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December 15, 2008

December 16th Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 1 Period I.

The Novena Rosary Mysteries  
for December 16th are Sorrowful.

   

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December 15, 2008

  

 

                From Fr. Joe's Homilies - Cycle B

 

2nd Sunday of Advent

 

Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11

'Console my people, console them,'
says your God.
'Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and cry to her
that her period of service is ended,
that her guilt has been atoned for,
that, from the hand of Yahweh,
  she has received
double punishment for all her sins.'

A voice cries, 'Prepare in the desert
a way for Yahweh.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the wastelands.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be levelled,
every cliff become a plateau,
every escarpment a plain;
then the glory of Yahweh will be revealed
and all humanity will see it together,
for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.'

Go up on a high mountain,
messenger of Zion.
Shout as loud as you can,
messenger of Jerusalem!
Shout fearlessly,
say to the towns of Judah,
'Here is your God.'

Here is Lord Yahweh coming with power,
his arm maintains his authority,
his reward is with him
and his prize precedes him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

 

2 Peter 3:8-14

But there is one thing, my dear friends, that you must never forget: that with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not being slow in carrying out his promises, as some people think he is; rather is he being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and melt away, the earth and all that it contains will be burned up.

Since everything is coming to an end like this, what holy and saintly lives you should be living while you wait for the Day of God to come, and try to hasten its coming: on that Day the sky will dissolve in flames and the elements melt in the heat. What we are waiting for, relying on his promises, is the new heavens and new earth, where uprightness will be at home. So then, my dear friends, while you are waiting, do your best to live blameless and unsullied lives so that he will find you at peace.

 

Mark 1: 1-8

The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the prophet Isaiah: 

    Look, I am going to send my messenger 
        in front of you 
    to prepare your way before you. 
    A voice of one that cries in the desert: 
    Prepare a way for the Lord, 
    make his paths straight. 

John the Baptist was in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel–skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘After me is coming someone who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

 

December 7, 2008

INTRODUCTION - (Isaiah 40, 1-5.9-11; II Peter 3, 8-14; Mark 1, 1-8) Our first reading today begins a section of Isaiah known as the “Book of Consolation.” This section of Isaiah is composed of 15 chapters that were addressed to God’s people who for 50 years had been refugees and slaves in Babylon (Iraq today). Isaiah announces God is ready to set them free and bring them back home. The route by which the Lord would lead his people home is referred to as “the way of the Lord.” Attention must be given to preparing the way. The route would take them through mountains and desert, a passage most likely through the land that is today Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The images in today’s reading are beautiful, especially the image of God leading his people like a shepherd, but the key idea for today is to prepare the way of the Lord, a theme that John the Baptist takes up 500 years later to call the people of his own day to prepare for the Messiah. The liturgy uses these Scriptures to call us to prepare not only for Christmas but also for the day when Christ will call us into his eternal kingdom.

HOMILY: I was impressed with the directness and simplicity of how St. Mark begins his gospel. “This is the gospel (the good news) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” We say it so glibly and so quickly we might miss the importance of these words, so I want to give them some special emphasis. What could be more basic to our faith than our belief that Jesus is not only Messiah and Savior, but that he is Son of God and everything about him is good news for us. That Jesus is Son of God is one of the things that is unique about our faith and different from all other religions. Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, whomever, are all revered as prophets who spoke for God or wise and holy people who taught the path to God, but none are honored as God. Jesus is proclaimed in the gospels as God (not “a” God, but “the” God, the only God, one in being with the Father and the Holy Spirit). So Mark gets right to the essence of our faith as he begins his gospel: “This is the good news (the gospel) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Except for two brief references to Mary his mother, St. Mark doesn’t spend time telling us anything about Jesus’ birth or about his parents. We thank St. Matthew and St. Luke for those beautiful stories which we love to hear again and again about what took place at the time of his birth. In order to stress another concept that is essential for us if we are going to experience the gospel as the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Mark begins his gospel by telling us about John the Baptist.

It was important for St. Mark to talk about John the Baptist as he began his gospel for two reasons. First of all, many people thought he was the messiah, the savior of God’s people. Mark makes it clear in John’s own words, “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie his sandals.” The second reason it is important to bring up John the Baptist as Mark begins his gospel is the message of the Baptist: prepare.

John the Baptist is not talking about preparing our house, or our gifts, or our meals, or our celebrations, which we always do at this time of year and are delightful traditions. He’s talking about preparing our heart. Can we open our hearts to Jesus or to others any more than we already have? Can we say we love God perfectly and completely, our neighbor perfectly and completely? In preparing the way of the Lord, there may not be any mountains or hills of pride that have to come down in our lives. There may not be valleys of spiritual laziness that need to be filled in or rugged land and rough country of serious sin that need to be eliminated to prepare the way for Jesus’ coming. But if we think hard, we might discover little spots here and there where we could love God or others more. “Prepare the way of the Lord” was the message of the Baptist and the message of the gospels. We do not enter into God’s kingdom by accident or by default. It’s like anything else in life, if we want something worthwhile or to accomplish anything worth accomplishing, we need to prepare. Many people assume God’s kingdom will be somehow different than everything else in life, that it will take little or no effort on our part to be part of it, that somehow it will come to everyone automatically. The gospels do not tell us that. With St. Mark and with John the Baptist they tell us quite simply and directly: Prepare!

 

 

 

                                               

  

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