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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The First Sunday of Advent

The First Sunday of Advent

December 3, 2017
Isaiah 63:16-19, 64:2-7; Psalm 80; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37

Advent is about patient waiting, and waiting is easy when we trust something will happen. We trust the calendar. Christmas always comes on December 25th. We trust the rhythms of the seasons. It is easy to be patient when we know something routine will occur, but it is far more difficult to be patient when the outcome is not so clear.  

I also think of those people who wait for salvation in this life. I am thinking of the women who raise their public voices because they want sexual abuse to stop. I am thinking of the undocumented teenager who fears getting behind the wheel of a car for fear that she might get stopped by Immigration Control. I am thinking of the young black man who will not leave the house after dark because he may fit a stereotyped profile. I am thinking of the Catholic Palestinian farmer who has to leave his centuries old land without compensation because a new settlement, financed by U.S. dollars, plans to be built on his soil. I can name many more examples, and these are not comfortable moments of waiting.

Frankly, right now I am feeling impatient. I wonder why we permit grave injustices and are complacent about our roles in perpetuating injustices. I want to figure out how I can help correct matters. I want political leaders to responsibly use social media and not to speak with vulgar language. I want it stopped. I want positive language and civility now, and for each special interest group, I want an end to word games that distort the truth and distract from the weighty issues at hand. I want people to use respectful behavior whether it is passing someone in the hallway, driving on the street, or standing on the subway. I want our leaders at all levels to know that people are hurting and want some relief.

So, as you can see, I have a lot to fuel my private prayer. Advent is the time when we await the expected coming of our Savior, but I want him now and I want his kingdom to come in its fullness. I am waiting for Isaiah’s peaceable kingdom in which the lion can lie down with the lamb, when there will be no harm or hatred, and when enemies decide to be friends. I want restoration of good relationships, the reconciliation of the estranged, the commitment to work together for the common good, and the ongoing concern for the needs of others. Maybe I’m optimistic, but I believe in the goodness of humanity and in the power of Christ’s resurrection.

So, this time of waiting, which is a challenge for me this year, is my opportunity to pour out my chaotic feelings to the Lord in prayer. From experience, I know that these moments are precisely the times I have to spend quietly in prayer, even though my prayer will not be quiet. I have to unleash my feelings so that I can move to a place of quiet because I cannot do it on my own. The fact is I need a Savior. Only a Savior can quell the chaos in the world. Only a Savior can reach into a person’s heart and bring about Mr. Scrooge type conversion. Only a Savior can make sense of the disorder in the world and still find it lovable. I know this Savior will come. I believe and I know his promise is true. I need him and I want him to come – soon, and because of this, I can pray and wait with extraordinary patience.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Isaiah 4) On that day, the branch of the Lord will be luster and glory, and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor for the survivors of Israel.
Tuesday: (Isaiah 11) On that day, a shoot shall sprout from Jesse’s stump, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.
Wednesday: (Romans 9) If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Thursday: (Isaiah 26) On that day, they will sing this song: A strong city we have to protect us. Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith.   
Friday (Isaiah 29) Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard into a forest. Out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The deaf shall hear.    
Saturday (Isaiah 30) O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, no more will you weep.

Monday: (Matthew 8) When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and said, “My servant is lying at home, paralyzed, suffering dreadfully. Come and cure him.”
Tuesday: (Luke 10) I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you had hidden these things from the learned and the wise, you have revealed them to the childlike.
Wednesday (Matthew 4) Jesus saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, casting a net into the Sea of Galilee. He said to them, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.”
Thursday (Matthew 7) Jesus said to his disciples: Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father.
Friday (Luke 21) Consider the fig tree. When their buds burst open, you see summer is near. Learn to read the signs of the times. All these things will pass away, but my words remain.
Saturday (Matthew 9) Jesus taught in all the towns and villages proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.

Saints of the Week

December 3: Francis Xavier, S.J., priest (1506-1552) was a founding members of the Jesuit Order who was sent to the East Indies and Japan as a missionary. His preaching converted hundreds of thousands of converts to the faith. He died before reaching China. Xavier was a classmate of Peter Faber and Ignatius of Loyola at the University of Paris.

December 6: Nicholas, bishop (d. 350), lived in southwest Turkey and was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecution. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 324. Since there are many stories of his good deeds, generous charity, and remarkable pastoral care, his character became the foundation for the image of Santa Claus.

December 7: Ambrose, bishop and doctor (339-397) was a Roman governor who fairly mediated an episcopal election in Milan. He was then acclaimed their bishop even though he was not baptized. He baptized Augustine in 386 and is doctor of the church because of his preaching, teaching and influential ways of being a pastor.

December 8: The Immaculate Conception of Mary is celebrated today, which is nine months before her birth in September. The Immaculate Conception prepares her to become the mother of the Lord. Scripture tells of the annunciation to Mary by the angel Gabriel. Mary's assent to be open to God's plan makes our salvation possible.

December 9: Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548) was a poor, simple, indigenous man who was visited by Mary in 1531. She instructed him to build a church at Guadalupe near Mexico City. During another visit, she told him to present flowers to the bishop. When he did, the flowers fell from his cape to reveal an image of Mary that is still revered today.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Dec. 3, 1563: At the Council of Trent, the Institute of the Society was approved.
·      Dec. 4, 1870: The Roman College, appropriated by the Piedmontese government, was reopened as a Lyceum. The monogram of the Society over the main entrance was effaced.
·      Dec. 5, 1584: By his bull Omnipotentis Dei, Pope Gregory XIII gave the title of Primaria to Our Lady's Sodality established in the Roman College in 1564, and empowered it to aggregate other similar sodalities.
·      Dec. 6, 1618: In Naples, the Jesuits were blamed for proposing to the Viceroy that a solemn feast should be held in honor of the Immaculate Conception and that priests should make a public pledge defend the doctrine. This was regarded as a novelty not to be encouraged.
·      Dec. 7, 1649: Charles Garnier was martyred in Etarita, Canada, as a missionary to the Petun Indians, among whom he died during an Iroquois attack.
·      Dec. 8, 1984: Walter Ciszek, prisoner in Russia from 1939 to 1963, died.

·      Dec. 9, 1741: At Paris, Fr. Charles Poree died. He was a famous master of rhetoric. Nineteen of his pupils were admitted into the French Academy, including Voltaire, who, in spite of his impiety, always felt an affectionate regard for his old master.

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