This weekend we start another Liturgical New Year B. Advent has always been a happy time for most people. Even in this difficult time, there is something about Christmas and the coming of the Messiah - the Lord - the realization of all the promises that God has made to His people find their fulfilment in a stable, a little child. Our year of prayer will carry through the liturgical year. This rhythm and pattern are a blessing for us, providing a spiritual support for all the bits and pieces of daily living, during the different seasons. This progression keeps our lives grateful and centred on God.
We begin this season of Advent in a spirit of hope and expectation. During this time, we look forward not just to the birthday of Jesus at Bethlehem but also for His second coming at the end of time. Why are these four weeks before Christmas called “Advent”? The term comes from a Latin word “adventus” meaning ‘coming, arrival’. We immediately think it refers to the coming of Jesus at Christmas time and that is correct. But that is not the whole story. In fact, we can speak of three comings of the Lord. The coming of the Child Jesus in Bethlehem, which we anticipate and prepare for in these four weeks. That is what we may call the First Coming.
The Gospel speaks in ominous terms of the end of the world and what we refer to as the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of time.” Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come”. However, there is still a third coming which forms an important and indispensable link between the First and Second Comings. It is the welcoming of Jesus into our lives in the here and now. This is something which takes place every day – moment by moment. Through it we both acknowledge the First Coming of Jesus in Bethlehem and prepare for the Second Coming at an unknown future date. The Lord Jesus calls us to be alert and watchful for His coming. He comes to us each and every day and He knocks on the door of our heart and home. So listen for His voice and welcome Him into our life. Let His word in the Scriptures and the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us draw us to a deeper faith, hope, and yearning for His kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
On the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King. Next Sunday we will start a new year with the First Sunday in Advent. This weekend’s feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and is observed on this Sunday to help us to meditate on Christ the King and Lord. At the same time we can reflect on the Second and Final Coming of Christ, the last Judgment, and the end of the world. We anticipate the day when Christ will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, to establish His kingdom of everlasting happiness for those who are victorious in the battle of life. This feast was also instituted in order to promote the worship of Christ both in the privacy of our hearts, as well as publicly.
We acknowledge Jesus King of our lives by firstly making Jesus King of our minds as well as King of our actions. In everything we think and do and say let us listen to the voice of Jesus. We make Jesus King of our minds by rejecting thoughts or images from our minds that are not of Jesus and then filling our minds with what would please Jesus. As we fill our minds with the voice of Jesus instead of the voice of the secular world or Satan it will have an effect in our lives. Above all we listen to the voice of Jesus by celebrating the Sunday Eucharist together in our Churches. In all these ways that we listen to the voice of Jesus we make Him King of our lives.
So, let us pray today for the grace to be faithful servants of Jesus Christ our King. Nothing in our lives should be more important than Jesus Christ! Think about it this week: Nothing in our lives should be more important than Jesus Christ.
Christ conquers! Christ rules! Christ reigns!
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
As we approach the final weeks of the Church year, we read the last parable Jesus taught. It’s not only the final parable, but it is also one of the longest and most detailed. In this Gospel story, we hear about a man going away on a journey. He entrusts to his servants some possessions according to their ability. Those more capable are given more. The two who are more capable go out and double what they have been given. The third servant buried his talent to keep it safe but therefore it gained nothing. What we must realize, however, is that we are not talking about money and prestige. We are talking about God’s gift to us and God’s expectations. The basic teaching seems to tell us that we are to use everything that is given us in the best way possible - this is what God expects. All of us in the Church today have received at least one talent. We have received the gift of Faith. Our responsibility as a follower of Faith is not just to hold on to the Faith. Pope Francis encourages us to live our faith and not to bury it. And he reminds us, all the goods that we have received are to be shared with others, and thus they increase.
It is good for us to ask how we are increasing what God has given us. How do we share our faith, our joy, our hope and our love, our life with others? We need to make use of our talents at every opportunity. In addition to our homes and families, the best place to do this is in our parish, work situation and the wider community. This means that we should be always willing to share our abilities when we see a need - in creative worship in the Church liturgies and other parish activities. And let us remember time is more valuable than money. We can get more money, but we cannot get more time. Time is really the only capital that any human being has and the only thing that shouldn’t be wasted. Let us use our time effectively. God has given us talents. He trusts us to use them wisely. Let us decide how best to use our gifts for building the kingdom of God.
Congratulations and thanks....
