READINGS for 2007-12-20
“Ask for a sign from the Lord.” – Isaiah 7:11
A friend of mine had been thinking of entering the religious life but she wanted to make sure that this was God’s will for her too. “It’s just too difficult to make a decision,” she says, “I think I need to ask for a sign.” Several months passed and still there was no one that came to stop her – so she then took it as a sign to enter the convent.
Funny how some people can use and abuse signs as a means of discerning God’s will for their lives. Far too many of us associate an answered prayer to an extraordinary event. But the key to seeing where God is at work in the world is not wrapped up in signs and wonders, but in a renewed mind and heart that sees the world as God sees it. We can ask for signs, but seeking them is not what builds the faith. Signs themselves are a gift given as God sees the need to give them. If we keep looking for them, we are not trusting God to guide us in more regular ways in our lives. Alvin B.
To what extent is your own practice of discernment dependent upon signs?
Forgive me, Lord, for not having full confidence in You.
How often do we try the patience of God by refusing to submit to His blessings? This is what Ahaz is doing here! He may have a good intention but the means by which he seeks to fulfill it is frustrating to God. When we examine a moral act, for it to be good it must have three characteristics: good intention, good object and appropriate circumstances. If even one of these is missing, then we should refrain from doing the act.
10 The LORD spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!” 12 But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!” 13 Then he said: “Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”
P S A L M
Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
R: Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.
1 The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it. 2 For he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. (R) 3 Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD? Or who may stand in his holy place? 4 He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain. (R) 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD, a reward from God his savior. 6 Such is the race that seeks for him, that seeks the face of the God of Jacob. (R)
G O S P E L
Mary hears about the role she will play in the work of salvation for the first time. I wonder how she felt within? I used to think she must have been scared about it all, but the longer I think about it, the more I tend to believe that she would not have been so much scared as awestruck at the thought of it and probably somewhat apprehensive. I think this is what I read in her simple words of surrender to the will of God – be it done unto me according to your word.
26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, 33 and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” 35 And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; 37 for nothing will be impossible for God.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
think: How often do we try the patience of God by refusing to submit to His blessings?
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Hebrews 6-10
“Tao po!” – this is what Filipinos say while knocking on a door, seeking entrance into a house. “Tao po!” – this is the beautiful picture of the Annunciation. God is knocking on the heart of Mary so that He may enter her womb to make it His home for nine months. With all respect and without forcing Mary, God requests Mary to let Him in. God respects Mary’s freedom; and Mary uses her freedom for God. “Tuloy po kayo” (“Welcome. Please come in”), Mary says. God enters. The Word becomes flesh. And we see that indeed the Son of God is tao po (“a human being”)!
“Tao po” means two things. On the one hand, it means that the person knocking on the door and saying, “Tao po!” is announcing the arrival not of an animal or a plant or some other life form but a tao (“human being”). On the other hand, it also means that the person who now declares himself or herself a tao seeks for another tao: “Tao po! May tao po ba diyan?”
But he or she does not only seek for another tao, he or she expects that one who eventually opens the door and faces him or her is truly another tao. When this announcement is truthful and this expectation is fulfilled, tao meets another tao and pakikipagkapwa-tao (which may be loosely translated as “fellowship” for lack of a better term) begins. But, again, the announcement must be truthful and the expectation should be met.
Christmas is the pakikipagkapwa-tao between God and man. God becomes man and knocks on the heart of every human being, hoping that He would not only be welcomed but would also be welcomed by a genuine human being (not a human being that looks human but lives like an animal). Each time pakikipagkapwa-tao happens among us, human beings, God’s pakikipagkapwa-tao happens again. God meets us in the person of the other while the other meets God in our person. This happens several times even in a single day. We should be vigilant always, lest we miss meeting God Himself. Fr. Bobby T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: Christmas is the pakikipagkapwa-tao between God and man.
Let me hear You, Jesus, knocking on the door of my heart. Let me open my life to You so that you may come in and dwell therein. Let me recognize that it is You who continues knocking on my life, saying, “I am also human like you. Are you truly human for Me?” Let me see You everyday in every person I meet. Amen.
St. Ammon, martyr, pray for us.
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