Friday, 22 January 2021

January 24th 2021.  Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

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Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .

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GOSPEL Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As he was walking along by the Sea of Galilee he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net in the lake – for they were fishermen.

And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you into fishers of men.’

And at once they left their nets and followed him.

The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

SHORTER HOMILY . . . This Sunday has been named by Pope Francis as Sunday of the Word of God. The first reading recounts the story of  Jonah preaching to Nineveh, capital of Assyria. The city is truly enormous. In a sense it represents the entire pagan world. Jonah doesn’t want to preach among his enemies, but this story demonstrates that the reception of God’s word is possible for everyone, even the most hardened of pagans. When the people convert and begin fasting, God repents of his intention to destroy the city. The Hebrew word for God’s “penitence” has the sense of God being consoled at the people’s conversion. 

Considering the Gospel, the Greek word used by Christ in this passage, “Repent!” is metanoia. It indicates going beyond one’s customary mentality, of being liberated from one’s own fixed ideas. It also indicates a complete change of direction. Christ tells us that the time is “full”, history has reached a moment of completion. We are invited to believe in the Good News and be converted. Conversion requires a change of destination. It also has a sense of rediscovering one’s original good and pure intentions. Each one of us has a latent memory of the good state in which we were created and its good purpose. Our destination determines and influences everything that we do. St Ignatius in his Exercises asks us to consider the final end of who we are, the final end of our creation: salvation, heaven, God himself. 

Whether or not we are living a meaningful and full life depends on our destination. The issue is not how good our life is now or how difficult it is, but where we are going. One man might be living a life that appears wholesome and good, but in reality he is tending towards evil, whilst another man in a difficult situation of illness or strife is actually heading towards the good. The first situation is degenerating, whilst the other is actually entering into life. Marriages are often saved when they rediscover their goal, their original destination. It is the same for a religious vocation. We often make mistakes, but the important thing is to be converted, to go beyond our present mentality, to rediscover the good origins we once had and our true direction. It is vital that we not absolutize our own way of thinking. In this sense, it is important to leave aside everything, boats, parents, family, in order to rediscover our mission, and to find ourselves in the Lord. 

LONGER HOMILY FOLLOWS

The first reading and the Gospel both speak of the arrival of moments of change and conversion.

The first reading tells the short story of the mission of the prophet Jonah. Jonah had to undergo an interior journey in order to become a prophet, but here we just see the episode when he finally exercises his ministry and prompts the conversion of the city of Nineveh. This was the capital of Assyria and the fiercest enemy of Israel. The Gospel is from the first chapter of Mark, the most ancient of the Evangelists, and it gives us the very first words spoken by Jesus in this narrative: “The time is at hand! The Kingdom of God is near! Repent and receive the Gospel!” Jonah, by contrast, says something much more negative in tone: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed!” What is the connection between the first reading and the Gospel? The theme in common is that of a time that has arrived. Nineveh was a great city that required several days to cross. The conversion of such a city represented a change of historic proportions. Everyone, from the great to the small, put on sackcloth and repented. In the Gospel there is an explicit call on each person as an individual to change.

Change, conversion, flexibility, openness – all these are necessary in life

How does the human being change? There can be no doubt that the theme of Sunday’s liturgy is conversion. Conversion is something that is necessary. It does not happen once and for all - it must occur continually. Our hearts and minds must be living and flexible, not petrified in stone. It is impossible to live without conversion, without the willingness to abandon one’s fixations and modes of behaviour. Love is impossible if we are unwilling to adapt in the face of the things that happen to us. How can we raise a child if we are unwilling to move beyond our own interests? How can a man love a woman all his life if he is not willing to enter into the rhythms, surprises and states of soul that characterize her? Life involves allowing oneself to be changed by things. Of course there are some things in life that are non-negotiable, but a certain flexibility and openness are necessary if we are to grow in step with reality. A good way of offending someone is to tell them that they are inflexible, unchanging, wearing blinkers that only permit them to see things as they wish. We must open our eyes and be always capable of a new synthesis. In Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis says a beautiful thing, paraphrasing the Gospel line that says “where your treasure is, there also is your heart”. Pope Francis modifies this slightly, saying, “where your synthesis of life is, there also is your heart”. All of us see the world from our own perspective, but this viewpoint is never complete, no matter how balanced and mature it might seem. We need to be changed and enriched constantly. Ecclesia semper reformanda est - the church is constantly in need of reformation and evolution, though it remains the same church. We too must be malleable and flexible, though always remaining ourselves and remaining faithful to the truth.

There is a time for everything. Some things require reflections and discernment. Sometimes it is not the right moment to act. But when it is clear what the Lord wants from us, then we must act without delay

