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Contents: Volume 2 - The 2nd SUNDAY of ADVENT - 12-09-18


 

The 2nd

SUNDAY

of

ADVENT

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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1.

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Advent 2 C

Most of us will agree that life is a series of ups and downs, valleys and mountains. A valley can be a bountiful delight with lush greenery or unpleasant dip in the road to a goal. A mountain can be a cold, harsh place or a wondrous closeness to being "on top of the world". We have all "been there, done that"!

In the Gospel according to Luke, we are reminded of different imagery, however, taken from the Book of Isaiah and our first reading, the Book of Baruch. We are PROMISED that God , through Jesus, will take away all obstacles, whether valleys, mountains, winding roads, or rough ways. Things will be level at last so that all "may advance secure in the glory of God." Now that is a promise!

In order to receive that promise, however, we must indeed also listen to the message of John the Baptist and repent of our sins. Although we all face valleys and mountains in our lives, we, too, have made life more difficult for others by somehow putting obstacles in their lives as well. Reflecting on those times will help us "make straight" our own lives and the lives of others as well.

It would be wonderful if our world was a place of equality , a "level" place for all people right now! Revisiting the more personal life of President Bush 41 this week, the world saw kindness, gentleness, and unconditional love and friendship. Perhaps this week, we might look at simple ways we might make that happen, in the places we walk and with the people we meet, as we prepare for the Birth of a much needed Savior.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Second Sunday of Advent December 9 2018

Baruch 5:1-9; Responsorial Psalm 126; Philippians 1:4-6 & 8-11; Gospel Acclamation Luke 3:4 & 6; Luke 3:1-6

The prophet Baruch claims to have been the secretary to the great prophet Jeremiah. Yet, anyone who studies this prophet with knowledge of the history of the chosen people will realize the events of the book are scattered over at least a hundred years. The author of this book compiles a whole series of events in Israel and Juda and brings them into perspective. These historical struggles and victories carry with them more than the accomplishments and sufferings of humanity. What Baruch does for us is stand back from the hustle and bustle of the every day, every year, every decade, and even every century and uncovers in that history the hand of God at work bringing the chosen ones to an understanding and appreciation of God’s living presence.

Most of us know the Scriptures of the Hebrews through a once a week selection. The history of Judaism is foreign to us and thus Baruch’s inspiration may seem to lack meaningful intensity. We may ask ourselves, if the story of God’s working in our history is true, why is it I don’t experience it myself? Why is God so hidden from my experience of daily life? Why does it take God so awfully long to accomplish his will?

Baruch encourages the people of Jerusalem to throw off garments of sadness and sorrow. He tells them to forget the sieges, the destruction of the city and the temple. Forget that relatives and friends have been taken away to live as slaves in foreign lands. Instead, he instructs them and us, to put on the happy robes of God’s glory. He tells us to open our eyes and see what God is doing. God is doing justice.

Repeatedly this season of Advent the readings speak of justice. This justice is not human justice which seeks a rule of law, arguments of lawyers, and depositions of evidence and witnesses. God’s justice is pervasive, more within our bones. God’s justice is the truth of what is. Who are we? Who are our neighbors? What is the purpose and meaning of existence? Where is truth? The weariness of living, of pursuing and conquering, of laboring and collecting, of making a place for ourselves among humanity – this weariness, this endless pursuit of what fails to give permanence to satisfaction of achievement, is overcome by the realization of God’s justice. Baruch tells the chosen people that the whole world will discover the peace that derives from justice and from the acceptance of God as God – the truth of God - by celebration in worship.

The two kingdoms of the Hebrew people divided after the death of Solomon into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Juda. Over the centuries each kingdom suffered attacks of emerging empires. The citizens of those two kingdoms were repeatedly removed, leaving only a remnant in the land. In fact, as Baruch mentions in this Sunday’s reading, "they were led away on foot by their enemies." Yet Baruch instructs the nation to go to the highest mountain. They should leave behind for the moment the concerns of the valley and look to the east, to the place of the rising sun. From that height they will see those who had been taken returning to their homeland. God’s glory – which is how the Hebrew Scriptures describe the presence of God – God’s glory will level obstructing mountains. The gorges and canyons and steep valleys will be filled in, making a smooth highway of return for those taken. Even the forests will spring up and provide shade against the heat of the noon-day sun. The God will lead the people filled with joy because of his presence. That glory will be accompanied by mercy and compassion for the people and of the people.

This message of hope, this message wrapped in justice, this message of reunion of those lost, of those taken away by enemies is the essence of our season of Advent. In this time of year it is our custom to reach out to those out of sight, to those we remember from our youth, from young adulthood. We send letters and cards; we share gifts of kindness and welcome. We invite to our tables friends gained and friends lost. Those who have grown in the grace of God this past year will remember God’s mercy and compassion given us. In that remembering we will extend mercy and compassion to those who have wronged us, to those from whom we’ve become estranged, and to those who struggle in poverty to survive. So, "People! Take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name!" Get into your head and heart God’s presence.

