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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

God Knows our Suffering. The Third Sunday of Advent 2020

                                    God Knows our Suffering. 

The Third Sunday of Advent 2020

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December 13, 2020

Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11; Luke 1:46-54; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28



At this point in Advent, the church is preparing us to rejoice because the moment of salvation will be breaking into our lives soon and we have to be prepared to see the signs. The pace of expectation quickens, and it is like the life of a woman who is soon to give birth. All is set in motion, and the events will unfold in due course. We simply wait and watch and listen, having nothing that we can do to effect any change in the events, and we become still and quiet, while the narrative unfolds. God is coming into our lives in the most vulnerable of ways. We can rejoice in our hearts that God is near.


It is great timing that the vaccinations are being rolled out, signaling that we may soon be free from this perplexing illness, but the vaccines are not God, just as John the Baptist is not the Christ. The readings tell us this is a time of discernment. The priests are sent to find out who John the Baptist, and John fills the hearts of his believers with joy. We have to discern where the good is in all our suffering because joy will emerge from it. It means to give thanks to God no matter our circumstances, even if it is this confounding suffering.


St. Paul tell us not to restrain the Spirit, but to let it go free and to cooperate with it. This means that we have to let go of old ways in order to remain open to growth. The Spirit is trying to recreate our church and the world and we hold it back when we do not allow change to happen, when we stop thinking of what is possible through God, when we do not have the imagination to see into the future. St. Paul asks us to test everything and hold onto what is good, and there’s lots that is good. 


Happiness is a choice. Happiness comes when we allow ourselves to be thankful, even when much around us seems bleak and hopeless. Hope is being able to see that there is light even though darkness is all around. In our Advent, we wonder if Christ understands us enough, whether God knows the extent of our suffering. Advent is Christ’s way of saying “I want to understand you more. I want to understand your difficulties. I want to listen to you because I want to love you more.” Happiness is the capacity to understand and to love and to know we are loved. God will move closer to you and will ask you to tell of your darkness and of your gratitude. God will come near.


John the Baptist gets it. He understands that Jesus of Nazareth is the one who will show us that God understands our suffering. John bubbles over in happiness because the good news is coming. Though we will still have suffering, we will know that God is with us, Emmanuel, and that God will remain by our side. We can know joy. We can feel joy because God is near, and will come to us in new ways. Advent is God’s promise that we will never be alone. Be patient. Find your inner quiet and give thanks. Ask to feel the love that God has for you. Rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord always. The Lord is near. 


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 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. 


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