December 10, 2015

Dec. 10

December 10, 2015:  Thursday, 2nd Week of 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) 
  • 'Crown' tie bar: Your Kingdom is for all ages (psalm); the least in the Kingdom is greater than John (gospel) 
  • 'Honey' tie: John the Baptist (gospel) ate wild honey 
  • Purple suspenders: Advent season

For the psalm
Pope Francis homily
Allow God's mercy to embrace you.  God chose his people out of love, not because they were powerful but because they were the smallest and most wretched.  God’s love is like that of a mother or father speaking to their child awaking from a nightmare.  As our parents reassured us, “Don’t be scared; I’m here,” so God says, “Don't be afraid of your sins; I love you.  I'm here to forgive you.”  This is God's mercy.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I'll give you rest. We're all so nervous when something doesn't go according to plan; we scream and shout, we're impatient.  But God  says, “Calm down.  Yes, you’ve made a mistake, but don’t worry; don’t be afraid.  I forgive you.”  Ask God to renew in all people faith in our Father and in his mercy.
The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable: On theological questions about Catholic-Jewish relations
This is the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate, on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people.  We look with gratitude on the achievements and provide a stimulus for the future, discussing questions like the relevance of revelation, the relationship between the Old and New Covenant, the relationship between universal salvation in Christ and affirmation that God's covenant with Israel has never been revoked, and the Church’s mandate to evangelize.  We hope to enrich and intensify Jewish-Catholic dialogue.
Nostra aetate set a new direction in the Catholic Church.  Catholics and Jews used to have great reservations about each other, in part because Christianity has been seen as discriminatory against Jews.  As a minority the Jews were often confronted by and dependent upon a Christian majority. The Holocaust led the Church to reflect anew on her bond with the Jewish people.  The esteem for Judaism in Nostra aetate has enabled the communities to become partners and even friends, weathering crises and negotiating conflicts.  Its fourth article is recognized as foundation for improving our relationship.  Pope Paul VI established the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, entrusted with accompanying and fostering religious dialogue.  They soon published “Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing... Nostra Aetate”; it expressed the high esteem in which Christianity holds Judaism and stressed the significance for the Catholic Church of dialogue with the Jews.  The document reflects upon the Church’s dialogue with Judaism, referencing the Jewish roots of Christian liturgy, outlining new possibilities for rapprochement in education and training, and making suggestions for joint social action.  A decade later, they issued “Notes on the correct way to present the Jews and Judaism in preaching and catechesis,...” reflecting on the relationship of the Old and New Testaments, delineating the Jewish roots of Christian faith, explaining how the New Testament represents 'the Jews,' pointing out commonalities in liturgy, focusing on the historical relationship between Judaism and Christianity, inviting Christians to understand the roots of "land of the forefathers" in Biblical tradition, viewing the State of Israel in reference to international law, not religion, and seeing Israel's permanence as a “fact and sign to be interpreted within God’s design.”
The Commission then issued “We remember:  A reflection on the Shoah,” delivering a harsh but accurate judgment that the balance of the relationship between Jews and Christians is regrettably negative.  The Pontifical Biblical Commission later published  “The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible,” a significant exegetical and theological document of Jewish-Catholic dialogue and treasure-trove of common issues which have their basis in Jewish and Christian Scriptures.  It discussed themes of Hebrew Scripture and their adoption into Christian faith, and it illustrated how Jews are represented in the New Testament.
But texts can't replace personal encounters and face-to-face dialogues.  John Paul II fostered and deepened this dialogue; he visited Auschwitz to pray for Shoah victims, and he visited the Roman Synagogue to express his solidarity with the Jewish community.  He was a guest of Israel and participated in interreligious encounters.  Benedict XVI gave lectures reflecting on the relationship between Old and New Covenants, and Synagogue and Church; later he fostered dialogue via gesture and word.  Cardinal Bergoglio fostered Jewish-Catholic dialogue in Argentina; now as Pope he continues to intensify dialogue with Judaism.  Jewish organizations established a single official organization for this dialogue, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), and has participated in regular International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee (ILC) conferences.  In the past 40 years, confrontation has turned into cooperation, conflict potential has become conflict management, and tense coexistence has given way to mutuality and friendship able to discuss even controversial subjects and strengthen relations.  There have been fruitful annual meetings with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, including personal, intensive discussion on the sanctity of life, the family, the significance of Scripture for life in society, religious freedom, ethics, ecology, secular and religious authority, and religious leadership; it's led to more open relations between Orthodox Judaism and the Catholic Church.  The Commission aims to be open to all streams within Judaism that wish to establish links with the Holy See, and it provides opportunities within the Catholic Church for dialogue with Judaism.  We see ever more clearly that Christians and Jews are inter­dependent, have a duty to dialogue, and can enrich one another in mutual friendship.  Christian salvation history has Jewish roots. “While some Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism, and Church proclaims Jesus as Lord and Messiah, there's also a rich complementarity that allows us to read the Hebrew Scriptures together, help one another mine the riches of God’s word, and share ethical convictions and common concern for justice and development of peoples. [to be continued]
I'll plant cedar...
  • 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.
  • 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:  "Mercy: Closing the Gap":  Isaiah contrasts God and Israel, the "Holy One of Israel" vs. 'worm'/'maggot' taken captive into exile because of its infidelity.  God nevertheless will redeem Israel, his mercy closing the gulf.  Pope Francis reminds us that to “encounter” the Lord, we must meet him in mercy:  “The privileged locus of the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin.”...
    • One Bread, One Body:  "In the 'I' of the storm":  If the great I AM is Lord of your life, you have no reason to fear.  No matter how worthless you feel, the I AM can give you power to crush mountains.  Submit your "I" to the I AM; he'll remove your afflictions and provide for your needs. If I die to "I" and live for him, the desert of the "I" will be transformed into the life-giving forest of the I AM.  Without the I AM we can do nothing.  Don't try to "do it yourself"'; "let it be done" to you according to God's word...
      John the Baptist
    • Passionist:  “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force,” written 2,000 years ago, still applies.  We're engulfed in violence, against religion and in the name of religion.  How can we bring God’s Mercy to bear?  “The enemy is fear. We think it's hate, but it's fear” (Gandhi).  An effective tool against fear is understanding and personal engagement.  We anticipate God's incarnation into a refugee family whose rulers practiced a different faith; may we live out God's Mercy and bring peace.
    •  "He is Elijah who is to come":  Jesus praised John the Baptist as the greatest person born but says the least in God's kingdom of God is even greater.  Isaiah prophesied "your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" would restore his people and make all things new.  When the Messiah appeared, John the Baptist announced it:  "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."  John bridges the Old and New Testaments as the last Old Testament prophet and the first New Testament witness/martyr, fulfilling the promise that Elijah would return to herald the Messiah's coming.  John was imprisoned and beheaded for announcing God's kingdom.  May we proclaim the joy of the Gospel even in the midst of suffering and violence.
    From Universalis
    • St. Melchiades, 3-year pope
    • SS. Edmund Gennings and Eustace White, converts, priests, martyrs
    • St. Polydore Plasden/Oliver Palmer, priest, martyr
    • St. Swithin Wells, martyr

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