So when does the moment of conversion arrive? Both texts this Sunday point to the question of time. “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed!” “The time is fulfilled! The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Life is not just a series of uniform events. There are moments when it is right to do something and other moments when it is not appropriate. If you do something wrong, then there is a time to correct that error before it is too late. There is a time to speak to children on a particular issue. When that time passes, it is no longer possible to speak productively of that thing. When we say an offensive word to someone, then the time to make amends is immediately. Later it is much more difficult to put things right. Sometimes it is better to wait until things calm down before speaking about a particular problem. The point is that life has a rhythm. We must enter into this rhythm and do the correct things at the correct time. When Peter, James and John are called by Jesus, they leave their nets immediately. Sometimes we are called to something, and the response should be immediate. Waiting is the wrong thing to do. It is true that things must not be done in haste. The things of God are done in a balanced way. But when it is clear that the time is at hand and God is calling, then we must not wait a second. In the interval of time during which we delay, the work of destruction enters. There are forty days till the destruction of Nineveh, and the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand right now. Once I have understood what it is I must do, then I must wait no longer! This is not haste. It is doing what must clearly be done. When something appears to our conscience as something right, good and appropriate, then we must not delay. St Augustine tells us that while something is in doubt, we should not make a firm decision. But once things are obvious then we must act. How many people refuse to do that which is clearly right to do! How often we behave like potential Christians, a dawn of Christianity that never becomes day, a handful of promises that never becomes concrete. We wait and wait without acting, even though it is evident [k1] what the Lord wishes us to do. When it is apparent that something should be abandoned, then it must be abandoned immediately. Firstly we should use all of the discernment that is possible in this world. But once things are clear then we must act, leave Zebedee and the boats behind. The things that have nothing to do with the good must be put aside - whatever it might be - boats, nets, ways of life. If Nineveh waits, the city will be destroyed. If Peter delays, his opportunity will vanish and he will become an anonymous figure. If we are to be true to our calling, then we must enter into the rhythm of life. When the truth is clear in our hearts, then we must act without delay.


Friday, 15 January 2021

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, January 17 2021

January 17th 2021.  Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Gospel: John 1:35-42
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL John 1:35-42
As John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi,’ – which means Teacher – ‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day. It was about the tenth hour.
One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock.
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

SHORTER HOMILY . . . On this Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, we consider the call of the first disciples. Jesus fixes his gaze on Simon and gives him the name Cephas (“Peter” in Greek), which means “rock”. The change of name represents the reception of a new identity, the change of orientation of his life. Isaiah speaks of a new name that the Lord will give to us. The Lord has the capacity to change us radically, but this is a process that needs to unfold in a certain way, and this Gospel shows us how. Firstly, John the Baptist points out Jesus who is passing by. It is up to us to follow him. John calls Jesus the “Lamb of God”, referring to the Paschal lamb whose blood preserved the lives and wins the freedom of the people of Israel. The first words Jesus says in John’s Gospel are: “What do you want?” The disciples respond: “Master, where do you live?” They are not looking for his street address; they want to stay with him and get to know him. This is a response that all of us should make to Jesus. We do not get to know him through abstract thinking. We need to experience life with him concretely. The Gospel tells us that all this happened at 4pm, the very hour when the Paschal lambs were slaughtered in sacrifice. Furthermore, it must be noted that Peter comes to Jesus because of Andrew’s testimony. Andrew comes to Jesus because of John the Baptist’s indication.  In the first reading, Samuel is called by the Lord,  but does not recognize his voice until the priest, Eli, gives him the correct interpretation. Similarly, none of us can come to Christ unless we allow other Christians to bear us along. Andrew doesn’t explain to Peter who Jesus, is but simply brings Peter to him. We too should speak less and simply bring people to Jesus. From generation to generation, it has been like this: one person with a generous spirit brings another person to Jesus; the second person believes in the testimony of his brother. In this way, we come to the Lord and we discover our true name, our real identity.

LONGER HOMILY FOLLOWS

In the Gospel, people are led to Christ by people who point Jesus out. Then these people in turn lead others to the Lord
Many things are contained in this text for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, but we will use the first reading as the key for reading the Gospel. In the Gospel, John the Baptist sees Jesus and says, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Two of his disciples hear him and begin to follow Jesus. Jesus takes them to where he lives and begins an encounter with them. The passage continues: “One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus”. John leads two of his disciples to Jesus. These disciples encounter the Lord and then, the following day, they do exactly what John the Baptist did for them! They lead others to the Lord. Simon in turn has such a powerful encounter with the Lord that his name is changed that very day. The person who is led to the Lord becomes a person who leads others to him. This is how we come to Jesus, by the fact that someone shows him to us, a person who leads, a person who invites, a person who indicates.

In the first reading, Eli helps Samuel to see that he is being called by the Lord. We too have need of the help of others if we are to get to know Jesus more deeply. And we too have the responsibility to lead others to Christ
The first reading tells the story of Samuel. This is one of the great prophets of Israel, one who governs his people. He leads them through the period of transformation in which they become a monarchy, anointing first Saul and then David, the beginning of the dynastic succession that will eventually lead to Jesus. And how did Samuel become such a great leader of his people? Because he too allowed himself to be led. The first reading, in fact, tells us that the Lord called on Samuel four times. It is only at the third call that Samuel gets prepared to respond to the Lord because at this point he is assisted by Eli, the priest. Eli instructs him as to how to respond to the call of the Lord. When the Lord summoned Samuel originally, the prophet did not understand that he was being called, but Eli understood and instructed Samuel to give the Lord his assent. This assent enables Samuel to become more fully himself, the prophet that he was destined to be. But he needed the help of Eli to guide him in the right path. Thus the first reading underlines this theme of the Gospel: the Lord does not come to us except through the help of another person. We tend to strive to make our way along our own autonomous path, a self-referential path in which we nurture the illusion of absolute self-sufficiency. We think that we can get by on our own steam even when it comes to important issues of life such as our relationship with the Lord. In reality we have a great need of guidance in all of the important areas of our lives. Incredibly, we are also called to be guides for others. The Lord Jesus loves to be assisted by us. He loves when we act as mediators who bring others to him. He loves to be made known through these means chosen by him. In the life of the Spirit we have need of the assistance of others. No-one is able to stand alone on his own two feet. In order to come to Jesus we need people who will tell us about him, assist us in understanding him. And we in our turn have the responsibility to build up the faith of others.

