Lectionary 181. Scripture. Dec. 3. Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26. Psalm 147: 1-2,3-4,5-6. Matthew 9:35-10:1.6-8:
Healing is one of the greatest gifts we experience on earth. All of our readings today have the gift of healing within them for this Advent day that closes the first week of this special season of waiting and hope.
In Isaiah we learn that the Lord (Yahweh) “binds up the wounds of his people.” (Isaiah 30: 26). He heals the broken hearted thus the healing is both physical and spiritual. “The All Holy One is a merciful and compassionate God.
Psalm 147 follows with an attachment in the Liturgy of the Word from Isaiah 30:18 which is the Responsorial verse: “Happy are all who long for the coming of the Lord (Yahweh).” This is a prayer theme for Advent that inspires us to long for the Lord who is coming and who also will be a healer who binds up our wounds. The Psalm contains the following verse: “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147: 3).
In our Gospel we learn of Jesus being moved with heartfelt compassion for the crowds of people following him as sheep who have no shepherd. He becomes their shepherd by healing many of those afflicted with disease, illness, and hunger. He himself is a wounded healer who takes care of them first by binding up their wounds before taking care of the wounds he suffers from sin and evil which he removes by his sufferings for sinful humankind. Jesus also gives us a precious word for guiding us in the path he walks. He tells us, “The gift you have received, give as a gift.” This helps his disciples to participate in the healing of others as he empowers them to preach and heal. Amen.
Added note on use of God’s name:
The word Yahweh is sacred to our Jewish brothers and sisters. They read “Lord” when they read from the scrolls the word “Yahweh”. It is out of reverence that they ask us not to use Yahweh for God when it is found in the Old Testament but to read it by the word “Lord” in English or Adonai in Hebrew. For God either Elohim or El is used. This gives rise to the two important traditions called the Yahwist and the Elohist. ( Psalms 1-41) The first of five parts in the Psalms uses the word Yahweh in Hebrew and therefore it is translated into the word Lord. The second part of the Psalms uses God whenever the word Elohim appears in the text (Psalms 42-72).
Lectionary 180. Scripture: Dec. 2, 2016. Friday, First Week in Advent. Isaiah 29:17-24. Psalm 27: 1.4.13-14. Matthew 9:27-31.
Not just for Advent or Christmas but always, Jesus is the Light of the world. This name and image is especially read in the Scriptures or in the hymns that are said during Advent and Christmas. We all have a liking for lighting candles during this time of Advent and Christmas and Hanukah. This title or image fits well with the readings today which mention the theme of seeing the light.
In the Gospel two blind men find their way to the house where Jesus is staying. There is also a mention of the blind being healed in the first reading from Isaiah. Then the Psalm is all about the Lord being Light. “The Lord is my light and salvation. Whom shall I fear?”
Isaiah mentions the healing of the blind among other miracles that God performs for his faithful people. “And out of gloom and darkness, they eyes of the blind shall see.” ( Isaiah 29: 18).
In today’s passage the transformation of nature into the fullness of God’s beautiful touch is strong in the imagery used by Isaiah. Israel recognizes this in the awe and power of God bringing about redemption for the people of God. God is the Holy One who is present among the chosen people.
As I read over the verses from the Psalm passage once more I realized how helpful the last verse is perfect for an Advent summons: “Wait for the Lord with courage. Be stouthearted and wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14).
In the Gospel we have the touching event of Jesus dialoguing with two blind men who have somehow found out how to get to the home where he was resting. They are confident that he can do something about their blindness and he does by healing them because of their strong faith. They are told to keep this healing from others, but they go from the house spreading the word of Jesus in the whole area.
Today I pray that the Lord will heal any spiritual blindness that I may have so that I can walk fully in the Light that Jesus is. Lord, heal us from our blindness that prevents us from seeing you clearly in your splendor. Amen.
Lectionary 179. Scripture: Dec.1. Thursday in Advent. Isaiah 16:1-6. Psalm 118:1.8-9.19-21.25-27.
