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Archives: December 2018
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. http://usccb.org/bible/readings/121618.cfm
What do you think I should do? I would guess all of us have asked this question at some point in our lives. This was the question the crowds, the tax collectors and the soldiers asked John the Baptist in the first part of this weekend’s Gospel. In his response John didn’t propose that any of these individuals do anything difficult or unusual. Rather, he told them to do those things they already knew they should be doing. And so it is with us. As followers of Jesus we are not asked us to do anything extraordinary. Rather we are called to live in common care and concern with each other, and to be the face and hands of Christ to those we meet.
In the second part of this weekend’s Gospel we are told that the “people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.” John had a clear sense of his mission and role, however, so he was able to tell the people: “one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.”
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Zephaniah. In it, Zephaniah reassures the people of Judah that if they remain faithful to God, they will have no reason to fear. “The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear.”
In the second reading this weekend from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, Paul reminds the people of Philippe that: “The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- In our Gospel for this weekend, various groups asked John the Baptist what they should do. If you were to ask John this question, what do you think he would tell you to do?
- John the Baptist was clear about his role and mission in life. What do you think your mission in life is?
- In the first reading this weekend, Zephaniah told the people the Lord was in their midst. Paul told the Philippians that the Lord was near. Where do you find God close to you in your life?
Archbishop Hebda invites young adults (ages 18-39) of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to join him for listening sessions regarding the abuse crises in the Church.
Archbishop Hebda will respond to the open letter young adults of the archdiocese sent him this fall, and listen to their ideas for creating and maintaining safe environments, healing the Church, and moving forward together.
- Monday, December 10, 7 – 9 p.m. Archdiocesan Catholic Center (Saint Joseph Hall), Saint Paul.
- Wednesday, December 19, 7 – 9 p.m. Basilica of Saint Mary (Teresa of Calcutta Hall), Minneapolis.
I once heard someone say, “You have to die a little each day so that when death comes, you are ready.” This perturbed me a bit when I heard it. Do I do this each day? Do I give in to my selfish desires or choose to put what I want aside instead? Am I willing to place my trust in the unknown, knowing that the worst might happen? Can I be the one who stands up for someone who is being marginalized, even though I will be rejected? Am I filled with fear when I realize I am not in control of my life? Do I always have to have the last word to show someone else I have power over them? Can I put aside my opinions and ideas to allow someone else to share theirs even though they are different than mine? Do I have to respond in anger when someone says something I don’t agree with? Am I transparent in all my relationships or do I just let others see what I want them to see? Am I always honest, really honest, with myself and everyone in my life?
During this season of Advent, it might be a good time to think about dying, even though we are preparing to celebrate a birth. In order for something or Someone to be born in us, we have to make room in the inn of our hearts. That means letting go, releasing, surrendering, relinquishing, giving in, submitting, renouncing, conceding.
It isn’t easy. In fact, it is probably the most difficult thing to do and that’s because of our strong egos. We resist the right thing to do. We are afraid to be different. We are afraid to go against the tide. We want to be liked by others around us. We take pride in our many accomplishments that we think set us above those around us.
But here we are in Advent. The season of waiting. Waiting for what? I don’t like waiting. Maybe you don’t either. But there are so many things in life we have to wait for, i.e. for the light to turn green; for a test result; for your birthday; for tomorrow to come, etc., etc. We are asked to wait during Advent. We are asked to be patient in our waiting and to be watchful because we know not the day nor the hour. We are asked to stay awake and to be on guard. So we wait. We wait in anticipation and joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, into our very broken world. We need Jesus to come. This is what we wait for in Advent. Let us hope we are truly ready for his coming.
For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
This weekend we celebrate the second Sunday of the season of Advent. Each year as we begin the season of Advent we also begin a new liturgical year; and each liturgical year we read a different Gospel. This year is year C, (We are on a three year cycle of readings.), so we read from the Gospel of Luke. (In year A we read from the Gospel of Matthew. In year B we read from the Gospel of Mark. We read from the Gospel of John primarily during the Easter Season, although sections of it are also used in year B to supplement Mark, which is the shortest Gospel.)
The season of Advent has a threefold character. It is a time for us to remember Christ’s first coming as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. Also, though, it is a time for us to prepare our minds and hearts as we await Christ’s second coming at the end of the world. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it calls us to be ready to meet Christ as he comes (in a variety of forms) into each of our daily lives.
Two important figures during Advent are John the Baptist and the Virgin Mary. John heralded Jesus’ coming, and Mary models what it means for us to recognize and respond to Christ.
The words most often associated with the season of Advent are: waiting, anticipation, preparation, longing, expectation, joyful, and hopeful. The joyful expectation of Advent distinguishes it from the penitential character of Lent.
In our Gospel for this weekend, Luke introduces John the Baptist. He situates John’s proclamation within a precise historical context: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar………….” At first this might seem odd, but when you stop and think about it don’t we do the same thing, when we try to locate an event in our lives, e.g. I know we lived on Elm Street and Bush was president when …………..” Clearly Luke sees John’s proclamation “Prepare the way of the Lord…….” as having world wide importance.
Our first reading this weekend is from the Book of the Prophet Baruch. We don’t often read from Baruch, who was reported to be the secretary to the Prophet Jeremiah. This book was written after the fall of Jerusalem and was meant to give encouragement to the people in exile. “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery, put on the splendor of glory from God forever.”
Our second reading this weekend is from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In it Paul writes from prison to the Philippians to encourage them that “your love my increase more and more….”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- While I try to set aside some extra time for prayer during Advent, I don’t have a lot of other ideas about how to prepare the way of the Lord. Any suggestions?
- Baruch’s message was one on optimism and hope that ultimately the Lord would restore Jerusalem. What words would you use to convey this kind of message to someone who was experiencing a time of trial or uncertainty?
- Do you have any special activities planned for Advent, or any special memories of Advents, past?