Others can lead us to Jesus but we must then have our own personal and profound encounter with him. Only then can we in our turn be mediators that bring others to Christ. A true guide leads people to Jesus, not to himself
The faith is something we learn from the Church, from someone who teaches it to us, who writes within our hearts those directions that we need in order to make our own personal, direct encounter with the Lord. In the Gospel, the first two disciples have a personal encounter with Jesus, and they do this because they follow the directions of the Baptist. Simon’s name gets changed to “Peter” because he follows the indications given to him by his brother, Andrew. In other words, he too has an experience that is personal and profound. None of us can reach what is important in life without the help of our brothers and sisters, without the assistance of someone who guides us. This chain of grace is a delicate thing and it is easy for us to betray it. We can refuse to follow the directions of those who lead us in the faith, and, equally, we can become deceitful guides ourselves, guides who do not lead people to Jesus but lead people to ourselves. Note how John the Baptist does not point to himself but to Jesus! This is the role of the true guide! The true guide does not lead to something that ultimately depends on himself. Rather he leads people to Jesus, and Jesus is the source of true independence and freedom.


Friday, 8 January 2021

January 10th 2020.  Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord
Gospel: Mark 1:7-11
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
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Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL Mark 1:7-11
In the course of his preaching John the Baptist said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’
It was at this time that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised in the Jordan by John. No sooner had he come up out of the water than he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

SHORT HOMILY . . . The first reading tells us to leave aside our own ways, to stop spending resources on things that do not satisfy. We must change paths so that the Lord can bring to fruition his design of love for each one of us. In the Gospel, when we contemplate Jesus’ baptism, it is clear that we are also contemplating our own. John’s form of baptism recalls various rites of purification that were already familiar in Israel: immersion in obedience to God, the cleansing of that which defiles, etc.. But the baptism of Jesus brings something new that was not present before, the secret of immersion in the Holy Spirit. The heavens are thrown open. Normally, there is an abyss between us and the place where God resides. If heaven is impenetrable, then our lives are just horizontal, struggling miserably here below, with the added frustration of being called to eternity! With Jesus, though, heaven and earth are united. Our baptism reveals the nearness of God the Father to us through the gift of his Holy Spirit. 
The descent of the dove recalls the moment when Noah discovers that the flood waters are receding, that the time of death is over and the time of new life through water has begun, that we can live in peace and fullness. We must trust in the Holy Spirit, not in our own efforts and enterprises! These works have dignity up to a point, but if the heavens are not open, then our work is purely horizontal and will come to an end. 
The Father says, “You are my Son the beloved. My favour rests on you”. This voice of the Father is the voice that speaks to all of us in our baptism! These words are the fulfilment of the promises of the Old Testament, that our hearts will be transformed from being solitary and isolated, fending for themselves.  Our hearts will become the hearts of children who are beloved, hearts of people who know the Lord has tender love for them. 
Everything that Christ will do on earth from this moment forward is done in the context of these words from the Father. He acts, not because he is strong, heroic or intelligent, but because he is Son. Later in Mark’s Gospel, the centurion will see him die and exclaim, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” The Father’s words at the baptism find their fulfilment in the cross and resurrection. And if this is Christ’s baptismal truth, it is also our baptismal truth. Just as this voice reveals the identity of Christ, so our baptism reveals the fundamental element of our identity: that we are loved by God as we are.

LONGER HOMILY NOW FOLLOWS

God has something good to give us, but we are reluctant to accept it because acceptance involves rejecting our own ways
We celebrate the feast of the Baptism of Jesus with the brief and evocative account from St Mark’s Gospel. The first reading is from the 55th Chapter of Isaiah, the last part of what is sometimes called the “Second Isaiah”. Whether a second Isaiah existed or not, this passage is incredibly beautiful. It tells of people who are thirsty and are invited to come for water and food. All of this bounty is for free, and the people are scolded for spending money on that which cannot satisfy. The point is that we must open ourselves to the bounty which the Lord wishes to present to us gratuitously. And it highlights a problem: why are we so reluctant to accept the generosity of God? Because we refuse to turn away from our habitual patterns of behaviour! “The wicked man does not abandon his ways, nor the evil man his thoughts. But my ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts.” We do not appreciate this chasm between God’s ways and ours, and we conceive of God in terms of our own schemes, our own categories of behaviour.

Do we think that our ways of living, our patterns of behaviour, are compatible with God? Think again!
When a person has arrived at a stage of crisis in his life, the correct response is not to present him with a ready-made answer. He must first learn to question and contest his old ways of doing things. Similarly, when a married couple is having difficulties, it is not sufficient to present them with a solution. They will mismanage that solution with the same efficiency that they mismanaged their marriage. The first thing they must do is listen and learn to change their whole approach to things, their way of dealing with life on a daily basis. The Lord asks us to listen to him and to be open to his ways, to his thoughts that are so different to ours. It is our entire internal setup that needs to be radically altered. This cannot be achieved by studying theology, or by memorizing the entire catechism. All such study leaves our basic framework of life unaltered. We need to move out of our usual mode of existence, our solitary dysfunctional way of carrying on. If we undertake a regime for losing weight, we must be willing to change our eating habits. If we wish to follow God, we must radically change our everyday mode of behaviour.