Not only the Scriptures but also the persons of Isaiah and Jesus compel us to listen to the words they speak and put them into action. When we sit down and read the three Scriptures for the day, we should ask ourselves what are they telling me and what should I do with what they are saying in my interactions with others. All three selections have a message for us leading us to be more conscious of what they are calling you and me to do this day for myself, for others, and for God.
So what am I hearing from Isaiah,the greatest among the prophets, or from Psalm 118? Why is Jesus pushing me to go beyond believing in him to doing something about it and by putting my faith into action?
God himself has told us, “Jesus is my beloved Son, listen to him.” Then when Jesus speaks he goes beyond the declaration and tells us to act in his name and not just say, “Lord, Lord!” thinking that my faith expression is good enough.
Within all of the words of Scripture the active role of the Holy Spirit is pushing us to go further into what is being written, said, or proclaimed. The Spirit is the inspired guide in our life who can help us to become active agents in God’s redemptive actions among all of us. We have to be the creative agents of what the prophets proclaim and what the Psalms and Jesus are telling us today.
We are to act upon the Scriptures and their message by praying and reflecting upon them and then applying them to our ordinary actions in work and ministry throughout these special days of Advent.
Isaiah is mentioning the need for being firm in our faith and trust in God. He speaks of peace and of the Lord as a strong rock. He speaks of peace which we must bring about in our own hearts and the hearts of others. Actions do speak louder than words. We are to walk the walk and not only talk the walk! Prophetic words are meant for cooperating with God through our actions and a firm purpose of witnessing by what we do as well as what we say.
We learn from the Gospel that we need to go beyond just praying and saying “Lord! Lord!. We need to proclaim as does the Psalmist in Psalm 118 : “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The Psalm is a processional psalm that involves action and singing; there is an entrance ritual to walk through the gates of righteousness, there are additional things to be done like the building of huts where the fruits of the harvest are place during the Feast of Tents (Sukkot). The King representing David leads to the people in the celebration. All is action as well as song with splendid words and imagery.
How do we put into action the words Jesus gives us today and not merely mouth the words, “ Lord! Lord!” Just believing in Jesus does not assure us of salvation. Jesus himself is telling us that we have to do much more than just voice a prayer for the poor and the marginal. We may also need to protect ourselves with strong action against the storms that are looming against us in our thoughts, words, and actions that are unhealthy. What storm is brewing in my life that I have to take action against and prepare for when it strikes? “The storm is a way of talking about the trials and tribulations that will accompany the coming of the kingdom.” ( Harrington, Sacra Pagina: Matthew, p. 109).
Our Gospel passage is the conclusion of the first of five great discourses or sermons in Matthew. Since the first is the Sermon on the Mount we can learn what we are to do by living out the beatitudes and the other teachings given to us in chapters 5-7. This would enable us to see what actions should follow our belief in what Jesus is teaching us. As learners we must do them as well as learn them.
Just as we learn about what to do as disciples in Luke’s Journey Narrative, so we learn from Matthew’s presentation of the five discourses of Jesus what to do, especially by carrying out in our lives the Sermon on the Mount which is a blueprint for the Christian way of living. Amen.
Lectionary 178. Scripture: Nov.30 Isaiah 25:6-10. Psalm 23: 1-3.3-4.5.6. Matthew 15:29-37:
Isaiah floods our minds and hearts through the images he paints with his words, which are the words of God. Frequently, in prophetic texts we have a phrase that reads, “Thus says the Lord!” This means the message of the text is God’s inspired word given to us in the words voiced or written by the prophet. Isaiah is our principal prophet through Advent and is also the prophet most cited in the New Testament.
The background for his messianic prophecies are often give with beautiful imagery, for example, a mountain , a rich luscious banquet, or the Temple worship. God is removing the tears of those who are suffering a great loss; God is bringing peace to the holy city of Jerusalem. We sense the merciful love and tenderness of God in Isaiah. We respond with the words of the prophet, “Behold, our God, to whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us.”
Psalm 23 gives us the imagery of a Shepherd (God) leading his people to streams of sweet crystal-clear waters. We are led through dark valleys resembling the heavy pall of death and come through unharmed. We are even led to the house of the Lord all the days of our lives. The anointing of our head is part of the messianic symbolism of the Messiah which means the “Anointed One.”
