Posted by: RAM | December 14, 2016

Thursday (December 15): “The least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Mabuhay at Mabuting Balita
Month of the Divine Infancy

Thursday of the Third Week in Advent
Lectionary: 190

10 Days Before Christmas

First Reading: Isaiah 54:1-10
Psalms 30:2, 4-6, 11-13: I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Gospel: Luke 7:24-30
When the messengers of John the Baptist had left,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John.
“What did you go out to the desert to see B a reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine garments?
Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously
are found in royal palaces.
Then what did you go out to see?
A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom Scripture says:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
he will prepare your way before you.

I tell you,
among those born of women, no one is greater than John;
yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.”
(All the people who listened, including the tax collectors,
who were baptized with the baptism of John,
acknowledged the righteousness of God;
but the Pharisees and scholars of the law,
who were not baptized by him,
rejected the plan of God for themselves.)

Reflection:  Why did a vast multitude of people, including many tax collectors, submit to John’s baptism of repentance? They recognized that God has given John a prophetic ministry of reconciliation with God. They received John’s prophetic message as good news of God’s gift of pardon and salvation for them. God was offering new life and restoration to all who would prepare their hearts to receive the promised Messiah and his kingdom of peace and righteousness.

The promise of full restoration and peace with God
Isaiah had prophesied 700 years before the coming of the Messiah that God would not forget his bride, the people of Israel, who endured testing and exile because of their unfaithfulness to his covenant with them (Isaiah 54:5-8). God promised to restore them because of his steadfast love and covenant of peace which he made with them. Now through the ministry of John the Baptist, we see the beginning of this restoration as John announces the coming of the promised Messiah.

John was greater than all the prophets
When Jesus began his public ministry he praised John the Baptist as one who superseded all the prophets of the Old Covenant. John was the voice of the Consoler who is coming (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:1-3). He completed the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14). What the prophets had carefully searched for and angels longed to see, now came to completion as John made the way ready for the coming of the Messiah, God’s Anointed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:10-12).

Jesus praised John the Baptist as the greatest person born of woman. What an amazing compliment for a righteous man who had spent most of his life praying in the wilderness before he began to publicly announce the coming of the Messiah. Why did Jesus seem to contradict his compliment of John, with the astounding statement that the least in the kingdom of God would be even greater than John the Baptist (Luke 7:28)? Jesus came to give his people and the whole world something which John the Baptist could not accomplish on his own.

The voice is John – the word is Christ
What John announced – Jesus fulfilled. John preached a baptism for repentance – turning away from sin and obeying God’s word. And he pointed his disciples to Jesus and proclaimed that he was “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus came to fulfill God’s promise to set people free from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Through his atoning death on the cross and his rising in glory on the third day, Jesus won for all who would believe in him – full pardon, reconciliation, and adoption as the beloved sons and daughters of the living God.

John announced that the Lord Jesus would baptize people with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16). The Lord Jesus fills us with the power of the Holy Spirit and with his purifying fire so that we may shine brightly with the radiance of his transforming love and holiness. And he gives us the courage and boldness to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to those around us. Ask the Lord Jesus to set you on fire with his transforming love and holiness.
“Lord Jesus, set my heart on fire with burning love for You and for your kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. May I always radiate you love and mercy and point others to the joy and truth of the Gospel.”

Saint of the Day: St. Mary Di Rosa (d. 1885)
Saint Mary (Paula) Di Rosa December 15 The pounding on the barricaded door of the military hospital sent every heart thudding in terror. In the middle of the war in Brescia (Italy) in 1848, the wounded, sick, and those who cared for them knew what that pounding meant. The shouts from beyond the door came from soldiers, not obeying any command but their inner desire to destroy and plunder. Who could do anything to stop them? The only people here were some Sisters, the Handmaids of Charity, who devoted themselves to helping the sick. The doctors had not even wanted them there. The doctors wanted medical people who were secular and military, not nuns. And in the face of this new danger they were even more useless! Worse than useless — because that Paula (as she was known) di Rosa was actually moving to open the door!

When the door swung wide, the soldiers saw their way blocked with a great crucifix held by Paula di Rosa and two candles held by two of the six sisters who stood by her. Suddenly their frenzy to destroy disappeared, and full of shame before this display of courage and faith, they slunk back into the shadows.

Throughout her life, Paula di Rosa was never afraid to open the door on a new opportunity to serve God, especially when she was unsure of what lay beyond. People who didn’t know her well must have thought she was too frail and delicate for these ventures, but she came armed not only with her faith but boundless energy, intelligence, and hunger to serve.

Born in 1813, she had tackled enormous projects from the time she was seventeen, arranging retreats and special missions for her parish and setting up a women’s guild. Because of all she accomplished, when she was only twenty-four she was asked to be supervisor of a workhouse for poor girls. After two years, she became concerned because there was no place for the girls to go at the end of the day. Night held special dangers for these girls and Paula wanted to give them a safe place to stay. The trustees refused to provide that place. For Paula the choice was easy — she once said that she could never go to bed with a clear conscience if she had missed the chance to do some good. So she quit the workhouse to set up a boardinghouse for poor girls while helping her brother with a school for the deaf.

At 27 she stood before another door. She was appointed superior of the Handmaids of Charity, a religious society whose purpose was to dedicate all their time and attention to the suffering in hospitals. With her friends Gabriela Bornati and Monsignor Pinzoni, she won the respect of those who thought of these “handmaids” as intruders.

Then in 1848, her whole life seemed to fall apart. First she lost Gabriela and then Monsignor Pinzoni died, leaving her without the support and friendship she had come to depend on. War started in Europe and her homeland was invaded. Facing that kind of grief and turmoil, many others would have crawled into bed and pulled the covers over their head. But Paula had always seen opportunity in everything that came her way. War meant that many would be wounded and displaced by the war so she and her sisters went to work at a military hospital and even went out to the battlefield to give spiritual and physical comfort to the wounded and dying.

She died in 1855, going through the final door, unafraid and joyful to be joining her Lord forever.

More Saints of the Day
St. Adalbero
St. Faustinus
St. Florentius
St. Maria Crocifissa Di Rosa
St. Mary Di Rosa
St. Maximinus
St. Paul of Latros
St. Urbitius
St. Valerian of Abbenza
St. Virginia Centurione Bracelli

Let me be the change I want to be. Even if I am not the light, I can be the spark.  Follow Tweets by @TheOneKinEnt  @Pontifex @CardinalChito Maynila, Pilipinas


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