Advent Day 12~ Rejoice! The Lord is near!

Third Sunday of Advent ~

Sunday December 12. 2021

In our Catholic liturgical calendar this is “Gaudete Sunday — the Sunday of Joy.    We’re more than half way through Advent and the vestment color is Rose, rather than purple, the color of penitence.  So, we see the celebrant in rose vestments.

This is supposed to be a joyful time of year but . . . some us don’t see things clearly, or can’t speak up for ourselves or are disabled.  some of us are afraid ~ disillusioned ~ confused ~ depressed ~ lonely ~ weak-kneed and in need of a good old-fashioned infusion of hope and joy, and so . . .

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4: 4-7)

In our Gospel today we hear again about John the Baptist.  The Jews were sure that God favored their nation; that God would judge other nations by one standard but the Jews by another. They felt they were safe from judgment simply because they were Jewish. John told them otherwise: that life, not their heritage was God’s standard of judgment, according to Scripture scholar William Barclay.

Barclay tells us that there are three outstanding things about John the Baptist’s message.

(1) He demanded that people should share with one another. It was a social gospel that declared that God would not be pleased if someone had too much while others had too little.

(2) He told people not to leave their jobs, but to work out their salvation by doing those jobs as they should be done. Let the tax collector be a good tax collector and a soldier be a good soldier.

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.” (Lk 3:10-15)

In other words, when people came to the Baptist and asked, “What should we do?” he gave them the most reasonable, commonsense reply. He says, in effect, “ Live reality. God is asking you to be faithful to the ordinary circumstances of your life. He will make himself evident there.

And with that advice, “ the people were filled with expectation, asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.” All because John made them attentive to their own hearts in a way that neglected nothing of their humanity. They can exult with their own heart because they can now trust that the desires of their heart are not illusions. They have no anxiety for the Lord is near as the next moment and whatever it brings.                         (Magnificat liturgical magazine, December, 2018, ed.)

Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people. 

(3)  (Barclay) John was quite sure that he himself was only the forerunner. The King was still to come and with him would come judgment. The winnowing fan was a great flat wooden shovel; with it the grain was tossed into the air, the heavy grain would fall to the ground, but the chaff would be blown away. And just as the chaff was separated from the wheat so the King would separate the good and the bad.

Thus, John painted a picture of judgment and it could be faced with confidence by those who had looked after their neighbor’s needs and faithfully done their day’s work. (Barclay / Luke pp.44.2)

John was simply the sign-post, pointing the way toward Christ.  He was faithful even unto imprisonment and death and content to simply be the messenger.

My spiritual director some time ago suggested I pray to John the Baptist, and so I do so now . .  .

O John, how lovingly you served your Lord.

I am dumbfounded at my own lack of humility,  

my refusal to serve, the meager way I have served him.  

You inspire me, even in my later years to wait upon my God to act in my life,

to wait for him to do new things.  

Thank you, John, for your service-unto-death;

ask for the grace, the strength and the courage to also serve my Lord unto the end of my days.  

     Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.  Amen.

And before you go, here is a 1970-ish John the Baptist and company from Godspell singing a spirited Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!  Click here. 

And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer

Advent Day 15 ~ Rejoice! The Lord is near!

IMG_0151The Third Sunday of Advent ~ December 15, 2019

In our Catholic liturgical calendar this is “Gaudete Sunday — the Sunday of Joy.    We’re halfway through Advent and the vestment color is Rose, rather than purple, the color of penitence.  So, we may see the celebrant wearing rose vestments.

This is supposed to be a joyful time of year but . . . some us don’t see things clearly, or can’t speak up for ourselves or are disabled.  Some of us are afraid or disillusioned; confused or depressed; lonely or weak-kneed or just plain in need of an infusion of hope and joy, so . . .

today’s first reading from Isaiah 35:1-6,10  sums up the joyful, hopeful mood of this third Advent Sunday:

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

And in last Sunday’s gospel, we found John the Baptist preaching and baptizing along the Jordan River to great crowds of people. But in today’s gospel, however, we find him in prison.

