December 6, 2015

2nd Sun. of Advent

December 6, 2015:  Second Sunday of Advent

  • 'Peace sign' tie bar: God will name you the peace of justice (1st reading)
  • 'Children' pin: See your children gathered at God's word (1st reading)

  • 'Tree' pin: Every fragrant tree has overshadowed Israel (1st reading)

  • 'Jubilee year' pin: God is leading Israel in joy (1st reading); Jubilee of Mercy starts Tuesday
  • Purple shirt: Advent season
  • 'Roads' tie: Prepare the Lord's way; make straight his paths (gospel)

For today's psalm

For next Sunday's psalm
    • Isaiah 12:  Cry out with joy and gladness/ Celoni; feel free to use it.  I wanted a refrain easy to sing despite the length of "Cry out with joy and gladness, for among you is the great an holy one of Israel," plus simple verses with good text overlay.
More:  see today's Roamin' Catholic report below
Pope Francis Angelus
No one can say:  "I'm fine"; it would be presumptuous, because we must always be converted.  Ask, "Do I feel how Jesus feels?  When I suffer wrong, do I react without animosity of heart?  Do I forgive those who ask?  Do I weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice?  Do I express my faith with courage and simplicity, without being ashamed?"  John the Baptist cries out in today's deserts of closed minds and stony hearts, making us wonder whether we're living according to the Gospel.  Salvation is offered to everyone, without exception.  Don't say, "I'm holy, perfect, already saved"; take the offer of salvation.  Use the Year of Mercy to go further on the path of salvation, the way Jesus taught us.
From Papal Preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 1st Advent sermon
“Christ, the Light to the Nations”: A Christological Reading of Lumen gentium (continuing from yesterday, The Church as the Body and the Spouse of Christ)
3. Going from the Church to the Soul
Church Fathers applied the principle, “Ecclesia vel anima,” “the church or the soul,” what is said about the Church can be applied to each member.  “It is within [her] souls that the Church is beautiful” (St. Ambrose).  What does it mean for the spiritual life of a Christian to live out and achieve this idea of the Church as the body and spouse of Christ?
If the Church is the body of Christ, then I actualize the Church in myself, I'm an “ecclesial being,” to the extent that I allow Christ to make me his body.  What counts is the position Christ has in my heart, not the position I have in the Church!  This occurs through sacraments, especially baptism and the Eucharist.  This is why it's important to receive the Eucharist in a way that we can make ourselves the Church.  “The Eucharist makes the Church” (Henry de Lubac) applies not only at the community level but to each individual. The Eucharist makes each of us a body of Christ, that is, the Church.
'Communion means that the seemingly uncrossable frontier of my “I” is left wide open.... It means the fusion of two existences; just as in eating the body assimilates matter to itself, and thereby can live, in the same way my “I” is assimilated to Jesus' and made similar to him in an exchange that breaks through lines of division.' (former Cardinal Ratzinger)
Two lives, mine and Christ’s, become one, mystically and really.  From two “I’s” one ends up:  not my insignificant “I” as creature but that of Christ, to the point that after receiving the Eucharist I can dare to say, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”  Through the Eucharist, 'Christ infuses himself into us, mingles himself with us, and transforms us into himself, as a drop of water is changed by being poured into a sea of ointment' (Nicholas Cabasilas)
The image of the Church as body of Christ is linked to that of the Church as spouse of Christ, and this can help us experience the Eucharist.  Marriage is a symbol of the union of Christ and the Church.  In marriage, the husband's and wife's bodies belong to each other; when applied to the Eucharist, this means the Word's flesh becomes “mine,” and my flesh, my humanity, becomes Christ’s.  In the Eucharist we receive Christ's body and blood, but Christ also “receives” our body and blood!  St. Hilary of Poitiers writes that Jesus assumes the flesh only of the person who assumes his.  Christ says to us, “Take this; it is my body,” and we can say to him, “Take this; it is my body.”
Future pope Karol Wojtyla called this person whose life is made of Christ “the eucharistic I”:  'Then a miracle will be, a transformation: You will become me, and I—eucharistic—You' (The Place Within).  Everything in my life belongs to Christ.  No one should say, “Jesus doesn't know what it's like to be married, to be a woman, to have lost a son, to be sick, to be elderly, or to be a person of color!”  If you experience it, so does he, thanks to you and through you.  Whatever Christ didn't experience “in the flesh”—earthly existence is limited—he now lives and “experiences ” thanks to the spousal communion at Mass.  He experiences what it's like to be a woman in women, what it's like to be elderly in the elderly, what it's like to be sick in a sick person; all that was “lacking” in the complete “incarnation” of the Word is now accomplished through the Eucharist.
Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote her mother:  “The Bride belongs to the groom; mine has taken me; he wants me to be an extended humanity for him.  It's as if Jesus is saying, “I hunger for you, I want to live in you, so I need to live in your thoughts, your affections, through your flesh, your blood, your daily weariness; to feed off you the way you feed off me!”  What amazement and comfort at the thought that our humanity becomes Christ’s—and what responsibility!  If my eyes and mouth have become Christ’s, what a reason not to allow my gaze to indulge in lustful images, or allow my tongue to speak against you, or allow my body to be an instrument of sin!  “Shall I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?”...
  • Bar 5:1-9  Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on glory:  wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, display his glory.  Up!  See your children gathered at God's word, rejoicing he remembers them.  They left you, but God will bring them back in glory.  God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low and gorges filled, that Israel may advance in God's glory.  God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, mercy, and justice.
  • Ps 126:1-6  "The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy."  When the Lord brought Zion's captives back, we were like dreamers; then we were filled with rejoicing.  Lord, restore our fortunes.  Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. 
