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With this past week's readings from the Gospel of Matthew we are approaching the end of the Advent Gospel readings, beginning on 11 December, having to do with the person and mission of Saint John the Baptist. We've learned that he is the "greatest born of women" (Mt 11), the new Elijah (Mt 17), and the baptizer crying out in the wilderness (Jn 1). In today's reading, Jesus uses the question of John's authority to thwart the machinations of the chief priests and elders of the Temple: "Where was John's baptism from? Was it of heavenly origin or of human origin?" (Mt 21)
Our Lord asks this question because he knows the motivations of his...
This Advent season we are called to build one another up for the coming of the Lord. In the letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul exhorts the community to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in all circumstances give thanks. Three simple instructions that teach us spiritual abandonment, something we can learn from the poor. Meister Eckhart in his interaction with a poor man, sheds some light on how the poor can build us up.
483 years ago today, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatzin on the small hill of Tepeyac outside Mexico City identifying herself as "the ever virgin Mary, Mother of the true God through whom all things live."1 She expressed to him her "ardent desire that a church be erected [there] so that in it I can show and bestow my love, compassion, help and protection to all who inhabit this land and to those others who love me, that they might call upon and confide in me."2 Worth noting is the inclusion in her solicitude for all who lived in that land, not just Christians, and even others who would learn of her appearance in other lands and grow to love her. The extended patronage of La Virgen de Guadalupe was recognized by John Paul II in 1999 when she was named patroness...
In the first reading from Mass today, the prophet Isaiah says:
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together.
How does this reading relate to us? What are these highways, valleys, and mountains the prophet is talking about? We can look at them figuratively, showing us how we can prepare ourselves individually for the Lord.
First, make straight the highway....
Advent begins with a message of hope for the coming of the Lord. Yet Augustine teaches that hope and love go hand in hand. We cannot claim to look forward to Christ's arrival if we do not also live in love. As Christians we are one body that waits together, giving thanks for each other's gifts and blessings.
Christ is King of the universe, and yet he requires our cooperation to reign in our hearts. Though we may say "no," his mercy is always waiting to heal us--a mercy that may be painful, but a mercy founded on his perfect act of sacrifice: the Cross from which he reigns as King of the Broken.