Our Presbyterian scripture scholar William Barclay commented that John’s career ended in disaster. It wasn’t John’s habit to soften the truth. Herod Antipas had paid a visit to his brother in Rome and seduced his brother’s wife. He came home again, dismissed his own wife, and married the sister-in-law Herodias whom he lured away from her husband. Publicly and sternly, John rebuked Herod. Consequently, John was thrown into the dungeons of the fortress of Machaerus in the mountains near the Dead Sea.

For a man who lived in the wild open spaces with the sky above and the wind blowing through his hair, this was surely agony.  So he may have had some doubts, and sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask . . . .

Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?

Jesus said to them in reply,

Go and tell John what you see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear [ . . .] and the poor have the good news preached to them.  

John’s joy was to witness the unfolding of God’s plan of salvation and to play his assigned role within it. The way of fidelity to God and cooperation with God’s gift of himself to the world often leads through the dungeons of human injustice and cruelty . . . . John always acted with every fiber of his being oriented to serving a greater good than himself.  John’s humility took the form of an ability to wait without end for God to act. Hence, he sent a message to Jesus to ask him what he should do.

And you probably know how John’s story ended: Herodias hated John, even though Herod wanted him alive. She kept looking for a way to get rid of him. The time finally came at a birthday party for the ruler at which her daughter danced so much to Herod’s delight that he promised her“half of his kingdom.” And Herodias got her daughter to demand Herod  John’s head on a platter in front of his guests (Mt. 14) .

The world is filled with despots, even today. St. Paul exhorts us in the second reading today to be patient. (I suppose that means, even with the despots!) We should take heart in the wonderful message of Isaiah:

Be strong, fear not!” Do you hear the echoes of Saint John Paul II who was always exhorting people all over the world not to be afraid!

Dear Heavenly Father,

the despots of our world will not win. 

Your Son has already brought us the victory!

We are not afraid!

The hands of the feeble will become strong, 

the knees of the weak will become firm.

The eyes of the blind will be opened!

The ears of the deaf will be cleared!

The tongues of the silenced will be loosened!

The desert and the parched land will exult!

The rivers will run fresh and clear again!

The forests will be free for wildlife again!

The oceans will be free for whales and fishes again!

Here is your God, he comes with divine recompense to save you.

We will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God!

This we ask as we ask all things, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 Before you go, Here’s a song that follows the Scripture texts for today. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are all the of the Readings for today’s Mass, if you’d like those as well. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

William Barclay / The Daily Study Bible Series / The Gospel of Matthew – Volume 2 / Revised Edition                                        The Westminster Press / Philadelphia Pa 1975

 

Rejoice! The Lord is near!

IMG_0151The Third Sunday of Advent ~ December 11, 2016

In our Catholic liturgical calendar this is “Gaudete Sunday — the Sunday of Joy.    We’re halfway through Advent and the vestment color is Rose, rather than purple, the color of penitence.  So, we may see the celebrant in rose vestments.

This is supposed to be a joyful time of year but . . . some us don’t see things clearly, or can’t speak up for ourselves or are disabled.  Some of us are afraid or disillusioned; confused or depressed; lonely or weak-kneed or just plain in need of an infusion of hope and joy, so . . .

today’s first reading from Isaiah 35:1-6,10  sums up the joyful, hopeful mood of  this third Advent Sunday:

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

And in last Sunday’s gospel, we found John the Baptist preaching and baptizing along the Jordan River to great crowds of people. But in today’s gospel, however, we find him in prison.

Our scripture scholar Presbyterian William Barclay commented that John’s career ended in disaster. It wasn’t John’s habit to soften the truth. Herod Antipas had paid a visit to his brother in Rome and seduced his brother’s wife. He came home again, dismissed his own wife, and married the sister-in-law whom he lured away from her husband. Publicly and sternly John rebuked Herod. Consequently, John was thrown into the dungeons of the fortress of Machaerus in the mountains near the Dead Sea.

For a man who lived in the wild open spaces with the sky above and the wind blowing through his hair, this was surely agony.  So he may have had some doubts. He sent some of his disciples to Jesus to ask . . . .

Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?

Jesus said to them in reply,

Go and tell John what you see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear [ . . .] and the poor have the good news preached to them.  

John’s joy was to witness the unfolding of God’s plan of salvation and to play his assigned role within it. The way of fidelity to God and cooperation with God’s gift  of himself to the world leads through dungeons of human injustice and cruelty . . . . John was always acting as one whose every fiber is oriented to serving a greater good than himself.  John’s humility takes the form of an ability to wait without end for God to act. 

