Mary Visits Elizabeth
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
Mary is not only the first of all believers in the NT but also the first missionary to bring the good news of God’s love and saving power to her cousin Elizabeth and her whole family. When the angel also revealed to her that Elizabeth has conceived a son in her old age, she went with haste to be one with her cousin in this moment of joy and anxious infanticipation. And, as soon as the women met, they understood each other and their embrace manifested the joyful acceptance of their mission.
The visitation of Mary is God’s visitation to Elizabeth. Elizabeth is experiencing the anxiety of conceiving a son in her old age and the sadness of her husband’s loss of speech. But as soon as the older woman heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit, was able to recognize the loving presence of God in Mary and so she was consoled, strengthened and uttered a cry of blessing.
Are we able to recognize the gentle and comforting presence of God in the midst of our busy schedule? Do we go out of our way, like Mary, to share God’s love for others? When was the last we uttered to cry of blessing and thanksgiving to Him who has gifted us with his own beloved Son? (SVD friend Bible Diary 2002)
Mary’s encounter with her cousin Elizabeth is one of the gospel episodes of great profundity. John in his mother’s womb felt the presence of Jesus. Elizabeth discovered Mary’s fullness of grace, and proclaimed her blessed.
This was made possible because Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and it was the Spirit who inspired her to understand such things.
Oftentimes we forget the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He is the one who opens our hearts to the acknowledgement of Jesus already present in our midst. (Fr. Eliseo Yyance, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth exemplifies the life of a Christian – that of spreading the joy and gratitude of being “visited” by God, of having the privilege of carrying Christ in one’s life. This privilege eggs us on to let others share the presence of Christ which in turn prompts them to spread the experience, like chain letters. If chain letters were personified in good words and works for others then the contagion will be unstoppable.
If we believe that Christ is within us, but it does not show, then we become a non-performing asset or a “missing link” in a possible chain reaction of endless possibilities for the reign of God to be established. The honor given to Mary did not become an obstruction but rather a conduit for the transmission of God’s wonderful deeds. She became humbler and more sensitive to other’s needs.
We are approaching the birthday of Christ. This is a good time once again to reflect how much have we allowed ourselves to serve as links between Christ and others? We are all assets in spreading the presence of Christ by what we do for others. Are we frozen or performing assets. (Fr. Gerry del Pinado, SVD Bible Diary 2005)
This gospel episode brings me back to the day when Benedict XVI was elected Pope. From the conclave up to the inauguration of the new pope, the whole world, thanks to media, experienced a kind of divine visitation, one that Mary and Elizabeth also experienced. Both were moments of God visiting us his people, assuring us of his presence and faithfulness.
Elizabeth’s gratitude was also echoed by the Pope’s own words, ‘I am consoled by the fact that the Lord can work and act even through insufficient instruments…” As John leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb, pilgrims and viewers around the world who watched and prayed jumped in joy at the worlds, “Habemus Papam” (We have a Pope). Mary who carried and brought Jesus to the world figured prominently in the first papal public address, ‘In the joy of the risen Lord, and trusting in his permanent help, we go forward. The Lord will help us and Mary His most holy Mother is on our side.”
The joy doesn’t stop there. Daily we author visitation stories in our own encounters made possible by Christ, the Emmanuel! We just have to be sensitive to His presence within our midst. The words of Pope Benedict XVI assure us, “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away and He gives you everything.” (Fr. Raymond Soriano, SVD Bible Diary 2006)
Up in the hill country of Judah, right across the house where as tradition says Zechariah and Elizabeth lived, rises a church which the Franciscans built and aptly called “The Church of the Visitation.”
In the recent past, specifically right after the Six-Day War pitting Israel against its Arab neighbors, pilgrims – Jews, Christians and Moslems, travelled all the way from Jerusalem to the Church of the Visitation search of solace, peace and a place for prayer.
One of these pilgrims was a Jewish rabbi who, upon meeting with a Catholic priest, told him, “You know, we Jews and Christians are both peoples of hope. But,” he added, “while we Jews look forward to the coming of our Messiah with great joy and much enthusiasm, you Christians are either apathetic or afraid. We as a people, possess the right of hope.”
When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, a woman laboring physically from the rigors of having child in her old age while enduring the gossip of evil-minded neighbors, our Blessed Mother’s very timely visit provided support, strength, and much-needed consolation to her beleaguered cousin. Mary gave her cousin a reason to hope. The latter, filled with gratitude and inspired by the Holy Spirit, joyfully exclaimed, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
With genuine joy and a rightful pride, rightful because it was a pride based on the goodness of the Lord, Mary replied with the majestic hymn: The Magnificat, in which she truly magnifies the goodness of the Lord.
People see in the Jews a proud nation, but theirs is a pride anchored, not on themselves or on their own achievements, but on the love and mercy God has for them.
Our people, beset by the evils of the leaders, some uncaring while others grossly corrupt, still maintain their hope that one day our Lord and His Blessed Mother will free them from the tribulations of these trying times. (Fr. Flor Lagura, SVD Bible Diary 2009)
One more mile, one more smile!
