, “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective,” and “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me.”

The study opined that technology that brings the world into the palm of one’s hand may have contributed, among many others, to a generation that has the tendency to be competitive, isolated and comfortable at being alone. Genuine compassion didn’t seem to be an attractive value as the findings express.

Pity is different from compassion. When one sees a street child, one can feel pity and write a check to an orphanage. Compassion is more than pity. It comes from the Latin cum (with) and pati (to suffer). Therefore compassion is to suffer with. It is a desire to be an equal to the one who has less or is lesser. It moves one to maybe spend a day with the orphans, feeding and taking care of them or volunteering in the soup kitchen project of one’s parish.

Today’s Gospel is the Annunciation. At the greeting of the Angel Gabriel and after Mary’s fiat (i.e., “Let it be done unto me…), God, who in Himself is complete and self-sufficient, deigned to be made flesh — to be withhumanity, to be among humanity. Christmas is not about a God who felt pity for humanity. It is about a God who is compassion — the God who deigned to be with the people He loves, to suffer with the people He loves. That is what we celebrate at ChristmasFr. Joel O. Jason
Reflection Question:
What characterizes your feeling towards the less fortunate, — pity or compassion?
Lord Jesus, slowly, draw me and help me to grow in compassion. Amen.
St. Julius, pray for us.

Monday, December 19, 2011


1st READING - Judges 13:2-7, 24-25
P S A L M - Psalms 71:3-4, 5-6, 16-17
G O S P E L- Luke 1:5-25


Both readings for today allude to the Jewish spiritual practice called the Nazirite vow. A Nazirite vow is a practice of self-discipline that Jewish males undergo as a form of consecration to God or to a higher and noble purpose. It includes, among others, refraining from eating anything unclean, avoiding taking strong wine or drink, and keeping the hair untouched by the razor until the fulfillment of the vow. Samson in the first reading and John the Baptist in our Gospel were both consecrated to the Nazirite vow. Later on, in the New Testament, we also read of Paul committing himself to the same vow. The vow is not a statement against food, drink or good grooming. It is a commitment to a divine consecration. The object is to train one’s willpower in order to fulfill a higher goal or purpose in life.

We need this kind of a vow in everyday life. Such a vow helps train the individual recognize a hierarchy of values in his life, to sift through the difference between pleasure and purpose.

Every good thing has two elements of goodness in them: pleasure and purpose. Pleasure brings delight and enjoyment in our pursuit of purposeful things. Purpose gives direction and ethical value in our enjoyment of pleasure. Since pleasure is in the realm of the senses, it’s easy to pursue it independent of purpose. Eating is pleasurable but it has a purpose. Pursue the pleasure alone and you fall into eating disorders. Sleep is pleasurable but has a purpose. Pursue its pleasure alone and you’ll find yourself sleeping through the Mass, in classes or at work. Sex is pleasurable but also has a purpose. Every sexual sin is the result of pursuing the pleasure of sex apart from its natural and God-ordained purpose.

We no longer hear the Nazirite vow nowadays, but we need it more than ever. We no longer call it Nazirite vow. We can call it asceticism and self-discipline. These values have always been the character of great men and women. It defined Samson, John the Baptist and Paul. It should define us as wellFr. Joel O. Jason
Reflection Question:
Make a self-evaluation and ask yourself: Are you pleasure-driven or purpose-driven?
Lord Jesus, grant me the prudence and willpower to live a purpose-driven life. Amen.
St. Bernard Valeara, pray for us.