Thứ Ba, 20 tháng 12, 2016

DECEMBER 21, 2016 : WEDNESDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK IN ADVENT

Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Advent
Lectionary: 197

Reading 1SG 2:8-14
Hark! my lover–here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
and come!
“For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

“O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice, 
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely.”

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
He will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.
Responsorial PsalmPS 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21
R. (1a; 3a) Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever; 
the design of his heart, through all generations.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield,
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust. 
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Alleluia
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 1:39-45
Mary set out in those days
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth. 
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”


Meditation: Joyful Anticipation of the Messiah
Do you recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus in your life? Blessed are you if you see and recognize the Lord with the "eyes of faith". The word "blessed" [makarios in Greek] literally means "happiness" or "beatitude". It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained, and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life. 
God gives us supernatural joy with hope in his promises
There is a certain paradox for those "blessed" by the Lord. Mary was given the "blessedness" of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. Anselm, a great teacher and Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), spoke these words in a homily: "Without God's Son nothing could exist; without Mary's son, nothing could be redeemed."  To be chosen by God is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Mary received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. Her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. 
Jesus promised his disciples that "no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take away. Do you know the joy of a life given over to God in faith and trust?
They were filled with the Holy Spirit
What is the significance of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus? When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary's womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God's promise to give a Savior. What a marvelous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth's heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leaped for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born. 
The Lord wants to fill each of us with his Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God's gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. Do you live in the joy and knowledge of God's indwelling presence with you through his Holy Spirit?
"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking you more earnestly. Increase my faith in all your promises, my hope in the joy of heaven, and my love for You as my All."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersJohn prophecies from the womb, by Maximus of Turin (died between 408-423 AD)
"Not yet born, already John prophesies and, while still in the enclosure of his mother's womb, confesses the coming of Christ with movements of joy - since he could not do so with his voice. As Elizabeth says to holy Mary, 'As soon as you greeted me, the child in my womb exulted for joy.' John exults, then, before he is born. Before his eyes can see what the world looks like, he can recognize the Lord of the world with his spirit. In this regard, I think that the prophetic phrase is appropriate: 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you came forth from the womb I sanctified you' (Jeremiah 1:5). Thus we ought not to marvel that after Herod put him in prison, he continued to announce Christ to his disciples from his confinement, when even confined in the womb he preached the same Lord by his movements." (excerpt from SERMON 5.4)

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, LUKE 1:39-45
Advent Weekday

(Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18a; Psalm 33)

KEY VERSE: "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled" (v 45).
TO KNOW: Mary was God's obedient servant who willingly responded to the divine call to bear the Savior of the world. When the angel Gabriel declared that Elizabeth, Mary's elderly kinswoman, was about to give birth, she quickly traveled the four day journey to Ain Karim in the hill country of Judah. Upon hearing Mary's greeting, the babe leaped for joy within Elizabeth's womb recalling David's dance when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem (2 Sm 6:14). Elizabeth expressed her unworthiness at being visited by the mother of her Lord. Her words echoed David's humility, "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?" (2 Sm 6:9). Mary was the Arc of the New Covenant bearing her divine son Jesus in her womb. Elizabeth proclaimed Mary to be blessed for believing that God's promises to her would be fulfilled.
TO LOVE: How can I imitate Mary's example of faithful service?
TO SERVE: Mary, my mother, help me to respond to God's call with faith and trust as you did.




O RADIANT DAWN, Wednesday, December 21

Today's O Antiphon is "O Oriens" (O Radiant Dawn). At Holy Mass in the ancient Church, Christians faced east so that they could greet the coming of the Savior, both in the consecration of the bread and wine and in the expectation of the glorious return of the King of Glory. They turned to the rising Son, who is Justice itself, who will lay bare the truth of our every word, thought and deed on the Final Day.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer,
 Our spirits by Thine advent here;
 Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
 And death's dark shadows put to flight.


