Thứ Tư, 7 tháng 12, 2016

DECEMBER 08, 2016 : SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Lectionary: 689

Reading 1GN 3:9-15, 20
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.
Responsorial PsalmPS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4
R. (1) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.

Brothers and sisters:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him. 
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.

In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.

AlleluiaSEE LK 1:28
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
GospelLK 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.


Meditation: "For with God nothing will be impossible"
Do you want to live a grace-filled life? The angel Gabriel salutes Mary as "full of grace". To become the mother of the Savior, Mary was enriched by God with gifts to enable her to assume this awesome role. There is a venerable tradition among many Christians, dating back to the early church, for honoring Mary as the spotless virgin who bore the Son of God in her womb. A number of early church fathers link Mary's obedience to this singular grace of God. "Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race... The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith" (from Adv. haeres 3.22.4, by Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, 130-200 AD).
Faith is the key that unlocks the power of God's kingdom in our lives
What is the key that can unlock the power and grace of God’s kingdom in our personal lives? Faith and obedience for sure! When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they immediately experienced the consequence of their action - separation from the God who loved them. God in his mercy promised them a Redeemer who would pay the price for their sin and the sin of the world. We see the marvelous unfolding of God's plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah. Mary's prompt response of "yes" to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers. Mary believed God's promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God's will, even if it seemed difficult or costly.
God gives us the grace to say "yes" to his will and to his transforming work in our lives
God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the grace, strength, and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God's promises and do you yield to his grace?
"Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified "yes" to your will and to your plan for my life."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersGod borrows Mary's flesh to lead humanity to glory, by an anonymous early author from the Greek church
"Revealing to you the pre-eternal counsel, Gabriel came and stood before you, maid, and in greeting said, 'Rejoice, earth that has not been sown; rejoice, burning bush that remains unconsumed; Rejoice, unsearchable depth; Rejoice, bridge that leads to heaven; Rejoice, ladder raised on high that Jacob saw; Rejoice, divine jar of manna; Rejoice, deliverance from the curse; Rejoice, restoration of Adam, the Lord is with you!'
    "'You appeared to me in the form of a man,' said the undefiled maid to the chief of the heavenly hosts. 'How then do you speak to me of things that pass human power? For you have said that God shall be with me and shall take up his dwelling in my womb. How shall I become the spacious habitation and the holy place of him that rides upon the cherubim? (Psalm 18:10) Do not amuse me with deceit; for I have not known pleasure, I have not entered into wedlock. How then shall I bear a child?'
    "Then the bodiless angel replied, 'When God so wills, the order of nature is overcome, and what is beyond humankind comes to pass. Believe that my sayings are true, all-holy and immaculate lady.' And she cried aloud, 'Let it be to me according to your word, and I shall bear him that is without flesh, who shall borrow flesh from me, that through this mingling he may lead humankind up to his ancient glory, for he alone has power so to do!'"
(excerpt from  STICHERA OF THE ANNUNCIATION) 

SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Holy Day of Obligation (Pastoral Feast Day in the USA)
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8, LUKE 1:26-38

​(Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12)

