Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

-22

“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

OPENING PRAYER

A Three O’Clock Prayer

Dear Lord, remembering the hour when You experienced death

So that we might have Eternal Life,

May we appreciate in our hearts

the necessity of Your sacrifice for us

And with Your help, Your guidance, and Your grace,

May we be made worthy of it.

COLLECT

Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care,

that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace,

they may be defended always by your protection.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Sprit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Is 6:1-2a, 3-8

In the year King Uzziah died,

I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne,

with the train of his garment filling the temple.

Seraphim were stationed above.

They cried one to the other,

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!

All the earth is filled with his glory!”

At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook

and the house was filled with smoke.

Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed!

For I am a man of unclean lips,

living among a people of unclean lips;

yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me,

holding an ember that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

He touched my mouth with it, and said,

“See, now that this has touched your lips,

your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,

“Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”

“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

 

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.1 Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.2

CCC 712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the “Book of Emmanuel” (“Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,”3 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might,

the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.4

CCC 1137 The book of Revelation of St. John, read in the Church’s liturgy, first reveals to us, “A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne”: “the Lord God.”5 It then shows the Lamb, “standing, as though it had been slain”: Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the true sanctuary, the same one “who offers and is offered, who gives and is given.”6 Finally it presents “the river of the water of life. .. flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb,” one of most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit.7

CCC 1138 “Recapitulated in Christ,” these are the ones who take part in the service of the praise of God and the fulfillment of his plan: the heavenly powers, all creation (the four living beings), the servants of the Old and New Covenants (the twenty-four elders), the new People of God (the one hundred and forty-four thousand),8 especially the martyrs “slain for the word of God,” and the all-holy Mother of God (the Woman), the Bride of the Lamb,9 and finally “a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and tongues.”10

CCC 2584 In their “one to one” encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior God, the Lord of history.11

CCC 2809 The holiness of God is the inaccessible center of his eternal mystery. What is revealed of it in creation and history, Scripture calls “glory,” the radiance of his majesty.12 In making man in his image and likeness, God “crowned him with glory and honor,” but by sinning, man fell “short of the glory of God.”13 From that time on, God was to manifest his holiness by revealing and giving his name, in order to restore man to the image of his Creator.14

1 Cf. Job 38:7 (where angels are called “sons of God”); Gen 3:24; 19; 21: 17; 22:11; Acts 7:53; Ex 23:20-23; Judg 13; 6:11-24; Is 6:6; 1 Kings 19:5.

2 Cf. Lk 1:11, 26.

3 Jn 12:41; cf. Isa 6-12.

4 Isa 11:1-2.

5 Rev 4:2, 8; Isa 6:1; cf. Ezek 1:26-28.

6 Rev 5:6; Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Anaphora; cf. Jn 1:29; Heb 4:14-15; 10:19-2.

7 Rev 22:1; cf. 21:6; Jn 4:10-14.

8 Cf. Rev 4-5; 7:1-8; 14:1; Isa 6:2-3.

9 Rev 6:9-11; Rev 21:9; cf. 12.

10 Rev 7:9.

11 Cf. Am 7:2, 5; Isa 6:5, 8, 11; Jer 1:6; 15: 15-18; 20: 7-18.

12 Cf. Ps 8; Isa 6:3.

13 Ps 8:5; Rom 3:23; cf. Gen 1:26.

14 Col 3:10.

APPLICATION

This incident–the call of Isaiah to the office of Prophet–happened over 2,600 years ago and yet it has a lesson, a practical lesson, for each one of us today. Every one of us, every human being on earth has his own mission to perform. Each one of us has a personal vocation, a special purpose in life, which God expects (but will not force him) to perform. And this personal task is in addition to the basic, the principal purpose God has for each one of us, namely, that we should work our way to heaven.

I said it is in addition to our principal purpose, but in fact it is rather the means through which we shall attain to our principal purpose. In other words if we carry out faithfully our particular vocation we shall earn heaven.

Catholics too often understand by vocation a call to serve God in the priesthood or the religious life. This is a vocation, but, so are the various other calls which God gives to men and women in lay life. The call to the married life is a divine vocation, and in many, if not most cases, a more difficult vocation than that of the priest or the religious. The call to the single life when a man or woman, through no personal fault, does not find a life-partner, is also a vocation, and one in which God is frequently served loyally, in spite of difficulties and great personal problems and heart-aches.

We are all then in God’s army and each one of us has his or her task to perform. Our eternal fate, our eternal destiny, will depend on how well we carry out the task given us.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 7-8

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,

for you have heard the words of my mouth;

in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;

I will worship at your holy temple

and give thanks to your name.

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

Because of your kindness and your truth;

for you have made great above all things

your name and your promise.

When I called, you answered me;

you built up strength within me.

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O LORD,

when they hear the words of your mouth;

and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD:

“Great is the glory of the LORD.”

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

Your right hand saves me.

The LORD will complete what he has done for me;

your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;

forsake not the work of your hands.

In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

READING II

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1 Cor 15:1-11

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters,

of the gospel I preached to you,

which you indeed received and in which you also stand.

Through it you are also being saved,

if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,

unless you believed in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins

in accordance with the Scriptures;

that he was buried;

that he was raised on the third day

in accordance with the Scriptures;

that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

After that, Christ appeared to more

than five hundred brothers at once,

most of whom are still living,

though some have fallen asleep.

After that he appeared to James,

then to all the apostles.

Last of all, as to one born abnormally,

he appeared to me.

For I am the least of the apostles,

not fit to be called an apostle,

because I persecuted the church of God.

But by the grace of God I am what I am,

and his grace to me has not been ineffective.

Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them;

not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.

Therefore, whether it be I or they,

so we preach and so you believed.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 186 From the beginning, the apostolic Church expressed and handed on her faith in brief formula normative for all.1 But already very early on, the Church also wanted to gather the essential elements of her faith into organic and articulated summaries, intended especially for candidates for Baptism:

This synthesis of faith was not made to accord with human opinions, but rather what was of the greatest importance was gathered from all the Scriptures, to present the one teaching of the faith in its entirety. And just as the mustard seed contains a great number of branches in a tiny grain, so too this summary of faith encompassed in a few words the whole knowledge of the true religion contained in the Old and the New Testaments.2

CCC 519 All Christ’s riches “are for every individual and are everybody’s property.”3 Christ did not live his life for himself but for us, from his Incarnation “for us men and for our salvation” to his death “for our sins” and Resurrection “for our justification”.4 He is still “our advocate with the Father”, who “always lives to make intercession” for us.5 He remains ever “in the presence of God on our behalf, bringing before him all that he lived and suffered for us.”6

CCC 552 Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;7 Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”8 Christ, the “living Stone”,9 thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.10

CCC 601 The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of “the righteous one, my Servant” as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin.11 Citing a confession of faith that he himself had “received”, St. Paul professes that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.”12 In particular Jesus’ redemptive death fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering Servant.13 Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God’s suffering Servant.14 After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles.15

CCC 624 “By the grace of God” Jesus tasted death “for every one”.16 In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only “die for our sins”17 but should also “taste death”, experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb,18 reveals God’s great sabbath rest19 after the fulfillment20 of man’s salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.21

CCC 627 Christ’s death was a real death in that it put an end to his earthly human existence. But because of the union which the person of the Son retained with his body, his was not a mortal corpse like others, for “it was not possible for death to hold him” 22 23 and therefore “divine power preserved Christ’s body from corruption.” Both of these statements can be said of Christ: “He was cut off out of the land of the living”,24 and “My flesh will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let your Holy One see corruption.”25 Jesus’ resurrection “on the third day” was the sign of this, also because bodily decay was held to begin on the fourth day after death.26

CCC 639 The mystery of Christ’s resurrection is a real event, with manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testament bears witness. In about A.D. 56 St. Paul could already write to the Corinthians: “I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. ..”27 The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his conversion at the gates of Damascus.28

CCC 641 Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One.29 Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ’s Resurrection for the apostles themselves.30 They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers,31 and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”32

CCC 642 Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles – and Peter in particular – in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary “witnesses to his Resurrection”, but they are not the only ones – Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles.33

CCC 652 Christ’s Resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus himself during his earthly life.34 The phrase “in accordance with the Scriptures”35 indicates that Christ’s Resurrection fulfilled these predictions.

CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”36 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.37 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.38 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.39 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.40

CCC 752 In Christian usage, the word “church” designates the liturgical assembly,41 but also the local community42 or the whole universal community of believers.43 These three meanings are inseparable. “The Church” is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body.

CCC 857 The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles, in three ways:

– she was and remains built on “the foundation of the Apostles,”44 the witnesses chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself;45

– with the help of the Spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching,46 the “good deposit,” the salutary words she has heard from the apostles;47

– she continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor”:48

You are the eternal Shepherd

who never leaves his flock untended.

Through the apostles

you watch over us and protect us always.

You made them shepherds of the flock

to share in the work of your Son. ..49

1 Cf. Rom 10:9; I Cor 15:3-5, etc.

2 St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. illum. 5, 12: PG 33, 521-524.

3 John Paul II, RH II.

4 I Cor 15:3; Rom 4:25.

5 I Jn 2:1 Heb 7:25.

6 Heb 9:24.

7 Cf Mk 3:16; 9:2; Lk 24:34; I Cor 15:5.

8 Mt 16:18.

9 I Pt 2:4.

10 Cf. Lk 22:32.

11 Is 53:11; cf. 53:12; Jn 8 34-36; Acts 3:14.

12 1 Cor 15:3; cf. also Acts 3:18; 7:52; 13:29; 26:22-23.

13 Cf. Is 53:7-8 and Acts 8:32-35.

14 Cf. Mt 20:28.

15 Cf. Lk 24:25-27, 44-45.

16 Heb 2:9.

17 I Cor 15:3.

18 Cf. Jn 19:42.

19 Cf. Heb 4:7-9.

20 Cf. Jn 19:30.

21 Cf Col 1: 18-20.

22 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 51, 3.

23 Acts 2:24.

24 Is 53:8.

25 Acts 2:26-27; cf. Ps 16:9-10.

26 Cf. I Cor 15:4; Lk 24:46; Mt 12:40; Jon 2:1; Hos 6:2; cf. Jn 11:39.

27 I Cor 15:3-4.

28 Cf. Acts 9:3-18.

29 Mk 16:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 19:31,42.

30 Cf Lk 24:9-10; Mt 28:9-10; Jn 20:11-18.

31 Cf I Cor 15:5; Lk 22:31-32.

32 Lk 24:34, 36.

33 I Cor 15:4-8; cf. Acts 1:22.

34 Cf. Mt 28:6; Mk 16:7; Lk 24:6-7, 26-27, 44-48.

35 Cf. I Cor 15:3-4; cf. the Nicene Creed.

36 Mk 16:19.

37 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.

38 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.

39 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.

40 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.

41 Cf. 1 Cor 11:18; 14:19,28,34,35.

42 Cf. 1 Cor 1:2; 16:1.

43 Cf. 1 Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13; Phil 3:6.

44 Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14.

45 Cf. Mt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:7-8; Gal 1:1; etc.

46 Cf. Acts 2:42.

47 Cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14.

48 AG 5.

49 Roman Missal, Preface of the Apostles I.

APPLICATION

If St. Paul, the great Apostle, found it necessary to recall to the minds of his Corinthian converts the basic doctrines of the faith that he had preached to them some five years earlier, it is very fitting that we too should meditate on the same basic doctrines today. We have many of the difficulties and problems that made living a truly Christian life a hard struggle for the first Christians of Corinth. They were a relatively small group, living in the midst of pagan neighbors whose purpose in life was to get what they could out of this world. These pagans had no thought for the future and only ridicule for anyone who was foolish enough, according to their philosophy, to forego the pleasures and the comforts of this life for the sake of something they expected after death. It was far from easy to carry the Christian cross through a throng of jeering pleasure-seekers. It was hard to mortify the senses and the flesh when the neighbor’s motto in life was “eat, sleep and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

But what of us Christians today? Is our lot that much easier; have we no pagans or paganism to contend with? Leaving out for the moment the countries that have not yet learned of Christianity–how Christian is the so-called western world? More than half of the people of Europe are living under a regime that not alone denies Christianity but proclaims that there is no God, and no future for man but the grave. And how Christian are the peoples of the other half of Europe, and Europe’s western allies, who, for political and commercial reasons, condemn the eastern atheists? In theory they do not deny the existence of God, but what part does God play in their national legislation and their international deliberations? To come down from the legislators to the masses: what part does the law of the Gospel play in the lives of the majority of them?

The Christian of today is tempted on all sides to forget his Christian calling. He is tempted to forget the future life and urged to live in the present, to enjoy the pleasures of the moment, to join in the mad rush for worldly wealth and power. But as Christians, we have a philosophy of life which shows up the folly and the emptiness of these temptations. Granted that this world could give us (which, of course, it cannot) all the pleasures, all the wealth, all the power we desire, death will still come to cut us off from all these cherished things. And what then?

We know that our true home is in heaven, that true happiness consists in loving God and neighbor, that true wealth is supernatural grace and virtue, which will last for all eternity. The Incarnation, death and Resurrection of our Savior, of which St. Paul reminds us today, are for us an absolute guarantee that God wants us in heaven and that we shall be with him in heaven if we live the few short years given us in the world, as true Christians, lovers of God and of Christ.

GOSPEL

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Lk 5:1-11

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening

to the word of God,

he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret.

He saw two boats there alongside the lake;

the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets.

Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon,

he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.

Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”

Simon said in reply,

“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,

but at your command I will lower the nets.”

When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish

and their nets were tearing.

They signaled to their partners in the other boat

to come to help them.

They came and filled both boats

so that the boats were in danger of sinking.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said,

“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him

and all those with him,

and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee,

who were partners of Simon.

Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid;

from now on you will be catching men.”

When they brought their boats to the shore,

they left everything and followed him.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/020716.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 208 Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness.1 Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.”2 Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”3 But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: “I will not execute my fierce anger. .. for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.”4 The apostle John says likewise: “We shall. .. reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”5

1 Cf. EX 3:5-6.

2 Is 6:5.

3 Lk 5:8.

4 Hos 11:9.

5 I Jn 3:19-20.

APPLICATION

How the wisdom of God differs from the wisdom of men! If a businessman of today (or even of the year 28 A.D.) were choosing a chairman and assistants for the world-wide enterprise he was about to set up, is it likely that he would choose them from among the unknown, unlettered fishermen of Galilee? Yet Christ, who was about to set up not only a world-wide institute but an everlasting one, chose these simple fishermen and made them his assistants and his successors in the work that he had taken in hand.

And it wasn’t that he was restricted in his choice. There were many highly educated priests and scribes in Jerusalem whom he could have won over, men who could preach and instruct so much more eloquently than Peter or Andrew. There were Roman officers in Palestine who were highly educated, and who would be much more eagerly listened to in the Gentile world. There were Greek philosophers whose very name would add prestige to the Gospel message had they been Apostles. Yet it was to none of these that Christ entrusted the arduous task of spreading the good news of the Gospel, it was to none of these that he gave the keys of his kingdom.

Christ was not influenced in his judgement by external, accidental qualifications. He judged the heart and the will. He knew the true worth of men. Furthermore, the society that he was about to set up was not a worldly business concern but a free transport system to heaven. The truths he was committing to its keeping were not based on earthly wisdom which would require eloquence and prestige to bolster them up. They were the eternal, divine truths which needed no human propaganda, no help from mere men.

Thus, in the selection of his Apostles, Christ has given us an extra proof, if one were needed, of his own divine wisdom and of the divine origin of the Christian religion which we profess. Our religion is not man-made, God is its author.

While thanking God today for our Christian religion, with its clearly drawn map of salvation, let us show our appreciation by doing our own little part, as humble apostles, weak but willing helpers of Christ. This we can do without eloquence, or personal prestige. We do so by living as true Christians in our homes, in our places of work, and in our recreations, by carrying our cross daily and patiently, ever ready to give a hand when the neighbor’s cross seems too heavy for him. This will be Christian eloquence, this will be a true apostleship of Christ, because actions speak louder than words.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Entering into Lent

Lent is a propitious time in which the Church invites Christians to be more intensely aware of Christ’s redeeming work and to live our baptism more profoundly… With its duration of forty days, Lent tries to recall some of the events that marked the life and history of ancient Israel, presenting to us again its paradigmatic value… The Lenten season is an invitation to relive with Jesus the forty days he spent in the desert, praying and fasting, before undertaking his public mission… This is the authentic and central program of the Lenten Season: to listen to the Word of truth, to live, speak, and do the truth, to reject lies that poison humanity and are the door to all evils. It is urgent, therefore, during these forty days, to listen again to the Gospel, the Lord’s Word, Word of truth, so that in every Christian, in each one of us, the awareness be reinforced of the truth that has been given, that he has given us, to live it and be his witnesses. Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we came from, where we must go, what path we must take in life. Thus, the Lenten season offers us an ascetic and liturgical journey that, helping us to open our eyes in face of our weakness, makes us open our hearts to the merciful love of Christ.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer Before a Crucifix

BEHOLD, O good and sweetest Jesus,

I cast myself upon my knees in Thy sight,

and with the most fervent desire of my soul

I pray and beseech Thee

to impress upon my heart

lively sentiments of faith,

hope and charity,

with true repentance for my sins

and a most firm desire of amendment:

whilst with deep affection and grief of soul

I consider within myself and mentally contemplate

Thy five most precious Wounds,

having before mine eyes that which David, the prophet,

long ago spoke in Thine own person concerning Thee,

my Jesus: “They have pierced My hands and My feet,

they have numbered all My bones.”

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Posted in Catholic

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

-18

“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.’

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas

Grant me, O Lord my God,

a mind to know you,

a heart to seek you,

wisdom to find you,

conduct pleasing to you,

faithful perseverance in waiting for you,

and a hope of finally embracing you.

Amen.

COLLECT

Grant us, Lord our God,

that we may honor you with all our mind,

and love everyone in truth of heart,

Though our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Jer 1:4-5, 17-19

The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
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.

But do you gird your loins;
stand up and tell them
all that I command you.
Be not crushed on their account,
as though I would leave you crushed before them;
for it is I this day
who have made you a fortified city,
a pillar of iron, a wall of brass,
against the whole land:
against Judah’s kings and princes,
against its priests and people.
They will fight against you but not prevail over you,
for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.1

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.2

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.3

CCC 2584 In their “one to one” encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior God, the Lord of history.4

1 Cf. CDF, Donum vitae I, 1.

2 Jer 1:5; cf. Job 10:8-12; Ps 22:10-11.

3 Ps 139:15.

4 Cf. Am 7:2, 5; Isa 6:5, 8, 11; Jer 1:6; 15: 15-18; 20: 7-18.

APPLICATION

These five verses of the book of Jeremiah which you have had read to you describe something that happened over two thousand five hundred years ago. You might well ask what has that got to do with me today. Why should I worry about what happened to some Jew six hundred years before Christ came? But it is because you and I have much we can learn from this man’s life and work, that God has preserved his story for us in the sacred Bible. Learning from the past is an absolutely essential preparation for our journey into the future. Jeremiah trod the road that we are called on to tread today. He has left us signposts we must follow if we want to arrive at our journey’s end.

