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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

God is with Us: The Fourth Sunday in Advent

   God is with Us:
The Fourth Sunday in Advent
www.johnpredmoresj.com  | predmore.blogspot.com
predmoresj@yahoo.com | 617.510.9673
December 22, 2019
Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

The four candles of the Advent wreath are lit, and the fullness of our waiting is upon us. The readings quicken towards the Incarnation and we hear the familiar story of the road to Bethlehem, hoping to hear it with new insights. The message is clear: God is with us. The birth of Jesus shows us God’s love and compassion and God’s desire to dwell with us, even in our pain.

  What does God want for us? Peace and prosperity for all people. Because of the Incarnation, Christ can be a part of our lives any time we give him access to our souls. He comes to us in our private prayer, during Mass and the sacraments, when his Scriptures are proclaimed, he is present to us in the assembly that is gathered, and in our families, and he comes to us in the reality of the poor and refugees. He will never exhaust his ways to reach us. As Christians, we know we live for today and for the world that is to come, so today’s choice affects our future existence when Jesus comes again to establish the kingdom in which all is reconciled and set aright. This kingdom is one of mercy and love, a kingdom in which God’s justice reigns to usher in an eternity of peace. So, it means that we have to be responsible for one another, especially the person who is in great pain.

We are generous people and we want to be helpful to others, and it is frustrating when the person in pain needs help and will not accept it. I’m sure you’ve had some experiences like this. The other day a woman sat in my office and cried because she was suffering so much. She was angry with a friend with whom she has become estranged. She wore her friend down with many unreasonable demands and she could never be satisfied. She would accuse her friend of violating Christian virtues, and she mastered the technique of loading her good-will-natured friend with guilt. She manipulated the relationship and tried to get others to solve her problem. No one measured up to her high standards, and she put hooks and triggers into every part of the relationship, and now she asked me how I was going to intervene in her dilemma. She took the proverbial monkey from her shoulders and placed them onto mine. It would have been a disservice to her for me to accept it, so I had to skillfully give it back to her. That is not easy to do.

If Advent and Christian life is about feeding the hungry, caring for the blind and disabled, and encouraging those who need hope, then helping out a friend in need is imperative. Why then did I not help out this woman as she asked of me? Simply because it was not right. I was there, I listened, I heard, and I understood, and yet I cannot solve her problem. I am not her savior. I stood ready to help, but she did not want the type of help I offered. She wanted it done her way without deviation from her plan. I was expected to be her agent who would do her work for her. That does not really help her or me.

What does this have to do with Advent or the Journey to Bethlehem? We can sometimes be in the presence of God and not see those who are pointing the way to our salvation. God can be among us and we can close down our hearts, minds, and attitudes towards God and others. We miss Christ in our midst if we legislate that things should be done in the particular way we have in mind. We need a savior and we risk saying no to the one who can save us, and we turn away the very help that we need. That God is with us, I am sure, and we have to keep ourselves open to the reality that people of goodwill are there for us, that God wants to give us solutions through those caring people in our lives, that God wants to give us peace and spiritual prosperity.

Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem was fraught with many challenges; so is our journey. Look for the people who want to help. They are many. Listen to those who care for you, even if you doubt that they still do. We have the promise fulfilled: God is among us; God wants to be with us. We have to keep ourselves open at least a crack so that we can invite God into our homes and hearts because that is where God wants to be. Peace be with you, my friends. May these next few days be filled with the discovery that God is being born for you again.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Judges 13) A barren woman was visited by an angel to receive the message that she would bear a son. She named him Samson and he spirit of the Lord stirred within him.  

Tuesday: (Isaiah 7) This is the sign that you will be given: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and he shall be named Emmanuel.

Wednesday: (Song of Songs 2) My lover come, springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills. My lover is like a young stag. Arise my beautiful one. Come.  

Thursday: (1 Samuel 1) Hannah presented her son, Samuel, to the Lord. She left Samuel to grow as a servant of God.     

Friday (Malachi 3) I am sending my messenger before me to prepare the way. I will send you Elijah the prophet to turn the hearts of all people back to God.  

Saturday (2 Samuel 7) When King David settled into his palace, he was distraught because his Lord had no proper abode for himself. The Lord told David that this house will be David’s.

