Monday, December 12, 2016

Homily Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Year ABC: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Year ABC: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·        Num 6: 22-27;
·        Ps 67:2-3, 5-8;
·        Gal 4:4-7
·        Luke 2:16-21

 Mary: Mother of Christ, Source of Peace
On every First January of every year the Church prays for peace, and celebrates the Solemnity of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and mother of Christ the Prince of Peace, just celebrated at Christmas. Of course, Mary is our mother too. She is the mother of the Church,  as truly confirmed  in today’s Second Reading, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Gal 4:4-7). Paul says: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons (and daughters).”  Of course, Paul’s message was long foretold by many Israel’s prophets- Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zephaniah, which we all read during Advents- with theological and spiritual implications.

 By implication, we are all brothers and sisters of Christ, and children of God, in baptism. At the Morning Mass, yesterday, you will recall, we were all being addressed as children of God in 1 John 2:12-17. And as adopted children we are part and parcel of the Holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph which we also celebrated few days ago.
Days and weeks from now we will begin to bring down the Christmas trees, and undo those decorations in our home. One thing we do not want to forget is that the Birth of Christ brought peace and redemption to our homes, and into the world. Everyone acknowledges this, including the Angels who sang that song with which we began this worship with: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of goodwill.” the shepherds of Israel (Luke 2:16-21), the prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna in the Gospel reading of yesterday (Luke 2:36-40) also spoke about this Prince of Peace to everyone, to those who were awaiting and hoping for the redemption of Israel.

On this day of the World Day of Peace, Mary is extolled as the mother of Christ the Redeemer, the Prince and source of Peace, for several reasons. Let me mention a few. At the annunciation, Mary peacefully said to Angel Gabriel, “I am the Handmaid of the Lord be it done to me according to your Word” (Luke 1:38). She was not afraid to say yes, and to be opened to the will of God.  Never for once was Mary violent and abusive to those who disbelieved her or suspected her pregnancy. She dialogued with the family of Joseph and her family over the divine situation.
In the Gospel reading of today, Mary and Joseph opened their doors and their hearts for the humble poor shepherd (Luke 2:16-21) and for the rich and educated foreign scientists-Magi (Matt 2: 13-23), who visited with them in a manger in Bethlehem. With this, Mary and Joseph prepared Jesus for the ministry of peace, universalism and inclusiveness of the poor, that seems to be elusive in our society today. Jesus of course would grow up to become the champion of peace- that we need today.

When Jesus stayed back in the temple Mary and Joseph, his parents did not freak-out. They anxiously but peacefully searched for Jesus. It is true that we don’t hear much of what went on in the family of Jesus and Mary and Joseph after the Birth narrative and Christmas celebrations. I am sure the shepherd went back to their sheep.  Joseph must have quietly and peacefully retired to his carpentry worship while Mary was busy changing the diapers and raising Jesus peacefully, lovingly and virtuously in their poor, but peaceful home.
When we look back on the events of the last year be it  in our families, homes, Church,  the United Nations, in the Middle East, Africa or in Asia, Europe, North Korea including all the wars, trains derailing here and there, the natural tragedies, the hurricane sandy, the typhoons in the Philippines, the shootings and terrorist acts in our nations’ schools, movie theaters and religious centers, and other part of the world, Nigeria, Nigeria- the rough politics, health-care debate, government shut down, social and economic difficulties, the bokoharam, -we need peace more than ever, in the world today.

Jesus, the Son of Mary is the source of this Peace (Shalom). He alone can heal us. He alone can heal our nations of our weaknesses, selfishness, our divisiveness, our doubts and skepticisms. He alone can give us that wholeness, that friendship, that sense of justice, that sense of oneness, that community spirit, that forgiving spirit, that Christian love and charity that we all need.
The priceless Peace, which Jesus the Son of Mary brings is a grace and blessing! This peace was among the blessings that God gave to Israel, through Aaron in the first reading (Num 6:22-27). Blessing Israel, Aaron said:

 “May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you! May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!”
[I have received so many cards and greetings from you! One of my cards reads,

“Fr. Michael I can’t believe today is the last Sunday of the Year. I am very grateful to God for all his blessings and graciousness upon me, my family, especially my grandchildren this past Year 2013.  Thank you for leading us to such a spiritual pilgrimage to Fatima, Lourdes and Rome. It was a pilgrimage of my life time. May Christmas be Merry to You and New Year a fruitful one.”]
Today is also the day we say to ourselves “Happy New Year!” in various languages. With this we are indirectly making New Year resolutions- wishing and promising ourselves every good thing in the New Year, including Happiness of which Christ, the Son of Mary is the ultimate source.

