Sunday, December 29, 2019

Joseph's Dream and Child's Cry

The Feast of Holy Innocent Martyrs - Readings: 1 John 1:5—2:2; Matthew 2:13-18
The Killing of the Innocents by Herod (detail), Leon Cogniet ca.1824.

Listen to my Audio family (Preached in Jebel Ali Parish, Dubai)

- Olvin Veigas, SJ
28th December 2019 (13th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood)

Friday, December 27, 2019

God is Born among Us

Readings: Isaiah 52:7–10; Hebrews 1:1–6;  John 1:1–18
(The Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard von Honthorst, 15th Century)

A very happy Christmas to you all!

Today, we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord, Jesus. The great awaited day has come after a fruitful preparation of 'Advent'.   Saviour is born to all.  Jesus is amidst us, one among the humanity, shedding radiant light of heavenly presence here on earth. What a joy! What a peace! God's love is manifested very poignantly and permanently. 

This great feast of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity teaches us three things today.

Firstly, Christmas is a celebration of a historical but defining event in the history of the world. The darkness has gone out of our lives through the radiant light of the heavenly Son. We celebrate every year the same event but always with unique and eloquently loving fervour. By His coming, Jesus sanctified us, brought salvation to his forlorn and directionless humanity. May be the Jesus' birth was a simple event in a complex of world of his times, but the little baby in a Bethlehem created uproars  and tumult in the palace of Herod, awe among the shepherds who were keeping a close watch over their herds on the mountains and hills, brightness on the faces of magi of the East. For many still the brith of Jesus may be 'no' event at all, but in reality, this event still shakes up the powers of our rulers, riches of the haves and pride of the mighty. God shakes them up through His prophets and people.

Secondly, Christmas is the keeping the memory alive of that event of Christ's Incarnation in the world. The Son of God's entry into the messy world of human history opens up a new chapter for humanity. This calls us to keep this memory alive by meditating, reflecting and practicing what he preached. It's a call to follow him who was, who is and who will be.

Thirdly, Jesus is reborn in our hearts, homes, families, parishes and in the world today in concrete situations and particular places. Often, we are lost in the messy, complex and evil acts of this world, which threaten us to see Jesus alive and active; moreover, being born amidst us again and again.  There is too much strife, war, evil acts in the world leaving no room for God's mercy, compassion, tenderness, forgiveness, love, justice and peace. We are called to create a world of God here on earth by practicing God's mercy, tenderness, compassion, love, forgiveness, justice and peace. It is not the peace and justice that the world gives but that of God.  There is no peace without justice and no justice without love and forgiveness.  Perhaps we might be able to do our little mite as Christians, as brothers and sisters and as "friends of the Lord."

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

Christmas Day 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!

Christmas Wishes
(Art by Mark Rupnik, SJ)
With Christmas the long-awaited event has become real in the person of Jesus Christ, our saviour. He came and made his home among us. This happy news changed everything, including how we view our life and how best we can make of it. With Christmas the grandeur of God is manifested profoundly and poignantly. God’s coming into the world made a fresh start in the life of humanity. The carols and hymns that we sing during this time remind us again and again that we need not be afraid. All kinds of fear, anxiety, frustration, angst and discouragement is transformed into courage, strength and power because of Jesus’ arrival amidst us. This is a momentous time for all of us to start fresh and new in and with the Lord. 

Jesus came to sow peace. Perhaps, this peace is not the way we think about. Because His ways are not our ways. We do not think like God. However, Jesus asked his disciples to continue this project of peace, justice and truth against all odds. The Child of Bethlehem still attracts attention today by the gentleness and simplicity it embodies and bears testimony to. Probably, the vision of God for us and the entire humanity might be brightened one day wholly and completely. 

