Thứ Tư, 14 tháng 12, 2016

DECEMBER 15, 2016 : THURSDAY OF THE THIRD WEEK IN ADVENT

Thursday of the Third Week in Advent
Lectionary: 190

Reading 1IS 54:1-10
Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear,
Break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor,
For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife
than the children of her who has a husband,
says the LORD.
Enlarge the space for your tent,
spread out your tent cloths unsparingly;
lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes.
For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left;
your descendants shall dispossess the nations
and shall people the desolate cities.

Fear not, you shall not be put to shame;
you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced.
The shame of your youth you shall forget,
the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember.
For he who has become your husband is your Maker;
his name is the LORD of hosts;
Your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
called God of all the earth.
The LORD calls you back,
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
A wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
But with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the LORD, your redeemer.

This is for me like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah
should never again deluge the earth;
So I have sworn not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.
Though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be shaken,
My love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
R. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
“Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
AlleluiaLK 3:4, 6
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
All flesh shall see the salvation of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 7:24-30
When the messengers of John the Baptist had left,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. 
“What did you go out to the desert to see B a reed swayed by the wind? 
Then what did you go out to see? 
Someone dressed in fine garments? 
Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously
are found in royal palaces. 
Then what did you go out to see? 
A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 
This is the one about whom Scripture says:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.

I tell you,
among those born of women, no one is greater than John;
yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors,
who were baptized with the baptism of John,
acknowledged the righteousness of God;
but the Pharisees and scholars of the law,
who were not baptized by him,
rejected the plan of God for themselves.)


Meditation: "My steadfast love and covenant of peace shall not depart from you"
Why did a vast multitude of people, including many tax collectors, submit to John's baptism of repentance? They recognized that God has given John a prophetic ministry of reconciliation with God. They received John's prophetic message as good news of God's gift of pardon and salvation for them. God was offering new life and restoration to all who would prepare their hearts to receive the promised Messiah and his kingdom of peace and righteousness. 
The promise of full restoration and peace with God
Isaiah had prophesied 700 years before the coming of the Messiah that God would not forget his bride, the people of Israel, who endured testing and exile because of their unfaithfulness to his covenant with them (Isaiah 54:5-8). God promised to restore them because of his steadfast love and covenant of peace which he made with them. Now through the ministry of John the Baptist, we see the beginning of this restoration as John announces the coming of the promised Messiah. 
John was greater than all the prophets
When Jesus began his public ministry he praised John the Baptist as one who superseded all the prophets of the Old Covenant. John was the voice of the Consoler who is coming (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:1-3). He completed the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14). What the prophets had carefully searched for and angels longed to see, now came to completion as John made the way ready for the coming of the Messiah, God's Anointed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:10-12).
Jesus praised John the Baptist as the greatest person born of woman. What an amazing compliment for a righteous man who had spent most of his life praying in the wilderness before he began to publicly announce the coming of the Messiah. Why did Jesus seem to contradict his compliment of John, with the astounding statement that the least in the kingdom of God would be even greater than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28)? Jesus came to give his people and the whole world something which John the Baptist could not accomplish on his own. 
The voice is John - the word is Christ
What John announced - Jesus fulfilled. John preached a baptism for repentance - turning away from sin and obeying God's word. And he pointed his disciples to Jesus and proclaimed that he was "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Jesus came to fulfill God's promise to set people free from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Through his atoning death on the cross and his rising in glory on the third day, Jesus won for all who would believe in him - full pardon, reconciliation, and adoption as the beloved sons and daughters of the living God.  
John announced that the Lord Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16). The Lord Jesus fills us with the power of the Holy Spirit and with his purifying fire so that we may shine brightly with the radiance of his transforming love and holiness. And he gives us the courage and boldness to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to those around us. Ask the Lord Jesus to set you on fire with his transforming love and holiness.