I would like to extend my Congratulations to our boys and girls who received their First Holy Communion last weekend and those making their First Communion this weekend, in total 47 children. You have taken an important step in your journey of faith by readying yourselves to be fully initiated into the Body of Christ. I would like to offer a special word of thanks to all those who helped prepare the children for these special days. In particular, thank you to our parish sacramental coordinator Christine for coordinating. Thanks also to Lisa for her administrative support. And of course an enormous amount of credit needed to be given to our teachers for preparing the candidates so well, special thanks to David White, Megan Burke for the great work and wonderful contribution in preparing the children for this significant step in their faith journey and I remember everyone involved in this celebration. I thank the parents and family for your dedication in preparing the children and sharing your faith. Your efforts are much appreciated by the whole community of St. Mary Mackillop Catholic Parish.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
Our liturgical Year A is quickly drawing to a close. The Gospel this weekend is the story of the wise and foolish virgins. And our readings today remind us of our need to be awake. Vigilance is the underlying message in the parable of the ten virgins. This is not about good and evil. It is about being ready. Being alert. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins may be interpreted on many levels. The parables relate the different kinds of accountability required of Christians as we prepare for our encounter with Christ. It points us towards the end things, our final destination – to be with God when Christ comes again.
The Gospel invites us to have oil for our lamps, that is, to be always ready for the coming of the Lord. He appears in moments and ways we do not expect and at all times throughout our day. The foolish virgins failed to prepare for when and how the Lord would come to them, and so they were not ready. Often too we get caught up in incidentals and unimportant worries, and we can miss what is essential. Perhaps we miss the presence of Christ in the people around us, in the circumstances in which we are living, or fail to recognize Him in it, and miss the grace of the moment. We need to strengthen our faith and see how the Lord is active and present in our lives. Saint Augustine said, “Beware of the grace of God that passes and does not return.” We need to experience God’s presence in the little things of each day and never let the opportunity to love and serve Him pass us by. Our faith must be ready and watching for Him. If we take Him for granted, or presume that we are already saved, we can miss our chance to be with Him.
The lamp is Christian faith, while the oil represents our good works that we do in our life. This is why the wise virgins could not share their oil. I cannot borrow your relationship with God. The lamps are our hearts, while the oil for our lamps is the good values and good deeds that Jesus Christ teaches us to do. The ten virgins are all of us who are active in this world. The wise virgins are those of us who have heard, understood and practiced the teachings of Christ while the foolish virgins are those who may have become distracted from the teachings of Christ or understood but did not practice them.
What can help us in being vigilant and prepares for our own life now, is taking time to pray; taking time to talk with God. We need not make an appointment, God is always right here and right now.Blessings,
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
We are coming very near the end of the Church liturgical year. November is the month of remembrance. How appropriate, then, that the Catholic Church offers us the month of November, which begins with All Saints Day and All Souls Day. The Solemnity of All Saints this weekend reminds us of who we are and what a bright future can be ours. As we celebrate today all the saints, both those canonized and those who are unofficial, we are joyful that they have reached the goal of life, heaven. They remind us to keep our sights fixed high, to remember who we are and the glorious eternity that God offers us.
All Saints Day is also intended to honour the memory of countless unknown and uncanonised saints who have no feast days and be inspired by the faithful who have gone before us. Today we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith. This feast is observed to teach us to honour the saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and human. The feast gives us an opportunity to thank God for having invited so many of our ancestors to join the company of the saints. May our reflection on the heroic lives of the saints and the imitation of their lifestyle enable us to hear from our Lord the words of grand welcome to eternal bliss: “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joys of your master” (Mt 25:21). Today is also a day for us to pray to the saints, both the canonized and the uncanonised, asking them to pray on our behalf that we may live our lives in faithfulness like theirs, and so receive the same reward.
During November we pray for all of our loved ones and friends who have died. We hope and pray that all those near and dear to us who have departed are already or will be numbered among the saints and so we pray for them especially during this month. You are also invited to record the names of your deceased loved ones in the Book of Remembrance at the front of the Church. The Memorial Book with all the names will be placed on the front of the altar the whole month of November so that we can pray for everyone whose name is contained in the Book. There are also November mass envelopes provided on the back table if you wish to have a Mass celebrated for your loved ones and friends who have died.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen, May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
There is a story about a young girl who was in great distress because she had lost a sense of God in her life. She complained to her elderly grandmother, “Why doesn’t God let me feel His presence? If only I could feel Him and know that He has touched me.” Her grandmother said, “Pray to God, right now. Close your eyes and pray to him. Ask Him to put out his hand and touch you.” The girl closed her eyes and prayed fervently. Then she felt a hand on her hand. “He touched me. He touched me,” she cried out. Then she said, “You know, his hand felt just like your hand.” “Of course it was my hand,” her grandmother said. “That’s how God works. He takes the hand that is nearest and uses that.”