Jesus heals many people who continue to journey with him and his disciples as they move toward Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus feeds the hungry with just a few loaves of barley, the bread of the poor and a few fish. All are satisfied.
We who are reading the Gospel or listening to it being read see that his words and actions are similar to what he will do at the Last Supper in Jerusalem. He takes the loaves, breaks them, and distributes them to the people. We see in this miracle the Jesus who fed the five thousand, and the Lord who works another miracle based on our faith and trust in him and his words pronounced at every Eucharist. We reflect and realize that we are saved through his giving without cost of his own self for our nourishment. We realize we are prepared by the Scriptures for the Paschal Mystery of his death, resurrection, and glorification. This Eucharist is the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption of all of us. “This is my Body given up for you.” And then “This is my blood of the covenant that is eternal.” Again we pray to Jesus by saying Advent mantra, “Maranatha.” Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.
Lectionary 177. Scripture. Tue. Nov. 29. Isaiah 11:1-10. Psalm 72: 1.7-8. 12-13. Luke 10:21-24:
Positive readings help us to think positively and to pray more often and with deeper reflection on the Scriptures that bring us the Good News each day of Advent. This first Tuesday in Advent proves the point that the Scriptures are quite uplifting and positive.
Our reading from Isaiah is filled with the Holy Spirit’s gifts. And we have received them at Baptism in seed form. As we move on in our spiritual life the work of the Spirit which is our sanctification makes these gifts come alive in us. What are they? Wisdom, understanding, knowledge, reverence for the Lord’s presence, fortitude or strength, and counsel. They are poured out upon David the King who is the son of Jesse; his anointing as the first in the messianic line continues down through sacred history to the person of Jesus. The early church found in Isaiah and the Psalms a way to see Jesus in his total Jewish background. We are inheritors of those gifts through our being baptized in the name of Jesus, the Father Creator, and the Holy Spirit. Let us thank God during this Advent for the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit.
Psalm 72 is a royal messianic psalm and may have been prayed at the anointing of another king after David. It also may have been the psalm sung in the Temple for the beginning of a new year; thus, it fits our time of Advent which is the beginning of a new church year in the liturgy of the word. The king is concerned about the poor in this psalm and so are we who are followers of the Lord Jesus, our King and Messiah. This Psalm comes from the second part of the psalms called the Elohist psalms (Psalm 42-72) because it uses the word Elohim for God; it differs from the first book of psalms, 1-41 where the word “Lord “ is used for Yahweh, the most sacred and unpronounceable name for the Lord.
Jesus rejoices in the Holy Spirit and leads us to do the same. We hear his words of loving-kindness and tenderness in what he tells us each day. The Spirit should prompt us to do the same for our neighbors and friends. We are urged to look into the face of Jesus and see him as did his apostles and disciples. He tells them and us,”Blest are the eyes that see what you see.” We are to see the face of God and Jesus in everyone we meet. This may help us to overcome any ill feeling we have towards another person. We may note that Jesus’ rejoicing in the Holy Spirit is the same expression used at the beginning of Mary’s great song, the Magnificat in verse 47. In the Holy Spirit means under the direction and influence of the Holy Spirit. I have decided to say the Magnificat twice a day and have invited others to do so. This is how we join one another in rejoicing in the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Lectionary 001. Scripture: First Sunday in Advent A, Year I. November 27. Isaiah 2 :1-5. Psalm 122:1-2,3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9. Romans 13: 11-14. Matthew 24: 37-44:
Advent commences! Our hopes are raised and our attentiveness is called upon so that we may be ready for the Lord when he comes. One of the oldest Advent expressions can guide us through any darkness we may experience. The early Christians sang, “Maranatha” or Come, Lord (Jesus). It is found in one of Paul’s letters and can be a mantra for us during the four week season of waiting in expectation for the Lord. (I Corinthians 16:22).
Yes, Advent is our season of hope, of prayer, and of patient waiting for the coming of Jesus not only at Christmas but also at the end of time when he comes a second time to reckon with us. and our behavior. We are not alone for three great persons are with us during this Advent Season. Isaiah, the great classical prophet from the eighty century B.C., John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus will be the persons who are featured in our Scriptures during Advent.
