Monday, December 9, 2019

Dec. 15 Third Sunday of Advent A

December 15, 2019   Third Sunday of Advent  A

Reading I:  Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Psalm 146 
Reading II:  James 5:7-10
Gospel:  Matthew 11:2-11

This Sunday is often referred to as "Gaudete Sunday."  This is due to the fact that the Entrance Antiphon for the Mass begins with the word 'Gaudete,' which means 'Rejoice.' We begin with the beautiful prayer: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near" (Philippians 4:4-5). We are halfway through the Advent Season.

In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we are given hope about the coming of our Savior.  Isaiah even says that the desert and the dry land will rejoice. Psalm 146 continues the theme of God's faithfulness securing justice for the oppressed and food for the hungry.

James, in the second reading, calls us to be patient as we await the Redeemer's coming. He reminds us how the farmer practices patience waiting for the precious fruit of the earth. He also gives examples of the patience and hardships of prophets who spoke on behalf of  God, reminding the people of  the Lord's commands.

In Matthew's Gospel, we find John the Baptist in prison. John, who had dedicated his life to preaching repentance for sin and pointing to Jesus as the Lamb of God, was confused. He had been preaching about a God of retribution, echoing the prophet Amos. Now he is hearing that Jesus is preaching a God of love and mercy and healing people.

John sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus directly:"Are you the one to come or should we look for another?" John replies:

           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, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And  
           blessed is the one who takes no offense at me."  (Matt. 11:4-6)

This response was even more confusing to John. Jesus was speaking out of the tradition of the prophet Isaiah and almost quotes him verbatim. He is stressing that the Lord is a God of love and mercy.

Although God is loving, merciful and just, it is difficult for us humans to wrap our finite minds around our infinite God. We have some who emphasize the justice of God and others his love and mercy. When God calls us home, we will have a better understanding. 

In the meantime, when we are way off track, God sends us messages through his Saints. For example, he appeared to St. Margaret Mary and showed her his Sacred Heart, a heart of love and mercy. That brought about the devotion to the Sacred Heart. Also, more recently we have the visions of St. Faustina with the Divine Mercy Image and devotion.

John the baptist,who was highly praised by Jesus, did the correct thing in sharing his confusion with Jesus and listening for his response. He gives us an example of how to deal with our own questions and confusion.

Reflection Question:  When you are confused or having doubts, do you go

to Jesus with them?  He understands. As a human he even said during his
Passion: "My God, my God, why did you abandon me?"

Spanish Translation
Tercer domingo de adviento

Lectura I: Isaías 35: 1-6a, 10
Salmo 146
Lectura II: Santiago 5: 7-10
Evangelio: Mateo 11: 2-11

Este domingo a menudo se conoce como "Domingo Gaudete". Esto se debe al hecho de que la Antífona de entrada para la Misa comienza con la palabra 'Gaudete', que significa 'Alégrate'. Comenzamos con la hermosa oración: "Regocíjate siempre en el Señor; nuevamente digo regocíjate. De hecho, el Señor está cerca" (Filipenses 4: 4-5). Estamos a mitad de la temporada de Adviento.

En la primera lectura del profeta Isaías, se nos da esperanza acerca de la venida de nuestro Salvador. Isaías incluso dice que el desierto y la tierra seca se alegrarán. El Salmo 146 continúa con el tema de la fidelidad de Dios asegurando justicia para los oprimidos y comida para los hambrientos.

James, en la segunda lectura, nos llama a ser pacientes mientras esperamos la venida del Redentor. Nos recuerda cómo el granjero practica la paciencia esperando el precioso fruto de la tierra. También da ejemplos de la paciencia y las dificultades de los profetas que hablaron en nombre de Dios, recordando al pueblo los mandamientos del Señor.

En el Evangelio de Mateo, encontramos a Juan el Bautista en prisión. John, que había dedicado su vida a predicar el arrepentimiento por el pecado y señalar a Jesús como el Cordero de Dios, estaba confundido. Había estado predicando sobre un Dios de retribución, haciéndose eco del profeta Amós. Ahora está escuchando que Jesús está predicando a un Dios de amor, misericordia y sanando a las personas.

