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Catholic Caucus: Sunday Mass Readings, 12-04-11, Second Sunday of Advent RNAB ^ | 12-04-11 | Revised New American Bible

Posted on 12/03/2011 7:46:25 PM PST by Salvation

December 4, 2011


Second Sunday of Advent


Reading 1 Is 40:1-5, 9-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Go up on to a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14

R. (8) Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD--for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

Reading 2 2 Pt 3:8-14

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved,
that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years
and a thousand years like one day.
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard "delay,"
but he is patient with you,
not wishing that any should perish
but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar
and the elements will be dissolved by fire,
and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.

Since everything is to be dissolved in this way,
what sort of persons ought you to be,
conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion,
waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,
because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames
and the elements melted by fire.
But according to his promise
we await new heavens and a new earth
in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you await these things,
be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

Gospel Mk 1:1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
"Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths."
John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel's hair,
with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
And this is what he proclaimed:
"One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

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Sunday Scripture Study

Second Sunday of Advent - Cycle B

December 4, 2011

Click here for USCCB readings

Opening Prayer  

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11

Psalm: 85:9-14

Second Reading: 2 Peter 3:8-14

Gospel Reading: Mark 1:1-8

  • This Sunday’s reading is from the opening of St. Mark’s Gospel. The shortest of the four Gospels, Mark is marked by a sense of immediacy, which goes well with the themes of vigilance and preparation, which characterize the season of Advent. Mark does not relate any genealogies or infancy narratives, but as his gospel opens we are immediately shown the events leading up to the beginning of Jesus’ preaching ministry (Mark 1:14).
  • We are also introduced to John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and precursor, who is preaching “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” that is, people were seeking forgiveness of their sins by their repentance. John’s baptism did not have the sacramental power to wash away sins like Christian baptism does as it lacked the power of the Holy Spirit conferred by Jesus after his Resurrection (verse 8; John 3:5, 20:22-23).
  • John the Baptist was identified as a kind of Elijah the prophet from the Old Testament (2 Kings 1:8), returned to usher in the Messianic age (verses 2-3; Malachi 3:23-24; Mark 9:11-13; Matthew 17:10-12; Luke 1:17). He will also figure prominently in next week’s Gospel reading and several of the daily Mass readings throughout Advent.



  • In the 1st Reading, what is coming to an end for God’s people? How are they to prepare for what’s coming? What will it look like when it finally arrives?
  • In the 2nd Reading, what attitude does St. Peter advise us to have while awaiting the return of Jesus? With what does he say we should occupy ourselves during this time?
  • What does Mark (and the Church) mean by “the gospel [good news] of Jesus Christ” (verse 1)? How would you explain the basic message to someone who asked?
  • What do the contexts of the quotes in verses 2-3 (Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3; Exodus 23:20) teach about the “coming one”?
  • Why is John the Baptist’s message so popular with the crowds (verses 4-5)? What does the Church teach about John (CCC 717-720)?
  • Given John’s message (verses 7-8) what type of person are the crowds anticipating (see Isaiah 32:15-20)?
  • What from your life illustrates what it means to “repent”? What can you do (or not do) to prepare for the Lord’s coming and to make this a more fruitful Advent?
  • John the Baptist prepared “the way of the Lord” (Matthew 3:3; Isaiah 40:3). Who prepared the way of the Lord in your life?
Catechism of the Catholic Church: §§ 151, 422, 523, 575, 696, 717-720, 2447


Neither repentance avails without grace, nor grace without repentance; for repentance must first condemn sin, that grace may blot it out. So then John, who was a type of the law, came baptizing for repentance, while Christ came to offer grace.

–St. Ambrose of Milan (ca. AD 380)

41 posted on 12/04/2011 5:31:42 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Have an Advent that Changes Your Life
Pastor’s Column
2nd Sunday of Advent
December 4, 2011
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens
will pass away with a mighty roar, and the elements will be dissolved by fire,
and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.    2 Peter 3
          It used to be said that Thanksgiving was the one national holiday that absolutely could not be commercialized (except for buying food), but that was until the “Black Friday” shopping phenomenon came along. It probably won’t be long until the stores will be open all day Thanksgiving for those who just can’t wait for Christmas (or can’t wait to get away from their relatives!).
          If only people could get as excited about their faith as they apparently do about shopping. When archaeologists search through the ruins of our civilization 2000 years from now, we might well be thought of as the “shopping mall people” because it will appear that this was where we spent most of our time. The problem is that what Christ has to offer doesn’t seem as attractive as a new iPad to many people, or they think they have time to pursue their faith later.  Yet, Christ may very well come sooner. Are you ready?
          As another Christmas approaches, the world seems to be more troubled than ever, but peace can still reign within us. The world may indeed end in 2012 as some doomsday people insist, but we are a people who know the future, and it belongs to the Lord. What will that future be like? It will be a world in which everything done on the earth will be found out. Advent, then, is a time to pursue the Lord once again.
          Peace and happiness simply cannot be found in a store. What our culture offers us are temporary pleasures, but it isn’t long before we are off looking for that next bargain or gadget or “must have” item. But what is Advent really all about? As I approach the end of another year, where is my life headed? What kind of person am I becoming? Is there enough room in my life for Christ, or do worries and cares take up all the space there? Our consumer culture can be lethal to our faith if we overemphasize it. What to do?
          Advent is a time to make up our minds to pursue holiness in our lives once again. What project will you and the Lord be doing together to prepare for Christmas? Saint Faustina speaks to us from her diary: Oh my Jesus, how very easy it is to become holy; all that is needed is a bit of good will. If Jesus sees this little bit of good will in the soul--and nothing can stop him—neither shortcomings nor falls—absolutely nothing. Jesus is anxious to help that soul, and if it is faithful to that grace from God, it can very soon attain the highest holiness possible for a creature here on earth…. Faithfulness to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit: that is the shortest route. (Diary #291). If only we give Jesus our hearts this Advent instead of simply running around, what wonders he would do for us!
                                                                                                Father Gary

42 posted on 12/04/2011 5:42:45 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Advent II: The Baptist creates a storm!
"Make ready!"