And you probably know how John’s story ended: Herodias hated John, even though Herod wanted him alive. She kept looking for a way to get rid of him. The time finally came at a birthday party for the ruler at which her daughter danced for Herod in which he promised “half of his kingdom” to her. Herodias got her to demand Herod in front of his guest to ask her John’s head on a platter (Mt. 14)

My spiritual director some time ago suggested I pray to John the Baptist, and so I do so now . .  .

O John, how lovingly you served your Lord.

I am dumbfounded at my own lack of humility,  

my refusal to serve, my meager efforts when I do serve.  

You inspire me, John, even in my later years to wait upon my God to act in my life,

to wait for him to do new things.  

Thank you for your service-unto-death;

I ask for me the grace, the strength and the courage to also serve my Lord unto the end of my days.  Amen.

 Before you go, here’s a selection from Handel’s Messiah by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for your listening pleasure. Click here.  Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are all the of the Readings for today’s Mass, if you’d like those as well. Click here. 

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

William Barclay / The Daily Study Bible Series / The Gospel of Matthew – Volume 2 / Revised Edition                                        The Westminster Press / Philadelphia Pa 1975

 

Advent Day 15 ~ Rejoice! The Lord is near!

IMG_0151Third Sunday of Advent

In our Catholic liturgical calendar this is “Gaudete Sunday — the Sunday of Joy.    We’re half way through Advent and the vestment color is Rose, rather than purple, the color of penitence.  So, we see the celebrant in rose vestments.

This is supposed to be a joyful time of year but . . . some us don’t see things clearly, or can’t speak up for ourselves or are disabled.  some of us are afraid / disillusioned / confused / depressed / lonely / weak-kneed and in need of a good old-fashioned infusion of hope and joy, so . . .

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4: 4-7)

In our Gospel today we hear again about John the Baptist.  The Jews were sure that God favored their nation; that God would judge other nations by one standard but the Jews by another. They felt they were safe from judgment simply because they were Jewish. John told them otherwise: that life, not their heritage was God’s standard of judgment, according to Scripture scholar William Barclay.

Barclay tells us that there are three outstanding things about John the Baptist’s message.

(1) He demanded that people should share with one another. It was a social gospel that declared that God would not be pleased if someone had too much while others had too little.

(2) He told people not to leave their jobs, but to work out their salvation by doing those jobs as they should be done. Let the tax collector be a good tax collector and a soldier be a good soldier.

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.” (Lk 3:10-15)

In other words, when people came to the Baptist and asked, “What should we do?” he gave them the most reasonable, commonsense reply. He says, in effect, “ Live reality. God is asking you to be faithful to the ordinary circumstances of your life. He will make himself evident there.

And with that advice, “ the people were filled with expectation, asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.” In their expectation, they are like Simeon, who awaited Israel’s consolation (Lk 2:25). (Magnificat/ Dec. issue)

Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people. 

(3)  (Barclay) John was quite sure that he himself was only the forerunner. The King was still to come and with him would come judgment. The winnowing fan was a great flat wooden shovel; with it the grain was tossed into the air, the heavy grain would fall to the ground, but the chaff would be blown away. And just as the chaff was separated from the wheat so the King would separate the good and the bad.

Thus, John painted a picture of judgment and it could be faced with confidence by those who had looked after their neighbor’s needs and faithfully done their day’s work. (Barclay / Luke pp.44.2)

John was simply the sign-post, pointing the way toward Christ.  He was faithful even unto imprisonment and death and content to simply be the messenger.

My spiritual director some time ago suggested I pray to John the Baptist, and so I do so now . .  .

O John, how lovingly you served your Lord.

I am dumbfounded at my own lack of humility,  

my refusal to serve, my paltriness when I do serve.  

You inspire me, even in my later years to wait upon my God to act in my life,

to wait for him to do new things.  

Thank you, John, for your service-unto-death;

ask for me the grace, the strength and the courage to also serve my Lord unto the end of my days.  

      Amen.

And before you go, here is a 1970-ish John the Baptist and company from Godspell singing a spirited Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!  Click here. 

And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d like them. Click here.