December 16, 2015

Dec. 16

December 16, 2015:  Wednesday, Third week of Advent

  • 'Scales of justice' pin:  Let justice descend... (1st reading); justice shall look down from heaven (psalm)
  • 'No-"L"' pin:  Today's Christmas luncheon
  • 'Olympics' tie pin:  Let the earth open (1st reading)
  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  Justice and peace shall kiss... (psalm)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  Jesus granted sight to the blind (gospel)
  • Black slacks, white shirt:  dress code for today's music ministry at our Cathedral
  • 'Music manuscript' tie:  "Sing out... to the God who loves you"
  • Suspenders with clocks:  "Soon and very soon we are going to see the King"
  • Cross with purple robes:  Advent season
  • Turn to me/  (1st reading, though we usually hear it just during Lent)
    Last week's opening of the Holy Door in dioceses worldwide to inaugurate the Jubilee of Mercy expresses our communion in the universal Church.  Vatican II reminded us that the Church is called to be, in Christ, the visible sign of God’s merciful love for the human family.  Each of us, by practicing charity, mercy, and forgiveness, can be a sign of the power of God’s love to transform hearts and to bring reconciliation and peace.  By passing through the Door of Mercy, we show our desire to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s redemptive love.  Jesus tells us he himself is the door to eternal life, and he asks us, through conversion, to open the doors of our hearts to a more sincere love of God and neighbor.  A special sign of grace in this Jubilee of Mercy is the sacrament of Penance, in which Christ invites us to acknowledge our sinfulness, experience his mercy, and receive grace to make us more effective signs of his reconciling love.
    The universal call to holiness:  Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 2nd Advent sermon
    As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vatican II during this Jubilee of Mercy, note the link between the Council and mercy:  “The Church has frequently condemned errors with great severity, but now the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than severity” (Pope St. John XXIII).  Some think that insisting too much on God's mercy neglects God's justice, but God’s justice consists precisely in his mercy.  God is love and mercy, so he's just to himself—he demonstrates who he is—when he has mercy.  “‘God's righteousness’ is what makes us righteous, just as ‘God's salvation is what causes us to be saved” (Augustine).  “When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his mercy.”

    “Be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy”:  Lumen gentium chap. 5, “The Universal Call to Holiness,” begins, "All in the Church... are called to holiness,... 'For this is the will of God, your sanctification.'”  Without this call, the Council's other accomplishments are impossible or useless, but it's at risk of being neglected since only God and our conscience that require it and call us to it, not pressures from any group in the Church.  At times one thinks that some people care more about “making saints” than “making themselves saints”; they work more at placing their founders and brothers on pedestals than imitating their virtues.  We need to free the word 'holiness' from the fear it strikes because of mistaken ideas about it.  Holiness can involve extraordinary phenomena and trials but isn't to be identified with them.  If all are called to holiness, it's within everyone’s reach and part of normal Christian life.  Saints are like flowers:  there are more than the ones put on the altar.  How many blossom and die hidden after having silently perfumed the air!
    The basic reason for holiness is God is holy.  Holiness is the summary of God’s attributes.  Isaiah calls God “the Holy One of Israel.”   “Holy (qadosh), holy, holy” accompanies God's manifestation when Isaiah was called.  Mary proclaims, “Holy is his name.”  Qadosh suggests separation, difference; God is holy because he's completely other re what people can think, say, or do.  He's the Absolute, ab-solutus, separate, apart.  He's the Transcendent One, above our categories.  This points to a moral meaning because it concerns God's action, not just his being.  In Scripture what's called holy is mainly God’s judgments, works, and ways.  But holiness isn't primarily negative, about separation and absence of evil; it's supremely positive, indicating pure fullness.  In us, “fullness” and “purity” contradict each other:  our purity comes from purifying and removing evil, but not so for God, in whom purity and fullness coexist.  “Nothing can be added or taken away” from God:  he's the height of fullness and height of purity.
    The Old Testament shows a ritual approach to becoming holy; God’s holiness is conveyed through objects, places, rituals, and rules.  Sections of Exodus and Leviticus are titled “holiness code/laws”; this holiness becomes defiled if someone approaches the altar after having touched an unclean animal.  The prophets and psalms say different things:  “Who shall stand in [the Lord's] holy place?” and “Who can dwell with the devouring fire?” are answered in moral terms:  “Those with clean hands and pure heart” and “Those who walk righteously and speak uprightly.”  But these voices remain somewhat solitary.  Even in Jesus’ time, the idea was prevalent that holiness and righteousness consisted in ritual purity and observance of precepts, in particular the Sabbath—even though, in theory, they remembered the commandment of love of God and neighbor.  [To be continued]
    • Is 45:6c-8, 18, 21c-25  I am the Lord, there is no other; I create light and darkness, well-being and woe.  Let justice descend like dew or rain; let the earth open and salvation and justice bud forth; designed and made the earth to be lived in.  Turn to me and be safe!  To me every knee shall bend and tongue swear, “Only in the Lord are just deeds, power, and the vindication and glory of the children of Israel.”
    • Ps 85:9ab, 10-14  "Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior."  The Lord proclaims peace to his people, salvation to those who fear him.  Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace kiss.  The Lord will give his benefits:  land, justice, salvation.
    • Lk 7:18b-23  Are you the one to come, or should we look for another?” / “Go tell John the blind regain sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.   Blessed the one who takes no offense at me.”
      • Creighton:  There is one God, who created the heavens and the earth and all in them. The best we can do is turn to him and praise him.  And we will be saved.  God brought forth a savior for us.  John the Baptist sent people to ask whether Jesus was the savior, or whether they were to keep waiting.  Jesus told John’s people to recount the deeds that Jesus had done.  Like John we know; “only in the Lord are just deeds and power.”  Jesus is the one to come....
        The Kiss of Peace and Justice/ De La Hyre
      • One Bread, One Body:  "Shhh!"  The Lord is telling us to quiet down, to settle down, or we'll miss Christ's quiet, unassuming coming.  He comes like dew, gentle rain.  Without "silent nights" we won't have "holy nights"; there may be no room for Jesus in our noisy inn. Don't let Jesus get drowned out.
      • Passionist:  One brother refuses to carry out his father’s request, but repents and does; the other agrees to but doesn't follow through.  We don't know why they spoke and acted as they did, but we know some accept and some reject God's invitation, families don't give up on each other, actions need to back up intentions, and God's mercy is boundless.  Pope Francis encourages us to develop a “Theology of the other,” to hear God's voice and will in the other.  John Paul II called it the mysticism of the face; Metz called it the mysticism of the eyes.  We encounter God in others' voices, faces, and eyes.
      •  "The blind see, the lame walk, the poor receive good news":  John the Baptist sent his disciples to question Jesus about his claim to be Messiah, even though he saw Jesus would redeem us.  He likely sent them so they too could see Jesus was Messiah.  The miracles Jesus performed and message he proclaimed fulfilled centuries of prophecy....

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