Thứ Năm, 15 tháng 12, 2016

DECEMBER 16, 2016 : FRIDAY OF THE THIRD WEEK IN ADVENT

Friday of the Third Week in Advent
Lectionary: 191

Reading 1IS 56:1-3A, 6-8
Thus says the LORD:
Observe what is right, do what is just;
for my salvation is about to come,
my justice, about to be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this,
the son of man who holds to it;
Who keeps the sabbath free from profanation,
and his hand from any evildoing.
Let not the foreigner say,
when he would join himself to the LORD,
“The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.”

The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
ministering to him,
Loving the name of the LORD,
and becoming his servants–
All who keep the sabbath free from profanation
and hold to my covenant,
Them I will bring to my holy mountain
and make joyful in my house of prayer;
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be acceptable on my altar,
For my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.
Thus says the Lord GOD,
who gathers the dispersed of Israel:
Others will I gather to him
besides those already gathered.
Responsorial PsalmPS 67:2-3, 5, 7-8
R. (4) O God, let all the nations praise you!
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation. 
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
The earth has yielded its fruits;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. O God, let all the nations praise you!
Alleluia 
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come, Lord, bring us your peace
that we may rejoice before you with a perfect heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelJN 5:33-36
Jesus said to the Jews:
“You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. 
I do not accept testimony from a human being,
but I say this so that you may be saved. 
John was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. 
But I have testimony greater than John’s. 
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.”


Meditation: "I will make them joyful in my house of prayer for all peoples"
Do you know the joy of the Gospel - the good news that the Father in heaven sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to set us free from the kingdom of darkness, death, and Satan? Jesus' opponents refused to accept his authority to speak and act in the name of God. And they refused to believe that he was sent from the Father in heaven. They demanded evidence for his claim to be the Anointed Messiah and divine Son of the eternal Father. Jesus answered their charges with the supporting evidence of witnesses. The law of Moses had laid down the principle that the unsupported evidence of one person shall not prevail against a man for any charge of wrongdoing (see Deuteronomy 17:6). At least two or three witnesses were needed. 

John was a burning and shining lamp
Jesus began his defense by citing John the Baptist as his witness, since John publicly pointed to Jesus as the Messiah and had repeatedly borne witness to him (see John 1:19, 20, 26, 29, 35, 36). Jesus called John a burning and shining lamp that illuminated the minds and hearts of those who were ready to hear the prophetic message he spoke in God's name. A lamp cannot light itself - it must be lit from a borrowed source. The function of a lamp is to illumine the darkness and to guide people. John pointed to the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ who is the true source of light which comes from God. Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind and to free people from the blindness of sin, deception, and ignorance. Jesus proclaimed, "I am the light of the world - he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12).

Jesus' mighty signs witness to the coming of God's kingdom in his person
Jesus asserted that a second and greater witness to his claim to be the Messiah were the mighty signs and miracles which he performed. He cites his own miraculous works, not to point to himself but to point to the power of God the Father working in and through him. He cited God the Father as his supreme witness. 

Jesus also asserted that the word of God in the Old Testament Scriptures, including the first five books of Moses, pointed to him as the promised Messiah and  Savior. The problem with the scribes and Pharisees was that they did not fully believe what Moses had written. They desired the praise of their own people and since they were so focused on themselves, they became blind-sighted to God and to the truth of his word. They were so preoccupied with their own position as authorities and interpreters of the law that they became hardened and unable to understand the word of God. Their pride made them deaf to God's voice.
God reveals his light and truth to the humble of heart
Scripture tells us that God reveals himself to the lowly of heart, to those who trust not in themselves but in God alone (Matthew 11:25-27,29 and Luke 10:21-22). The lowly of heart listen to God's word with an eagerness to learn and to obey. The Lord Jesus reveals to us the very mind and heart of God. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he opens our ears so that we may hear his voice and he fills our hearts and minds with the love and knowledge of God. Do you believe that God's word has power to set you free from the blindness of sin and deception? If you believe in his word you will know the truth and the truth will make you free to walk in his way of love and righteousness (John 8:32).
"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may listen to your word attentively, obey it fully, and live it joyfully."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersThe prophets and apostles are lamps of God, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"All people are lamps because they can both be lighted and extinguished... Only [Christ] is not a lamp. For he is not lighted and extinguished, because "as the Father has life in himself, so he has given to the Son to have life in himself." Therefore, the apostles, too, are lamps. And they give thanks because they both have been kindled by the light of truth and burn with the Spirit of love, and the oil of God’s grace is available to them. If they were not lamps, the Lord would not say to them, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). For after he said, "You are the light of the world," he shows that they should not think they were such a light as that of which it is said, "It was the true light that enlightens everyone who comes into this world."  (excerpt from TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 23.3.1–2).