The Word for 2nd Sunday of Advent:

Is 40: 1-5, 9-11
Peter 3: 8-14
Mark 1: 1-8

There is nothing like a powerful Midwest thunderstorm to get your attention.  Having grown up in the Chicago area my memories of the summertime are basically: hot –humid-thundershowers.  Exactly in that order and the repetition of that pattern for at least four months. Strange as it might sound, I do miss those thunderstorms. Our weather here in the Northwest, though exciting at times, is rather wimpy by comparison.
With powerful winds, rolling thunder and crackling lighting in a matter of about 30 minutes you may find yourself without electricity and taking cover in the ever present basements just in case a tornado would sprout from the dark clouds above. 
Yet, just as quickly as those storms would unleash their muscle, in a short time, they would be over.  The aftermath left you peering out the windows to see branches or something larger on the ground. You’ve got to pay attention and respond quickly before it’s too late.
Not unlike our readings as we look to the Second Sunday of Advent.  The Mass will still sound a bit odd to many, including myself, as we adjust to the tone of our new translation and more expressive English but the real star of the show this Sunday is the “voice which cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!”
Like a turbulent Midwest thunderstorm, John the Baptist rolls on stage and creates quite a ruckus.  According to the opening lines of Mark’s Gospel this Sunday, this enigmatic figure, John the “dipper,” appears like a thunderclap.  As the last and greatest prophet of the Old Testament, John acts as a hinge on the door from one Testament to the next as he cries out: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Mk1:1) Like a bulldozer or a powerful wind which can level tall trees, this guy will not be stopped.
But, who is listening to this crazy man dressed in “camels hair” who eats “locusts and wild honey?” Crazy he wasn’t.  Mark relates: “People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River . . .” (Mk 1: 5).  People could spot a false prophet pretty well but there was nothing inauthentic about John.  He amassed followers and moved the hearts of many to repentance. 
But his mission was single minded – to prepare the hearts and minds of the people for the imminent coming of Jesus among them. Not with the force of violence and fear but a cry that calls us to attention: “One mightier than I is coming after me . . .” (Mk 1: 7). Jesus himself will appear as John did, like a clap of thunder, but will be more like the calm after the storm which restores life and releases the power to change.
As Isaiah says in our first reading:  “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem . . . that her guilt is expiated.” (Is 40: 1-2).  
In a real sense, John was the evening news reported hot off the press, or hot off the high speed internet cable lines, that began the announcement of the Good news of God’s salvation.  Not in a body of laws, rules and regulations but in a person sent into our midst, Jesus the Christ the very Word of God made flesh. Like the signs in the sky of an approaching storm, the weather is about to greatly change!
Who is John for you?  A mere ancient biblical voice lost in the dust of history? Or, how and where does the cry of the Baptist happen today in this time and place? John called the throngs around the Jordan River to a change of heart and lifestyle; to a metanoia, to straighten out their lives and make the paths straight to recognize Christ when he comes.  In that way, we can be ready to let John go and be open to hear a new voice in Jesus. 
John’s voice is as essential today as in any age.  A few years ago, Forbes magazine entitled their 75th anniversary issue:  Why We Feel so Bad When We Have it so Good.” Various well known political and economic experts contributed to the issue.  One, historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, warned of our fascination with affluence and the unsettled discovery that, “economic and material goods are no compensation for social and moral ills.” Another writer, Peggy Noonan, speech writer for the late President Regan, commented that we have been formed as a people to expect endless happiness so our search has caused only despair.  
Powerful thoughts but not all together off the mark by any means. We hear this many times in our Christian faith and we go back to St. Augustine who recognized that his pursuit of happiness in sensual pleasure and material wealth was really a search for God who alone can satisfy us. “Late have I loved you . . .” St. Augustine admitted in prayer once he was brought to his own conversion.  
Advent is a time when we can step into the sandals of John the Baptist.  Since Christianity is a religion that speaks much about the future with great hope and longing, we can each in our own way not only prepare our personal hearts by the pruning and purifying and personal change that may be necessary to greet Christ among us at Christmas but become heralds of the good news as well.
In our Mass, we now hear at the dismissal: “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”  So, let’s make a little thunder and lightning of our own this Advent season.
Almighty and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those

who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our leaning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company. 
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect: 2nd Sunday of Advent)
Fr. Tim

43 posted on 12/04/2011 5:52:49 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Insight Scoop

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

A Scriptural Reflection on the Readings for December 4, 2011, the Second Sunday of Advent | Carl E. Olson

• Is 40:1-5, 9-11
• Ps 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14
• 2 Pt 3:8-14
• Mk 1:1-8

“In my beginning is my end.” This line opens “East Coker,” the second section of T.S. Eliot’s poetic masterpiece, Four Quartets. It is followed by a haunting, elegiac reflection on the fragile and transitory nature of life as seen in the cycle of life and death in nature. What is the meaning of our short lives? What hope is man given in this passing world? In whom shall we trust for our salvation?

These questions are always with us, but gain in poignancy during Advent. While the entire liturgical year is ultimately oriented toward all that is heavenly and everlasting, Advent is especially focused on the end of our earthly lives. And, just as Eliot indicated, the beginning points to The End, a fact presented by St. Mark in his direct, urgent style: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” 

More than a heading or title, this is a bold proclamation of the good news and joyful tidings of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the inspired declaration that the man Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Messiah, the anointed one. He has come to deliver his people from sin and death, and to establish the reign of God among men. This announcement is made within the Gospel of Mark by St. Peter, a Jew following in the footsteps of Jesus, (Mk 8:29), and by the centurion, a Gentile standing at the foot of the Cross. In this way, the universal nature of the new covenant is revealed and professed.

But the first announcement in Mark’s Gospel is from the lips of St. John the Baptist, the voice crying out in the desert. John is the last of the Old Testament prophets, but he is “more than a prophet” (Lk. 7:26), a mysterious figure whose strange physical appearance is coupled with a striking message: “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Ritual cleansing with water was not new to the Jews, but this baptism in the Jordan River was clearly meant to be different. The Jordan River, of course, was significant in its symbolism. The forty years of exodus in the wilderness had ended many hundreds of years earlier when Joshua led the Israelites across the river and into the promised land (Josh. 3). The Messiah, John indicated, is going to call the people to enter through water into a new promised land, a new Zion, a new Jerusalem. 

This beginning, rooted in the Old Covenant, provides the grace and forgiveness necessary for the end, what is described by St. Peter as the “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13). But this end is already present in the beginning. In the words of Eliot, “Home is where one starts from.” Baptism brings us home; it destroys sin, restores the divine life of God, and makes man a son of God. For “just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water,” remarks the Catechism, “so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit” (CCC 694). This is the comfort spoken of by Isaiah in today’s first reading; it is the peace, truth, justice, and salvation desired by the Psalmist. 

In listening to the cry of John the Baptist we hear the message of Advent: Prepare the way of the Lord by repenting of sin and embracing the divine life granted in baptism. Go to confession, spend additional time in prayer, and proclaim the Gospel in word and deed. By spending more time in prayer and contemplation, we open the way for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “We must be still and still moving,” wrote Eliot of this spiritual purification, “Into another intensity/For a further union, a deeper communion.” And then we will recognize more deeply this truth, which concludes “East Coker”: “In my end is my beginning.”

