December 24, 2017

4th Sun., Advent

December 24, 2017:  Fourth Sunday of Advent / Christmas Eve

See 18 connections with today?Legend below
For future celebrations
Note the contrast between the angel's promises and Mary’s answer:  the Angel’s greeting is a long revelation, even more detailed after Mary’s asked for an explanation, but Mary’s response is brief:  “I'm the Lord's handmaid; be it done unto me according to your word.”  She only speaks of availability and service.  The contrast makes us understand Mary's humility; she's content to be small in God's presence.  But she's also aware that God’s project depends upon her response, and she adheres to it with her whole being.
Today's gospel shows us that Mary’s attitude at the Annunciation corresponds to the Son of God when he comes into the world.  Mary says, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord”; Jesus, Son of God who becomes Son of Mary, says,  “Behold, I come to do your will, O God.”  The Madonna is the perfect collaborator of God’s project.  While we admire our Mother for her response to God's call and mission, let us ask her to help us welcome God's project with humility and courageous generosity.
Afterwards:  Let us invoke the gift of peace for the world, especially for those suffering because of ongoing conflict.  I especially renew my appeal so that persons who have been abducted be released so they may return home. / Find a few moments to stop in silence and prayer before the crib, to worship the mystery of Christmas:  Jesus coming to us with love, humility, and tenderness.
  • 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16  Lord to David via Nathan:  “Should you build me a house?  I chose you, have been with you, and will make you famous.  My people will dwell safely.  I'll establish a House for you, raise up your heir, make his Kingdom firm, be father to him.  Your throne shall stand forever.”
    Wordle: Readings 12-21-14
  • Ps 89:2-5, 27, 29  "For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord."  I'll proclaim your faithfulness.  “I've made a covenant with my chosen one and will remain kind to him forever.”
  • Rom 16:25-27  The mystery was kept secret but is now manifested and made known to all to bring out the obedience of faith.
  • Lk 1:26-38  Gabriel / Mary:  “Don't be afraid; you'll bear Jesus.  He'll be great, Son of God, receive David's throne, and rule forever.” / “How?" / “The Spirit and God's power.  'Barren' Elizabeth has also conceived.  Nothing will be impossible for God.” / “I'm the Lord's handmaid; may it be done according to your word.
  • Is 62:1-5  Nations shall behold your vindication and kings your glory.  You'll be a crown in the Lord's hand.  People will no longer call you “Forsaken” but rather “My Delight”; God will marry you and rejoice in you.
  • Ps 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29  "For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord."  I'll maintain my covenant, my kindness, and your throne forever.  Blessed those who walk in your light; they rejoice and are exalted.
  • Acts 13:16-17, 22-25  Paul:  “God chose our ancestors, led them out of Egypt, raised up David as king, and from his descendants brought a savior, Jesus.  John heralded his coming:  ‘One is coming after me; I'm not worthy to unfasten his sandals.’”
  • Mt 1:1-25  Genealogy of Jesus, son of David, son of Abraham:  14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 from David to the Babylonian exile, 14 from the exile to Christ.  Before Mary and Joseph lived together, Mary was found with child.  Joseph was about to divorce her, but angel appeared:  “Take Mary into your home; the child was conceived through the Spirit.  Name the child Jesus; he'll save his people.”  This fulfilled the prophecy, “The virgin shall bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, God-is-with-us.”  Joseph did as the angel commanded.
  • Creighton:  King David contemplates building a temple for God, but God reminds David that he elevated him from his humble beginnings as a shepherd.  God will raise up from the House of David an heir:  “I will be a father to him, and he a son to me.”  Mary fulfills the prophecy with her fiat, but God’s entering into Creation started long before that.  The Lover always wants to be with the beloved; his desire goes back to the beginning of Creation and stretches into the distant future.  We recognize God in Scripture, the Eucharist, Creation, and each other.  The Incarnation has occurred, is occurring, and continues to occur.  Take time to recognize God incarnate in your life right now.