The sad and agonising part of today is that we see so much injustice, violence, and brokenness in our world, in our church, in our communities, and in our own hearts. At times, we might feel engulfed and overwhelmed by it all, unable to see, feel or react anything else, unable to envision any other reality. But God sees them all with His own eyes. God sees the possibility of transformation already present in our broken world and in our broken selves. God is present and at work here, now, inviting us to see and participate. Conversion and transformation is a response to God's call of love. This change happens when conversion and interior transformation take place. Through this process of a pilgrimage, we move closer to God. 

The story of Christmas is our story.  Christmas is the feast of God's love for us. It is a story of the celebration of life and life in abundance. So, let us celebrate life.  With Christ’s birth amidst us, we are called to celebrate life in everyday and every way. This happens by change in  our attitudes which show growth in our convictions and principles. St John Henry Newman said, "to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often."  Life of holiness and sanctification is ushered by Jesus and there is no looking back. We walk with Christ and Christ will show us the way, truth and life. This life which is unique and essential in the sight of God will give us a new meaning and moment.  

A Christmas Prayer
Jesus, the Light of the World, as we celebrate your birth, may we begin to see the world in the light of the understanding you give us. As you chose the lowly, the outcasts, and the poor to receive the greatest news the world had ever known, so may we worship you in meekness of heart. May we also remember our brothers and sisters less fortunate than ourselves in this season of giving. Amen.

Merry Christmas; Happy and grace-filled New Year 2020!

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

24th December 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christian Hashtag of God is with Us

4th Sunday of Advent - Readings:Isaiah 7:10–14; Romans 1:1–7; Matthew 1:18–24
(CG Christmas Program 2019)

From our conception to resurrection and our life in God in eternity, we the Christians carry a hashtag called "God-is-with-us." All the three readings of today bring us closer to Christmas. The readings also remind us that how much God loves us. He has not left us alone but accompanies us always. The symbol of his love for us is shown through His coming into the world in the person of Jesus. This great historical and salvific event changed the whole world and we can put it as the second most important event since the creation. 

There are three things which are incredibly significant for us with this Christian hashtag of God is with us.
Firstly, God comes to us in a mysterious but particular way. "God is with us" communique comes to us from God's people or His angels. In today's reading it is Angel Gabriel. Joseph is awakened in a dream by the messenger of God and tells him that he cannot leave Mary, his betrothed wife because she has conceived already by the Holy Spirit. Joseph has a terrifying dream but a promising plan in that moment of great desolation, disappointment and frustration. Dreams are very important. A person without a dream and a nation without a vision is doomed to perish. God comes to us in our unexpected times. God gives strength in those trying and confusing and complex moments of Joseph, because God knows how best to help the person in such moments. God is present in his desolation, in his disappointments, and in his discouragement.

In our Christian living, we become part of God's life through our baptism. This mark of our baptismal sacrament unites us with God with a very special bond. We accept Jesus as our saviour and Lord. Through the fount of baptism, we begin to receive other sacraments in our life as a symbol that God is with us. This allows us to move, live and have our being in God.

Secondly, Mary's openness to God is total and complete. Mary is a woman of the present; a woman of the moment. She is not bothered about the past or the future. Past is gone, future is uncertain but what is available now is present. But she is ready now. God comes to her in her readiness. "Let thy will be done." Mary takes up the challenge. In her openness, in her readiness, God comes to her. Thus  the sense of "God is with us" becomes totally true in her life. She is blessed with the child of God, Immanuel, God-is-with-us. In other words, God comes to us in our readiness, in our present moment. In whatever work we do let our mantra be like Mary, the Theotokosfiat voluntas tua, - "let Thy will be done".

Thirdly, call to holiness. St Paul, in his letter to the Romans tells us that our God is holy. Through our life of holiness we encounter God. We see that God is with us. Through his power of the Holy Spirit, he is proclaimed in holiness. All of us receive that grace of faith and holiness because we carry with us Jesus, the name of Immanuel each and every moment of our life. However, we need to live that life of holiness everyday and each and every moment of our life in faith and practice. Only then, God becomes truly present, i.e. God-is-with-us.

