Memorial of Saint Juan Diego
From the very first days of his public life Jesus showed pity for the crowds, especially those in need of healing. All were his brothers and sisters, especially “the troubled and abandoned.”
Today, like every day, we mingle with the crowds. Our world is like a endless mall along which we make distracted progress. Praying is bringing Christ to those we see, hear, bump, and touch along our way.
This means asking Jesus to enable us to see all we encounter along our crowed way with the same vision that he saw the crowds he healed.
In the 1st reading Isaiah speaks of the Lord binding up the wounds of his people. This healing is intended to be on the spiritual as opposed to the physical level. Then in the Gospel Jesus sends our the disciples to heal. Again it is spiritual healing.
So all of us are sent out to be healers of the spirit of those we encounter. The remedies are different, according to our temperaments and backgrounds.
On this first Saturday of the month, let us ask Mary to whisper to us how each of us can bring Jesus to the world.
On this solemnity we honor Mary. But on a deeper level it is God the Father whom we praise. He chose her to be the mother of his son, and from the first second of her life, he filled her with grace. From that moment on she was totally untouched by sin.
She had a mission to accomplish, the vocation to bring Jesus into the world.
Now in the light of this fact I will contemplate what St. Paul says in the 2nd reading: “In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention” that we may also might sing the Magnificat. Those words belong to Mary, but they also belong to each and every one of us.
Mary was chosen to bring Jesus physically into the world. He was conceived and made flesh in her womb. But we too are chosen to bring Jesus, not physically but spiritually into our world. Our vocation is to be Christ-bearers.
This we can do if we remain united to the Holy Spirit. Let us pray to Mary asking her to teach us, each of us, how, according to our own particular vocation, to say: “Be it done unto me according to thy Word.”
Jesus tells us in today’s gospel that prayer alone is not sufficient to enter into his kingdom.
How can one say: “Our Father, hollowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come” without including: “Thy will be done”? Jesus wants me to be like himself: faithful in doing the will of his Father; faithful, as he was, in serving those about him: all his brothers and sisters.
To want to live this way is to take the Gospel message seriously. It mans being tough on one’s self, preparing oneself for conflicts and battles. It means being realistic, arming oneself for confrontations that come so easy in our present society.
Advent is the time for us to renew our fidelity to Christ, He will come to us at Christmas only if we provide a solid foundation upon which he can build his kingdom.
Our world has need of strong men and women, not those who are content in saying prayers in a perfunctory manner, but those who put Jesus’s message into action.
Memorial of St. Nicholas, Bishop
Advent is a season of hope and hope is expressed so beautifully in the poetic First Reading. In the future the world as we know it will be no more; violence will be done away with, peace will prevail.
People of all conditions, from every nation will gather to enjoy the feast “of juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines” reminiscent of a Passover meal.
The Lord himself will prepare it, especially for “the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute and many others” mentioned in the Gospel.
The Lord will do away with veils of mourning because death will be destroyed forever. There will be no more sadness or pain. He will be God for all; all will be his people. All be able to say: “The world of the past has gone” (Rev. 21:4).
Whenever I think of the great feast I think of the Eucharist. Like the Passover, it too is a memorial, the memorial of the Last Supper. It is also the communion of unity with the Trinity and Mystical Body of Christ.
In the Eucharist, the past, the present and the future are united. It is the essence of hope. I resolve, if it is possible, to spend more time before the Holy Eucharist this Advent.
Today I shall spend some time reflecting on Jesus’ prayer to the Father recounted in today’s Gospel.
He gives thanks to his Father because he sees his Father’s work being realized in “the child like” manner. The Greek word in the original text is népioi, ”newly born babies”. A newly born baby – slightly different from “child like” – depends on its mother for everything.
So, Christ’s prayer to the Father is more than a thanksgiving. It is also an appeal to the Father to be like that newly born in his mother’s arms.
He tells me that only someone like the new-born can accept his Gospel’s message: one having nothing is opened to receive everything given out of love.
Even though I am not aware of it, every prayer I say includes an unspoken desire to be totally confident, totally dependent, totally accepting of the Father’s care for me.
In short, I must convince myself I must be like a newly born in order to live as Jesus did and to enable me to bring his Gospel message to others, as the apostles did in today’s Gospel.