  • Phil 1:4-6, 8-11  I pray for you with joy because of your partnership for the gospel.  The one who began a good work in you will complete it.  I long for you with the affection of Christ.  May you increase in love, knowledge, and perception so you may discern what is of value, be filled with the fruit of righteousness, and be blameless for the day of Christ.
  • Lk 3:1-6  The word of God came to Zechariah's son John in the desert.  John went throughout the region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance, as the prophet Isaiah wrote:  A voice crying out: “Prepare the Lord's way; make straight his paths.  Every valley shall be filled, every mountain and hill made low.  Winding roads shall be made straight, rough ways smooth, and all shall see God's salvation.”
"Roamin' Catholic" report for last night's vigil Mass
Music ministry:  youth choir (of 20?), robed, in loft, with flute, oboe, and organ favoring stringy registration.  Good and balanced sound, but unfortunately no cantor upstairs or down; even the Gelineau responsorial psalm was sung more like a motet; good harmonies on the verses, but assembly really struggled with the response.  Music:
    • Preparation of the gifts:  beautiful choral piece; unfortunately I neither recognized it nor could make out the words.  I would have appreciated an introductory word about it.
    • On Jordan's bank/ Coffin; lyrics variants here and here; Mass ended with the words "Without your grace we waste away like flowers that wither and decay."
The word:  Good homily:  Where's our focus? (with backdrop of San Bernardino shooting and Pearl Harbor)  Presider made eye contact with both sections of L-shaped church.  There was a curious slip ("This is our blood") in the institution narrative and a truly jarring mispronunciation of "Annas" during the gospel.  (I'm certain of both even though during the announcements I first misheard "penance service" as "pet circus." :-) 
Hospitality:  Single disabled parking spot near church got taken as I drove up, so I had to park farther away; luckily we came early enough to make it as the opening song started.  On the way out, usher Joel helped us all the way to the car!
      St. John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness
    • Creighton:  "Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins":  We long for justice and unity.  Luke introduces John the Baptist referencing perpetrators of injustice and division:  Emperor Tiberius Caesar, his delegate Pilate, Galilee ruler Herod the Tetrarch, High Priest Caiaphas, and his predecessor and father-in-law Annas; they demanded strict adherence to literally interpreted law, an oppressive burden.  John preached a baptism of repentance.  The oppressed came to him; he told them relief required their own renewal, repentance, and forgiveness.  The redemptive events that began with John were the beginning of the fulfillment of God's plan to save everyone.  His concern pushes us to break down barriers of injustice and division.  The story that began with John and Jesus is now ours; we're called to replace injustice and division with the Kingdom of God.  To do this we need to renew our own “baptism of repentance.”  Today's gospel reminds us that we have the grace to acknowledge our sins, repent, change, be forgiven, join in our Lord's wisdom and work, and so fulfill John's prophecy...
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Highway construction":  We need to make a highway to return to the Lord from the exile of sin and so the Lord can return to take us to our heavenly home.  This highway is for us and him to use:  we use it to get out of our exile; Jesus will come to take us home.  We construct and travel the highway by deep repentance, "a baptism of repentance," filling in the emptiness of sin's valley and leveling mountains of pride and inflated egos.  The Lord makes straight our excuses, rationalizations, denials, and self-deceptions and makes smooth the harmful edges of our selfish attitudes.  Make and drive the highway of repentance into Christmas and heaven.
      The real St. Nicholas
    • Passionist:  John the Baptist reminds us to be and vigilant so we don't miss our redemption. His "baptism of repentance" is still appropriate today, walking into the river and washing away the grime in our thoughts, feelings, values, attitudes, desires, and decisions.  We need to be repentant, determined to change our life patterns by deep conversion.  We're invited to make low mountains of arrogance or pride, to fill in valleys of fear and disbelief, to make straight twisted thoughts or attitudes, to make smooth roughness that causes harm or wounds, and so open up to Christ's presence and power to save, heal, and forgive.  Jesus is the light of the world who comes into our darkness to bring newness, life, and hope.  We're called to be lights to the world as we reflect God’s grace, become modern John the Baptists, communicate Christ to others, herald hope, love, peace, and forgiveness to help others fill their valleys and smoothen their rough paths.  “May my love increase in knowledge and perception, to discern what is of value, so that I may be blameless…”
    •  "The word of God came to John":  Do you recognize the Lord's voice in Scripture? "The word of God came to John in the wilderness."  John, son of temple priest Zechariah, bridged the Old and New Covenants.  His prophetic calling and mission preceded his conception.  His father prophesied he'd be "prophet of the Most High to go before the Lord to prepare his way."  His mission was to prepare the way for God's Anointed.  He was called from youth to devote himself to prayer and God's word.  He molded his life according to the Scriptures and made himself a servant of God's Word.  The Spirit led him into a barren place where God taught him and prepared him for a prophetic ministry. 
    When a king decided to tour his kingdom, he first sent his courier to prepare the way.  John is the courier and herald of the Messiah King; he proclaims that the reign of God is at hand. Isaiah had prophesied the role of the Forerunner; John took this word to heart.  John preached a "baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."  We can prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ today by conversion and repentance:  receiving God's word, changing our attitudes and ways, and turning from sin to God for pardon, healing, and strength.  Do I allow God's word to transform my thinking, speaking, and living?

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