(This "Opening the Word" column originally appeared in the December 7, 2008, edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)

44 posted on 12/04/2011 6:04:45 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
  English: Douay-Rheims Latin: Vulgata Clementina Greek NT: Byzantine/Majority Text (2000)
  Mark 1
1 THE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Initium Evangelii Jesu Christi, Filii Dei. αρχη του ευαγγελιου ιησου χριστου υιου του θεου
2 As it is written in Isaias the prophet: Behold I send my angel before thy face, who shall prepare the way before thee. Sicut scriptum est in Isaia propheta : Ecce ego mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui præparabit viam tuam ante te. ως γεγραπται εν τοις προφηταις ιδου εγω αποστελλω τον αγγελον μου προ προσωπου σου ος κατασκευασει την οδον σου εμπροσθεν σου
3 A voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Vox clamantis in deserto : Parate viam Domini, rectas facite semitas ejus. φωνη βοωντος εν τη ερημω ετοιμασατε την οδον κυριου ευθειας ποιειτε τας τριβους αυτου
4 John was in the desert baptizing, and preaching the baptism of penance, unto remission of sins. Fuit Joannes in deserto baptizans, et prædicans baptismum pœnitentiæ in remissionem peccatorum. εγενετο ιωαννης βαπτιζων εν τη ερημω και κηρυσσων βαπτισμα μετανοιας εις αφεσιν αμαρτιων
5 And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all they of Jerusalem, and were baptized by him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. Et egrediebatur ad eum omnis Judææ regio, et Jerosolymitæ universi, et baptizabantur ab illo in Jordanis flumine, confitentes peccata sua. και εξεπορευετο προς αυτον πασα η ιουδαια χωρα και οι ιεροσολυμιται και εβαπτιζοντο παντες εν τω ιορδανη ποταμω υπ αυτου εξομολογουμενοι τας αμαρτιας αυτων
6 And John was clothed with camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and he ate locusts and wild honey. Et erat Joannes vestitus pilis cameli, et zona pellicea circa lumbos ejus, et locustas et mel silvestre edebat. ην δε ο ιωαννης ενδεδυμενος τριχας καμηλου και ζωνην δερματινην περι την οσφυν αυτου και εσθιων ακριδας και μελι αγριον
7 And he preached, saying: There cometh after me one mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. Et prædicabat dicens : Venit fortior post me, cujus non sum dignus procumbens solvere corrigiam calceamentorum ejus. και εκηρυσσεν λεγων ερχεται ο ισχυροτερος μου οπισω μου ου ουκ ειμι ικανος κυψας λυσαι τον ιμαντα των υποδηματων αυτου
8 I have baptized you with water; but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. Ego baptizavi vos aqua, ille vero baptizabit vos Spiritu Sancto. εγω μεν εβαπτισα υμας εν υδατι αυτος δε βαπτισει υμας εν πνευματι αγιω

45 posted on 12/04/2011 6:10:34 PM PST by annalex (
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To: annalex
1. The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

JEROME; Mark the Evangelist, who served the priest-hood in Israel, according to the flesh a Levite, having been converted to the Lord, wrote his Gospel in Italy, showing in it how even his family benefited Christ. For, commencing his Gospel with the voice of the prophetic cry, he shows the order of the election of Levi, declaring that John the son of Zachariah was sent forth by the voice of an angel, and saying, The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

PSEUDO-JEROME; The Greek word 'Evangelium' means good tidings, in Latin it is explained, 'bona annunciatio,' or, the good news ; these terms properly belong to the kingdom of God and to the remission of sins; for the Gospel is that, by which conies the redemption of the faithful and the beatitude of the saints. But the four Gospels are one, and one Gospel is four. In Hebrew, His name is Jesus, in Greek, Soter in Latin, Salvator; but men say Christus in Greek, Messias in Hebrew, Unctus in Latin, that is, King and Priest.

BEDE; The beginning of this Gospel should be compared with that of Matthew, in which it is said, The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. But here he is called the Son of God. Now from both we must understand one Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, and of man. And fitly the first Evangelist names Him Son of man, the second, Son of God, that from less things our sense may by degrees mount up to greater, and by faith and the sacraments of the human nature assumed, rise to the acknowledgment of His divine eternity. Fitly also did He, who was about to describe His human generation, begin with a son of man, namely, David or Abraham. Fitly again, he who was beginning his book with the first preaching of the Gospel, chose rather to call Jesus Christ, the Son of God; for it belonged to the human nature to take upon him the reality of our flesh, of the race of the patriarchs, and it was the work of Divine power to preach the Gospel to the world.

HILARY; He has testified, that Christ was the Son of God, not in name only, but by His own proper nature. We are the sons of God, but He is not a son as we are; for He is the very and proper Son, by origin, not by adoption; in truth, not in name; by birth, not by creation.

2. As it is written in the Prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you.
3. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

BEDE; Being about to write his Gospel, Mark rightly puts first the testimonies of the Prophets, that he might notify to all, that what he should write was to be received without scruple of doubt, in that he showed that these things were beforehand foretold by the Prophets. At once, by one and the same beginning of his Gospel, he prepared the Jews, who had received the Law and the Prophets, for receiving the grace of the Gospel, and those sacraments, which their own prophecies had foretold; and he also calls upon the Gentiles, who came to the Lord by publishing of the Gospel, to receive and venerate the authority of the Law and the Prophets; whence he says, As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, Behold, &c.

JEROME; But this is not written in Isaiah, but in Malachi, the last of the twelve prophets.

PSEUD-CHRYS. But it may be said that it is a mistake of the writer. Otherwise it may be said, that he has compressed into one, two prophecies delivered in different places by two prophets; for in the prophet Isaiah it is written after the story of Hezekiah, The voice of one crying in the wilderness; but in Malachi, Behold, I send mine angel. The Evangelist therefore, taking parts of two prophecies, has put them down as spoken by Isaiah, and refers then here to one passage, without mentioning, however, by whom it is said, Behold, I send mine angel.

PSEUDO-AUG. For knowing that all things are to be referred to their author, he has brought these sayings back to Isaiah, who was the first to intimate the sense. Lastly, after the words of Malachi, he immediately subjoins, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, in order to connect the words of each prophet, belonging as they do to one meaning, under the person of the elder prophet.