In this weekend’s Gospel Jesus underlines the principle that Love of God means putting Him first, respecting His Name and we are to love our neighbour as we love ourselves because both of us bear God’s image, and to honour God’s image is to honour Him. The love of God has priority and is our source of love for neighbour. In our neighbour we experience something of God, His image and likeness that encourages us to show respect for others, their relationships, their reputations, and their property.
The readings of today easily remind us how God expresses His love for us. Most of the time, God shows His love for us through the people around us. God’s love is there for all to share and we love God when we sincerely love our brothers and sisters. It is simply the commandment to love. It reaches out even to those who do not behave well or wish to hurt us.
However, God does not stop loving us and He constantly reaches out to our love. We are always certain that God’s love is offered to human persons and is never taken back. It comes in the sunset, in creation, in friendship, in our service to others, and in our desire to reconcile. God expects us to respond to this love through our gratitude to Him and express it in our loving service to our brothers and sisters.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
There is an old saying which goes, “Things never really change.” In today’s Gospel we discover that 2000 years ago people were discussing the same topics we discuss today, politics and religion. There are those who say one shouldn’t mix politics with religion but Jesus seems to indicate otherwise. He admits they are separate issues but also makes it clear that God must be considered and, as He has said in other situations, God’s laws are primary.
This discussion comes at a good time because in a few days we will be deciding for whom we will vote. Jesus is very clear in saying, “Repay to Caesar what it Caesar’s and repay to God what is God’s.” And so, the question arises, “what is due God?”......Sacraments, Ten Commandments etc.
When Jesus outlined the commandments He gave us an exact description of what is God’s. For example, He said, “Thou shalt not kill.” God is the giver of life and it is not the province of a government to determine who dies and who lives. Some politicians running for office are saying that the modern Caesar, our federal government, has the right to make that decision. But Jesus, in his remarks in the Gospel says “give to God what belongs to God......that’s life.” So, do we mix politics and our religion?
In the normal Jewish customs, an invitation to a great feast like a wedding feast, when sent out, the time was not stated. Only after everything was ready the servants were sent out with a final summons to tell the wedding guests to come. So then, the king in this parable had long ago sent out his invitations but it was not until everything was prepared that the final summons was issued and insultingly refused by the invited wedding guests. In today’s Gospel (Mt. 22, 1-14), we hear a parable about a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. Those invited did not come for so many reasons, so in the end the king allowed the gates of his kingdom to be opened to all, and his hall was filled with guests. Today’s Gospel reading is an invitation. Our Lord is inviting us to be with Him, to come to Him, to come to His Kingdom which is described like a wedding feast where people are with joyful faces and dressed in their best clothes. He invites us to be close to Him at all times.
If we are going to compare our Christian religion with Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and other world religions, in them it is the people who look for God, but in the case of Christianity, it is God who looks for us. This truth can be seen in some other parables of Jesus, where it is God who looks for the lost sheep and the lost coin. And so it is God who takes the first initiative for our salvation.
It’s October! Can you believe it? By tradition, the Catholic Church dedicates each month of the year to certain devotion. The month of October is dedicated to the holy Rosary, one of the best known of all Catholic devotions. October includes the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7th. The best way to celebrate the month is, of course, to pray the Rosary every day.
The Rosary will bring great peace and holiness to our life. Daily recitation of the Rosary will help us get to know our Mother better. By connected in a deeper way with Mary, we will in turn draw closer to Jesus. When we look at each mystery of the Rosary, we reflect upon different aspects of Jesus’ life through the eyes of His mother. Because the Rosary was given to us by Mary, it is very powerful. And of course, Our Lady of Fatima said, “Pray the Rosary daily.” There have been many miracles associated with praying the Rosary.
The Rosary is one of the most powerful weapons that we have against Satan. It will help to ward off temptations. Through Mary and her Magnificat, her “yes” to God, we had Our Lord Jesus Christ become flesh. Through Him we have our salvation, if we choose to accept it. This is how powerful the Rosary is. St. Francis de Sales, the great master of the spiritual life, wrote, “The greatest method of prayer is praying the Rosary.” St. John Paul the II said “With the Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and are led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary, the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer”. Pope Francis says “the Rosary is the prayer that always accompanies my life: it is also the prayer of simple people and saints...it is the prayer of my heart”.
Our Blessed Mother herself has asked us in her apparitions to pray the rosary daily for the conversion of sinners and of the world. As we pray it, we are not only praising the Blessed Virgin Mary with the words of the angel Gabriel but we are also petitioning the Father to hear us while at the same time we have the opportunity to reflect upon the events of the life of our Lord Jesus. Let us make a commitment to pray the Rosary every day – and keep it. The best way to celebrate the month of the Holy Rosary is, of course, to pray the rosary daily.
“THE FAMILY THAT PRAYS THE ROSARY TOGETHER, STAYS TOGETHER!”
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.