KEY VERSE: "Hail favored one! The Lord is with you" (v 28).
TO KNOW: After centuries of waiting for the long-expected Messiah, God's messenger, the angel Gabriel, announced the glorious event to a young woman who lived in of Nazareth, an obscure village in Galilee. The virgin's name was Mary (Hebrew, Miryam, "the exalted one"). The angel told Mary that she found favor with God and would bear a son who was to be named Jesus (Hebrew, Yeshua, "Yahweh saves"). Mary was deeply troubled by the angel's message, but was told not to be afraid. God's Son would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. This "Son of the Most High" would rule eternally over the "house of Jacob" (v 32-33) fulfilling the promises made to King David (2 Sm 7:16). Mary responded with faithful submission to the will of God (fiat, "Let it be done"). Even before her son's birth, Mary prayed the prayer that Jesus taught: "Thy will be done." Mary's disposition of humility, faithfulness and praise are necessary virtues for all Christians who bear Christ to the world.
TO LOVE: Can I say with Mary, "Be it done unto me according to your will"?
TO SERVE: Blessed Mother, pray that I might always live in union with your son Jesus.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Immaculate Conception became a feast of the universal Church in 1854. Pius IX gave this infallible statement: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” When Vatican II Council discussed the role of Mary in God's plan of salvation, they made the decision to include her in the doctrine of the Mystical Body, the Church. While Mary is "clearly the mother of the members of Christ," she is a "wholly unique member of the church," an "outstanding model in faith and charity." By the power of the Holy Spirit, the church imitates Mary's obedience and charity. Through Christian baptism, the Church brings forth children who are "conceived of the Spirit and born of God" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Ch. VIII).​

Thursday 8 December 2016

Thu 8th. Immaculate Conception. Genesis 3:9-15, 20. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous deedsPs 97(98):1-4. Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12. Luke 1:26-38.
'Nothing is impossible to God.'
Imagine Mary's shock when the angel appeared and said to her 'Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.' Mary, a humble girl being given such importance, must have found the angel's message quite extraordinary. How might we act if we received such an unexpected request? How do we cope with inexplicable news?
We are all faced with difficult propositions and painful decisions at times, so what can Mary's response teach us? She took the news calmly and accepted the uncertainty it presented her. Trusting in the greater good, she allowed these events to unfold without complaint. That was Mary's path. When the angel said 'the Lord is with you', she knew intuitively that she would be able to handle it.
We too must remember that the Lord is with us when we are faced with challenges and that it will always be enough.

SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN

"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854)

In 1854, Pope Pius IX's solemn declaration, "Ineffabilis Deus," clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin.

Mary was granted this extraordinary privilege because of Her unique role in history as the Mother of God. That is, She received the gift of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception.

Even though Mary is unique in all humanity for being born without sin, She is held up by the Church as a model for all humanity in Her holiness and Her purity, in Her willingness to accept the Plan of God for Her.

Every person is called to recognize and respond to God’s call, to their own vocation, in order to carry out God’s plan for their life and fulfill the mission prepared for them since before the beginning of time.

Mary’s “Let it be done to me according to Thy Word,” in response of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting is the response required of all Christians to God’s Plan.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a time to celebrate the great joy of God’s gift to humanity in Mary, and to recognize with greater clarity, the truth that each and every human being has been created by God to fulfill a particular mission that he and only he can fulfill.

“The word of the Lord came to me thus: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you."(Jeremiah 1:5-6)

LECTIO DIVINA: IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE B.V.MARY
Lectio Divina: 
 Thursday, December 8, 2016
The Annunciation (Luke 1, 26-38)


