Isaiah 29:17-24; Matthew 9:27-31
Healing of the man born blind, Germany, c. 980-993
“Do you believe that I can do this?” Matthew 9
This is the central question of our Christian lives. To be a follower of Jesus, to accept what he offers us, and to accept our mission to make a difference by loving and announcing the Gospel, all take faith in him. This kind of faith is personal, not intellectual. I can know all about faith, all about who Jesus is, and pass every exam on it all, and still not be his follower. Personal faith means I believe in him. I believe he is who he says he is. I believe what he promises. I believe he has power over sin and death - over my sin and death - even over my blindness.
Isaiah 26:1-6; Matthew 7:21, 24-27
In the scriptures today we hear about floods and winds, rock and sand, destruction and security. Neither reading, however, is a sacred version of “This Old House,” for in both, God uses the images of building and buildings, homes and cities, to make a spiritual point. Our foundation must be firmly set on the Lord. This must not only be an idea, however, it must be a lived reality. Jesus reminds us that the proclamation of rootedness is not sufficient (although I do recall praying “Lord, Lord” as we crossed that angry river) but that we must DO the word of God. That is our true foundation. So too in Isaiah, it is not enough to have a strong city with mighty walls and ramparts but the city must contain a just and faithful nation. Jesus reminds us that houses built on sand crumble and Isaiah ups the ante by pointing out that even lofty cities can be tumbled.
Ora Pro Nobis!
Rome, Advent 2019
As every year, Advent returns to us. The content is still the same, but also different. The richness of God's Word is different, and we are every year in different stages of our lives.
Advent brings hope and expectation. Our sight goes in two different directions. On the one hand, we are leaning beyond the horizon of mortality, looking for Christ coming in glory. On the other hand, we return to Bethlehem and remember the birth of the Son of God. Both events are an invitation to meet and embrace life.
Isaiah 25:6-10a; Matthew 15:29-37
What a wonderful picture Isaiah paints for us to illustrate “God in our midst.” A feast of rich foods and choice wines will be set before us, the veil that obscures our vision will be removed, death will be destroyed and tears will be wiped away. That same theme of “God in our midst” is woven into the gospel reading from Matthew which describes the awesome miracles of Jesus on a single day as he healed the lame, the blind, the deformed and the mute among others with the finale of feeding the huge crowd with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish. The purpose of these miracles was not just to heal the sick and feed the hungry, wonderful as those acts were. It was to point the presence of “God in our midst.”
On November 21, our mission was officially opened among the Maasai tribe in Magogo, near the small town of Dakawa in Morogoro Region in Eastern Tanzania. The Sisters began their work there in 2017. The mission is located in the Bush, 8 km from the main road, and includes a Convent for the Sisters with a chapel and the Blessed Sacrament, Elisabetta Sanna Primary School (currently 56 children attend, mainly Maasai), a small hostel, administration buildings and an unfinished Health Center building.
"Many prophets and kings desired to see what you see"
The fullness of Christian faith: "Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad" (Jn 8:56). According to these words of Jesus, Abraham’s faith pointed to him; in some sense it foresaw his mystery. So Saint Augustine understood it when he stated that the patriarchs were saved by faith, not faith in Christ who had come but in Christ who was yet to come, a faith pressing towards the future of Jesus.
Isaiah 4:2-6; Matthew 8:5-11
"On that day, the branch of the Lord will be luster and glory, and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor for the survivors of Israel." Is 4:2
I'm fairly certain these words did not inspire hope in the folks who heard Isaiah speak them. I'm pretty sure they thought Isaiah was nuts! In the midst of the devastation of war and universal corruption and immorality, they would have dismissed him as crazy. How could anyone anticipate a time of the Lord's blessing and glory, God's sovereignty and holiness, and a return to a time of flourishing? Just plain foolishness.
Romans 10: 9-18; Matthew 4:18-22
St. Andrew with St. Thomas by Lorenzo Bernini
In the first three gospels Andrew is not mentioned except in lists of the Twelve. But in John’s gospel he appears three times, and in each case he is introducing other people to Jesus! First of all, his brother, Simon Peter. Then in John 6:8 he is bringing forward a boy with five loves and two fish. And in John 12:20-22 he is bringing some Greeks to Jesus. Meanwhile he himself managed to remain almost invisible.
Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44
Advent is a powerful liturgical season ordered to the mystery of Christ's coming. He comes as the Prince of Peace to establish the ways of God as the standard of all that is genuinely human - and He does this personally for each one of us. This is what Isaiah 2:1-5 indicates - the mountain of the Lord is not merely raised up physically, but spiritually, above all other human affairs and powers. What is his mountain but the place where we meet Him? It is a place of theophany. It is at once the Temple Mount, and the mountain of our own hearts. The place of encountering the living God is meant to be the center of human activity, the apex of each life. Christ comes into our lives to bring us to this place of deep contemplation where the creative power of God's word is manifest and peace is established.
The Signs of the Times
Today’s readings speak of signs. What are we to make of the signs of today’s world? In the gospel, the fig tree is a sign of the nearness of the “Kingdom of God.” We are encouraged to be aware and alert to the signs of the times. The signs of the presence of God.
What are the signs of our times and how do I read them? We experience international crises, suicide bombers, and natural disasters. We witness women and men weeping, wailing, and mourning the loss of spouses, sons and daughters. We watch as families devastated to the breaking point crawl in rubble, mud and wreckage in search of children and loved ones maimed, or buried alive. We are told that our oceans, air, forests, and lands are polluted, in danger of biological death. These scenes do not come as dreams and visions, but are readily available on television. It is almost too much to take in. Where is God? Doesn’t God care?