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04.12.2022 — The Messiah’s Herald

Posted under Reflections on December 3rd, 2022 by

2nd Sunday of Advent – 04th December 2022 — Gospel: Mt 3, 1-12

The Messiah’s Herald

In all the four gospels, the narrative of Jesus’ ministry preface with an account of John the Baptist. John’s contemporaries viewed him as Jesus’ forerunner and the evangelists presented him as Jesus’ herald. John’s command to repent for the kingdom is same as Jesus’ opening proclamation in Galilee (3,7; 4,17). Similarly, the opponents are addressed by John and Jesus as “You brood of vipers” (3,7; 12,34; 23,33). In this way Matthew draws John and Jesus closer and subtly presents John as a witness to Jesus. In another sense, John seems to have proclaimed to his followers the immediate appearance of a human but supernaturally empowered Messiah (Mt 3,11) that recalls the anticipated Messiah of Is 11,1-5.

Though John and Jesus proclaim the same message, their missions are quite different. John is the forerunner, preparing for Jesus with a water baptism of repentance. Jesus will baptize with “the Holy Spirit and fire”. Both cleansing water and refining fire are prophetic images expressing the outpouring of God’s Spirit in the final age. This baptismal expression of Jesus’ work refers to his whole ministry of preaching, healing and forgiving. His ministry is like a harvester who separates the wheat from the chaff by tossing the harvested grain in the air with the winnowing fork. The righteous are like the good wheat gathered into the granary while the unrepentant are like the useless chaff to be swept up and burnt. In recalling the first coming of Jesus in humility, the season of advent focuses on the second coming of Christ as judge. God’s love that comes down at Christmas is remembered as a divine love that is fierce in its judgement of those who resist love’s demands. John the Baptist gives warning of that repentance, which must not be procrastinated.

03.12.2022 — Commissioned to Build His Kingdom

Posted under Reflections on December 2nd, 2022 by

1st Week of Advent, Saturday – 3rd December 2022 — Gospel:  Mt 9,35-10,1.5-8

Commissioned to build His Kingdom

Saint Francis Xavier, an apostle mad with Saint Paul’s madness, is a marvelous example of a great missionary, visionary and a prophet. The zeal he displayed, the novel methods he used, the wonderful miracles he performed, and the great number of souls he brought to the light of true faith, entitle him to this distinction. In a short span of ten years (1542-1552), he visited so many countries in South Asian region (India, Sri Lanka, Malacca and the Maluku Islands, Japan and China), traversed so many seas, preached the Gospel to so many nations, and converted so many peoples. He stands unique in his apostolic zeal since the time of the Apostles.

The summary of Jesus’ authoritative words and his authoritative deeds (9,35) prepare Jesus’ disciples to increasingly share in His mission (Mt 10). Jesus’ words proclaimed the kingdom and his deeds actualized the kingdom. The time for gathering God’s people into that kingdom has arrived, but there is a shortage of labourers. This need to mobilize workers for the harvest leads Jesus to commission the twelve disciples. The instructions to the twelve are twofold: the ministry of the Word demonstrated by the ministry of the deed. The disciples must proclaim the message that Jesus announced: “The kingdom of heaven has come near”; and they must do the deeds that Jesus performed: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons”. In this the apostles’ mission is directed to the “the lost sheep” of Israel in Jesus’ time and to “all the nations” after His resurrection.

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