Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Third Sunday of Advent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Third Sunday of Advent
December 13, 2015
Zephaniah; Isaiah 12; Philippians 4:4-7, 8-11; Luke 3:10-18

            The crowds around John the Baptist sense something joyful is about to happen, and John does not disappoint their expectations. The grateful people respond, “What can I do? How can I help?” John gives charitable instructions and the people are hanging onto every word he says. He tells them, do your good works but spend more time noticing the signs that the savior is coming.

            The pre-Christmas season is in full swing with concerts being performed in sacred spaces, carolers bringing joy to tree lightings, bakers bringing in cookies for office parties, and festive music airing over radios. Households are being decorated, cards of goodwill being written, and givers are rushing to markets to find a suitable gift for their loved ones. Goodwill and festive spirits abound. Amidst this flurry of activities, we have a sense that something larger around us is about to unfold.

            The best gifts we can give to one another are words of hope. Zephaniah the prophet tells the people of Israel, “Fear not. The Lord is in your midst. He will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love.” The Psalmist cries out, “God is my savior. I am confident and unafraid.” Paul tells the Christians, “Rejoice, for the Lord is near.” John the Baptist tells the people the coming of the Lord is imminent and he preached the good news to the people.

            We still need to share the good news today because some people are not hearing that the news is for them. Many people are stuck in broken relationships and are the victims of abuse. It is a wonder they stay with someone who mistreats them so badly, but each has his or her private reasons. For an addict, getting through the day is a blessed thing. Parents and children are cut off from one another and the pain of separation and the quest for justice remains potent. The tales of woe that we carry silently within us can erode our self-esteem and confidence and the piling on of another criticism or word of anger has the power to crush a soul. Contrariwise, words of kindness and affirmation can help the person’s spirit get through another day.

            Some of us are very ready to correct, dispute, or dismiss the particulars of a person’s conversational details and we may miss the intended larger meaning. Some want to erroneously finish others’ sentences while still others just want to give their own point of view. It is time to notice what is going on around us. Sometimes, a person is just looking for acknowledgement or belonging. Some are looking to trust you or get a word of approval. Some just want someone to listen without anyone filling in an answer. It is time for us to be more attentive to what others need.

            Think of yourself as John the Baptist in the Gospel. View others as the crowds who are coming forward in expectant joy. They need to hear good news from you. Do not disappoint them. Give them your good will through your positive words of encouragement. They need hope. Stoke the fires that kindle other fires. When someone says something critical, do not match wits or sarcasm, but replace it with words of goodness. You are keeping someone’s hope alive when you treat them well – especially if they do not treat you well. Your kindness should be known to all. Instead of fighting and getting the better of the argument, stop the nonsense, and choose to give positivity through your words. Do it with a genuine smile. You will automatically change the relationship to one that is nurturing.

            The Gospel tells us: the crowds asked, the tax collectors asked, even the soldiers asked: What is it that we should do? Rejoice, for the Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: Rejoice!

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: 
·      Monday: (Numbers 24) The prophet Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel encamped when the spirit of God came upon him and an oracle spoke: A star shall advance from Jacob.
·      Tuesday: (Zephaniah 3) On that day, you need not be ashamed of your deed or your rebellious action. You shall find pasture with no one to disturb you.
·      Wednesday: (Isaiah 45) I the Lord for the light and create the darkness. Turn to me and be safe, for I am God and there is no other.       
·      Thursday: (Genesis 49) Jacob said to his sons: The scepter shall never depart from Judah while tribute is brought to him and he receives the people’s homage.   
·      Friday (Jeremiah 25) Behold. The days are coming when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David. As king, he shall reign and govern wisely.
·      Saturday (Judges 13) A barren woman, the wife of Zorah, was found to be with child. Samson would deliver Israel from the power of the Philistines. The Lord blessed the child and the Spirit of the Lord stirred him.

Gospel: 
·      Monday: (Matthew 21) Jesus was questioned about his origin. Jesus answered by asking what they thought of the Baptist. They were silent, so he remained silent.
·      Tuesday: (Matthew 21) John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but tax collectors and prostitutes did. You saw that and did not later change your minds and believe him.
·      Wednesday (Luke 7) Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another. “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the bling regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleanse, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good new proclaimed to them.
·      Thursday (Matthew 1) The genealogy of Joseph is recalled from Abraham to David, through the Babylonian exile, and all the way to Joseph.
·      Friday (Matthew 1) When Mary was betrothed to Joseph, she was found to be with child. The angel appeared in a dream asking Joseph to take her into his home.   
·      Saturday (Luke 1) The angel Gabriel visited Zechariah to announce that his wife Elizabeth will bear a son and he shall be named John. They will have great joy and gladness.

Saints of the Week

December 13: Lucy, martyr (d. 304), was born into a noble Sicilian family and killed during the Diocletian persecution. In the Middle Ages, people with eye trouble invoked her aid because her name means "light." Scandinavia today still honors Lucy in a great festival of light on this day.

December 14: John of the Cross, priest and doctor (1542-1591), was a Carmelite who reformed his order with the help of Teresa of Avila. They created the Discalced (without shoes) Carmelite Order that offered a stricter interpretation of their rules. John was opposed by his community and placed in prison for a year. He wrote the classics, "Ascent of Mount Carmel," "Dark Night of the Soul," and "Living Flame of Love."

Saints are not celebrated during the octave leading up to Christmas.

December 17 - O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge.

December 18 - O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power.

December 19 - O root of Jesse's stem, sign of God's love for all the people, before you the kings will be silenced, to you the nations will make their prayers: come to save us without delay!

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Dec 13, 1545. The opening of the Council of Trent to which Frs. Laynez and Salmeron were sent as papal theologians and Fr. Claude LeJay as theologian of Cardinal Otho Truchses.
·      Dec 14, 1979. The death of Riccardo Lombardi, founder of the Better World Movement.
·      Dec 15, 1631. At Naples, during an earthquake and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the Jesuits worked to help all classes of people.
·      Dec 16, 1544. Francis Xavier entered Cochin.
·      Dec 17, 1588. At Paris, Fr. Henry Walpole was ordained.
·      Dec 18, 1594. At Florence, the apparition of St Ignatius to St Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi.

·      Dec 19, 1593. At Rome, Fr. Robert Bellarmine was appointed rector of the Roman College.