BEDE; Or otherwise, we must understand, that, although these words are not found in Isaiah, still the sense of them is found in many other places, and most clearly in this which he has subjoined, The voice of one crying in the wilderness. For that which Mlalachi has called, the angel to be sent before the face of the Lord, to prepare His way, is the same thing as Isaiah has said is to be heard, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, saying, Prepare you the way of the Lord. But in each sentence alike, the way of the Lord to be prepared is proclaimed. It may be, too, that Isaiah occurred to the mind of Mark, in writing his Gospel, instead of Malachi, as often happens; which he would, however, without doubt correct, at least when reminded by other persons, who might read his work whilst he was yet in the flesh; unless he thought, that, since his memory was then ruled by the Holy Spirit, it was not without a purpose, that the name of one prophet had occurred to him instead of another. For thus whatever things the Holy Spirit spoke by the prophets, are implied each to have belonged to all, and all to each.

JEROME; By Malachi, therefore, the voice of the Holy Spirit resounds to the Father concerning the Son, who is the countenance of the Father by which He has been known.

BEDE; But John is called an angel not by community of nature, according to the heresy of Origen, but by the dignity of his office; for angel in Greek is in Latin, nuntius, (messenger,) by which name that man is rightly called, who was sent by God, that be might bear witness of the light, and announce to the world the Lord, coming in the flesh; since it is evident that all who are priests may by their office of preaching the Gospel be called angels, as time prophet Malachi says, The lips of the priest keep knowledge, and they seek the law at his mouth, because he is the Angel of the Lord of hosts.

THEOPHYL; The Forerunner of Christ, therefore, is called an angel, on account of His angelic life and lofty reverence. Again, where he says, Before your face, it is as if he said, Your messenger is near thee: whence is shown the intimate connection of the Forerunner with Christ; for those walk next to kings, who are their greatest friends. There follows, Who will prepare your way before you. For by baptism he prepared the minds of the Jews to receive Christ.

PSEUDO-JEROME; Or, the way of the Lord, by which he comes into men, is penitence, by which God comes down to us, and we mount up to Him. And for this reason the beginning of John's preaching was, Repent you.

BEDE; But as John might be called an angel because he went before the face of the Lord by his preaching, so he might also be rightly called a Voice, because, by his sound, he preceded the Word of the Lord. Wherefore there follows, The voice of one crying, &c. For it is an acknowledged thing that the Only-Begotten Son is called the Word of the Father, and even we, from having uttered words ourselves, know that the voice sounds first, in order that that word may afterwards be heard.

PSEUDO-JEROME; But it is called the voice of one crying, for we are wont to use a cry to deaf persons, and to those afar off, or when we are indignant, all which things we know applied to time Jews; for salvation is far from the wicked, and they stopped their ears like deaf adders, and deserved to hear indignation, and wrath, and tribulation from Christ.

PSEUD-CHRYS. But the prophecy, by saying, In the wilderness, plainly shows that the divine teaching was not in Jerusalem, but in the wilderness, which was fulfilled to the letter by John the Baptist in the wilderness of Jordan, preaching the healthful appearing of the Word of God. The worth of prophecy also shows that besides the wilderness, which was pointed out by Moses, where he made paths, there was another wilderness, in which it proclaimed that the salvation of Christ was present.

PSEUDO-JEROME; Or else the voice and the cry is in the desert, because they were deserted by the Spirit of God as a house empty, and swept out; deserted also by prophet, priest, and king.

BEDE; What he cried is revealed, in that which is subjoined, Prepare you the way of the Lord and make his paths straight. For whoever preaches a right faith and good works, what else does he but prepare the way for the Lord's coming to the hearts of His hearers, that the power of grace might penetrate these hearts, and the light of truth shine in them? And the paths he makes straight, 'when he forms pure thoughts in the soul by the word of preaching.

PSEUDO-JEROME; Or else, Prepare you the way of the Lord, that is, act out repentance and preach it; make his paths straight, that walking in the royal road we may love our neighbors as ourselves, and ourselves as our neighbors. For he who loves himself, and loves not his neighbor, turns aside to the right; for many act well, and do not correct their neighbor well, as Eli. He, on the other hand, who, hating himself loves his neighbor, turns aside to the left; for many, for instance, rebuke well, but act not well themselves, as did the Scribes and Pharisees. Paths are mentioned after the way because moral commands are laid open after penitence.

THEOPHYL; Or, time way is the New Testament, and the paths are the Old, because it is a trodden path. For it was necessary to be prepared for the way, that is, for time New Testament; but it was right that the paths of the Old Testament should be straightened.

4. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
5. And there went out to him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
6. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
7. And preached, saying, There comes one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
8. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

PSEUDO-JEROME. According to the above-mentioned prophecy of Isaiah, the way of the Lord is prepared by John, through faith, baptism, and penitence; the paths are made straight by the rough marks of the hair-cloth garment, the girdle of skin, the feeding on locust and wild honey, and the most lowly voice; whence it is said, John was in the wilderness. For John and Jesus seek what is lost in the wilderness; where the devil conquered, there be is conquered; where man fell, there he rises up. But the name John means the grace of God, and the narrative begins with grace. For it goes on to say, baptizing. For by baptism grace is given, seeing that by baptism sins are freely remitted. But what is brought to perfection by the bridegroom, is introduced by the friend of the bridegroom. Thus catechumens, (which word means persons instructed,) begin by the ministry of the priest, receive time chrism from the bishop. And to show this, it is subjoined, And preaching the baptism of repentance, &c.

BEDE; It is evident that John not only preached, but also gave to some the baptism of repentance; but he could not give baptism for the remission of sins. For remission of sins is only given to its by time baptism of Christ. It is therefore only said, Preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; for he preached a baptism which could remit sins, since he could not give it. Wherefore as he was the forerunner of the incarnate Word of the Father, by the word of his preaching, so by his baptism, which could not remit sins, he preceded that baptism, of penitence, by which sins are remitted.

THEOPHYL; The baptism of John had not remissions of sins, but only brought men to penitence. He preached therefore the baptism of repentance, that is, he preached that to which the baptism of penitence led, namely, remission of sins, that they who in penitence received Christ, might receive Him to the remission of their sins.

PSEUDO-JEROME; Now by John as by the bride groom's friend, the bride is brought to Christ as by a servant Rebecca was brought for Isaac; wherefore there follows, And there went out to him all, &c. For confession and beauty are in his presence, that is, the presence of the bridegroom. And the bride leaping down from the camel signifies the Church, who humbles herself on seeing her husband Isaac, that is, Christ. But the interpretation of Jordan, where sins are washed away, is 'an alien descent. For we heretofore aliens to God by pride, and by the sign of Baptism made lowly, and thus exalted on high.

BEDE; An example of confessing their sins and of promising to lead a new life, is held out to those who desire to be baptized, by those words which follow, confessing their sins.

