Third Sunday of Advent
Posted by prepareformass on December 7, 2009
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was from the very beginning free from the taint of original sin, the minds of the faithful were filled with a stronger hope that the day might soon come when the dogma of the Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven would also be defined by the Church's supreme teaching authority.
The Liturgy on the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time prepares us in a certain way for the Solemnity of Mary's Assumption into Heaven, which we will be celebrating on 15 August. Indeed, it is fully oriented to the future, to Heaven, where the Blessed Virgin Mary has preceded us in the joy of Paradise.
In particular, the Gospel passage, continuing last Sunday's message, asks Christians to detach themselves from material goods, which are for the most part illusory, and to do their duty faithfully, constantly aspiring to Heaven. May the believer remain alert and watchful to be ready to welcome Jesus when he comes in his glory.
By means of examples taken from everyday life, the Lord exhorts his disciples, that is, us, to live with this inner disposition, like those servants in the parable who were waiting for their master's return. "Blessed are those servants", he said, "whom the master finds awake when he comes" (Lk 12: 37). We must therefore watch, praying and doing good.
It is true, we are all travellers on earth, as the Second Reading of today's liturgy from the Letter to the Hebrews appropriately reminds us. It presents Abraham to us in the clothes of a pilgrim, as a nomad who lives in a tent and sojourns in a foreign land. He has faith to guide him.
"By faith", the sacred author wrote, "Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go" (Heb 11: 8).
Indeed, Abraham's true destination was "the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (11: 10). The city to which he was alluding is not in this world but is the heavenly Jerusalem, Paradise.
This was well known to the primitive Christian community, which considered itself "alien" here below and called its populated nucleuses in the cities "parishes", which means, precisely, colonies of foreigners [in Greek, pároikoi] (cf. I Pt 2: 11). In this way, the first Christians expressed the most important characteristic of the Church, which is precisely the tension of living in this life in light of Heaven.
Today's Liturgy of the Word, therefore, desires to invite us to think of "the life of the world to come", as we repeat every time we make our profession of faith with the Creed. It is an invitation to spend our life wisely and with foresight, to consider attentively our destiny, in other words, those realities which we call final: death, the last judgement, eternity, hell and Heaven. And it is exactly in this way that we assume responsibility for the world and build a better world.
May the Virgin Mary, who watches over us from Heaven, help us not to forget that here on earth we are only passing through, and may she teach us to prepare ourselves to encounter Jesus, who is "seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead". source: vatican.va
Previously... The Gospel episode of Jesus' visit to the house of Martha and Mary (cf. Lk 10: 38-42). While Martha is totally taken up with household tasks, Mary is seated at the Master's feet listening to his word. Christ affirms that Mary "has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her" (Lk 10: 42). Listening to the Word of God is the most important thing in our lives.
Christ is always in our midst and desires to speak to our hearts. We can listen to him by meditating with faith on Sacred Scripture, by recollection in private and communal prayer, by silent meditation before the Tabernacle, from which he speaks to us of his love.
Christians, especially on Sundays, are called to meet and listen to the Lord. This happens most completely through participation in Holy Mass, during which Christ prepares the banquet of the Word and of the Bread of Life for the faithful. But other moments of prayer and reflection, of rest and brotherhood, can also be profitably combined to make the Lord's Day holy.
When, through the action of the Holy Spirit, God takes up his dwelling in the heart of the believer, it becomes easier for him/her to serve the brethren. This is what happened in a unique and perfect way in Mary Most Holy. To her we entrust this vacation period, to make the most of it as a favourable time to rediscover the primacy of the interior life.
The Church is God's family in the world. In this family no one ought to go without the necessities of life. Yet at the same time caritas- agape extends beyond the frontiers of the Church. The parable of the Good Samaritan remains as a standard which imposes universal love towards the needy whom we encounter “by chance” (cf. Lk 10:31), whoever they may be. Without in any way detracting from this commandment of universal love, the Church also has a specific responsibility: within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need. The teaching of the Letter to the Galatians is emphatic: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (6:10). source:vatican.va In the sending of the seventy-two, Jesus confirms that through his disciples, and those who would come to believe in him through their word, his peace and the news that “the kingdom of God has come near to you” would be proclaimed to the world. At their joyful return, despite rejection, Jesus rejoices at their success in the submission of the evil spirits in his name: the message is never to cease, never to give up.
God’s will is for his people to be one. Like the Christians in Thessalonika, we are urged to “rejoice always” and “pray without ceasing”, trusting that as we commit ourselves wholly to working with God, his purpose of unity will finally be fulfilled.
In the Gospel passage, a second element catches one's eye: the miracle worked by the Lord contains an explicit invitation to each person to make his own contribution. The two fish and five loaves signify our contribution, poor but necessary, which he transforms into a gift of love for all.
"Christ continues today" I wrote in the above-mentioned Post Synodal Exhortation, "to exhort his disciples to become personally engaged" (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 88).
Thus, the Eucharist is a call to holiness and to the gift of oneself to one's brethren: "Each of us is truly called, together with Jesus, to be bread broken for the life of the world".
Today, for example, the liturgy invites us to reflect on the famous Parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10: 25-37), which introduces us into the heart of the Gospel message: love for God and love for neighbour. But the person speaking to Jesus asks: who is my neighbour? And the Lord answers by reversing the question and showing through the account of the Good Samaritan that each one of us must make himself close to every person he meets: "Go and do likewise" (Lk 10: 37).
Loving, Jesus says, means acting like the Good Samaritan. And we know that he himself is the Good Samaritan par excellence; although he was God, he did not hesitate to humble himself to the point of becoming a man and giving his life for us.
