December 4, 2015

Dec. 4

December 4, 2015:  Friday, 1st week of Advent

  • 'Apple' and 'tree' pins, green shirt:  Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard and the orchard regarded as a forest (1st reading)
  • 'Jubilee year' pin: The lowly will find joy in the Lord, the poor rejoice (1st reading)
  • 'Hand' pin:  When they see the work of my hands, they'll keep my name holy. (1st reading)
    • 'Clock' tie bar:  Wait for the Lord (psalm)
    • '[Christmas] lights' tie: "The Lord is my light and my salvation." (psalm)
    • 'Eyeball' tie pin:  The eyes of the blind shall see (1st reading); Jesus restores sight (gospel)
      • Purple suspenders:  Advent season

      From the Vatican
      Papal Preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's 1st Advent sermon:  Christ, the Light to the Nations”:  A Christological Reading of Lumen gentium 
      1. A Christological Ecclesiology
      The writing and discussion about Vatican II has almost always been about its doctrinal and pastoral applications, not strictly its spiritual content.  What does the Council have to tell us that's useful for building up faith?  I'm dedicating these Advent meditations to Lumen gentium, reflecting on the Church as the body and bride of Christ, the universal call to holiness, and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Its text begins, “Lumen gentium cum sit Christus,” (“Christ is the light of the nations”), the title Simeon greeted the infant Messiah with when Mary and Joseph took him to the temple: “light to the nations and the glory of his people Israel.”
      This statement is the key to interpreting the ecclesiology of Vatican II. It's christological and therefore spiritual and mystical before being social and institutional. We must bring this dimension back to the fore also in view of a more effective evangelization. People don't accept Christ they love the Church but they accept the Church, even one disfigured by sin, because they love Christ.  The former Cardinal Ratzinger kept this dimension of the Church alive, reminding us, “To understand Vatican II correctly, you must begin again and again with this first sentence.”
      No one has denied this inner spiritual vision of the Church. but immersed in the present we can lose sight of the eternal, and the urgent can distract us from the important.  This explains how the concept of ecclesial communion and of the people of God was often developed only in its horizontal, sociological sense, in the context of the contrast between koinonia and hierarchy, and focused more on the communion of the Church’s members with each other than on the communion of them all with Christ.  It was a priority for that particular time, and St. John Paul II welcomed and promoted it in Novo millennio ineunte.  Let's reestablish the balance between this vision of the Church, shaped by those debates, and the spiritual and mystic vision found in the New Testament and in the Church Fathers.  The question isn't “What is the Church?” but “Who is the Church?”  [to be continued]
      • Is 29:17-24  Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard.  The deaf shall hear, the blind see, the lowly and poor find joy, and evildoers be cut off.  When the children of Jacob see my handiwork, they'll keep my name holy and be in awe of God.
      • Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14  "The Lord is my light and my salvation."  I seek to dwell in God's house and gaze on his loveliness.  Wait for the Lord with courage....
      • Mt 9:27-31  Two blind men / Jesus:  “Son of David, have pity on us!” / “Do you believe I can do this?” / “Yes, Lord.” / “Let it be, according to your faith,” and their eyes were opened. “See that no one knows about this,” but they spread the word.

        • Creighton:  Do you hope for a better, deeper relationship with Christ and for faith that grows stronger each day?  When you pray, reflect on who you are and how you treated others but start by asking God to strengthen your faith and understanding.
        • One Bread, One Body:  "Building blocks":  Are you confident that in "a little while" the Lord will do more than we ask or imagine?  Advent is a time to grow in faith, repent, hear God's word...
        • Passionist:  "Living with eyes open":  In today's gospel, two blind men cry to Jesus, show faith, and are cured.  Scripture presents sinfulness as blindness and redemption as renewed sight.  Are our eyes open now?  Do we see our redemption in the person of Jesus?  Do I see God in nature and people?  May we serve Jesus with eyes wide open.
        •  "Do you believe?":  Where are my blind spots that keep me from recognizing God's power and mercy?  'Mercy' means "sorrowful at heart," but it's more than compassion.  Compassion empathizes, but mercy removes suffering.  God shows mercy to those who recognize their need.  Jesus touched the blind men's eyes, to identify with their affliction and to awaken their faith.  He restored their sight, physically and spiritually.  Faith opens the way for us to see God's power and experience his healing.  Jesus always showed God's mercy to those who sought it.  God gives mercy to all who recognize their need for God and his forgiveness and healing.  Faith is key to God's transforming our lives, but for faith to be effective, it must be linked with obedience....

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