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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Third Sunday in Advent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Third Sunday in Advent
December 11, 2016
Isaiah 35: 1-6, 10; Psalm 146; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

            Today is called “Rejoice Sunday” because we have reached the midpoint of Advent on our Christmas journey. It is a day to stop, take a deep breath, and ready ourselves for the quickening of God’s moment in Jerusalem.

            We start with Isaiah who is preparing the people for the long, arduous trip through the harsh Jordanian desert. He strengthens them with hope and excitement as they see signs of God’s unfolding presence in a parched land. The people will see miracles of the natural world – a desert in bloom, but also, those afflicted with blindness, deafness, and disability will be restored to wholeness. The people’s return from a foreign land will be exultant. Everyone will know that the Lord has saved them.

            We then meet the disciples of John the Baptist, who were sent to Jesus to ask if he was the promised One of God. John could not go himself, because like the Israelites, they were imprisoned. Jesus says: Look around. The signs are there. Believe. Now, let’s find this particular passage in Scripture and find the stories that precede it. In Matthew, Jesus just finished giving the powerful Sermon on the Mount that outlines his philosophy. Immediately, he cures a leper, and then all kinds of sick people are brought to him. He restored sight to a man born blind; he gave hearing to a deaf man; he told the paralytic to walk after forgiving his sins. Then he goes up mountain to pray and calls Twelve particular men to his inner circle. He speaks about the Kingdom of Heaven when John’s disciples approach him.

            In the consciousness of the people who knew Jesus, they just witnessed the fulfillment of the promises in Isaiah. They saw the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear. They know Jesus is the promised One for whom John and all of Israel have been waiting. What is John’s response? It was probably the same as yours. He rejoices. He knows God has visited the people and that salvation is at hand. Jesus praised John as the greatest man born of a woman. We can almost hear delight in the voice of Jesus as he announces to the people: This is the chosen moment.

            Like John and the Israelites, we are imprisoned by our own sorrows and dysfunction, and we need brightness in our day to lighten the mood.  We can get trapped in the weight of our problems and forget that the resurrection has already occurred. Death and dying is part of our world, but it is not the defining moment. Life is meaningful when we take the time to rejoice in the beauty that God has given us, even in those times it is difficult to see.

            Keep praying for the desire to wonder a little more. Let yourself be enchanted by something small that fills you with delight. Keep the curiosity in your life that John the Baptists’ disciples had when they went out in the desert to see him. Reclaim that childlike part of you. You deserve a moment to be enveloped by God’s special concern for you. Let God spoil you rotten as you wait for Christ to come with fullness into your world.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Zechariah 2) Rejoice, O daughter Zion. I am coming to dwell among you. The Lord will possess Judah and he will again choose Jerusalem.
Tuesday: (Zephaniah 3) On that day, I will change and purify their lips that they may call upon the name of the Lord. You shall not exalt yourself on my holy mountain.
Wednesday: (Isaiah 45) I am the Lord; there is no other; I form the light and create the darkness. Turn to be and be safe all you ends of the earth for I am the Lord, your God.
Thursday: (Isaiah 54) Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear, break forth in jubilant song you who were not in labor.    
Friday (Isaiah 56) Observe what is right; do what is just; for my salvation is about to come; my justice is about to be revealed.
Saturday (Genesis 49) Jacob said: You Judah, shall your brothers praise. The scepter will never depart from you, or the mace from between your legs.  

Monday: (Luke 1) The angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin betrothed to Joseph to announce that the Holy Spirit would overpower her and she would conceive a son. 
Tuesday: (Matthew 21) A man had two sons – one who said no, but did what his father asked; the other who said yes, but did not do what he asked. Which son was better?
Wednesday (Luke 7) The Baptist sent his disciples at ask: Are you the one who is to come? Look around: the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the poor hear the good news.
Thursday (Luke 7) Jesus asked: Why did you go out to see the Baptist? He is the greatest of men born to women.   
Friday (John 5) The Baptist was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his lift, but I have greater testimony than John’s.
Saturday (Matthew 1) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus.

Saints of the Week

December 12: The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated to remember the four apparitions to Juan Diego in 1531 near Mexico City shortly after the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. Mary appeared as a native Mexican princess and her image is imprinted on a cloak that was presented to the bishop.

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.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Dec 11, 1686. At Rome, Fr. Charles de Noyelle, a Belgian, died as the 12th general of the Society.
·      Dec 12, 1661. In the College of Clermont, Paris, Fr. James Caret publicly defended the doctrine of papal infallibility, causing great excitement among the Gallicans and Jansenists.
·      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.

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