He accepted the vocation God gave him, namely, to try to turn the kings and people of Judah from the false paths they had chosen. He foresaw the impossibility of such a task and he shuddered at the thought of it. Yet, once he realized this was God’s will for him, he set about the task and carried it out to the bitter end.

He did not succeed in saving either the faith or the fatherland of his contemporaries. He saw Jerusalem destroyed and its citizens carried off in chains to Babylon. His own life ended, if not in martyrdom (which is very probable), at least as a prisoner in Egypt where his Jewish enemies had forcibly taken him.

And yet he was a success. He carried out God’s will faithfully without counting the cost. He did his part to prepare a remnant of the old Chosen People so that they would preserve belief in the true God and trust in his promises until Christ came to form the New People of God. He lit a candle in a cave of darkness which later, illumined the path to Christ; he planted a sapling which in years to come would be the tree from which the Ark of the New Covenant would be built. Jeremiah succeeded and is now enjoying his reward.

We too have our trials and troubles in life. Our Christian faith demands sacrifices of us. The world in which we live is earth-bound and earth-directed. The majority of men feverishly seek after its pleasures, its power and its plenty. Not only have they no time themselves for the gospel of penance, patience and poverty, but they despise and spurn the few who do, and thus make their Christian living all the harder.

However, where Jeremiah succeeded the Christian can succeed and with less difficulty–he has the example of the suffering Savior ever before his eyes. If he grasps his daily cross firmly and resolutely it will become lighter–the road to Calvary will be less steep and the light of the Mount of Ascension will brighten its darkness.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17

I will sing of your salvation.

In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.

I will sing of your salvation.

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.
I will sing of your salvation.

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.

I will sing of your salvation.

My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

I will sing of your salvation.

READING II

Saint_Paul_5__29569.1413670613.1000.1200_large.jpeg

1 Cor 12:31—13:13

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.
But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues,
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy,
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 25 To conclude this Prologue, it is fitting to recall this pastoral principle stated by the Roman Catechism:

The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love.1

CCC 163 Faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. Then we shall see God “face to face”, “as he is”.2 So faith is already the beginning of eternal life:

When we contemplate the blessings of faith even now, as if gazing at a reflection in a mirror, it is as if we already possessed the wonderful things which our faith assures us we shall one day enjoy.3

CCC 164 Now, however, “we walk by faith, not by sight”;4 we perceive God as “in a mirror, dimly” and only “in part”.5 Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.

CCC 314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face”,6 will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest7 for which he created heaven and earth.

CCC 735 He, then, gives us the “pledge” or “first fruits” of our inheritance: the very life of the Holy Trinity, which is to love as “God [has] loved us.”8 This love (the “charity” of 1 Cor 13) is the source of the new life in Christ, made possible because we have received “power” from the Holy Spirit.9

CCC 773 In the Church this communion of men with God, in the “love [that] never ends,” is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world.10 “[The Church’s] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members. And holiness is measured according to the ‘great mystery’ in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom.”11 Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as “the bride without spot or wrinkle.”12 This is why the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine.”13

CCC 800 Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms.14

CCC 953 Communion in charity. In the sanctorum communio, “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.”15 “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”16 “Charity does not insist on its own way.”17 In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion.

CCC 1023 Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ. They are like God for ever, for they “see him as he is,” face to face:18

By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints. .. and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism (provided they were not in need of purification when they died,. .. or, if they then did need or will need some purification, when they have been purified after death,. ..) already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment – and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven – have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.19

CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.20

CCC 1720 The New Testament uses several expressions to characterize the beatitude to which God calls man:

– the coming of the Kingdom of God;21 – the vision of God: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”22

– entering into the joy of the Lord;23

– entering into God’s rest:24

There we shall rest and see, we shall see and love, we shall love and praise. Behold what will be at the end without end. For what other end do we have, if not to reach the kingdom which has no end?25

CCC 1813 The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.26

CCC 1825 Christ died out of love for us, while we were still “enemies.”27 The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.28

The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: “charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”29

CCC 1826 “If I. .. have not charity,” says the Apostle, “I am nothing.” Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, “if I. .. have not charity, I gain nothing.”30 Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: “So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity.”31

CCC 1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:32

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. .. For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.33

CCC 2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.34

CCC 2519 The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him.35 Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God. Even now it enables us to see according to God, to accept others as “neighbors”; it lets us perceive the human body – ours and our neighbor’s – as a temple of the Holy Spirit, a manifestation of divine beauty.

1 Roman Catechism, Preface 10; cf. I Cor 13 8.

2 1 Cor 13:12; I Jn 3:2.

3 St. Basil De Spiritu Sancto 15, 36: PG 32, 132; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 4, 1.

4 2 Cor 5:7.

5 l Cor 13:12.

6 1 Cor 13:12.

7 Cf. Gen 2:2.

8 1 Jn 4: 12; cf. Rom 8:23; 2 Cor 1:21.

9 Acts 1:8; cf. 1 Cor 13.

10 1 Cor 13:8; cf. LG 48.

11 John Paul II, MD 27.

12 Eph 5:27.

13 Cf. John Paul II, MD 27.

14 Cf. 1 Cor 13.

15 Rom 14:7.

16 1 Cor 12:26-27.

17 1 Cor 13:5; cf. 10:24.

18 1 Jn 3:2; cf. 1 Cor 13:12; Rev 22:4.

19 Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000; cf. LG 49.

20 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.

21 Cf. Mt 4:17.

22 Mt 5:8; cf. 1 Jn 2; 1 Cor 13:12.

23 Mt 25:21-23.

24 Cf. Heb 4:7-11.

25 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 22, 30, 5: PL 41,804.

26 Cf. 1 Cor 13:13.

27 Rom 5:10.

28 Cf. Mt 5:44; Lk 10:27-37; Mk 9:37; Mt 25:40, 45.

29 1 Cor 13:4-7.

30 1 Cor 13:1-4.

31 1 Cor 13:13.

32 Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15:1 4.

33 St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1, 24: PG 26, 585 and 588.

34 Rom 12:6-8.

35 Cf. 1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2.

APPLICATION

The image of the one body, which St. Paul used to describe the Christian community, is perfect in itself. Christ is our Head, he has made us his members–we are the eyes, the ears, the legs, the arms of that one body of which the main purpose in life is to get to eternity. It should be not only the duty of each of us to contribute all in our power to help all the other members along, but we should regard it as our privilege that we are allowed to help Christ by helping our neighbor. In our physical body there is harmony when each member carries out its duty–the legs walk, the eyes see and so on, and because of this cooperation, all goes well.

But there is one snag as regards the members of the mystical body–each one is an individual, a person with his own will and desires and his natural inclination is to think of himself rather than of the community. Each one can very well say: “I have enough to do to look after myself without having to help my neighbor as well.” Indeed far too many say it! You certainly have more than enough to do, and, as God has arranged things, you have the impossible to do, if you think you can reach eternal happiness while selfishly thinking of your own interests only.

No man is an island in civil society. No nation or group of people can survive, much less prosper, unless each individual cooperates with the others, and contributes his assistance to the whole. Only then is civil life possible. The same is true and even more so in the religious society–the Church–which Christ has founded to bring us to eternal life. He took human nature in order to make all men adopted sons of God. His work has to go on until the last man leaves this earth. He has set up a society which is to carry on his work until the end of time. He has made us cooperators with him in that divine work. He has made us the members of his mystical body, and each one of us is asked by him to help him in this work of divine love.

Our response to this request of Christ will prove how sincere our Christian charity is. It is easy to say that we love God, and it is easy to convince ourselves that we have this love in us. The acid test is our true love of our neighbor (see 1 Jn. 4: 10). Many of those described by our Lord himself in his vivid account of the last judgement thought they had loved God and had never been selfish in this regard. But they learned too late, and to their utter dismay, that they had not loved him and had not cared for him because they had failed to care for their neighbor. “I was hungry… thirsty… naked… in prison.” “When did we see thee hungry …?” “Amen, I say to you, as long as you did not do it for one of these least ones, you did not do it for me” (Mt. 25: 41-46).

The others in that scene, the ones that the king has placed at his right hand, had fed the hungry, had clothed the naked, had visited the sick. In other words, they had proved their true love for God by their charity towards their neighbor, having kept his other commandments as well. They received the welcome invitation “come blessed of my Father.” So will we, if we too prove our true love for God by keeping his commandments and especially by keeping his command to love our neighbor as ourselves.

GOSPEL

CX4K3103.jpg

Lk 4:21-30

Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying:
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say,
‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”
And he said, “Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/013116.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.1 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.2 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.3 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.

CCC 1286 In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission.4 The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God.5 He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him “without measure.”6

1 Cf. Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; I Kings 1:39; 19:16.

2 Cf. Ps 2:2; Acts 4:26-27.

3 Cf. Is 11:2; 61:1; Zech 4:14; 6:13; Lk 4:16-21.

4 Cf. Isa 11:2; 61:1; Lk 4:16-22.

5 Cf. Mt 3:13-17; Jn 1:33-34.

6 Jn 3:34.

APPLICATION

This rejection of Jesus by his own townsfolk must have sincerely grieved him. But it was only the beginning of similar rejections. Their attempt to murder him was an indication of what was yet to come. “To his own he came but his own did not accept him” as St. John says (1: 11). The reason was that the Messiah they were looking for was a political leader who would make Israel a political power not only among the nations but over the other nations. Nearly all the messianic prophecies had references to the universality of the messianic kingdom–this universality they interpreted in a political, worldly sense. Their interest in things spiritual was then at a very low ebb and therefore the message of Christ had little interest for them. They did not want a spiritual kingdom.

For seventeen centuries they had been God’s Chosen People, and they were proud of their superiority over the sinful Gentiles who did not know the true God. That very pride of theirs was their undoing. The Gentiles were God’s children too, and they also were to share in, the new kingdom which the Messiah would establish, but the very thought of this was abhorrent to the vast majority of the Jews.

In spite of all their opposition, however, Jesus spent his public life amongst them. He gave them the first offer of entering the new kingdom. They could still continue to be God’s Chosen People together with, and alongside, the other nations of the earth. They refused. And their refusal went so far as to call in the aid of the hated Gentiles to crucify the One–their own fellow Jew–who had come to bring them the message of the true kingdom and the offer of being its first citizens.

There were exceptions, of course, and honorable exceptions at that. Christ founded his Church, the new kingdom of God on the Apostles, who were Jews, and through their noble sacrifices and efforts, the kingdom spread to all the Gentile nations of the earth. Because of their sacrifices, we are Christians, members of Christ’s kingdom on earth and heirs to his eternal kingdom in heaven.

Through our Christian teaching we have learned that our life on this earth is but a period of preparation, a period during which we can earn the true life as citizens of his eternal kingdom. How often do we, like the Jews of Christ’s day, forget this and bend all our efforts to building for ourselves a kingdom of power or wealth in this world, a kingdom which we will have to leave so soon?

We would not, of course, openly deny Christ, much less try, like his neighbors in Nazareth, to throw him to his death over a cliff; but how often in our private actions, and in our dealings with our neighbors, do we push him and his doctrine quietly aside and act as if we knew him not. In this we are no better than Christ’s neighbors of Nazareth and we grieve his loving heart as much as they did on that sad day.

Am I one of those (each one of us can ask himself)? Do I really love Christ or, to put it in a more personal way, do I really love myself? If I do, I will not risk losing my place in the eternal kingdom for the sake of some paltry pleasure or gain in this present life which will end for me so very soon.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Original Sin

What does original sin mean when we interpret it correctly? It must once again be stressed that no human being is closed in upon himself or herself and that no one can live of or for himself or herself alone. We received our life not only at the moment of birth but every day from without – from others who are not ourselves but who nonetheless somehow pertain to us. Human beings have their selves not only in themselves but also outside of themselves: they live in those whom they love and in those who love them and to whom they are “present.” Human beings are relational, and they possess their lives – themselves – only by way of relationship. I alone am not myself, but only in and with you am I myself. To be truly a human being means to be related in love, to be of and for. But sin means the damaging or the destruction of relationality. Sin is a rejection of relationality because it wants to make the human being a god. Sin is loss of relationship, disturbance of relationship, and therefore it is not restricted to the individual. When I destroy a relationship, then this event – sin – touches the other person involved in the relationship. Consequently sin is always an offense that touches others, that alters the world and damages it… At the very moment that a person begins human existence, which is a good, he or she is confronted by a sin-damaged world. Each of us enters into a situation in which relationality has been hurt. Consequently each person is, from the very start, damaged in relationships and does not engage in them as he or she ought. Sin pursues the human being, and he or she capitulates to it.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Act of Love

O God, all that I am and all that I have is from you. You have given me my gifts of body and soul. You have numbered me among your favored children. You have showered me with countless graces and blessings. From all eternity you have thought of me and loved me. How shall I ever love you in return?

And now in your merciful goodness you are coming into my soul to unit yourself most intimately with me. You came into the world for love of man, but now you are coming from the altar for love of me. You are coming to fill me heart with your holy love, my Creator, my Redeemer, my Sanctifier, my God.

O Jesus, I want to return this love. I want to love you with all the powers of my soul. I want to belong only to you, to consecrate myself to you alone. Jesus, let me live for you; let me die for you. Living and dying may I be yours.

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

 

-19

Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

OPENING PRAYER

Fifth Centenary Prayer

Your Word of Life, O God, reached these lands five centuries ago, and calls us still to proclaim the saving message of Christ. We pray today for a dawn of a new evangelization in these lands. Send us out to draw others to You, into Your peace, into the Church, into lives dedicated to the Gospel. As people of many cultures and races, may our voices speak together of hope and welcome to all. May our hands lift high the torch of new life and solidarity. May our hearts yearn for justice and truth. Renew in us the courage and strength to reach out to the neediest in our midst. United in faith and prayer, with Mary, Virgin Mother of the Americas, keep us ever steadfast in Your love as we strive for Your vision of a world renewed. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.

Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

direct our actions according to your good pleasure,

that in the name of your beloved Son

we may abound in good works.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Image result for nehemiah prophet

Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10

Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly,

which consisted of men, women,

and those children old enough to understand.

Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate,

he read out of the book from daybreak till midday,

in the presence of the men, the women,

and those children old enough to understand;

and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law.

Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform

that had been made for the occasion.

He opened the scroll

so that all the people might see it

— for he was standing higher up than any of the people —;

and, as he opened it, all the people rose.

Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God,

and all the people, their hands raised high, answered,

“Amen, amen!”

Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the LORD,

their faces to the ground.

Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God,

interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.

Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe

and the Levites who were instructing the people

said to all the people:

“Today is holy to the LORD your God.

Do not be sad, and do not weep”—

for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.

He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks,

and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared;

for today is holy to our LORD.

Do not be saddened this day,

for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

APPLICATION

The infinite goodness and the infinite mercy, which God has shown to mankind down through the ages, is the theme of the lessons read at today’s Mass. These verses of Nehemiah describe the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile and their resettlement in Jerusalem and Judah. They owed this return to the gracious act of God and they had the good grace to acknowledge this in a public religious ceremony.

This recalling of the Jews from Babylon was part of God’s remote preparation for the coming of his Son, our divine Lord, on earth. Before creation began he had the Incarnation in mind. And the purpose of the Incarnation was to raise man, the highest being in his created universe, to a capacity to share in the infinite happiness of the Blessed Trinity. Man was thus raised to the adopted sonship of God through the descent of God’s Son to take our humanity.

This is expressed in the mixing of the water and wine at the offertory of the Mass when the celebrant says: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

So the story of the return of the Jewish exiles is not just some faded page of past history. It is for us a very important incident in God’s plan for our elevation and glorification. All through pre-history his plan was being slowly but surely shaped. From Abraham, the pagan called from Ur of the Chaldees, to become the Father of his Chosen People, down to Mary the humble unknown young Jewess of Nazareth, who was chosen to be the Mother of Christ, God was drawing the lines of his great design on every page of the Old Testament.

Notwithstanding the open opposition of men, of pagan nations who tried to crush and annihilate his Chosen People, and of the many rebellious sons within his fold who refused to have Him rule over them, he brought his plan to completion. He raised humanity to the status of sonship that be had intend for it from all eternity.

This return from exile then has deep meaning for us Christians today, twenty-five centuries after it happened. It was a very important step in God’s plan to return us from perpetual exile, a merely earthly life, to a spiritual life, and to the home that in his mercy and goodness he had planned for us.

Through God’s infinite generosity we are destined for an eternal homeland. We must thank God for that but, let us not forget, we have not yet arrived there. We are on the way, and we must work our passage. When the work seems dreary and hard, we must remember that we are not left alone. We have such abundant helps from God as will enable even the weakest to reach home if they avail of them.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 15

(cf John 6:63c) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The law of the LORD is perfect,

refreshing the soul;

The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,

giving wisdom to the simple.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The precepts of the LORD are right,

rejoicing the heart;

The command of the LORD is clear,

enlightening the eye.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The fear of the LORD is pure,

enduring forever;

The ordinances of the LORD are true,

all of them just.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart

find favor before you,

O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

READING II

Image result for St. Paul

1 Cor 12:12-30

Brothers and sisters:

As a body is one though it has many parts,

and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,

so also Christ.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,

whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,

and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many.

If a foot should say,

“Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,

“it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.

Or if an ear should say,

“Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body, “

it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.

If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be?

If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

But as it is, God placed the parts,

each one of them, in the body as he intended.

If they were all one part, where would the body be?

But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you, “

nor again the head to the feet, “I do not need you.”

Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker

are all the more necessary,

and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable

we surround with greater honor,

and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,

whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.

But God has so constructed the body

as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,

so that there may be no division in the body,

but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;

if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.

Some people God has designated in the church

to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers;

then, mighty deeds;

then gifts of healing, assistance, administration,

and varieties of tongues.

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?

Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing?

Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As “by one Spirit we were all baptized,” so we are also “made to drink of one Spirit.”1 Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified2 as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.3

CCC 790 Believers who respond to God’s word and become members of Christ’s Body, become intimately united with him: “In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification.”4 This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ’s death and Resurrection, and the Eucharist, by which “really sharing in the body of the Lord,. .. we are taken up into communion with him and with one another.”5

CCC 791 The body’s unity does not do away with the diversity of its members: “In the building up of Christ’s Body there is engaged a diversity of members and functions. There is only one Spirit who, according to his own richness and the needs of the ministries, gives his different gifts for the welfare of the Church.”6 The unity of the Mystical Body produces and stimulates charity among the faithful: “From this it follows that if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with him, and if one member is honored, all the members together rejoice.”7 Finally, the unity of the Mystical Body triumphs over all human divisions: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”8

CCC 798 The Holy Spirit is “the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body.”9 He works in many ways to build up the whole Body in charity:10 by God’s Word “which is able to build you up”;11 by Baptism, through which he forms Christ’s Body;12 by the sacraments, which give growth and healing to Christ’s members; by “the grace of the apostles, which holds first place among his gifts”;13 by the virtues, which make us act according to what is good; finally, by the many special graces (called “charisms”), by which he makes the faithful “fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church.”14

CCC 953 Communion in charity. In the sanctorum communio, “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself.”15 “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”16 “Charity does not insist on its own way.”17 In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all. Every sin harms this communion.

