Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Image result for Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."

Gospel MT 7:21, 24-27

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

Reflection

Today’s readings are especially poignant for us in these times we find ourselves in. Our psalm response is, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Also, in today’s Gospel, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven…”

We are bombarded with a cacophony of voices. Social media is chock full of opposing arguments and controversy for almost every issue under the sun from pure nonsense like which bathroom to use to more important and harrowing issues like climate change and serious local, national and world issues. The news, real or fake, blasts at us 24 hours a day. Furious, angry, inflamed politicians, leaders, celebrities and passionate others dominate the screens of our televisions and computers.  Confused sometimes, I can read one side’s position and find the seed of what they are saying and then I can read the opposing view and find the seed of what they are saying.

So, I find myself asking that important question. Who do I believe? Who is right? Who should I trust? Who should I put my faith in? Who is “coming in the name of the Lord” and who isn’t? Who is speaking with values that resonate with the mandates of Our Lord’s Gospel? How do I know which voice saying “Lord, Lord” is a Spirit-filled voice and not a false prophet?

As today’s gospel progresses, our Lord gives us some advice. Build on rock– solid, sturdy, impervious foundations. Very easy to visualize when it comes to construction. A little more imagination, insight and discernment is required when we apply the metaphor to our spiritual lives.

It seems to me that a good personal foundation is a good spiritual foundation.

  • Is Christ the center of all aspects our lives or someone we compartmentalize to think about on Sunday? (You are here reading this on Thursday, Dec 5th, so chances are good you have a head start on this one.) Is Jesus truly the Lord of our whole life or just parts of it?
  • How is your prayer life? Is it well rounded? Do you engage in private, meditative, centered prayer? Do you supplement that through participation in prayer groups or scripture study groups where the “voice of God” spoken through others can affirm and resonate with the “voice of God” heard within our own hearts?
  • Do we practice “climate control”? That is, do we apply the apply Christ’s Barometer to our deliberations, judgments and decisions? What is Christ’s Barometer? It is His mandate, His commandment. To Love– Love God, Love our neighbor, Love the God in our neighbor.

Today I ask you to de-compartmentalize Jesus in your life. Let Him out of that little box which we often neatly tie up with a bow and place aside when not being used. Flip the lid, Pandora! Rub the lamp, Aladdin! Let him seep into and be Lord of all aspects of your life– personal, family, community. Stay close to Our Lord in prayer. Receive the Eucharist often. Study His Word in Scripture. Talk about Jesus with others. Act like Jesus— Love, love some more and love even more.

If you do, you will have a solid foundation. If you have a solid foundation, you will hear the many voices which surround you and discern with clarity. Others will recognize you as one who comes I the name of the Lord.

Action:

Take a moment and think about the day ahead and ask Jesus to truly be present in every aspect of your entire day and to show you how he would have you be someone who comes in His name.

Rev. Fr. Paul Gulya

Pastor – Sacred Heart of Jesus American National Catholic Church

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

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Isaiah 25:6-10a

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
    he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
10 For the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain.

Matthew 15:29-37

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Reflection

Throughout Scripture, there are many times people speak to, meet with, and experience God, and the encounter often happens on a mountain. Just look at Moses and the Ten Commandments, Abraham and Isaac, the Sermon on the Mount, the Transfiguration, and the Resurrection, to name a few. In both Jewish and Christian cultures, mountains have religious symbolism, since they are “closer to God,” who dwells in the heavens. It is no wonder many look to the heavens in prayer.

The readings from Isaiah and Matthew both share a mountain venue. Jesus goes up the mountainside and sat down, while crowds brought many afflicted with disabilities, whom Jesus healed. The debilitating maladies in need of Jesus’ healing are subject to the command of Christ, as are all things. The people were amazed  to see the blind see by faith, the mute speak in prayer, the crippled walk in obedience to the Word of God! They praised God! What’s interesting is that they were laid at Jesus’ feet. When we are in need of spiritual healing, are we not on our knees and do we lay our issues at His feet, knowing that the spiritual cures Jesus works are wonderful and always leaves us amazed?

