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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Let us go rejoicing: The First Sunday in Advent

  Let us go rejoicing:
The First Sunday in Advent
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December 1, 2019
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44

As we begin the new liturgical year, the church invites us to remain vigilant and to take our salvation seriously. We expect a joyful, hope-filled beginning to Advent and the Gospel hits us with some strong images that we know too well are hard realities in life. If we think back to our Thanksgiving gathering a few days ago, we realize how different siblings can be from one another despite having a similar familial formation. Just mention politics and once-close siblings cannot speak with one another anymore, and we realize our fundamental worldviews are different. The Gospel rings true: two men working in a field, two women grinding at a mill; one will be taken, the other will be left. We can only be responsible for our own selves. Our journey to the Lord is individual and we have to work out our salvation on our own.

The journey to Jerusalem as a mountain climb is a helpful image for us to begin Advent. Our ascent is uphill, and it can be tiring. We will need breathers and pauses and we take Eucharistic nourishment to regain energy, but we have to face forward and take one step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other to keep us on the right track. Just move forward. The journey is the destination; onward and upward is our mantra, setting our gaze upon our Jerusalem where we will experience redemption.  

Where do we start? Exactly where you are. If you want to know God’s will, look right in front of you, not off the side, not far in front of you, not in a week from now, today. God’s will is operative through your good desires. Stay focused on those actions for which you alone are responsible. What are those actions? Be kind, patient, and generate peace by settling disputes and being compassionate.

Atop this holy mountain of salvation, we will encounter the Lord who will bring about peace, give us calmness, and will instruct us in those complicated situations we encounter. We will get a glimpse of life as it can and will be, a place of harmony and joy, of quiet contentment because our needs are met, a place of positive regard for one another. It is the mountaintop of right relations with God, with family and loved ones, and our neighbors. It is a place where all is reconciled – where siblings speak to one another again because they leave their tightly-held principles behind to understand each other’s suffering and then embrace each other in compassion. It is the place where people take time to listen to and hear one another, not just the words, but the unexpressed meanings and underlying feelings. It is a place of understanding – where betrayed friends apologize and make amends to restore a cherished, sacred friendship, where lawsuits and misunderstandings are settled without need of the courts. It is the mountain of the common good, a land of welcome and acceptance, of spiritual prosperity and well-being, of all-around good health, free from distracting voices, a place of grace and courage, a place of simple resounding truths that echoes throughout our souls. It is the world as we know it can be; because of God’s grace, it is a world that already exists.

This Advent let us go to this place of peace. Our journey is like a mountain climb, but the destination is within us because God’s presence guides our soul. Let us go within to discover how our God is magnifying in our lives, bringing us peace, nudging us towards delight, and protecting us from harm. Let us give thanks and just take one more step on the journey, for our God will be with us every step of the way, and he has given us as gift to one another. For the gift of each other, for the presence of God, we go forward, onward and upward, in thanksgiving.

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. He who remains in Zion and he who is left in Jerusalem Will be called holy.

Tuesday: (Isaiah 11) A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord.

Wednesday: (Isaiah 25) On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples.

Thursday: (Isaiah 26) "A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us. Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith. A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you."

Friday (Isaiah 29) But a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest! On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.

Saturday (Isaiah 30) O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, no more will you weep; He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you. The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.

Monday: (Matthew 8) When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully." He said to him, "I will come and cure him."  

Tuesday: (Luke 10) Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.

Wednesday (Matthew 15) Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.

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 in heaven.

Friday (Matthew 9) As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out,
"Son of David, have pity on us!" When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I can do this?" "Yes, Lord," they said to him.

Saturday (Matthew 9) Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned.

Saints of the Week

December 1: Edmund Campion, S.J., (1540- 1581), Robert Southwell, S.J., (1561-1595) martyrs, were English natives and Jesuit priests at a time when Catholics were persecuted in the country. Both men acknowledge Queen Elizabeth as monarch, but they refused to renounce their Catholic faith. They are among the 40 martyrs of England and Wales. Campion was killed in 1581 and Southwell’s death was 1595.

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.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Dec. 1, 1581: At Tyburn in London, Edmund Campion and Alexander Briant were martyred.
·      Dec. 2, 1552: On the island of Sancian off the coast of China, Francis Xavier died.
·      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.

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