How do we learn God’s ways? Jesus crosses the gap between God and us and initiates a life of communion with us. If we wish to live in God’s ways then we must live in communion with Jesus
In the Gospel, Jesus reveals the work of God and initiates this new way of being human that was spoken of in Isaiah 55. It begins with baptism, an act of purification. Jesus does not have need of purification, but he enters into the rite out of love for us. He takes us by the hand and teaches us the way. He comes to us as we are, queuing up before John with all the sinners. In so doing, he shows us the new posture that we need to adopt. As soon as Jesus enters the water, John see the heavens split open and the Spirit descend upon Jesus. The opening of the heavens represents the victory of God over the intermediary “gap” that exists between us and the Lord. Anthropomorphically, we locate God in the skies. St Paul refers to the power of evil that prevails in the air above us, because Hebrew cosmology locates Satan in the zone between us and God. Satan is the one who impedes us from going to God and gets in the way of God’s coming to us. God is impeded from coming down because I am under the influence of the tempter and do not listen to the Lord. But in Jesus the heavens are torn open and the gap that existed between us and God is eliminated. His ways can now become our ways, if we allow them to; his thoughts can enter into me; the Holy Spirit can descend into my heart! The new life I lead is no longer according to my own schemes because, finally, between me and God there is no longer a separation. In other words, the new life we are speaking about is none other than communion with God.

Satan wishes us to believe that God cannot love us because we are unworthy. But Jesus shows us that each one of us is a beloved child of the Lord
The new life that initiates with the purification in water - the new life that comes from baptism - culminates in the cry from God, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!” This cry from the Lord is also directed towards each one of us individually. The splitting open of the heavens represents the defeat of the belief that we cannot reach God, that God cannot come down to us. It is fundamentally a Satanic idea to believe that God cannot love us because we are unworthy of him, that we are too dirty or undignified for him. This idea leads us to the proud and disordered search for a false identity by means of the things that we do and the things that we possess. When the Holy Spirit descends on us in baptism, a voice penetrates to our very interior. “You are my beloved child. In you I am well pleased!” Each one of us is a source of happiness for the Lord, but what is it that impedes us from believing it? Our pretences regarding ourselves. God knows how we are made. He know our weaknesses. In Christ he takes us by the hand and teaches us how much he loves us, and that we are all his beloved children.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

January 3rd 2021. Second Sunday after Christmas
GOSPEL  John 1:1-18
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
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Don Fabio’s homily follows the Gospel

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GOSPEL        John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word:
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things came to be,
not one thing had its being but through him.
All that came to be had life in him
and that life was the light of men,
a light that shines in the dark,
a light that darkness could not overpower.
A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.
The Word was the true light
that enlightens all men;
and he was coming into the world.
He was in the world
that had its being through him,
and the world did not know him.
He came to his own domain
and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to all who believe in the name of him
who was born not out of human stock
or urge of the flesh
or will of man
but of God himself.
The Word was made flesh, he lived among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory that is his
as the only Son of the Father,
full of grace and truth.
John appears as his witness. He proclaims:
‘This is the one of whom I said:
He who comes after me ranks before me
because he existed before me’.
Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received –
yes, grace in return for grace,
since, though the Law was given through Moses,
grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God;
it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart,
who has made him known.
THE GOSPEL OF THE LORD: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . .  In the Old Testament, we read that God’s wisdom is present in his people. The Gospel reading from John’s Prologue tells us that the wisdom of God, in the form of his only-begotten son, Jesus, comes to live among us. The Greek expression used is to “pitch his tent” among us. Our tendency, generally, is to try to raise ourselves up, to make ourselves greater or more important, to flee our misery, but the Gospel tells us that Christ, the second person of the Trinity, comes in search of us just as we are. He is born in miserable circumstances, in the very circumstances that we seek to avoid. This time of celebrating the incarnation of Christ is not a time to despise who we are but, rather, to welcome the gift that we possess. The fixation of our culture with looks and image, of wanting to be different, is actually a form of non-acceptance of who we are. Christmas tells us that it is exactly in this humble manger, in you and me, that the Lord wishes to become incarnate. We are fixated with beauty, but we are called to real beauty, to discover who we are in the eyes of God. Vatican Two tells us that Christ reveals man to man. Only in Christ do I discover who I am. In John’s Gospel, the theme of the indwelling of God in each of us is very important. It is essential that we stop running away from ourselves in search of “treasures” when the real treasure is within us! Christ died for us on the cross to show how important we are. As John Paul II said, it is great and beautiful to be human because Christ chose to be human. This Christmas, let us allow God to unveil the wonder of our own lives. Even if our lives are difficult and complicated, this does not mean they are not beautiful. The Lord is working in us, leading us to fulness of existence.  Christ shown us the glory of the Father in a manger and upon the cross, two places that are not ideal according to our vision of success and affirmation. Here Christ shows us that he can dwell in every situation, every challenge and every difficulty. This Second Sunday of Christmas may we continue to be filled with the desire to live the Christian life, which is a wonderful life always and in whatever circumstance! 

The Old Testament tells us that the wisdom of God is present in the people of Israel. Is this referring to the way that all ancient peoples had a shared body of knowledge and customs? Or is it a prophecy about a much more profound incarnation of God’s wisdom in the midst of his people?
The first reading is a beautiful passage from the twenty fourth chapter of Ecclesiasticus. It may seem strange that this reading about wisdom is chosen for the Christmas season, but when we reflect on it we begin to see why it is so appropriate. The word “wisdom” in Hebrew is one of the possible translations for the Hebrew word for the law, Torah. Wisdom involves learning and instruction. The reading tells us that the people of Israel have been gifted with this treasure of knowing the decrees of the Lord, of understanding his reality. The book of Ecclesiasticus tries to construct a bridge between the Jewish and Hellenistic cultures. It asserts that the descendants of Jacob are characterised by the presence of this knowledge or wisdom that guides them in life. Wisdom has pitched its tent, established its dwelling, in the midst of the people of Israel. It is always interesting to discover the knowledge and customs that are possessed by ancient peoples and cultures. Israel could be considered to be one people among many others, even if the writer of Ecclesiasticus claims that they possess the one superior or definitive form of wisdom.