CCC 1227 According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ’s death, is buried with him, and rises with him:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.18

The baptized have “put on Christ.”19 Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies.20

CCC 1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,”21 member of Christ and co-heir with him,22 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.23

CCC 1267 Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: “Therefore. .. we are members one of another.”24 Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”25

CCC 1396 The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body – the Church. Communion renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. In Baptism we have been called to form but one body.26 The Eucharist fulfills this call: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread:”27

If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond “Amen” (“yes, it is true!”) and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, “the Body of Christ” and respond “Amen.” Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true.28

CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.29

CCC 1469 This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members.30 Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the heavenly homeland:31

It must be recalled that… this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.32

CCC 1508 The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing33 so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord. But even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church.”34

CCC 1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:35

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature… For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.36

CCC 2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.37

1 1 Cor 12:13.

2 Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:8.

3 Cf. Jn 4:10-14; 738; Ex 17:1-6; Isa 55:1; Zech 14:8; 1 Cor 10:4; Rev 21:6; 22:17.

4 LG 7.

5 LG 7; cf. Rom 6:4-5; 1 Cor 12:13.

6 LG 7 # 3.

7 LG 7 # 3; cf. 1 Cor 12:26.

8 Gal 3:27-28.

9 Pius XII, encyclical, Mystici Corporis: DS 3808.

10 Cf. Eph 4:16.

11 Acts 20:32.

12 Cf. 1 Cor 12:13.

13 LG 7 # 2.

14 LG 12 # 2; cf. AA 3.

15 Rom 14:7.

16 1 Cor 12:26-27.

17 1 Cor 13:5; cf. 10:24.

18 Rom 6:3-4; cf. Col 2:12.

19 Gal 3:27.

20 CE 1 Cor 6:11; 12:13.

21 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Pet 1:4; cf. Gal 4:5-7.

22 Cf. l Cor 6:15; 12:27; Rom 8:17.

23 Cf. l Cor 6:19.

24 Eph 4:25.

25 1 Cor 12:13.

26 Cf. 1 Cor 12:13.

27 1 Cor 10:16-17.

28 St. Augustine, Sermo 272: PL 38, 1247.

29 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.

30 Cf. 1 Cor 12:26.

31 Cf. LG 48-50.

32 John Paul II, RP 31, 5.

33 Cf. 1 Cor 12:9, 28, 30.

34 2 Cor 12:9; Col 1:24.

35 Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15:1 4.

36 St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1, 24: PG 26, 585 and 588.

37 Rom 12:6-8.

APPLICATION

St. Paul is urging his Corinthian converts to appreciate and be grateful to God for the wonderful gifts he has given them. Not only have they received the gift of the true faith, but God is proving the truth of that faith in their very midst by the miraculous powers he is giving to individuals amongst them. But they must never forget that these gifts are not for their own benefit or glory. They are given to help build up the whole new Christian community.

To drive this lesson home, he compares the new Christian community–the Church–to a human body. Man’s body has many and various members, but each member is there for the good of the whole body. No one member can survive on its own, the brain needs the stomach, as the stomach needs the brain, the eye needs the foot as the foot needs the eye and so on. All the members must work for the good of the whole body, using the capabilities given it, and it is only thus that the body will survive and thrive.

Now for St. Paul this comparison of the Christian community to the members of a human body, is not merely a metaphor, it is a reality. “You are the body of Christ,” he says, “member for member.” This consoling doctrine that the Church is the mystical body of Christ was not invented by St. Paul–he invented the name only–it follows of necessity from the doctrine of the Incarnation. When the Son of God took on human nature, he made us one with him. As Christ himself said: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn. 15: 5). i.e. we form one tree with him. This is the same idea as the body and its members.

We Christians then (and all men of good-will who are not actually in the Church through no fault of their own) are intimately united with the risen and glorious body of Christ in heaven. He is the Head, the director, of his new Chosen People. We are the other members of his body, whom he uses to spread the life-stream of grace and growth to the whole body until it reaches its full stature in the future life. What a glorious position is ours. What an exalted status the Incarnation has given us mere mortals!

Do we think often enough of our privileged status? Do we especially realize our obligations as members of that body? Do we always do all that Christ expects of us to promote the welfare of the whole body? If I think that I am doing enough by providing for my own spiritual well-being, and take no interest in the needs of the other members, I can be sure I am not in fact providing for my spiritual well-being. If the foot says: “I am tired of walking and looking for food for that stomach,” and rests in comfort, it won’t be long until the foot feels the bad effects of a starving stomach and will not be able to walk.

Each one of us must ever keep before his mind this inspiring thought that we are individual members of Christ’s body and that it is only by the full cooperation of all members that that body, which means all of us, will reach its full maturity.

Today especially, in a world which is growing daily more materialistic, more individualistic, more selfish, the Church must set a shining, noticeable, example of unselfish dedication to the material and spiritual welfare of all mankind. And the Church can do this only if each one of its members, that is you and I, will begin today to use the gifts, material and spiritual that God gave us, for the benefit of the community in which we live.

GOSPEL

Image result for The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events

that have been fulfilled among us,

just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning

and ministers of the word have handed them down to us,

I too have decided,

after investigating everything accurately anew,

to write it down in an orderly sequence for you,

most excellent Theophilus,

so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings

you have received.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,

and news of him spread throughout the whole region.

He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,

and went according to his custom

into the synagogue on the sabbath day.

He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,

and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.

He said to them,

“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/012416.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 436 The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets.1 This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively.2 It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet.3 Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.

CCC 544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;4 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”5 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.6 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.7 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.8

CCC 695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,9 to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.10 But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”11 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.12 The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.13 Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.14 Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”:15 “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.

CCC 714 This is why Christ inaugurates the proclamation of the Good News by making his own the following passage from Isaiah:16

The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me,

because the LORD has anointed me

to bring good tidings to the afflicted;

he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.

CCC 1168 Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy. It really is a “year of the Lord’s favor.”17 The economy of salvation is at work within the framework of time, but since its fulfillment in the Passover of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the culmination of history is anticipated “as a foretaste,” and the kingdom of God enters into our time.

CCC 1286 In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission.18 The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God.19 He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him “without measure.”20

CCC 2444 “The Church’s love for the poor. .. is a part of her constant tradition.” This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor.21 Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working so as to “be able to give to those in need.”22 It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty.23

CCC 2684 In the communion of saints, many and varied spiritualities have been developed throughout the history of the churches. The personal charism of some witnesses to God’s love for men has been handed on, like “the spirit” of Elijah to Elisha and John the Baptist, so that their followers may have a share in this spirit.24 A distinct spirituality can also arise at the point of convergence of liturgical and theological currents, bearing witness to the integration of the faith into a particular human environment and its history. The different schools of Christian spirituality share in the living tradition of prayer and are essential guides for the faithful. In their rich diversity they are refractions of the one pure light of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is truly the dwelling of the saints and the saints are for the Spirit a place where he dwells as in his own home since they offer themselves as a dwelling place for God and are called his temple.25

1 Cf. Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; I Kings 1:39; 19:16.

2 Cf. Ps 2:2; Acts 4:26-27.

3 Cf. Is 11:2; 61:1; Zech 4:14; 6:13; Lk 4:16-21.

4 Lk 4:18; cf. 7:22.

5 Mt 5:3.

6 Cf. Mt 11:25.

7 Cf. Mt 21:18; Mk 2:23-26; Jn 4:6 1; 19:28; Lk 9:58.

8 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

9 Cf. 1 In 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.

10 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.

11 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.

12 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.

13 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.

14 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.

15 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.

16 Isa 61:1-2; cf. Lk 4:18-19.

17 Lk 4:19.

18 Cf. Isa 11:2; 61:1; Lk 4:16-22.

19 Cf. Mt 3:13-17; Jn 1:33-34.

20 Jn 3:34.

21 CA 57; cf. Lk 6:20-22, Mt 8:20; Mk 12:41-44.

22 Eph 4:28.

23 Cf. CA 57.

24 Cf. 2 Kings 2:9; Lk 1:1; PC 2.

25 St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, 26, 62: PG 32, 184.

APPLICATION

In the first four verses of St. Luke’s Gospel which have been read to you today, you will find reason to be grateful to him. He went to a lot of trouble in order to put in a permanent form, in a written record, the essential facts concerning Christ, his words and his works, so that we “would understand (like Theophilus) the certainty of the faith in which we have been instructed.”

But while we must be grateful to St. Luke, we owe a bigger debt of gratitude still to the all-good, all-wise God who moved Luke and the other Evangelists to preserve for us in writing the essential truths of the Christian faith that has been handed down to us. The Apostles were companions of Christ. They witnessed his works and his words; they remembered most of his doings and his sayings, and what they might have forgotten the Holy Spirit recalled to their memory on that first Pentecost day in Jerusalem. The first two generations of Christians received the facts of the faith from these eye-witnesses and the miracles so frequent in the infant Church were confirmation of the truth of their teaching. But God in his wisdom provided for the many generations to come who would not have this evident confirmation of their faith. He established a teaching body in his Church which would safeguard the purity of the Christian truths, for “he himself would be with it all days ” and he gave us a written record of the facts of the faith in the Gospels and the other writings of the New Testament.

How can we ever thank God sufficiently for his thoughtfulness in our regard? We Christians of today can be as certain, as assured, of the truth of the faith that we are trying to practice as was St. Luke who was converted by St. Paul. We have a living, teaching magisterium in the Church, which authentically preserves and interprets for us the true facts of Christ’s teaching and works as written down for us by a first-generation Christian under the impulse and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit. If we needed further proof of the priceless value of our New Testament Books, the virulent attacks on their authenticity, on their objectivity, and on their veracity, by enemies of the faith down to and including our own day, should be sufficient.

But they have stood the test of time and the onslaughts of biassed, prejudiced criticism, for they are the word of truth, which is eternal, and comes from God.

We have a priceless gift of God in the inspired Books of the Bible. Let us show true appreciation for that gift by using it to build up a better knowledge of the Christian faith which it teaches us. There should be a Bible, or at least the New Testament, in every Christian home. It should not be an ornament on a shelf, but a fountain and source from which we can draw strength and refreshment in the daily practice of our Christian faith. Almost two thousand years ago, God’s infinite goodness provided this source of strength, the “fountain of living water,” for us Christians of this century. Are we grateful for his thoughtfulness? Are we nourishing our faith at this blessed fountain of his infinite wisdom and love?

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Conversion and Obedience

Faith requires conversion and that conversion is an act of obedience toward a reality which precedes me and which does not originate from me. Moreover, this obedience continues, inasmuch as knowledge never transforms this reality into a constituent element of my own thought, but rather the converse is true: it is I who make myself over to it, while it always remains above me. For Christians, this prior reality is not an “it” but a “he” or, even better, a “you.” It is Christ, the Word made flesh. He is the new beginning of our thought. He is the new “I” which bursts open the limits of subjectivity and the boundaries dividing subject from object, this enabling me to say: “It is no longer I who live.” Conversion does not lead into a private relationship with Jesus, which in reality would be another form of mere monologue. It is delivery into the pattern of doctrine, as Paul says, or, as we discovered in John, entrance into the “we” of the Church. This is the sole guarantee that the obedience which we owe to the truth is concrete… Only the concrete God can be something other than a new projection of one’s own self. Following in Christ’s footsteps is the only way of losing oneself which attains the desired goal… The one who becomes flesh has remained flesh. He is concrete… Obedience to the Church is the concreteness of our obedience. The Church is that new and greater subject in which past and present, subject and object come into contact. The Church is our contemporaneity with Christ: there is no other.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Christ, The Way Of Conversion Communion, And Solidarity In America

We thank You, Lord Jesus,

because the Gospel of the Father’s love,

with which You came to save the world,

has been proclaimed far and wide in America

as a gift of the Holy Spirit

that fills us with gladness.

We thank You for the gift of Your Life,

which You have given us by loving us to the end:

Your Life makes us children of God,

brothers and sisters to each other.

Increase, O Lord, our faith and our love for You,

present in all the tabernacles of the continent.

Grant us to be faithful witnesses

to your Resurrection

for the younger generation of Americans,

so that, in knowing You, they may follow You

and find in You their peace and joy.

Only then will they know that they

are brothers and sisters

of all God’s children scattered

throughout the world.

You who, in becoming man,

chose to belong to a human family,

teach families the virtues which filled with light

the family home of Nazareth.

May families always be united,

as You and the Father are one,

and may they be living witnesses

to love, justice and solidarity;

make them schools of respect,

forgiveness and mutual help,

so that the world may believe;

help them to be the source of vocations

to the priesthood and the consecrated life,

and all the other forms

of firm Christian commitment.

Protect Your Church and the Successor of Peter,

to whom You, Good Shepherd, have entrusted

the task of feeding Your flock.

Grant that the Church in America may flourish

and grow richer in the fruits of holiness.

Teach us to love Your Mother, Mary,

as you loved her.

Give us strength to proclaim

Your word with courage

in the work of the new evangelization,

so that the world may know new hope.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America,

pray for us!

(Given at Mexico City on January 22, 1999, by Pope John-Paul II).

Posted in Catholic

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

-17

When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”  

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer of St. Francis de Sales

Be at peace.

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;

Rather, look to them with full hope as they arise.

God, whose very own you are,

Will deliver you from out of them.

He has kept you hitherto,

And He will lead you safely through all things;

and when you cannot stand it,

God will bury you in his arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

The same everlasting Father who cares for you today

Will take care of you then and everyday.

He will either shield you from suffering,

Or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace,

And put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

who govern all things,

both in heaven and on earth,

mercifully hear the pleading of your people

and bestow your peace on our times.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God for ever and ever.

 

READING I

Prophet_Isaias__20333.1374493609.1000.1200_large.jpeg

Is 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her victory like a burning torch.
Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken, “
or your land “Desolate, “
but you shall be called “My Delight, “
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 219 God’s love for Israel is compared to a father’s love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother’s for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”1

CCC 1611 Seeing God’s covenant with Israel in the image of exclusive and faithful married love, the prophets prepared the Chosen People’s conscience for a deepened understanding of the unity and indissolubility of marriage.2 The books of Ruth and Tobit bear moving witness to an elevated sense of marriage and to the fidelity and tenderness of spouses. Tradition has always seen in the Song of Solomon a unique expression of human love, insofar as it is a reflection of God’s love – a love “strong as death” that “many waters cannot quench.”3

1 Jn 3:16; cf. Hos 11:1; Is 49:14-15; 62: 4-5; Ezek 16; Hos 11.

2 Cf. Hos 1-3; Isa 54; 62; Jer 2-3; 31; Ezek 16; 23; Mal 2:13-17.

3 Song 8:6-7.

APPLICATION

On reading these words of the prophet (God’s mouthpiece) today, words spoken to encourage and console the returned exiles in the midst of their desolation, our first thought must be of the infinite mercy, kindness and love of God. This people had deserted him, they had brought this exile on themselves, yet he has brought them back to their native land and he now encourages them to take up the work of reconstruction and promises them his divine assistance.

And our second thought must be of the meanness, the ingratitude, the incredible thanklessness of that people to the God who so befriended them. They very soon forgot him, they became immersed in their earthly concerns, became worldly and politically minded. They interpreted his promise of a new Jerusalem, which would be to him a virgin bride and his crown of glory, into an earthly city which would give them political power and earthly plenty, they would have no further need of him.

But let us stop for a moment and turn our thoughts on ourselves. Are we much better than they, in fact are we not much meaner, much more ungrateful than they ever were? Is our Christian world today–the new spouse of Christ, the adopted children of God, the people to whom this prophecy was really directed–is this Christian world of ours, living up to its vocation–is it really behaving as God would and does expect it to behave?

He has done infinitely more for us than he did for the Jews. He has sent his Son to make us heirs of eternal life–that Son suffered and died for us. He gave us all the necessary instructions as to how we can get to heaven and gave us the means of getting there. In spite of all this, there are many–far too many–Christians today who not only forget him and all he has done for them, but also despise and insult him by their mode of life. Like the Jews of old they are busy trying to make a heaven for themselves in this life and alas like the Jews of old their endeavors will be in vain. They will have to leave this earth of ours and face the great beyond with empty hands, having buried their talent (all the gifts God has given them) in this barren earth.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10

Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
\

R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!

R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

Worship the LORD in holy attire.
Tremble before him, all the earth;
Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He governs the peoples with equity.

R. Proclaim his marvelous deeds to all the nations.

READING II

Unknown.jpeg

1 Cor 12:4-11

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 249 From the beginning, the revealed truth of the Holy Trinity has been at the very root of the Church’s living faith, principally by means of Baptism. It finds its expression in the rule of baptismal faith, formulated in the preaching, catechesis and prayer of the Church. Such formulations are already found in the apostolic writings, such as this salutation taken up in the Eucharistic liturgy: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”1

CCC 308 The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”2 Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God’s power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for “without a Creator the creature vanishes.”3 Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God’s grace.4

CCC 801 It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. “Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,”5 so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together “for the common good.”6

CCC 951 Communion of charisms. Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit “distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank” for the building up of the Church.7 Now, “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”8

CCC 1454 The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages best suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.9

CCC 1508 The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing10 so as to make manifest the power of the grace of the risen Lord. But even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church.”11

CCC 1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:12

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. .. For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.13

CCC 2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.14

1 2 Cor 13:14; cf. 1 Cor 12:4-6; Eph 4:4-6.

2 Phil 2:13; cf. 1 Cor 12:6.

3 GS 36 § 3.

4 Cf. Mt 19:26; Jn 15:5; 14:13

5 LG 12; cf. 30; 1 Thess 5:12, 19-21; John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 24.

6 1 Cor 12:7.

7 LG 12 # 2.

8 1 cor 12:7.

9 Cf. Mt 5-7; Rom 12-15; 1 Cor 12-13; Gal 5; Eph 4-6; etc.

10 Cf. 1 Cor 12:9, 28, 30.

11 2 Cor 12:9; Col 1:24.

12 Cf. 1 Cor 12; Jn 15:1 4.

13 St. Athanasius, Ep. Serap. 1, 24: PG 26, 585 and 588.

14 Rom 12:6-8.

APPLICATION

The kindness and the goodness of God to us unworthy creatures, is a mystery we shall never understand in this life. All through the story of God’s dealings with man we have example after example of this infinite love, mercy and kindness. The Old Testament has proofs of this in almost every page of its two thousand years’ history. And what of the’ story of the New Testament, during our two thousand years’ history? This began with an almost incredible act of divine love, the coming of God’s Son in our human nature–his setting up of the Church, the society of the new Chosen Race and his promise to be “with it all days even unto the consummation of the world.”