Jesus’ will be born of Mary on Christmas Day. This is his first coming; his second coming is not known by anyone except God. We are told to be ready when he comes at both times. In both events we hope and pray that we experience his gifts of mercy, love, forgiveness, loving-kindness, and tenderness. All of these are summed up in the beautiful word AGAPE or total love in the language of John and the epistles. In Hebrew the word Hesed (loving-kindness) captures all that can be said about God’s love for us.
Christ’s birth in time is the center of salvation history. Promised in many ways through what we read in the Hebrew Scriptures about the Messiah, the one who is to come, the Anointed of God. Isaiah will point that out as we move through Advent. John the Baptist will be Jesus’ precursor and herald. Mary will be the one who brings forth Jesus Christ the Son of God and her son (human) and the Word (divinity) will become flesh and live among us as Emmanuel. (John 1:14, Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14).
Our first reading from Isaiah is a well-chosen text. It is often found on the cover of Hebrew Bibles or their Tanach. This is the verse I highlight for this Advent day: “From Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2: 3c). Isaiah will help us to walk in the way of the Lord. He says, “That He may instruct us in His ways, and we may walk in His paths.” And we are invited by another statement of his, “O, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord. “ We may think of Jesus as the light of the world and remember this when we look at each lit candle!
Paul also encourages us to live in the light of the Lord and to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” as we did at our Baptism.
Jesus also tells us to watch and to be vigilant so that we are prepared and ready for when He comes. He will arrive when we least expect him to do so. Be ready, therefore, and pray, “O, come! Lord Jesus, Come! MARANATHA! Amen.
- docx -16
Lectionary 176: First Monday in Advent. Year 1, Cycle A. November 28, 2016.
For most of us, Mondays are always a challenge as we go back to our regular job and schedules, especially after a long Thanksgiving weekend. I usually need to be more patient with myself and with others on Mondays. But this a different Monday; it is the first weekday in the season of Advent and we are summoned by the word of God to listen attentively to the readings of Scripture for the day and to take up our ordinary tasks with a new look provided by the inspired readings of the liturgy that can make a difference in our lives.
A good intention is required. Perhaps, getting up earlier, say by fifteen minutes, and reading the Scriptures given for each day of Advent to spur us on to wait patiently for the coming of Jesus at Christmas while not forgetting the ultimate goal of meeting him at the end of time. Advent readings have a long standing tradition and they have helped others to make the most of this season. So let us hop to it!
We start with one of the three greats of Advent—Isaiah. John the Baptist and Mary the mother of Jesus are the other two who are our inspiration and support during Advent. Isaiah centers on Jerusalem and the challenge of its restoration and renewal. He has great hopes in its being a place where one finds the God of the Exodus in similar signs coming from the Temple; a smoking cloud by day from the sacrifices offered to God and a flaming fire at night. Spiritual freedom is assured by those who believe in the fulfillment of God’s promises. We know well of the great acts of liberation God has given to the chosen people of Israel and they are meant to be repeated in our time. Isaiah invites all nations to come and join in the renewal. His inspired word lasts till our time and beyond it. Let us be open to the cleansing power of God within our hearts and to the miracles that are worked in salvation history because of Jesus, the Messiah and Lord of all creation.
Psalm 122 continues to help us focus on Jerusalem and the Temple. It is a pilgrimage psalm that also includes all peoples and nations not just Israel. We are to join in the pilgrimage up to the renewed Jerusalem, the one descending from above. The Psalm is also a thanksgiving psalm that centers on family and friends joining in prayer for peace and joy; it thus joins our past national feast of Thanksgiving with our Advent praise and worship. We join in the prayer of the pilgrims as they mount the steps of the Temple: “Peace within you! Because of the house of the Lord, our God, we will pray for your good.”