Jesus does not just give us an impressive collection of teachings or intellectual and moral content. He becomes one of us and lives out a relationship of sonship with his Father through our human flesh
However, we see all of this in a new light when we read Sunday’s gospel, which once again gives us an opportunity to reflect of the marvellous prologue of the Gospel of John. This passage speaks in terms that have parallels in the reading from Ecclesiasticus, but it takes the discussion to a more profound level. The same word of God, or wisdom of God, is now described as a person, a divine person, who comes to live in the midst of his people. He fulfils that which is referred to in Ecclesiasticus, and he does it in a surprising way - by his incarnation. “The word became flesh and lived among us”. In the original Greek, the text says that he “pitched his tent among us”. Thus we have the same term as appeared in Ecclesiasticus, but the Gospel makes clear that this inhabitation of wisdom is not merely on an intellectual level. The word of God actually becomes flesh! His dwelling among us is not a mere expression of his presence or availability to us: he physically lives and moves among us. The wisdom that is being spoken of here actually involves a relationship of sonship, an only-begotten Son that comes from the Father. In Christ what we discover is not merely impressive erudition or a body of teachings. Jesus cannot be reduced to the content of his verbal expression. What we have is his life and his essence. The wonderful and unique things that he said do not exhaust the extraordinary fact that he is God in human flesh. Our human condition has been physically visited by something invisible, by the creator of the universe. This divine indwelling is not the indwelling of a God that is completely incomprehensible or distant: this God, rather, is someone who is fundamentally a father.

Jesus is the Son who comes from the Father. By becoming incarnate he shows all of us how to be sons and daughters of God while we are still in this flesh.
This second Sunday after Christmas we are celebrating that which has become a reality in the midst of the world: the filial life, the life of the one who lives as a child of God. The gospel reading speaks of the “glory of the only-begotten Son who comes from the Father”. What does it mean to live life as a son? Jesus in his human flesh showed how to live every single act as one who is a son coming from the Father. Jesus does not do the things that he does because he is someone exceptional: he does them because he lives as the Son of his Father. Jesus comes from the Father, and we too, even if we do not know it, come from the providence of God. We come from the Father and we will return to him. By the grace of the sacraments, the preaching that we have heard, the faith that we live, by the hope that lives in our hearts and the charity that we exercise concretely, we too live as children of God. It is essential to be aware of where we come from! If our past was marked by abandonment, by the errors we committed, by the mercy that we did not encounter, then that would be another thing. But once we become aware that we really come from the Father, then our lives are marked by peace and liberty, by the joy that flows from the awareness that we have been graced by pardon and mercy.

Our lives must be transformed by this fact that we come from the Father. This is the determining factor in Jesus’s life, and it must be the source of all that we do as well. Before we do anything else each day we must first “be” with the Father. This requires setting aside time for prayer, recollection, meditation every day of our lives!
It is important that we cease trying to do things separately from being with the Father! Jesus is first and foremost with the Father and this leads him to come to us and redeem us. We too must “come from the Father” every single day and live as his children. Thus Christmas let us devote a little time to be still, to pray, to place ourselves in the presence of the Lord, in order that we too might live our lives as people who come from the Father and behave like his sons and daughters. This is the new life of the Christian; this is the beautiful life!

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

December 27th 2020.  FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY

GOSPEL Luke 2:22-40

Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL Luke 2:22-40

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord — observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord — and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:

‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised;

because my eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared for all the nations to see,

a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.’

As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected — and a sword will pierce your own soul too — so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’

There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ


Kieran’s summary . . . In Hebrew culture, there were various rituals by which the people consecrated the important moments of their lives to God. The point of these rituals was that they expressed the belief that God was the master of life. He gave the gift of children so it made perfect sense that the first-born child must be entrusted back to him. How often we seek to be the masters of our own lives! And when we do, we end up building concentration camps, or enacting laws that allow us to select which lives to keep and which to discard. We test the child within the womb and if we don’t like the result of the analysis, we act like God and become selectors of who is to live and who is to die. In the feast of the Presentation, Mary humbly consecrates her child to God. And, incredibly, God entrusts him back to us! As the Gospel tells us, this act of presentation is the source of a conflict in the world, the fall and rising of many. We are confronted with the choice to consecrate our lives to God, or to live in a self-referential way, depending on purely human resources. But human resources cannot break down the walls of nothingness that surround us! Only Jesus can. God brings life where it seems impossible, as in the infertility of Abraham and Sarah recounted in the first reading. This Christmas Season, let us entrust our lives to the child born in a stable who reaches down from the depths to entrust his life to us!

