READINGS for 2008-12-14
PREPARAtION FOR thE CELEbRAtION
“Make straight the way of the Lord.” – John 1:23
Two days before simbang gabi…Christmas trimmings in place… Every corner and street filled with sparkling lights… Puto bungbong and bibingka in sight… The excitement of gift-buying and wrapping… Can you almost smell it? Aahh…
They say we Filipinos have the longest Yuletide season in the entire universe. Ours starts in September and ends in February. We surely know how to celebrate! How will your celebration be different this year?
God’s Word today comes at an opportune time. It instructs us on how we can celebrate the season the best way possible. How? By preparing for it. We must “make straight the way.” That could mean many things. Is it attending the novena Masses? Confession? Charity? Simplicity? Showing your parents you love them more? Being more patient with your children? Giving your employees a paid break? Doing something out of the ordinary for your spouse?
Remember, any celebration is best experienced when the heart is open and ready to not just give, but more so to receive.
Prepare to receive the Child Jesus in your heart. Lallaine Gogna
Take a few moments before the busyness of the Yuletide season sets in and see what preparations the Lord is calling you to do.
Jesus, You are the reason for the season. May my Christmas have meaning in You.
The third Sunday of Advent is always a bit of a break from the theme of repentance in that we briefly look forward to the joy of Christmas. Sometimes the priest will wear pink vestments to symbolize this joy. Today’s reading harks forward to the freedom and blessings of the Good News that will come with the ministry of Jesus.
Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, 2 to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God. 10 I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels. 11 As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.
P S A L M
Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
R: My soul rejoices in my God.
46 “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; 47 my spirit rejoices in God my savior. 48 For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed: (R) 49 the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. (R) 53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy. (R)
It is only the grace of God that can make us holy. The Holy Spirit is His gift to us to lead us in the ways of holiness and to empower and gift us with all we need to become holy. The greatest challenge we face is living in humility so that we will be willing to accept these gifts and put them to use in our lives. This is not a time to insist on doing things in our own strength or even according to our own wisdom.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
16 Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 Test everything; retain what is good. 22 Refrain from every kind of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.
G O S P E L
John is the last of the prophets to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus. There has not been a prophet in Israel for about the last 400 years. This would seem to suggest to me that the people should have been ready to embrace not just John, but the one he prepares for, Jesus. We know that this was not the case generally speaking. Why? Perhaps people had given up hope for a Messiah – but I doubt it! More likely, the challenging message of the Gospel was not to the liking of many who heard it.
John 1:6-8, 19-28
6 A man named John was sent from God. 7 He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. 19 And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” 23 He said: “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” 24 Some Pharisees were also sent. 25 They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, 27 the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” 28 This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
think:It is only the grace of God that can make us holy.
God’s special verse/thought for me today________________
T O D A Y ’ S BLESSING LIST
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Hosea 9-11
My weekly time with God
THANK YOU LIST
Things to be grateful for from the past week
Things to ask God for in the coming week
Most important word God told me this week
JOY AND KINDNESS
Today is “Gaudete” Sunday, the Sunday of “rejoicing.” The whole liturgy today overflows with joy. In the first reading, we hear of the prophet Isaiah exclaiming: “I rejoice heartily in the Lord; my God is the joy of my soul!” The responsorial psalm makes us join Mary in her song of joy, the Magnificat. And St. Paul admonishes his community in the second reading: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
In the poem “Il Sabato del Villaggio” (“The Village Sabbath”), the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi expressed the idea that in the present life the only authentic and possible joy is the joy of expectation, the joy of the Sabbath. It is a “day full of hope and joy;” full of joy precisely because it is full of hope. This is precisely what Christian joy is in this world: the joy of the Sabbath, the prelude to the Sunday without end, which is eternal life. St. Paul says that Christians must be “joyful in hope” (Romans 12:12), which does not mean that we must “hope to be happy” after death. We must already be happy by the simple fact of hoping.
St. Paul also indicates how a community that wants to bear witness to joy and make it credible to others must conduct itself. He says: “Your kindness should be known by all men.” The Greek word for “kindness” signifies clemency to the capacity to know how to believe and to show oneself to be lovable, tolerant and hospitable. It is necessary that we first rediscover the human value of this virtue, which is at risk or even nearly extinct in the society in which we live.
Kindness is a relief in human relationships. Family life would be so much better if there were more kindness in our gestures, in our words, and above all, in the sentiments of our hearts.
Kindness is indispensable above all for those who want to help others find Christ. St. Peter told the first Christians to be “ready to give a reason for their hope,” but adds immediately: “But this must be done with sweetness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15 ff)— with kindness. Fr. Rudy Horst
In which area do I have to improve on kindness – in my words, in my attitude, in my behavior?
Lord, we often speak about Your kindness toward us, especially during this time before Christmas. But it has become so difficult to be kind in our often unkind environment. And this kills our joy. Lord, may we learn from Your kindness and so bring joy to our fellowmen – as You brought joy to the world by Your kindness.
St. John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church, pray for us.
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