1. LECTIO

a) Initial Prayer:
Rejoice, Oh Virgin Mary,
the star of Jacob is already arising,
The Scriptures are fulfilled today;
The Lord is coming like a promising cloud.
Our God is coming, he is not in silence;
be attentive to his greeting.
Sweet is the word of his lips,
noble the design of his heart.
It shines like the wings of the dove
the vestment of his messenger;
it descends like the zephyr in summer
on you, promising, is its comfort.
Our God displays his force,
in your flesh he finds repose;
in you he finds his sanctuary,
praise him and love him forever.
Behold, his retinue appears,
before him, justice marches.
He will subdue the pride of the powerful,
and render vigour to the humble.
He will spread out his mercy
on the men who fear his name;
humble servant of the Lord,
weave the praise of Love.
b)  Reading of the Gospel:
Luke 1, 26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 He went in and said to her, 'Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favour! The Lord is with you.' 29 She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, 30 but the angel said to her, 'Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God's favour. 31 Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; 33 he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.' 34 Mary said to the angel, 'But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?' 35 The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. 36 And I tell you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, 37 for nothing is impossible to God.' 38 Mary said, 'You see before you the Lord's servant, let it happen to me as you have said.' And the angel left her.
c) A moment of silence:
so that the Word of God may enter into our hearts and enlighten our lives.
2. MEDITATIO
a) A key to the reading:
Though we take again the themes of Matthew and Mark, the Gospel of Luke is an original composition under many aspects. The Evangelist inserts into his narrative new material in regard to the other Gospel narratives. In the first two chapters which deal with the infancy of Jesus, Luke follows the Jewish tradition, with many direct and indirect references to the Old Testament. The Theology, the symbolism and the whole of the account of the infancy of Jesus have and find their roots in the Semitic world, different in many verses from the world and the Greek thought. The Evangelist places the beginning of his narrative in the milieu of the ‘anawim, the poor of the Lord, that is, those who are submitted with altruism to God’s Will, firm in faith that the Lord will send them salvation in the opportune time. To the ‘anawimthe Lord promises to send the Messiah, sent to bring the news to the afflicted, to soothe the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, release to those in prison, to proclaim a year of favour from Yahweh and a day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all who mourn, to give to Zion’s mourners...” (is 61, 1 ff).This promise of God is fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth who entering “into the Synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did” (Lk 4, 16) proclaims that the promise of God pronounced by Isaiah “has been fulfilled today” (Lk 4, 21) in him. Only the ‘anawim can accept from the Son of Joseph, the carpenter and of Mary (Lk 4, 22; Mt 13, 53-58; Mk 6, 1-5; Jn 1, 45) the Good News of salvation, the others unfortunately are scandalized because of him. The Messiah is humble and sweet, “his mouth” pronounces “words of grace” (Lk 4, 22), and this is why in order to accept him it is necessary to prepare oneself, enter into oneself to accept the promised One of Israel. This is why the Lord admonishes by means of the Prophet: “Seek Yahweh, all you humble of the earth, who obey the commands. Seek uprightness, seek humility: you may perhaps find shelter, on the Day of Yahweh’s anger” (Zp 1, 3).
In this context, “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a Virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary” (Lk 1, 26-27). This Virgin is one of the ‘anawim to whom the Lord reveals his salvation. With her are found two other ‘anawim “ who were advanced in years” (Lk 1, 7), “a priest called “Zechariah” and “Elizabeth who was childless” and therefore had no children (Lk 1, 5-7). Also to these two dishonoured (Gen 30, 33; I Sam 1, 5-8); 2 Sam 6, 23; Ho 9, 11) the salvation of the Lord is announced. Unfortunately in Jerusalem, in the temple, during the liturgy, place of the revelation, of the power and of the glory of God, this Good News was not accepted by the priest (Lk 1, 8-23). But the Word of God is not bound and it cannot be limited. In fact, the Holy One of Israel says: “For as the rain and the snow come down from the sky and do not return before watering the earth, fertilizing it and making it germinate to provide seed for the sower and food to eat, so it is with the word that goes from my mouth: it will not return to me unfulfilled or before having carried out my good pleasure and having achieved what it was sent to do”. (Is 55, 10-11). This is why Elizabeth “in her old age has conceived a son and, she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God”. (Lk 1, 36-37). This will be the event offered to Mary as a sign of the “power of the Most High”. (Lk 1, 35) which will come down upon her like a shadow to conceive the Son of God through the Holy Spirit who will “descend” upon her (Lk 1, 34-35). The Son will be named Jesus, “He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end” (Lk 1, 31-33). These words of the angel echo or evoke the same addressed to Acaz: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, whom she will call Immanuel” (Is 7, 14).
