November 30, 2015

Andrew

November 30, 2015:  St. Andrew, Apostle

Can you find ten connections with today?
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Pope Francis
Bangui homily for today:  “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” inspires us to give thanks for our faith and to be amazed at the missionary effort that brought the Gospel to Central Africa.  God invites us to cross to another shore, heaven.  Looking to the world to come is a source of strength.  Eternal life challenges us to persevere.  But the more immediate other shore, salvation, is already transforming our lives and the world.  The life of Christ we receive enables us to love God and others and usher in a renewed world.
Thank God for his presence and strength in times of suffering, pain, and grief, for generous acts he inspires in us, for the joy and love he fills our families and communities with, and for his gift of courage.  Christ guides us; thank the Lord for the beautiful, generous, and courageous things he's enabled you to accomplish in your families and communities.  But we haven't yet reached our destination.  We need courage to decide to pass to the other shore.  We need to continue to break with the old Adam, ready to return at the devil's prompting.  It's easy to be led into selfishness, distrust, violence, destructiveness, vengeance, indifference, and exploitation…
We have a long way to go.  We need to beg forgiveness for our hesitation to bear witness.  Determine to begin a new chapter, and put out into the deep.  Andrew and Peter left everything immediately to follow Jesus.  Ask, "Where do I stand with Jesus?  How can I follow him more closely?"  Persevere in enthusiasm for the mission that needs new “bearers of good news,” numerous, generous, joyful, and holy.  We're called to be the messengers our brothers and sisters await.  Be full of hope and enthusiasm.  Jesus is crossing to the other shore with us; our trials are opportunities if we follow him.  Be artisans of the human and spiritual renewal of your country.
To youth at Advent prayer vigil:  Advent is an occasion to begin anew, “go across to the other side.”  Reflect on the grandeur of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where God meets us and helps us go across to where God forgives us and bathes us in his healing, renewing love!  God is waiting with open arms.  The forgiveness we receive enables us to start fresh, with trusting hearts, better able to live in harmony with ourselves, God, and each other.  It enables us to forgive others; forgiving those who have done us harm is difficult, but God offers us the strength and courage to become artisans of reconciliation and peace.  The Christian walks in the footsteps of his Master, who asked his Father to forgive his killers; meditating on that can help convert our heart.
The cross is a scandal, but it's the one sure way; it tells us God is with each of us, in our joys and trials.  Are you convinced the most precious good in this life is your relationship with God?  Do you know your value in God’s eyes?  Do you know God loves and accepts you unconditionally as you are?  As you pray and read Scripture, you'll come to know him, and yourself, better.  Jesus’ counsels can illumine your feelings and decisions.  Be alert and critical of any compromise which runs contrary to the Gospel.  Cultivate your creative dynamism; the Church needs it!  Witness to the joy of meeting Jesus. May he transform, strengthen, and help you, so that you may embrace God’s loving plan for you!  God wills your happiness. Those who open themselves to him are freed from sin, sorrow, emptiness, and isolation and can see others as brothers or sisters, accepting their differences and recognizing they're gifts for us all.  Peace is built through service and humility, and being attentive to others' needs.  For this we need hearts capable of bending low and sharing life with those in need; that's where charity is and how solidarity grows, division disappears, dialogue bears fruit, fraternity is lived and enlarges hearts, and you can do so much good.
The Lord is walking with you. When difficulties, pain, and sadness seem to prevail, he doesn't abandon you.  He left the sacraments as the memorial of his love to aid our progress and give us strength to advance.  Let them give you hope and courage to “go across” with Jesus and open new paths.  May you be anchored in hope and give it to others.  The Lord is with you, trusts you, and wants you to be missionary disciples, sustained in times of difficulty by the prayers of Mary and the Church. I'm sending you out!
Sunday homily with Jubilee of Mercy door opening:  [also in Bangui, CAR]  Advent is the season of joyful expectation of the Savior and a symbol of hope.  I greet everyone of the CAR:  the sick, elderly, hurt, despairing, listless, those needing bread, justice, attention, and goodness.  I come to offer God’s strength and power; they bring healing and enable us to embark on a new life, to “go across to the other side.”  Jesus asks us to cross with him, responding to our own specific vocation.  We can only cross with him, by freeing ourselves of divisive notions to build a Church God’s family, open to all, concerned for those most in need.  Be close to your brothers and sisters.  Share in the life of God’s people, and testify to God's infinite mercy.  Having experienced forgiveness, forgive others.  Love of our enemies protects us from the temptation to revenge and retaliation.  Evangelizers must be specialists in forgiveness, reconciliation, and mercy to help others “go across.”  Show your strength, hope, and joy are from God, grounded in the certainty that he's with us.  The Lord entrusts his gifts to us, so we can distribute them everywhere.
The happiness God promised is presented as justice. Advent is a time we strive to open our hearts to receive the Savior, the just Judge.  People thirst for respect, justice, and equality but see no positive signs; he comes to bring them his gift of justice.  He comes to enrich our histories, dashed hopes, and sterile yearnings, and he sends us to proclaim salvation.  God is justice; this is why we're called to work for peace founded on justice.
