On Sunday morning, December 8th at 9.00 a.m. in the Tanzanian parish of St. Noe, Poli Singisi / Arusha, a solemn Mass in honor of the Immaculate Conception began, during which ten Novice Sisters made their First Profession. The newly professed Sisters are from the first group of Novices who have completed a full two-year program of their formation in the International Novitiate, which was inaugurated on September 8th 2017. The Sisters come from Tanzania, Rwanda and DR Congo. The ceremony today was an historic event for the Congregation of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters.
Is 48:17-19; Mt 11:16-19
Life today often seems like a brief interlude between rushing and waiting. We rush to airports and wait; we go shopping and wait in lines; we rush between classes to eat lunch and wait in lines; we even wait in line to receive communion! Yet we wait because we know we will catch the plane, get the gift, or have lunch. Our expectations are ultimately fulfilled. That is the reward for our waiting. The essence of waiting is in the hope fulfilled and that is the central theme of advent: a faithful God fulfills his promise to an expectant people.
Isaiah 41:13-20; Matthew 11:11-15
Jesus tells us “Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Mt 11:15) at the end of the Gospel today. So what are we hearing? Are we even listening?
Today I hear Jesus saying that John the Baptist is the greatest person born of woman, but even the least of the Kingdom is greater than he. (Mt 11:11-12) John the Baptist testified to the imminence of the kingdom of God. Jesus is telling him, his disciples, the people in the crowd around him and, most of all, us that the kingdom is here and now and we are all called to work for the kingdom. Yet Jesus says that the kingdom suffers violence and that the violent are taking it by force” (Mt 11:12). So what are we to do?
Is 40:25-31; Mt 11:28-30
To get the whole picture of what Jesus means today in His invitation to us, we need to consider how oxen are yoked together in Palestine. Two animals, not one, pull a very heavy load together. When Jesus invites us, “Shoulder My yoke and learn from me…,” He, therefore, is not giving His yoke to us. Jesus is sharing His yoke with us. Who says that Jesus is passing His burden to us? Who says that Jesus wants us to carry His burden for Him? Who says that Jesus commands us to pull the load alone? Whoever says so is gravely mistaken.
▪ Pope Francis marked the 3rd World Day of the Poor on 17 November by celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the poor people of Rome and beyond. The hope of the poor shall not perish forever, (Ps 9) was the theme chosen for this day. In His homily the Pope said “the poor are valuable in the eyes of God because they do not speak the language of self: they do not support themselves on their own, by their own strength; they need someone to take them by the hand. The poor remind us how we should live the Gospel: like beggars reaching out to God. The poor facilitate our access to heaven,” he said, “they are our treasure, the treasure of the Church. For the poor reveal to us the riches that never grow old, that unite heaven and earth, the riches for which life is truly worth living: the riches of love”. This celebration was followed by a lunch with the poor (around 1500) in the Paul VI Hall.
Isaiah 40:1-11; Matthew 18:12-14
Comforting embrace by Koro Arandia
Today’s readings from Isaiah tell us to Look Up, Look Ahead, Believe and Have Hope. The voice in the desert of our lives is crying out “Prepare the way of the Lord,” and promises that although “All flesh is grass” and we change and eventually die, the Word of the Lord is eternal. As the Psalm sings, the Lord “comes with power” and he rules us “with his constancy.” In both the selection from Isaiah and the Gospel from Matthew, we have the image of God as our nurturing, loving Shepherd, protecting and saving us.
Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
The crux of today’s gospel is the Lord’s compassion for sinners. He demonstrates that sin is altogether distinct from infirmities which some hold to be a sign of sinfulness. Their rash judgment might be captured in the false conviction, “That’s what I (or you!) get for being a sinner.” Being sick, having cancer, suffering, disfigurements and afflictions of any kind, are certainly not a sign I am a sinner. To think so would be stupid. That position abuses the dignity of the person who is suffering and afflicted. It also confuses or fails to distinguish between sin and the effects of sin. That’s the problem the Pharisees have in today’s gospel.
Ora Pro Nobis!
Rome, Advent 2019
As every year, Advent returns to us. The content is still the same, but also different. The richness of God's Word is different, and we are every year in different stages of our lives.
Advent brings hope and expectation. Our sight goes in two different directions. On the one hand, we are leaning beyond the horizon of mortality, looking for Christ coming in glory. On the other hand, we return to Bethlehem and remember the birth of the Son of God. Both events are an invitation to meet and embrace life.
Gen 3:9-15.20; Lk 1:26-38
Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This feast teaches us that Mary herself was conceived in her mother’s womb without sin. Immunity from original sin was granted to Mary by God to pave the way for her to be the mother of Jesus.
Luke’s gospel describes Mary’s encounter with angel Gabriel when she received the news that she would be a mother. I can imagine that Mary’s response and reaction to Gabriel’s words were much like mine as I listened to the words of my father. Mary too must have been swept into an intensely emotional world of questions, chaos, joy and fear. What could those words mean? What would it be like if she said yes? What was God asking?
Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26; Matthew 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8
By David Leiberg
Advent -- "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Waiting. And "Blessed are all who wait for the Lord." Today's readings tell us that we are blessed in this blessed season. So why do I slide off into feeling rushed and pressed and lonely and frantic?
All the advertisements and mailings and invitations and recipes and decorations can say "Hurry! Go and do! Spend and spend more!" and worse, "You haven't done enough," and worst, "Unless you get this and that, unless you go further and do more, you won't be right. You won't be loved." What terrible messages from the well-meant trappings of a blessed season!