Archives: December 2016

On November 20, the Solemnity of Christ the King, Pope Francis closed the Holy Doors in the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome thus completing the Extra-ordinary Holy Year of Mercy. 39 pilgrims from The Basilica of Saint Mary were in Rome for this celebration. Our Basilica Schola Cantorum sang for the Mass. It truly was a beautiful and joy-filled liturgy. Pope Francis spoke about the past year with appreciation and gratitude. He also indicated that a lot remains to be done. 

To that end Pope Francis wrote an Apostolic Letter entitled: “Misericordia et Misera” or “Mercy and Misery” or one could say: “mercy meets and heals misery.” St. Augustine used these two words to describe the meeting between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 1-11). This life changing encounter between Jesus and the woman pre-figures our own encounter with Jesus for we too, though sinners, are the recipients of God’s mercy. 

In this beautiful letter Pope Francis wrote: “The Jubilee now ends and the Holy Door is closed. But the door of mercy of our heart continues to remain wide open. We have learned that God bends down to us (cf. Hos 11:4) so that we may imitate Him in bending down to our brothers and sisters.” 

He goes on to say that we need to deepen our commitment to mercy by celebrating the mercy we have been shown by God; by witnessing about God’s mercy to the world; by sharing God’s mercy with the world; and by showing mercy to all those around us. In essence he once again calls on us to embrace a culture of encounter characterized by mercy, love and tenderness; a culture that tears down walls and builds bridges; a culture that invites dialogue instead of division; a culture that lifts people up rather than putting people down. 

In one of the most beautiful passages of the letter, Pope Francis calls on us to “unleash the creativity of mercy” so as “to bring about new undertakings, the fruit of grace.” In response, here at The Basilica of Saint Mary we decided to continue on the path of mercy by initiating a Revolution of Love and Tenderness. Revolutions, peaceful and otherwise, have changed the world. Our suffering world is in dire need of great change. So we propose a peaceful revolution accomplished through love and tenderness, two Christian strengths Pope Francis often links to mercy.  

How will this revolution manifest itself? It will manifest itself when we protect creation and respect and honor all life. It will manifest itself when we bridge divisions and work for the common good. It will manifest itself when we stop all discrimination and accept one another no matter our class, race, age, gender, sexuality, creed, physical or mental ability. It will manifest itself when we end all speech and acts of hatred. It will manifest itself when we put the “we” before the “I.” 

During this upcoming Year of Our Lord 2017 may we truly find ways to bring about a Revolution of Love and Tenderness for the much needed healing of our world.

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and past it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121116.cfm 

This Sunday we celebrate the third Sunday of the season of Advent.  This Sunday is sometimes referred to as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, because our time of waiting and preparation is nearing its end.   On this Sunday the priest wears Rose colored vestments and the pink candle on the Advent wreath is lit.  Together they  set a tone of joyful expectation as we await the Lord’s birth and anticipate his second coming.    

In our Gospel this Sunday we find John the Baptist in prison.  He knows (or at least suspects) that he doesn’t have much longer to live.   And so we are told that “he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’”   Interestingly, Jesus does not respond with a yes or no to John’s question.   Instead Jesus tells John’s disciples:  “Go and tell John what you hear and see; the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”   Most probably John’s disciples would have recognized these words as coming from the book of the prophet Isaiah. These words are part of our first reading this Sunday.   They envision a time of new life and hope when the Messiah will come.  

As noted above, our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   In the section we read today Isaiah offers a hopeful vision that, at some point in the future, God will deliver God’s people from captivity and oppression, and they will know vindication, healing and new life.   

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Letter of Saint James.  While it reflects the idea prevalent in the early church that the return of the Lord was imminent, it does provide some practical advice. “Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord.”   

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1.  What gives you cause to rejoice on this Sunday?   
  2.  While we believe that at some point in the future Christ will come again, it is also our firm and abiding belief that he is present with us now.  What signs of Christ’s presence and grace do you see in the world around you?  
  3.  How do we be patient as we wait for the coming of the Lord?   

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