Chủ Nhật, 18 tháng 12, 2016


Monday of the Fourth Week in Advent
Lectionary: 195

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.
Responsorial PsalmPS 71:3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17
R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. 
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength. 
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD;
O God, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 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.”

Meditation: "Many will rejoice at his birth"
Do you believe that God will fulfill all his promises just as he said? Advent is a time to renew our hope and confidence in God’s faithfulness to the covenant he made with his people. In preparing the way for a Savior, we see the wondrous miracle of two barren couples who conceive and bear sons – Samson in the Old Testament (Judges 13) and John the Baptist in the New Testament (Luke 1:5ff) - who are called by God to bring hope and deliverance at a time of spiritual darkness and difficulty for the people of God.
A blessing beyond expectations
Zechariah was a godly man who was tuned to God’s voice. He was born into a priestly family and it was his privilege to be chosen to enter the inner court of the temple to offer sacrifice to God.  Luke records that the people wondered at Zechariah's delay and were amazed that he was speechless when he withdrew from the inner sanctuary. They rightly perceived that he had a special encounter with God. God’s angelic messenger greeted Zechariah with a blessing beyond his expectations. 
"Your prayer is heard! You will have a son! And his mission will be great for all of Israel."
 Now that seemed like a lot for Zechariah to take in all at once. Could God really do a miracle for his barren wife, Elizabeth?  The angel somewhat wisely put Zechariah in his place before God’s mighty action.  He became speechless until the day the infant was dedicated to the Lord and given the name, John. When God draws us into his presence, he wants us to be still and quiet before him so we can listen to his voice as he speaks to our hearts and reveals his mind to us.  Do you listen attentively to the Lord and do you ponder his word in your heart with trust and confidence?
The Lord is gracious
In the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist, the angel explains to Zechariah the role his son is to play in preparing the way for the Messiah. John will be great in the sight of God. He will live as a Nazarite (see Numbers 6) - a person set apart for the Lord. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even within his mother's womb. And he shall be sent to the people of God, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers and children to God and one another, by turning the "disobedient to the wisdom of the just." The name John means "the Lord is gracious". When God acts to save us he graciously fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes our faith "alive" to his promises. Do you pray that "the hearts of parents and children may be turned to God and one another"?
"Lord Jesus, you bring hope and restoration to your people. Restore and strengthen Christian family life today. Help me to love and serve my family. May your love rule in all my relationships and remove any barriers to peace and harmony."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersBorn for prophecy - murdered for truth, by Maximus of Turin (died between 408-423 AD)
"I do not know what is the most important thing that we should preach - that he [John the Baptist] was wonderfully born or more wonderfully slain - for he was born as a prophecy and murdered for truth. By his birth he announced the coming of the Savior, and by his death he condemned the incest of Herod (Matthew 14:3-12). This holy and righteous man, who was born in an uncommon way as the result of a promise, merited from God that he should depart this world by an uncommon death - that he should by confessing the Lord lay aside his body, which he had received as a gift from the Lord. Therefore John did everything by the will of God, since he was born and died for the sake of God’s work." (excerpt from SERMON 5.1-.2)

Advent Weekday
(Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a; Psalm 71)

KEY VERSE: "Your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall name him John" (v 13).
TO KNOW: Mary's kinswoman Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah were of advanced age and were childless. Zechariah was of the priestly division of Abijah, the eighth of the twenty-four divisions of priests, and he was chosen by lot to serve in the Jerusalem temple. While he was burning incense in the sanctuary, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of a son to him. The child would be named John meaning "Yahweh is Gracious." John had been chosen by God to be a prophet who would turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord (Mal 3:23). Because Zechariah doubted the divine messenger, he was made mute until the birth of his son. Paradoxically, John would be God's "voice" announcing the coming of the Messiah.
TO LOVE: Lord God, help me to believe the words you speak to me.
TO SERVE: Am I a messenger of good news to others?

O FLOWER OF JESSE'S STEM, Monday December 19

Today's O Antiphon is "O Flower of Jesse's Stem (sometimes translated as rod). Isaiah 11:1-10 gives us imagery for our reflection today. The great prophet of Advent tells us that the kingdom of David would be destroyed, but not entirely. A root would remain. Jesse is King David's father. David is Jesse's root. David leads us to Christ.

O come, O Rod of Jesse free,
 Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
 From depths of hell Thy people save,

 And give them victory o'er the grave.

Monday 19 December 2016

Mon 19th. Judges 13:2-7, 24-25. Fill me with your praise and I will sing your gloryPs 70(71):3-6, 16-17. Luke 1:5-25.
'Zechariah, do not be afraid, your prayer has been heard.'
There are important similarities between today's story announcing the birth of John the Baptist and tomorrow's Gospel reading announcing the birth of Jesus himself. Both point to the birth of children conceived through the power of God to exercise a special role in God's plan for his creation. Their births are completely unexpected. John is born of a woman too old for childbirth and Jesus is born of a youthful virgin. While no angelic visitor announced our birth, we too have been loved into existence by God with a role that is uniquely ours. We will learn what part we are to play if, like Zechariah and Mary, we are open to God's word. In the words of today's responsorial psalm, I pray: 'O God you have taught me from my youth and I proclaim your wonders still.'


Blessed Pope Urban V was born Guillaume de Grimoard at Grisac in Languedoc, 1310. He studied canon law and theology in Avignon and became a Benedictine monk. He was named abbot of his monastery in 1352, and served as a papal diplomat and was eventually sent as an ambassodor to various locations. He also served as a bishop around Italy and throughout Europe.