Jesus was born among the animals because he wanted to reach down to our very depths to lift us up to him

We approach the feast of the Holy Family in the context of the wave of joy that comes during the celebration of the Christmas season. The birth of Jesus in the stable of Bethlehem is the key for interpreting the readings of Sunday's feast. Why is it so important and urgent that the Son of God himself should become man and be born with a flesh like ours? Why couldn't God just have given us a clear list of instructions by which to live? Why couldn't we just make a greater effort to behave better? None of this was enough for God, and that is why Christmas is such a joyful time. God comes himself to live among us and raise us up. He initiates the great adventure of the union between humanity and the divinity. Immanuel - "God with us" - makes himself the least of humanity. In fact he is born in a stable among animals because there is no room for him in human society. God reaches down to the very place where mankind has dehumanised itself in order to lift it up to God. It is this union with God that makes Christmas so joyful. Life is no longer focussed on the purely biological, on the trivial issues that drive us to despair. The union of God and humanity lifts our gaze to higher things, to the wonderful dignity that we possess, and to our supernatural vocation on account of the fact that the image of God has been imprinted on us.

The first reading tells how God blesses us by doing extraordinary things, by giving life where none seems possible

These themes become concrete in the holy family. The first reading from Sunday tells how Abraham has arrived at the edge of desperation. He is old and still has no heir. But God makes him realize that what is at going on here is something of global significance, a blessing that is unfolding and that has no limits. Then the reading skips on a few chapters and we are told that Sarah in her old age conceives a child. Here, we are confronted with the great, the extraordinary, the unexpected. We cannot survive without the extraordinary! Why did the Son of God become incarnate? Because we need something exceptional that only he can give! We need to see the sterile womb becoming capable of generating life, the old age of Abraham transformed into something fertile. 

The Presentation is about consecrating life to God. When we try to be the masters of our own lives, we end up destroying the unborn, constructing concentration camps, and creating horrific situations in the world. Life belongs to God and must be entrusted to him. At the same time, God entrust his only son to us.

In this light we consider the Gospel reading, which this year describes the presentation in the Temple of Jesus. The days of purification have ended and it is time to present the first-born to the Lord. This theme is very important in the Old Testament. Life is a gift from God and the first born must be entrusted to the Lord. Rites of purification in the Hebrew tradition were rites that involved human cycles of birth, life and death. There was no sense of "dirtiness" in these rites. Instead they were held sacred because they were ways of consecrating life to God. Life was not something that we were to manage by ourselves. When we seek to manage life by ourselves, we end up constructing concentration camps. When we take it upon ourselves to decide the parameters of life, then we engage in a selection of the species, which is exactly what we are doing now. Our laws permit us to make decisions, following medical analyses, as to whether particular children are suitable for life or not. If we don't like what we see, we are free to discard the life freely. We have become the selectors of who lives or dies. When humanity grants itself the authority to manage the issues of life, we do things that are inhuman and intolerable. In the Gospel, by contrast we are confronted with a mother who humbly consecrates her child to God. But there is also a more universal dimension to the story. The mother is entrusting her child to God, whilst God at the same time is giving his son to all of humanity. 

The Presentation of Jesus causes a conflict in the world. Salvation is placed before us. Indeed, the son of God is entrusted to us. We too must consecrate ourselves to him. If we do not, then we will end up living lives that are incomplete and not even human. God is the source of real life. Without him we cannot penetrate the wall of nothingness that surrounds us.

During this Presentation scene we hear beautiful and illuminating prophecies. Jesus is to be a light for all nations and the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies. But at the same time, a sword will pierce the soul of Mary; the child will cause many to rise and fall. What is the source of this conflict? We will rise from dust to glory, seeing that glory has descended to the dust in Christ Jesus. But to rise from the dust it is essential that we entrust ourselves to this child who is placed before us. Our families are often precarious places, heading for shipwreck. And they are in this terrible state because they are self-referential, based purely on human resources. But human logic will not overcome the wall of nothingness that surrounds us. In order to truly discover who we are, we must penetrate this wall of nothingness, and it is only with the Lord Jesus that we can accomplish this. In order to overcome the challenges that confront the family, we must consign ourselves to Jesus, purify ourselves so that our hearts are penetrated by the sword that rids us of what is not ours. We do not come to salvation on a wing, making our way with things that are merely human. We must give ourselves over to the Lord. The Lord gives himself to us so that we might give ourselves to him. His was born in the stable of Bethlehem was so that we might start to be reborn in him, to make the essential leap away from ourselves and towards him. The presentation in the temple manifests this combat in which we must engage in order to make the leap. We belong to God. If we do not consecrate our lives to God then our lives are not even human. They are unsatisfying and incomplete. In God everything becomes holy and wonderful. But God cannot force us to give ourselves to him; we must do it ourselves just as Mary did when she consecrated her only son.

We wish a peaceful season of Christmas to everyone and a happy celebration of the incarnation of Our Lord.


Friday, 18 December 2020

December 20th 2020. Fourth Sunday of Advent
GOSPEL: Luke 1:26-38
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio


Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL: Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’
She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’
‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . In the first reading on Sunday, David has a noble plan to build God a house. But God tells him that it is he who will build David a house! And the Lord says the same thing to each one of us: it is He who begins and brings to fruition all the various projects in our lives. This is a perspective that is difficult for us to accept, because it involves admitting that we are not the centre of the world! It is not we who construct God, but God who constructs us. No matter how good or noble our ideas might be, they remain our ideas. It is essential that we seek to discern the initiatives that the Lord is making in our lives. Our task is to welcome the action of God in our existence, not make our own confused plans and ask God then to bless them! The Gospel is the story of the Annunciation, and here we see that it is a virgin who conceives the life of God. The life of God is always conceived virginally! Only God can bring salvation, and we allow ourselves to be saved by entering into synergy with him. It is not a question of power, coherence or strength, but, rather, welcoming his action in our life. Let all of us seek to discern the initiative of God in our lives and welcome it virginally. Virginity is not simply a physical category. It concerns the existential state of our relationship with God, of allowing him to be the origin of everything and having an attitude of openness and welcome towards what he is doing.  The life of God can only come from Him. It cannot be produced by us. St Vincent de Paul said that the works of God come to fruition by themselves, not by virtue of our efforts. An over-emphasis on the importance of our efforts is, in fact, Pelagianism. God’s work in us is always virginal. It does not come from human seed. We must constantly discern if our actions come from ourselves, from false inspiration, or from God’s initiative. This Christmas may we open ourselves to God’s action, the Holy Spirit working in us, and not be slaves to our own volitions.