 We wish ourselves peace (shalom), trust, hope and faith in God. We wish ourselves good health. We wish ourselves the grace to forego bad habits. We wish ourselves greater respect for the dignity of the human person, greater sense of social justice and respect to the fundamental human rights of every person, men, women and children including the poor, the seniors and those at the margin of the society; the right to practice and treasure the Catholic faith, the right to wear cross, and crucifixes, the right to pray publicly without being ashamed of your faith and religion.  It is a year we want to continue to pray for the souls of our loved ones gone before us marked with the sign faith.
As we begin a New Year, may Mary the Mother of God, Mother of the Church, intercede for us so that we may be blessed with lasting peace, and joy in the Lord. And May “The Lord bless you and Keep you! May the Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace” in this New Year (Num 6:22-27)!

Reflection Questions:

1.     What are your New Year Resolutions- peace, forgiveness, oneness..?

2.     What can you do to help bring peace to the world, family, church, neighborhood, and community of nations?

3.     Am I always opened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit or trusting in the prayerful intercession of our Mother Mary?


Homily Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·        Sir 3:2-6, 12-14;
·         Psalm 128:1-5;
·         Col 3:12-21
·         Matt 2:13-15, 19-23

 Family: a Domestic Sanctuary
It is not surprising that following the celebration of Christmas, the Birth of Christ, we re-gather today to contemplate and celebrate the virtues of the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. In fact, this Feast makes a lot sense for us since we are all fruits of our beautiful families: a community of parents and children, brothers, sisters and relatives. In today’s feast, we celebrate the responsibility we owe one other.
 The family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus was a family of “Yes!” and openness to God. Mary, in Luke’s Gospel says, “Be it done to me according to your Word,” (Luke 1:38).  The righteous Joseph in Matthew’s Gospel quietly took Mary home as the Angel Gabriel had told him (Matt 1:24). The righteous Joseph provided for the safety of baby Jesus in Egypt. Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph were humble. They paid close attention to the whispering of the Holy Spirit in their ears.

Besides humility and righteousness, it was a family that handled their difficulties and confusion with prayer, and absolute trust in God. A typical example is the Christmas mystery of the sudden pregnancy of Mary by the divine agent. Pregnancy, I believe would be a very delicate period for women. It is a time that women enter upon a cycle of hopes of fears. She sees herself different in the mirror and is conscious of the risks and sufferings awaiting her. In such circumstances our husbands would not want to approach their wives as if they are in the military grounds, but like Joseph with gentleness and virtues of love, and joy (cf. Udoekpo, M. Family Functions, 1997, p. 19).
Joseph handled this well. He listened and was opened to the impulses of the Holy Spirit.  He took Mary home (Matt 1:24). He loved, honored and respected Mary, and the child Jesus as well. Joseph a quiet and righteous man knew what his role was as a father. Though quiet, he had a lot to thoughtfully say by his family life style.

 He knew that every child needs a father and a mother (cf. 1989 Redemptoris Custos of Pope John Paul II). Joseph did not walk away from his fatherly responsibility as some modern fathers would do today. He knew he was called to love and protect the child Jesus, the New Moses (Matt 2:13-15, 19-23), just as the old Moses was kept save in the Book of Exodus 1–4. He rose up and fled with the child Jesus to Egypt for safety as directed by the Angel of the Lord (Mtt 2:13).
Joseph, besides loving and respecting Mary must have also taught Jesus good carpentry trades and skills. From Mary and Joseph Jesus must have also learn their basic customs, how to say shalom, “good morning daddy,’ “good morning Mom,” and   how to say some basic Jewish prayers, and meaning of things around him – patience, and compassion for fellow human beings-that would come to reflect in Jesus public ministry; in his turning water into wine at Cana in Galilee (Jn 2), in his multiplication of fish and bread, in his healing and forgiving ministries.

