December 14, 2017

John of the Cross

December 14, 2017:  St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor

See 14 connections with today?
Legend below

For Psalm 145
Pope Francis homily
Isaiah presents an image of a God who speaks to us as a father with his child, imitating his voice.  He reassures him by caressing him:  "Don't be afraid; I'll help you."  God wants to sing us a lullaby.  He's a tender father and mother.  "Even if a mother forgets her son, I won't forget you."  He carries us deep within.  He makes himself small to make us understand and trust him, and we can call him, "Abba, Father."  It's God's tenderness.
Sometimes God raps us over the knuckles, but with tenderness he approaches and saves us.  God makes himself small but doesn't stop being great.  Christmas helps us understand this:  the little God in the manger.  To explain the divine, St. Thomas says, "Don't fear big things, but keep small things in mind."
God not only helps us but also promises us joy and a great harvest to help us move forward.  Can I speak with the Lord like this, or am I afraid?  God's tenderness is best manifested in wounds.  There's healing when my wound meets his.  In the Good Samaritan parable, someone helped the victim by cleaning his wounds and paying for his recovery. The theological place of God's tenderness is our wounds.  Think about the Lord's invitation:  "Show me your wounds.  I want to heal them."
    I'll plant cedar...
  • Is 41:13-20  I, the Lord, grasp your hand and say, “Fear not; I'll help you.”  You'll glory in the Holy One of Israel.  I won't forsake the afflicted and needy.  I'll plant cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, plane tree, and pine so all may see the Lord's hand has done it.
  • Ps 145:1, 9-13ab  "The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness."  I'll extol you forever, my God and King.  Let your faithful speak of your might and the glory of your eternal Kingdom.
  • Mt 11:11-15  “There has been no man greater than John the Baptist, but the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater.  The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.  John is Elijah, the one to come.”
St. John of the Cross

  • Fr. Chidi Ekpendu homily videoEmulate John of the Cross:  reflect on your life and relationship with God, and cultivate silence (but don't go to prison or die young :-).
  • Creighton:  Advent reminds us that Jesus came to invite us into God's kingdom through the incarnation.  We pray, “Come Lord Jesus” and ”Come, Emmanuel.”  We pray that God fill our hearts so we may respond to his invitation with courage and love.  The 1st reading reminds me of God’s generosity and willingness to give the people all they need, including mercy and kindness.  As Israel was striving to be a great nation and kingdom, God reminds them they need his help.  God says, "Fear not; I want good for you."  Remember God's ultimate gift, his son, through whom we have our entrance into his kingdom.  In the gospel Jesus talks about the “Kingdom of heaven” in reference to John the Baptist:  “There has been none greater than John the Baptist,” but “the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater.”  May we invite others to enter the kingdom of heaven as John did.  By being part of the kingdom, we find our greatness.  Become John the Baptist!
  • One Bread, One Body:  "The Advent desert":  As the Israelites returned from exile through the desert, God promised to fulfill their needs, especially for water.  They considered the task hopeless; weak, they considered themselves no more than maggots.  Yet God would work miracles so they'd have an abundant harvest, promising to make them people strong in winnowing and threshing.  The Lord can transform the desert into a place of abundance.  Out of barrenness and death, God brings hope. Your desert might be a hospital room, a lifeless work environment, a loveless marriage. You see a wasteland, but God sees water and growth. You see death; God sees new life.  The Lord may be calling you to walk through the desert as the Israelites did. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; don't rely on your own intelligence....  Be mindful of him, and he'll make straight your paths."
  • Passionist:  In the 1st reading, God promises his people:  I will... answer them, not forsake them, open up rivers, turn the desert into a marsh and dry ground into springs, plant trees in the desert and wasteland.  And God was faithful to his promise to send a Savior.  When I feel overwhelmed, I rededicate myself to God who has been and remains faithful.  “Faith is to believe what you don't see; the reward of faith is to see what you believe” (Augustine).

  •"He is Elijah who is to come":  Jesus praised John the Baptist as the greatest person born but says the least in God's kingdom of God is even greater.  Isaiah prophesied "your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel" would restore his people and make all things new.  When the Messiah appeared, John the Baptist announced it:  "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."  John bridges the Old and New Testaments as the last Old Testament prophet and the first New Testament witness/martyr, fulfilling the promise that Elijah would return to herald the Messiah's coming.  John was imprisoned and beheaded for announcing God's kingdom.  May we proclaim the joy of the Gospel even in the midst of suffering and violence.
Dress legend
  • 'Alps' pin:  "I'll make you a sledge to thresh and crush the mountains" (1st reading)
  • 'Hand' tie pin: I grasp your right hand; the Lord's hand has done this (1st reading)
  • 'Tree' pin: I'll plant the cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, plane tree, and pine (1st reading)
  • 'Crown' tie bar: Your Kingdom is for all ages (psalm); the least in the Kingdom is greater than John (gospel)
  • 'Honey' tie: John the Baptist (gospel) ate wild honey (trumps 'Doctor's office' tie for Church Doctor John of the Cross, just worn for Doctor Ambrose)
  • 'Cross' pin with purple robe:  St. John of the Cross, Advent season
  • White and blue shirt: White for St. John of the Cross memorial; blue for "I'll open up rivers on the bare heights" (1st reading)
  • 'No-L' button:  Tonight's Christmas party
  • Purple suspenders: Advent season

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