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Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous than any external enemies.

— St.Ambrose

Journey To Bethlehem

Posted in Advent

The Journey Began Here

Mary’s journey to Bethlehem began in her mother’s womb immaculately conceived by the Father’s will to be untouched by the infection of original sin. She was chosen to be the dwelling place prepared for the Son of Man for the restoration of life lost through Adam’s necessary fault. That extraordinary moment of God’s plan for our salvation is celebrated during Advent on December 8.

As an adolescent in her journey, she was presented in the Temple in accordance with the Law in the same way she would one day present Jesus.

 

Chiesa_di_San_Zaccaria_Venezia_-_Presentazione_di_Maria_al_tempio_(1600_circa),_di_Antonio_Vassilacchi
Presentation of Mary

 Presented docile and humble

All angels waiting at the Temple gate.

In the depth of her heart

 Your law, her delight

No sin will render her apart

While she awaits the dawning of eternal Light.

Her food is your precious will

Unaware of being chosen

 Waiting in silence for Gabriel

Soon with word sublime from heaven.

 

Gabriel tells Mary she is to Conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit

 

Word Of God For The Journey

On this mountain, he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, The web that is woven over all nations. He will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces; The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:7-8)

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:10-14)

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;… (Isaiah 61: 1-2)

 

 

The Advent Saints Accompany Us

 

Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier

Speak to them of the great mercy of God. Sometimes people are helped by your telling them of your lamentable past.


Peter Chrysologus

Peter Chrysologus image in Raveena

It is intolerable for love not to see the object of its longing. That is why whatever reward they merited was nothing to the saints if they could not see the Lord. A love that desires to see God may not have reasonableness on its side, but it is the evidence of filial love.


Ambrose for Advent

St Ambrose preliminary drawing by Denis Parsons

Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous than any external enemies.

There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.

God is not accustomed to refusing a good gift to those who ask for one.

 


John of the Cross

crucifiction sketch by John of the Cross
sketch by John of the Cross

“The soul that is quick to turn to speaking and conversing is slow to turn to God.”

“What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.”


 

Gaudete Sunday

It’s Gaudete Sunday or rejoice Sunday, the third of Advent. Here’s the refrain, one of my favourites I’ve sung at Madonna House:

Gaudete, gaudete!

Christus est natus

Ex Maria virgine,

gaudete!

Rejoice, rejoice!

Christ is born

Of the Virgin Mary

Rejoice!

The Mass readings focus on Christ’s entry into human history and his second coming at the end of time, making a strong link with the Mass readings that closed the Liturgical year, culminating in the victorious reign of Christ the King.

Gaudete Sunday should stir a profound joy in us experienced only through a humble turning to the One who was born for us. Pope John Paul Dec 14, 1997:

The liturgy for the Third Sunday of Advent, also called “Gaudete” Sunday, invites us to intensify the interior pace of our pilgrimage to the Lord who comes to save us. Jesus, source of our peace, is coming. For this reason, despite difficulties and problems, we must all be full of holy optimism. St Paul urges us: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil 4:4)

We hear Isaiah calling us to be strong and fearless:

Strengthen hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, Say to the fearful of heart: Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you…sorrow and mourning will flee. (Isaiah 35:3-4)

James inspires us to live patiently for the Lord without complaining:

See how the farmer waits…You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged…Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. (James 5:7-11)

Gaudete Sunday also brings John the Baptist into the spotlight with his puzzling question to Jesus: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another? While in prison he had his disciples take this question to Jesus which seems odd given that he baptized the Lord and announced the coming of the One whose sandals he was unfit to tie. Why he asked it is up for endless speculation in a digital age.

The Divine point is found in Christ’s answer. In typical fashion Jesus never answers it directly, nor does he respond with something like this: “O, John knows who I am, he’s just struggling under the persecution.” Instead, Jesus tells them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” (Luke 11: 2-11)

He proclaims the Good News for which He was sent, the Good News of the kingdom of God which he read in the Synagogue from the scroll, Isaiah (61:1,2). John knew this passage and lived a total and radical response to it through the power of the Holy Spirit. As the herald of the Messiah, he yearned for one last word from his Beloved lord.

As we enter the last week of Advent Lord, help us to run to a place of silence. There, especially in the Eucharistic silence, help us to throw everything into your sovereign hands that causes anxiety and fear to crush the joy of knowing you. You want to come and free us. We yearn to love you and hold on to you and in that holding, and in your coming to us we will sing:

 

Gaudete, gaudete!

Christus est natus

Ex Maria virgine,

gaudete!

Rejoice, rejoice!

Christ is born

Of the Virgin Mary

Rejoice!

 

A Great Sign In Heaven

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she laboured to give birth. (Rev 12: 1-2)

 

Virgin of Guadalupe. Miraculous image on Juan Diego's Tilma in 1531

 

Let Us Go Joyfully

John Paul II launched advent in 1998 by focusing his homily on the responsorial psalm refrain for Mass, “Let us go joyfully to meet the Lord”.  He used this refrain as well to lead the church toward the approaching jubilee:

“Let us go joyfully to meet the Lord” is a refrain perfectly in tune with the Jubilee. It is, so to speak, a “jubilee refrain”, according to the etymology of the Latin word iubilare, which in itself contains a reference to joy. We can meet God, because he has reached out to us…God comes to us whether we have sought him, ignored him and or even avoided him. He reaches out to us first, his arms open wide like a loving and merciful father.

If God is moved to reach out to us, can we turn our backs on him? But we cannot go alone to meet the Father. We must join the company of all who are members of “God’s family”. To prepare for the Jubilee properly, we must be ready to accept everyone. They are all our brothers and sisters because they are all children of the same heavenly Father.