Joseph knew his job and his responsibility to Mary and Jesus. Jesus also knew his job. He was an obedient child. I am sure you would recall the incidence in Luke 2:41-51 when the boy Jesus stayed back in the Jerusalem after he had made and annual visit with his parents Mary and Joseph. It took Mary and Joseph about three days to anxiously and lovingly retrace Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem where he was deeply involved in a discussion with teachers and scholars. We are told Mary and Joseph were not only anxious about their child, but were astonished at finding Jesus in the midst of temple teachers. But scriptures tells us that after all said and done, Jesus went back home with his parents and “was obedient to them,” (Luke 2:51). Jesus grew up in wisdom, age and favor before God and man (Lk 2:52). He obeyed his parents.

Echoes of such obedience are heard in the alternate first reading of today (Sir 3:2-6, 12, and 14), that whoever honors his parents atones for sins and preserves himself/herself from them. When he prays he is heard, and whoever respects the mum stores up wealth and riches for him/herself and will live long (cf. Exodus 20:12; and Deut 5:16).
You and I know, especially our parents that we live in a different time today. Today, there are many fathers and mothers who walk away from their mutual responsibility to their children, leaving them third parties under the name of personal freedom or “too busy at work." Divorce has also become the order of the day to the detriment of our children. Today’s society is also searching for where to draw the line between the rights of parents and those our children: the movie they watch, the drinks the take, the conversation they engage and the examples they are shown. Are they adult food, drinks, movies? What examples do we show to our kids? How we treat each other, how we return home from work and on time, join the family at meals and how we relate and respect our next door neighbors? What about our faith and sexuality: how do we live or express them both at homes in the public- knowing that our kids, the future leaders, are watching us!

 I grew up as a sixth child in a family of 4 surviving brothers and two sisters from same mom and dad. Customarily we respect our parents. We honor them. We show gratitude to them for many reasons- for raising us, for breast-feeding us, for the food, clothing, for the tuition, for teaching us the faith, name them.  We never talked back to our parents.  The respect is so deep and mutual that we cannot call our parents even our elderly ones by their first name. Usually whenever there is any misunderstanding in our family everybody is eager to work hard to have the matter resolved with compassion and love.
 This is the Family Life in the Lord that St. Paul addresses in the 2nd reading (Col 3:12-21). The family is a place where each of us would learn to put on compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. Like the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus’ it is place where we learn to pray, to sing Psalms, cultivate wisdom, respect, honor one another and lay our spiritual foundation.  It is a place where we learn to visit our parents and seniors in the nursing homes, hospices and hospital. It is a place where we learn to be our brother's and sisters' keepers. It is a domestic sanctuary for faith, hope and love.  It is a domestic church, school of virtues, where we lay the foundation for the values and virtues we bring to our larger Community, churches, schools, places of work and governance.

 As we approach the table of the Holy Eucharist today, let us pray that each and every one of us may see our homes as domestic sanctuaries. More so, we may return home today, nourished by the virtues and exemplary family life of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

Refection Questions:

1.     Do you see your family as a domestic church?

2.     What particular virtue can you relate to in the family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus?

3.     What do you hope and faithfully look for in today’s families?



Homily Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Mass during the Day Year ABC: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Mass during the Day Year ABC: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

·        Isa 52:7-10;
·        Ps 98:1-6;
·        Heb 1:1-6
·        John 1:1-18

The Word Became flesh at Christmas!

  “A child is born for us, and a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name  him Wonder-Counselor, God Hero, Father –forever, Prince of Peace… and his name will be called Messenger of  great counsel” ( cf Isa 9:5-6).

 This is the entrance antiphon of today’s Mass, the words of prophet Isaiah. This prophecy fulfills and explains the reasons why we are so joyfully and decoratively gathered today. We gather to celebrate Christmas, the Birth of Christ our Lord and Savior. Son of God and Son of Mary. The creative Logos/Word who became flesh and dwelt among us,  the Light of the world, Grace/Gratis, God’s gift of himself to the world, the Divine Wisdom and God’s loving incarnate ( John 1:1-18).