We experience Jesus’ Incarnation in both His miracles and in His compassion for the people. Aside from the miracles, there must have been something else Jesus had to offer for the people to be with him for three days—His salvation!! Jesus did not want to send the crowds away hungry, so with the seven loaves of bread and a few small fish, He gave thanks, broke them and distributed it to the people. After everyone ate, there was an overabundance of food left over. All of them ate. All of them were filled. Those whom Jesus feeds, He fills. When Jesus feeds us, we are filled with an overabundance of His grace.

This is the way it will be for ALL peoples at the end of time! A feast that God has prepared for us in His Kingdom. A festal joy, full communion with Him, an abundant supply of all wants and needs, a family communion that is possible through Jesus. Jesus is the food for our souls meant to nourish our whole being. It is then that all of our tears will be wiped away, and in union with the people Jesus healed, we can say in unison, “This is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited, let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

Prayer

Oh good and gracious God, let us not lose sight of the mountaintop, as we continue to journey with Your Son Jesus. There are times when we may slip and fall, but know that with Jesus by our side, we will eventually reach the mountaintop and partake of your heavenly feast. Along the way, our only desire is to do Your Will, and to bring the Gospel to all peoples.   May we remember that we stand in Your Presence always, and Your Grace always surrounds us. Amen.

James Jakubowski

Seminarian

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

Image result for I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children luke"

Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.

Gospel: Luke 10:21-24

21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

Reflection

Isaiah provides us with an amazing prophecy: Jesse is the father of King David; and the “stump” is the remains of David’s kingdom. From that stump a shoot will grow – the Messiah. Isaiah goes on to detail His qualities and the ultimate impact of His life on Earth. Specifically, we will know Him by His wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.

In today’s Gospel Jesus, the subject of Isaiah’s prophecy, notes “these things” (namely, the effect of sending out the seventy-two to tell of His coming) were hidden from the wise and learned and revealed to little children.

Reflecting on these two verses side-by-side provides a kind of dilemma: If the Messiah’s first identifying quality mentioned in Isaiah is wisdom, and given we are asked to be more like Him in our daily lives, why would His revelation be hidden from the wise and learned?

The answer may rest not so much in how much we know and can do, but rather in how we express and how we give of what we know and can do. Do we use what wisdom and knowledge we have as a “wise and learned” Pharisee would, using his education and experience as a means of achieving superiority over others? Or do we use it as a child with a loving, generous heart would, as a gift from God that we are compelled to share with others as a means of helping them? Do we believe, as a Pharisee would, that our gifts are superior in development and refinement to those possessed by the people around us, and that makes us “special?” Or do we recognize, as a child would, that we still have a long way to go in developing and enhancing those gifts, and that makes us pilgrims on a journey together?

We are instructed here, and in several other readings from Scripture, to use our gifts to glorify God and help our neighbor, not to glorify ourselves. After all, they are gifts we have received, not recognitions we have earned.

In other words, take what you have been given, say thank you, and pay it forward.

Action Step

What are your gifts? How have you used them to help? How can you express your thanks for these gifts in your prayer life and in your daily life? How can you work to improve and enhance these gifts?

James Hammill

Seminarian

Monday of the First Week of Advent

Gospel: Matthew 8:5-11

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Reflection

Matthew’s gospel today tells us of a healing of a servant. This story is also told in Luke (7:1-10) and in a pretty different way in John’s gospel (4:46-54). A centurion would have been a commander of sorts who led 100 men in battle. He was quite used to giving orders and others followed his demands without question. However, the centurion is a Gentile. Despite the fact that Jesus offered to come with him, he knew that if a Jewish man entered his home, he might become defiled just by virtue of the customs of his household. And so, he took it on faith that Jesus could and would cure his servant from a distance. In Luke’s gospel, the centurion sends elders to intercede for him. Luke’s gospel further extends the faith of the centurion through the elders and finally to Jesus. Clearly this servant is very important to the centurion. In fact, in John’s gospel, the cure is for the centurion’s son and he wanted healing because he was concerned that his son was dying. What faith the centurion had! He believed that Jesus had not only the ability to cure, but would do so lovingly and with humble heart.