Happy Advent!

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

22nd December 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Historicity and Immanence in the Coming of Jesus Christ

Nativity, by Brian Kershisnik, modern.

The historicity surrounding the coming of Jesus Christ into this world is immense and fascinating. The Bible speaks about coming of Jesus into the human world through the writings of Prophets from Isaiah to Malachi, from Daniel to John the Baptist and Gospels. Interestingly, the mystery surrounding God coming in the human form is foretold through visions, dreams, prophesies, imaginary explanations with artistic descriptions, and colourful explanations.
Firstly, what makes Christ and his coming into the world as a human person is that once the fulfilment of these prophesies did historically take place in the person of Jesus Christ all the prophesies cease in Israel. No more prophets after John the Baptist speak about the harbinger of the Good News from above. Everything ends with Christ. All the prophesies of the Old Testament end in and with Christ.

Secondly, what makes the Jesus' entry into the world strikingly noticeable and unique is that it is a historical fact. Even the secular history and literature took note of this event. In other words, non-Jewish literature made mention of it. How is it possible? For a human mind many things are possible!

Tacitus speaking for the ancient Romans, says, "People were generally persuaded in the faith of the ancient prophecies, that the East was to prevail, and that from Judea was to come the Master and Ruler of the world."

Suetonius in his account of the life of Vespasian, recounts the Roman tradition thus, "It was an old and constant belief throughout the East, that by indubitably certain prophecies, the Jews were to attain the highest power."

China, then called as the Celestial Empire in its Annals described that the great Wise Man would be born in the West. "In the 24th year of Tchao-Wang of the dynasty of the Tcheou, on the 8th day of the 4th moon, a light appeared in the South-west which illumined the king's palace. The monarch, struck by its splendour, interrogated the sages. They showed him books in which this prodigy signified the appearance of the great Saint of the West whose religion was to be introduced into their country." 

The Greek Aeschylus in his Prometheus six centuries before Christ's coming wrote: "Look not for any end, moreover, to this curse until God appears, to accept upon His Head the pangs of thy own sins vicarious."

Probably, the prophesies of Daniel must have made a good publicity during those times. Because of their fascinating imaginations and illuminating insights and wisdom. Often oracles and visions kept afloat the hopes of people in trying times especially in times of wars, diseases and natural disasters. 

The well-known Roman literary figure Cicero citing Sibyls and other ancient oracles and sayings notes that of a "King whom we must recognise to be saved," asks with expectation, "To what man and to what period of time do these predications point?"

The Fourth Eclogue of Virgil prefigures above tradition and speaks about a "chaste woman, smiling on her infant boy, with whom the iron age would pass away." 

There were rumours at that time and Romans were deeply fearful and worried about the possible coming of a king who would rule the world. And Suetonius quotes a contemporary author to this effect. Therefore, the Romans ordered all children born that year to be killed - an order that was not fulfilled, except by Herod.

If Jews were expecting birth of a Messiah, Great King like David, a Wise man and a Saviour, the Greek philosophers, Socrates and Plato spoke of the Logos and of the Universal Wise Man "yet to come." Confucius spoke of "the Saint"; the Sibyls, of a "Universal King"; the Greek dramatist, of a saviour and redeemer to unloose man from the "primal eldest curse." Even the Gentiles,  the non-Jews had a longing for a deliverer and redeemer. This very fact distinguishes Jesus from all other religious leaders and founders.

Thirdly, once Jesus makes an entry into the world the secular history is split into two; dividing it into two periods: one, before His coming - BC, the other, after it - AD (Anno Domini - "In the year of our Lord").  No other world religious leader or founder did not do this.

