December 19, 2017

Dec. 19

December 19, 2017 / Tuesday, 3rd week, Advent

See 14 connections with today?
Legend below

For canticle
Pope Francis homily:  Be fruitful
Samson and John the Baptist were both born to sterile women.  Sterility was considered a shame; birth, a gift of God.  In the Bible, many sterile women desired a child, and mothers mourned the loss of their son because they were left without descendants, like Sarah, Naomi, Hannah, Elizabeth....
God commanded our ancestors, “Fill the earth; be fruitful!”  Where there's God, there's fruitfulness.  Countries that have chosen sterility suffer from a demographic winter; they don't have children; it's no blessing.  Fruitfulness is a blessing of God.  Fruitfulness, material and spiritual, is giving life.  Woe to us if we're not fruitful with good works!
Fruitfulness is a sign of God.  Prophets chose symbols like the desert—what's more sterile than that?—but say even the desert will flourish.  This is God’s promise.  The devil wants infertility; he doesn't want to give others life.  Those who live for themselves produce selfishness, pride, vanity.  The devil grows weeds of egoism and stops us from being fruitful.
Look to Christmas:  the empty cradle can be seen as a symbol of hope because the Child will come, or an object from a museum, devoid of life.  Our heart is like the cradle:  is it empty, or open to receive and give life?  Come, Lord, fill the cradle, fill my heart, and help me give life, be fruitful.
    Zechariah/ Robertson
  • Jgs 13:2-7, 24-25a  Angel to Manoah's barren wife:  “You'll bear a son.  Be careful with him; he's consecrated to God and will begin to deliver Israel.”  She bore a son and named him Samson; God's Spirit stirred him as he grew.
  • Ps 71:3-4a 5-6ab, 16-17  "My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!"  You're my rock, fortress, hope, trust, refuge, and strength; rescue me.
  • Lk 1:5-25  Zechariah and Elizabeth observed the commandments but had no child.  The angel Gabriel told him, “Your wife will bear you a son; name him John.  He'll be great in God's sight, filled with the Spirit, and will turn many to the Lord in the power of Elijah and prepare a people fit for the Lord.” / “How can I be sure?” / “God sent me to you.  Because you didn't believe me, you'll be speechless till all this happens.”  Elizabeth conceived.
  • Today's O Antiphon:  Radix Jesse, Root of Jesse's stem, sign of God's love for all his people:  come to save us without delay!
  • Creighton:  How often have we given up on asking for what we need, deciding that God must have said no?  How often have we felt 'barren' or 'impotent'?  If we believe each of us was born to fulfill a purpose grander than we could imagine, then our difficulties take on new meaning.  Though I too believe nothing is impossible for God, I've had moments of questioning.  Our parents waited for us, we were born, and we went out to fulfill our purpose, so we have something in common with Samson and John the Baptist.  If we heard God tell us at birth we'd be set aside for a holy purpose, and our life would have a holy purpose, would it be easier to wait in silence, to hope, to believe God will answer prayers aligned with our purpose?  As we wait for the 'birth' of something wonderful in our lives, may we prepare our hearts and renew our spirits.  In our longing we encounter God; in our emptiness may we remember God’s whispers to us.  Let God surprise you.

    • Images of God:  Being, Love, flow, relationship, breath, Spirit, Sacred dance...
    • Spiritual exercises:  Improve your communication with family and co-workers.  Love excellently....
    • Work as sacred presence.  Where is God calling you to excellence?
    • Steps:  Be gracious, pray, encourage, give thanks, share good news, ask meaningful questions, converse positively, reach out...
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Fruit for Christmas":  Today the Church introduces us to the mothers of Samson and John the Baptist.  Both were barren, but the Lord made them fruitful.  Are you spiritually barren?  How many spiritual children have you begotten recently?  How have you shared your faith?  What seeds of the gospel did you plant?  We need to be made fruitful....
    O Root of Jesse...
  • Passionist:  "Don't be afraid; your prayers have been heard.”  Today's readings weave in barrenness and fruitfulness, as the Abraham and Sarah story did.  The 1st reading is about a barren woman who keeps praying for children.  Her prayer is heard, and she consecrates her son to God and names him Samson, who proved to be a protector of the Israelites.  The gospel is about the birth of John the Baptist from barren Elizabeth, Zechariah's wife.  Though the couple had prayed for children, they'd lost hope.  But nothing is impossible with God, and a son was born to them.  Advent is the perfect time to reflect on barrenness and fruitfulness.  So much seems barren, but in The Desert is Fertile, Archbishop Helder Camera reflects how life can come from such places.  Scientists remind us there's life in places apparently devoid of it.  And if we look deeply within ourselves, we discover areas we've called barren that have been fruitful.  Advent invites us to look deeper into our barrenness.  The more we pray for the arrival of the God of Life, the more alive we become.  Jesus can be born in a stable, shepherds can hear angels in the fields, and people from far away have gifts to give.  God is full of surprises!
  •  "Many will rejoice at his birth":  In today's readings, two barren couples conceive and bear sons:  Samson and John the Baptist, both called by God to bring hope and deliverance.  Zechariah was tuned to God’s voice.  The people perceived he had a special encounter with God when he returned speechless from the sanctuary.  God’s messenger told him they'd have a son with a great mission and made him speechless till the infant was dedicated to the Lord and named John.  God wants us to be still before him to hear his voice.  The angel tells Zechariah his son will be great in God's sight, a Nazarite, set apart for the Lord, Spirit-filled, even in the womb, and be sent to the people of God, in the spirit of Elijah, to turn people to God and one another.  'John' means "the Lord is gracious."  When God acts to save us, he fills us with his Spirit and quickens our faith.
Dress legend
  • 'Eyeball' pin, 'clocks' suspenders:  Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God's eyes, and advanced in years; John the Baptist will be great in the Lord's sight; Zechariah saw a vision (gospel)
  • 'Gambling' tie:  Zechariah was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary (gospel) 
  • 'Angel pin':  Angel appeared to Manoah's wife (1st reading); Gabriel appeared to Zechariah (gospel)
  • 'Dove' pin:  Spirit stirred Samson (1st reading); John will be filled with the Spirit (gospel)
  • 'Rock' tie pin:  You are my rock and fortress (psalm)
  • 'Hand' tie pin:  Rescue me from the hand of the wicked (psalm)
  • 'Heart' pin:  John will turn fathers' hearts toward their children (gospel)
    • 'Tree' pin:  O Root of Jesse's stem (O Antiphon)
    • Purple shirt:  Advent (season)
    • 'No-L' (Christmas) pin:  Nativity Novena AKA Advent II (subseason)

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