CHRYS. Because indeed John preached repentance, he wore the marks of repentance in his garments and in his food, wherefore there follows, And John was clothed in camel's hair.

BEDE; It says, clothed in a garment of hair not in woolen clothes; the former is the mark of an austere garb, the latter of effeminate luxury. But the girdle of skins, with which he was girt, like Elias is a mark of mortification. And this meat, locusts and wild honey, is suited to a dweller in the wilderness, so that his object of eating was not the deliciousness of meats, but the satisfying of the necessity of human flesh.

PSEUDO-JEROME; The dress of John, his food, and employment, signifies the austere life of preachers, and that future nations are to be joined to the grace of God, which is John, both in their minds and in externals. For by camel's hair, is meant the rich among the nations; and by the girdle of skin, the poor, dead to the world; and by wondering locusts, the wise men of this world; who leaving the dry stalks to the Jews, draw off with their legs the mystic grain, and in the warmth of their faith leap up towards heaven; and the faithful, being inspired by the wild honey, are full-fed from the untilled wood.

THEOPH. Or else; The garment of camel's hair was significative of grief, for John pointed out, that he who repented should mourn. For sackcloth signifies grief; but the girdle of skins shows the dead state of the Jewish people. The food also of John not only denotes abstinence, but also shows forth the intellectual food, which the people then were eating, without understanding any thing lofty, but continually raising themselves on high, and again sinking to the earth. For such is the nature of locusts, leaping on high and again falling. In the same way the people ate honey, which had come from bees, that is, from the prophets; it was not however domestic, but wild, for the Jews had the Scriptures, which are as honey, but did not rightly understand them.

GREGORY; Or, by the kind itself of his food he pointed out the Lord, of whom he was the forerunner; for in that our Lord took to Himself the sweetness of the barren Gentiles, he ate wild honey. In that he in his own person partly converted the Jews, he received locusts for His food, which suddenly leaping up, at once fall to the ground. For the Jews leaped up when they promised to fulfill the precepts of the Lord; but they fell to the ground, when by their evil works they affirmed that they had not heard them. They made therefore a leap upwards in words, and fell down by their actions.

BEDE; The dress and food of John may also express of what kind was his inward walk. For he used a dress more austere than was usual, because he did not encourage the life of sinners by flattery, but chide them by the vigor of his rough rebuke; he had a girdle of skin round his loins, for he was one, who crucified his flesh with the affections and lusts. He used to eat locusts and wild honey, because his preaching had some sweetness for the multitude, whilst the people debated whether he was the Christ himself or not; but this soon came to an end, when his hearers understood that he was not the Christ, but the forerunner and prophet of Christ.

For in honey there is sweetness, in locusts swiftness of flight; whence there follows, And he preached, saying, there comes one mightier than I after me.

GLOSS. He said this to do away with the opinion of the crowd, which throughout that he was the Christ; but he announces that Christ is mightier than he, who was to remit sins, which he himself could not do.

PSEUDO-JEROME; Who again is mightier than the grace, by which sins are washed away which John signifies? He who seven times and seventy times seven remits sun. Grace indeed comes first, but remits sins once only by baptism, but mercy reaches to the wretched from Adam up to Christ through seventy-seven generations, and up to one hundred and forty-four thousand.

PSEUD-CHRYS. But lest he should be thought to say this by way of comparing himself to Christ, he subjoins, Of whom I am not worthy, &c. It is not however the same thing to loose the shoe-latchet, which Mark here says, and to carry his shoes, which Matthew says. And indeed the Evangelists following the order of the narrative, and not able to err in any thing, say that John spoke each of these sayings in a different sense. But commentators on this passage have expounded each in a different way. For he means by the latchet, the tie of the shoe. He says this therefore to extol time excellence of the power of Christ, and the greatness of His divinity; as if he said, Not even in the station of his servant aunt am I worthy to be reckoned. For it is a great thing to contemplate, as it were stooping down, those things which belong to the body of Christ, and to see from below tine image of things above, and to untie each of those mysteries, about the incarnation of Christ, which cannot be unraveled.

PSEUDO-JEROME; The shoe is in the extremity of the body; for in the end the Incarnate Savior is coming for justice, violence it is said by the prophet, Over Edom will I cast out my shoe.

GREGORY; Shoes also are made from the skins of dead animals. The Lord, therefore, coming incarnate, appeared as it were with shoes on His feet, for he assumed in His divinity the dead skins of our corruption. Or else; it was a custom among the ancients, that if a man refused to take as his wife the woman whom he ought to take, he who offered himself as her husband by right of kindred took off that man's shoe. Rightly then does he proclaim himself unworthy to loose his shoe-latchet, as if he said openly, I cannot make bare the feet of the Redeemer, for I usurp not the name of the Bridegroom, a thing which is above my deserts.

THEOPH. Some persons also understand it thus; all who came to John, and were baptized, through penitence were loosed from the bands of their sins by believing in Christ. John then in this way loosed the shoe-latchet of all the others, that is, the bands of sin. But Christ's shoe-hatchet he was not able to unloose, because be found no sin in Him.

BEDE; Thus then John proclaims the Lord not yet as God, or the Son of God, but only as a man mightier than himself. For his ignorant hearers were not yet capable of receiving the hidden things of so great a Sacrament, that the eternal Son of God, having taken upon Him the nature of man, bad been lately born into the world of a virgin; but gradually by the acknowledgment of His glorified lowliness, they were to be introduced to the belief of His Divine Eternity. To these words, however, he subjoins, as if covertly declaring that he was the true God, I baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. For who can doubt, that none other but God can give the grace of the Holy Ghost.

JEROME; For what is the difference between water and the Holy Ghost, who was borne over the face of the waters? Water is the ministry of man; but the Spirit is ministered by God.

BEDE; Now we are baptized by the Lord in the Holy Ghost, not only when in the day of our baptism, we are washed in the fount of life, to the remission of our sins, but also daily by the grace of the same Spirit we are inflamed, to do those things which please God.

Catena Aurea Mark 1
46 posted on 12/04/2011 6:11:17 PM PST by annalex (
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To: annalex

The Preaching of St John the Baptist

c. 1690
Oil on canvas, 181 x 172 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

47 posted on 12/04/2011 6:12:09 PM PST by annalex (
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To: All
Vultus Christi

Saint Barbara and Her Three Windows

 on December 3, 2011 7:20 PM

Saints in Advent

We celebrate the Holy Mysteries on December 4th in the company of two saints, both of them lights from the East: Saint Barbara, Virgin and Martyr, and Saint John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church. Today I will remember at the altar the friends named Barbara whom God has placed in my life. Saint Barbara, according to the legend, was enclosed in a tower (some accounts say it was a bathhouse) by her pagan father. There were two windows in this improvised prison cell.

