CATHOLIC LIVING TODAY
Second Sunday of Advent (2AdvC), December 6, 2009
BURNING QUESTION: Did John the baptist go to heaven right after death?
FEATURED BLOG: Faithful in Living Things
PASTORAL HISPANA: Preparen los caminos del Señor
It's the Second Sunday of Advent and the Sunday Readings tell the story of John the Baptist calling the people to repentance to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. Our Discussion Questions this week can guide you during your Bible Study journey with your family, friends and church groups.
This Advent we begin a new cycle of Scripture readings, called "Year C." St. Mark's Gospel dominated last year, Year B and St. Matthew, Year A, the year before last. We now focus on the Third Gospel: The Gospel according to St. Luke.
And this Sunday’s Gospel begins with a solemn introduction: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip had a similar job, and so also some guy named Lysanius, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas...”
John the Baptist
Who is St. John the Baptist - the Precursor? And why do Jews and Christians unite in reverence and love for this prophet-saint whose life is an incomparable example of both humility and courage. He is the Paradox of Advent. Father Cusick says this is because John the Baptist is the one who prepares the path of the Redeemer so that Isaiah's prophecy may be fulfilled.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains that the prophet's life can be summed up in the image of a finger pointing to the one who was coming: Jesus Christ. If we are to take on John's role of preparing the way in today's world, our lives also will become the pointing fingers of living witnesses who demonstrate that Jesus can be found and that he is near.
"Making straight the way of Lord"
Sunday's Gospel, according to Fr. Phil Bloom, states that John proclaimed a "baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sin." Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS says John is speaking not only to the people of his day who gathered around him. He speaks to us and invites us to change our ways so that our hearts will be open to the presence of the Lord in our everyday living.
"Making straight the way of Lord" is therefore, according to Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., a metaphor for personal conversion from prideful controlling tendencies to humble and grateful acceptance of God's sovereign rights in human life. And Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA points out that Repentance is not so much trying to go from being good to being better but above all it means looking at life with the eyes of God and responding accordingly.
The Word of God Came to John
Once upon a time, the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Gospel). Listen, Fr. John Foley, S. J. reminds us, “Prepare the way of the Lord” inside yourself.
Fr. Joseph Pellegrino adds that John proclaimed the Word of God because he listened. And we also have to listen. Now, during the busiest season of the year, when we all have so many things to do to prepare for Christmas, now more than ever, we have to slow ourselves down, and listen.
Rejoicing in Hope - Advent
The Church’s world-wide retreat in preparation for Christmas now begins its second week. Advent, the quiet time, the great contrast with our culture’s turbulent consumer-bonanza. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says it’s time to blow on the spark of spiritual desire within us till it bursts into flame. Christmas lights are nice, but it is we who are supposed to be the light of the world.
Pope Benedict proclaims that the foundation of hope is Christ, who offers mankind the stability of God. With this in mind, Dr. Jeff Mirus reminds us that it's not too late to to make your Advent more successful this year. He offers you the three most important things you can do. And if you've been wondering about the origins of Advent and its history, Taylor Marshall did a little research and came up with the "Top Ten Things You Need to Know about Advent."
Now this is news to many of us. Evangelical Christians are adopting — and adapting — the rituals of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas that are traditionally celebrated by Catholics, Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox and other liturgical churches.
When you go about your Christmas shopping the next few weeks, don't be surprised to see shoppers with buttons that say "It's OK, Wish Me A Merry Christmas." Over 200,000 of these buttons have been distributed over the past few weeks and it's quickly making a Christian statement. Click here to find out how to get your buttons.
And while may are looking forward to celebrating the holidays, there are those who will not be as fortunate. Many families are resorting to relocating in order to make a living and put food on the table, extended families who give up the support and comfort of being near one another in order to find work. Check out the Hidden Cost of Unemployment.
Family, Life & Little Things
The year 2009 will mark the 20th annual National Night of Prayer for Life to take place from 9 PM Dec. 8th (Tuesday) to 1 AM Dec. 9th (Wednesday). Organized by Priests for Life, all parishes are encouraged to join in the celebration.
From the Vatican, Pope Benedict said the human being is entrusted with only one task: the task of loving sincerely, authentically and freely. And yet, the Pope admitted "to learn to love requires a long and demanding journey." To this, Msgr. Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington adds that when you love, little things are often important. Married couples, specifically, struggle to remember the little things that show love. A kind remark, a simple thank you. Flowers brought home for no particular reason. Little things are great things to those who love.
Conversions & More
While most Catholics in China are born to Catholic parents, many of the nearly 300,000 Catholics in Shanghai are converts. And many of these conversions are taking place in part thanks to the encouragement of Bible reading and youth outreach programs. From Nepal, we hear of the conversion story of the jailed leader of the extremist group behind the bombing of a Catholic church in Katmandu. He has has apologized and is reported to be participating in prayer and bible study classes in prison.
From Cincinnati, radio personality Brian Patrick was praying the rosary in church one morning after weekday Mass, when a homeless woman gave him an unexpected gift. He said, "What a humbling experience to know that I, who want for nothing, received a gift from someone who wants for almost everything."
Jeffrey Tucker made the keen observation that much of our efforts at our parishes focus exclusively on the people in the pews. But compared with them, he says there might be a larger number of Catholics who are not in the pews in our parishes but who should be. What are we doing for them? How can they be drawn back?
In a truly win-win arrangement, a group of U.S. university students get amazing access to the Vatican and the Vatican gets an enthusiastic, computer-savvy volunteer workforce. Since 2004, students from Villanova University in Pennsylvania have worked alongside cardinals and priests as part of the university's Vatican Internship Program. And as the liturgical calendar marks the dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul, Benedict XVI is exhorting young people to love and build up the Church.
Another eventful day in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
Publisher & Editor in chief
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