In the United States and the rest of the northern hemisphere, the first day of the winter season is the day of the year when the Sun is farthest south (on December 21st or 22nd). This waning of the sun is known as the Winter Solstice. The Romans celebrated “The Feast of the Invincible Sun” on this day. For Christians, Christ is the Invincible Son. In the Southern hemisphere, winter and summer solstices are exchanged so that the winter solstice is the day on which the Sun is farthest north. 

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Wed 21st. St Peter Canisius Song of Songs 2:8-14 / Zephaniah 3:14-18. Cry out with joy in the Lord, you holy ones; sing a new song to him—Ps 32(33):2-3, 11-12, 20-21. Luke 1:39-45.
Joy in Christ's presence.
Despite the marvelous event of the Annunciation, Mary does not think of herself. Instead her thoughts are with her cousin Elizabeth as she hastens to her aid. While the Gospel today focuses on the two women, both Jesus and John make their presence felt, in John's case quite forcefully! Upon Mary's approach, Elizabeth feels John leap in her womb as the Spirit reveals to her God's divine plan. She greets her cousin with joy and humility, wondering why the most blessed of all women would think to visit a lowly person such as herself. May we approach Mary with the same humility, that our soul may leap for joy as she brings us into the presence of her son.

ST. PETER CANISIUS

An important figure in the Catholic counter-reformation that responded to the 16th century spread of Protestantism, the priest and Doctor of the Church Saint Peter Canisius is remembered liturgically on Dec. 21.

His efforts as a preacher, author, and religious educator strengthened the Catholic faith in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and parts of Central Europe during a period of doctrinal confusion.

Writing about St. Peter Canisius in 1897, Pope Leo XIII noted similarities between the late 19th century and the saint's own lifetime, “a period when the spirit of revolution and looseness of doctrine resulted in a great loss of faith and decline in morals.”
More recently, in a 2011 general audience, Pope Benedict XVI taught that the Jesuit saint found success in ministry by living as “a personal witness of Jesus and an instrument at his disposal, bound to him closely by faith in his Gospel and in his Church.”

Peter Kanis – his name later Latinized to “Canisius” – was born in the Netherlands during May 1521. His father Jacob was a wealthy public official, but his mother Aegidia died soon after his birth. Peter began his university studies in Cologne around age 15, and obtained his master's degree before he turned 20. His friends during this period included several men who held to the Catholic faith in opposition to the Protestant doctrines then gaining ground in Germany.

Despite his father's preference that he should marry, Peter made a decision in 1540 to remain celibate. Three years later he entered the Society of Jesus under the influence of Blessed Peter Faber, one of the first companions of Saint Ignatius Loyola. He founded the first Jesuit house in Germany, became a priest in 1546, and was involved in a successful effort to force the resignation of Cologne's Archbishop Hermann of Wied after the archbishop's shift from the Catholic faith to Protestant teachings.

Only one year after his ordination, Peter accompanied the Bishop of Augsburg to the Council of Trent as a theological adviser. He spent a portion of his time in Italy working directly with Saint Ignatius Loyola, before leaving for Bavaria where he would serve as a university professor as well as a catechist and preacher. This combination of academic and pastoral work continued at Vienna from 1552, allowing him to visit and assist many Austrian parishes which found themselves without a priest.

During the mid-1550s Peter's evangelistic journeys took him to Prague, where he eventually founded a Jesuit school along with another in Bavaria, and later a third in Munich. The year 1555, in particular, was a landmark for Canisius: St. Ignatius promoted him to a leadership position within the order, which he held until 1569, and he published the first and longest version of his Catholic catechism. This work, and its two shorter adaptations, went through hundreds of printings and remained in use for centuries

Involved in discussions with Protestants during 1557, Peter made a strong case for the Church by showing how the adherents of Protestantism could not agree with one another in matters of doctrine. Meanwhile, he maintained his commitment to religious instruction on the popular level – teaching children, giving retreats, and preaching carefully-crafted, doctrinally-rich sermons to large crowds.