 In the 2nd reading, the Letter to the Hebrews (1:1-6) God became Christ, human and divine because he loves us always. In time past, from the beginning  God spoke to us, he manifested himself to us through the burning bush, through various prophets down to John the Baptist. He also communicated with us through his messengers, angels. Remember angel Gabriel who said to Mary Hail Mary, full of Grace the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus (Luke 1). Remember the same Gabriel said to the worried Joseph, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife home …for it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her(Matt 1:18-24). Same Angel spoke to the shepherds about the birth of Christ in Luke 2:1-14. Of course Angels also played a role in the birth of Samuel and Samson and directed Tobias in the book of Tobit.

But today, these days God speaks and communicates with us through someone who is superior to all of Israel prophets. He is superior to John the Baptist. God speaks to us through someone who is superior to the angels. In fact, the angels worship him.  That person is God’s Son, Jesus Christ born for us at Christmas. He is God’s incarnate- during Christmas.

Christmas brings us, God’s incarnate, Christ, the source of life. Christmas brings us Jesus, a friend of the poor and of the rich. Christmas brings us God’s incarnate, Christ, lover of saints and sinners, a Messenger of hope, a Prince of Peace and a Prophet of reconciliation. Christmas brings us joy.

This is the joy that I have always experienced here in our parish community. This is the joy that we are invited to share in our homes, schools and places of work. The joy that mixes with God’s love, and team spirit among various groups here in our parish, barracks, diocese among the knights, the Columbietes, the staff, men, women and children and in various pious societies.

I love our new church bell. It swings and rings hourly or half-hourly. It adds to this joy, and often reminds me of the response of the angels to the Birth of Christ.  The angels broke into a great song, “Glory to God in the Highest… peace to people of good will”, which we began this Mass with.  This song is hidden, in that poetic first reading (Isaiah 52:7-10), a song of the redeemed:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace (not war, not selfishness, not hatred, not greediness, revenge and division, but) bearing, good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion “Your God is King.”

This King is Christ, born for at Christmas. This King has always preexisted with God his father, "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God...."(John 1:1-18). As a pre-existence Son of God Christ is the source of all things: our lives, our families, our energies to do our jobs, to participate in politics and manage our economy, go to schools, keep our homes and raise our kids.

Christmas invites us to celebrate the involvement of God in human flesh and in the human history: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In his compassionate ministry among humans, water would be changed into wine, women will be spoken to, and children would be invited with care. The poor would be loved, the hungry would be fed. Sinners would be forgiven. Zacchaeus would be visited. Lazarus would be raised from the death. Christ born today would come to wash the feet of his disciples. He will lecture Pilate on the meaning of truth and Mary Magdalene on the importance of detachment.

 How we receive Christ, the Light of the world at Christmas and our how we welcome him in our hearts, in our homes, and families and nation is important. It is true that we have decorated our offices, churches, streets and homes, purchased and exchanged gifts. Christmas carols and songs are booming in our homes and cars.

But sometimes you noticed that our gifts are only being circulated among ourselves and colleagues. Today adds to a couple of Christmases after the Election of Pope Francis and the Death of Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Mother Teresa. Pope Francis and Mother Teresa like Christ, we know have invested a lot of their time and energy and preaching on the need to reach out to the poor and the needy. And Mandela and many saints known to us attracted so many to their funerals and canonization because of what they stood for, including, love, reconciliation, unity and oneness.

As we celebrate Christmas this year, we might as God’s beloved sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, want to joyfully take extra steps and reach out to the poor with acts of charity and to our neighbors with love, oneness, unity and reconciliation.

  “Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive the King; Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.!”

 Reflection Questions:

1.     Is there any way we can be more like Christ, this Christmas in our relationship with one another?

2.     What does Christmas means for you spiritually, pastorally and materially?

3.     What are the noticeable signs of God’s presence in our homes, families, schools and work places?



Homily the Nativity of the Lord (Mass during the Night): Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily the Nativity of the Lord (Mass during the Night): Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·        Isa 9:1-6
·        Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 11-13
·        Ti 2:11-14
·        Luke 2:1-14

Today Our Savior has been born
Tonight the church everywhere joyfully gather to await and celebrate the humble birth of Christ, our Lord and Savior. The Light of the world, the Grace of God and Prince of Peace. Scripture readings today point to the manner of this birth and how humanity reacts to it with peace, love, harmony, generosity of friends, family gatherings and joy!