Three Windows

Taking advantage of her father's temporary absence, Barbara instructed the servants to make a third window in honour of the Most Holy Trinity. The light poured into Barbara's cell from three windows; her soul, meanwhile, was flooded by what Saint Benedict calls "the deifying light" of the Three Divine Persons. Thus was Saint Barbara found "vigilant in prayer and joyful in singing the divine praises" at the hour of her martyrdom. I can only imagine Saint Barbara praying, in her solitude, the sublime prayer of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, O My God, Trinity Whom I Adore.

God is Light

In this, Saint Barbara speaks to all who feel hemmed in and imprisoned by the circumstances of life. To all who feel shut in and imprisoned, to all who live behind walls, Saint Barbara says, "Lift your eyes to the light of the Most Holy Trinity. Let the glorious radiance of the Three Divine Persons shine in your solitude." Her message is that of Saint Paul who says, "Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you shall appear with Him in glory" (Col 3:2-4). Her message is that of the Apostle John: "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness" (1 Jn 1:5).

At the Door

Captivity became for Saint Barbara a time of "eager anticipation" for the advent of Christ her Bridegroom. Today's Collect would have us await the advent of Christ, "untainted by the contagion of our former ways," and already "consoled by the presence of Him who is to come," in such wise that waiting becomes the adoration of His Face. Then when Christ knocks at the door, He will find us turned toward Him, vigilant in prayer, and joyful in singing His praises. "Behold," He says, "I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Ap 3:20).

48 posted on 12/04/2011 6:12:23 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Vultus Christi

Advent Vespers: Conditor Alme Siderum

 on December 3, 2011 5:05 PM |

The Orbit Determined By Christ

At the very moment when the Magi, guided by the star, adored Christ the new king, astrology came to an end, because the stars were now moving in the orbit determined by Christ. This scene, in fact, overturns the world-view of that time, which in a different way has become fashionable once again today. It is not the elemental spirits of the universe, the laws of matter, which ultimately govern the world and mankind, but a personal God governs the stars, that is, the universe; it is not the laws of matter and of evolution that have the final say, but reason, will, love--a Person. And if we know this Person and he knows us, then truly the inexorable power of material elements no longer has the last word; we are not slaves of the universe and of its laws, we are free.
Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi

Until the Stars in Welcome Sing

This is my homespun translation of the seventh century hymn for Vespers in Advent: Conditor Alme Siderum. (John Mason Neale's translation is far superior to mine. Read it and hear the ancient syllabic melody here.) When Advent rolls round and I sing this hymn in Latin or in English translation, I see in my mind's eye Van Gogh's Starry Night. In the little church with the tall steeple at the bottom of the painting there must be a lingering scent of incense. Advent Vespers will have been sung. The Creator of the Starry Night is glorified.

O Light unconquered, Source of Light,
Whose radiance kindles stars and sun,
Shine tenderly on us this night;
Creation groans until you come.

Immense your grief to see our plight:
When sin had shrouded all, you came.
True Dayspring bursting death's dark bands,
Emmanuel, your saving name!

Night weighed upon a weary world
When silently you pitched your tent,
Enclosed within the Virgin's womb
True man, true God from heaven sent.

So to the darkened world in need,
Eternal Word, you came as man.
You came as Bridegroom, swift and strong,
To claim the prize the course you ran.

Until your glory fills the skies,
Until the stars in welcome sing,
Until you judge both small and great,
From sin, protect us, Sovereign King.

To God the Father, God the Son,
To God the Spirit ever be
Glad songs of praise throughout the night
While faith adores the mystery. Amen.

49 posted on 12/04/2011 6:16:16 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
Regnum Christi

Preparing for Christmas
Second Sunday of Advent (December 4, 2011).

December 4, 2011
Second Sunday of Advent
Father Frank Formolo, LC

Mark 1: 1-8
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you have given me a new day. You have given me a new opportunity to prepare myself for your coming. I believe that you will be with me as I continue my preparation for your coming. My heart is too often divided and pulled in many directions, but I wish to set my heart totally on you so that I may love you above all else. Here I am, Lord, to know you and love you more.

Petition: Lord, help me to embrace the proper means to prepare myself for your birth.

1. John’s Preparation: John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey. He wore a camel’s skin and lived in the desert. In this manner he prepared himself for Christ’s coming. He had removed himself from the world and all its temptations. He had forfeited his home, family, friends, money, food—anything that would take him from fulfilling his call to prepare the way of the Lord. Compared with John, how deep is my commitment? What price am I prepared to pay to be his messenger?

2. John’s Preaching: John invites sinners to repentance. Thousands flock to hear him. His words move the people to listen. Probably more so does his example: the people see him living in the desert without the comforts of the world. By his actions they see he is truly a prophet. He has come before them so he can rightly call them to conversion. His life has strength and meaning that is not found in others. If we could be authentic and lead by our example, how many more people would be moved to follow Christ!

3. John’s Repentance: Those who recognize their sins go to John to be baptized. For John, baptism is a symbol of repentance: the people recognize their sins and ask God for forgiveness. John knows that he cannot forgive sins, but he realizes that it is important for everyone to take the step of being sorry and asking God to forgive them. John tells us clearly that it is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who will forgive sins. He doesn’t try to obtain forgiveness in another way. He doesn’t try to circumvent God’s plan. God has given us the sacrament of confession for the forgiveness of our sins. How often do I take advantage of it? Am I faithful to frequent confession, or perhaps do I look elsewhere for the grace that only comes from confession?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, often I fall into the ways of the world, letting myself get caught up in its comforts and vanities. Teach me that only one thing matters: you and the life you promised us. Help me to use this Advent to prepare for your coming by detaching myself from the ways of the world and by being an example of Christian living for those whom I encounter. Help me to be always faithful to my frequent confession.

Resolution: Today I will make a sacrifice, foregoing a comfort or something I really like, and offer it up to God in reparation for sins––especially my own.

50 posted on 12/04/2011 6:39:05 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

Advent is Not Christmas

December 4th, 2011 by Food For Thought

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalm: Psalm 85:9-14
Second Reading: 2 Peter 3:8-14
Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

Advent is not Christmas. It is a season uniquely its own, very much like Lent. Each day of Advent has its own proper Mass, pertinent readings, antiphons, and responses. It is four weeks of celebration and preparation – weeks that focus on the past, the present, and the future: Christ has come, Christ is here, and Christ will come again. It is a glorious crescendo increasing in power and intensity until it climaxes on a midnight outshone only by an Easter Sunday.

