December 23, 2015

Dec. 23

December 23, 2015:  Wednesday, 4th week, Advent

  • NEW 'Ship's wheel' tie pin:  Guide me in your truth; the Lord shows sinners the way, guides the humble... (psalm)
  • Gold- and silver-colored accessories:  The Lord will refine the sons of Levi like gold or silver (1st reading)
  • 'Tablets' tie:  Zechariah asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name” (gospel re tablet, today's and Thursday's O Antiphons re law)
  • 'Girl with heart' pin:  I'll send Elijah to turn fathers' and children's hearts to each other (1st reading); All who heard these things took them to heart (gospel)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  Your redemption is at hand (psalm); "Surely the Lord's hand was with him” (gospel)
  • Purple suspenders:  Advent (season)

1st reading
    • Thus saith the Lord/But who may abide the day of His coming, from Messiah/ Handel:  traditional"soulful"
O Antiphon
    • John/ Winter:  leadsheet and note
    • What child is this?/ Dix:  about Jesus, but in today's gospel, people asked the same about John the Baptist
NEW For Holy Family Sunday

    • Ps 128:  Blessed are those/ Celoni:  let the text tweak the written note values; I struggled to get close but didn't land on precision.

Mary in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church:  Fr. Cantalamessa's 3rd Advent sermon, concluded

Mary, Mother and Daughter of God’s Mercy
What does the Year of Mercy help us discover about the Mother of God?  We invoke Mary as "Mother of Mercy" in the Salve Regina, and pray, “Turn... your eyes of mercy toward us.”  At the opening Mass for the Jubilee Year, the "Doors of Mercy" icon of the Mother of God was displayed.  Mary is the mother and door of mercy in two senses:  she was the door through which God's mercy, in Jesus, entered the world, and she is now the door through which we enter into God's mercy and present ourselves to the “throne of mercy,” the Trinity.  Mary is not only a channel and mediator of God’s mercy but also its object and first recipient.  She obtains mercy for us and also first obtained mercy, more so than anyone else.
Mercy is grace; only in the Trinity do we find love that's not mercy.  The Father loving the Son is a necessity, not a grace or concession.  The Father needs to love in order to exist.  The Son loving the Father is a necessity, not concession or grace, even though it occurs with freedom.  The Son needs to be loved and to love in order to be Son.  When God created the world and free creatures, his love became a free, unmerited gift, i.e., grace and mercy; this is so even before sin entered.  Sin only made the gift of God’s mercy become forgiveness.
“Full of grace” means “full of mercy.”  Mary herself proclaimed, “He has helped... in remembrance of his mercy”; “his mercy is... from generation to generation.”  Mary knows she's a beneficiary of mercy, a favored witness of it.  For her God's mercy didn't forgive sin but preserve her from sin.  St. Thérèse said that what God did with Mary is what a good doctor would do during an epidemic:  he goes around curing the infected but will try to prevent someone especially close to him from even catching the infection.  This is what God did in preserving Mary from original sin.
Augustine, speaking of Jesus’ humanity, says, “By what... has he merited to be... assumed by the Word co-eternal with the Father into the unity of one person?  What good of his preceded this union?  What did he do, believe, or ask, in order to arrive at this excellence?”  He adds, “Ask whether this involved any merit, motivation, or right on your part, and see whether you find anything but grace.”  These words shed light on Mary too.  What did Mary do to deserve the privilege of giving the Word his humanity?  What did she believe, ask for, hope, or endure to come into the world immaculate?  Look for merit, fairness, or anything else and see whether you find anything but grace or mercy!
Paul considers himself the fruit of God’s mercy, “one who has received mercy from the Lord.”  He formulated the doctrine of mercy and became a living witness of it.  Mary and Paul teach us the best way to preach mercy is to give testimony to God's mercy on us.  They teach us to consider ourselves as the fruit of God’s mercy and alive only because of it.  When Jesus healed a man possessed by an unclean spirit.  He wanted to join Jesus' followers, but Jesus told him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  Mary, who glorified God in the Magnificat for his mercy, invites us to do the same, to make her canticle resound in the Church like a chorus that repeats a song after the soloist.  Proclaim, “My soul magnifies the Lord....”

  • Mal 3:1-4, 23-24  I'm sending my messenger to prepare the way.  The Lord will come to the temple, but who will endure that day?  He, like the refiner’s fire, will purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer sacrifice pleasing to the Lord.  I'll send you Elijah to turn fathers' hearts to children and children's to fathers.
  • Ps 25:4-5ab, 8-10, 14  "Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand."  Teach me your paths.  God shows sinners the way, guides and teaches the humble, is friend to those who fear him.
  • Lk 1:57-66  Elizabeth bore a son; friends and family rejoiced.  She said he was to be named John; when Zechariah confirmed, his mouth was opened.  They said, “What will this child be?  God's hand was with him.”
    • Today's O Antiphon:  O Emmanuel, King and Giver of Law:  come to save us, Lord our God!
      • Creighton:  Today's 1st reading is challenging and disturbing, not comforting.  God's messenger is also judge.  Advent is the season of preparing our hearts to celebrate Jesus’ first coming into our world.  Have I examined my life in terms of living Jesus’ message?  Where do I resist his light?  How do I forgive, love God, love others?  Do I bring my sufferings to Christ for guidance and strength?
      • One Bread, One Body:  "Clean up your act":  We need to be refined by fire and have our crimson-stained sins whitened by "the fuller's lye."  Most Christians don't consider themselves so dirty as to require such purification.  Zechariah, a just man and blameless priest, likely didn't think he needed nine months of being a mute.  Most think they need to be dusted off, not put in a furnace, but God knows us better than we know ourselves.  Most children don't recognize dirt the way their parents do; they're content to make a mess and live in it.  We may be dirtier than we think.  May we repent and be cleansed.
        The Last Judgment/ Michelangelo
        (surprising to see just before Christmas, but
        in line with today's 1st reading)
      • Passionist:  Zechariah and Elizabeth's relatives protested, “John is a new name for us.”  Expressing the good news may require new terms.  Jesus’ proclamation was new and radical, and the Gospel is still new and radical.  The challenge is to translate the message so people understand without compromising it.  We've always been called to do that, with love and mercy, seeking peace and justice for all.  As we make room for Jesus in our hearts, we pray for the grace to communicate his love today.
      •  "What then will this child be?"  We quibble about children's names to, but Elizabeth and Zechariah stood firm.  John means "the Lord is gracious"; in the birth of John and Jesus we see God's grace breaking forth into a broken world.  Prophets foretold the return of Elijah to announce the Messiah's coming of the Messiah; John the Baptist fulfills that role.  His birth shows God's mercy and favor in preparing us for the coming of our Savior.  When we respond to God's word with trust, he fills us with joy, hope, and gratitude for the gift of mercy, new life, and salvation in Christ....

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