In the first reading David has a desire to build a house for God. But the Lord replies, “It is I who will build a house for you”. God says the same thing to each one of us. It is he, and only he, who can give us life. The things we build will come to nothing if they do not originate in the Lord
This Sunday’s Gospel is the celebrated passage of the Annunciation, often commented upon in the past from this microphone. This time our perspective on the text will be from the point of view of the first reading. There are two parts in the passage of the Annunciation: the first concerns the disturbing effect the announcement had on Mary, whilst the second is the Angel’s response to her question, “How will this come about?” In response to Mary’s first reaction, the angel says, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David’. This recalls the prophecy from Samuel 7 that appears in the first reading on Sunday. At this point in the career of King David, he has established a “house” for himself in the sense that he is secure and has conquered all his enemies. In response, generosity springs up in the heart of David. He knows that he has arrived at this point only because of the great benevolence and aid shown to him by the Lord. He says to himself, “How can it be that I live in a fine house whilst the Ark of God is kept in a tent? Why should the Lord be in a more precarious situation than me?” Nathan the prophet hears these words of David and is impressed. “That is a noble desire”, he tells the king. “Go ahead and do it and the Lord will be with you”. That night, however, Nathan receives a word form God to relate to David. “You, David, intend to build a house for me? It is I who will construct a house for you? Look at the sort of relationship we have! I have taken you from the pastures and been with you everywhere you have gone. I have destroyed your enemies but yet I am only at the beginning. I will make your name great among the powerful on earth. It is I who will construct a house for you!” The Lord says this to David but also says it to each one of us.

No matter how beautiful our plans are, only the plans of the Lord can bring salvation. Only he can cross the abyss between us and God.
What is the Annunciation, after all? We are at the threshold of Christmas and about to celebrate the encounter between human flesh and the divinity of God, this incredible encounter which we find in the body of Christ, in this child who is the bearer of heaven upon the earth, he who is glory in the highest heaven and becomes peace for people on earth. Where does all of this great story begin? David has a noble plan, but no matter how beautiful and noble our plans are, they cannot cross the abyss between us and God. Only the Lord himself can cross that chasm. Salvation, redemption from our sins, comes from God, it does not come from us. Our task is to welcome it, and we find all of this in the story of the young girl who is a virgin and who will conceive virginally.

The life of God can only be conceived virginally. In other words, it must begin from him and our job is simply to welcome it
Let us pay attention to this fact: the life of God can only be conceived virginally, it is not born from human seed. What does this mean? When we pursue our confused inspirations, or even those inspirations that are less confused, we ought to ask, “Where does this spring from?” Very often these projects arise from our impulses, even from impulses that are good, like that of David. Nathan praised David for his great idea, but our great ideas remain our own ideas. What is truly beautiful is born from the initiative of God. When two young people are trying to discern if they should get married, they need to discern if there is something at the root of their relationship which is a gift from God. When a young man is trying to see if he ought to dedicate his life to God, he ought to discern if this plan originated in some need of his. If the vocation springs from human initiative then it means that it has human DNA from the beginning, but if a person wants to do something truly beautiful then it needs to spring from God. In fact, it is the Lord who needs to be the initiator of this thing and it is we who merely welcome it. New life is welcomed, not generated! No-one has ascended to Heaven, only the Son of Man who has come down from Heaven. It is God who opens Heaven!

God is not a personal chaplain to be summoned whenever we want his aid to complete a project of ours. What we need to do is discern the initiative of God in our lives and welcome it. Virginity is not simply an ethical or physical category. It regards our existential relationship with God
Christmas is pure gift, a gift to be welcomed, not something that comes about as a result of our initiative, no matter how good and presentable our initiative might be. When our initiative is the result of grace, or of a work that the Lord has done, then it can be beautiful and fecund. But when our course of action arises from our own flesh, then we really need to be asking ourselves, “Where did this come from?” In what way is Jesus Christ born? Jesus is born of the generosity of God. How often we try to turn God into our own personal chaplain. “Come here, Lord”, we say, “and bless this thing. Throw some holy water on it. This is my plan and you need to help me to bring it to fruition”. No, Christmas is the surprising initiative of God. This new life is born from a virgin. She is the good earth that allow this healthy seed to be born, free from weeds, free from chaos, the authentic seed of God. Let us seek to recognize the works of God in our lives, his eruptions into our existence, his initiatives in our regard. Virginity is not an ethical category, nor a simply physical category. It is an existential category that regards our relationship with God. With God, things are lived virginally. It is he who must take the initiative. We cannot produce His life on our own.