We take up the reading of the Gospel from Matthew and learn of the great faith and humility of a Roman soldier asking Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant. Jesus heads toward the home of the centurion but he stops the Lord and says, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under the roof of my home. Only say the word and may servant will be healed.” In amazement at his faith and his humble words and actions Jesus does heal the servant from a distance. We recall this scene at every Eucharist at the moment just before receiving our Lord in Communion. Advent offers us many ways of getting closer to God through prayer, through acts of kindness, and especially through our patience not only on Mondays but also on the other days of Advent. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Maranatha! Amen.
Lectionary 508(1). Scripture readings are from the Feast of Thanksgiving for Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Taken from the Ordo. November 24th.
“How shall I give thanks to the Lord for all that God has done for me? I shall take up the chalice of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord? (Psalm 116: 11). The Samaritan leper realized he had been cleansed of his leprosy by Jesus. That horrible skin disease was with him from youth and it was for him a chalice of sorrows. He remembers the Psalm and prays , “How shall I give thanks to the Lord? I will call upon the name of the Lord just as the other nine lepers did, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (St. Luke records it in Greek : Iesou, Epistata, eleieson). He begged with the other nine to experience Jesus’ compassion, his tenderness, and his loving-kindness. Jesus heals all ten of these men suffering from leprosy.
They listen to Jesus and go on their way to show themselves to their priests. The Samaritan does not have to go as far as the nine Israelites. They are astounded as they continue to rejoice in their healing. The nine head for the longer journey up to Jerusalem to get the approval of their priests that they have been healed and now may go to the Temple to worship. The Samaritan heads to Mt Gerizim where his ancestor Jacob fetched water at a well. He is marveling at what has happened to him.
We are told that Jesus had met the ten at the crossroads and borderline between Galilee and Samaria. We have learned that St. Luke fashions his theology with important geographical locations and this is one of them. We learn that those who have the privilege of visiting the Holy Land of Jesus are experiencing a fifth Gospel engraved in the holy places where prophets and wisdom persons have traveled.
The Samaritan for some special reason is led by the Spirit to return to give thanks to Jesus. He asks himself, “What can I do besides praising God who works through the power of Jesus?” He makes his way back and finds Jesus and his disciples. He continues to praise Jesus and then kneels and falls prostrate to thank Jesus for this miracle of cleansing him from leprosy.
In a sense, he puts his praise and prayer into action by falling down on his knees and thanking Jesus. In doing so, he receives another gift of cleansing that is much better. His soul is cleansed as Jesus tells him, “Stand up! (Anastate, the word Luke uses for Resurrection). Keep on going on your way, for your faith has saved you (and healed you)!
This event took place while Jesus was midway on his journey with his disciples up to Jerusalem. Luke describes the start of this long journey in chapter nine of his Gospel and it ends in chapter nineteen verse 48. (Luke 9:51-19:48). In these chapters we have the theology of discipleship from Luke’s point of view. All that is contained within these chaptes are teachings that help his learners to follow him more closely. In addition to the singular example of this Samaritan who is healed there are other examples: a widow, a tax-collector, infants and children, and a sinner. These are among the comings and goings in these chapters just as we have in our particular text a focus on the Samaritan leper.
Why is Jesus going up to Jerusalem? He is intending to celebrate the Passover as he had done with Joseph and Mary in his earlier years. This will be his last Passover and it will lead him into the mystery of his own passing over from this life to the next. We have to recall that Luke calls his death an “Exodus” from this life into the next in the Transfiguration narrative (Luke 9:28-36). The Passover is both a national and a family festival. All who were proselytes and had the means for travel would be going up with many of the Jews to celebrate the Passover. The nine lepers who were healed would be joining them and entering the Temple. The Passover Meal recalls the great events that happened in the Exodus. The story is retold at every Passover meal. Jesus would be doing the same at the Last Supper and again adding to the history of salvation by his own Paschal Mystery of sufferings, death, and resurrection and glorification.
We are led this Thanksgiving to fall on our knees and thank God for the many graces and gifts God has given us. We not only praise the Lord we thank God while celebrating with our family, our community, and our nation. This praise of God and thanking God is what brings about peace in families, communities, and nations.
