Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Catholic Reflections 583 : Homily 4th Sunday Advent. Year A - 18th December, 2016

Homily 4th Sunday Advent. Year A - 18th December, 2016

Pietro Annigoni's Saint Joseph and Christ in the Workshop. In Basilica di San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm: Ps 23:1-6. “
Let the Lord enter, he is king of glory.”
Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24
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This time next week, it will be Christmas…
It has come upon us quickly…..

I pray that this Christmas is a truly blessed, peaceful, joy-filled and moving time for you and for your family and friends…
And of course, safe and happy travelling (to and from your destinations)

In the Gospel, we see that God intervenes in human history in a quite amazing, bewildering way, that permanently changes everything from then on….

God’s amazing, saving action, comes through a young lady and her bewildered fiancĂ©, who accept the work of the Holy Spirit working through them and in them….

We are told that Joseph is confused…. This confusion actually prepares Joseph to understand God’s ways and God’s actions, which do not follow human logic.
And maybe that is just the point…. If we expect and demand that everything always goes along normally and as expected … then we are not allowing for anything different to happen…… we are only capable of understanding a new and different thing is happening if we are prepared for the unexpected and the bewildering to break in and create a new reality in our lives and in our world. This is what happened to Mary and Joseph in the most amazing way possible.
The “unexpected” and the “extraordinary” disrupts and changes our plans for ‘more of the same’. (If we always expect what we always had, then we will always get what we always got!!”)
And, the SIGN that God gives us of his faithfulness…. Is the most amazing and wonderful sign ever….. God comes and makes his home among us and as one of us…. Forever…. You can’t get any closer than that!!!!
God will come and dwell in our midst…
“God pitched his tent (definitely) right in the middle of human history”.
It is always IN the midst of our human lives that we will encounter the real presence of God amongst us…and with us.
The Blessed Virgin Mary’s humility and obedience…. Saint Joseph’s bewilderment but respectful obedience to God’s will….. and Saint Paul’s resolute faith…. These are the attitudes needed of any disciple of Christ.
Joseph listened and was open to God’s word…. And obeyed even though he did not understand what this all meant…..
The Christmas story is a complex one…. And today’s gospel shows just what depths of anguish and confusion were at the heart of people like Joseph and Mary…..
Joseph was described quite deliberately as a “righteous man.” We have lost the sense of the technicality of that word. This word meant that he was a man who followed scrupulously the law of God and did what was required; what was true and right. So…. Even before Joseph knew what was happening…. He was already living according to the Spirit of God……. Not merely the letter of the law of Moses……. So…. He was a man open to the Spirit…. This was what was right; and fulfilled the spirit of the law. He still didn’t understand what was happening, but from what we are told he did not respond with outrage or become pedantic to the literal letter of the law…but rather carefully considered what he should do that would be best for all people in all circumstances, to the best of his knowledge. He is an inspiration of how we Christians ought to respond to the many surprises and confusions of life, with a thoughtful, reflective mind, considering what is best for everyone’ interests – for all parties concerned.  What had occurred was so enormous he could not really comprehend. And of course, when he got more information, in the form of the clarification in the dream that this was all happening because of God’s actions, and that God was factoring him into this plan to be the step-father of the Lord….. Joseph immediately and faithfully (and righteously) did all that was needed. He obeyed God and did God’s will even when it was all very confusing. Joseph and Mary are an enormous inspiration to us.

“As we come to the end of Advent we are challenged, (each of us), to listen to God’s Word, to accept God’s word, to understand how this word works in Scripture and in our personal lives.
We cannot respond to this challenge without a daily reading and reflection of at least some small portion of Scripture.
We come to know the Lord through the Church and through the Scriptures given to us in the Church.
As we wait for the Lord, may our hearts be ever alert to what God asks of us.
O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Saviour of all people, come and set us free.

The righteous person’s dilemma, by Alice Camille


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4th Sunday Advent. Year A

The Lord be with you.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
You were sent to heal the contrite of heart. Lord, have mercy.// You came to call sinners:Christ, have mercy. //You are seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us:Lord, have mercy.//
Memorial Acclamation

1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.

2. When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.

3. Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.

Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
       Blessed be God for ever.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
       Blessed be God for ever.
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.
 May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

Advent 2 p.16

Euch prayer III p.58

Go forth, the Mass is ended.

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