At the end of this gospel reading, Jesus reminds us all that those with faith will be at his table in the Kingdom of heaven. And so, in reflection, let’s think about prayer. How often do we pray for those around us? Those who are in pain, suffering from poverty or illness, those who struggle with addictions and mental illnesses or those who are homeless? How often do we pray for those who have died and for those who mourn? We pray for our families, our friends and for each other. Many of us can recount a time where we knew the power of our prayer, along with the prayers of others, resulted in a miraculous recovery. In fact, as clergy, we pray each and every day in the way it’s been done for thousands of years with possibly billions of others doing the same. We do this because we know Jesus came to our earth in order to be our Savior. We feel the Holy Spirit in our hearts when we love others and in our minds when we make good, sound decisions. We feel God’s grace with each brilliant new day and all of this confirms our faith in Jesus even though we’ve never seen with our own eyes the performance of miracles directly by his hand.

We pray each time we’re at the Eucharistic table, “I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” And we know when we consume his body that this action will bring us to everlasting life. We know when we drink his blood that this action will bring us to everlasting life. So, over the course of this Advent season, let us continue to pray reverently and share the holy Eucharist because our actions are driven by our love of God and by his grace our faith is made strong.

Loving Father, Open our hearts to hidden realities: your love for all people, your presence in the community, your call to justice and peace. May the sacraments stir in us that same love for those with whom we worship and all members of our human family.

Christ Jesus, Help us to imitate your example: healing the sick, welcoming the stranger, assisting the poor and vulnerable. May the sacraments remind us of your love and self-giving, which we strive to imitate.

Holy Spirit, Make visible to our eyes what is invisible: your call to your people, your summons to live our faith daily as witnesses of justice and peace. May the sacraments move us to engage in love-inspired action that transforms us and the world. Amen

Rev. Dcn. Cheryl Smith

Deacon at St. Joseph of Arimathea ANCC

First Sunday of Advent

Gospel:  Matthew 24:37-44

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Reflection

The Gospel this Sunday underscores the importance of being vigilant.  As Jesus says, the Son of Man will come at an hour we do not expect.   Yet one thing is certain – that the Son of Man will surely come.   Therefore, there is a need to be prepared for the coming of the Lord all the days of our lives.

Therefore, this season of Advent is somehow a checkpoint in our lives.  This season is a reminder and perhaps a wake up call.   Are we ready for the coming of Jesus?  Have we turned away from things that lead us away from God?  Have we faithfully followed the command of Christ to love our neighbor?   Do we put God above all other things in our life?  These are the questions we should be asking ourselves, not just during this season of Advent, but throughout our lives.   Let this be a time of self examination as we anticipate the coming of the Lord.

Action Step

Are you ready? What are concrete ways you can do the make yourself more prepared for the coming of the Lord?

Rev. Fr. Geety Reyes, FCM

Associate Pastor – St. Francis of Assisi ANCC

Fourth Sunday of Advent

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Gospel LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

Reflection

Advent is a time for both anticipation and receiving. For the first two weeks, we prepared our hearts and lives for the coming of our Lord and Savior. And for the past two weeks, we turned our hearts and minds to the future when Christ will come at the end of time. Now as Advent ends we conclude our period of expectant delight and now attend to the Christ Child who again claims us as his own. This Child reminds us and is the center of the many facets and mysteries of our belief: divinity and humanity, birth and death, babe and king, manger and cross, innocence and suffering, life and resurrection. This is the Child who saves; the child born specifically and purposefully for you!

