READINGS for 2006-12-11

Didache | Companion | Sabbath



?Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak? ? Isaiah 35:3

At the onset of the year, we started a Bible study at the plant. This was to be our gift to Jesus ? to share the Word. After six months, we saw that attendees were not interested in Bible reading. We had toyed with the idea of abandoning it.
      Towards the last quarter of the year, the Lord inspired us to have a Bible verse contest, where attractive gifts were given monthly during the Bible sessions. We had the employees memorize three Bible verses each week for one quarter. This culminated with a grand prize in Christmas.
      At Christmas, our usual programs all became Bible-based activities. We organized early to have groups dramatize lessons and messages in Bible events like Joseph ? The Dreamer, Noah?s Ark and The Nativity. Games also became Bible-based like Bible Trivia, ?a la Weakest Link format??. We also had Bible Charade and Bible Pictionary. Supplier gifts were not raffled (as if gambling by chance) but awarded to those who recited Bible verses correctly.
      The activities and interest into Bible reading took on a new high! We completely changed our old world-based Christmas party into wordbased celebration. It made our Christmas joy complete!Rolly E.

Do I understand and appreciate the essential meaning of Christmas, which is the Word made flesh?

Jesus, you are the joy that completes our life! Live in our hearts!



Isaiah 35:1-10

Wherever we look in the world there is a lot of suffering. One of the great struggles of humanity is trying to understand suffering and draw forth some good from it. At the same time we try to apportion blame for the suffering. We also look for hope or at least signs of it in the midst of it all. This is where the Christian comes into the picture. We have a basis for the hope that we proclaim that is founded upon the suffering and vindication of the Son of God. Only through Jesus does suffering find meaning. Let us pray that our lives will be beacons of hope in the midst of a suffering world.

1 The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. 2 They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. 3 Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, 4 say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; 6 then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. 7 The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water; the abode where jackals lurk will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus. 8 A highway will be there, called the Holy Way; no one unclean may pass over it, nor fools go astray on it. 9 No lion will be there, nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it. It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk. 10 Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.


Psalm 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14

R: Our God will come to save us!

8 [9] I will hear what God proclaims; the LORD-for he proclaims peace to his people. 9 [10] Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him, glory dwelling in our land. (R) 10 [11] Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. 11 [12] Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven. (R) 12 [13] The LORD himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase. 13 [14] Justice shall walk before him, and salvation, along the way of his steps. (R)


Luke 5:17-26

Many of the miracles of Jesus alleviated suffering in the lives of those whom He healed or delivered from evil possession. Jesus does not want people to have to suffer. At the same time, suffering can help build character within a person. A lot of this depends upon the attitude and faith of the individual in question. Some of the holiest people I have met have been people who suffer greatly. Suffering does not have to be a hindrance to either faith or holiness. It all depends upon how we approach it, whether we do so with faith in God or without it.

17 One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. 18 And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set [him] in his presence. 19 But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. 20 When he saw their faith, he said, ?As for you, your sins are forgiven.? 21 Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, ?Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?? 22 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, ?What are you thinking in your hearts? 23 Which is easier, to say, ?Your sins are forgiven,? or to say, ?Rise and walk?? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins? ? he said to the man who was paralyzed, ?I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.? 25 He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. 26 Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, ?We have seen incredible things today.?
my reflections
Let us pray that our lives will be beacons of hope in the midst of a suffering world.



God?s special verse/thought for me today________________


Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________





 ?We have seen strange things today.? This is how the Gospel today ended. While the scribes and the Pharisees saw that it was strange for Jesus to forgive sins, the rest of the people rather saw that it was strange that the paralytic was made whole again. But both the forgiving of sins and the healing from paralysis are not strange things for Jesus because His very name means, ?God saves?.
      ?Our God will come to save us.? This is how the psalmist responded to the prophecy of Isaiah in the First Reading today. In Jesus the psalmist?s declaration found evidence. The coming of Jesus is God coming to save us. The Gospels show this.
      As we prepare to commemorate the birth of Jesus, let us make a part of our reflection the important task of examining how we have truly lived out the gift of salvation Jesus brought us by His Incarnation and Paschal Mystery. And because Advent is not only looking back to the day when Jesus was born in Bethlehem but also looking forward to the day of His final coming, let us give an account of the things we have done or have not done to make as many people as possible benefit from the saving presence of Jesus in our midst.
      Jesus Himself is the in-breaking of the power of the Messianic era. When we strive to be more and more like Jesus, the Messianic era is more and more established in our midst. The more we become instruments of salvation from diseases of body and soul, the more we become like Jesus. In us and through us, the world will continue to see strange things as God continues to come to save the world. Strange things ? seen and heard. And more strange things to come! Fr. Bobby T.

How have I been or not been a sign of God?s salvation at work in the world?

Keep our eyes open, O Lord, to see the strange things You accomplish in the world. Make us never lose our sense of wonder at the signs of Your saving power still at work in the world today. May we also be those signs. May  we not only be saved but be saving too. Amen.

St. Damasus I, pope confessor, pray for us.

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