“For a son has been born for us, a son has been given to us, and dominion has been laid on his shoulders; and this is the name he has been given, 'Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace' ” Isaiah 9:5The Divinity of Jesus is one of the mysteries people in the world have trouble accepting. Many are ready to accept Jesus as a good man, others accept Him as a religious leader, still others a prophet. But Jesus was none of those. He was the Son of God, and He was God Himself. Isaiah prophesied about the Divinity of Jesus centuries before He came into the world. All His miracles leading up to the last and the greatest, His death and resurrection, testify to this fact.
“The Lord says this: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” Jeremiah 31:15(Grace and Peace) Today we remember the Holy Innocents, the infants who gave their lives in place of the Christ. The blood of the innocents have always preceded the saving work of God. Before the Lord brought the Israelites from Egypt, many Hebrew children were slaughtered. Moses, however was miraculously spared. In the New Testament, Jesus was spared while a number of innocents had to die. Let us remember the silent sacrifice of many innocents who are killed in our own time - they are the ones who prepare the way for the Lord's work in our day.
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on the inhabitants of a country in shadow dark as death light has blazed forth.” Isaiah 9:1 “This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.” John 21:24(Grace and Peace) Of the Twelve, one Apostle was unique in his confession of being 'the disciple Jesus whom loved.' For him, neither his name nor his ancestry mattered, only one thing mattered - his experience of being loved in a special way by Jesus. The beloved John received the Word into his heart, and so merited to rest his head on the Heart of Jesus, a privilege granted to no other disciple. From this Sacred Heart, he drew forth the most sublime mysteries ever to have flowed through the pen of man.
“Stephen was filled with grace and power and began to work miracles and great signs among the people.” Acts 6:8(Grace and Peace) Stephen was the first martyr to bear witness to Christ with his blood after the Resurrection. Stephen was filled with grace and power. If we too need to bear witness to Jesus, we need grace and power. Grace comes through humility, power comes through suffering in the Name of Jesus. Therefore let us not be ashamed to humble ourselves nor to suffer for His sake.
“Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11(Grace and Peace) O happy day, the most blessed of all days, which saw your Creator! Today the invisible God was made visible to human beings. Today the God who dwelt in inaccessible light has come close to humanity. Today the God of infinite power and majesty became a helpless babe, the Son of Man so that no human being should fear to approach God. Today God gave Himself to us so that we might give ourselves to Him. Today God takes all our weaknesses on Himself so that we might be clothed with strength.
“But you (Bethlehem) Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come for me a future ruler of Israel whose origins go back to the distant past, to the days of old.” Micah 5:1(Grace and Peace) Scholars say that Prophet Micah lived almost seven hundred years before Jesus was born. Yet he prophesied so accurately where the Messiah was to be born! So let us put our faith in the prophets, God is speaking through them! God is in control of history, so let us never be disheartened. God's prophecies are full of hope! Coming to the second part of the Word of God, we see that it is a lowly and unknown town that God chooses to bring forth the Messiah. God always chooses the least, the tiny, the insignificant to display His power. So the message for us is to consider ourselves the least, tiny, and insignificant so that God's glory will always be displayed in each one of us! Praise God!
“The Lord will give you a sign in any case: It is this: the young woman is with child and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14(Grace and Peace) God could have come into the earth in a variety of ways, but He came to be born of a virgin. The birth of Jesus Christ from a virgin is the greatest of mysteries and came to be in fulfilment of the above prophecy of Isaiah. Not even a single prophecy of the Scripture will fail to be fulfilled.
“I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel.” Genesis 3:15(Grace and Peace) Since Satan exploited the weakness of the woman, God determined to create a Woman who would be his arch-enemy - from her would proceed One who would bruise his head and deal him a fatal blow. This signifies that all the cunning and deceit of the Devil would once and for all be defeated by the humility of Jesus Christ.
“Then the Lord said to me,"What they have said is well said. From their own brothers I shall raise up a prophet like yourself; ” Deuteronomy 18:17-18(Grace and Peace) From the moment man committed sin, he lost the greatest gift he had - the presence of God. In answer to his yearning, God visited man once again through Jesus Christ. He is the True Prophet, the New Moses, the One who spoke for God and revealed the Father's heart in all fulness. In Him alone can we find the words of Eternal Life.
“I baptise you in water for repentance, but the one who comes after me is more powerful than I, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11(Grace and Peace) John’s baptism with water signified the cleansing of those who listened to his preaching and wanted to change and live new lives. But the baptism of Jesus was to be something infinitely more powerful. He was to baptise those who came to Him with the Holy Spirit and fire. Baptism with the Holy Spirit, which would give them life everlasting, and baptism with fire, which would set their hearts afire with the love of God. John too, longed for this Baptism from His Maker, Jesus Christ.