We have awaited the coming of the Christmas Child. Let us receive him as babe and king. Let us lay our humble gifts alongside the frankincense, myrrh and gold as we present ourselves to this Christ Child, our Lord. Let us relinquish our former images and expectations in favor of an open and honest relationship. Let us surrender our presumptive understanding of this earthly life in favor of being open to receiving holy grace. In receiving this Child at the beginning of this new year, let us follow our Blessed Mother’s example, saying: let it be done to me according to God’s will, for nothing is impossible for our God!

– Most Rev. George R. Lucey, FCM

Action Step

God is always calling us.  Let us listen to his call and think, are we ready to say “yes” to participate in God’s divine plan.

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

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Reading: Luke 1:57-66
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”
(Luke 1:57-66)
Reflection:
The wider community had expectations for John. He was only eight days
old and already they were making assumptions. They even were going
to choose his name and call him Zechariah after his father.
Assumptions can have a big impact in our lives. Both when they are made
about us and when we make them about others. We assume a family member
is “lying again.” We have our intentions questioned by a colleague. We know
that we have the whole world figured out. This is wrong though. We don’t
know the hearts and minds of others and few know our own. Sure, sometimes
we are proven right and sometimes we live up to the presumptions made by others –
but is it truly helpful for us to live this way?
Would our relationships be stronger if we practiced the pause before making
an assumption? We we find our peace if we did not jump to conclusions? Would
we be surprised how our hearts might respond if we opened them along with
our minds in our encounters with others? What might we accomplish if we
had the courage to move beyond the assumptions that others make about us.
God knows all – we struggle to understand as best we can on this side of life. If
we understand our limitations, we just might grow more than we have ever
thought we possible.
– Fr. Matthew Bailey, FCM
Action Step:
Follow the words of Lori Deschene today and “Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.

Friday of the Third Week of Advent

magnificat

Reading:  Luke 1:46-56

At that time, Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
” my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid. ”
Now me blessed all generations,
because the Almighty has done great things for me:
“holy is his name,
and mercy on those who fear from generation to generation.”
He has shown strength with his arm
scattered the proud of heart,
“down from their thrones of the powerful
and lifted up the lowly,
the hungry filled with good things
and sent the rich away empty.
He protects Israel, his servant,
remember mercy
as he had promised to our fathers to
Abraham and his descendants forever.”
Mary remained with her about three months and returned home.

 

Reflection

The “Magnificat” was pronounced by Mary at the time of the “Visitation” to her cousin Elizabeth. This beautiful hymn / song of praise that burst forth from the purest and most Immaculate Heart of Mary, can serve for us as a model in our own spiritual life, and teaches us to really praise God with all our being! Below are some simple reflections, which may be useful about Mary’s Magnificat!

  1. The Soul of Mary proclaims the greatness of the Lord. The highest form of prayer is praise. May Mary inspire us to praise and recognize the greatness of the Lord in every action we undertake.
  2. My Spirit rejoices in God my Savior! Mary rejoices in God. True and authentic happiness can only be found in God! All humanity sincerely wishes happiness, but many experience sadness, because they seek happiness in a false and illusory God, an idol, a mere mirage under the forms of having power and pleasure.
  3. God has seen the humility of his servant. A humble person recognizes that all the good things he can do come from God. May Mary obtain for us a humble heart! so that everything we do in our place of work, study or community is for the greater glory of God.
  4. They will call me blessed! True! Each time we meditate on the Hail Mary we say to Mary “Blessed are you among women … and blessed is the fruit of your womb JESUS! every time we receive the body of Christ in the Eucharist Jesus dwells in us as in Mary.
  5. Holy is his name. Mary lives the second commandment of the law of God – to keep the name of the Lord holy we must make reparation for the offenses we make to his holy name through evangelization and mission.
  6. His Mercy reaches his faithful ones. The greatest attribute of Jesus is to be praised as merciful, but mercy is related to the Beatitudes and to one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Fear of God. “The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of Wisdom.”
  7. God overthrew the proud and the arrogant. At all times we must examine our consciences and our lives, to prevent the insidious dust of pride from contaminating us, our spiritual life. May Virgin Mary intercede for us!
  8. God feeds the hungry, especially those who hunger for the word of God and hunger for the Bread of Life. Through the reception of Holy Communion. Mary teaches us to live the Beatitudes: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness, because they will be satisfied.”
  9. God helps Israel his servant! The followers of Jesus must be true servants. Jesus said with great clarity: “The Son of man has not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” The greatest commandment is to love others as I have loved you!
  10. ABRAHAM. He is the Father of faith. Mary is the woman of faith. Even when Mary stayed under the Cross of her suffering and the Son dying, her faith never wavered. Mary teaches us to be grateful for the faith we have freely received as a gift, not only to cultivate the faith, but also to grow in our faith. One of the most effective ways to grow in our faith is to share our faith with others. The mystery of the Visitation teaches us through the example of Mary, that our faith must be shared by word and example of active charity!