That is why after John was conceived, that is “in the sixth month” (Lk 1, 26) the Good News was received “in a city of Galilee, called Nazareth” (Lk 1, 26) by a young girl, a “virgin promised spouse” (Lk 1, 27). “Nazareth” and “Mary” are in contrast with “Jerusalem” and “priest”; just as the phrase: “he went in” with the word “temple”. the Lord reveals himself in humble places and is accepted by humble people from whom, in the judgment of men, “nothing good can come” (Jn 1, 45). Mary is invited to rejoice: “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1, 28). The presence of the Lord in the midst of his people is the occasion of joy because the presence of the Lord bears salvation and blessing. The invitation of the angel is addressed to the whole People of God in the person of Mary. That is why, the whole People of God is called to rejoice, to be glad in the Lord, their Saviour. It is the Messianic joy which is announced to all: “Cry out and shout for joy, you who live in Zion, for the Holy One of Israel is among you in his greatness”(Is 12, 6); “Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! Yahweh has repealed your sentence; he has turned your enemy away. Yahweh is king among you, Israel, you have nothing more to fear...” (Zp 3, 14-15 ff); “Rejoice, exult daughter of Zion, because, behold, I come to live among you” (Zc 2, 14).
The conception of Jesus is a new event, the primacy of the future new creation brought about by the generating power of God who comes to encounter the impossibility of conceiving of Mary because she knows no man (Lk 1, 34). The shadow which the Most High extends on Mary recalls the cloud which accompanied the people in the desert during the day (Ex 13, 22), which overshadowed the Mount Sinai revealing the Glory of the Lord during six days (Ex 19, 16; 24, 17). And also a sign of the protection of God, extended to the just who invokes the name of the Lord and places himself in the hands of God during the trial (Ps 17, 8; 57, 2; 140, 8). In creation, the Spirit of God blew over the water, the sign of the creating power of the word of God (Gen 1, 2).
God exceeds every human capacity, nothing is impossible for him (Lk 1, 477; Gen 18, 14; Jer 32, 27). Before the Lord of joy, of life and of salvation, Mary accepts his generating and creative word: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1, 38).
b) Questions to orientate the meditation and make it relevant:
● The Lord reveals himself to the ‘anawim of his people. According to you who are the contemporary ‘anawim among us?
● Many times we feel that we are in a world hostile to God’s revelation. It also seems that he has become silent, that he no longer reveals his word which gives life. Is this true? If he still speaks to us, where can I find his living word? How can I accept it?
● The power of evil seems to envelop our restless world. The diverse modalities of oppression seem precisely to oppress also the God of joy, of freedom, of mercy. Which is your attitude before this reality? Do you feel that today’s text inspires you a just attitude before an impossible situation?
● Which do you think is the characteristic of Mary’s attitude? Does this reveal something of your own life?
3. ORATIO
a) Canticle of Mary:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. 
Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed,
for the Almighty has done great things for me. 
Holy is his name,
and his faithful love extends age after age 
to those who fear him.
He has used the power of his arm, 
he has routed the arrogant of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones 
and raised high the lowly.
He has filled the starving with good things, 
sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, 
mindful of his faithful love
- according to the promise he made to our ancestors - 
of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.
b) Moments for a prayerful silence
4. CONTEMPLATIO
[In the contemplation], in fact, to strong men it is granted to recollect themselves when they desire to remain with themselves, to assiduously cultivate the sprouts of virtue and nourish themselves, happily, from the fruits of Paradise. Here the eye of the serene gaze, is acquired, which wounds the Spouse with love, and through its transparency and purity God is seen. Here is practiced a laborious leisure time and the rest in a quiet action. Here, because of the tiredness of the struggle, God gives to his athletes the desired reward, that is, the peace which the world ignores, and the joy in the Holy Spirit. 
This is that Rachel who is coming, of a beautiful aspect, which Jacob, even though less fertile of children, loved more than Lia, certainly more fecund but of bleary eyes. In fact, the sons of contemplation are less numerous in regard to those of the action; nevertheless, Joseph and Benjamin, more than the other brothers, are loved by the father.
This is that best part which Mary has chosen and which will not be taken from her.
(From the Letter of Saint Bruno to Rudolph il Verde).