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“The Gift of His Name”

Matthew 1: 25: “And [Joseph] kept [Mary] a virgin until she gave birth to a son; and he called His Name Jesus.” What does this have to do with New Year’s Day? Nothing—in the Church, the new year began a month ago. While the Church has never celebrated New Year’s, it does, as a part of the twelve days of Christmas, celebrate the Holy Name of Jesus, which was given on His eighth day of life. Today’s readings, along with Philippians 2: 8-11 and John 16: 24, give us an idea of just how important this part of the Christmas message really is.

“The Gift of Visitation”

John 5: 13, 14a: “But he who was healed did not know Who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple …” The formerly lame man did not know Who Jesus was, for he had seen a lot of people come and go as he had been sitting impotently under his portico for the last thirty-eight years. But Jesus knew who he was, and went to find him twice, both in Bethesda and in the temple. This is the great story of Christmas: We didn’t know Jesus, but He knew us, and came to find us and restore our lives.

“The Gift of Prosperity”

3 John 2: “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” God is not against total prosperity; we just have to prioritize which form we pursue most. John says Gaius has already achieved prosperity in his soul; hence, good health and material prosperity can follow. And the path to a prosperous soul is walking in the truth: the truth of the Incarnation of Jesus, God’s Son, which this Christmas Season brings to us.

1st Sunday After Christmas Day

Divine Direction that Leads to Eternal Life Ships and aircraft are means of transportation that ferry passengers to their desired destination. A common instrument called a compass can be found at the control station of the ship (bridge) and cockpit (pilot's control room), to guide the navigators and pilots. Like these vessels that require a compass we, too, need God's guidance, His divine direction; so He must dwell in our hearts, that which dictates man's path in life. More than two thousand years ago God sent the Savior, apart from Whom we do not exist (John 1:3) and can do nothing (John 15:5). We must be connected to Him 24/7 in order to know where we are going. In today's Gospel Reading

First Sunday After Christmas Day: “Proclaiming Divine Direction”

Isaiah 63: 7 - 9 Psalm 148 Hebrews 2: 14-17 Matthew 2: 13-15; 19-23 All four Scriptures today have one thing in common that is mentioned: angels. Angels are a big part of the Christmas story. Last Sunday, our gospel had an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. In the gospel today, an angel appeared three more times to Joseph in a dream. Four times, it is told that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. We don’t see a lot of Joseph in the gospels. In Matthew, the nativity story is centered on Joseph, and his four dreams of which he dreamed, an angel gave him directions. Joseph seemed to be quite a dreamer. In the Old Testament, Joseph the Dreamer interpreted a lot of people’s dreams bu

1st Sunday after Christmas Day - Episode 5

Music and Musings is a weekly video podcast with Bishop Ariel to help us understand more and celebrate our Sunday Mass better with music and reflections for us to meditate with.

“No More Tears, No More Death”

Revelation 21: 4: “And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” How comforting it would have been for those parents of the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, whom we remember today, if this scripture had already been written then! But it is with us today, to comfort and encourage us all the more. Whomever you have lost, whatever the source of your mourning, tears, or pain, know that it is all only temporary. He Who sits on the throne is making all things new! (v. 5)

“True Wisdom”

Proverbs 8: 22: “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, from the first times of the earth.” St. John, whose Feast Day we celebrate today, wrote His Gospel in Greek to counteract the Greek philosophy prevalent in His day. They thought wisdom began with Aristotle, Plato, and the rest, but as King Solomon wrote even before their time, wisdom came from almighty God, and was subjected to Him. In fact, Christ became for us wisdom from God. (1 Corinthians 1: 30)

“Salvation Psalm”

Psalm 118: 13, 14: “You pushed me violently so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” So, this psalm means that, although men tried to stone St. Stephen, they failed and he escaped. No, that’s not the story in Acts 7. This means that, although they killed the body, the strength of Stephen’s heart, the song of his spirit, just like that of Jesus, was love and forgiveness for his persecutors. That spells salvation every time.

“Initiation of Propitiation”

1 John 4: 10: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Propitiation means a removal of whatever is causing a division. Man never thought of being made one with God; it seemed far too impossible. It was something only God could think of, and only God could do. When we say “God is love” this is what we mean: He loves us so much He did whatever it took (a lot) to make us one with Him again. This first Christmas gift is immeasurably the best!

“Dream On!”