On the other hand, for most of us, Advent is “no big deal.” And how could it be otherwise? How can you make a big deal out of Advent, when you have a full-time job, a family to feed, your favorite ball games and tele-novela to watch? How can you concentrate on Christ, when every commercial seduces you with gifts that seem far more necessary for human living – from reducing pills, breast enhancement pills, and the latest fads through TV and internet, to fruitcakes, ham, and castañas, to Asti and Chivas Regal. Time enough to celebrate Christ only, when Midnight Mass comes around.

So, how can we break through these barriers? – in a practical way, a layperson’s way? I suggest for this Sunday, let Mary be your Advent Guide. Perhaps three sentences from Scripture from St. Luke’s Gospel might bring fresh meaning to your Advent without much pain and paranoia.

First, a sentence in Luke – after the shepherds have hurried to the stable to pay homage to the Savior “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” As previously, the angel in Nazareth, so here before the shepherds in Bethlehem, Mary was puzzled. She had to ask herself what all this, what each incident might mean: conceiving a child without the benefit of a human father, giving birth to the Son of the Most High in a manger, later fleeing like a refugee to Egypt, watching helplessly as her Son moved firmly toward the death he predicted. She had to wrestle with all these happenings.

And so for you and me, my first Advent suggestion: Take 15 minutes out of each day to ponder, to reflect, to puzzle over, to wrestle with what the Lord has told you about His Son-made-man, a reverent pondering each day over the overwhelming affirmation in John: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should have eternal life”; pondering over a Son of God, who chose to take our human flesh, become what we are, experience our fragile human existence, die our death.

What does it mean to you and me? What child is this? In your day to day living, is Jesus Christ real to you as your ninong and ninang, as Michael Jordan, Shaq O’Neil, Gloria Macapagal, George Bush, Osama Bin Ladin, the Abu Sayyaf, as the man or woman you love? Let the image of Jesus, Son of God in swaddling clothes; trigger your thinking – about him, about you, about the other people touching your life or those whose life you touch.

And at some point stop thinking! Just gaze and contemplate. Have a long loving look at Jesus. Don’t analyze. Just feel the scene. Picture yourself kneeling at Bethlehem’s crib, become a child again, touch little toes as real as any infant’s, let naked reason disappear, let Christ simply be! Just look … and love.

Fifteen minutes a day – on the event that changed history forever, the puzzle of puzzles. Let your beeper, your cell phones, your CD sit in silence; let your stereo and karaoke wait. For 15 minutes let the rest of the world go by; let the rest of the world make sense – in Christ.

Second, a sentence in Luke after the angel departed: “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” The point is: What did this teen-age Jewish girl do when the angel left her – left her with God’s Son in her body? She did not sit down to plan what hospital to book to deliver her baby, or who should be her doctor, or how to notify her friends and relatives, what kind of party to have.

The Gospel tells us that Mary heard from Gabriel that her cousin, Elizabeth was six months pregnant. And Elizabeth was old, and “advanced in years.” What did Mary do? She went “with haste” to visit Elizabeth, walked briskly to a town in the hill country of Judea, walked perhaps 67 miles. Not to spread her own good news, not to compare child with Elizabeth, not to rave over “my son, the Messiah.” She went simply to help – for three full months, till Elizabeth’s child was born.

As soon as Mary greeted her kinswoman, the Gospel tells us – little John the Baptist “leaped in [Elizabeth's] womb…” leaped for joy, leaped at the coming of Christ, sensed miraculously the presence of God’s Son in Mary’s womb.

And so for you and me – Contemplation is good – focusing mind and heart on a Christ who walks the earth no longer. But Advent with Mary calls contemplation to action – focusing mind and heart on a Christ, who is still moving from Bethlehem to Calvary. Not far from you is a brother, a sister, akin to you in the bone of humanity and the blood of Christ, someone, who needs you, someone who hurts, someone, who finds it difficult or impossible to enjoy life, because “life is cruel.”

A short story writer, who died of lupus at 39 years, once wrote these words from her own incurable cross: “You will have found Christ when you are concerned with other people’s sufferings and not your own.” Do that, be that, come with your Christ, with your cross, to someone too poor, too naked, too sad, too crippled to joy in Christmas, and the miracle of Mary’s visitation will be repeated as it has been through the ages. The person you touch in love will leap for joy from the barren womb of sorrow. A 15- minute contemplation… hasten to some hill Calvary… what is left? Only the rest of your life.

The third Advent text about Mary stems from the public life of Jesus. “A woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, `Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you fed on.’ But he said, `Blessed rather are those who listen to the word of God and keep it!’”

Jesus was not denying that Mary was blessed in her bearing of him. Of course, she was. What the woman cried from the crowd was true – but only part of the picture. St. Augustine expressed it powerfully, “Mary was more blessed because she laid hold of faith in Christ than she conceived the flesh of Christ, Her motherly relationship to him would have been of no use to Mary had she not carried Christ in her heart more happily even than she bore him in her body. She “conceived Christ in her mind before she conceived him in her womb.” “It was by faith she gave birth, it was by faith she conceived him.”

In Luke’s story, Mary is indeed to be praised – simply because she gave birth to Jesus, but because she too listened to God’s word, believed it, acted on it – from the glad tidings brought by Gabriel in Nazareth to the days in Jerusalem after Jesus’ ascension, when the apostles “with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus…” That is why we see Mary most profoundly when we see her as the first Christian disciple, the model and pattern of Christian discipleship. She listened to what God was asking, and she said yes – not only to the bliss of Bethlehem, but also to the sword that pierced her heart on Calvary.

And so for you and me, Advent, the “coming” of Christ, is not simply a season, four weeks out of your year. From contemplation to action – You must face up to a fact at once frightening and encouraging: God is constantly speaking to you. Not too often through angel, more often through human events. Not only through the Ten Commandments etched in stone, but in a law of justice and love written into your flesh and spirit. Not only through a document from Rome, but in the sad starved eyes of children of the victims of calamities and wars that meet your eyes on the TV screen. Not only through the “word of the Lord” from the lectern, but in the grim silence of the homeless huddled in the kareton on the sidewalks. Not only through a pastoral letter on peace, but in the undeclared wars that divide the rich and the poor, male and female, ordained and lay, the powerful and the powerless. Tune in to the God within you and the world around you. Ponder – puzzle over, what you hear. At some point say yes, even if what you hear is not all clear. Then, with the profound faith of a perplexed Mary, act…do something…carry Christ somewhere, to someone.