Christ born for us tonight is the one long foretold by the prophet Isaiah in that first reading Isaiah 9:1-6. To a hopeless, bullied and oppressed eighth century BC audience Isaiah proclaimed “the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light’ upon those who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone.”  Isaiah calls them to rejoice for this child represent light, a symbol of hope, freedom and justice. Upon his shoulder rests dominion, universal kingship, freedom, justice and mercy. And His name is wonder- counsellor, God- Hero, Father- Forever, Prince of Peace and the Grace of God, according to Titus 2:11-14.

Of course Christ’s birth, God’s incarnate is God’s grace, gratis, favor, gifts and blessings of all kinds  to all of humanity,  homes and families and this grace is sufficient to everyone, the rich, the poor, the weak and the humble without discrimination.

This is true when we take a look at the manner or the circumstances surrounding his birth. Joseph and Mary heavy with child travelled from the lowly town of Galilee in Nazareth to Judea, the city of David, for census as stipulated by the their civil law. While there were there God has it that Christ is born, not in a palace, but in a manger in Bethlehem. With the guidance of the Angel the first responders were not the rich, but the poor Bedouin –shepherd who were keeping watch over their flock.

Responding, they hid to the message of the Angel. They were not afraid, rather they were filled with joy spreading the news, signing with the Angels and heavenly host the hymn with which we began this celebration with “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those whom his favor rests.”

As we sing this Gloria tonight, our societies, nations, world today are still been hunted by the darkness of poverty, hunger, division, terrorism, racism and wars, to name, but a few. That being the case, we are invited tonight not to be afraid of the future, but to rejoice, celebrate, share the gifts, food, drinks, clothing, cards, and blessings God has blessed us with, with our neighbors. And like the shepherds of today’s gospel, continue to be the heralds and conduits of the peace, joy and salvation Christ has brought us at Christmas!

 Reflection Questions:

1.     Could you think of any form of contemporary acts of injustice or misfortune symbolized by biblical darkness facing challenges of the Light of Christ at Christmas?

2.     Could you think of the graces, and favors of God in your life that Christmas reminds you of?

3.     Are you prepared to be the heralds or the conduits of the joy of Christ- the Good News with your neighbor or member of your faith community and beyond?

Homily Solemn Nativity of the Lord (Vigil Mass) Year ABC: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily Solemn Nativity of the Lord (Vigil Mass) Year ABC: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

·        Isaiah 62:1-3;
·        Ps 89:4-5,16-17, 27,29;
·         Acts 13:16-17, 22-25
·        Matt 1:1-25

Christ is born: Joy to the world!

 “Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive the King; Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.!”

 Tonight, or this evening, here in our parish, in our hearts, homes, and all over the world, on earth and in heaven, we begin a joyful celebration of the Birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace and the Savior of the world. We celebrate the reasons for the past four weeks of spiritual and material preparations.  We celebrate the reasons for all those shopping; reason why Santa Claus is in town again; the reasons for all these decoration in our church, in the narthex, the ones in our homes, in our offices, in our work places, in the plazas, public squares, in shopping and community centers. We celebrate the reasons for all those snow men dancing with our kids in our homes.

 We are celebrating the reasons why we will soon gather to exchange those beautiful gifts and meals with our children, grandchildren, spouses, neighbors, our loved ones, friends and relatives. Meals and Gifts that represent the love, the peace and reconciliation that Christ the bridegroom brings us at Christmas. We are celebrating the reasons for all those stamps and envelop which we have already mailed- the candies and the cakes, the candles and the checks, the ribbons and those trees, and gifts.

Personally I have received so many gifts from you and I want to say thank you very much. All these are because a special humble friend, Christ, has been born for us in Bethlehem, as foretold by the prophets.

Isaiah was one of them who says, “A child is born for us, and a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name  him Wonder-Counselor, God Hero, Father –forever, Prince of Peace… and his name will be called Messenger of  great counsel”( cf Isa 9:5-6) .

 Matthew’s Gospel (Matt 1:1-25), that long genealogy, narrates this fulfillment of this prophecy. Its tells us how the birth of Christ came about (Matt 1:1-25) and traces the human and divine origins of Christ. Yes, it is a long list of human origins starting with Abraham cycles to names mentioned in the historical books, down to the book of Ruth. Showing how connected Christ human origin is, universally speaking. The story of the universal Christ, born for us at Christmas. It is such a compelling and appealing story that it is been reenacted on the TV and even here in our parish hall by our children. It is a story of God’s love for us in Christ- Jesus; who loves to walk with us, travel with us, eat us, play with us, and of course saves humanity.