Monday: (Luke 1) Zechariah, on priestly duty, and his wife, Elizabeth, prayed fervently. An angel visited them to announce that they would bear a son, who was to be named John. 

Tuesday: (Luke 1) The angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear a son who would become the savior of the world. He shall be named Emmanuel.

Wednesday (Luke 1) Mary set out to the hill country to visit Elizabeth and Zechariah. When she entered the house, Elizabeth recognized that Mary was pregnant with the Lord.

Thursday (Luke 1) Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God, my savior.”   

Friday (Luke 1) When the time came to name Elizabeth and John’s son, they wanted to name him after his dad, but Elizabeth said, “No. He will be called John.”

Saturday (Luke 1) Zechariah sang, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to his people and set them free.”

Saints of the Week

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

December 21: Peter Canisius, S.J., priest and religious (1521-1597), was sent to Germany, Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, and Switzerland during the time of the Protestant Reformation to reinvigorate the Catholic faith. He directed many through the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius. He is a doctor of the church for his work in bringing many people back to the faith.

December 22 - O King of all nations, and their desire, and keystone of the church: come and save us, whom you formed from the dust.

December 23 - O Emmanuel, our king and giver of the Law, the hope of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, Lord our God.

December 24: ERO CRAS
In the Roman Catholic tradition, on December 23, the last of the seven “O Antiphons” is sung with the “Alleluia” verse before the Gospel reading at Mass and at Vespers – Evening Prayer in the Divine Office/Breviary. Most ordinary Catholics, however, are more accustomed to hearing these antiphons as verses in the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

But the literary construction of these wonderful antiphons is arranged in a unique and surprising way: The order of the seven Messianic titles of the “O Antiphons” (and the seven verses of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”) was fixed with a definite purpose.

In Latin, the initial letters of the antiphons – Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia – form a reverse acrostic – a play on words – ERO CRAS, which translates into English as “Tomorrow, I will be.”

So, in the silence of Christmas Eve, we look back on the previous seven days, and we hear the voice of the One whose coming we have prepared for – Jesus Christ – speak to us: “I will be here tomorrow.”

December 26: Stephen, the first Martyr (d. 35), was one of the seven original deacons chose to minister to the Greek-speaking Christians. The Jews accused him of blasphemy. Though he was eloquent in his defense, Saul of Tarsus condoned his death sentence.

December 27: John, Apostle and Evangelist (d. 100), was the brother of James and one of the three disciples to be in the inner circle. He left fishing to follow Jesus and was with him at the major events: the transfiguration, raising of Jairus' daughter, and the agony in the garden. He is also thought to be the author of the fourth gospel, three letters, and the Book of Revelation.

December 28: The Holy Innocents (d. 2), were the boys of Bethlehem who were under two years old to be killed by King Herod in an attempt to eliminate the rise of the newborn king as foretold by the astronomers from the east. This event is similar to the rescue of Moses from the Nile by the slaughter of the infant boys by the pharaoh.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Dec 22, 1649. At Cork, Fr. David Glawey, a missionary in the Inner and Lower Hebrides, Islay, Oronsay, Colonsay, and Arran, died.
·      Dec 23, 1549. Francis Xavier was appointed provincial of the newly erected Indian Province.
·      Dec 24, 1587. Fr. Claude Matthe died at Ancona. He was a Frenchman of humble birth, highly esteemed by King Henry III and the Duke of Guise. He foretold that Fr. Acquaviva would be General and hold that office for a long period.
·      Dec 25, 1545. Isabel Roser pronounced her vows as a Jesuit together with Lucrezia di Brandine and Francisca Cruyllas in the presence of Ignatius at the church of Sta. Maria della Strada in Rome.
·      Dec 26, 1978. The assassination of Gerhard Pieper, a librarian, who was shot to death in Zimbabwe.
·      Dec 27, 1618. Henry Morse entered the English College at Rome.
·      Dec 28, 1802. Pope Pius VII allowed Father General Gruber to affiliate the English Jesuits to the Society of Jesus in Russia.


  1. John, what you have shared is so true. We need to be open to the help that is offered to us. We also need to be willing to accept help and at times our pride stands in the way. Have a very blessed Christmas celebration of the birth of our Lord!

    1. Thanks, Lynda. I know many people who want help and refuse the assistance they need. Many blessings on your Christmas. May the Lord be born to you in new ways. A blessed Nativity to you.