December 16, 2013

December 16

December 16, 2013:   Monday, 3rd week of Advent

ReadingsWordle: Readings 12-16-13

  • Nm 24:2-7, 15-17a  God's spirit came upon Balaam:  King shall rise higher.  I see him but not now or near.  A star shall advance from Jacob, a staff from Israel.
  • Ps 25:4-5ab, 6, 7bc, 8-9  "Teach me your ways, O Lord."   In your kindness remember me.  You're good; you guide sinners and the humble.
  • Mt 21:23-27  Chief priests and elders / Jesus:  “By what authority, and who gave it to you?” / “I'll tell you if you tell me where John’s baptism is from.” / [We're trapped no matter how we  answer.] “We don't know.” / “I won't tell you about my authority.”
Pope Francis
  • Homily:  God looks after us by giving us prophets; they listen to God, read the spirit of the times, and move forward; they keep God's promise alive, see suffering, and bring strength.  The "masters of the Temple" who asked about Jesus' authority couldn't read the times and didn’t listen to God.  When prophecy is absent, clericalism fills the void, there's no memory of the promise or hope for the future, we miss God's words, and believers weep.  All the baptised are prophets:  don't forget God’s promise or tire of moving forward.
    Other challenges: The ordained should serve lay people.  Sometimes lay people aren’t given necessary formation, or clericalism hasn’t made room for them to speak, act, and make decisions.  Often lay ministry is inside the Church and doesn’t implant Christian values in society and transform it via the Gospel.  Evangelization of professional and intellectual life is a big challenge. 
    Women tend to be more sensitive and intuitive than men, showing special concern for others.  Many have pastoral responsibilities, but we need to create broader opportunities for their presence; it must be guaranteed in the workplace and other settings where important decisions are made, in the Church and in social structures.  Our dignity derives from baptism, open to all, not ministerial priesthood; the reservation of ministerial priesthood to males, though not open to discussion, can be divisive if sacramental power is identified with power in general.  Priests aren’t above the rest; in fact, the woman Mary is more important than bishops.  Pastors and theologians must explore women's role in Church decision-making. 
    Young people often don’t find responses to their concerns, needs, and hurts.  We find it hard to listen to them, appreciate their concerns, and speak with them in language they understand.  The growth of young people’s movements is the Spirit’s work, but we need to ensure they participate in the Church’s pastoral efforts.  The whole community is called to evangelize and educate the young, and the young need to exercise greater leadership. 
    The dearth of vocations to the priesthood and religious life often stems from lack of fervor in communities.  Where there’s life and a desire to bring Christ to others, vocations arise.  Even where priests aren’t very committed or joyful, the fervor of communities awakens desires to consecrate oneself to God and preach the Gospel.  We also need a better process of selecting candidates; we can’t accept ones motivated by affective insecurity, power, or economic well-being. 
    Consider your own challenges too.  Listen to the elderly with their experience and wisdom and to the young with their hope, lest we ignore the past or cling to what no longer gives life.  Be realistic, but stay joyful, bold, and committed.  Overcome the challenges; don't be robbed of missionary vigor!  (2.II, 102-109, pp. 81-87)
        • Creighton:  Leaders will be forced to make a decision about Jesus.  Whom do we await?  a holy man, or God's Son?  How does that affect how we prepare, what I do today? 
        •  King Balak asked Balaam to curse the Israelites, but Balaam prophesied blessing and protection, yielding to the Spirit of truth.  When John the Baptist preached repentance, leaders persecuted him.  Jesus met hostility from leaders too.  The coming of God's kingdom leads to conflict.  Do I submit to God's word?
        • "Star" tie pin:  a star shall arise from Jacob (1st reading)
        • "Clocks" tie, "grapes" pin:  be patient, as farmers wait for fruit (yesterday's 2nd reading)
        • Rose shirt:  yesterday's color
        Dress your life!

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