Mama Mary reminds us today what a true missionary is. She travelled many mile from Nazareth in Ein Karem to be with, and to be of help to, her cousin Elizabeth who was infanticipating. She too was pregnant, but she went out of her way, left her comfort zone, braved the discomforts and dangers of the journey, to be present with her cousin. A missionary is one who goes the extra mile to give more smile.
There are two thing we must remember if we want to keep on going the extra mile and to keep on going the extra mile. First, we must focus on our blessings, not on what is missing. If we focus on the could-have-beens and should-have-beens in our lives, we will not grateful and fruitful lives. Second, we must focus on our mission, not so much on our personal “konsumisyon.” If we focus on our problems and pains, we will not radiate the gospel joy and hope which are much needed in our world today.
Let us follow the example of Mama Mary so that we too will become true missionaries who live “magnificat” and not “mabigat” lives! (Fr. Jerry orbos SVD Bible Diary 2015).
December 21, 2016 Wednesday
Mary, Elizabeth and the yet-to-be-born John the Baptist, the first members of the nascent Church, share the joy of God’s intervention in history, in their very lives, as we do today. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in their midst. Both Mary and Elizabeth are filled with the Spirit, and their joy is almost palpable.
The joy enjoined on the people in the first reading, the joy of being redeemed, which is not unlike our own joy this Simbang Gabi, is carried over into our Gospel.
I remember being particularly depressed one Christmas when I heard a popular song, “Last Christmas you gave me your heart. The very next day you took it away.” I was disheartened by the negativity and selfishness it expressed, particularly as it was seen as a legitimate Christmas song.
Yet we actually tend to have the Lord in our heart for a while before we lose him in the daily worries of our lives. Of course Christ does not take his heart away from us. We often simply just blot him out of our lives because of more immediate and urgent considerations.
Like Mary and Elizabeth and John we have been prepared for this joy over a very long period of time. We must renew this experience in our liturgy every year so that it can permeate our very being. Christ is being born in our hearts. We should keep him in our midst and never lose the joy that comes from this. Is the joy enjoined on the people of Israel really experienced in the gospel of our own personal and communal lives? Does the Lord, our God, really remain in our midst? Are we really open to this reality and do we show it in our lives? (Fr. Alan Meechan, SVD | Naujan, Or. Mindoro Bible Diary 2016)
YOU ARE THERE! It is not good to classify people. On the other hand, classifying people can help us understand people’s attitude. There are different ways of classifying people, understanding human behavior. One style is to classify them according to how they enter a room. One type of people, when they enter a room, they say, “I AM HERE!” this is the type of persons who cannot tolerate being unnoticed. These people are those who enjoy being the focal point of attention, who enjoy being the life of the party.
The second type of person who enters the room is the one who enters the room full of people and enters as if nobody is there. He will not greet anybody. He will just take a seat and do what he is supposed to do, mindless of the presence of others. in Tagalog, ni ha, ni ho, no good morning/afternoon, nothing. He just enters the room and does what he wants to do and forgets about everything, everybody in the room.
The third type of person who enters the room is this person who says, “Ah, you are there.” This one enters the room and says, “Ah, you are there and I am happy to see you in the room. I am happy to greet you in the room. I am happy that you are ahead of me.”
There are different types or styles of entering room. One is to call attention to yourself. Another one is to ignore everybody. The third one is the type that gives importance to everybody who is in the room and says, “Ah, you are here.” The “ah, you are here” people are like Mary. Mary was carrying God in her womb. If you noticed, as soon as Mary and Elizabeth met each other, who greeted first? Mary. In spite of her stature, in spite of her dignity that she is now the Mother of God, that the angel had appeared to her, it was Mary who greeted first and Elizabeth said: “The moment your greeting sounded in my ear, my baby jumped for joy.” Such humility, such simplicity, such care for others. that is Mary.
It will be Christmas in a few days and I whisper to God a prayer that we may find in our hearts to always look for God in everybody. Entering a room, entering a Church, we will not ignore God present there. Entering a room, entering a church, may we recognize God present in everybody. May we be the third type of person, the “ah, you are here.” So let us greet one another as if the Lord has visited us, like Elizabeth. (Bishop Soc Villegas Love Like Jesus pp. 102-103)
December 21, 2012
St. Peter Canisius
Late Advent Weekdays:
[or Zep 3:14-18a]
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, 42cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
The mother of my Lord. The Gospel is a lesson in sharing. Knowing she will be the mother of the Savior, the first thing Mary does is to visit her cousin Elizabeth. She certainly wishes to be of service and to provide companionship for Elizabeth who is also expecting her first child in her old age. But more than helping, Mary is sharing Jesus with her cousin.
Elizabeth must be anxious and fearful about the difficulties of childbearing in old age. Mary’s presence gives comfort, consolation, and assurance. More, Mary has brought Jesus to her. Who could calm her fears and anxieties better than Jesus?