Matthew 1: 20: “But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife …’” Long before he roasted his first chicken, Kenny Rogers was a singer. One of his popular songs had the line, “Don’t fall in love with a dreamer; he will only break your heart.” I beg to disagree. It was St. Joseph’s dream, plus the three more he had in chapter two, (vv. 13, 19, and 22) that saved the life of his infant son Jesus. Without these dreams, Jesus Christ would have never reached his third birthday. Here’s your real Joseph the Dreamer!

“In the Heart of the Beholder”

Titus 1: 15: “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled, and unbelieving, nothing is pure.” Two guests are watching a party game. One sees pelvic gyrations reminiscent of various sexual activities. The other sees two people trying to pop a balloon. Which spectator was of the pure heart, and which was defiled with evil mind and conscience? Your answer will say a lot about the nature of your faith in God.

Fourth Sunday of Advent: “Proclamation of Immanuel”

Isaiah 7: 10-17 Psalm 80: 1-7; 17-19 Romans 1: 1-7 Matthew 1:18-25 We are here to know God and to make Him known. For the four Sundays in Advent, we have used the Decalogue, which is the Ten Commandments, reminding us of God’s Law. There is pattern where the first four Laws are about our relationship with God; our worship. The rest of the Laws is about our relationship with our fellow-man; justice. Thus, Commandments are about worship and justice. It is cruciform – worship, which is vertical; and justice, which is horizontal. The Summary of the Law also has this pattern. Learn to worship and learn to do justice with our fellow man. Our Church’s vision has also this pattern. To know Go

Fourth Sunday of Advent

On the evening of December 17, my officemate and I were on a Makati-bound bus after a satisfying department Christmas dinner held at a Korean grill. We were seated on the fourth row behind the driver. My officemate was narrating to me how last week he almost fell victim to the “dura-dura” gang that was preying on public bus commuters. Two young men standing in the aisle caught my eye. They seemed to be crowding in on a lady passenger seated on the third row across from us as the bus halted to pick up passengers in front of Megamall. “Ano ba!” shrieked the young lady as the man pulled her hair. Then quickly the two young thieves got off the bus. “Yung cellphone ko!” she cried, as she hurriedl

4th Sunday of Advent - Episode 4

Music and Musings is a weekly video podcast with Bishop Ariel to help us understand more and celebrate our Sunday Mass better with music and reflections for us to meditate with.

“Tata for Now … and Forever!”

Matthew 25: 41: “Then He will say also to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” One more time this week we are reminded: At the Second Coming of Christ, it is not a good thing to be sent away. The Kingdom is final, it is complete, it is perfect. At His return Jesus Christ will add nothing to it, for nothing is missing, except the bodily resurrection of His saints. The Second Coming is about removing the residue of man’s old kingdom, once and for all. That’s it.

“Frosty Clean”

Psalm 51: 7: “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” Again this week we see the redemption of man, and the symbolism of creation lending a hand in his purification. Frosty the Snowman even makes a cameo appearance; I guess snow can, indeed, be a symbol of a Christian Christmas after all!

“One Team”

Revelation 4: 9, 10a: “And when the living creatures give honor and glory and thanks to Him Who sits on the throne, to Him Who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him Who sits on the throne ...” Much modern philosophy tries to pit creation (symbolized by John as the four living creatures) against mankind (symbolized by the elders). That’s not accurate. Mankind, part of creation, joins with creation in the worship and service of God; as does creation join mankind. The healing of this rift is one of the great results of Christ’s redemption of the world.

“Filthy, yet Cleansed”

Zechariah 3: 1, 3, 6, 7: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and satan standing at his right hand to accuse him … Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel … And the angel of the Lord admonished Joshua, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “if you will walk in My ways, and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house...” See God’s three actions here? (a) He rebuked the devil for accusing Joshua (b) He cleansed Joshua, who really needed it (c) He admonished Joshua. And through it all, Joshua got to stay in the Lord’s presence. Ask yourself: Where are you in this picture?

“Who’s Left Behind?”

Matthew 24: 39: “They did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” In the flood, who got taken away? The wicked. Who was left behind? Noah and crew (the good guys). So why do some people think that when Jesus comes, it’s reversed: the blessed are taken, and the cursed are left? Jesus says it will be the same when He comes back as in Noah’s day; evil taken away, blessed get to stay. Some of our popular theology needs some serious realignment.

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