READINGS for 2006-12-17

Didache | Companion | Sabbath

DIDACHE

3rd Sunday of Advent

WHEN GOD ANSWERS

 ?If there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it in prayer and thanksgiving.? ? Philippians 4: 6? 7

Her teacher informed my youngest sister that she had failed her first year in high school. My mom was invited over to the school to discuss the matter. Naturally, my sister was distraught.
      I drove for my mom and my sister but instead of going with them to meet with the teacher, I went to the school chapel to pray on behalf of my sister. As I poured my heart to God asking Him to spare my sister from this ordeal, I was overwhelmed by a sense of peace and calmness that everything was going to be all right.
      A week later, we were told that my sister need not repeat her first year after all! It turned out there was a computation error in the grading of one of the subjects she supposedly failed!
      God surely made it clear to me that time that He answers our prayers! All we have to do is open up our heart to Him, simply tell Him that which we ask for and He?ll take care of the rest.
      Now, He may not grant what we ask for right away. But if that which we ask for is according to His will, He will make it happen at the precise moment we need it.
      Ask my sister, she knows. Erwin R.

REFLECTION:
A line in the chorus of a popular rap song goes, ?You gotta pray, to make it today.? Nice ring to it, huh? Let me hear you sing it.

Lord, thank you for reminding me that anything I ask you in accordance to your will, you will do for me. Amen.

COMPANION

1st READING

Zephaniah 3:14-18


There is no real reason why we should not rejoice every day for the gift of salvation that God has given to us. Zephaniah is certainly right about this. The question is, ?How often do I rejoice and exult that God is with me? How often do I shout for joy regarding the gift of salvation?? If you are anything like me, I think the answer to that question will be, ?Not enough!? Let us pray for a greater freedom to rejoice in the gift of salvation that God has given each one of us.

14 Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. 16 On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! 17 The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, 18 as one sings at festivals. I will remove disaster from among you, so that none may recount your disgrace.

P S A L M

Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6

R: Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

2 God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. 3 With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation. (R) 4 Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name. (R) 5 Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth. 6 Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel! (R)

2nd READING

Philippians 4:4-7


If we were to win a million dollars in the lottery, we would be joyful beyond our wildest imaginings. However, the gift of salvation is far greater than any quantity of money. We should be ?over the moon? about this free gift we have received from the Lord. Why, then, do we often find it difficult to rejoice in Him? I think the problem is that we allow our focus to fall upon our earthly problems too much. Yes, we have various responsibilities in this regard, however, they should never get us down to the point that we forget to rejoice in the fact that God is working in our lives to enable us to persevere in our final salvation.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! 5 Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. 6 Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. 7 Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

G O S P E L

Luke 3:10-18


Righteous living is worked out in different ways depending upon the individual. The goal may be the same, namely eternal life in the presence of God, but we will all have to be faithful to our individual calling in order to get there. The means by which we live our calling is the same, namely the grace of God. It?s how we experience this grace and the spiritual journeys that follow from these that will be unique. In this way we are called to be examples to one another of holy living and always ready and willing to assist one another along the way. Let us work as a team to reach heaven together.

10 And the crowds asked him, ?What then should we do?? 11 He said to them in reply, ?Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.? 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, ?Teacher, what should we do?? 13 He answered them, ?Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.? 14 Soldiers also asked him, ?And what is it that we should do?? He told them, ?Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.? 15 Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, saying, ?I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.? 18 Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.

my reflections
think:
How often do I rejoice and exult that God is with me? How often do I shout for joy regarding the gift of salvation?

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 God?s special verse/thought for me today________________

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T O D A Y ? S BLESSING LIST

Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________

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READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Titus 1-3/Philemon


SABBATH PAUSE

My weekly time with God

THANK YOU LIST

Things to be grateful for from the past week

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SPECIAL NEEDS

Things to ask God for in the coming week

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HIDDEN TREASURE

Most important word God told me this week

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GETTING TO KNOW THE SAINTS
St. Gregory Palamas

Monk and Mystical Theologian (1296 - 1359)

 
?This is the nature of prayer, that it raises one from earth to heaven,
  higher than every heavenly name and dignity, and brings one before the very God of all.?