Fourthly, Christ's life and death set a new meaning and understanding. The story of every human life begins with birth and ends with death. In the Person of Christ, however, it was His death that was first and His life that was last. Christ's death spoke stronger than life. Every other religious leader or founder came into this world came into it to live but Christ came into it to die. Death interrupted teachings of Socrates. But in Jesus, all his actions, teachings are intelligible only with reference to his death. Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity has its fulfilment and meaning only in His Resurrection which happens only after death - death on the cross. (Source: Fulton J Sheen, Life of Christ, 17-21)

The synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Luke give us the genealogy of Jesus, which is full of flesh and blood, power and glory. Luke recounts very vividly the times of Jesus with historical figures who ruled his territory. Perhaps, the historicity surrounding the birth of Jesus is not only astoundingly meaningful but also powerful because Jesus lives in history, in the history of humanity, in the lives of men and women of this world, now and forever inasmuch as he is Emmanuel: God-is-with-us.

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

19th December 2019

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Jesus: God's Self-Communication to the Humanity

02nd Sunday of Advent - Readings: Isaiah 11:1–10; Romans 15:4–9; Matthew 3:1–12
(St. John the Baptist Preaching, Mattia Preti, c. 1665)

The readings of the second Sunday of Advent admonish us that repentance is an essential dimension in encountering God. Only through repentance, we will receive the grace to meet the Lord.

The whole season of Advent or Christmas could be summarised in one word, i.e, "Communication." It is God's communication with the humanity. In the words of Jesuit theologian Fr Karl Rahner (1904-1984), God becoming human is God's utter self-communication with the humanity. In German, Selbstmitteilung Gottes in Jesus Christ.

Down the centuries, God communicated with the humanity through various people. With Noah with a covenant, to the Patriarchs Abraham, Issac and Jacob through promises and later God communicated through his judges and prophets.  God communicated with the humanity through promises and covenants saying that He is with them, loves them, cares for them and wants them. Finally, God spoke to the humanity though his own person, the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. 

In this context Prophet Isaiah speaks of a new beginning which would happen with the coming of the Lord, a reconciliation between the two opposing parties, among the enemies, in other words, a total surrender in front of the Messiah, the Saviour. God's self-communication would be strong and powerful, divine and undestroyable, unthinkable and never thought of. 

God's self-communication happens in three ways: Historical, simple and direct. 

Firstly, God comes in our midst in a historical setting. Thus our history becomes His history. He comes in a particular moment of history. As a result, our life sanctified. Our life in this historical juncture has a place in God; has a meaning. 

Secondly, God's self-communication in Jesus Christ happens in a very simple way. A simple virgin from Nazareth is chosen for this task. She is Anawim, the servant of God. She accepts God's plan by promising to Angel Gabriel with the words, Fiat voluntas tua, "May Thy will be done." Even birth of Jesus happens in a very simple circumstances, on a manger. There is no preparation, no solemnity here.

Thirdly, God's self-communication happens in a direct way. It is God's initiative. God allows himself to come into the world directly. Thus Second Person of the Trinity takes charge upon himself and comes in our midst, in our form.  God's direct intervention with the humanity tells us that how much God loves us, how much God thinks about us.

In the Gospel reading of today, God's great communicator to the humanity is John the Baptist. A voice in the wilderness, he is a man of God, a fearless voice of God. Living a very austere, ascetic life, he ascends into God's mind in bringing His message of repentance, forgiveness, healing and encounter with the living God. John the Baptist's life tells us many things especially how well we can accept God's self-communication in our lives. Through the greatest prophets of all time, according to Jesus, John the Baptist as a percursor, helps us to understand that we are called to be simple, straightforward in our dealings, humble and meek in front of the Eternal Truth and always be ready to speak for God and His humanity when values of God's Kingdom are threatened or not followed. 

The humility of John, the last and greatest of the prophets of the old dispensation tells us that he is not worthy to untie even the Lord’s sandals. John's devotion to the Lord is immense and huge. John, through his humility prepares the way of the Lord. 