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, JOHN 5:33-36
Advent Weekday

(Isaiah 56:1-3a, 6-8; Psalm 67)

KEY VERSE: "He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light" (v.35).
TO KNOW: When Jesus stated that he was the light of the world" (Jn 8:12), the Pharisees demanded proof for his claim. They said that he was not allowed to testify on his behalf, as Jewish law required two or three witnesses for a valid testimony. Jesus told them that John testified to the truth. Although John was the lamp, his light was only meant to burn for a while, illuminating the path to Jesus. Jesus was the true and eternal light who had a testimony greater than John's. The works that the Father gave him to do bore witness that it was God, his Father, who sent him. No one could see the invisible God, nor hear the divine voice, but God was fully revealed through the words and works of Jesus, God's Son.
TO LOVE: Do my words give testimony to Jesus or to myself?
TO SERVE: Lord Jesus, shine your light so I may walk on your pathway to our Father.

SIMBANG GABI, DECEMBER 16- 24

The “Simbang Gabi” (Mass at Dawn) is a Filipino tradition where the faithful attend dawn Masses on the nine consecutive days leading to Christmas. In the Philippines, the Masses began as early-morning liturgies to accommodate the working hours of farmers and fishermen. Now in urban cities Simbang Gabi is held in the evenings for the convenience of working people. Filipino families enact Panuluyan, a form of the Mexican Posada, in anticipation of the coming birth of Jesus Christ. The oldest Philippine symbol is the belen (nativity set) which was introduced from the tradition started by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223. The belen is found mostly in churches and affluent homes, while the parol (lantern) is found everywhere Filipinos celebrate Christmas. The parol represents the star of Bethlehem, which symbolically guides the Messiah to the house and announces that here is a a family that has accepted the Messiah. After every service it is mini-fiesta time, usually with puto bumbong a violet glutinous rice steamed in tubes served with sugar and grated coconut, and salabat (ginger tea). The novena ends on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) with a midnight mass called Misa De Aguinaldo, "the night of light and joy."

LAS POSADAS - DECEMBER 16 - 24

Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration with origins in Spain, beginning December 16th and ending December 24th in the evening. In Mexico, and parts of the Southwest U.S., the Bible story of Joseph and Mary's long-ago search for shelter in anticipation of the birth of Jesus comes to life. The neighborhood processions stop at predetermined homes along the route, where participants request posada (Spanish word for lodging) through song - only to be turned away at all but the final site. Between each stop, the pilgrims (some costumed to represent Joseph and Mary) sing carols and pray the rosary. When they are finally given posada, they celebrate by breaking candy-filled pinatas and eating delicacies, such as tamales and pan dulce (sweet bread). Despite its cultural Mexican roots, Las Posadas has transcended cultural lines among Latinos of diverse backgrounds and other nationalities. 


Friday 16 December 2016

Fri 16th. Day of penance.Isaiah 56:1-3, 6-8. O God, let all the nations praise you! Ps 66(67):2-3, 5, 7-8. John 5:33-36.
The Lord decides who will abide on his Holy Mountain.
The testimonies of prophets and the life, death and resurrection of Christ show that God chooses people who may not meet our expectations. Why? Because we set up false standards. 'These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me ... teaching human precepts as doctrines' (Mt 15:8). What are some sources of these doctrines? 'Listen and understand, it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth' (Mt 15:11). Hearts can bring forth selfishness, racism, greed and lust, creating stumbling blocks for ourselves and others. Isaiah today prophesises: 'For foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, these I bring to my Holy Mountain.' The Lord is righteous. It is he who decides an individual's holiness, not ourselves.

ST. ADELAIDE

Born in 931 in Burgundy, France as the daughter of King Rudolph II of Burgundy, Adelaide was promised in marriage when she was only two years old, to a man named Lothaire, the son and heir of his enemy, Hugh of Provence.

Lothaire was killed when still young, and Adelaide was to have a tumultuous life that paralleled the struggle for political power of the times, something she had come to symbolize.

Having been sought after by various kings and nobles after Lothaire’s death, she was finally married by Otho the Great of Germany, who had invaded Italy.

When Adelaide and Otho’s son,  the Emperor Otho II died, his son Otho III, only a child at the time, became emperor. In 991, Adelaide was invested as the Regent of the Empire, and she used her power as the effective empress to increase evangelization efforts, especially in northern Europe, and built many monasteries and churches, and also gave much aid the poor.
She died in 999 at the monastery of Seltz, Alsace, and was canonized in 1097 by Pope Urban II.