Juan envía a algunos de sus discípulos a preguntarle directamente a Jesús: "¿Eres tú el que viene o deberíamos buscar a otro?" John responde:

Ve y dile a John lo que oyes y ves: los ciegos recuperan su la vista, 
el caminar cojo, los leprosos se limpian, los sordos oyen, 
los muertos son criados, los pobres tienen la buena noticia 
proclamada a ellos. 
Y bienaventurado el que no se ofende de mí "(Mateo 11: 4-6)

Esta respuesta fue aún más confusa para John. Jesús estaba hablando de la tradición del profeta Isaías y casi lo cita textualmente. Él está enfatizando que el Señor es un Dios de amor y misericordia.

Aunque Dios es amoroso, misericordioso y justo, es difícil para nosotros los humanos envolver nuestras mentes finitas alrededor de nuestro Dios infinito. Tenemos algunos que enfatizan la justicia de Dios y otros su amor y misericordia. Cuando Dios nos llame a casa, tendremos una mejor comprensión.

Mientras tanto, cuando estamos fuera de camino, Dios nos envía mensajes a través de sus santos. Por ejemplo, se le apareció a Santa Margarita María y le mostró su Sagrado Corazón, un corazón de amor y misericordia. Eso provocó la devoción al Sagrado Corazón. Además, más recientemente tenemos las visiones de Santa Faustina con la Imagen y la devoción de la Divina Misericordia.

Juan el bautista, que fue muy alabado por Jesús, hizo lo correcto al compartir su confusión con Jesús y escuchar su respuesta. Nos da un ejemplo de cómo lidiar con nuestras propias preguntas y confusión.

Pregunta de reflexión: cuando estás confundido o tienes dudas, vas a Jesús con ellos? Él entiende. Como humano, incluso dijo durante su Pasión: "Dios mío, Dios mío, ¿por qué me abandonaste?"

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
Our Lord often told his disciples “Do not fear.”  Mother Katharine often encouraged her Sisters not to fear in beginning a new mission or traveling far from home. If we have the Lord with us, as after Holy Communion, how can we fear? Ask the Lord to direct us, to show us the path He wishes us to take. Still confused? Go to Mary, the Blessed Mother. As Mother Katharine said, “In your doubts …. go to Mary as to your Mother. Speak to her familiarly as a Mother.” As a child, did you ever go to your father or mother when you were afraid, as during a severe storm or before an exam? The Blessed Mother has CENTURIES more experience and wisdom than our earthly mothers had! Go to Mary; ask her to spread her mantle of blue around you to shield you from your fears. Then, with the strength and grace received from Our Lord and the Holy Spirit, go forward.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Today’s readings are sprinkled with hope and anticipation rooted in patient waiting. Henri Nouwen, in a reflection entitled, “Radical Waiting” writes, “Our spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, expecting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction. This, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”
In my younger years, I’d play this game with God, “Lord, if this is really your will, or if it is the right thing to do, give me a sign. Oh, and please do so by 2PM, before I have to pick up the kids from school.” Sometimes, I’d even be so bold as to suggest the sign!  Such bargaining, of course, was self-serving – feeding my controlling ego. I was so busy talking and moving on to the next order that I probably missed many revelations. Patient, expectant waiting was not part of my agenda. Thankfully, my relationship with God has deepened and moved in the direction of “Thy Will be done”, in Your Divine timing. Today’s questions come from a revering, sincere heart desirous of doing God’s will.
The insight given in the Gospel of St. John the Baptist makes John approachable. In his vulnerability, I recognize my own doubts and questions.  John dedicated himself 100% - a total giving of himself to Jesus and his mission – so it makes sense that John would want Blessed Assurance that Jesus is “The One.” Jesus and John shared a reciprocal love so much so that I believe Jesus felt John’s confusion.
I faced the challenge of seeing God in a different perspective when my youngest son came home from first grade (22 years ago) with his religion book. It was a story like book that spoke of kindness, forgiveness, love…what! I was shaking. How will my child learn about right from wrong, purgatory and hell? What on earth happened to the Baltimore Catechism where sin is clearly shown as black marks on a white milk bottle?  What seemed like sacrilege in that moment was my invitation to see the judgmental God that I learned about in the light of tenderness and compassion. As that year progressed, I came to realize that my life decisions had been based on fear of God rather than on love of God. A loving God is much more accessible. A loving God is open to my questions and concerns because we both desire the closeness for which I yearn.
So on this Gaudete Sunday, I pray and await the peace and joy of Christmas Day and anticipate the new ways that God will work in and through me as I continue along my spiritual journey in the year ahead.  As I receive the Eucharist today, my soul rejoices that my Savior loves me so much that he makes His home in the crib of my heart.

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