Deacon Donnie Geaga from the San Bernardino Filipino Cursillo Movement has kindly shared his homily for today’s Mass on the 2nd Sunday of Advent, and also a talk titled, “Portrait of a Servant”, that he gave at a retreat for leaders in Filipino Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino. As usual, his talks are thoughtfully written, insightful, and well worth reading by all in our Cursillo communities. You will find them attached to this email. Please feel free to forward them to your family and friends. Thank you, Deacon Donnie, for sharing them with us.
Congratulations and thank you to the members of the San Francisco Filipino Cursillo Movement who collected $1,010 during their November 23, 2013 Ultreya to be sent to Catholic Relief Services to aid our brethren in the Philippines who were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. While they are no longer in the news, medical aid and reconstruction efforts will be a long-term project. Please keep the typhoon victims in your prayers and remember to provide them with financial and material support throughout the coming new year.
Homily on Repentance for Our Advent Preparation
Sunday of Advent, “A”, Is 11:1-10, Rm15:4-9, Mt 3:1-12 12.08.2013
I Introduction Today is the second Sunday of Advent and we are about 2 ½ weeks from Christmas, the birth of Our Lord Jesus. But first, let us focus on the word “Advent”. What does “Advent” really mean to each one of us? How does it help us prepare for the coming of Christ?
Advent is a time of eager anticipation. We are awaiting and preparing for the arrival of Jesus not only in our families and communities, but also more importantly, in our hearts. However, nowadays, this is the hardest thing to do. There is so much urgency even in the little and non-essential things in our lives. We all dread waiting- we hate waiting in lines in the grocery, in the malls, and absolutely hate waiting for the red light to change to green. We get impatient when our children do not get it, when our co-workers cannot get the work done in our time. We are frustrated when a loved one is not healed of their illness and we even get impatient with God when our personal petitions are not answered as soon as we verbalize it to Him . We just do not have the time to wait. This is the road that is least travelled.
II The Need for Repentance In today’s Gospel of Matthew – John the Baptist is challenging us to change our ways. He challenged the people to go down to the river Jordan, to repent for their sins and be baptized by immersing them in the waters of the river Jordan. Water was so significant during the time of the old testament, years before the time of Christ . If you remember in the Old Testament, Naaman was cured of his leprosy by being immersed in the waters of the river Jordan seven times. The Israelites were saved from the onslaught of the Egyptian army when Moses parted the waters of the Red Sea and the people were freed from the bondage of slavery in Egypt.
In this gospel however, John was not baptizing Gentiles who were converting to Judaism rather he was baptizing the Jews. So he was telling them that being a Jew and claiming that they are descendants of Abraham, is not enough. They had to be completely purified again by the water if they are to enjoy the redemption being offered by God.
All this work for God in the desert and around the River Jordan made John the Baptist popular and the most sought-after preacher of God. But he did not take advantage of his popularity, nor did he attempt to mislead the people. By their confessing their sins and being baptized into God’s life and grace, he was actually preparing them to be ready to commune with someone who was greater than him who was yet to come. He was humble enough to admit that he was not worthy to even untie the thongs of his sandal. And we all know that that someone is Jesus Christ himself. So today, he is reminding us that being just a Christian is not enough. We need to be baptized or cleansed by the waters of repentance and repentance needs a total change of mind and heart and turning our lives over to God.
III What Christmas is really all about This season of Advent which is preparing for the arrival of Christ, is more than just putting up the lights and getting all our presents wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree. Most if not all of us, were caught in the frenzy of the Black Friday/Thursday Sales - madness. Malls and shops creatively lured the buying public with their hard-to-resist discount sales. Christmas songs fill the air waves, home and office parties are arranged, home-made delicacies prepared and thoughts of time together with family and loved ones fill our hopes and imagination. All of these are good, bringing us closer to one another.
But in all this mad frenzy, aren’t we forgetting something or someone who is actually celebrating his birthday which is the “reason for the season”? Do we need to be reminded, as John the Baptist did, of the gifts that we can offer to the birth celebrant himself-Jesus Christ?
My dear friends, the greatest gift or gifts that we can offer to Him is the gift of ourselves and
the gift of our time with Him and how we can share our stories of Him with others.
Therefore, this is the season of cleansing and purifying our lives so that when Christ comes, our hearts are worthy and ready for Him to dwell in us. The first coming of Christ in Christmas has a lot of lessons for us. Christ did not choose recognition and adulation for His birth. Rather, He chose silence and poverty. He chose a cave and a manger as his place of birth, far from the glare of city lights. His birth was announced to poor shepherds in the hills, not to kings . The word incarnate- the second person of the Holy Trinity, chose to be laid in the manger of poor repentant hearts who prepared for His coming. This, is the message of John the Baptist.
IV Conclusion Brothers and Sisters, may this be our prayer for Advent: “Lord, we thank you for the
John the Baptist that spoke to us and is still speaking to us in our wilderness so that we may
rethink and re-evaluate our lives so that it reflects the life that You intended it to be. Lord, we thank you for those who bring the gospel message- which is the message of hope and joy which the birth of Jesus brings. Thank you for making us people of Hope.
Lord, thank you for sending us people like Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis I- people who have worked and are working tirelessly for reconciliation and forgiveness so that peoples’ lives are transformed that they become agents of change in their environment.
But most of all Lord, thank you for loving us and forgiving us, even when we are so unworthy to be loved and forgiven. You never tire of waiting for us - to receive you in our hearts and in our lives. In the precious name of your son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we pray . Amen”.