51 posted on 12/04/2011 6:44:41 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
One Bread, One Body

One Bread, One Body


<< Sunday, December 4, 2011 >> Second Sunday of Advent
Saint of the Day
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
2 Peter 3:8-14

View Readings
Psalm 85:9-14
Mark 1:1-8



"John the Baptizer appeared in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance which led to the forgiveness of sins." —Mark 1:4

During Advent, we "prepare the way of the Lord" (Is 40:3) as we await His Christmas coming. Today, the Church proclaims that a major way to prepare is to repent.

John the Baptizer could never be accused of dabbling in repentance. Anyone watching John live day after day in a hot, arid desert, wearing camel-hair shirts and eating grasshoppers (Mk 1:6), would conclude that John was committed to repentance.

Anyone watching Jesus stretch out His hands to be nailed to the cross and then hang in crucified, excruciating agony would have to conclude that Jesus was committed to the forgiveness of sins. Look at a crucifix for a minute, and you can't come to any other conclusion but that Jesus was serious when He called us to repent and reform our lives (Mk 1:15).

Do we merely dabble in repentance, or will we make a commitment to repent? Will our Advent Confession reflect our commitment to "make every effort to be found without stain or defilement" in utter holiness? (2 Pt 3:14) Jesus wants "all to come to repentance" (2 Pt 3:9). "Commit to the Lord your way" (Ps 37:5).

Prayer: Father, may I do no more preparations for this Christmas until I have made an Advent Confession.
Promise: "Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land." —Ps 85:10
Praise: Praise You, risen Jesus. You gave Your all so that You could be our All. "I will extol You, O Lord, for You drew me clear and did not let my enemies rejoice over me" (Ps 30:2).

52 posted on 12/04/2011 6:50:31 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Pray for an end to abortion and the conversion of America to a culture of life.

53 posted on 12/04/2011 6:53:23 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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Archdiocese of Washington

In the final lines of yesterday’s Gospel, John the Baptist says,

I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mk 1:8).

Matthew and Luke add: and with fire.

We ought to consider, What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (and with fire)? In the first place we must be careful to indicate, right from the beginning, that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not distinct, different, or later than our reception of the Sacrament of Baptism. Rather it is the unfolding and deepening experience of what the Sacrament of Baptism (and Confirmation) have effected in us.

In a strictly theological sense,  John the Baptist is distinguishing his Baptism, which was merely a washing that signified repentance, from the Baptism of Christ, which actually brings forgiveness and the bestows the very life of God, and all the graces of this new life to the believer. We are not merely washed of our sins in the Sacrament of Baptism, we are made new, and the seed of God’s very own life, love and grace are sown in us, to grow. We are actually sanctified and made new.

Some of the Fathers of the Church have this to say:

Theophylus – The baptism of John had not remissions of sins, but only brought men to penitence. He preached therefore the baptism of repentance, that is, he preached that to which the baptism of penitence led, namely, remission of sins, that they who in penitence received Christ, might receive Him to the remission of their sins.

Jerome – For what is the difference between water and the Holy Ghost, who was borne over the face of the waters? Water is the ministry of man; but the Spirit is ministered by God.

Bede – Now we are baptized by the Lord in the Holy Ghost, not only when in the day of our baptism, we are washed in the fount of life, to the remission of our sins, but also daily by the grace of the same Spirit we are inflamed, to do those things which please God

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

According to the Apostle Paul, the believer enters through Baptism into communion with Christ’s death, is buried with him, and rises with him: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:3-4) The baptized have “put on Christ.” (Gal 3:27) Through the Holy Spirit, Baptism is a bath that purifies, justifies, and sanctifies (1 Cor 6:11). Hence Baptism is a bath of water in which the “imperishable seed” of the Word of God produces its life-giving effect. (CCC 1227-1228)

This quote from the Catechism then moves us beyond the merely Theological answer to the question, “What does it mean to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?”  and opens also, the “experiential” question: What is it “like” to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?

Experientially, It means knowing what we have received in Baptism and Confirmation. But here, “knowing” does not mean mere intellectual knowing (οἴδα – odia in the Greek New Testament). Rather it means experiential knowing (γινώσκo – ginosko in the Greek New Testament). It is one thing to “know about” God and to be able to pass a religion test. But to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit is to “know” the Lord, personally, deeply, intimately. It is to be in a life changing, transformative relationship with the Lord. It is experiential faith.

Too many people are satisfied with with living their faith by inference, rather than by experience. In other words, they are content to go along saying what they heard some one else say. “Jesus is Lord and risen from the dead” because my mother says so, or my preacher says so, (or even), the Bible says so. All of this is fine, for faith first comes by hearing. But there comes a point when YOU have to say so, because you personally know it to be true.

And this is what it means to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. It is to be able to say, “In the laboratory of my own life I have tested the Word of God and found it to be true. I have personally met and know the Lord, I know Him for myself.”

In other words, it is having faith come alive! Faith that is real, tested and certain. It is knowledge that is personal. It is to be a first hand witness to the power of Jesus Christ to change my life, for I am experiencing it in the laboratory of my very own life. He is changing and transforming me. I am seeing sins put to death and wonderful graces come alive. I am more serene, confident, loving, generous and chaste. I am more forgiving, patient, trusting and patient. I love the poor more, and I am less attached to this world. My prayer is becoming deeper as I sense his presence and power in my life. Yes, God is working in my life and He is real. This is my testimony. What is yours?

But this is what it means, experientially, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (and with fire).

And this is also at the heart of evangelization. How are you going to convert anybody if you’re not convinced yourself? Parents, you want your kids to go to Church? Great, and proper. But why do you go? Because it’s Church law? Alright, fine, but shouldn’t there be a deeper reason? To be Baptized with the Holy Spirit is to go to Mass and make the Christian walk because you know and love Jesus Christ yourself, and you want to bring your children into that living, powerful and life transforming experience of the Lord in prayer, the Mass, the Liturgy, and the Sacraments. That’s what you’re after. And that’s what it means to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Pay attention to these word of St. John the Baptist. He, through the Holy Spirit, is teaching us about the “normal Christian life,” which is to be alive, joyful, confident, serene and thrilled at what God is doing in my life, at to know (not just know about) the Lord. “I baptize you with water, BUT HE, will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” And he will light a fire in your life, a fire that never dies away, but that grows in intensity as it transforms your very self.

Let he who has ears to hear, heed what the Spirit is saying. Baptism is not a tedious ritual, it is a transformative reality.

Photo Credit: Yousuf Karsh, 1962, The Books These are the Sacraments (By Bishop Fulton J Sheen).

Here is Father Francis Martin on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

54 posted on 12/05/2011 10:52:55 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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55 posted on 12/11/2011 7:38:20 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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