Canisius' service to the Council of Trent continued during the early 1560s, though mostly from a distance. He kept up a demanding schedule of preaching and establishing universities, while also working to ensure that the council's decrees were received and followed in Germany after it concluded. His tireless efforts over the next two decades contributed to a major revival of German Catholicism. In the 1580s, he shifted his focus to the Swiss region of Freibourg, spearheading a similar revival there.

A mystical experience in 1584 convinced Canisius that he should cease his travels and remain in Switzerland for the rest of his life. He spent his last years building up the Church in Fribourg through his preaching, teaching, and writing. Peter suffered a near-fatal stroke in 1591, but recovered and continued as an author for six years. The Dutch Jesuit saw writing as an essential form of apostolic work, a view supported by the continued use of his catechism long after his death on Dec. 21, 1597.

St. Peter Canisius was simultaneously canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1925. In a famous saying, the Jesuit priest revealed the secret behind the accomplishments of his energetic and fruitful life: “If you have too much to do, with God's help you will find time to do it all.”

LECTIO DIVINA: LUKE 1:39-45
Lectio Divina: 
 Wednesday, December 21, 2016

1) Opening prayer
God, we tend to lose ourselves
in the bustle and stir of the day,
in our work and our petty worries.
Give us the freshness of heart
to look for the things that matter,
those that make our lives deeply human
and at the same time open us
to your world and to your values.
Make us long to encounter you with joy,
that we may discover again the quality
of gratuitous giving, of respect,
and of carefree, self-forgetting love,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading – Luke 1, 39-45
Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah.
She went into Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
She gave a loud cry and said, 'Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord? Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.'
3) Reflection
• Luke stresses the readiness of Mary in serving, in being a handmaid. The Angel speaks about the pregnancy of Elizabeth and immediately, Mary rises and sets out as quickly as she could to go and help her. From Nazareth to the house of Elizabeth there were more than 100 km, the minimum, four days of travelling!, There were no buses, no trains. Mary begins to serve and fulfils her mission in behalf of the people of God.
• Elizabeth represents the Old Testament which was about to end. Mary represents the New Testament. The Old Testament accepts the New one with gratitude and trust, recognizing in it God’s gratuitous gift which is going to be realized and is going to complete the expectation of people. In the encounter of the two women is manifested the gift of the Spirit. The child leapt with joy in Elizabeth’s womb. This is the reading of the faith which Elizabeth makes of the things of life.
• The Good News of God reveals his presence in the most common things of human life: two house wives who visit each other to mutually help one another. Visit, joy, pregnancy, children, mutual help, house, family: Luke wants us and the community to perceive precisely this and that we discover in this God’s presence. 
• Elizabeth says to Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Up until today, these words form part of the best known Psalm and most prayed in the whole world, “The Hail Mary”.
• “And blessed is she who has believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled”. This is the praise of Elizabeth to Mary and the message of Luke for the community: to believe in the Word of God, because the Word of God has the force to fulfil all that which it tells us. It is a creative Word. It generates new life in the womb of the Virgin, in the womb of people who accept it with faith. 
• Mary and Elizabeth already knew one another. But in this encounter, they discover, one in one another, a mystery which they had not known as yet, and which fills them with great joy. Today also, we meet persons who surprise us because of the wisdom they possess and the witness of faith that they give. Has something similar happened to you already? Have you met persons who have surprised you? What prevents us from discovering and from living the joy of God’s presence in our life?
• The attitude of Mary before the Word expresses the ideal which Luke wants to communicate to the Community: do not close yourselves in self, but get out of self, be attentive to the concrete needs of persons and try to help others as far as possible according to their need.
4) Personal questions
• Placing myself in the place of Mary and Elizabeth: am I capable to perceive and experience the presence of God in the most simple and common things in the life of every day?
• The praise of Elizabeth to Mary: “You have believed!” Her husband had difficulty to believe what the angel was telling him. And I?
5) Concluding Prayer
We are waiting for Yahweh; 
he is our help and our shield,
for in him our heart rejoices, 
in his holy name we trust. (Ps 33,20-21)