We all are disciples of Jesus gathered in churches and chapels or at table. It is Jesus who not only heals our families but also our souls. We celebrate a Eucharist which is the sacrament of Thanksgiving that the Lord gave us as he celebrated the Passover. It is Thanksgiving Day.
I found our first reading to be more of a prayer than a text or narrative. I include it here:
“And now, bless the Lord the God of all who has done wondrous things on earth; who fosters people’s growth from their mother’s womb, and fashions them according to His will! May He grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you. May his goodness toward us endure in Israel to deliver us in our days.” Amen. (Sirach 50:22-24).
Lectionary 507. Scripture: November 25. Revelation 20:1-4, 11-21:2. Psalm 84: 3.4.5-6.8. Luke 21: 29-33
Our last readings from Revelation today and tomorrow are concerned with the final judgment and the resolution of evil, sin, and death through Jesus the Paschal Lamb. The final plight of all human beings is envisioned and the victory of all the righteous and the witnesses who gave their lives for the Lamb is assured. The symbolic 1000 years of peace is promised while Satan, who is both symbolized as the dragon and the devil are bound for a thousand years (a millennium) and are only allowed to return for a short time before the ultimate end of all evil. Once again the scroll or book of life is mentioned and it will contain the names of those who follow the Lamb and not the Dragon.
There is hope for a peaceful future in the remaining chapters of the Book of Revelation. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, will come down from above as a bride and all the righteous will enjoy the wedding banquet and will dwell in the holy city. All of creation is renewed not destroyed; the earth will be renewed and transformed into a holy dwelling place for all of God’s peoples. Jesus, riding upon a white horse will come and reign forever.
Our Psalm 84 continues the theme of hope and praise of God. A borrowing from the Book of Revelation is given as the response: “Here God lives among his people.” (Revelation 21:3). The Psalm is perfect for making the journey to the Temple where God is dwelling among the people. We take up the hymn: “My soul yearns, yes, and pines for the courts of the Lord; and my heart and my flesh sing for joy unto the living God.” (Psalm 84: 3).
In the Gospel, Jesus assures us and gives us enduring hope and trust in him by telling us, “The heavens and the earth will pass away, but my words will not pass.” (Luke 21:33). To which we say, “Amen!”
Lectionary 508. Scripture for Nov. 26: Revelation 22:1-7. Psalm 95: 1-2, 3-5, 6-7. Luke 21: 34-36:
Our author, John, has finished his visions and now gives us a final message. In this sense, he is returning to what he wrote in chapter one and then addressed to the churches in chapters two and three. We are now listening to what is read in the liturgy that brings to a close the messages and visions shared with the seven churches. The next to final words before the conclusion or farewell of peace are : “Amen! Come. Lord Jesus.” We are used to seeing the Aramaic expression of this or hearing it: Maranatha! Which is “Come, Lord!. It will fit in well with Advent as part of our calling upon the Lord to come into time again at Christmas and also in the first weeks of Advent, to come in the final time. This was a known liturgical expression at the time of the Apocalypse (Revelation) and St. Paul (57 A.D.) who uses the expression in his First Letter to the Corinthians at 16:22. In Revelation it is also an earlier reference to the title Lord for Jesus and may have had its place in the Eucharist celebrated during the time of St. Paul. The “coming” for which it prays may be either the eschatological coming (Second Coming or Parousia) or the coming in the celebration of the Eucharist.” (McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible).
Fittingly this expression is a good ending for the close of the liturgical year as well as for its beginning of Advent. Both in the Gospels and in Revelation and in all of the seasons of the Church we are called to worship God. That is, of course, the powerful message of the entire Book of Revelation: “Worship God!”
Psalm 95 is the most known and used of the invitatory psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours. It is read before the Office of Readings and helps us to focus on the worship of God through the Psalms and prayers given in the breviary of Liturgy of the Hours. The Response verse is a combination of I Corinthians 16:22 and Revelation 21:20: “Marana tha!, Come, Lord Jesus.”
Jesus offers us some advice at the end of this liturgical year that fits our entrance into a New Year: “Be on guard lest your spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly cares. …So be on the watch! Pray constantly for the strength to escape whatever is in prospect, and to stand secure before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:35-36).