We are beginning Advent. Let the centurion in today’s Gospel be our guide down to Christmas day. Let his prayer be the model of our own. Let a pagan show us how to pray with simplicity and confidence.
First of all, he tells Jesus why he is making his request. His servant is sick. Next he tells him he is not worthy that Jesus should come to his house to perform the requested healing. He is convinced that Jesus’ word from that distance will be sufficient.
Every prayer of petition should contain the same structure: simplicity, confidence, humility – or if you prefer – honesty.
Jesus’ reaction: amazement. It’s the only time in scripture Jesus registers amazement. And it was the faith of a pagan, apart from the Jewish religion, who showed the faith that elicited such a reaction.
My guide, the centurion, encourages me to pray during Advent for those non-Catholics, non-Christians who search for faith; who like the centurion, are also so concerned for the welfare of others
May God bless them and treat them as Jesus treated the centurion.
First Sunday in Advent
As we enter the Advent Season Jesus advises us with a certain amount of surprising insistence to “Be watchful! Be alert!” Why? He wants us to gear every thought, every action to this central point of our faith: his return at the end of time.
This perspective should not us distract us from our daily work. Just the opposite. True, He will come in a final way on the last day. But he also comes to us each day, each moment of the day.
Prayer enables us:
To recognize his presence within us. To discern his presence in those we deal with each day. To be watchful for him in the challenges we encounter each moment of the day. To be alert to his call when we are inclined to listen to the Father of Lies who bids us to follow his ways. We shall be more attentive to what we must do each day if we are more attentive to the presence of the Lord with us. Pray this Advent to the Holy Spirit to teach us.
Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
The first missionary adventure for the apostles and disciples is successful. Joyfully they return to Jesus. The Lord always waits for me listening as I express my joy in bringing his message to others.
I express that joy in a special way today on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. With her I shall pray the joyful mysteries. In the first mystery she teaches me to accept God’s will with confidence, and not worry about the future. Then she tells me with the hope I have gained from this contemplation, I should seek out those who need help, affirmation.
In the third mystery, the Nativity of the Lord, Mary shows me that if I am wedded to the Holy Spirit I too can bring Jesus into the world for others. Next,the Presentation. Here she was given a preview of the sufferings she would encounter as she witnessed her Son’s heart pierced with a lance for those today who alienate themselves from him by sin. To pray for us now and at the hour of our death became her job description,
The fifth mystery: Jesus is lost then found in the temple. What stress and anxiety challenged her faith. I will pray today with Mary for the many people in the world today who live with stress and anxiety and without faith, without hope.
Memorial of Blessed Marie Rose Durocher
Prophets in the Old Testament often called down God’s wrath on cities, the cesspools of evil at the time. In condemning the small towns around the Lake Jesus is following the example of the Old Testament prophets.
He reproaches the towns = and their inhabitants – for remaining closed to his message. Like the towns the most serious sin that I can commit is to put up a wall, to remain so impervious so that message that any conversion will be impossible for me.
The first attitude I must nurture is being opened to the Gospel message, and then to receive it. A missionary is one whom Jesus sends to brings that message to others by words, attitudes or actions.
Behind what the missionary says or does stands the Lord who speaks and acts through him or her. Prayer enables me to become a missionary, to reflect on Jesus’ words and actions so that what he tells me in my contemplation and prayer I can bring to others.
Come, dwell within me, convert me, Sacred Heart of Jesus, especially on this First Friday, and make me a missionary for you to others.
Memorial of Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos
The seventy-two disciples that Jesus sent out to prepare his way represent the laymen and women in the Church today. He, more than anyone else, realized how difficult the task would be to preach his Gospel. Read his words of instruction. They are still pertinent today.
He stressed the enormity of the work to be done with the small number of workers to do it. Such a proportion must have engendered discouragement. But it was really an appeal to prayer. And prayer leads to self-knowledge.
The disciple then, and the disciple now knows his or her limitations, but prays that the Lord make him or her a co-worker, a collaborator in spreading the Gospel to others.
Women were chiefly responsible for the spread of the Church in the early ages. Women today in Catholic Latin America are chiefly responsible for the spread of Pentecostal churches.
Through the intercession of Mary, I will pray today for an increase of lay disciples, especially women, that they receive peace from prayer so as to say “Peace to this household” in spreading the Gospel message.