That he has kept his promise the history of the Church proves. He was with it in its infancy, as today’s reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians shows. He showered extraordinary gifts on the first converts to help the spread of the faith. He was with it in its early years when persecution followed persecution, encouraging and strengthening the martyrs to bear their trials and give witness to the faith that was in them. He was with his Church in the sad days of schism and heresy when some of his chosen ones left him and when brother turned against brother in foolish fraternal strife. He is with it today when, moved by his grace, the separated brothers are making preparations for a great family reunion. He has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church–they cannot for he is ever with it guiding and guarding it.

While thanking God today for the infinite goodness, kindness and mercy he has shown to the human race down through the ages, especially for sending us his Son to raise us up and make us heirs of heaven, let us stop for a moment and ask ourselves one question: Are we really and truly grateful to God for all he has done and is still doing for us? Our answer will be evident from the answer we can honestly give to this second question: what have I done in the past, what am I doing in the present to show that gratitude?

If I cannot give myself good marks on that question, and which of us can, it is never too late to begin. We are dealing with a God of mercy, with a father who is ever ready to welcome back all his prodigal sons; we can begin this moment by saying a heartfelt “thank you, God, for all your loving kindness, please forget my past ingratitude, and give me the grace to be one of your grateful children for the future.”

GOSPEL

The-Wedding-at-Cana-Hand-Painted-Orthodox-Byzantine-Icon-PREMIUM-11.jpg

Jn 2:1-11

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”
And Jesus said to her,
“Woman, how does your concern affect me?
My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”
Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,
each holding twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus told them,
“Fill the jars with water.”
So they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them,
“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”
So they took it.
And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,
without knowing where it came from
— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,
the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,
“Everyone serves good wine first,
and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;
but you have kept the good wine until now.”
Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee
and so revealed his glory,
and his disciples began to believe in him.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/011716.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples.1 Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”2

CCC 495 Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”.3 In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).4

CCC 1335 The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist.5 The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus’ glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.6

CCC 1613 On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign – at his mother’s request – during a wedding feast.7 The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence.

CCC 2618 The Gospel reveals to us how Mary prays and intercedes in faith. At Cana,8 the mother of Jesus asks her son for the needs of a wedding feast; this is the sign of another feast – that of the wedding of the Lamb where he gives his body and blood at the request of the Church, his Bride. It is at the hour of the New Covenant, at the foot of the cross,9 that Mary is heard as the Woman, the new Eve, the true “Mother of all the living.”

1 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:1-12; Lk 1:35; 2:8-20; Jn 1:3 1-34; 2:11.

2 Acts 10:38.

3 Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et al.

4 Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.

5 Cf. Mt 14:13-21; 15:32-39.

6 Cf. Jn 2:11; Mk 14:25.

7 Cf. Jn 2:1-11.

8 Cf. Jn 2:1-12.

9 Cf. Jn 19:25-27.

APPLICATION

There are many lessons we can learn from this incident in Christ’s life: for example, Christ’s approval of marriage–there were some heretical sects later who said marriage was sinful, unfit for a Christian. Or we could see in it the intercessory power of our blessed Mother. Christ anticipated his “hour” for working miracles in order to grant her request. But the theme of today’s readings is the goodness and kindness of God and we surely have a convincing proof of that loving kindness in today’s gospel story.

Christ worked his first miracle in order to grant a temporal favor, an earthly gift, to save the newly married groom from embarrassment. It had the other effects of convincing his very recent disciples of their belief that he was the expected Messiah, and also it convinces all Christians of the efficacy of our Lady’s intercession for us, but its primary purpose was to confer a temporal benefit on the groom.

By this kind act he has shown us that he is interested in our earthly affairs also. He became man in order that we could become sons of God, he came on earth so that we could go to heaven, but this miracle at Cana proves that he has a deep interest in our many and varied activities during the course of our journey to heaven.

He told us “ask and you shall receive.” That “shall” is very definite, our prayers will be answered, and what we should ask for is not only spiritual gifts, but the temporal aids also which we need. The “shall” applies to them too, as the miracle of Cana proves. We shall get our temporal requests, provided of course that they won’t impede us on our journey to heaven. No kind father would give his child a gift that would injure him–God is the kindest of fathers and he sees what will or will not impede or endanger our eternal happiness. We can and should therefore make our temporal needs known to God in our prayers, confident that he will give us what we ask if it is for our real good.

But, someone may object: how often have I asked God for temporal favors I needed so badly, and my prayer was unanswered? Was it unanswered really? Perhaps you did not get the exact thing you asked for but you got something more useful, more necessary, something you never thought of asking for, but the good God saw your need of it. We have a father in heaven who really loves us, and cares for us, let us make our temporal, as well as our spiritual needs, known to him in confident prayer. Our requests will not go unanswered.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press

BENEDICTUS

Human Thirst and the Holy Spirit

The ultimate thirst of men cries out for the Holy Spirit. He, and he alone, is, at a profound level, the fresh water without which there is no life. In the image of a spring, of the water that irrigates and transforms a desert, that man meets like a secret promise, the mystery of the Spirit becomes visible in an ineffable fashion that no rational meditation can encompass. In man’s thirst, and in his being refreshed by water, is portrayed that infinite, for more radical thirst that can be quenched by no other water… The Holy Spirit is eternally, of his very nature, God’s gift, God as wholly self-giving, God as sharing himself, as gift. In that sense, the inner reason and basis for creation and salvation history do after all lie in this quality of being of the Holy Spirit, as donum and datum… He is the content of Christian prayer. He is the only gift worthy of God: as God, God gives nothing other than God; he gives himself and thereby everything. That is why properly Christian prayer, again, does not beg for just anything; rather, it begs for the gift of God that is God himself, begs for him.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A Prayer for America

Father, we beg Your blessing for the Right to Life, the Unborn, the weak, the sick and the old; all who are finding themselves being targets of the vicious culture of death.

That our Lord Jesus bless and protect all who stand up for the Christian dignity of persons.

That God enlighten those who are traveling down death’s highway by their involvement, in any way, with either the contemporary death culture, selfism, relativism, or any of the new age errors of our times.

That God envelop our culture with His Divine protection and help us both individually and as a nation to true enlightenment, conversion and repentance of our selves and our culture.

Help us to turn from our national sin of abortion, and return to, and once again become a Christian nation, on the narrow road, that is, the path to becoming a nation and culture, under God.

We ask this and all things through Christ our Lord. Amen.

http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=222

Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, Mary, mercy, prayer, The Word of God, Uncategorized, Virgin Mary | Tagged , , , , ,

The Baptism of the Lord – C

BaptismOfLord

‘And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

OPENING PRAYER

When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan

The worship of the Trinity was made manifest,

For the voice of the Father bore witness to You

And called You His beloved Son.

And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,

Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.

O Christ, our God, You have revealed Yourself

And have enlightened the world, glory to You!

COLLECT

Almighty ever-living God,

who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan

and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him,

solemnly declared him your beloved Son,

grant that your children by adoption,

reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,

may always be well pleasing to you.

Thorough our Lord Jesus Christ; your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

Isaiah02.jpg

Is 42: 1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

APPLICATION

This prophecy of second-Isaiah was chosen for today, the feast which commemorates the baptism of Christ in the Jordan, because on that occasion the Father’s voice from heaven proclaimed that Christ was “his beloved servant in which he was well pleased.” Following the interpretation of the inspired Evangelists and of the ancient and constant tradition of the Church, we can have no hesitation in seeing in these words of second-Isaiah, written five centuries or so before Christ, a description of the Savior who came on earth to teach Jew and Gentile the new law of God, the law of love and mercy.

He who was the Son of God took our human nature in order to represent us, and as one of us to give our heavenly Father the perfect obedience and service which no mere man had done ever since the creation, and which no mere man could ever do. This perfect obedience or service of God which Christ, the perfect servant, gave the Father, went as far as the acceptance of the shameful and excruciating death on a cross. But all this he accepted gladly for us–it was in our name he did it–and because he did it, we are all raised to a new relationship with God. He has made us all, Jew and Gentile, the whole human race, adopted sons of his heavenly Father.

As members of his mystical body we can now, because he is our Head, give a service to God worthy of our new status, a service which God accepts from us because it is given to him and through “Christ our Lord.”

Today, as we offer the Mass, the sacrifice of Christ renewed before our eyes, let us try to realize the privilege that is ours. We are able, through Christ, to offer a sacrifice which gives infinite honor to God. We are able in spite of all our weaknesses and all our faults to give a service that is pleasing to God and to make some return for all he has done for us. We have become “good and faithful servants” because Christ the Son of God became the perfect servant of God for our sake.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.

The Lord will bless his people with peace.

READING II

st.-paul.jpg

Acts 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”

APPLICATION

That day, nearly two thousand years ago, when Christ by his baptism in the Jordan, began his public preaching of salvation for all men, is a day–a feastday–no true Christian can ever forget. The baptism of John was for sinners–a sign of change of heart and a turning to God. Christ had no sin, he had never turned away from God, he was God–but he was the representative of sinful humanity. He represented us sinners that day and opened the door of salvation for us. In that ceremony Christ was proclaimed by the heavenly Father to be his son and faithful servant, and the power of the Holy Spirit came upon him.

But this was all for us; as God he already had all things in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit. But in his human nature–our weak human nature which he took on himself in order to be one of us, and our representative–he was on that day proclaimed God’s true and faithful servant. At the same moment we human beings were accepted in him and through him (i.e. through his perfect obedience even unto the death on the cross) as God’s adopted children. The mission of Christ was for us. The Incarnation took place because God’s infinite love wanted man, the masterpiece of his whole creation, to have a share in the divine gifts of the Blessed Trinity. God united the divine with the human nature in Christ. We mortal men were raised above our human nature; we would become immortal, not that we would never die on this earth–Christ himself died in his human nature-but “he would raise us up on the last day” to share forever with the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Incarnate Son the eternal bliss of heaven.

How could a Christian, one who knows all this, ever refuse to do the little part he is called on to do–“to fear God, that is, to reverence and respect him and to do what is right”? Reverence and respect for God should come easily from anyone who realizes what God has done for him. But true respect for God is not proved by a few distracted prayers and a grudging attendance at Sunday Mass. It is proved by striving to keep the laws Christ gave us, i.e. doing what is right, every day of our lives. This is difficult at times but if we keep our eternity–the unending life–before our eyes, the few short years of hardship and training on earth, will seem very short indeed. There is no comparison between what God has prepared for us, and promises us, and the trifling conditions he asks us to fulfill in order to earn his promised reward.

GOSPEL

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Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/011016.cfm

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

CCC 536 The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.1 Already he is anticipating the “baptism” of his bloody death.2 Already he is coming to “fulfill all righteousness”, that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father’s will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins.3 The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son.4 The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to “rest on him”.5 Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism “the heavens were opened”6 – the heavens that Adam’s sin had closed – and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.

CCC 608 After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.7 By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover.8 Christ’s whole life expresses his mission: “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”9

CCC 696 Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel.10 This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes “before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”11 Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!”12 In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself13 The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions.14 “Do not quench the Spirit.”15

CCC 2600 The Gospel according to St. Luke emphasizes the action of the Holy Spirit and the meaning of prayer in Christ’s ministry. Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission: before his Father’s witness to him during his baptism and Transfiguration, and before his own fulfillment of the Father’s plan of love by his Passion.16 He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles: at his election and call of the Twelve, before Peter’s confession of him as “the Christ of God,” and again that the faith of the chief of the Apostles may not fail when tempted.17 Jesus’ prayer before the events of salvation that the Father has asked him to fulfill is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father.

1 Jn 1:29; cf. Is 53:12.

2 Cf. Mk 10:38; Lk 12:50.

3 Mt 3:15; cf. 26:39.

4 Cf. Lk 3:22; Is 42:1.

5 Jn 1:32-33; cf. Is 11:2.

6 Mt 3:16.

7 Jn 1:29; cf. Lk 3:21; Mt 3:14-15; Jn 1:36.

8 Is 53:7,12; cf. Jer 11:19; Ex 12:3-14; Jn 19:36; 1 Cor 5:7.

9 Mk 10:45.

10 Sir 48:1; cf. 1 Kings 18:38-39.

11 Lk 1:17; 3:16.

12 Lk 12:49.

13 Acts 2:3-4.

14 Cf. St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 577 ff.

15 1 Thess 5:1.

16 Cf. Lk 3:21; 9:28; 22:41-44.

17 Cf. Lk 6:12; 9:18-20; 22:32.

APPLICATION

Of the hundreds of Jews who had flocked to hear the Baptist’s message, and who were present when Christ insisted on going through John’s baptismal rite and who had probably heard the words from heaven proclaiming him to be the expected Messiah, only two left the Baptist and followed him. One of these was Andrew and the other was most probably John the Evangelist. Later in that day Andrew told Peter, his brother, that he had found the Messiah and Peter joined him too.

What was wrong with the hundreds of others? We are told they were all agog about the Messiah and were wondering in their hearts if John was not he. Yet when the real Messiah was pointed out to them they did nothing about it. John had told them the Messiah would baptize them, not with water as he did, but with the Holy Spirit of God, and with fire. As Jews they must have understood that this meant he would make of them a holy people, a spiritual people, a people close to God and cleansed from all earthly attachments.

Was it this that held them back? Were their hearts so centered on the things of earth, the things of this life, that they had no time for things spiritual? Were they so anxious for a king, a messiah, who would set them free from the hated pagan Romans and give them once more a powerful earthly kingdom, that talk of the kingdom of God and of a spiritual life made no impression on them? Their dealings with Christ during his public mission amongst them, their disbelief, their opposition, their persecution, which led eventually to the death on the cross answer these questions for us. The vast majority of the Jews of that day did not want a spiritual Messiah or kingdom. They were not interested in a heaven of the future, they wanted their heaven, their happiness, and prosperity here on earth.

Before we pass any judgement on such folly let us have a look into our own hearts today. We are Christians, we are followers of Christ, we know he was God, we believe his word. We are convinced that getting to heaven is more important than getting all the treasures and pleasures this earth has to offer. But do we always live up to these convictions, are we true Christians the seven days of the week? In our work, in our speech, in our dealings with others, in our family life are we truly following Christ and his teaching?

Is my way of life, my daily conduct, such that it would cause a non-Christian to say: “That man has something noble and sensible about him, that man is concerned with the things that really matter; that man has an inward peace and sense of security which I have not got, a sense of peace and security which comes not from the things of this world. I must find out what it is and get it for myself?”

In all sincerity I cannot see any non-Christian speaking thus of me today, but helped by God’s grace, it could and may be truly said of me in the days to come. God grant that this may be so.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan and used with permission of Franciscan Press

BENEDICTUS

The Baptism of the Lord

In the gospel account of the baptism of Jesus, the mystery of death and Resurrection, sin and redemption, sin and forgiveness is prefigured: Jesus descends into the depths of the Jordan. Being submerged in the river is a symbolic representation of the process of death. An old life is buried, so that a new one can arise. Because Jesus himself is without sin and has no old life to bury, his acceptance of baptism is an anticipation of the cross, whereby he begins to share in our lot and to take upon himself our sins and our death. At the moment when he comes up out of the river, the heavens part, and from them is heard the voice in which the Father acknowledges him as his Son. The opening of heaven is a sign that this descent into our night is the dawning of a new day, that the barrier between God and man is being broken down by this identification of the Son with us: God and man is being broken down by this identification of the Son with us: God is no longer inaccessible; in the depths of our sins, and even of death, he searches for us and brings us into the light again. To this extent the baptism of Jesus anticipates the entire drama of his life and death and at the same time explains them to us.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Almighty, eternal God, when the Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan, you revealed him as your own beloved Son. Keep us, your children born of water and the Spirit, faithful to our calling. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/pray0328.htm

 

 

Posted in Catholic

The Epiphany of the Lord

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“They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

and on entering the house

they saw the child with Mary his mother”

OPENING PRAYER

Christmas Prayer

Moonless darkness stands between.

Past, the Past, no more be seen!

But the Bethlehem star may lead me

To the sight of Him

Who freed me

From the self that I have been.

Make me pure, Lord: Thou art Holy;

Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;

Now beginning, and always,

Now begin, on Christmas day.

COLLECT

O God, who on this day

revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations

by the guidance of a star,

grant in your mercy

that we, who know you already by faith,

may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Is 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,

the glory of the Lord shines upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth,

and thick clouds cover the peoples;

but upon you the LORD shines,

and over you appears his glory.

Nations shall walk by your light,

and kings by your shining radiance.

Raise your eyes and look about;

they all gather and come to you:

your sons come from afar,

and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,

your heart shall throb and overflow,

for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,

the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.

Caravans of camels shall fill you,

dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;

all from Sheba shall come

bearing gold and frankincense,

and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

APPLICATION

The feast of the Epiphany is the feast which commemorates the manifestation of God to the Gentiles. This manifestation began when the Wise Men from the East came to Bethlehem to pay their respects and offer their gifts to the newly-born king of the Jews (see Mt. 2 in today’s gospel). Though the words of second-Isaiah were not understood by his hearers as referring to this event, it was only in the coming of the Magi, to welcome Christ, that they were really fulfilled. Jerusalem was in no sense an attraction for the nations in the intervening centuries. But the Magi at Bethlehem were the first-fruits of the thousands and millions of Gentiles who have since then seen the glory of God in the Babe of Bethlehem and who have figuratively come to Jerusalem from the West and from the East to form the new Chosen People, the new Kingdom of God.

Let us thank God today for having called us, Gentiles, to his kingdom, his Church, and for giving us the means to reach heaven. Let us never imitate the Chosen People of the Old Testament who so often forgot how good God was to them, and who often so provoked him, that he allowed them to be taken into exile as slaves of a pagan nation. We too could bring exile on ourselves, an exile much more fatal than the Babylonian one. Whatever else may be my lot, whatever hardship I may have to suffer during the few years I am on earth, God forbid that I should ever, through my unfaithfulness, cause myself to be excluded from my true home, heaven, where “the glory of the Lord will shine” forever.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

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Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,

and with your justice, the king’s son;

He shall govern your people with justice

and your afflicted ones with judgment.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

Justice shall flower in his days,

and profound peace, till the moon be no more.

May he rule from sea to sea,

and from the River to the ends of the earth.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;

the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.

All kings shall pay him homage,

all nations shall serve him.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,

and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.

He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;

the lives of the poor he shall save.

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

READING II

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Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:

You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace

that was given to me for your benefit,

namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.

It was not made known to people in other generations

as it has now been revealed

to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:

that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,

and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

APPLICATION

St. Paul’s thoughts in his prison in Rome are not for himself nor for the fate that awaits him. He is thinking instead of the mission Christ gave him, to evangelize the Gentile nations. He has done much already, and even in prison he does all he can to continue the good work. He writes to his Gentile converts from Rome, to remind them of their great privilege in being called to the Christian faith. They are now God’s new Chosen People, they are now members of Christ’s mystical body, they are now guaranteed heaven if they appreciate and live up to their vocation.