  • One Bread, One Body:  "The Peace of Christmas":  The Lord promised David rest from his enemies; the promise of peace was surprising since David was known for violence, from cutting off Goliath's head to getting Uriah killed.  The promise seemed fulfilled because his son Solomon ("peace") had a peaceful reign, but David's grandson Rehoboam started a civil war, and that war led to more.  But almost 1,000 years later, Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she'd bear a son to be called Son of the Most High, and God would give him David's throne.  When he was born, angels sang: "Peace on earth!" Jesus talked about loving enemies, turning the other cheek, and making and giving making and giving peace.  But we eventually killed Jesus, our Peace, and continue warring.  All who live for Jesus have peace beyond understanding.  May we accept Jesus our Peace.
  • Passionist'Grace' is from Greek cháris, joyful gift from God (used 159 times in the New Testament).  Gabriel calls Mary “full of grace”; she had to be, as we must, to warmly and lovingly receive Christ.  We must have the gift of faith to welcome Christ into our lives.  The birth of Christ it is so explosive a truth, beyond our ability to understand, appreciate, and respond on our own; we need grace to handle it.  Mary models for us how to receive Christ.  If only we longed for Jesus as Mary did.  We ask Mary’s intercession so we may be warm and open to Christ's coming.  "Lord, teach my me where and how to seek and find you.  I can't seek you unless you teach me or find you unless you show yourself.  Let me seek you in my desire and desire you in my seeking.  Let me find you by loving you and love you when I find you" (Anselm).
    Nativity Scene/ Alawi
  •  "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"  When the Lord comes, he fills us with his Spirit, the source of our joy and hope.  When God made a covenant with David, he promised that David's dynasty would endure through the coming of the Messiah King, who would establish a kingdom of peace and security.  The peace which the Messiah brings isn't the absence of trouble; it cancels the debt of sin and restores our broken relationship with God.  The events leading up to the Incarnation show the unfolding of God's saving plan:  Mary conceives Jesus through the Spirit's action. 'Jesus' means 'The Lord saves":  "He will save his people...."  The angel repeats to Mary, daughter of the house of David, his promise to David: "The Lord will give to him David's throne, and he will reign forever...."  When Mary hears the angel's message, she knows it's beyond human capability; she asks how it can be not out of doubt or skepticism.  Her response of faith and trust is a model for us; she believed God's promises even when they seemed impossible.  She trusted that what God said would be fulfilled.  She was eager to do God's will, even if it seemed difficult.  Mary is the "mother of God" because God became flesh in her womb, as we confess in the Creed.  Faith and obedience unlock God's power and grace in our lives.  God expects us to respond like Mary with trust and obedience.  When God commands, he also gives the help and means to respond....
Dress legend
  • 'Fire' pin:  I won't be quiet till Jerusalem's victory shines like a torch (AM 1st reading)
  • 'Crown' tie bar:  I'll raise up your heir and make his Kingdom firm (AM 1st reading); God raised up David as king (vigil 2nd reading); you shall be a glorious crown... (vigil 1st reading)
  • 'Sheep' tie bar:  I took you from the care of the flock to lead my people (AM 1st reading)
  • 'Castle' button:  I will build you a House (AM 1st reading)
  • 'Hand' tie pin: the hand of the Lord (vigil 1st reading)
  • 'Heart' pin:  I have found David a man after my own heart (vigil 2nd reading)
  • 'Rock' tie pin:  "You are my father, the Rock" (psalm)
  • 'Angel' pin:  Angel appeared to Mary (AM gospel) and Joseph (vigil gospel)
  • 'Dove' pin:  "The Spirit will come upon you" (AM gospel); Mary was found with child through the Spirit (vigil gospel)
  • 'Abacus' tie pin:  14 × 3 generations (vigil gospel)
  • 'Mary' pin:  Mary in Annunciation (AM gospel), genealogy and birth story (vigil gospel)
  • 'Happy birthday, Jesus' pin:  "Name him Jesus" (vigil gospel)
  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  Jesus, Prince of Peace
  • 'Christmas lights' tie:  Jesus, Light of the World
  • Purple shirt:  Advent season
  • 'Christmas tree' suspenders, button (legend):  Christmas!
  • Sandals (not shown):  John the Baptist:  I'm not worthy to unfasten the sandals of the one coming after me.’ (vigil 2nd reading)

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