Fourth Gift


December 19, 2017

First reading                          Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a

There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,
whose name was Manoah. 
His wife was barren and had borne no children. 
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
"Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son. 
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb. 
It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel
from the power of the Philistines."

The woman went and told her husband,
"A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed. 
I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. 
But he said to me,
'You will be with child and will bear a son. 
So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. 
For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb,
until the day of his death.'"

The woman bore a son and named him Samson. 
The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him;
the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Psalm                                    Psalm 71:3-4A,5-6AB, 16-17



My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!



Gospel                                 Luke 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth. 
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. 
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years. 

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division's turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. 
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense. 
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. 

But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard. 
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John. 
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. 
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. 
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God. 
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord." 

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
"How shall I know this? 
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." 
And the angel said to him in reply,
"I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. 
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time."
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. 
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. 
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. 

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
"So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others."

Reflection

Put All Your Trust in God
By Fely C. Santiago

“Do not be afraid, because your prayer has been heard”

It is so easy to get caught up with this world with all its worries, anxieties, despair, fear, and all kinds of challenges. Yes, we live in a very troubled world. It’s so hard to be at peace. But the Lord is reminding us to stay in faith and put all our trust in Him. We always read this in the Bible “Be not afraid”, “Do not be afraid”, “Do not fear.” Jesus often opens His greetings to His disciples this way. Because, just like us, they were always afraid. And like them, we always think of so many “what ifs”. What if I lose my job? What if I get sick? What if I meet an accident? What if, what if…

We really need a lot of faith. This has been my everyday prayer as well that God will continue to increase my faith and trust in Him. Just think about Zechariah. He and his wife Elizabeth have been praying to have a child, but when the time came for that to happen he couldn’t believe it because he was so focused at the fact that they are already in their old age. It takes a lot of faith to believe that God can perform miracles. He can defy nature! That’s exactly what He did to Elizabeth and Zechariah. Even in their old age He answered their prayers to have a child.

So, let us continue to trust God. Between our trials and triumph is trust. When we are so down with many trials in our lives, we can never think that we will ever reach our goals, our destination, our success. But trials prepare us for our triumph if we stay in faith. God never fails us. Believe in God’s promises. Believe that God will reveal His plans that we can’t yet see. In Jeremiah 29:11 it says: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future”. In John 10:10 it says: “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full”. We have a big God. We are His children. So be not afraid. Let us put all our TRUST in Him.

As we celebrate the Year of the Clergy and Religious in the Philippines, let us stay in faith that more people will answer the call of God to the Sacrament of Holy Orders. It’s so scary to think that one day there will be no more priests to say Mass every day! Or no more sisters to pray for us. Today this is also one of the biggest challenges of the Church. While attending a Mass some time ago, the priest told us that in the Archdiocese of Manila alone there will be no ordination in the next 4 years! We really need to pray hard that the young will answer God’s call for them to the priesthood or religious life.

Prayer

Our loving, generous, and merciful God, thank You so much for Your gift to us this Christmas, Your very own Son. Truly, You love us so much that You decided to be with us. Please continue to increase our faith and trust in You. Deliver us from the evil one who continues to sow doubt, fear, and confusion in our hearts and society. Help us to believe in Your promises that You have the best plans for all of us. Help us to grow in our relationship with You through our daily prayer and actions. Help to be Your Light to others who are in despair. We also lift up to you the clergy and religious of our country. Make them messengers of faith and hope. We pray that more people will answer Your call for them to work in Your vast vineyard. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

The Gift

Affirmation

Lord Jesus, You came to lift up our downtrodden hearts. Today, we will affirm each other’s faith. Together, we will make our way towards the Crib where You await us. Amen.


(Fely is happily married for 33 years. A mother of 4 and a grandmother of 1, she is a Certified Financial Educator®, Heartland Institute of Financial Education, USA; Founder and Executive Vice Chairman, Truly Rich Makers, IMG, and Financial Mentor, Platinum Wealth Circle & Truly Rich Club, Bo Sanchez, Inc. She is also an active member of the Light of Jesus Community and the Light of Magis Deo Marriage Encounter Community.)


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