Today, on the feast of the Epiphany, we are celebrating the coming of the first Gentiles to the feet of Christ. They were the first of the long stream of Gentile peoples and nations that flowed steadily toward Christ’s mystical body, the Church, down through the years. We have the privilege of being part of that stream, and St. Paul, who today in heaven is as interested in us as he was in his Ephesian converts, is exhorting us, through these words of his, to appreciate the privilege which is ours. Through the grace of God and not through any merits of our own, we are Christians and are on the road to heaven. “Rejoice and persevere” is St. Paul’s advice to us today. If we truly rejoice it means we truly appreciate what the gift of the true faith means. We know where we came from, we know where we are going, and we are certain there is a place, a wonderful, eternal place, to go to. We know too how to get there. This is no mean knowledge in the world of today, where so many seem content to make this world their heaven, and let the future look after itself–if there be a future (and logically to ease their consciences they must hope there isn’t one).

Thank God, our faith and our ordinary intelligence tell us there has to be a future life—God would be a cruel joker if he gave us the nature we possess with its spiritual gifts and desires only to have them end in a grave after a few short years. We can rejoice then because we appreciate the great privilege given us, and if we appreciate it we shall hold on to it and follow the path it indicates. We may have to climb some hills and they may look as steep as Calvary, but after Calvary comes the Mount of Olives, the mount of the Ascension.

GOSPEL

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Mt 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,

in the days of King Herod,

behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?

We saw his star at its rising

and have come to do him homage.”

When King Herod heard this,

he was greatly troubled,

and all Jerusalem with him.

Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,

He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,

for thus it has been written through the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

since from you shall come a ruler,

who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly

and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.

He sent them to Bethlehem and said,

“Go and search diligently for the child.

When you have found him, bring me word,

that I too may go and do him homage.”

After their audience with the king they set out.

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,

until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.

They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

and on entering the house

they saw the child with Mary his mother.

They prostrated themselves and did him homage.

Then they opened their treasures

and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,

they departed for their country by another way.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/010316.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 430 Jesus means in Hebrew: “God saves.” At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission.1 Since God alone can forgive sins, it is God who, in Jesus his eternal Son made man, “will save his people from their sins”.2 in Jesus, God recapitulates all of his history of salvation on behalf of men.

CCC 439 Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David”, promised by God to Israel.3 Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.4

CCC 486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples.5 Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”6

CCC 528 The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee.7 In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations.8 Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament.9 The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas10 (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”).

CCC 724 In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father, now become the Son of the Virgin. She is the burning bush of the definitive theophany. Filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word visible in the humility of his flesh. It is to the poor and the first representatives of the gentiles that she makes him known.11

1 Cf. Lk 1:31.

2 Mt 1:21; cf. 2:7.

3 Cf Mt 2:2; 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9.15.

4 Cf. Jn 4:25-26; 6:15; 11:27; Mt 22:41-46; Lk 24:21.

5 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:1-12; Lk 1:35; 2:8-20; Jn 1:3 1-34; 2:11.

6 Acts 10:38.

7 Mt 2:1; cf. LH, Epiphany, Evening Prayer II, Antiphon at the Canticle of Mary.

8 Cf Mt 2:2; Num 24:17-19; Rev 22:16.

9 Cf Jn 4 22; Mt 2:4-6.

10 St. Leo the Great, Sermo 3 in epiphania Domini 1-3, 5: PL 54, 242; LH, Epiphany, OR; Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 26, Prayer after the third reading.

11 Cf. Lk 1:15-19; Mt 2:11.

APPLICATION

The Magi are the central personages in today’s feast of Epiphany. They were pagans who did not know the true God of the Jews. Yet that true God revealed to them that the King he had promised to the Jews had come. The expected Prince was born. They came to Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, expecting, of course, to find the city and the whole country rejoicing. Instead they found suspicion and hatred in the reigning king–a hatred which in a few days turned to murder. Among the religious leaders they found knowledge of their past history, but utter indifference as regards the present and the future. These leaders knew the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem; they must have realized that the Magi were very sure of the truth revealed to them–they would not have come such a long journey on a “fool’s errand.” In spite of that, the thought of going to Bethlehem with the Magi never entered their minds. These were the leaders who some years later refused to listen to Christ and in spite of his miracles refused to admit his claim that he was not only the promised Messiah, but the true Son of God. These were the men who rejected him because he had mercy on sinners, and spoke of a future life. What they wanted from their Messiah was political power and earthly freedom and prosperity. Like Herod they ended with murder–the crucifixion of the “King of the Jews.” The pagan king was not much worse than the indifferent leaders of God’s Chosen People.

We too know the true facts concerning Christ, his mission, and his present and future kingdom. Like the leaders of the Jews of his day, we also could become absorbed in the affairs of this life and the quest for wealth, pleasure and power. We could become so totally absorbed in such things as to have neither the interest nor the time to pay our respects to Christ or to welcome him into our homes and our hearts, as our true Lord. God forbid it should ever be thus with us. Rather let us resolve this morning to make the Magi our models, to follow them to Bethlehem and offer him all that we have and are. He will accept our offering and we will return by another way, wiser and better men.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press

BENEDICTUS

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The Deep Desire of the Magi

Why did the Magi set off from afar to go to Bethlehem? The answer has to do with the mystery of the “star” which they saw “in the East” and which they recognized as the star of the “King of the Jews,” that is to say, the sign of the birth of the Messiah (Mt 2: 2). So their journey was inspired by a powerful hope, strengthened and guided by the star, which led them toward the King of the Jews, toward the kingship of God himself. The Magi set out because of a deep desire which prompted them to leave everything and begin a journey. It was as though they had always been waiting for that star. It was as if the journey had always been a part of their destiny, and was finally about to begin. This is the mystery of God’s call, the mystery of vocation. It is part of the life of every Christian… When the Magi came to Bethlehem, “going into the house they saw the child with Mary his Mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (Mt 2: 11). Here at last was the long-awaited moment – their encounter with Jesus. “Going into the house”: this house in some sense represents the Church… “They fell down and worshiped him… and offered him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Mt 2: 11-12). Here is the culmination of the whole journey: encounter becomes adoration; it blossoms into an act of faith and love which acknowledges in Jesus, born of Mary, the Son of God made man… The secret of holiness is friendship with Christ and faithful obedience to his will.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

A PRAYER FOR THE VIRTUE OF OBEDIENCE

Jesus, Almighty King of kings,

You Who obeyed Your Father to the end,

Teach me the meaning of obedience.

My soul burns to comply to Your Will,

Striving to charm Your Divinity.

While my worldly nature seeks one way,

My spiritual nature seeks another.

Bless me with the strength to obey,

That my soul may subdue both natures,

Blending them as a fair aromatic bloom.

I always seek favor in Your eyes,

To always obey You until my last breath!

 

Posted in agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, Christmas, Epiphany, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Mary, prayer, The Word of God, Uncategorized, Virgin Mary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

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“Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”  And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand what he said to them.

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

A Prayer for a Family

O dear Jesus,

I humbly implore You to grant Your special graces to our family.

May our home be the shrine of peace, purity, love, labor and faith.

I beg You, dear Jesus, to protect and bless all of us, absent and

present, living and dead.

O Mary, loving Mother of Jesus, and our Mother,

pray to Jesus for our family, for all the families of the world,

to guard the womb of the unborn, the cradle of the newborn,

the schools of the young and their vocations.

Blessed Saint Joseph, holy guardian of Jesus and Mary,

assist us by your prayers in all the necessities of life.

Ask of Jesus that special grace which He granted to you,

to watch over our home at the pillow of the sick and the dying,

so that with Mary and with you, heaven may find our family unbroken

in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who were pleased to give us

the shining example of the Holy Family,

graciously grant that we may imitate them

in practicing the virtues of family life and in

the bonds of charity,

and so, in the joy of your house,

delight one day in eternal rewards.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Sir 3:2-6, 12-14

God sets a father in honor over his children;

a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.

Whoever honors his father atones for sins,

and preserves himself from them.

When he prays, he is heard;

he stores up riches who reveres his mother.

Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,

and, when he prays, is heard.

Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;

he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;

grieve him not as long as he lives.

Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;

revile him not all the days of his life;

kindness to a father will not be forgotten,

firmly planted against the debt of your sins

–a house raised in justice to you.

APPLICATION

Although all the emphasis, in these verses of holy Scripture just read to us, seems to be on the obligation of children to their parents, there is a profound lesson here for parents too. “Like father like son” is an old and a true saying very often. If the parents fail to do what is right and just in the sight of God they can hardly complain if their children turn out disobedient to God and to them. The young learn more from example than from precept. If parents give their children the example of a life of obedience to the laws of God, and their country–the children will in turn carry out their duties to God, to their parents and to their fellowman. There have been and there will be exceptions, of course, to this rule but they are exceptions; the vast majority follow the pattern laid down for them by their parents.

As you heard during your marriage ceremony: “children are a gift from God to you,” a gift for this life to be the joy of your young years and a help and comfort in your old age; but above and beyond that, they are a gift which you must do all in your power to return to God when their hour comes. You must not only strive to make them good citizens of this world but you must never forget that God gave them to you primarily so that you would make them citizens of heaven. You may fail, in spite of your best intentions and endeavors, but God will reward you nonetheless–the failure will not be laid to your door.

Today, on the feast-day of the only perfect family that ever lived on this earth, I would ask all parents to examine themselves and see how they are fulfilling this grave responsibility–which God has placed on them. Are they preparing their children by word and example, especially by example, to be worthy citizens of heaven where they will be their parents’ crown and glory?

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,

who walks in his ways!

For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;

blessed shall you be, and favored.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine

in the recesses of your home;

your children like olive plants

around your table.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

Behold, thus is the man blessed

who fears the LORD.

The LORD bless you from Zion:

may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem

all the days of your life.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

READING II

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Col 3:12-21

Brothers and sisters:

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,

heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

bearing with one another and forgiving one another,

if one has a grievance against another;

as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.

And over all these put on love,

that is, the bond of perfection.

And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,

the peace into which you were also called in one body.

And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,

as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,

singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs

with gratitude in your hearts to God.

And whatever you do, in word or in deed,

do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands,

as is proper in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives,

and avoid any bitterness toward them.

Children, obey your parents in everything,

for this is pleasing to the Lord.

Fathers, do not provoke your children,

so they may not become discouraged.

APPLICATION

Ninety per cent of the first readers of St. Paul’s letter–the first Christian converts of the town of Colossae–were pagans before their conversion. To practice the new Christian virtues was no easy task for people reared in the laxity and license of the paganism of their day. Yet they did practice these virtues and produced many saints and martyrs. After twenty centuries of Christianity one would expect that to live a full Christian life today should be less difficult but unfortunately it is not so. For the fact is our world is rapidly sinking back again into paganism–a paganism more inimical to truth and morality than the paganism of St. Paul’s day. The pagans of the Roman Empire were tired of vice and worldliness–they were looking for the truth and the real purpose of life. They found it in Christianity and cherished it. Today’s neo-pagans are tired of Christianity–they have found it wanting, because they are found wanting in its observance.

GOSPEL

finding+jesus.jpg

Lk 2:41-52

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast

of Passover,

and when he was twelve years old,

they went up according to festival custom.

After they had completed its days, as they were returning,

the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,

but his parents did not know it.

Thinking that he was in the caravan,

they journeyed for a day

and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,

but not finding him,

they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.

After three days they found him in the temple,

sitting in the midst of the teachers,

listening to them and asking them questions,

and all who heard him were astounded

at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him,

they were astonished,

and his mother said to him,

“Son, why have you done this to us?

Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”

And he said to them,

“Why were you looking for me?

Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

But they did not understand what he said to them.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth,

and was obedient to them;

and his mother kept all these things in her heart.

And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor

before God and man.

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/122715.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 94 Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church:

– “through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts”;1 it is in particular “theological research [which] deepens knowledge of revealed truth”.2

– “from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which [believers] experience”,3 the sacred Scriptures “grow with the one who reads them.”3

– “from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth”.5

CCC 472 This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man”,6 and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition can learn only from experience.7 This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking “the form of a slave”.8

CCC 503 Mary’s virginity manifests God’s absolute initiative in the Incarnation. Jesus has only God as Father. “He was never estranged from the Father because of the human nature which he assumed… He is naturally Son of the Father as to his divinity and naturally son of his mother as to his humanity, but properly Son of the Father in both natures.”9

CCC 517 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross,10 but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:

– already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;11

– in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;12

– in his word which purifies its hearers;13

– in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”;14

– and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.15

CCC 531 During the greater part of his life Jesus shared the condition of the vast majority of human beings: a daily life spent without evident greatness, a life of manual labor. His religious life was that of a Jew obedient to the law of God,16 a life in the community. From this whole period it is revealed to us that Jesus was “obedient” to his parents and that he “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”17

CCC 534 The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus.18 Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s work?”19 Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary “kept all these things in her heart” during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life.

CCC 583 Like the prophets before him Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem. It was in the Temple that Joseph and Mary presented him forty days after his birth.20 At the age of twelve he decided to remain in the Temple to remind his parents that he must be about his Father’s business.21 He went there each year during his hidden life at least for Passover.22 His public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts.23

CCC 2197 The fourth commandment opens the second table of the Decalogue. It shows us the order of charity. God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with his authority.

CCC 2599 The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin also learned to pray according to his human heart. He learns the formulas of prayer from his mother, who kept in her heart and meditated upon all the “great things” done by the Almighty.24 He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem. But his prayer springs from an otherwise secret source, as he intimates at the age of twelve: “I must be in my Father’s house.”25 Here the newness of prayer in the fullness of time begins to be revealed: his filial prayer, which the Father awaits from his children, is finally going to be lived out by the only Son in his humanity, with and for men.

1 DV 8 § 2; cf. Lk 2:19,51.

2 GS 62 § 7; cf. GS 44 § 2; DV 23; 24; UR 4.

3 DV 8 § 2.

4 DV 8 § 2.

5 St. Gregory the Great, Hom. in Ez. 1,7,8:PL 76,843D.

6 Lk 2:52.

7 Cf. Mk 6 38; 8 27; Jn 11:34; etc.

8 Phil 2:7.

9 Council of Friuli (796): DS 619; cf. Lk 2:48-49.

10 Cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; 1 Pt 1:18-19.

11 Cf. 2 Cor 8:9.

12 Cf. Lk 2:51.

13 Cf. Jn 15:3.

14 Mt 8:17; cf. Is 53:4.

15 Cf. Rom 4:25.

16 Cf. Gal 4:4.

17 Lk 2:51-52.

18 Cf. Lk 2:41-52.

19 Lk 2:49 alt.

20 Lk 2:22-39.

21 Cf. Lk 2 46-49.

22 Cf. Lk 2 41.

23 Cf. Jn 2 13-14; 5:1, 14; 7:1, 10, 14; 8 2; 10:22-23.

24 Cf. Lk 1:49; 2:19; 2:51.

25 Lk 2:49.

APPLICATION

The Church has appointed this Sunday within the octave of Christmas as the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. She wants all Christian families to try to model their lives on this, the holiest of families that ever lived on earth. No family can ever hope to be as perfect as this one was, but every family must strive to imitate it if only from afar.

In Joseph, the father of the family has his model. Patiently and humbly he worked at his carpenter’s bench to provide the necessities of life for his wife and for the child Jesus. He could not always give them all he would wish for them but he did what he could gladly and humbly. To his neighbors he was just another carpenter, unknown to the world, of no importance in their eyes, yet his name will be known and revered until the end of time. Fathers, many (if not most) of you too, are living a life of obscurity–a life of monotonous toil–a daily struggle to provide bread for your family. You will never make the headlines in the newspapers because of what you are doing, but you are playing an important, an essential part, in God’s plan for providing citizens for heaven.

If you carry out faithfully the task God has given you, if you provide for and protect the wife and family God has committed to your care you will make the headlines in the world to come, your names will be written in the Book of Life.

Mothers of families, in Mary you have the perfect example you should strive to follow. She was a dutiful, faithful wife and an ideal and loving mother. How often she must have regretted that her beloved spouse had to struggle so hard to earn their meager, daily bread. How great must have been her grief that she could not give her beloved Child more comforts in his infancy and youth. She had days of sorrow and anxiety, sorrow which culminated at the foot of the cross on Calvary, but she accepted it all as God’s will for the salvation of the world. You too have your days of anxiety and your years perhaps of worry–worries which will not end till you draw your last breath. But think of your Model, turn to Mary for courage and for help. She can and will get you the strength to keep going on the hard road of motherhood.

Like her, you too have a great task to perform for God. You have the eternal salvation of your family in your hands. Their future in this world and in the more important world–the next–will depend largely on how you behave as mother of the family. Your greatest joy in heaven, after the beatific vision, will be, please God, that you will be surrounded by your family which, aided by God’s grace, you did so much to bring there.

Children : your duty in the family is to love, honor and obey your parents. And your model is none other than Jesus of Nazareth who, though he was God, made himself subject to Joseph and Mary. He who was God, has set you an example which you must follow. Your obedience will never be as perfect as his but it can and should be as perfect as you can make it. Be a comfort and a consolation to your parents. Remember always what they have done for you in your infancy when you could not help yourself. Remember what they have done and are still doing for you in order to fit you to take your place in this life and in the next.

Show your thankfulness and appreciation by doing what they tell you. You may not see the reason for all their restrictions and all their commands but it is because they have your welfare at heart and because they truly love you that such commands and restrictions are placed on you. It is only later on in life that you will fully understand the true love they had for you and the great sacrifices they made for you so that you would be worthy of them and worthy of your heavenly father who gave you to them. Show your appreciation now while you have them.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Passover and Family

In the course of a year, a people is always in danger of disintegrating, not only through external causes, but also interiorly, and of losing hold of the inner motivation which sustains it. It needs to return to its fundamental origin… We experience the primal, chaotic powers rising up from the very midst of a progressive society – which seems to know everything and to be able to do anything – and attacking the very progress of which it is so proud. We see how, in the midst of prosperity, technological achievement, and the scientific domination of the world, a nation can be destroyed from within; we see how the creation can be threatened by the chaotic powers which lurk in the depths of the human heart. We realize that neither money nor technology nor organizational ability alone can banish chaos. Only the real protective wall given to us by the Lord, the new family he has created for us, can do this… Passover is a summons, urgently reminding us that the family is the living home in which humanity is nurtured, which banishes chaos and futility, and which must be protected as such… The individual family cannot survive; it will disintegrate unless it is kept safe within the larger family which guarantees it and gives it security. So this night needs to be the night in which we set out once again on our twin paths: we set out on the path to the new city, the new family, the Church, and dedicate ourselves irrevocably to her, to our heart’s true home; and then, on the basis of this family of Jesus Christ, we can proceed to grasp what it meant by the human family and by the humanity which sustains and protects us.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Act of Consecration of a Christian Family to the Holy Family

To the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Oh Mother Most Pure,

we come to You as a family

and consecrate ourselves to your most Immaculate Heart.

We come to You as a family

and place our trust in Your powerful intercession.

Oh Dearest Mother Mary,

teach us as a mother teaches her children,

for our souls are soiled

and our prayers are weak

because of our sinful hearts.

ready to respond to You

and follow Your way,

for Your way leads us

to the heart of Your Son, Jesus.