LECTIO: JOHN 5,33-36
Lectio Divina: 
 Friday, December 16, 2016
John is the lamp, Jesus is the light

Prayer
Father, you sent John to announce the coming of your Son, Jesus. He witnessed with great love for his Friend and Lord. In the fullness of time you sent us your Son as our Saviour. He witnessed to your love even unto death and he taught us to live in intimate friendship with you. Help us to welcome joyfully the presence of Christ, in order to live in communion with him and direct our lives towards you, in the light of his face. Let this light shine on us and reach out from us to our brothers and sisters whom you have put into our lives. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen..

Lettura
 From the Gospel according to John  (5, 33-36)
 You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But I have a testimony greater than John's. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.33

Meditation
 * “You sent … the Father sent me”. The verb “to send” opens and closes this short passage, bringing together and summarising all that the richness of the Word that the Lord wishes to give us. The Jews send priests and levites to Jerusalem to question John (Jn 1,19). they send them to gain an advantage, to rob the witness of John and so to have him killed. The Father sends his Son Jesus from his own womb (Jn 1:1-2) as the Gift of grace and salvation for all humankind.
Sending is an action that belongs to the Father; it is up to us, the children to receive the One who is sent. In receiving, day after day, the experience of freedom and of growth in the spirit begins. Because of this we can then be the ones who are sent, as missionaries, and witnesses to God in the world. This is the pathway that lies ahead of us, the pathway that Jesus with these Words helps us to discover. He is willing to walk with us as Teacher, brother and friend, as a companion on the journey.
 * “he witnessed”. Here is another key word, repeated a number of times in this passage, in different expressions: testified, accepting such witness, a testimony, testify on my behalf.  The witness is the one who has seen and heard and therefore can recall and repeat, affirm, declare with certainty. The biblical term, from the Old Testament onwards, is very powerful because the root of the word, witness or testimony refers to an action that lasts a long time, or something that in itself has the power to reach beyond, even to eternity. What John does, what we see happening in the life of Jesus and then in the life of his disciples, throughout the centuries, is precisely this movement of going out of oneself, as an unconditional gift, through words and works, and the whole of one’s life. They went beyond, they launched out beyond the boundaries, saying once and saying often their yes to God. There was nothing that could stand in the way of their movement towards God and towards their neighbour.
 * “He was a lamp”.  The image of the lamp shines out in the centre of this passage, along with words that speak of light: burning, shining, light. Jesus thus point out the direction we have to take, the point on which to set our gaze. There is one sure light, a fire burning, in our night too (Ps 139,12). The lamp, that is the prophets (2 Pt 1,19) who are the witnesses to the Christ, the lamp that is John the Baptist particularly, especially at this time of Advent, has the task of leading us to the true light, that enlightens every human being (Jn 1.9), the light that never fades (Lk 1,78-79), the light that is life itself (Jn 8,12; 9,5): Jesus.
Then there is a sign, a sure proof that the Lord offers us: In this light, that comes from the Father, joy comes to life. All we have to do is look inside, stand before him in openness and sincerity, and also before ourselves, before our life, to see if we can see the signs of this joy. Just for a moment? Or even for ever?  ……..

Questions
* The movements in the journey of faith that the Lord puts before us, especially in this time of Advent, are very clear: from John to Christ, from witnessing to the true and faithful Witness, from lamp to light that never fades, from Christ to the Father ….
Do I feel that I am ready to take steps, an not remain stationary? Have I the desire, inside, to journey in this way, to truly move towards Christ, and with him, towards the Father? Or might I prefer, one more time, to let things be, wait for better times, and go on, I too, like the Jews, sending others to ask the questions, to find any king of speedy or superficial answer?
* Are my eyes open, is my heart ready to welcome the testimony of Jesus, the witness of the works that he does, the works of the Father, that reveal Him as the Son, as the Brother?  Or, am I blind, unable to see any sign of grace, of mercy, of the presence of God?
* Do I have within me a willingness to be a witness for Christ, a witness for the Father? Or, am I frightened, with no great desire, or not ready, or prefer to close myself off, instead of opening out?
* Is there a light in my life? Or, do I feel I am completely in the dark? Are there clouds all around me, clouds in my heart?  The lamp of the Word is lit, since the Father sent his Son, the living and eternal Word, in whom the Father has said everything. Do I want to listen, to remember, to repeat all that I have heard?
* Even in these few lines the relationship of love that exists between Jesus and his Father is very clear, a relationship that unites them and makes them one. I know that this relationship is open, because the Father invites me too, just like every other human being who comes into this world to enter and remain, to enjoy true joy.  Do I accept the invitation? Or, do I stay outside, and, a bit like the rich young man, walk away with a heavy heart? 

Final Prayer
Resp. The Lord said to me, “You are my son”!
How can young people keep their way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
 With my whole heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.
I treasure your word in my heart,
so that I may not sin against you.
 Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes.
With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of your mouth.
 I delight in the way of your decrees
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts,
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.

(from Psalm 119)