Fr. Anit's Homily

A Christmas Message

“Today a Savior is Born for us…”

What a day of joy it is! We keep this day as a special day for us- a day of Christmas, we may say because of three things: God’s great love for us, God’s humility and God’s faithfulness. God loved us so much that he gave his only Son (Jn 3:16). This is what Christmas is basically about. However, we can only understand the whole meaning of Christmas as God choosing to be born into the world and become human like us except sin, if we are enlightened by our faith. It is only with faith that we can see Christ, the Lord, the God-Incarnate who come to be our joy, our hope, our happiness and our peace.

Only with faith, that we see Christ, our Messiah, as one who comes to build bridges not walls and to make us one despite our differences. It is only with faith that we appreciate more the truth that we are all members in the one family of God. With faith, we are assured that because of love God did not only come to tell us what to do, but really, he came and chose to be human like us in order to show us how to be truly human. Therefore, let us thank God for the gift of faith and thank God for loving us so much.

At Christmas, God humbles himself and becomes the sweet message for the poor, the lowly, the ignorant, and the poor shepherds. As the angel declares; “today in the town of David, a savior has been born to us- Christ the Lord.” God makes himself little and poor to make us precious, loved and rich in his mercy and grace. He chose to be born in a lowly manger to identify with us in our poverty and need for comfort and salvation. This is how beautiful our God is.
Christmas is also a time to remind us that God is always faithful to his promises. It might take time, even a very long time for the promise to be fulfilled but it will come. Many centuries ago, prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah, who is to come would be called Wonder-counselor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince of Peace, and he would serve as the light for the people who are walking in the dark.

And today, Isaiah would be rejoicing with the saints in heaven that his words came to its fulfillment in the birth of Jesus Christ. This just tells us that God really fulfils our wishes. In the time of the Old Testaments, as well as in the time of Isaiah, the people wished for a messiah. Now, in the New Testament, God has fulfilled this wish. The Messiah was born in a manger on that Christmas Night. That is what we are celebrating today.

And on this Christmas Jesus, the incarnated God of Love, Humility and Faithfulness needs our hearts as mangers to dwell and he stands at the doors of our hearts knocking, hoping that we will open our hearts to him. But he designed the door to our hearts with only one handle on it — on the inside. Only we can open it. He gave us complete freedom. Jesus is at the door of our hearts, right now, knocking. We need to open the door from the inside so that Jesus can come in.

Some of us have been keeping him outside the door, just like the inn-keepers more than two thousand years ago who never made enough room for him. Like the inn-keepers, some of us can reject Jesus saying, “Jesus, we don’t have room for you!” or “Jesus, we don’t have time for you!” We can get so caught up in the million-and-one things we think we “have” to do so that when we hear the knock on the door we just say, “No vacancy,” “my life is full,” “no room here,” “get out of here.”

Some of us, on the other hand, let him in the door. None of us would be here today if we had not at least responded somewhat to the invitation of God on this Christmas to let him in. But, let us be honest, too many of us let Jesus in, but only let him stay for a while in the living rooms of our lives, those parlors where everything is tidy, nice, and presentable. But Jesus does not want to remain just in our living rooms. He wants us to take him into all those rooms which we have locked, which are dark on the inside, which we have tried to hide from people for years.

We must remember that hearts swollen with pride cannot welcome him; Hearts in pursuit of power and pleasure cannot welcome him; Hearts hardened by materialism and possession and ownership cannot welcome him.

But I do know that currently, in this holy place, on this day, a group of people gather to celebrate someone who touches their lives. I do know that, in a world of hostility, there are people who profess peace. I do know that, in a world of prejudice, there are people who long to love each other because of our common humanity. I do know that, in a world of greed, there are people who believe in sharing.

Let us give thanks today for this God who loves us so much; who is humble and faithful to us. May that love, humility and faithfulness be in us, and through us may our world become more a place of acceptance and love; and forgiveness and sharing. May the Prince of peace and love, who was born in Bethlehem, in a manger, be born in the hearts of each and every one of us. May Infant Jesus bless us all. Amen

I wish you all, “Merry Christmas!!!”

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Septembe 17, 2023

Today is the twenty fourth Sunday of ordinary time. Last week, the church reminded us of the importance of reconciliation through fraternal dialogue and mutual love. Today she invites us to reflect on forgiveness. It is a very important element of reconciliation, and our Christian belief. It is the central message of today’s first and gospel readings.

There is a popular saying that to error is human, while to forgive is divine. That is to say, that the one who sins acts humanly. This is because it is part of our attributes as humans to error or to sin. On the other hand, the one who forgives acts divinely. This is because, to forgive is to participate in a very important attribute and nature of God. That is, His divinity. It is what our God is known for. “He is compassionate, merciful, love and He forgives” (Ps 102).

The first reading of today focuses on forgiveness. First, it reminds us that for our prayer to be answered, we must forgive others. Second, it presupposes that we are all sinners, in need of God’s forgiveness. So, for us to be forgiven, first, we must forgive others. Therefore, Sirac urges us: “Forgive your neighbor the hurt he does to you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.” This is a call to liberate others, in other to liberate and heal ourselves too.

In the second reading, Paul reminds us of something very important. “The life and death of each of us has its influence on the other.” Also, our ability to forgive has a great influence on the other, as well as, on ourselves. Hence, it is important to note that forgiveness has a double effect. It is a single dose medicine that cures one or many people at the same time. It liberates the one who is forgiven, as well as heals the one who forgives.

In the gospel, Christ takes forgiveness to a different and practical level. This unfolds in the dialogue between Peter and Christ. Peter asked a theoretical question: “How many times must I forgive my brother?” Jesus answered him in the most practical way: “seventy-seven times.” Christ’s response simply reminds us that Christian forgiveness does not have limits. We must forgive all, always and forever as the prayer of Sant Francis of Assis says: “Wherever there is injury, there is forgiveness.”

Hence, to demonstrate this, Jesus tells a parable about the kingdom of heaven. Let us reflect on how many times we have acted like wicked servants. He was forgiven a great debt, but he could not forgive his neighbor a little debt. He was set free, but he jailed his neighbor. The message of this parable is that we must treat others mercifully. We must forgive, because God forgives us every day. We must not always hold our neighbors to contempt. Rather, we must consider their situations as God considers our situation always. Jesus tells us to forgive all, and forever. What does it mean to forgive all and forever?

Forgiveness or to forgive someone is not forgetting the things or the person. It is more than that. It is to understand the person and realise the life situations. During Jesus’ sojourn on earth, he exhorted others to forgive. He lived this message in his personal life by realizing the lives of those who denied, betrayed, rejected, and persecuted him. During the most agonizing moments of his life, he prayed for his own executioners saying: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in mercy.” The Lord forgives the many sins that we commit against Him. The experience of the forgiveness of the Lord should enable us to forgive others from the heart. The parable of the unforgiving servant clarifies this point: Just as the master forgave the servant’s debt, the servant was obliged to forgive his fellow servant! In the same we should understand person whomever we need to forgive and realize their life situations and be merciful to them as our God is merciful to each one of us. Then we also will be blessed by Gods unconditional love and forgiveness.

Incident:

So, as we pray today at this Eucharistic celebration: “Forgive us our offences, as we forgive those who offend us,” let us ask God to help us to be true to these words, by living them practically. Amen.

May we, like our patron, St. Brendan, trust joyfully in the guidance of our God and in the goodness of our fellow travelers.