He was elected pope in 1362 while on diplomatic business, even though he was not a cardinal. His reign was blessed by his peacekeeping activity between the French and Italian kings, the founding of many universities, his zeal for the crusades and his decision to return the papacy to Rome and end the Avignon exile of the popes. 

However, the breakout of war between England and France forced him to return to Avignon on a peacekeeping mission. He died on his return to Avignon, and his body, which had been buried at Avignon, was then transferred to Marseille according to his own wishes, and his tomb became the site of many miracles. He died on December 19, 1370.

He always had a Benedictine spirit, and even wore his monk’s habit as Pope. His virtue and honesty were noted, especially in a Europe plagued by scandal and corruption. It is said that as he lay dying he called the people to surround his deathbed, saying “the people must see how popes die.”

Lectio Divina: 
 Monday, December 19, 2016
3rd Week of Advent

1)      Opening prayer
Lord, mighty God,
no angel announced our birth,
but we know that you loved us
even before we were born,
and that you call us to prepare
the fuller coming of your Son among people.
Reveal your strength in our weakness,
keep us hoping in your future,
that we may overcome all obstacles
to establish the kingdom
of Jesus Christ our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading – Luke 1, 5-25
In the days of King Herod of Judaea there lived a priest called Zechariah who belonged to the Abijah section of the priesthood, and he had a wife, Elizabeth by name, who was a descendant of Aaron. Both were upright in the sight of God and impeccably carried out all the commandments and observances of the Lord. But they were childless: Elizabeth was barren and they were both advanced in years.
Now it happened that it was the turn of his section to serve, and he was exercising his priestly office before God when it fell to him by lot, as the priestly custom was, to enter the Lord's sanctuary and burn incense there. And at the hour of incense all the people were outside, praying. Then there appeared to him the angel of the Lord, standing on the right of the altar of incense. The sight disturbed Zechariah and he was overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, 'Zechariah, do not be afraid, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth is to bear you a son and you shall name him John. He will be your joy and delight and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he must drink no wine, no strong drink; even from his mother's womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the Israelites to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah, he will go before him to reconcile fathers to their children and the disobedient to the good sense of the upright, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him.' Zechariah said to the angel, 'How can I know this? I am an old man and my wife is getting on in years.' The angel replied, 'I am Gabriel, who stand in God's presence, and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. Look! Since you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time, you will be silenced and have no power of speech until this has happened.'
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were surprised that he stayed in the sanctuary so long. When he came out he could not speak to them, and they realised that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. But he could only make signs to them and remained dumb. When his time of service came to an end he returned home.
Some time later his wife Elizabeth conceived and for five months she kept to herself, saying, 'The Lord has done this for me, now that it has pleased him to take away the humiliation I suffered in public.'

3) Reflection
• Today’s Gospel speaks to us about the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Zechariah (Lk 1, 5-25). The Gospel of tomorrow will speak about the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary (Lk 1, 26-38). Luke places both of these visits side by side to each other, in such a way that we may read both texts attentively, that we may perceive the small and significant difference between one visit and the other, between the Old and the New Testament. Look for and discover the differences between the visits of the Angel Gabriel to Zechariah and to Mary through the following questions: Where does the Angel appear? To whom does he appear? Which is his message, what does he announce? Which is the response? Which is the reaction of the person after receiving the visit ? Etc.
• The first message of the Angel of God to Zechariah is: “Do not be afraid!” Up until now, God still causes fear to many persons and up until now the message continues to be valid, “Do not be afraid!” Immediately the Angel adds: “Your prayer has been heard!” In our life, everything is the fruit of prayer!
• Zechariah represents the Old Testament. He believes, but his faith is weak. After the visit, he remains mute, incapable to communicate with the persons. The manner in which the project of salvation, known by Zechariah, how it had been revealed up to that moment, had exhausted all his resources, while God was initiating a new phase together with Mary.
• In the announcement of the Angel is expressed all the importance of the mission of the child who will be born and who will be called John: “he must drink no wine, no strong drink, even from his mother’s womb he will be filled with the Holy Spirit”, that is, John will be a person totally consecrated to God and to his mission. “He will bring back many of the Israelites to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him to reconcile fathers to their children and the disobedient to the good sense of the upright, preparing for the Lord a people fit for him”, that is, in the child John will take place the expected return of the Prophet Elijah who will have to come to carry out the reconstruction of community life: to reconcile the heart of the parents to their children and the disobedient toward the wisdom of the just.
• In reality, the mission of John was very important. According to the people, he was a prophet (Mk 11, 32). Many years later, in Ephesus, Paul continued to find persons who had been baptized with the Baptism of John (Acts 19, 3).
• When Elizabeth, being old, conceived and remained pregnant, she hid herself during five months. While Mary, instead of hiding, gets out of her house and goes to serve her.

4) Personal questions
• What struck you the most in this visit of Angel Gabriel to Zechariah?
• To reconcile the heart of the parents toward their sons, that is, to reconstruct the fabric of human relationship from the basis and to build up the life in community. This was the mission of John. This was also the mission of Jesus and continues to be today the most important mission. How do I contribute to this mission?

5) Concluding Prayer
For you are my hope, Lord,
my trust, Yahweh, since boyhood.
On you I have relied since my birth,
since my mother's womb you have been my portion. (Ps 71,5-6)