– Bernardo Cardona

Action Step

The Magnificat of Mary is a model prayer for all of us. this prayer can serve as an excellent means, to give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, for our spiritual and material goods, especially after receiving it in Holy Communion! What better way to praise the Eucharistic Lord than through the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

Secondly, Mary gives us an example of surrender to the will of God, we are called to say Yes, to say: Do in me according to your word when starting each day, at the end or at any time when doing our work and fulfill lovingly our mission.

Let us pray on this day especially for vocations to the service consecrated in the American National Catholic Church so that in the image of Mary, do not be afraid to Say: Do unto me according to your word.

 

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

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Reading: Luke 1:39-45

Mary set out in those days
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

Reflection:

Wonder. Elizabeth had to have been filled with wonder, amazement, and awe. In such a brief moment, she was filled with grace by the Holy Spirit and was then able to recognize the mother of her Lord. Her infant in her womb physically responded to Mary’s voice. What an exciting moment. Elizabeth acknowledged and validated Mary’s condition both as mother of our Lord as well as Mary’s ‘Yes’ to our Lord’s calling. I want to be like Elizabeth and to trust in God’s plan for me.

Let us bring this sense of wonder and awe to our lives by not just saying ‘Yes’ to God’s calling but in receiving the gifts and joy of the graces of the Holy Spirit. Saying ‘yes’ is marks the beginning of this wonder-filled relationship with God. Let us take a moment to revel in the joy of the anticipation of our Lord coming into our lives. Let us take time to celebrate this invitation of love and peace. Let us pray with St Mother Teresa: Make us worthy, Lord, to serve others throughout the world who live and die in poverty or hunger. Give them through our hands, this day their daily bread and by our understand love, give peace and joy.

– Fr. John Bye-Torre, FCM

Action Step

Take some time today to renew our devotion to our blessed mother.   She is a great example for us and she continues to intercede for us in heaven.  May we follow her footsteps in giving birth to Christ in the world.

 

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

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Gospel: LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

Reflection:

Today we meet Mary at the day, the very hour when the angel came to her with God’s request. She had been chosen from all eternity for her role. Mary didn’t feel special, didn’t think she was worthier than the other young women in her village, yet the angel came to her and asked her the question on which our salvation rested. And Mary said yes, the first of many in her young life not allowing fear or doubt to keep her from giving herself to God in simple faith and trust. Her path from that moment became difficult—did her parents understand when they saw that Mary was with child? We know from scripture her fiancé, Joseph, had his doubts. I’m sure the townspeople gossiped as her child continued to grow in her womb. But Mary never hesitated to say “Yes” even if it made things hard for her. Because of Mary—the Word became flesh and humanity was reconciled to God.

We need to be people whose only word to God is “Yes” no matter what it costs us. The joys will outweigh the sorrows as we live for others and not ourselves. In Mary, we have an advocate and model of who we should be for God and each other.

– Mthr. Phyllis McHugh

Action: Make a conscious decision to embrace your day and everything it holds for you. Ask Mary to help you find God in everything you do today.