We are ready to be cleansed and purified.

Come then Virgin Most Pure,

and embrace us with Your motherly mantle.

Make our hearts whiter than snow

and as pure as a spring of fresh water.

Teach us to pray,

so that our prayers may become more beautiful

than the singing of the birds at the break of dawn.

Dear Mother Mary,

we entrust to Your Immaculate Heart of hearts,

our family and our entire future.

Lead us all to our homeland which is Heaven.

Amen.

Immaculate Heart of Mary,

pray for us.

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The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) – Mass During the Night

Nativity3-1.jpg

“And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

OPENING PRAYER

Christmas Prayer of St. Pope John XXIII

O sweet Child of Bethlehem,
grant that we may share with all our hearts
in this profound mystery of Christmas.
Put into the hearts of men and women this peace
for which they sometimes seek so desperately
and which you alone can give to them.
Help them to know one another better,
and to live as brothers and sisters,
children of the same Father.
Reveal to them also your beauty, holiness and purity.
Awaken in their hearts
love and gratitude for your infinite goodness.
Join them all together in your love.
And give us your heavenly peace. Amen.

St. Pope John XXIII

COLLECT

O God, who have made this most sacred night

radiant with the splendor of the true light,

grand, we pray, that we, who have known the mysteries

of his light on earth

may also delight in his gladness in heaven.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

isaiah-icon.gif

Is 9:1-6

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!

APPLICATION

What Isaiah foresaw some 700 years before it happened we are commemorating tonight nearly 2,000 years after it happened, and it will still be commemorated 2,000 years from today if this world will still be in existence. God came on our earth, became one of us so that we could become one with God. This is incomparably greater than any other historical event that ever happened or ever could happen on our planet.

Yet unfortunately there are millions of people who have not yet heard this good news, but its good effects will reach them if their ignorance is not their fault. There are millions of others who have heard this good news but refuse to believe it. The basic reason for their disbelief is not that it couldn’t be true, but that it is too good to be true. It is indeed hard to believe that the infinite, all-perfect God should bother with such imperfect, such mean creatures, as we are. But it is because he is infinite and his love is infinite that he can and did go to such lengths for us his unworthy creatures.

While we thank God tonight with true sincerity and heartfelt gratitude, for all he has done for us, and while we promise faithfully to try to make ourselves less unworthy of the infinite love he has shown us in the Incarnation, let us remember all those millions of our brothers who do not really know him yet. Let us beg God to send them the goods news and the grace to accept this great gift of infinite love, so that all his children on earth may know and thank him too. And let us strive by the example of a truly Christian life to make God’s love for us known not only to our fellow-Christians but to all men.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the “Book of Emmanuel” (“Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,”1 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.2

CCC 2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic “Prince of Peace.”3 By the blood of his Cross, “in his own person he killed the hostility,”4 he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. “He is our peace.”5 He has declared: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”6

1 Jn 12:41; cf. Isa 6-12.
2 Isa 11:1-2.
3 Isa 9:5.
4 Eph 2:16 J.B.; cf. Col 1:20-22.
5 Eph 2:14.
6 Mt 5:9.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 96: 1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.

Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.

READING II

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAbtAAAAJDZjM2ZhNDQ1LTkzYmQtNDJjZS1hNGQzLWRiYWFhZWZlMTY2NA.jpg

Ti 2:11-14

Beloved:
The grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 66 “The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries.

CCC 1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.”2 Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: “Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites.”3 In the New Testament it is called “moderation” or “sobriety.” We ought “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world.”4
To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).5

1 DV 4; cf. 1 Tim 6:14; Titus 2:13.
2 Sir 5:2; cf. 37:27-31.
3 Sir 18:30.
4 Titus 2:12.
5 St. Augustine, De moribus eccl. 1, 25, 46: PL 32, 1330-1331.

APPLICATION

Christmas is an occasion for rejoicing, a season of goodwill, a time of joy even for those who unfortunately do not know or realize its true meaning. For us Christians it is the second of our greatest annual feasts (next after Easter) in which we call to mind God’s infinite love for us and his infinite mercy towards us mortals.

We surely have reason to rejoice and be glad. Christ, the true Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, took to himself our lowly human nature and became one with us in order to raise us up to the dignity of adopted sons of his heavenly Father. If some earthly king or nobleman took the son of one of his servants into his palace, clothed him in costly robes and made him his heir, the world would gasp in amazement. God has taken us, his lowly creatures; has clothed us in the divine garments of grace; has made us one of his family by making his Son one of us, and has made us heirs of an eternal kingdom.

And yet mankind can ignore or forget such an act of benevolence, such a proof of divine love! Of course, we Christians do not ignore or forget this divine benevolence but we just do not remember it as much as we should; we do not thank God often enough for all he has done for us; too often we are ungrateful children.

Tonight, as we call to mind the infinite love of God which sent his Son on earth to be born of the virgin Mary in a stable in Bethlehem so that we could spend our eternity in the mansions of heaven, let us show our gratitude, our appreciation, by resolving to live as adopted sons of God are expected to live.

St. Paul’s letter to Titus tells us how. We must reject ungodliness and worldly lusts by living temperately, justly and piously, using the things of this world as stepping-stones to heaven. God has made us his Chosen People; nay more! he has made us his adopted sons. Let us show our true gratitude by striving to live a life worthy of such a sublime vocation.

GOSPEL

Giotto_di_Bondone_-_No._17_Scenes_from_the_Life_of_Christ_-_1._Nativity_-_Birth_of_Jesus_-_WGA09193.jpg

Lk 2:1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122517-midnight.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’”1 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”2 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.3 Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection.4 They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.5

CCC 437 To the shepherds, the angel announced the birth of Jesus as the Messiah promised to Israel: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”6 From the beginning he was “the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world”, conceived as “holy” in Mary’s virginal womb.7 God called Joseph to “take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, so that Jesus, “who is called Christ”, should be born of Joseph’s spouse into the messianic lineage of David.8

CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.9 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.10 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”11

CCC 486 The Father’s only Son, conceived as man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is “Christ”, that is to say, anointed by the Holy Spirit, from the beginning of his human existence, though the manifestation of this fact takes place only progressively: to the shepherds, to the magi, to John the Baptist, to the disciples.12 Thus the whole life of Jesus Christ will make manifest “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.”13

CCC 515 The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith14 and wanted to share it with others. Having known in faith who Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of his mystery in all his earthly life. From the swaddling clothes of his birth to the vinegar of his Passion and the shroud of his Resurrection, everything in Jesus’ life was a sign of his mystery.15 His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that “in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”16 His humanity appeared as “sacrament”, that is, the sign and instrument, of his divinity and of the salvation he brings: what was visible in his earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of his divine sonship and redemptive mission

CCC 525 Jesus was born in a humble stable, into a poor family.17 Simple shepherds were the first witnesses to this event. In this poverty heaven’s glory was made manifest.18 The Church never tires of singing the glory of this night:
The Virgin today brings into the world the Eternal
And the earth offers a cave to the Inaccessible.
The angels and shepherds praise him
And the magi advance with the star,
For you are born for us,
Little Child, God eternal!19

CCC 559 How will Jerusalem welcome her Messiah? Although Jesus had always refused popular attempts to make him king, he chooses the time and prepares the details for his messianic entry into the city of “his father David”.20 Acclaimed as son of David, as the one who brings salvation (Hosanna means “Save!” or “Give salvation!”), the “King of glory” enters his City “riding on an ass”.21 Jesus conquers the Daughter of Zion, a figure of his Church, neither by ruse nor by violence, but by the humility that bears witness to the truth.22 And so the subjects of his kingdom on that day are children and God’s poor, who acclaim him as had the angels when they announced him to the shepherds.23 Their acclamation, “Blessed be he who comes in the name of the Lord”,24 is taken up by the Church in the “Sanctus” of the Eucharistic liturgy that introduces the memorial of the Lord’s Passover.

CCC 695 Anointing. The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit,25 to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. In Christian initiation, anointing is the sacramental sign of Confirmation, called “chrismation” in the Churches of the East. Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew “messiah”) means the one “anointed” by God’s Spirit. There were several anointed ones of the Lord in the Old Covenant, pre-eminently King David.26 But Jesus is God’s Anointed in a unique way: the humanity the Son assumed was entirely anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit established him as “Christ.”27 The Virgin Mary conceived Christ by the Holy Spirit who, through the angel, proclaimed him the Christ at his birth, and prompted Simeon to come to the temple to see the Christ of the Lord.28 The Spirit filled Christ and the power of the Spirit went out from him in his acts of healing and of saving.29 Finally, it was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.30 Now, fully established as “Christ” in his humanity victorious over death, Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit abundantly until “the saints” constitute – in their union with the humanity of the Son of God – that perfect man “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”:31 “the whole Christ,” in St. Augustine’s expression.

CCC 725 Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God’s merciful love,32 into communion with Christ. And the humble are always the first to accept him: shepherds, magi, Simeon and Anna, the bride and groom at Cana, and the first disciples.

1 Heb 1:6.
2 Lk 2:14.
3 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:13,19; 4:11; 26:53; Mk 1:13; Lk 22:43; 2 Macc 10:29-30; 11:8.
4 Cf. Lk 2:8-14; Mk 16:5-7.
5 Cf. Acts 1:10-11; Mt 13:41; 24:31; Lk 12:8-9. The angels in the life of the Church
6 Lk 2:11.
7 Jn 10:36; cf. Lk 1:35.
8 Mt 1:20; cf. 1:16; Rom 1:1; 2 Tim 2:8; Rev 22:16.
9 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.
10 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.
11 Jn 20:28,21:7.
12 Cf. Mt 1:20; 2:1-12; Lk 1:35; 2:8-20; Jn 1:3 1-34; 2:11.
13 Acts 10:38.
14 Cf. Mk 1:1; Jn 21:24.
15 Cf Lk 2:7; Mt 27: 48; Jn 20:7.
16 Col 2:9.
17 Cf. Lk 2:61.
18 Cf. Lk 2:8-20.
19 Kontakion of Romanos the Melodist.
20 Lk 1:32; cf. Mt 21:1-11; Jn 6:15.
21 Ps 24:7-10; Zech 9:9.
22 Cf. Jn 18:37.
23 Cf. Mt 21:15-16; cf. Ps 8:3; Lk 19:38; 2:14.
24 Cf. Ps 118:26.
25Cf. 1 In 2:20:27; 2 Cor 1:21.
26 Cf. Ex 30:22-32; 1 Sam 16:13.
27 Cf. Lk 418-19; Isa 61:1.
28 Cf. Lk 2:11,26-27.
29 Cf. Lk 4:1; 6:19; 8:46.
30 Cf. Rom 1:4; 8:11.
31 Eph 4:13; cf. Acts 2:36.
32 Cf. Lk 2:14.

APPLICATION

Tonight as we kneel before the Baby in the Manger in praise and thanksgiving to the Son of infinite love and mercy let not our amazement at the humility and poverty of the stable and manger, touching though they be, prevent us from seeing the greater, the almost incredible, humiliation of the Incarnation itself. Had our Savior been born in Herod’s marble palace in Jerusalem and laid on a gilded cot with covers of the finest silk, his becoming man would yet have been a humbling, a lowering of himself, which would stagger the human mind. There are those who puzzle over and try to explain the mystery of the Incarnation—how Christ, namely, could be God and man at the same time, how one Person could have two natures. But mystery though this is, and fully intelligible to God only, the mystery of the love of God who did this for us is a greater mystery still and more of a puzzle to our finite human minds. “What is man that God should be mindful of him?” What have we ever done or what could we ever do to merit such love, such mercy, such condescension? No, we did not merit such love but the infinitely unselfish generosity of God, which no human mind is capable of grasping, has done this. We are his creatures who are capable of sharing his own happiness with him for all eternity and he has arranged it that we shall do so.

All we can do is to say from our heart a humble, thank you God, and to resolve to have the sense to avail ourselves of this almost incredible offer. We are “God’s friends.” He has called us so, then let us do our best to retain this friendship than which there is nothing greater for us on earth or in heaven. If we do, and if we do the little he asks of us, he will do his part; he will give us our share in the eternal happiness the Incarnation has won for us.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Real Point of Christmas

Why do we really celebrate Christmas despite the wretchedness, turmoil, and isolation that are still man’s lot and are if anything intensifying rather than lessening? What is the real point of Christmas?… Is it not consoling to see how, despite all the misunderstandings, the message of Jesus of Nazareth is heard? It is not only conflict that the message has produced but also and even more the miracle of understanding, so that across ages and cultures, and even across the boundaries between religions, human beings find one another in his name. Distance vanishes and people are drawn together amid all our doubts and bewilderment: God exists. Not as an infinitely distant power that can at best terrify us; not as being’s ultimate ground that is not conscious of itself. Rather he exists as One who can be concerned about us; he is such that everything we are and do lies open to his gaze. But that gaze is the gaze of Love. For anyone who accepts this in faith and knows it by faith, there is no longer any ultimate isolation. He is here. The light that one man becomes in history and for history is not an accident or something powerless, but Light from Light. The hope and encouragement that emanate from this light thus acquire a wholly new depth. But precisely because it is an entirely divine hope, we can and should accept it as also an entirely human hope and pass it on to others.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer for Christmas

A Root shall come forth from the stock of Jesse
And a Flower shall rise out of his root!
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him
the spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the spirit of counsel and of fortitude,
the spirit of knowledge and of godliness.
The people that walked in darkness
shall see a great light,
For a Child is born to us
and a Son is given to us.
To Him all power shall be given.
His Name shall be: Wonderful One,
Strong God, Eternal One, Prince of Peace.
He shall sit on the throne of David,
And He will found a new Covenant
which will last for ever and ever.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

SUGGESTED PRAYER OF THE FAITHFUL

The shepherds rejoiced to hear the choir of angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest.” United in their joy, we glorify the Father by offering him our Christmas petitions:

For the Holy Father and the bishops who assist him: that their life, teaching, preaching, and pastoral care will proclaim the saving Event of the Incarnation to everyone throughout the world.

For our President and all who assist him in governing our country: that they will receive many blessings at Christmas and be strengthened to lead our nation in the ways of enduring righteousness and freedom.

For lasting peace throughout the world: that the coming of the Prince of Peace will put an end to all enmity and division, and unify the peoples of the world.

For families: that the powerful graces of this Christmas will draw family members together in fresh expressions of love and belonging that will last for a lifetime.

For the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, and for refugees: that Jesus Christ, who came into the world as one who was destitute and marginalized, will love and rescue the needy with special preference and grace.

That all Christians will be serious in responding to the universal call to holiness by living their faith with great fervor.

Loving Father, darkness is for ever changed because of the birth of the Light: Jesus Christ your Son. Take all the darkness of our lives and replace it with the radiance of our newborn Savior. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

GRACE BEFORE THE MEAL

Loving Father,

you bless us in every way,

especially with the love of the Mother of your Son.

United in a special way with the Blessed Virgin Mary,

our souls magnify you.

We thank you for all good things,

especially this meal,

through Christ our Lord. Amen.

GRACE AFTER THE MEAL

Our spirits rejoice in God our Savior,

for he has filled the hungry with good things.

Bless those who have provided for us in any way,

and fill all those who live in want.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Catholic

Fourth Sunday of Advent – C

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“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, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

Hail, Mary! Full of grace,

The Lord is with thee;

Blessed are thou among women,

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

Pray for us sinners,

Now, and at the hour of our death.

Amen.

COLLECT

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,

your grace into our hearts,

that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son

was made known by the message of an Angel,

may be his Passion and Cross

be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Mi 5:1-4a

Thus says the LORD:

You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah

too small to be among the clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

one who is to be ruler in Israel;

whose origin is from of old,

from ancient times.

Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time

when she who is to give birth has borne,

and the rest of his kindred shall return

to the children of Israel.

He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock

by the strength of the LORD,

in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;

and they shall remain, for now his greatness

shall reach to the ends of the earth;

he shall be peace.

The Word of the Lord.

APPLICATION

The ways of God are certainly not our ways and the mercy of God surpasses all human understanding. When he sent Michah to recall his rebellious, thankless people, and told him to foretell the national and personal disasters their sins were about to bring on them, he gave at the same time a glimpse of the glorious future that awaited them. They took note of the promise and their descendants remembered their promise, for the priests of Jerusalem were able to tell Herod where Christ the Messiah was to be born (see Mt. 2:4), yet the certainty of a glorious future was not enough to turn them from their sinful way of living.

Notwithstanding this, the merciful God still kept his promise. The Messiah, the Redeemer, was born later in Bethlehem and he founded a universal kingdom for Jew and Gentile promising an eternal kingdom to those who would be faithful members of his earthly one. We have called the Jews unworthy and thankless but who are we to offer to take the mote out of their eyes?

The Jews had indeed seen the wondrous love and mercy of God, but have we Christians not experienced that love and mercy to an infinitely greater degree? God sent his Son to live and die for us and yet how cold is our love, how meager and begrudging is our thanksgiving, our return for this infinite divine love?

Like the Jews of Michah’s time we are aware that God has promised us the kingdom of heaven where we shall have eternal happiness and peace. Yet, how many of us are willing to bear the trials of this life and shun illicit gains and pleasures for the sake of that happy eternal future? The ways of God are mysterious but surely the ways of sinful man who is willing to throw away his everlasting happiness for the sake of a passing pleasure, are more mysterious still.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19.

Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,

from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.

Rouse your power,

and come to save us.

Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,

look down from heaven, and see;

take care of this vine,

and protect what your right hand has planted

the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

May your help be with the man of your right hand,

with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

Then we will no more withdraw from you;

give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

READING II

Saint-Paul-the-Apostle-5.jpg

Heb 10:5-10

Brothers and sisters:

When Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,

but a body you prepared for me;

in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.

Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,

behold, I come to do your will, O God.'”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,

holocausts and sin offerings,

you neither desired nor delighted in.”

These are offered according to the law.

Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”

He takes away the first to establish the second.

By this “will,” we have been consecrated

through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 462 The Letter to the Hebrews refers to the same mystery:

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.”1

CCC 488 “God sent forth his Son”, but to prepare a body for him,2 he wanted the free co-operation of a creature. For this, from all eternity God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary”:3

The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life.4

CCC 606 The Son of God, who came down “from heaven, not to do [his] own will, but the will of him who sent [him]”,5 said on coming into the world, “Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.” “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”6 From the first moment of his Incarnation the Son embraces the Father’s plan of divine salvation in his redemptive mission: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.”7 The sacrifice of Jesus “for the sins of the whole world”8 expresses his loving communion with the Father. “The Father loves me, because I lay down my life”, said the Lord, “[for] I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”9

CCC 614 This sacrifice of Christ is unique; it completes and surpasses all other sacrifices.10 First, it is a gift from God the Father himself, for the Father handed his Son over to sinners in order to reconcile us with himself. At the same time it is the offering of the Son of God made man, who in freedom and love offered his life to his Father through the Holy Spirit in reparation for our disobedience.11

CCC 2568 In the Old Testament, the revelation of prayer comes between the fall and the restoration of man, that is, between God’s sorrowful call to his first children: “Where are you?. .. What is this that you have done?”12 and the response of God’s only Son on coming into the world: “Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.”13 Prayer is bound up with human history, for it is the relationship with God in historical events.