Friday, 11 December 2020

December 13th 2020. Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday
GOSPEL: John 1:6-8, 19-28
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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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.
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . This is Gaudete Sunday and we are invited to rejoice at the Lord’s immanent coming. The first reading speaks of the advent of a great liberator. In the Gospel, the figure of John the Baptist is presented to us. A central theme is the identity of John the Baptist. Why is so much attention devoted to discovering who he is? John’s own replies only reveal who he is not! It is very interesting that the person who is placed before us on Gaudete Sunday is someone who puts himself to the side, out of the limelight. This is the key to joy – to stop being slaves to ourselves, to our own identity, to our own role, our own importance! Freedom from our own ego is the real source of peace. In order for Christ to come into the world, it was necessary that someone would appear like John the Baptist who knew how to put himself into second place. What peace we obtain by not putting ourselves and our ego in the centre of everything! A good father seeks to no longer be necessary, to raise his child so well that they no longer need him. Similarly, a good priest knows how to step aside and delegate to others. A couple must be free of their own egos, giving each other reciprocal space so that Christ can live in that relationship. In everything I do, in my work or home situation, I can prepare the way for Christ. If I spend my days affirming myself, then my life is lived in vain. But my life is blessed if I am a route by which Christ can enter the lives of others. A good father or mother is someone who makes present to their children the love of God the Father, the tenderness and providence of God. If I remain fixated with own self-realisation then my life is mediocre. But if I can be a way in which Christ can enter into the lives of others, if I permit the voice of Another to speak through me, then my life will be full of love, discernment, welcome and space for others. This is what brings us to fulfilment: love, not the search for self-realisation.

John the Baptist stands at the Jordan, at the threshold to the Promised Land. He invites us to prepare ourselves for our entry into something wonderful, the arrival of the Lord
The third Sunday of Advent is always Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of Joy. As we have said on other occasions, the penitential time of Advent is always tempered by the invitation to rejoice in this Sunday’s liturgy. Lent is tempered in a similar by Laetare Sunday. The fundamental attitude of the church is not sadness but joy. Someone is coming and his arrival will be beautiful and marvellous. Let us try to understand the unity of the first reading and the Gospel by considering, firstly, the last line of the Gospel. Earlier in this passage from John’s Gospel, we hear of the appearance of a man sent by God whose name was John. This man came as a witness to the light. The end of the passage gives us information which seems to be secondary. “This took place in Bethany, across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.” Here we have a fairly precise indication of the place where John was exercising his ministry, though the location was never identified until after the state of Israel came into being in 1947. After the political situation has stabilized, archaeologists discovered this settlement of Bethany across the Jordan. So it is a historical place, even though its existence was only documented by this mention in John’s Gospel. The location of this place across the Jordan is highly significant. John the Baptist is being presented as a type of Joshua. To cross the Jordan, for the people of Israel, meant to enter the Promised Land. It signified to enter into a new and beautiful state of affairs. John the Baptist stands there on the threshold inviting people to enter into something new and wonderful. The first reading speaks of one who has been anointed and brings good news to the poor, binding up the broken hearted and proclaiming liberty to captives and the beginning of a year of the Lord’s favour. The light is on its way! John is not the light, but the true light is on its way into the world.

John tells us that there is one among us that we do not recognize. God is working among us in ways that are perceptible only to the eyes of faith
John is interrogated as regards his identity. His preaching has had such a positive reaction that people begin to recognize him as an authentic prophet whose words carry weight. “Who are you?” they ask. “I am not the Christ”, he replies. “Well, who are you then?” they want to know. “Why are you doing these things? Those in power want to know your identity.” “I am only the beginning”, John tells them. “After me will come one who is much greater. I am a voice crying in the desert. In the midst of you is one that you do not recognize, one who will bring the promises to fulfilment”. In the midst of our lives there is someone that we do no know. God is working among us in ways that are not immediately perceptible.

John the Baptist invites us to see the action of God in everything that will happen to us. The Lord is coming into our lives and every future event is a potential encounter with him, the unfolding of our story of salvation
John the Baptist announces this work of God which is ongoing in our lives. Padre Pio used to say, “Entrust your future to Providence”. How important it is to abandon the future to the coming of the Lord. When I think of my future I must recognize the presence of this powerful One who will bring life in its fullness into my future existence. Where are the events of my life leading me? To the Kingdom of Heaven. Where will the action of God in my life take me? The question of my relationship with future things is an important one. Advent calls us to mediate on our relationship with the future. John the Baptist invites us to see the initiative of God in everything that will happen to us, to see the work of benevolent Providence in those things that are taking place. When we begin to see things in this manner then we understand our lives as being a story of salvation, the story of an Advent, the story of the arrival of God into the depths of our existence. We are fearful because we think of life as a journey towards emptiness and the void. Instead it is a journey which ends with a leap into the arms of God! Everything is a form of preparation, a preparation for growth, for a new love which will be sown in our hearts, a greater spirit of service towards others, a greater joy, a more mature knowledge, for deeper encounter with the Lord. This is a journey that never ends because when we discover these beautiful things we always long for more. When we encounter the Lord we are happy because we know for certain that he will return again, that he will not leave us alone, and that he wants to enter into our lives in a still deeper way.

Let us be assured that the Lord has only begun his work in us. There is so much more that he intends to do with us, so let us prepare for his coming!
John the Baptist invites us to contemplate the fact that things are still incomplete, to appreciate that what is most beautiful has yet to come. When the people demand to know who he is, if he is the one who has been promised, he replies that he is only the beginning of something marvellous. How often people who are living the faith need to realize that they are only at the beginning, that the Lord is going to do even greater things with them! It is important to be aware of this fact. How true it is! If we have known the Lord to any degree, let us be assured that we are only at the beginning, there is much more that the Lord wishes to give us.

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Sunday Gospel Reflection