Posted by: RAM | December 13, 2014

Sunday (December 14): “Make straight the way of the Lord.”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita!
Month of the Divine Infancy
Third Sunday of Advent

11 Days Before Christmas
31 Days Before the Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines

First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11
Psalm Luke 1:46-50, 53-54: My soul rejoices in my God.
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,’

as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing. http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/121414.cfm

Reflection:  Do you know the favor of the Lord? Every 50 years the people of Israel were commanded to celebrate a Year of Jubilee – a year of favor by the Lord (Leviticus 25:10-12). God did not want his people to forget all the blessings and favors he had shown them over the years. Isaiah prophesied in a year of Jubilee that God would send his anointed one to bring his people back from their time of exile (Isaiah 61). The anointed one would bring good news (the same word as “gospel”) – news of freedom for those who were oppressed by sin, darkness, despair, and brokenness (Isaiah 61:1-2).

When John the Baptist announced the imminent coming of God’s anointed one, the Messiah, the religious leaders questioned his authority to speak so boldly in God’s name. They asked him bluntly, “Who are you?” and “What do you say about yourself?” They wanted to know if he was really sent by God. Did he claim to be the Messiah or one of the great prophets who was expected to return and announce the Messiah’s arrival (see Malachi 4:5, Deuteronomy 18:15)? John had no doubt and no mistaken identity about his call and mission. In all humility and sincerity he said he was only a voice bidding people to get ready for the arrival of the greatest Ruler of all, God’s anointed King and Messiah.

John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament prophets who points the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. He is the herald who prepares the way for Jesus and who announces his mission to the people: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! (John 1:29). John saw from a distance what the Messiah would come to accomplish – our redemption from slavery to sin and our adoption as sons and daughters of God, our heavenly Father. Do you recognize who you are in Christ? The Lord Jesus has come to restore us to friendship with God and he has made us citizens of heaven – his everlasting kingdom of peace and justice.

John was the greatest of the prophets, yet he lived as a humble and faithful servant of God. He pointed others to Jesus, the true Messiah and Savior of the world. The Christian church from the earliest of times has given John many titles which signify his mission: Witness of the Lord, Trumpet of Heaven, Herald of Christ, Voice of the Word, Precursor of Truth, Friend of the Bridegroom, Crown of the Prophets, Forerunner of the Redeemer, Preparer of Salvation, Light of the Martyrs, and Servant of the Word. Do you point others to Jesus Christ by the example and witness of your life?

“Lord Jesus, make me a herald of your word of truth and grace. Help me to be a faithful witness of the joy of the gospel and to point others to you as John did through his testimony.” http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/dec14.htm http://www.dailyscripture.net author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Saint of the Day: St. John of the Cross (1541-1591)

John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: “of the Cross.” The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John’s life. The Paschal Mystery—through death to life—strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet and theologian-priest.

Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Jesus and like her vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely—to experience the dying of Jesus—as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God!

Yet, the paradox! In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John’s spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle.

But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification. Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly “of the Cross.” He died at 49—a life short, but full. http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1229&calendar=1

More Saints of the Day

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark. RAM

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