Salvation is flavored with love.  In Advent we relive the pilgrimage which prepared God’s people to receive the Son, who came to reveal God as both justice and love. Christians are called to give witness to God who is love.  The distance between this ideal and our witness is at times great, so I pray with Paul, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love.”  Salvation has power that will make it prevail.  “When these things take place, look up; your redemption is drawing near.”  Paul speaks of love that “grows and overflows” because Christian witness reflects the gospel's power.  Jesus wants to show his power amid devastation, the power of love that stops at nothing.  Knowing God's strength gives us serenity, courage and the strength to persevere.  God will have the last word, and the word is love!
To those who make unjust use of weapons, lay down instruments of death, and arm yourselves with righteousness, love, and mercy, the guarantors of peace.  Discover the Lord as 'center' of all good; incarnate God's heart.  May he “strengthen you in holiness, that you may be blameless before our God at the Lord's coming...” 
At Bangui Grand Mosque:  Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters; we must consider and conduct ourselves as such.  We know recent acts of violence weren't grounded in properly religious motives.  Believers must be people of peace.  Christians, Muslims and members of the traditional religions have lived together in peace for years; they ought to remain united in working for an end to acts that disfigure the Face of God and and try to defend interests against the common good.  We must say no to hatred, revenge, and violence, especially violence perpetrated in God's name.  God is peace.  Christian and Muslim leaders have played an important role in re-establishing harmony and fraternity.  Thank you.  Recall the many acts of solidarity Christians and Muslims have shown regarding their fellow citizens of other religions, welcoming and defending them.
We hope the upcoming national consultations will provide you with leaders who can bring Central Africans together to become symbols of unity rather than representatives of factions.  Make your country a welcoming home for all its children, so the CAR will prove a stimulus to the continent, a positive influence, and help extinguish the tensions that keep Africans from benefitting from the development they deserve and have a right to.  Pray and work for reconciliation, fraternity, and solidarity, and don't  all people, and don't forget those who have suffered the most.  May God bless you and protect you! Salam alaikum!
Read
  • Rom 10:9-18  All, Jew or Gentile, who confess Jesus as Lord, believe God raised him, and call on the Lord will be saved.  People need to be sent to preach so others can hear, believe, and call on the Lord.  Faith comes from what is heard, through Christ's word.  How beautiful the feet of those who bring good news!  Their voice has gone forth to all the earth.
  • Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11  "The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just." or "Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life."  The law of the Lord is perfect, trustworthy, right, clear, pure, true, just, precious, and sweet, giving refreshment, wisdom, joy, and light.
  • Mt 4:18-22  Jesus to fishermen Simon and his brother Andrew:  “Come; I'll make you fishers of men.”  They followed him.  He called James and John; they left their boat and father and followed him.
Reflect
      St. Andrew
    • Creighton:  Today’s gospel narrates Andrew’s calling, but John’s version brings it back to the beginning of Jesus’ public life and presents us with insights into discipleship.  Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist but left him to follow Jesus.  He and John were attracted to the one the Baptist identified as the Lamb of God, not to his teaching since he hadn't started teaching yet.  Attraction to Jesus is at the root of discipleship; pondering his teaching helps deepen the attraction.  Andrew had an urge to share his experience with others; he couldn't wait to tell his brother Simon about his encounter.  It left a mark in him.  Andrew and John might have become successful fishermen, but we would have never heard of them.  Embrace your baptismal call to discipleship....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Are you saved?"  A Christian can answer, "I've been saved by Christ's death and resurrection." We have been saved, are being saved now as we hold fast, and will be saved as we persevere.  Love motivates us to lead others to salvation.  Andrew is a great example and intercessor for us.
    • Passionist:  Our feet can be Christ's feet:  "Christ has no body but yours…  Yours are the feet he walks with to do good..." (Teresa of Avila).  “How beautiful... the feet of those who bring good tidings.”  The apostles answered Jesus' call and walked with him.  May we keep walking with the Lord and announcing the Good News with word and deed.
      • Andrew, fisherman, apostle, one of the first to follow Jesus, introduced his brother, Simon Peter, to him.
      • Cuthbert Mayne, priest, martyr
    Dress legend
    • 'Phone' tie bar:  All who 'call' on the Lord will be saved (1st reading); Jesus called fishermen (gospel)
    • 'Fishes' tie:  Jesus called during fishing expedition (gospel)
    • 'Fishing pole' tie bar: Peter and Andrew were fishermen (gospel)
    • 'Boat' tie bar: James and John were in a boat with their dad (gospel)
    • 'Girl with heart' pin:  One believes with the heart and is justified (1st reading); the Lord's precepts rejoice the heart... (psalm)
    • 'Eyeball' pin:  ...and enlighten the eye; (psalm)
    • Gold-colored accessories:  they're more precious than gold... (psalm)
    • Comb (in pocket):  ...and sweeter than honey from the 'comb' (psalm)
    • Red shirt:  St. Andrew, apostle
    • Purple suspenders:  Advent season