"Lord Jesus, set my heart on fire with burning love for You and for your kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. May I always radiate you love and mercy and point others to the joy and truth of the Gospel."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersBorn of Woman or Born of God?, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
"'What then did you go out to see?' Perhaps you say, 'A prophet.' Yes, I agree. He is a saint and a prophet. He even surpasses the dignity of a prophet. Not only did he announce before that I am coming but pointed me out close at hand, saying, 'Behold the Lamb of God that bears the sin of the world' (John 1:29). The prophet's voice testified of him as the one who was sent before my face to prepare the way before me (Malachi 3:1). I witness that there has not arisen among those born of women one greater than he. He that is least, in the life according to the law, in the kingdom of God is greater than he. How and in what manner is he greater? In that the blessed John, together with as many as preceded him, was born of woman, but they who have received the faith are no longer called the sons of women, but as the wise Evangelist said, 'are born of God'" (John 1:12). (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 18)

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, LUKE 7:24-30
Advent Weekday
(Isaiah 54:1-10; Psalm 30)

KEY VERSE: "I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he" (v 28).
TO KNOW: Herod imprisoned John the Baptist because of his denouncement of the king's illicit marriage to his half-brother's wife Herodias. John sent messengers to inquire of Jesus whether or not he was the expected Messiah of God (Lk 7:18-23). In John's time, it was anticipated that the Messiah would be the glorious "Son of David," a warrior king who would restore Israel to her former power. Instead, Jesus pointed to his works of healing and compassion as signs indicating the advent of God's reign. Jesus testified to John's greatness. The Baptist was no timid preacher - a "reed swayed by the wind" (v 24), nor was he "dressed in fine clothing and living in luxury in royal palaces" (v 25). John was a fiery prophet like Elijah who prepared the people for the "Day of the Lord" (Mal 3:1, 23). John stood at the threshold of God's kingdom, but the least one born anew through Baptism and the Spirit would be far greater than John.
TO LOVE: Are people able to see Christ in me?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, give me the courage to bear witness to you this Advent.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Thu 15th. Isaiah 54:1-10. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued mePs 29(30):2, 4-6, 11-13. Luke 7:24-30.
Expect the unexpected.
The lead up to Christmas is filled with hopes and expectations. Children may expect new toys or games, while adults may just want a little peace. Many hope to find some way to celebrate the season authentically, to find the real meaning of Christmas. But even this desire contains certain expectations. What do I hope for in a real Advent and Christmas season?
In the Gospel, Jesus asks the crowds, ‘What, did you go out into the wilderness to see? A man dressed in fine clothes … or a prophet?’ He seems to imply that the places we search for meaning is an indication of what we expect to find. Today’s readings challenge us to reflect on what it is we seek and why, and whether we are open to the possibility of finding God in places we do not expect.

ST. VIRGINIA CENTURIONE BRACELLI

Born in Genoa Italy on April 2, 1587, Virginia was raised in an aristocratic family which was nonetheless pious, and from a young age she longed to consecrate herself to God in the religious life. However, she was pressured into an arranged marriage at the age of 15 on account of her social status, and had two daughters.

Her husband, a drinker and gambler, died after only five years of marriage, and Virginia dedicated her time to raising her children, prayer and works of charity, which she devoted herself to entirely once her children had grown up, caring for the sick, elderly and abandoned.

She founded a refuge center in Genoa in 1625, which soon became overrun with the needy, and she rented an empty convent in 1631 where she cared for the sick with the help of other women, and she instructed the women in the faith in addition to thier work.

She constructed a church dedicated to Our Lady of Refuge, and soon the women who worked with her in the hospital were formed into two congregations: the Sisters of Our Lady of Refuge in Mount Calvary, and the Daughters of Our Lady on Mount Calvary.

Victoria retired from the administration of the orders, and performed manual labour and begged for alms, but was called back to administrative duties soon after.

She began to receive visions and locutions in the later years of her life. She died in Genoa on December 15, 1651 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on May 18, 2003.

LECTIO: LUKE 7, 24-30
Lectio Divina: 
 Thursday, December 15, 2016

PRAYER
The consciousness of our guilt saddens us, O Lord, and makes us feel unworthy to serve you, we recognize that we need your salvation and forgiveness of your Father. Once again, send your messenger, because it prepares the way of your Son in front of us: we want to follow it faithfully, leaving us immersed in the baptism of Thy mercy. Give us your joy and save us with the coming of the Redeemer, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
READING
When the messengers of John the Baptist had left,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John.
“What did you go out to the desert to see B a reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine garments?
Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously
are found in royal palaces.
Then what did you go out to see?
A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom Scripture says:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.
I tell you,
among those born of women, no one is greater than John;
yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors,
who were baptized with the baptism of John,
acknowledged the righteousness of God;
but the Pharisees and scholars of the law,
who were not baptized by him,
rejected the plan of God for themselves.)

