December 18, 2015

Dec. 18

December 18, 2015:  Friday, 3rd week, Advent

  • 'Tree' pin:  God will raise up righteous shoot (1st reading)
  • 'Scales' tie:  They'll name the king "The Lord our justice" (1st reading); justice shall flourish (psalm)
  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  Peace shall flourish (psalm)
  • 'Crown' tie bar:  I'll raise up a King (1st reading); endow the king (psalm)
  • 'Angel' pin:  Gabriel (gospel)
  • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  Angel:  "The child was conceived through the Holy Spirit" (gospel)
  • Blue, white, and green shirt:  blue and white for emphasis on Mary at end of Advent, green for upcoming Christmas
  • 'NoëL' button:  tonight's Christmas party
  • Purple suspenders:  Advent season

  • Ave Maria/ Bach-Gounod (1st reading, and in honor of Gounod's quotation in Fr. Cantalamessa's homily)

Pope Francis recognized Mother Teresa's 2nd miracle:  she'll be canonized next year!

The universal call to holiness:  2nd Advent sermon of papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa, OFMcap, continued

Saints or Failures 
The basic reason for the call to holiness is deepened between the Old Testament and New:  God is holy:  “Become holy in the Holy One's image.”  Love your enemies “to be your Father's children.”  Holiness is a privilege, gift, and honor coming from our dignity as God's children.  “Noblesse oblige.”  Human beings must be holy to fulfill their identity, to be “in God's image and likeness.”  People aren't what they're destined to be by birth but rather what they're called to become through exercising free will in obedience to God.  We become true, successful human beings to the extent we become saints.  The opposite of saint isn't sinner but failure!  People can fail in many ways without compromising the essential, but there can be radical failure in terms of who people are, not merely what they do.  “Holiness is a necessity, not a luxury” (Mother Teresa)
Pascal spoke of of three levels of greatness:  of bodies and material things, of intelligence, and of holiness.  An almost infinite distance separates the first two levels, but an “infinitely more infinite” distance separates the last two.  As geniuses don't need material greatness, so do saints not need intellectual greatness:  “they're recognized by God and the angels, not by bodies or minds.  God is enough for them.”  Most people stop at the first level and do not even suspect the existence of a higher level; they're preoccupied with accumulating wealth, cultivating physical beauty, or increasing their power.  Others believe greatness is found in intelligence; they try to excel in letters, art, and thought.  Only a few know there's the third level, holiness; it's superior in God's eyes and fulfills what's noblest in us, our freedom.  It does not depend on our being born strong, beautiful, rich, or intelligent but rather being honest, good saints. “A drop of holiness is worth more than an ocean of genius” (Gounod).  Fortunately we're not forced to choose one level.  There have been, and are, saints among the rich, poor, strong, weak, geniuses, and uneducated. [to be continued]

  • Jer 23:5-8  I'll raise up a righteous shoot to David, a king to govern wisely, “The Lord our justice.”  Judah shall be saved.
  • Ps 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19  "Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever."  The king shall govern with justice, rescuing the poor.
  • Mt 1:18-25  Mary was found with child; Joseph decided to divorce her quietly.   Angel:  “Joseph, take Mary into your home; child was conceived through the Spirit and will save.”  She bore a son; he named him Jesus.
  • Today's O Antiphon:  O Adonai, Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:  come to rescue us with your mighty power!
    • Creighton:  When Joseph learned Mary was pregnant, he was heartbroken, came up with a plan to end the engagement, and went to sleep, but then an angel spoke to him, and he listened.  We can hear God's voice in our dreams or daydreams.  Appreciate the wonder of 'praydreaming.'  My world can be outcome-and efficiency-oriented, but I need to slow down and listen.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Christmas Christians":  God did the impossible:  becoming human while remaining divine.  Mary conceived Jesus by the power of the Spirit.  The Incarnation was the turning point in history; we refer to dates as before the Incarnation (B.C.) or after it (A.D.).  We pray about the Incarnation in the Creed, the Hail Mary, the Angelus, and the rosary.  We celebrate it on March 25 and every Christmas season.  We're called to be Christmas Christians....
    • Passionist:  We often reflect on Mary's discipleship, but Joseph's model can also touch us:
      • He cooperated with God’s mysterious plan; he made himself vulnerable before God’s will.  "Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity" (Brown, Daring Greatly).  To find greater depth in our spiritual lives, start from vulnerability.
      • He's resolute and committed.  He listens and acts on his deep intuition/dreams.  He's collaborative, compassionate, and loyal.
      • He responds to God in silence.  The gospels don't record a word from him.  He's receptive and contemplative.
      • He shows us the dignity of labor.  He was a ‘builder’ (more than carpenter, instructor of Jesus, and set a good example.  He builds up God's Kingdom by the work of his hands as well as his faith.
      • The Dream of St. Joseph/ La Tour
      • He witnesses to the importance of fatherhood and family life.
    May we imitate Joseph's witness and example.
      •  "He will save his people from their sins":   Jeremiah and Isaiah spoke hope in a hopeless situation:  The corrupt Davidic dynasty was unfit for a Messianic King.  When apostates like Ahaz and weaklings like Zedekiah occupied the throne, how could God raise up a righteous King?  The prophets trusted God would “raise up a righteous shoot.”  We too are called “in hope to believe against hope” that God will fulfill his promises.  Mary was asked to accept the miracle of conceiving Jesus; it took tremendous faith and trust.  She and Joseph weren't married yet, and pregnancy outside marriage wasn't tolerated.  Joseph, her family, and her people could have rejected her, but she still believed and trusted.  Joseph didn't want to embarrass or punish Mary when he thought she was unfaithful.  He didn't judge or react hastily, God guided him, and he believed.  Like Mary, Joseph is a model of faith for us....

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