“I did not know him myself, and yet my purpose in coming to baptise with water was so that he might be revealed to Israel.’” John 1:31(Grace and Peace) The revelation of the Divinity of Jesus Christ was a mystery hidden since the ages began, and it was to be revealed in public to the world at the Baptism of Jesus at the River Jordan. The Baptism of Jesus at the River Jordan was an event of such great significance that if we carefully meditate on all the details of this event, we cannot help proclaiming with John, “I have seen and I testify that He is the Son of God.”
“John witnesses to him. He proclaims: 'This is the one of whom I said: He who comes after me has passed ahead of me because he existed before me.” John 1:15(Grace and Peace) John the Baptist was sent by God into the world with a very specific mission: he was to be the forerunner of the Christ, the Son of God. The forerunner’s witness was very crucial indeed, since the most important moment in the history of mankind was to take place - God becoming man. All those who paid attention to this faithful witness became believers of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who was close to the Father’s heart before the ages began.
“It was of him that I said, "Behind me comes one who has passed ahead of me because he existed before me.” John 1:30(Grace and Peace) John’s witness of Jesus could be summed up in the above words, “He existed before me.” These words were a clear reference to the Divinity of Christ. In spite of such a powerful witness, very few people believed that Jesus was God. As the Bible said, they preferrred darkness to the light because their deeds were evil. They had wordly things to pay attention to, and the Good News was so not important for them.
“John answered them, ‘I baptise with water; but standing among you - unknown to you - is the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandal.’” John 1:26-27(Grace and Peace) John baptised with water for repentance; the One who was to come after him was to baptise with the Holy Spirit. Only the ones who were specially chosen by God could recognise the Messiah. For this reason, John strove with all his might to bring his listeners to repentance for their sins - repentance alone would open their eyes to recognise the glory of Jesus.
“ So he said, 'I am, as Isaiah prophesied: A voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord. Make his paths straight!' ” John 1:23(Grace and Peace) It is said in the Bible about John that he spent his youth in the desert, praying and waiting for God's revelation of what he was to do. What a great example John is for all of us, to ask God for light on our unique mission! In answer to his prayer, God spoke to John through the Scriptures, so that he was able to answer those who came to him, 'I am, as Isaiah prophesied, a voice of one that cries in the desert.'
“Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, Who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which lay ahead of Him, He endured the Cross, disregarding the shame of it...” Hebrews 12:2Do we often feel overwhelmed by our daily trials? Are we tempted to run away from our present sufferings? Look at Jesus on the Cross - just one glance with faith is enough. How much Our Lord loves us! In perfect humility, He bears all our pains and sorrows on the Cross. So, with renewed faith, let us fix our eyes on the Crucified Christ, who will give us the grace to endure all suffering.
“We are waiting for Yahweh; he is our help and our shield” Psalm 33:20(Grace and Peace) The Psalmist was a man who experienced tremendous trials throughout his life. However, his unfailing trust in the Lord sustained him in the midst of all these trials. How can we become like the Psalmist? The answer is very simple: by looking at the Lord with love and trust! If we do so, we will also be able to say: O Lord, you are truly our help and our shield! *****************
''Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’ '' John 19:26(Grace and Peace) There are times when only a Mother's presence can solve our problems. By her love, gentleness and compassion, Mary attracted millions of native Indians into the fold of Her Son. Today we remember our Lady, patroness of the Americas, who revealed herself to Juan Diego as the ever Virgin Holy Mary, Mother of the True God and Creator of all things, whose heart beats with unspeakable tenderness for those who suffered.
“I look to the faithful of the land to be my companions, only he who walks in the path of the blameless shall be my servant.” Psalm 101:6(Grace and Peace) Even though the word 'faithful' has become a widely used term today, and is applied very commonly generally to denote all the members of the Church, yet in the Bible this word deserves our special attention and thought. The faithful are those who stick by God through thick and thin, and these are the ones who are proved by trial. God knows their heart inside out, and he knows that they will remain with Him should He give them riches or poverty, good times or bad, sickness or health. They are the ones God looks on with pleasure, they are His companions.
“Let the Word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God.” Colossians 3:16(Grace and Peace) How happy will our lives be if the Word of God finds a home with us! Usually we give place in our hearts to our own ideas. But if we give place to the Word of God, our lives will be blessed beyond imagination - we will be filled with wisdom and able to teach and advise each other and build others up for the Kingdom of God.