Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Make straight the way of the Lord"

We have in Sunday’s Gospel, Dec. 14, 2014 - the Third Sunday of Advent - an interesting interrogation. The priests and Levites came out from Jerusalem to find out who this John the Baptist was, and whether he was the Messiah. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

Gaudete. Rejoice.

The third Sunday of Advent is often called "Gaudate" which means, "rejoice". We count it as the mid-point of this season of anticipation. You will notice that the candle we light this Sunday is pink not purple and the priest's stole and other parts of our altar environment are rose suggesting a more rejoicing attitude. And appropriately, Fr. Phil Bloom reminds us that Joy is a decision. St. Paul tells us we will find joy by praying without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstance and refraining from every kind of evil. Rejoice always.

Fr. John J. Ludvik explains further that Gaudete Sunday invites us into a world of reversals, a world where the captives are freed, where the hungry are filled and where the rich are sent away empty. It is certainly a world where things are turned upside down. In Sunday's Gospel, Fr. John Foley, S. J. points out, the people are hungry for daylight. “Are you the light?” they shouted to John. Will you “bring glad tidings to the poor, heal the broken-hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and release the prisoners?” No, he replied, “I am pointing you toward the light. He will be here soon.”

During the season of advent, Christians are asked to light candles as a sign of hope. But lighting a candle in hope is not just a pious, religious act; it’s a political act, a subversive one, and a prophetic one. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says Hope is precisely that, a vision of life that guides itself by God’s promise, irrespective of whether the situation looks optimistic or pessimistic at any given time.

The Voice Crying Out in the Wilderness

Father Cusick quotes the Catechism (CCC719) to explain the messsenger, "John the Baptist is 'more than a prophet.' In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah. Like John the Baptist we also have been called to be apostles and witnesses. We have been entrusted with a mission from God, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino tells us. We are created for a purpose.

We were given God's life at baptism so we can share his life with others.“I am the voice crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord.” Which way? The only way! Like John, Fr. Orlando Sapuay, MS urges us, we prepare the way of the Lord with our lives of holiness and righteousness. There is no other way to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord but to live with Him and in Him.

Knowing that Jesus is Close

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS points out to us that if we read the Sunday Gospel text very carefully, we will realise that Jesus himself must have been actually present when John the Baptist was cross-examined by the Levites. Why else would John the Baptist say: ‘There stands among you, unknown to you, the one who is coming after me’? The life implication of this gospel passage is ultimate in its significance. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler says it is whether or not we recognize God's coming among us in Jesus Christ.

But whose vision of God is yours? Is it the God of John full of anger? Or does it belong to the Teacher? His is a God anxious to forgive our sins and faults when we get down on our knees and ask for forgiveness in the confessional. Fr. James Gilhooley reminds us that the best eraser in the world is confession to God.

The Immaculate Conception

Last Monday, Dec. 8, the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. And forty-six years ago yesterday, Pope Paul VI closed the Second Vatican Council in St. Peter’s Basilica along with 2,300 bishops gathered from the entire world. The Council Fathers saved December 8, the day on which they wanted to place everything in Mary’s hands, for something even more special. They solemnly invoked Mary under a new title: Mother of the Church.

The Immaculate Conception is one of the most overlooked and rejected dogmas. But for Benedict XVI, it was so "overwhelmingly obvious" that six years ago he talked about it three times in eight days. Without it, he says, Christian redemption "would lose its foundation." This dogma is also the most misunderstood. While it refers to the Immaculate Conception of the infant Mary, many Catholics mistakenly think it refers to the virginal conception of the Christ Child. Fr. Ryan Erlenbush adds that this common misconception about leads us to a further point of reflection: Was Christ immaculately conceived? His answer to this Christological question will help us to understand the Marian dogma in a new light.

And recalling Thursday's Feast of Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI encouraged

The Season of Advent

It is the most Sacramental season. And there is much in this season of anticipation that resonates deeply with our culture even as it contradicts some of our less noble inclinations. As people concerned with spreading the Good News, Stephen P. White says this should be a consolation to us, an incentive to redouble our efforts.

Taylor Marshall's family found another spiritual way to use Advent. He says if you observe Advent in a certain way, you will not only establish a family altar for the whole year, you will also establish the daily family Rosary. He tells us how they did it. And for converts or anyone else who needs some baby steps to get started celebrating Advent, Catholic convert Jennifer Fulwiler offers eight of her favorite super-simple ideas sent to celebrate Advent. She also talks about one of her favorite holiday traditions. She offers seven good reasons to continue mailing out Christmas cards.

Food-Related Tech Geeks

We close this issue with a nifty article for the cooking geeks among you. Recently Jill Harness featured a microwave that was hacked to play YouTube videos while it cooked food. But for those who want their kitchen hacks to play a direct role in their food preparation, here are ten ideas to get your food-related geek-juices flowing. How about cooking chicken pesto using your office coffee maker.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Enjoy the Thanksgiving weeken with your family and loved ones.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: Do Catholics "worship" Mary as we do Jesus?
FEATURED BLOG: The spiritual act of voting in our elections

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