CCC 2824 In Christ, and through his human will, the will of the Father has been perfectly fulfilled once for all. Jesus said on entering into this world: “Lo, I have come to do your will, O God.”14 Only Jesus can say: “I always do what is pleasing to him.”15 In the prayer of his agony, he consents totally to this will: “not my will, but yours be done.”16 For this reason Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”17 “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”18

1 Heb 10:5-7, citing Ps 40:6-8 ([7-9] LXX).

2 Gal 4:4; Heb 10:5.

3 Lk 1:26-27.

4 LG 56; cf. LG 61.

5 Jn 6:38.

6 Heb 10:5-10.

7 Jn 4:34.

8 1 Jn 2:2.

9 Jn 10:17; 14:31.

10 Cf. Heb 10:10.

11 Cf. Jn 10:17-18; 15:13; Heb 9:14; 1 Jn 4:10.

12 Gen 3:9, 13.

13 Heb 10:5-7.

14 Heb 10:7; Ps 40:7.

15 Jn 8:29.

16 Lk 22:42; cf. Jn 4:34; 5:30; 6:38.

17 Gal 1:4.

18 Heb 10:10.

APPLICATION

These words of the Epistle to the Hebrews are aptly chosen to remind us today, the last Sunday of our preparation for Christmas, of the real meaning of the Incarnation. It was out of love, infinite love, God created the world and all it contains. In God’s plan of creation man was the highest of all the creatures, he has inorganic and organic life, vegetative and animal life, but over and above what all other living creatures have he has an intellect and free will–a spiritual life which makes him capable of knowing and loving his Creator. From the beginning, according to the teaching of the Scotistic School, God’s plan was to raise up man to the highest possible glory, by uniting our human nature with the divine in the Person of his divine Son, and thus in the Incarnation all creation is, in its representative man, joined to its divine Creator. Our finite, puny minds cannot even begin to understand the infinite love which moved God to be so generous towards us.

And to make that love more mysterious still the world was full of sin when the Incarnation took place. Man who could and should have known and loved his Creator, had in his pride and selfishness forgotten his Benefactor and offended him. But that did not deter God’s love. It entailed suffering and a cruel death for the Son in his human nature, but that was cheerfully borne out of love for us. “Behold I come to do thy will” was the Son’s response, he humbled himself so that we should be raised up, he died so

that we should live eternally. His perfect obedience, coming from the God-man, made atonement for all the sins (of disobedience) the whole human race had ever committed or ever could commit. All we can say to this mystery of infinite love is: thank you God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for all you have done and are still doing for us, unworthy, utterly unworthy though we be.

GOSPEL

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Lk 1:39-45

Mary set out

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,

“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.”

The Gospel of the Lord

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122015.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 148 The Virgin Mary most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith. By faith Mary welcomes the tidings and promise brought by the angel Gabriel, believing that “with God nothing will be impossible” and so giving her assent: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to your word.”1 Elizabeth greeted her: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”2 It is for this faith that all generations have called Mary blessed.3

CCC 448 Very often in the Gospels people address Jesus as “Lord”. This title testifies to the respect and trust of those who approach him for help and healing.4 At the prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Lord” expresses the recognition of the divine mystery of Jesus.5 In the encounter with the risen Jesus, this title becomes adoration: “My Lord and my God!” It thus takes on a connotation of love and affection that remains proper to the Christian tradition: “It is the Lord!”6

CCC 495 Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”.7 In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).8

CCC 523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way.9 “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last.10 He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.11 Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.12

CCC 717 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.”13 John was “filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb”14 by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.15

CCC 2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:

Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.16

Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel’s greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. “Rejoice. .. O Daughter of Jerusalem. .. the Lord your God is in your midst.”17 Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God. .. with men.”18 Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel’s greeting, we make Elizabeth’s greeting our own. “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary “blessed.”19 “Blessed is she who believed. .. ”20 Mary is “blessed among women” because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’s word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth.21 Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God’s own blessing: Jesus, the “fruit of thy womb.”

CCC 2677 Holy Mary, Mother of God: With Elizabeth we marvel, “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”22 Because she gives us Jesus, her son, Mary is Mother of God and our mother; we can entrust all our cares and petitions to her: she prays for us as she prayed for herself: “Let it be to me according to your word.”23 By entrusting ourselves to her prayer, we abandon ourselves to the will of God together with her: “Thy will be done.”

Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death: By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the “Mother of Mercy,” the All-Holy One. We give ourselves over to her now, in the Today of our lives. And our trust broadens further, already at the present moment, to surrender “the hour of our death” wholly to her care. May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing24 to lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.

1 Lk 1:37-38; cf. Gen 18:14.

2 Lk 1:45.

3 Cf. Lk 1:48.

4 Cf Mt 8:2; 14:30; 15:22; et al.

5 Cf. Lk 1:43; 2:11.

6 Jn 20:28,21:7.

7 Lk 1:43; Jn 2:1; 19:25; cf. Mt 13:55; et al.

8 Council of Ephesus (431): DS 251.

9 Cf. Acts 13:24; Mt 3:3.

10 Lk 1:76; cf. 7:26; Mt 11:13.

11 Jn 1 29; cf. Acts 1:22; Lk 1:41; 16:16; Jn 3:29.

12 Lk 1:17; cf. Mk 6:17-29.

13 Jn 1:6.

14 Lk 1:15, 41.

15 Cf. Lk 1:68.

16 Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b.

17 Zeph 3:14,17a.

18 Rev 21:3.

19 Lk 1:41, 48.

20 Lk 1:45.

21 Cf. Gen 12:3.

22 Lk 1:43.

23 Lk 1:38.

24 Cf. Jn 19:27.

APPLICATOIN

Filled with the Holy Spirit, that is, informed, inspired by God, Elizabeth was the first human being to proclaim the dignity, the special position given to Mary in God’s plan for our redemption. “Blessed are thou amongst women . . . the mother of my Lord,” she said. Mary was the one chosen from all eternity, from all the daughters of Eve, to be the mother of the Incarnate Son of God—no greater dignity could be conferred on any creature on earth or in heaven, she was surely the “blessed one.”

The moment she accepted the Angel’s announcement in Nazareth and said “be it done unto me according to thy word” she became the Mother of Christ, our Redeemer. And at that same moment she became our Mother also, for Christ has made us his brothers. Fortunate and blest indeed are we to have such a Mother in heaven who loves us and is supremely interested in us.

There is no stronger, no greater, no more unselfish love on earth than that of a mother for her child. Expecting nothing in return, an earthly mother will make any sacrifice even that of her own life, for the sake of her child. Mary, our Mother in heaven, has made a sacrifice for us–a sacrifice greater than any human mother could ever make–she offered her divine Son for us on Calvary and stood there to see him die slowly in agony for our sake. Could we ever doubt her love for us then, her supreme interest in us? She wants nothing for us but the greatest and the best, our eternal happiness with the Holy Trinity in heaven.

Every human mother does all she can to help her child succeed in life. Our heavenly mother does all she can (and she surely has influence with her divine Son), to help us succeed in our heavenly vocation. But we must do our part. Unfortunately many a son and daughter forget the sacrifices their earthly mothers made for them in their childhood and youth and leave them unhelped, uncomforted and lonely in their advancing years. God forbid that we should forget our earthly mothers and all they did for us and our temporal welfare, and God forbid we should ever cease to be thankful and grateful to our heavenly Mother who did so much more and who is still doing so much for our eternal well-being. Let us thank God from our hearts at Christmas for sending his divine Son to redeem us, and for giving his Son and us a Mother “blessed amongst women” and greatest of all mothers.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press

BENEDICTUS

The Method of the Incarnation

The Incarnation of the Word means that God does not merely want to come to the spirit of man, through the Spirit, but that he is seeking him through and in the material world, that he also in fact wants to encounter him as a social and historical being. God wants to come to men through men. God has approached men in such a way that through him, and on account of him, they can find their way to one another. Thus the Incarnation includes the communal and historical aspects of faith. Taking the way of the body means that the time, as a reality, and the social nature of man become features of man’s relationship with God, features that are in turn based upon God’s existing relationship with man. God’s action brings into being “the People of God,” and “the People of God,” on the basis of Christ, become “the body of Christ”… The ultimate goal for us all is that of becoming happy. Yet happiness exists only in company with each other, and we can keep company only in the infinity of love. There is happiness only in the removal of the barriers of the self in moving into divinity, in becoming divine.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 8

Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory

in the heavens.

Through the praise of children and infants

you have established a stronghold against your enemies,

to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens,

the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which you have set in place,

what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels

and crowned them with glory and honor.

You made them rulers over the works of your hands;

you put everything under their feet:

all flocks and herds,

and the animals of the wild,

the birds in the sky,

and the fish in the sea,

all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

http://www.usccb.org/bible/psalms/8

Posted in Advent, agnostic, athiest, Benedictine oblate, Bible Study, Catholic, Christian, Christmas, faith, Heaven, hell, Holy Spirit, Liturgy, Mary, mercy, prayer, The Word of God, Uncategorized, Virgin Mary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Third Sunday of Advent – C

111.jpg“I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming.’  “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’

PRAYER FOR THE WEEK

Advent Prayer

Father in heaven, the day draws near when the glory of your Son will make radiant the night of the waiting world. May the lure of greed not impede us from the joy which moves the hearts of those who seek him. May the darkness not blind us to the vision of wisdom which fills the minds of those who find him. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

COLLECT

O God, who see how your people

faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,

enable us, we pray,

to attain the joys of so great a salvation

and to celebrate them always

with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reign with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Zep 3:14-18a

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.

The Word of the Lord

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 722 The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”1 should herself be “full of grace.” She was, by sheer grace, conceived without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of welcoming the inexpressible gift of the Almighty. It was quite correct for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the “Daughter of Zion”: “Rejoice.”2 It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus of the Church, which Mary in her canticle3 lifts up to the Father in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her the eternal Son.

CCC 2676 This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria:

Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.4

Full of grace, the Lord is with thee: These two phrases of the angel’s greeting shed light on one another. Mary is full of grace because the Lord is with her. The grace with which she is filled is the presence of him who is the source of all grace. “Rejoice. .. O Daughter of Jerusalem. .. the Lord your God is in your midst.”5 Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the ark of the covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is “the dwelling of God. .. with men.”6 Full of grace, Mary is wholly given over to him who has come to dwell in her and whom she is about to give to the world.

Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. After the angel’s greeting, we make Elizabeth’s greeting our own. “Filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth is the first in the long succession of generations who have called Mary “blessed.”7 “Blessed is she who believed. .. ”8 Mary is “blessed among women” because she believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’s word. Abraham. because of his faith, became a blessing for all the nations of the earth.9 Mary, because of her faith, became the mother of believers, through whom all nations of the earth receive him who is God’s own blessing: Jesus, the “fruit of thy womb.”

1 Col 2:9.

2 Cf. Zeph 3:14; Zech 2:14.

3 Cf. Lk 1:46-55.

4 Cf. Lk 1:48; Zeph 3:17b.

5 Zeph 3:14,17a.

6 Rev 21:3.

7 Lk 1:41, 48.

8 Lk 1:45.

9 Cf. Gen 12:3.

APPLICATION

It is very probable that neither Zephaniah nor his hearers saw the full meaning of the consoling words he uttered and that matters not. But we see their full meaning now in their fulfillment and we have every reason to do what the prophet said: “to shout for joy.” God has come to dwell amongst us. He, Christ, is head of the new Israel, the Church. We are its members. “I am the vine, you are the branches” he said; while we remain united with him in grace and love we are producing fruit for eternal life, we are progressing daily towards our perfection.

The Israelites of old were indeed thankless and mean towards God, they forgot him and went after false Gods, and God resented this, and we would all say “how right he was”! But what about ourselves? We have seen proof of God’s love, exceedingly greater than anything the Israelites saw–his Son came amongst us–and actually died the most shameful and painful death for our sakes! Could we ever forget that? We can and we do, unfortunately. We too desert God and go after idols, false gods of our own making, the pleasures, the riches and the power of this passing world.

Let us stop and think today of our privileged status. We have been made adopted sons of God, brothers of Christ, who lowered himself to become one of us so that he would raise us up to become one with him forever. Would we swap our birthright of adopted son-ship of God for a mess of valueless pottage? Would we exchange an eternal happiness for some passing pleasure, some trivial material gain, some foolish sop to our false pride? This has been known to have happened, it can happen again. God forbid it should happen to me!

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Is 12:2-3, 4, 5-6.

Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

God indeed is my savior;

I am confident and unafraid.

My strength and my courage is the LORD,

and he has been my savior.

With joy you will draw water

at the fountain of salvation.

Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;

among the nations make known his deeds,

proclaim how exalted is his name.

 Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;

let this be known throughout all the earth.

Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,

for great in your midst

is the Holy One of Israel!

Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel. 

READING II

Saint_St_Paul_the_Apostle_Hand-Painted_Byzantine_Orthodox_Miniature_Icon_1.jpg

Phil 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:

Rejoice in the Lord always.

I shall say it again: rejoice!

Your kindness should be known to all.

The Lord is near.

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,

by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,

make your requests known to God.

Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding

will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2633 When we share in God’s saving love, we understand that every need can become the object of petition. Christ, who assumed all things in order to redeem all things, is glorified by what we ask the Father in his name.1 It is with this confidence that St. James and St. Paul exhort us to pray at all times.2

1 Cf. Jn 14:13.

2 Cf. Jas 1:5-8; Eph 5:20; Phil 4:6-7; Col 3:16-17; 1 Thess 5:17-18.

APPLICATION

St. Francis of Assisi tried in his daily life to follow Christ as closely as possible. He was one of the happiest and most joyful of men for this very reason. He was often ill, often hungry, often cold and often fatigued but he was never known to have been sad. He had taken this exhortation of St. Paul to his heart. Whenever he saw one of his early followers gloomy and sad–there were some evidently who were as yet only following from afar–he told him go to confession as he must be in mortal sin. There seemed no other true explanation for sadness in a true Christian’s life. Is there? We are really pilgrims, exiles on this earth, but every day we live is a day nearer to our true and lasting home which is heaven. Would an exile on his home-journey complain of the few hardships and discomforts he may meet with on his journey? Not if his heart is really set on coming home.

Troubles and trials there must be in every individual’s life, but of this we have been forewarned by our Savior himself–“if anyone will come after me let him take up his cross daily and follow me.” The crosses we meet are not impediments to our progress towards heaven but rather necessary aids on our journey. If accepted willingly they will keep us closer to our Leader who carried his cross to Calvary for our sake.

St. Paul tells us today to pray for all our needs, always with thanksgiving. Such prayers, especially if we stress the thanksgiving we owe God already for the wonderful gifts he has given us, will lighten the cross and even perhaps make us grasp it closely rather than want to cast it from us. We are very mean if we refuse to undergo a little suffering for God who did so much for us and suffered so much for us.

GOSPEL

Saint_St_John_the_Baptist_Hand-Painted_Orthodox_Icon_on_Wood_1.jpg

Lk 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist,

“What should we do?”

He said to them in reply,

“Whoever has two cloaks

should share with the person who has none.

And whoever has food should do likewise.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,

“Teacher, what should we do?”

He answered them,

“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”

Soldiers also asked him,

“And what is it that we should do?”

He told them,

“Do not practice extortion,

do not falsely accuse anyone,

and be satisfied with your wages.”

Now the people were filled with expectation,

and all were asking in their hearts

whether John might be the Christ.

John answered them all, saying,

“I am baptizing you with water,

but one mightier than I is coming.

I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor

and to gather the wheat into his barn,

but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Exhorting them in many other ways,

he preached good news to the people.

The Gospel of the Lord.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 535 Jesus’ public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan.1 John preaches “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”.2 A crowd of sinners3 – tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes- come to be baptized by him. “Then Jesus appears.” The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, “This is my beloved Son.”4 This is the manifestation (“Epiphany”) of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God.

CCC 696 Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel.5 This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes “before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”6 Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!”7 In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself8 The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions.9 “Do not quench the Spirit.”10

CCC 2447 The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.11 Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.12 Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God:13

He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none and he who has food must do likewise.14 But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?16

1 Cf. Lk 3:23; Acts 1:22.

2 lK 3:3.

3 Cf. Lk 3:10-14; Mt 3:7; 21:32.

4 Mt 3:13-17.

5 Sir 48:1; cf. 1 Kings 18:38-39.

6 Lk 1:17; 3:16.

7 Lk 12:49.

8 Acts 2:3-4.

9 Cf. St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 577 ff.

10 1 Thess 5:1.

11 Cf. Isa 58:6-7; Heb 13:3.

12 Cf. Mt 25:31-46.

13 Cf. Tob 4:5-11; Sir 17:22; Mt 6:2-4.

14 Lk 3:11.

15 Lk 11:41.

16 Jas 2:15-16; cf. 1 Jn 3:17.

APPLICATION

The Baptist’s words are still very much to the point for all of us. We are all to a greater or lesser degree tax collectors and sinners. They had the honesty to admit it and asked John what they should do in order to be ready to welcome the Messiah, Christ. Let me ask today too what I should do if I mean to welcome Christ sincerely at Christmas. And the answer is in the words I have just heard. Am I just and charitable to my fellow-men? If I am an employer am I paying a just wage to those who are producing my wealth for me? If I am an employee am I doing an honest day’s work for the pay I am getting? And both employer and employee must in justice and charity think of the consumer–the third party, when fixing or causing the price of what they produce.

If the employer, through desire for excessive profit, or the employee through not earning his pay, cause prices to rise then the third party, the consumer, is treated unjustly. Our world today is full of such injustices and sad to say, the Christian countries whose citizens profess to be followers of Christ not only do nothing to prevent this state of affairs but instead are even worse offenders than those who have not yet heard of Christ. I may shrug my shoulders and say what can I do about the injustice that abounds on all sides? But stop and think, there are things I can do. I can put my own conscience in order. I can put myself right with God and neighbor by acting justly, “giving every man his due” from this day forward. I can thus become an example to lead others to do likewise.

The true Christian in the world is the leaven which will convert the dough into wholesome healthy bread. I can be, and I should be, that energizing leaven. If I will not and if I do not strive to become so, Christ’s winnowing-fan on my day of judgment will put me among the chaff which is destined for the unquenchable fire.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

The Real Point of Christmas

Why do we really celebrate Christmas despite the wretchedness, turmoil, and isolation that are still man’s lot and are if anything intensifying rather than lessening? What is the real point of Christmas?… Is it not consoling to see how, despite all the misunderstandings, the message of Jesus of Nazareth is heard? It is not only conflict that the message has produced but also and even more the miracle of understanding, so that across ages and cultures, and even across the boundaries between religions, human beings find one another in his name. Distance vanishes and people are drawn together when this name is spoken… For Christmas says to us, amid all our doubts and bewilderment: God exists. Not as an infinitely distant power that can at best terrify us; not as being’s ultimate ground that is not conscious of itself. Rather he exists as One who can be concerned about us; he is such that everything we are and do lies open to his gaze. But that gaze is the gaze of Love. For anyone who accepts this in faith and knows it by faith, there is no longer any ultimate isolation. He is here. The light that one man became in history and for history is not an accident or something powerless, but Light from Light. The hope and encouragement that emanate from this light thus acquire a wholly new depth. But precisely because it is an entirely divine hope, we can and should accept it as also an entirely human hope and pass it on to others.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

By Pope John-Paul II In Mexico, January, 1979.

