“Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you.” (IS 54: 10)
If we consider that these words come from Our Lord, “Who has mercy on us,” and “though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, His love shall never leave us,” we are the happiest persons in the world. He is never tired of communicating this to us; He is always with us, and His love has no end. We are chosen and loved.
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.”(IS 11: 3-4)
Only God, Who is our Creator and Who knows us perfectly, from our hearts and our depths, can “judge with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.” How often our judgments are based on our expectations, our “idealistic visions” or “legitimate” claims, forgetting that the most important thing in our relationships is to respect our differences: “not by appearance shall we judge, nor by hearsay shall we decide.”
“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” (MT 1: 23-24)
God’s will and our response go together. The more we are connected with God, the more we listen to Him, and the more we respect Him, the better we answer. God invited the most holy people to the most blessed mission —Our Lady and St. Joseph fulfilled His plan to “rescue us with His mighty power.” The answer of St. Joseph was so simple—“he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.”
“O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!” (Gospel Acclamation)
“‘The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven or from men?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, `From heaven,’ he will say to us, `Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, `From men,’ we are afraid of the multitude; for all hold that John was a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’” (MT 21: 25-27)
They seemed to themselves smart, but their “cleverness” didn’t help them recognize the truth about Our Lord. Jesus came with one very simple message: we are loved, we are important, we are God’s children. He has all authority to “do these things” and “grant us salvation.”
“Show us, LORD, your love, and grant us your salvation.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (PHL 4: 4-7)
Today Our Lord recommends to us: “Rejoice always; again I will say, rejoice.” Why? Because “the Lord is at hand,” and with Him comes the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,” and “will keep our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.” The first fruit of this in our lives is gentleness and kindness (or forbearance). When we are truly united with God, we are truly united with others.
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” (Gospel Acclamation)
Today is my official, liturgical Anniversary of Priesthood–I was ordained priest 30 years ago on Gaudete Sunday!
[Photo by Paweł Sobczyk, added by the blog editors]
“And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven.’” (LK 5: 18-20)
The “men” who “brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed” expected only (probably the paralyzed man too) that Our Lord would cure him. He received from Jesus forgiveness first—“your sins are forgiven.” Only after the reunion with God came the cure. Our Lord always wants a better life for us, a bigger perspective and a deeper relationship with Him. Our health, job, and many other different expectations are secondary and subordinate to the main one.
“Behold the king will come, the Lord of the earth, and he himself will lift the yoke of our captivity.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.” (MT 4: 19-22)
In both cases “they left” “immediately” and “at once,” which gives us an idea of the urgency, radicalism and desires of our hearts. When Our Lord comes to us with the daily readings, we are invited to answer in the same way as the apostles and leave our “nets”—our mistaken patterns of interpretations, where we are trapped or our “boats”—our preferred ways of communication and to “follow Him” with creativity in charity. In the end, when we follow Him, we will find our deeper identity.
“Come after me, says the Lord, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.” (Lk 1: 76-77)
He is coming with the most beautiful gift—“the forgiveness of our sins.” All His love is focused on us, not because we are perfect or we deserve it, but because we are loved and we need it. Our weak nature and “eagle’s heart” are quite often in conflict and need forgiveness of our sins: sins of pride or laziness, sins of thinking of ourselves as indispensable or insignificant, sins of excessive work, excessive planning or being short-sighted, and many others. Only God’s grace can give us again the right balance of being totally dependent on Him and focused on Him and at the same moment totally devoted to our brothers and sisters in service.
“O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“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.” (Lk 1: 62-64)
For nine months Zechariah was mute, and when his wife Elizabeth “gave birth to a son,” Zechariah’s first words were “blessing God”: “his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.” The gift of speaking is for speaking blessings. This is the best way to use our tongues. When we bless God, we proclaim His presence among us and all His miracles for us. When we bless God, we protect each others’ dignity.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears my voice and opens the door to me, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” (Communion Antiphon)
“He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.” (Lk 1:50)
We have many occasions to meet Our Lord’s mercy in everyday situations. He comes with His grace not only in the Sacraments (like Holy Mass or the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation) but also in daily situations: a child’s smile, a friend’s phone call or a spouse’s hug and “I’m sorry” after a misunderstanding. Sometimes our activity brings the touch of His mercy to our relatives or friends. His mercy is in every generation, and He looks for every occasion to show it.
“O King of all nations and keystone of the Church; come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!” (Gospel Acclamation)