Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
The crux of today’s gospel is the Lord’s compassion for sinners. He demonstrates that sin is altogether distinct from infirmities which some hold to be a sign of sinfulness. Their rash judgment might be captured in the false conviction, “That’s what I (or you!) get for being a sinner.” Being sick, having cancer, suffering, disfigurements and afflictions of any kind, are certainly not a sign I am a sinner. To think so would be stupid. That position abuses the dignity of the person who is suffering and afflicted. It also confuses or fails to distinguish between sin and the effects of sin. That’s the problem the Pharisees have in today’s gospel.
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.
Gen 3:9-15.20; Lk 1:26-38
Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast teaches us that Mary herself was conceived in her mother’s womb without sin. Immunity from original sin was granted to Mary by God to pave the way for her to be the mother of Jesus.
Luke’s gospel describes Mary’s encounter with angel Gabriel when she received the news that she would be a mother. I can imagine that Mary’s response and reaction to Gabriel’s words were much like mine as I listened to the words of my father. Mary too must have been swept into an intensely emotional world of questions, chaos, joy and fear. What could those words mean? What would it be like if she said yes? What was God asking?
Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26; Matthew 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8
By David Leiberg
Advent -- "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Waiting. And "Blessed are all who wait for the Lord." Today's readings tell us that we are blessed in this blessed season. So why do I slide off into feeling rushed and pressed and lonely and frantic?
All the advertisements and mailings and invitations and recipes and decorations can say "Hurry! Go and do! Spend and spend more!" and worse, "You haven't done enough," and worst, "Unless you get this and that, unless you go further and do more, you won't be right. You won't be loved." What terrible messages from the well-meant trappings of a blessed season!
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.
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.
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.”
"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.