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.

Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.

Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.

Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.

Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.

We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.

Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

 

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Second Sunday of Advent

AN00034989_001_l.jpg  “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

Prayer for a Happy Death

O God, great and omnipotent judge of the living and the dead, we are to appear before you after this short life to render an account of our works. Give us the grace to prepare for our last hour by a devout and holy life, and protect us against a sudden and unprovided death. Let us remember our frailty and mortality, that we may always live in the ways of your commandments. Teach us to “watch and pray” (Lk 21:36), that when your summons comes for our departure from this world, we may go forth to meet you, experience a merciful judgment, and rejoice in everlasting happiness. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

COLLECT

Almighty and merciful God,

Almighty and merciful God,

may no earthly undertaking hinder those

who set out in haste to meet your Son,

but may our learning of heavenly wisdom

gain us admittance to his company.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

 READING I

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Bar 5:1-9

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;

put on the splendor of glory from God forever:

wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,

bear on your head the mitre

that displays the glory of the eternal name.

For God will show all the earth your splendor:

you will be named by God forever

the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.

Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights;

look to the east and see your children

gathered from the east and the west

at the word of the Holy One,

rejoicing that they are remembered by God.

Led away on foot by their enemies they left you:

but God will bring them back to you

borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.

For God has commanded

that every lofty mountain be made low,

and that the age-old depths and gorges

be filled to level ground,

that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.

The forests and every fragrant kind of tree

have overshadowed Israel at God’s command;

for God is leading Israel in joy

by the light of his glory,

with his mercy and justice for company.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,

we were like men dreaming.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

and our tongue with rejoicing.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Then they said among the nations,

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us;

we are glad indeed.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

like the torrents in the southern desert.

Those who sow in tears

shall reap rejoicing.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Although they go forth weeping,

carrying the seed to be sown,

They shall come back rejoicing,

carrying their sheaves.

The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

 APPLICATION

To help us prepare for the commemoration of Christ’s coming on earth at Christmas the Church has chosen these words of the Old Testament which spoke of the new Jerusalem, the new kingdom which the Messiah would set up when he came. As the Jews of old looked forward with hope to that day, we now should look back to it with joy and especially with thanksgiving. God created us, he gave us great gifts, we abused these gifts to insult him, yet he not only was willing to forgive us but he went to the length of sending his divine son to become like one of us, to live with us and die for us. Only God could have such love, such mercy, such a forgiving spirit.

It is only by our actions that we can show the gratitude we owe to him and the actions he expects are described in the prophecy you have heard read, justice and true worship. We are dedicated to God by our baptism–the words “holy to God” were written on our foreheads by the water and holy oil of baptism. Let us try to live up to this holy dedication by our justice and fidelity to God and to our neighbor. This is true worship of God. We were remembered by him when he gave us our Christian vocation–sinners though we were. Let us never forget him, who not only brought us back from exile, but has made us sons and heirs of his eternal kingdom. “What can I render to God for all he has given me?” the psalmist asked. My answer is very little indeed but he is willing to accept that little, will I refuse even that little?

READING II

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Phil 1:4-6, 8-11

Brothers and sisters:

I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,

because of your partnership for the gospel

from the first day until now.

I am confident of this,

that the one who began a good work in you

will continue to complete it

until the day of Christ Jesus.

God is my witness,

how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer:

that your love may increase ever more and more

in knowledge and every kind of perception,

to discern what is of value,

so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,

filled with the fruit of righteousness

that comes through Jesus Christ

for the glory and praise of God.

The word of the Lord.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2632 Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ.1 There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community.2 It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer.3 By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.

CCC 2636 The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely.4 Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel5 but also intercedes for them.6 The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: “for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions,” for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.7

1 Cf. Mt 6:10, 33; Lk 11:2,13.

2 Cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3.

3 Cf. Rom 10:1; Eph 1:16-23; Phil 1911; Col 1:3-6; 4:3-4, 12.

4 Cf. Acts 12:5; 20:36; 21:5; 2 Cor 9:14.

5 Cf. Eph 6:18-20; Col 4:3-4; 1 Thess 5:25.

6 Cf. 2 Thess 1:11; Col 1:3; Phil 1:3-4.

7 2 Tim 2:1; cf. Rom 12:14; 10:1.

APPLICATION

The “day of Christ,” the day of the parousia or of his coming in glory to judge the whole world, was anxiously looked for in the early Church. Many of the first generation Christians thought it would come in their life-time. Christ did not reveal when his Second Coming would be, but be did tell us to be always ready. This much we know, each one of us will appear before him to be judged at the moment of our death and that moment will decide for us how his Second Coming will affect us. And the decision, granted God’s grace, is up to each one of us.

We have all scored points for or against ourselves already, but owing to the infinite mercy of God we have the means of erasing the guilty marks and so we can put ourselves in readiness at a moment’s notice. But will we get the moment’s notice? There have been death-bed conversions, but foolish indeed is the man who would presume such a grace. Of the hundreds of thousands who die each day less than one in a thousand believes he is about to die. Am I going to be the exception?

Therefore, to make sure of a happy death, that is, of a successful judgment, there is but one guarantee and it is to lead a successful, a true, Christian life. God has been so good to us, he has created us, he has redeemed us, be has prepared a place in heaven for us and has given us all the necessary means of reaching that place, could we be so thankless, so mean to him and so neglectful of our own greatest good, as not to use those means and make sure of the eternal happiness be has planned for us?

Today is the opportune, the right moment, to answer this question and to answer it sensibly–if I do not, nobody else, not even God himself, can answer it for me.

GOSPEL

17c_russia_jtb-with-life.jpg

Lk 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,

when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,

and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,

and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region

of Ituraea and Trachonitis,

and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,

during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,

the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.

John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,

proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,

as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:

A voice of one crying out in the desert:

“Prepare the way of the Lord,

make straight his paths.

Every valley shall be filled

and every mountain and hill shall be made low.

The winding roads shall be made straight,

and the rough ways made smooth,

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/120918.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC – 535 Jesus’ public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan.1 John preaches “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”.2 A crowd of sinners3 – tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes- come to be baptized by him. “Then Jesus appears.” The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, “This is my beloved Son.”4 This is the manifestation (“Epiphany”) of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God.

1 Cf. Lk 3:23; Acts 1:22.
2 lK 3:3.
3 Cf. Lk 3:10-14; Mt 3:7; 21:32.
4 Mt 3:13-17.

APPLICATION

The preaching of John the Baptist, quoting Isaiah, which echoed and re-echoed around the Jordan valley nearly two thousand years ago, should ring in our ears today too. We are preparing for the coming of Christ at Christmas, and the prophet tells us how we should prepare ourselves if the welcome we give our Savior is to be sincere and true. Even the best and the holiest amongst us will have to admit that our paths–our dealings with God–over the past twelve months have been far from straight and smooth.

How much time have we given to God and the things of God since this time last year? How far has God and our Christian religion influenced our lives, our work, our recreation, since last Christmas? Have we thanked God even once a day during the past year for the marvelous gifts he has given us–the gift of life with the promise and the means of earning an eternal life? Have we rather begrudged the paltry half-hour on Sunday out of the 168 hours in each week?

Alas, looking back over the past year, most, if not all of us, will have to feel ashamed of our meanness, our ingratitude towards the good God, to whom we owe everything we have.

However, Christmas is the commemoration of that greatest gift of his mercy which God bestowed on this world, and if we but humbly beat our breasts and admit our meanness–if we lower the mountains of selfish pride and fill up the valleys of laziness and forgetfulness by turning to him with hearts full of gratitude and repentance, there will be mercy in abundance even for the greatest sinner amongst us. Christ will come to us with the “salvation of God” and we can confidently hope to live the coming year as we should, as grateful children of our loving Father in heaven.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

John the Baptist in Advent

Let us gaze on John the Baptist. Challenging and active he stands before us, a “type” of the manly vocation. In harsh terms he demands metanoia, a radical transformation of attitudes. Those who would be Christians must be “transformed” ever again. Our natural disposition, indeed, finds us always ready to assert ourselves to pay like with like, to put ourselves at the center. Those who want to find God need, again and again, that inner conversion, that new direction. And this applies also to the total outlook on life. Day by day we encounter the world of visible things. It assaults us through billboards, broadcasts, traffic, and all the activities of daily life, to such an enormous extent that we are tempted to assume there is nothing else but this. Yet the truth is that what is invisible is greater and much more valuable than anything visible. One single soul, in Pascal’s beautiful words, is worth more than the entire visible universe. But in order to have a living awareness of this, we need conversion, we need to turn around inside, as it were, to overcome the illusion of what is visible, and to develop the feeling, the ears and the eyes, for what is invisible. This has to be more important than anything that bombards us day after day with such exaggerated urgency. Metanoeite: change your attitude, so that God may dwell in you and, through you, in the world. John himself was not spared this painful process of change, of turning around.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Advent Prayer

Father, in the wilderness of the Jordan you sent a messenger to prepare people’s hearts for the coming of your Son. Help me to hear his words and repent of my sins, so that I may clearly see the way to walk, the truth to speak, and the life to live for Him, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

ADVENT WREATH PRAYER

Week Two

Let us pray.

O Lord, stir up our hearts that we may prepare for Thy only begotton Son,

that through His coming we may be made worthy to serve Thee with pure souls.

Through the same Christ our Lord.

Amen.

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’

 

Posted in Catholic

First Sunday of Advent – C

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“Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

PRAYER OF THE WEEK

Advent Prayer

Father, in the wilderness of the Jordan you sent a messenger to prepare people’s hearts for the coming of your Son. Help us to hear his words and repent of my sins, so that we may clearly see the way to walk, the truth to speak, and the life to live for Him, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

COLLECT

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,

the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ

with righteous deeds at his coming,

so that, gathered at his right hand,

they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I

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Jer 33:14-16

The days are coming, says the LORD,

when I will fulfill the promise

I made to the house of Israel and Judah.

In those days, in that time,

I will raise up for David a just shoot ;

he shall do what is right and just in the land.

In those days Judah shall be safe

and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;

this is what they shall call her:

“The LORD our justice.”

APPLICATION

On this the first Sunday of Advent the Church wishes to remind us of what Advent means–a period of preparation for the Advent–the Coming–of Christ our Savior. This

prophecy of Jeremiah intended to encourage the Jews to trust in God in spite of all their present difficulties, can and should encourage us too. The fulfillment of the ancient prophecies in Christ (this particular one was made six centuries before he came on earth) are a guarantee for us of the truth of his claims–he was the Messiah promised to Abraham, David and the Chosen People. He was the descendant of Abraham, the royal son of David, who would bring back not only Abraham’s people but all nations to the true God. But he was much more than a son of Abraham or of David, he was as well the true Son of God.

In the Christmas festival each year we commemorate his coming on earth. What the Jews of old looked forward to, we can see fulfilled. The great central hope of their religion and of their history–their expectancy of One who was to come, has taken place in our history. The Son of God has come on earth to bring us to heaven. He became man, like one of ourselves, so that we could become like to God, adopted sons of the Father. He suffered during the course of his earthly life so that we could enjoy an eternal happiness in heaven. This is the great mystery, the mystery of God’s love for us which we commemorate and call to mind each Christmas. It should hardly be necessary to urge any Christian–even a lukewarm one–to try to make himself, not worthy, but a little less unworthy, to welcome into his heart and his home the God of love who deigned to share our weak human nature so that we could share in his divinity.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Ps 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;

teach me your paths,

Guide me in your truth and teach me,

for you are God my savior,

and for you I wait all the day.

To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

Good and upright is the LORD;

thus he shows sinners the way.

He guides the humble to justice,

and teaches the humble his way.

To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy

toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,

and his covenant, for their instruction.

To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

READING II

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1 Thes 3:12-4:2

Brothers and sisters:

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love

for one another and for all,

just as we have for you,

so as to strengthen your hearts,

to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father

at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

Finally, brothers and sisters,

we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that,

as you received from us

how you should conduct yourselves to please God

and as you are conducting yourselves

you do so even more.

For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

APPLICATION

The teaching of Christ, the Christian faith, is for all races, all places and all times. St. Paul is telling us today what he told the Thessalonians nineteen centuries ago, to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ–the great day of judgement, by living each day as God wants us to live it, namely by living in love and peace with God and our neighbor. Some of the Thessalonians at that time were expecting the Second Coming–the general judgement–in their own day. It didn’t come then, it hasn’t come yet, but the particular judgement came to them, and it will come to us, in our day and sooner, rather than later, than we expect it. And that particular judgement, when we draw our last earthly breath, will decide our eternal fate. Advent–the preparation for Christmas, Christ’s First Coming, is a most suitable occasion to prepare ourselves for that day. If I were called today to face my particular judgement how would I fare? This is the most important question I could ever put to myself–my eternity depends on the answer. But I can still

put things right. I can still get back on the road God has mapped out for me and he is ever ready to forgive the past mistakes. I should be very foolish to delay another moment.

GOSPEL

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Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,

and on earth nations will be in dismay,

perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.

People will die of fright

in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,

for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

And then they will see the Son of Man

coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

But when these signs begin to happen,

stand erect and raise your heads

because your redemption is at hand.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy

from carousing and drunkenness

and the anxieties of daily life,

and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.

For that day will assault everyone

who lives on the face of the earth.

Be vigilant at all times

and pray that you have the strength

to escape the tribulations that are imminent

and to stand before the Son of Man.”

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel1 which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace.2 According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church3 and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.4

CCC 2612 In Jesus “the Kingdom of God is at hand.”5 He calls his hearers to conversion and faith, but also to watchfulness. In prayer the disciple keeps watch, attentive to Him Who Is and Him Who Comes, in memory of his first coming in the lowliness of the flesh, and in the hope of his second coming in glory.6 In communion with their Master, the disciples’ prayer is a battle; only by keeping watch in prayer can one avoid falling into temptation.7

CCC 2849 Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony.8 In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to his battle and his agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with his own. Vigilance is “custody of the heart,” and Jesus prayed for us to the Father: “Keep them in your name.”9 The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch.10 Finally, this petition takes on all its dramatic meaning in relation to the last temptation of our earthly battle; it asks for final perseverance. “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake.”11

1 Cf. Acts 1:6-7.

2 Cf. Is 11:1-9.

3 Cf. Acts 1:8; I Cor 7:26; Eph 5:16; I Pt 4:17.

4 Cf. Mt 25:1, 13; Mk 13:33-37; I Jn 2:18; 4:3; I Tim 4:1.

5 Mk 1:15.

6 Cf. Mk 13; Lk 21:34-36.

7 Cf. Lk 22:40, 46.

8 Cf. Mt 4:1-11; 26:36-44.

9 Jn 17:11; Cf. Mk 13:9, 23, 33-37; 14:38; Lk 12:35-40.

10 Cf. 1 Cor 16:13; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:6; 1 Pet 5:8.

11 Rev 16:15.

APPLICATION

That this earth is not our permanent home nobody denies, yet many people live and act as if it were. They see funerals and read of the death of friends and fellow-men every day, yet they try to persuade themselves that somehow they will not have to go the same road. But go they must and render an account they must, to the “Son of Man coming with power and in great glory.” We have been forewarned and the words of Christ read in today’s gospel should awaken us to the true facts of life and of death. He does not ask us to ignore or despise this earth or this life but he does ask us to estimate it for what it is–a period of transit which properly used will earn for us our eternal home. If we judge ourselves daily we need not fear the day of judgement. If we are loyal and faithful to our

Christian vocation, our end on earth will not be an end but the beginning of our true life.

What better occasion could we have for taking a serious, sincere look at ourselves and at our attitude to life and the things of this life, than this Advent period. If we can welcome the humble Babe of Bethlehem at Christmas with a sincere and open heart–a heart grateful for all the gifts already given us, and sorrowful for all the meanness and thanklessness we have shown in the past, we can trust and hope that the second and glorious coming of Christ will not be for us a catastrophe but rather the culmination of all our dearest hopes and desires–the beginning of a never-ending Christmas of happiness and joy.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

One aspect of Advent is a waiting that is full of hope. In this, Advent enables us to understand the content and meaning of Christian time and of history as such… Man is always waiting in his life… Mankind has never been able to cease hoping for better times. Christians have always hoped that the Lord will always be present in history and that he will gather up all our tears and all our troubles so that everything will be explained and fulfilled in the kingdom. It becomes especially clear during a time of illness that man is always waiting. Every day we are waiting for a sign of improvement and in the end for a complete cure. At the same time, however, we discover how many different ways there are of waiting. When time itself is not filled with a present that is meaningful, waiting becomes unbearable. If we have a look forward to something that is not there now – if, in other words, we have nothing here and now and the present is completely empty, every second of our life seems too long. Waiting itself becomes too heavy a burden to bear, when we cannot be sure whether we really have anything at all to wait for. When, on the other hand, time itself is meaningful and every moment contains something especially valuable, our joyful anticipation of the greater experience that is still to come makes what we have in the present even more precious and we are carried by an invisible power beyond the present moment. Advent helps us to wait with precisely this kind of waiting. It is the essentially Christian form of waiting and hoping.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Advent Prayer

God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

* * *

ADVENT WREATH PRAYER

The following are the Advent wreath prayers that change every week.

They are prayed at the lighting of each candle every evening during Advent.

Week One:

The first candle is lit, and the prayer for the first week is said.

Let us pray.

Stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, O Lord,

and come, so that we may escape through Thy protection

and be saved by Thy help from the dangers

that threaten us because of our sins.

Who livest and reigns for ever and ever.

All: Amen.

During the first week one candle is left burning during the evening meal, or during prayers.

Week Two:

Two candles are lit on the second Sunday and allowed to burn as before. The prayer for the week is:

Let us pray.

O Lord, stir up our hearts

that we may prepare for Thy only begotten Son,

that through His coming

we may be made worthy to serve Thee with pure souls.

Through the same Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Week Three:

Three candles, including the rose candle, are lit on Gaudete, the third Sunday, and during that week. The following prayer is said:

Let us pray.

We humbly beg Thee, O Lord,

to listen to our prayers;

and by the grace of Thy coming

bring light into our darkened minds.

Who livest and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

Week Four:

All four candles are lit on the fourth Sunday and allowed to burn as before. The prayer said the fourth week is:

Let us pray.

Stir up Thy might, we pray Thee, O Lord, and come;

rescue us through Thy great strength so that salvation,

which has been hindered by our sins,

may be hastened by the grace of Thy gentle mercy.

Who livest and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

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