In the gospel Luke takes great pains to let us know the exact time of what he’s writing about. He uses the civil history record to insist that the good news he’s proclaiming truly happened. By pinning the preaching of John the baptizer to exact civil, historic events, he lays claim to the historic setting of his message of good news. This is no mere made up story. This happened: this is happening even now in the twenty-first century. The Good News forever cycles through the living of humankind. John the Baptizer still stands on the Jordan river – any flowing water in any part of the earth – and shouts to us, "Repent, repent! Change your vision, change how you value your living! There is more to the gift of life you have than the ticking of clocks, the measures of success, and the flow of history. Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!"

His message is simple, straight forward. If the Kingdom of God, if the Glory of God is going to inspire your, if you are going to join that Kingdom and prosper, then you must repent of the way in which you live. Come and wash away the dirt that has accumulated on you. Clothe yourself with justice and crown yourself with mercy and compassion for your brothers and sisters. When you turn away from the ignorance and practice that denies the presence of God you will find the way of your life leveled, the mountains will cease to challenge your inner peace and joy: the gorges and wash-outs will be filled and drained. And you shall see the salvation of God.

Prosperity and peace in this salvation extended by God have little to do with the accumulation of power, wealth, or influence. This prosperity is inner peace and delight at the glory of God that resides within oneself, within the community called together, and in the good earth that spins in the universe of great and incomprehensible magnitude. When we comprehend the glory of God within and around us, everything changes. It is as though long lost family, long lost friends, long lost citizens of the Kingdom are returning by road, by sea, by air: on foot, in cars, on trains, on ships, and planes. That joy, that glory is clothed with mercy and compassion.

May our longing be for the glory of God and his mercy and compassion. May it be so!

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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3.

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PREPARING THE WAY: 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT C

A brand new priest went to the lectern to preach his first homily after ordination. He was as nervous as a kitten. But when he reached the lectern he broke into a broad smile. Someone had left a note for him: 'What's it to be, man? Will you give us heaven, or give us hell?' Well, I like to give you the gospel, i.e. good news from God, news we have on God's authority, news of hope, news of encouragement. The good news that our God loves us, the good news that our God is always with us, the good news that our God is never finished with us, the good news that our God is going to prepare us for both Christmas and Christ's Second Coming by changing us, the good news as Luke puts it from the prophet Isaiah, that 'all are going to see the salvation of God'.

Of course, God's presence and action require our cooperation. John the messenger of God tells us what this includes. It includes repentance. This is more than sorrow for our sins, even for the best of motives. True repentance requires an about-face, a real change in what we think about our world, ourselves, and our relationships. It requires a thoroughgoing change in the ways we think, feel, value, speak, act and live. It involves nothing less than taking on the mind and heart of Jesus. True repentance, John also says, demands an outward sign of interior change. So John says, 'be baptized. Have your sins washed away in the waters of repentance, and get a life, a new life, a new way of living'. For us it means letting the meaning of our Christian baptism keep bubbling over into new and better ways of living and relating - to ourselves, to other human beings - especially poor, sad and lonely people - to our environment, and to our God.

So, letting God save us is a matter of co-operating with the action of God by preparing the way of the Lord. Unlike me, many of you are mothers and fathers. You know what it's like to prepare for the arrival of a new baby. A room has to be cleaned out of all useless junk. It has to be washed or wiped clean from top to bottom. Usually a new coat of paint has to be applied or new wallpaper. A blind to keep the sun out of baby's face has to be hung, and pretty curtains put up to decorate the space. A bassinette, a cot, a pram and a stroller, must all be around. Fresh, soft baby clothes are to await baby's arrival. Maybe some soft toys must be added to the scene, and some shapes hung from the ceiling to capture Baby's attention and to keep Baby calm and content. There is just so much to be done.

In ancient times preparing for the visit of a king to one of his cities or towns would be just as demanding. The king would send a courier to people to tell them to mend the roads, fill in the pot-holes, and smooth out the bumps, so that the king's journey might be as easy, pleasant and trouble-free as possible.

It is this image that Luke uses to describe the mission of John the Baptist. The word of God comes to him as prophet, as messenger of God to the crowds who go out to the desert to hear him speak. 'The King is coming,' John says in effect, 'So mend God’s roads to you, by straightening out your lives.'

So, in the light of our celebration of Christ's first coming on Christmas Day and of our hope in his Second Coming at the end of time, we have a double task before Christmas 2018:- 1. to rejoice and give thanks that we do not save ourselves, but that our God is coming to save us, and 2. With the help of the grace, the presence of God to us, to fill in those potholes, level out those bumps, and remove every road-block that is getting in the way of God coming to visit us. All our efforts to prepare the way of the Lord will then make it so much easier for God to do his work of coming to save, transform, change and renew us.

Concretely, what are those road-blocks we need to shift? In your case, you know what they are. In my case, I know what they are. So, let us make our own Paul's prayer in our Second Reading today! May our meeting with Christ in our holy communion with him lead us to understand and appreciate that '[God] who has begun this good work in you [and me] will carry it through to completion, right up to the day of Christ Jesus', both at Christmas and on the last day. May he find you and me, then, as Paul puts it, both ‘pure and blameless’. How might that be? Because with the help of God we will have, removed ‘the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy….’ (Opening Prayer) When that day comes, then, may all our tears and all our struggles be turned into whoops of joy and shouts of victory!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net. Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


 

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Volume II Archive

We keep up to six articles in this archive.  The latest is always listed first.

ADVENT 2 ADVENT 1 CHRIST the KING 33rd SUNDAY 32nd SUNDAY 31st SUNDAY


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