There might be times when God seems to be according to St Augustine Deus absocondibus, absence of God. Perhaps we have experienced or felt a hidden God, absconding God; a God, who is not bothered about us. However, that is not our God. He is there and we have missed him. We have messed up with our God. He is ready to embrace as his beloved sons and daughters. John the Baptist today, points out at that just and loving God. 

Therefore, let us look at our Saviour; let us trust in God’s mercy. This means being humble, open to God’s Word like St. John the Baptist. It means loving our neighbour, and working to create, with the help of God’s grace, the new creation of love, integrity and peace. It means valuing the marginalised, rejecting false ideologies, and seeking the Truth.

Merciful God,
You sent John the Baptist to preach repentance.
Forgive us for the times when we have done wrong,
when we have hurt other people
and damaged our earth.
Lead us to make a change, to live differently,
preparing a way and making your paths straight.

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

08 December 2019

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

St Francis Xavier: An Incredible Man between Universality and Particularity

(Peter Paul Rubens 1577-1644 The Miracles of St. Francis Xavier)
Today, the 03rd of December the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St Francis Xavier (1506-1552). He is the patron of Catholic Church in India and its Missions.  The Jesuits in India have named their institutions in larger number with Xavier than Loyola who is their founder. Xavier’s popularity is immense and adorable because of the person he was and his significant work in making Jesus Christ known in the continent of Asia. 

St Francis Xavier is incredibly a fascinating figure among the saints the reformation period ever produced.  He had a short life of 46 years, that too only 10 years as a missionary.  He was such a successful missionary because of one reason; he had only one experience that is a deeper encounter with God. He came to know Christ very profoundly when he did the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. The repeated words of Ignatius of Loyola who was Xavier’s roommate while studying in Sorbonne University in Paris made a difference infinitely: “For what shall profit a man, if he gains the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mathew 16:26.)

Perhaps, we could learn at least three significant things from the life of St Francis Xavier.
Firstly, Xavier’s incredible fascination for the person of Jesus and his Church. Often it is cited that after St Paul, Francis Xavier should be considered as the most successful missionary among the non-Jews. Barely 43 years after the arrival of Vasco de Gama - the founder of sea route to India from Europe - Xavier found himself on the shores of India at the young and vibrate age of 36 years. Coming from a formidable rich and noble family of Xaviers’ in Navarre (His family home and castle is still intact even today in Spain), he was ready to eat the spicy food, live and work in tropical climate of Asia without any difficulty. His labour of evangelization brought to Christ hundreds and thousands of souls. Often, it is quoted that at the end of the day he had absolute no energy to raise even his shoulders as he had exhausted his strength in baptizing people both young and old.  

Today, we religious nuns and priests go though a long modern spiritual and human formation with a wide variety experiences like village experience, hospital experience, earn and live experience, slum experience, and in recent years regional juniorate, regional theologates, etc. Thus hoping that our formation will be holistic and wholesome and we would be able to speak the language of the people. In fact, the formatters believe that these experiences would make the formees who would be future torchbearers of Christ more effective and efficacious. Probably, we should think very critically whether such a formation has helped in anyway better to walk the talk of Jesus our Lord and master, without a deeper encounter with our Lord. 
Secondly, Xavier was a man with a great mind. Coming from a highly educated culture of his time, Xavier should have landed in the jobs of Catholic hierarchy like bishop or cardinal. That is what people did in his time as carrier in the church after studying in prestigious universities. In fact there were very few such universities in Europe like Bologna, Sorbonne, Oxford, Heidelberg and Padua. (You may read the kind of education Xavier went through here) Instead of getting stuck in Europe and in its priestly aristocracy, Xavier found his karma bhumi in a far away country India, later on the shores of Indonesia, Japan and China. Interestingly, the teachers in Sorbonne had groomed Xavier as heir to the faculty of Divinity. Young student Xavier was so good in his studies, he gave tuition to Ignatius of Loyola who had practical difficulties in mastering erudite Latin as he was already in his late 30’s. 

