December 11, 2014

Dec. 11

December 11, 2014:  Thursday, 2nd week, Advent

  • 'Hand' tie pin:  I grasp your right hand; the Lord's hand has done this (1st reading)
  • Blue shirt:  I'll open up rivers on the bare heights (1st reading)
  • 'Tree' pin:  I'll plant the cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, plane tree, and pine (1st reading)
  • 'Crowns' tie (Tuesday):  Your Kingdom is for all ages (psalm); the least in the Kingdom is greater than John (gospel)
  • 'Honey' tie:  John the Baptist (gospel) who ate wild honey
  • Purple suspenders:  Advent season

God saves his people by being close and tender.  Isaiah presents God like a mother who talks and sings to her baby.  Mothers even take on children's voice and language.  God's love, like a mother's, is free, and by God's grace children allow themselves to be loved.  We can try to control grace, selfishly turning it into merchandise and spiritual bookkeeping, but that betrays God's closeness; grace isn't a commodity. 
In Jesus' time, groups like the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots wanted to control grace, but God's grace is closeness, tenderness.  If you don't feel God loves you tenderly, you're missing something; you  haven't received the grace of closeness.  You're not right because you observe the law but because God has drawn close, caressing you tenderly; God's closeness and love is our justice.  God is good to the point of seeming ridiculous.  If we open up to this tenderness, we'll have spiritual freedom!
  • Is 41:13-20  I, the Lord, grasp your hand and say, “Fear not; I'll help you.”  You'll glory in the Holy One of Israel.  I won't forsake the afflicted and needy.  I'll plant cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, plane tree, and pine so all may see the Lord's hand has done it.

    "I grasp you by the hand"
  • Ps 145:1, 9-13ab  "The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness."  I'll extol you forever, my God and King.  Let your faithful speak of your might and the glory of your eternal Kingdom.

  • Mt 11:11-15  “There has been no man greater than John the Baptist, but the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater.  The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. John is Elijah, the one to come.”
    • Creighton:  See our salvation is drawing near; Advent leads to a little defenseless, dependent baby.  Little Israel, in exile, felt powerless.  We too may seem small, but God will make us powerful.
    • One Bread One Body:  The violent taking God's kingdom by force = Zealots in conflict with Romans.  Pope Paul VI applied Mt 11:12 to mean to do violence to our wills, pride, and pleasure-seeking through self-denial, repentance, and humility.
    • Passionist:  Most people had a difficult time recognizing and accepting Jesus; they considered him just a prophet, rejected him outright, or accused him of being the devil's tool.  He began to reveal himself by revealing who John the Baptist is:  the greatest, but least in the kingdom of heaven.  John has one foot in the time of preparation, the other in the kingdom.  John was a prophet like Elijah, in the wilderness, dressed in camel hair garment, eating locusts and honey.  Malachi prophesied Elijah would return, and it would be time to look for the messiah.  But  John wasn't pleasant to be around:  rough, disheveled, wild hair, dirty beard, smelly clothes.  But God chose him as messenger of the messiah.  Advent is the time of waiting, preparation to recognize and welcome the messiah in our lives.  If we accept it, Elijah has returned, and the messiah is close by.
    •  Isaiah prophesied "your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" would come restore his people.  John the Baptist announced Jesus; his words sent the spirit of Elijah.  We proclaim the joy of the Gospel even amid suffering and violence.  Most of us are called to be 'dry martyrs' bearing testimony in daily challenges.  People are drawn to the Gospel when they see Christians loving their enemies, joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, forgiving, and comforting the hopeless.

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