Love is therefore the "heart" of Christian life; indeed, love alone, awakened in us by the Holy Spirit, makes us Christ's witnesses.
Our Lady was a guest at one of those noisy country weddings attended by people from many different villages. Mary was the only one who noticed the wine was running out. Don’t these scenes from Christ’s life seem familiar to us? The greatness of God lives at the level of ordinary things. It is natural for a woman, a homemaker, to notice an oversight, to look after the little things that make life pleasant. And that is how Mary acted.
“Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)
If our faith is weak, we should turn to Mary. Because of the miracle at the marriage feast at Cana, which Christ performed at his Mother’s request, his disciples learned to believe in him (cf. John 2:11). Our Mother is always interceding with her Son so that he may attend to our needs and show himself to us, so that we can cry out, “You are the Son of God.”
Grant me, dear Jesus, the faith I truly desire. My Mother, sweet Lady, Mary most holy, make me really believe! (Holy Rosary–Appendix, Wedding Feast at Cana)
The Christian apostolate — and I’m talking about an ordinary Christian living as just one more man or woman among equals — is a great work of teaching. Through real, personal, loyal friendship, you create in others a hunger for God and you help them to discover new horizons — naturally, simply. With the example of your faith lived to the full, with a loving word, which is full of the force of divine truth.
Be daring. Count on the help of Mary, queen of apostles. Without ceasing to be a mother, Our Lady is able to get each of her children to face his own responsibilities. Mary always does the immense favor of bringing to the cross, of placing face to face with the example of the Son of God, those who come close to her and contemplate her life. It is in this confrontation that Christian life is decided. And here Mary intercedes for us so that our behavior may lead to a reconciliation of the younger brother — you and me — with the firstborn Son of the Father.
Many conversions, many decisions to give oneself to the service of God have been preceded by an encounter with Mary. Our Lady has encouraged us to look for God, to desire to change, to lead a new life. And so the “Do whatever he tells you” has turned into real self-giving, into a Christian vocation, which from then on enlightens all our personal life. (Christ is Passing By, 149)
This Sunday's Gospel informs us that Jesus himself was once asked this question. "Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, 'Lord, will only a few people be saved?'"
The question, as we see, focuses on the number -- How many will be saved? Will it be many or few? In answering the question, Jesus shifts the focus from "how many" to "how" to be saved, that is, by entering "through the narrow gate."
We see this same attitude in regard to Jesus' second coming. The disciples ask "when" the return of the Son of Man will happen and Jesus answers indicating "how" we should prepare ourselves for that return, and what to do during the time of waiting (cf. Matthew 24:3-4).
Jesus' way of responding to these questions is not strange or discourteous. He is just acting in the way of one who wants to teach his disciples how to move from a life of curiosity to one of true wisdom; from the allure of idle questions to the real problems we need to grapple with in life.
From this we already see the absurdity of those who, like the Jehovah Witnesses, believe they know the precise number of the saved: 144,000.
This number, which recurs in the Book of Revelations has a purely symbolic value (the square of 12 -- the number of the tribes of Israel -- multiplied by 1,000) and is explained by the expression that immediately follows: "A great multitude that no man could number" (Revelations 7:4, 9).
Above all, if 144,000 is really the number, then we can both close up shop. Above the gate to heaven there must be a sign like the ones parking lots put up: "Full."
If, therefore, Jesus is not so much interested in revealing to us the number of the saved as he is in telling us how to be saved, we can understand what he is trying to tell us here. In substance, there are two things: one negative and the other positive.
It is useless, or rather it is not enough, to belong to a certain ethnic group, race, tradition, or institution, not even the chosen people from whom the Savior himself comes. What puts us on the road to salvation is not a title of ownership ("We ate and drank in your presence..."), but a personal decision, followed by a consistent way of life. This is even more clear in Matthew's text which contrasts two ways and two gates, one narrow and the other wide (cf. Matthew 7:13-14).
Why are these ways respectively called "narrow" and "wide"? Is it perhaps that the way of evil is always easy and pleasant to follow and the way of goodness always hard and tiresome?
Here we must be careful not to cede to the usual temptation of believing that here below everything goes magnificently well for the wicked and everything goes terribly for the good.
The way of the wicked is wide, but only at the beginning. As one goes down this way it gradually becomes narrow and bitter. In any case, it becomes very narrow at the end because it finishes in a blind alley.
The joy that is experienced in it has the characteristic of diminishing more and more as one tastes it, and it finally causes nausea and sadness. We see this in certain forms of intoxication experienced in drugs, alcohol and sex. A larger dose or stronger stimulation is needed each time to produce pleasure of the same intensity.
Finally the organism no longer responds and it begins to break down, even physically.
The way of the just is instead narrow at the beginning, when one starts off on it, but it then becomes a spacious boulevard because hope, joy and peace of heart are found in it.
Be watchful for you know not the day nor the hour
You also must be ready for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour
To whom much is given much will be expected
Keep your lamps burning
Novena Prayer to St Martha "St. Martha, I resort to thy protection and aid and as a proof of my affection and faith I offer this light which I shall burn every Tuesday. Comfort me in all my difficulties and through the great favor thou didst enjoy when the Savior was lodged in thy house,. Intercede for my family that we may always hold God in our hearts, and that we may be provided for in all our necessities, I ask, St. Martha, to overcome all difficulties as thou didst overcome the dragon at thy feet."
To avoid any misunderstanding, it should be noted that Jesus' mercy was not expressed by putting moral law in parentheses. For Jesus, good is good and evil is evil. Mercy does not change the connotations of sin but consumes it in a fire of love.
Live a good life
Strive for holiness
Care for body and soul
Posted by prepareformass on December 7, 2009
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