Today, in our world in general and in our church in particular, careerism seems to be the encouraging factor in the life of clerics and religious beginning with their religious orders or congregations and dioceses. Longing for power and prestige overtly or covertly could be noticed very vividly. Unfortunately many tainted guys seem to be taking the places of positions and authority in our church. The recent scandals involving many bishops, priests, nuns and even consecrated lay people support already burglary attitude in our church.  Only a good and sound mind would produce good and holy ideas and actions.
Thirdly, Francis Xavier put people first in his ministry as a priest and religious. Writing to Ignatius of Loyola, who was Xavier’s superior, Francis famously noted, “it often comes into my mind to go round all the Universities of Europe, and especially that of Paris, crying out everywhere like a madman, and saying to all the learned men there whose learning is so much greater than their charity, "Ah! what a multitude of souls is through your fault shut out of heaven and falling into hell!" Would to God that these men who labor so much in gaining knowledge would give as much thought to the account they must one day give to God of the use they have made of their learning and of the talents entrusted to them! . . .” (Letter from India, to the Society of Jesus at Rome, 1543) 

As the first provincial of Jesuits in India, Francis Xavier spent hardly any time in Goa, instead he was out in the field. Out of his 10 years in Asia (1542-1552), he must have spent a large part of his life probably 7 years in the seas, travelling from one place to another.  He never bothered about his position, either as scholar or intellectual, or provincial or papal delegate. Xavier was one among the people with a bell in one hand and Crucifix in another giving out the message of Jesus. He had no protocols, no garlanding, no reading of honourary letters in the missions or churches. Every minute that he had was spent for the people. He didn’t even have time to write letters to Ignaitus his boss in Rome. Often Ignatius admonished his brother to write to him about what was going on in the mission field. 

Today, we are stuck with protocols here in India especially in our churches, orders and congregations. Everything has to be moved according to the protocols beginning with the bishop to a sacristan in our parish. As Pope Francis said in his Chrism homily in 2013, often we have become managers or functionaries, perhaps managers of our schools, colleges and hospitals. Odour of the sheep has remained just out there in sheep sheds. How many of our bishops visit the families, sick people’s homes during the pastoral visit to the parishes? Could we stop garlanding, shawling our bishops, provincials and reading long honorary letters instead they could spend their time listening to our parishners, the problems that they are going through? 

One of the beautiful things that our four Catholic bishops in Russia do is not to follow any protocols. There is no garlanding, shawling, or reading letters of honour. Life is tough there. We should think about Xavier in us. So that, we move beyond those protocols. Unnecessarily we have complicated our lives in a complicated world. Perhaps we have to blame our lay people too in this regard as we have made the bishops and clergy habituated to this redundant middle age practices. Jesus’ life was simple. Let the simplicity and sobriety of Xavier be ours too. Thus we could be effective instruments in the vineyard of our Lord.    

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

03 December 2019
Feast of St Francis Xavier

Monday, December 2, 2019

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

(Photo courtesy: Jean-Mark Arkalian)
“You too must stand ready because the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  Matthew 24:37-44

This year, on 01st of December we begin our countdown to Christmas, and we are reminded that this season is not just time to prepare for celebrating Christ’s birth.  Instead, we are pointed to wait in hope and expectation for Christ who is to come.  Gladly, God does not stop surprising us through his Son. 

As Advent starts on Sunday and a new liturgical year, we hasten to begin a fresh new year by waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ, who will manifest himself to us just like us taking the form of a human person. 

Even though we do not know the day or the hour, we are told we must stand ready and waiting, so that we are not caught unprepared.  

With this beginning of the Season of Advent – a beautiful season when we prepare ourselves to celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas, our hearts should be full of positive expectations.  But we also need to prepare ourselves, really question ourselves, about whether we’re ready for the coming of Christ in Judgement at the end of the world.  