 St. Gregory Palamas spent most of his life as a monk and hermit of Mt. Athos. Located on a peninsula in Thessalonica, Mt. Athos was virtually a republic of eastern monasticism, a network of dozens of independent communities and hundreds of hermitages where monks and hermits practiced the ?hesychastic? spirituality, of which Gregory was the most famous advocate. ?Hesychia,? the Greek word for quietude, was here applied to a spiritual discipline of interior prayer and rest in God. The hesychasts took to heart St. Paul?s admonition to ?pray without ceasing.? By constantly repeating the name of Jesus or the ?Jesus prayer? (?Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner?), sometimes coordinated with the rhythm of their breathing, the monks entered into a state of extreme concentration on spiritual reality. In such a state they like to say that the Holy Spirit was praying through them. By such constant prayer, Gregory taught, the Christian might latch onto the divine nature, much like a rope flung over a rock, and so pull free of worldly attachments and draw nearer to God. The ultimate goal of this ascetic life was a vision of the divine light, witnessed by the disciples on Mt. Tabor when they beheld Christ in his transfigured state.
      Gregory spent many years as a hermit, remaining alone in prayer for five days of the week, emerging only on Saturdays and Sundays to participate in the divine liturgy. His later preeminence is due to his role in defending hesychast spirituality against the attacks of a Calabrian monk named Barlaam. Barlaam took violent exception to the notion that humans could achieve direct knowledge of the nature of God. He called the hesychasts ?navel-gazers,? because of the attitude which many of the monks assumed in prayer. Gregory countered that while it was impossible to have direct knowledge of God?s ?essence? it was possible to have direct experience of God?s ?energies.? He strongly championed the traditional Orthodox position that the goal of the Incarnation was ?deification,? the restoration of human beings to their intended condition in the image and likeness of God.
      The battle between Barlaam and the Palamites was bitter and protracted,extending  over a series of special synods in Constantinople. A synod in 1350 upheld the orthodoxy of Gregory. Gregory spent his last years as archbishop of Thessalonica and died in 1359. He was canonized by the Byzantine church in 1368.

SABBATH

SOLVE THE PUZZLE

A class of grade school students was given a test by their teacher.
      ?Class, I am giving each of you a jigsaw puzzle of the world,? said the teacher. ?You are to solve the puzzle within 30 minutes. Anyone who solves it first will be exempted from taking the math exam,? she explained. Then the teacher distributed to each student the jigsaw puzzle. ?Your time starts now,? she signaled.
      After five minutes, one of the students raised his hand and claimed he already solved the puzzle. ?But how did you do it in so short a time?? the teacher asked the boy.
      The boy smiled at the teacher and said, ?You see, Ma?am, I turned the puzzle over and discovered that there is a figure of a man printed on it. I solved the man and the world was solved!?
      The problems of the world can only be solved by solving man himself. The solution to world crises is in getting man straightened out. This was what John the Baptist was trying to tell the people who asked him, ?What must we do??
      This was the answer he gave to the tax collectors and the soldiers who asked him the same question. This is what he is trying to teach us now through the Gospel today.
      Just as we are part of the problems of the world, we are also part of their solutions. Let us straighten out ourselves. Let us set our lives straight.
      Let us prepare the way of Lord. Keep it straight! Fr. Bobby T.

REFLECTION QUESTION:
How am I a part of the problems I see around me? How can I be a part of their solutions?

As You come to us and through us, O Lord Jesus, help us straighten ourselves. May we make Your word a lamp unto our  feet, a light unto our path. Amen.

St. Lazarus, pray for us.




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