MEDITATION
We are about to enter the holy days of the Novena of Christmas and the Church invites us today, through the Liturgy of the Word, and make our choice clear, definite and strong: to accept the proposal of John the Baptist, and then we get him in the Way had come to prepare, put it on the side of a sinner and therefore in need of conversion, or the side of those who consider themselves already in possession of salvation and does not need anything.
This passage of Luke helps us to enter into a dialogue and a strong personal confrontation with Jesus, because He, with his questions and his statements, has put before us in the eyes of the heart the spiritual Path, the road that we may have already come and what still lies ahead.

* The first thing to emphasize is the threefold repetition of the question of Jesus to the crowds: "What did you go see?". It 'important, because here the text, if translated literally, says: "What you came to see?" Using this word, the Lord puts in a positive light, highlights a spiritual commitment, a process already begun.
* But at the same time, wants to help us better aware of what happened inside of us, wants to dispel our darkness, he wants to push us toward decisions more authentic and vital. And, as he always did with his disciples, still for us, he breaks the bread of the Word, reveals the meaning of Scripture, to borrow a verse from the prophecy of Malachi, Jesus gives us the real key to the figure John the Baptist. He is the messenger, the messenger of God, which opens and prepares the way for the coming of the Messiah. John is the divide between the Old and New Testaments is the bridge that leads to the true Promised Land, Jesus is the gateway to the Kingdom of God
* But, as Jesus says in the last few verses, it remains a movement of conversion. After being released, after having seen, we must listen and be baptized (v. 29). That is, you have to accept in ourselves to make a path of openness, sincere willingness to the voice of God in all this, without fear, without holding anything, we should immerse ourselves with confidence, just as in baptism. Get off the waters of mercy, and lets you fully accept, in the arms of the Father.
* The song ends with a reference to God's plan, namely for his willingness to love us, his plan of salvation. God desires, wants, desires lead us to Him for salvation and happiness full, but by our response should be a freedom, that of love. And once again, Luke presents us with a clear choice, expressed by two verbs: "recognized right" and "made room". The choice is ours.


SOME QUESTIONS

* I consider myself among those who came out and saw? I really made this spiritual movement, which led me, at least a little, 'for God, the mystery of his will in my life and the brethren, at situations, even the most tiresome or annoying?
And my eyes were really opened to see, or even to contemplate, being able to go a bit 'over the surface of things, beyond the appearances of people and things?
And I think if it had not yet taken these steps, now, as he was opening up before me such a strong year period of preparation for the Christmas, I want to make this commitment, I want to go out and see God in my life?
* John I is presented in this piece, like a prophet, a messenger, one who prepares the way for. I think this reality, I will open myself to the force to announce the Word of God, I really start listening to the message that God wants to offer to my life, my person? If there is a road mapped out for me, I decided to take it?
* And finally, the most important step. I choose, I too, need to recognize the embrace of the Father? I threw good in the waters of his love to receive a new baptism? I still afraid to let me wet, of being enveloped by him, by his presence, his breath in my life? I want today to begin a new life? And I put a sign to say that my choice is true? Perhaps the confession, Mass attendance in a more diligent?
Yes, I really want to go down in the waters of mercy and totally immerse myself in them, without resistance, without wanting to escape. Amen.


FINAL PRAYER
Only you, my Lord is good.

Protect me, O God, in you I take refuge.
I told the Lord: "My Lord you, only you is my right."
Idols of the country, was all powerful gods my favor.
Multiply their sorrows who run behind a foreign god.
I do not pour out their libations of blood,
nor with my lips utter their names.

The Lord is my portion and my cup in your hands is my life.
For me the lot fell on delightful places: my heritage is beautiful.
Bless the Lord who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me, at my right hand, I stand firm.
For this rejoices my heart and my soul rejoices.