Over the next few weeks, our readings will focus on the longings of the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah through our readings from the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel readings surrounding the birth of Jesus. A number of readings, like this weekend’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew, are the stories which Jesus tells about the end of the world.

The liturgy of Advent is a school in which we learn to listen and to wait with expectation and with hope.

§ We learn that God encounters human history and sanctifies it by His life, death and resurrection.  So time, history has a meaning and our life is significant in God's plan.

§ God does not abandon us or our world but continues to live in it with patience with great simplicity and sobriety. Thus calling us to a new life of the Kingdom where joy of peace, truth and justice are possible.

§ Advent allows us to enter into the deeper meaning of the reality of life, suffering, despair, pain, loneliness, powerlessness and so on and so forth. All these find their fullest expression when we realise that our Saviour is with us "Emmanuel". God never lets us down.

§ With its incredible power of hope, Advent opens ourselves to greater and newer possibilities. By renewing our life in the Holy Spirit, the Lord remains in our time and for all time, thus assisting us in carrying the message of our Saviour to our brothers, sisters and creation.  In other words, God comes to us in our misery and need, in truth and love, thus the second person of the Trinity should become man to the humanity.

§ Among the graces of Advent is openness and humility. These give us the freedom to learn how we can best serve, "our Lord who has become man, for me." (Sp. Ex. §104)  

A few things might help us in this Advent Season:
± We can show this readiness to welcome Christ in how we welcome others.  
± By reaching out to our sisters and brothers when they are in need. 
± By standing alongside them and working with them to build a better future.  
± By supporting those who are vulnerable because of their age, illness or poverty. 
± And by ensuring that all people feel valued, respected, safe and loved.

Eternal God,
you will come when we do not expect you.  
Help us to welcome you now in one another,  
to reach out to our sisters and brothers,
who are in need of care and support.
And in this way may we be found ready,
when you come again in glory.  

O Wisdom, Lord and Ruler, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Rising Sun, King of the Nations, Emmanuel, Come, Lord Jesus.

A happy Advent to you!

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

01 December 2019

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Advent: Waiting with Joyful Hope

01st Sunday of Advent - Readings: Isaiah 2:1–5; Romans 13:11–14: Matthew 24:37–44

The readings for the first Sunday of Advent are very enriching. They are full of joyful hope, waiting for a future which is certain only in God. 

Prophet Isaiah is a good example of the kind of hope that flows when our vision has been touched by God. Isaiah preaches to his people who are forlorn, tiered of waiting for liberation. Despair and desolation was in abundance among his flock. Century after century of subjugation had lead the people to disown their God of ancestors. Instead, Isaiah is full of hope. Isaiah trusted in the Lord so strongly no words of discouragement would lead him to abandon his God. He sees the fingerprints of God and the subtle movements of God’s Spirit. Isaiah recognised that his nation’s sufferings were not meaningless but a key part in God’s plan for the salvation of the world. However, the present might be distressing and painful, he could see a bigger picture. Isaiah had hope.

"In the days to come the mountain of the Temple of the Lord shall tower above the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills. All the nations will stream to it. …………He will wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war. O House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord."

St Paul in his letter to the Christians in Rome encourages them to live their life fully according to their new covanent of love. Through their baptism they have become children of light. Therefore, St. Paul summoned them to rise from their slumber:

"You must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were first converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon."

And in our Gospel reading Jesus commands us: "Stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming." The persecutions, sufferings have meaning only when we put our trust in our Lord. Every Christian is called to dream, to dream about God. 

Keeping our sight on God we must move on that road that leads us to light out of darkness. We are invited as we begin this new liturgical year to leave behind the works of darkness, and all that stops us from reaching to God. We shall strive to be part of that new world order founded on the principles and dynamism of our Lord Jesus Christ, where the Holy Spirit bestows on us with his plentiful gifts and graces. May we be truly children of hope. 

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

1st December 2019