December 17, 2015

Dec. 17

December 17, 2015:  Thursday, 3rd Week, Advent

  • 'Owl' tie pin:  "O Sapientia"/"O Wisdom" (today's O Antiphon)
  • 'Scales of justice' pin:  Justice shall flourish... (psalm)
  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  ...and fullness of peace (psalm)
  • Purple suspenders:  Advent season
  • 'St. Nicholas' tie:  Departmental Christmas gift exchange

  • Gloria/ Rutter:  We don't pray the Gloria on Advent Sundays, but it fits with today's part of Fr. Cantalamessa's sermon 
Music bonus:  printable Christmas carol booklets

Happy birthday, Pope Francis!

The universal call to holinessPapal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 2nd Advent sermon, continued

The Innovation of Christ 
The New Testament extends “holy nation” to include Christians.  The baptized are “saints by vocation” or “called to be saints.”  Holiness is no longer legal or ritual but moral and ontological, found in the heart, not determined by external actions, and can be summed up as charity:  “Not what goes into the mouth defiles, but what comes out of the mouth.”  The mediators of God’s holiness are no longer places, rituals, objects, or laws but Jesus Christ.  Holiness is union with Christ more than separation from things; through him God's holiness reaches us.  “[Jesus,] you are the Holy One of God!”  We proclaim in the Gloria, “Tu solus Sanctus,” “You alone are holy.” 
Christ's holiness is communicated to us in two ways:  appropriation and imitation.  Appropriation occurs by faith and through the sacraments.  Holiness is a gift, the work of the whole Trinity.  Since we belong to Christ more than to ourselves, Christ's holiness belongs to us more than our own.  “The things of Christ are ours more than our very selves” (Cabasilas); we need to make this spiritual leap.  Paul teaches us how when he declares he doesn't want to be found with his own righteousness or holiness from observing the law but only with righteousness from faith in Christ.  Christ, has become “our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”  We can thus claim his holiness as ours.  Bernard also makes this move:  “Whatever is lacking in my resources I appropriate ['usurp'!] for myself from the Lord's heart.”  “To usurp” Christ's holiness is “to take the kingdom of heaven by force”!  Do it often, especially at Communion. 
To say we participate in Christ's holiness is like saying that we participate in the Holy Spirit.  For Paul, to be/live “in Christ” is to be/live “in the Spirit.”  “By this we know we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”  Thanks to the Spirit, Christ dwells in us and we in him.  The Spirit who sanctifies us was in Jesus, sanctified his humanity, and was poured out on the Church; so the holiness in us is the holiness of Christ himself.  We're “sanctified in Christ Jesus.”   Just as in baptism our body is immersed in water, so too is our soul baptized into Christ's holiness. 
Besides faith and the sacraments, there's a place for imitation, works, and effort, as means to manifest our faith as action.  Good works without faith aren't “good” works, and faith without good works isn't true faith.  “Good works” means observance of the commandments, especially loving others.  Jesus says some will be excluded from the kingdom because they didn't clothe the naked and feed the hungry.  No one is justified through good works, but no one is saved without good works.  Babies can do nothing to be conceived, but once born, they need to breathe and suck milk.  “Faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead” should be understood that way:  faith without works dies. 
The New Testament says “You are holy” and “Be holy”; Christians have been sanctified and are becoming sanctified.  “God wills your sanctification,” refers to holiness as the fruit of personal commitment; note what's next:  “that you abstain from immorality; that you control your body in holiness and honor.”  Lumen gentium highlights these objective subjective aspects of holiness, based on faith and works:  "The followers of Christ, called not for what they had done but by God's design and grace, and justified in the Lord, have been made children of God by the Baptism of faith and partakers of the divine nature, and so are sanctified, so they must hold onto and perfect the holiness God gave them."  Since, according to Luther, the Middle Ages always emphasized Christ as model, he focused on Christ as gift and on the faith required to accept this gift.  We need to keep both perspectives united.  Christ is a gift to receive through faith but also the model for us to imitate.  “I have given you an example; do as I have done”; “Learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart.” [to be continued]
  • Gn 49:2, 8-10  Jacob to sons:  Scepter shall never depart from Judah, while he receives homage.
  • Ps 72:1-4ab, 7-8, 17  "Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever."  Blessed be the King who shall govern with justice, defend the afflicted, save the poor...
  • Mt 1:1-17  Genealogy of Jesus Christ:  14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 from David to Babylonian exile, 14 from exile to Christ.

  • Today's O Antiphon:  O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love:  come to teach us the path of knowledge!
      • Creighton:  "A different kind of king":  Matthew begins with Jesus' ancestry, stretching back to Abraham, including King David, five women including Ruth and Mary, and Gentiles.  The genealogy, not based on blood, establishes him as descending from rulers.  Jacob had to choose which of his 12 sons would lead.  Judah stood out as the lion that could inspire fear, even though he helped get rid of Joseph.  The psalm depicts a peaceful kingdom:  the ruler isn't driven by greed, doesn't incite divisions, and embodies justice and compassion.  His people live in harmony, united by concern for the poor.  Jesus entered the world in Bethlehem, an illegitimate, homeless refugee.  Who dreamed salvation would come from the lowest ranks?  To encounter God we must go to the margins and stay...
      • One Bread, One Body:  "From mess to blessed":  Today begins the home stretch of Advent.  For many, this week is chaotic, with shopping, parties, and other preparations, but the readings focus on preparing for Jesus.  Jesus' genealogy shows God uses even messes from human sin to fulfill his will:  Jesus descended from the line of Judah, who fathered twin sons with prostitute Tamar, his daughter-in-law, with whom he'd been dealing unjustly....  There's no mess too complicated for God to transform and use.  Lord, take my messes....
      • Passionist:  The Advent readings with a genealogy, lists of animals and songs of praise take us back to where it all began and show us how we arrived here.  We need reminders of where we came from so we can advance, prepare the Lord's way, and open our lives to the Christ-child.  Let's enjoy Advent, prepare ourselves for Jesus' coming, and reflect on the history that brought us here....
      •  "The genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David":  Genealogies give us our roots and help us understand our heritage.  Jesus is direct descendant of Abraham and David, and rightful heir to David's throne.  God fulfilled his promises to Abraham and David to send a Savior and King to rule over and deliver Israel.  Jacob foretold Judah would receive the promise of royalty we see fulfilled in David.  He foreshadowed God's fulfillment in raising up his anointed King, Jesus the Messiah, fulfillment of all God's promises, hope for the world, Savior, redeemer...

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