 Christ’s birth brings us redemption. It brings us light and joy as it did to Israel. Even the angels could not resist this joy. They broke into that song of Gloria, with which we began this mass with, singing: “Glory to God in the Highest… peace to people of good will.”

 Peace to people of Good will, those God has chosen those who trust God, those who acknowledge him, the remnants, and his creatures, those he loves! That is, each and every one of us; all of us, you and I, men, women, children, our grandchildren, friends, family members, people of all walks of life; our parish community.

This joyful song of Gloria is also hidden in the first reading of today(Isaiah 62:1-5) where the prophet Isaiah says, no more shall other nations call a rebuilt Israel forsaken or consider a rebuilt Israel a desolate land of mockery. Rather, Christ long foretold by Isaiah delights in each and every one of us, the renewed Israel! He loves to see us do well. Christ cherishes our well-being. The sick, Christ wants to see you get well. Those who lost their jobs, Christ want you to get back to work- to find a job. To those who have experienced, Christ wants those misfortunes reversed, in the spirit of Christmas.

 Christmas refreshes and renews us in Christ, the source of life. Christmas brings us Jesus, a friend of the poor and of the rich. Christmas brings us Christ, lover of saints and sinners, a Messenger of hope, a Prince of Peace and a Prophet of reconciliation, especially in a divisive world of today; a world plagued with wobbling politics, isolationism and a broken economy. His birth requires a response from us!

One of those responses if I may suggest is found in Psalm 89, which invites us to constantly sing the goodness and the blessings of the Lord. Thanking God for all that he has done for us from creation’ for coming down in the person of his Son, in human form to be with us, to identify with us, humans, the family of God.

St. Paul, in Today’s Second (Acts of the Apostle) bears witness to Christ and acknowledges him as the King and Son of David. Even though Paul did this in Antioch in Pisidia thousands of Years ago, we can continue today to bear witness to Christ born for us today in our communities, homes, street corners, neighborhood, and office locations.

This becomes more urgent especially in the times we live in. There are some that cannot afford those envelops, stamps, candies and Christmas trees. I mean the poor. We have to reach out to them, like Pope Francis. We heard, he sneaks out from the Vatican at night to bring food to the poor and the homeless. There those who don’t have the peace that we have here in our nation. They are constantly at war and acts of division. Few weeks ago, Late Nelson Mandela of South Africa attracted 100s of world leaders to his funerals, while millions of us clued on our TV, because of what he stood for: peace, love, reconciliation, forgiveness, and unity. Christmas is a time we joyfully strive to celebrate these virtues.

 I am sure you are also aware that there some are working around the clock to take Christ out of Christmas. Some are even afraid to say publicly “Merry Christmas.” Other Christians are restricted to say “Happy Holiday” not “Merry Christmas,” in their work environment. I am sure you have also heard or read on the newspaper that not long ago a Middle School teacher at some place removed the name of Christ from some Christmas songs he/she taught to the children. We live in a challenging time, political maneuverings, economic hardships and religious pluralism.

Remember it was in a challenging moments like this that made the Evangelist Matthew and Luke to actually celebrate and tell the story of the human and divine origins of Christ. It was in a moment of trials that Saint stood up for the faith, and bore great witness, to Christ, the Son of David, born for us at Christmas.

Christmas, today invites us to do the same. Christmas, invites us to celebrate the birth of Christ, to be happy, to be human, to be hopeful, to be joyous, give and be given, be thankful for what God has done for us, but also time to appreciate and bear witness to our faith. It is a time of grace, peace, love, reconciliation, happiness given to us. As we celebrate we are encouraged to share these joy, grace and love of God with others, our family member. And we are encouraged to sing those Christmas Carols, particularly the one I began this reflection with:

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive the King; Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.!”

Reflection Questions:

1.     What does Christmas, todays vigil Mass reminds you of–our origins, place of family, importance of hope promised us?

2.     How do we convince other skeptical members of our faith communities that Christ is with us?

3.     Are we joyful and thankful for what God has done for– us always- by sharing God’s blessings with our neighbors?