Indeed, what better gift can we give than share Jesus with others? People need our sympathy, our understanding, our listening ear, our presence, our trust. It is admirable if we can give these. Yet, far better it is to share Jesus with people in need.
God is always near us, abot-kamay, within reach. God continually comes and visits. We meet him both in one who does good to us and in another who needs our assistance. He comes to help us especially when our cross seems too heavy, when we are in trouble, when we are down.
Do we let him in? Do we make him feel he is welcome and needed?
Do I go out of my way to listen to others, offer my companionship, and show compassion?
6th Day, 21st December Year A: Mary the Abode for the Lord
Readings: 1st: 2 Samuel 7: 1-5. 8b-11.16. 2nd: Romans 16: 25-27. 3rd: Luke 1: 39-45
The short reflection on the 6th day of Misa de Gallo is taken from the Gospel reading: “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1: 43).
Mary has shown the whole humanity the attitude and service and solidarity with people in need. She is the model par excellence of discipleship – a hearer and doer of God’s Word! Being God’s chosen one is NOT an entitlement, but a call to become a WITNESS of God. In Mary’s case, being the Mother of God means a call to give life, to care, to nurture, and to accompany not only to Jesus, her Son, but to all who believe in Him.
Mary’s visitation of her cousin, Elizabeth, was precisely to help and accompany her who was “well stricken in years”. Mary would stay there for six months to accompany her go through the experience of childbirth.
It is my belief that there is only one way to eliminate the evils that surround us, that is, to school ourselves, once more, and to prefer a life that is geared towards the service of our neighbors and the care for our gasping environment OVER the glorification of power, money and individual’s outer success.
Mary, at the scene of the Visitation, shows us the way… Bapa Jun Mercado, OMI facebook.com/jun.mercado
Monday, December 20, 2010
Mary and Elizabeth – Showing us the Way!
Homily – Tuesday, December 21, 2010
There are two very different but profound messages given to us today in the gospel and through the examples of two remarkable women;
Mary and Elizabeth.
Let’s begin with Mary – As we all know, she was carrying Jesus within her womb and what does she do Does she withdrawal from the community and hide away with this treasure? No – she ventures out into the world with a plan to give service to Elizabeth. Carrying the person of Christ, His love, His grace, and His power, she sets off out into the world, allowing Christ to be present to others.
I can’t help but wonder if we are applying Mary’s example to our lives as well. Each week… and for some of us – each day, we receive Christ through the Holy Eucharist; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. He becomes as real within us as he was within Mary, and what do we do after Mass? Do we go home and hid him from the world? Or, do we, like Mary, go to great effort to share him, and show him to others?
I was once asked by a group of Protestants what the main difference was between our faiths. My mind immediately filled with explanations of the Sacraments, Mary, the Mass, but then it hit me. I explained to this inquiring group, that we did share many similarities, yet there were some significant differences. One of those unique and significant differences is our belief of relationship. As Catholics, our primary focus on spirituality is not just a “Me and God” relationship where it is entirely about a personal relationship with God. But rather, a common relationship, shared by a larger group of people, called to serve each other, to love each other, to care for and live for each other. You can see how there is a significant difference; one understanding is quite self-centered in the “God and me” relationship. And the other, is just the opposite, it is self-less and truly sacrificial. The group of Protestants had many more questions, but I could tell that this explanation was effective in opening their eyes and broadening their understanding of the depth of our catholic faith.
The other example from today’s gospel is that from Elizabeth, who immediately identifies and is aware of the presence of God in her midst. How many of us are able to recognize when God’s spirit is upon us? How many of us can see and are aware when God places someone filled with grace into our midst? What power or ability did Elizabeth possess to so clearly see Christ, even Christ hidden within the womb? She had the same ability that we have; it is the Holy Spirit, but she was not hindered by distractions, nor obstacles that can distort so very well. One might even say that she had prepared herself well through living a good life, a holy life, a life that enabled her to truly see the world and its effects so clearly.
This preparation was not unique to Elizabeth, it is the same preparation that we are all called to partake in. It has a lot to do with patience, faith, and participating with God when he acts in our lives. Elizabeth shows us that even after being barren for so many years, desiring a child, she doesn’t give up hope, she perseveres, Living an honorable life, caring for her husband and those around her. And when God chose to finally act, giving her a child, even in her old age, she accepts, trusts the Lord, and nourishes the gift placed into her womb. Did she boast of the miracle?
No, rather instead, she remains humble and thankful; in fact what is her initial response when Mary arrives….. Elizabeth doesn’t focus on herself, but rather states: “How does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” She possessed true humility.
When we place our focus and attention on others, and not on ourselves, our ability to see God’s presence in and amongst our lives becomes so clear.
When we live simple and pure lives, allowing time for contemplation, for prayer, and for serving others, this allows Gods’ spirit to manifest itself completely and radiates free from selfish person desires and self- absorbency.
It is difficult to see Christ in others when we are constantly only looking at ourselves.
Mary and Elizabeth have shown us through their life example, a way of embracing our Lord, a method for seeing him in and amongst our lives.
It is through accepting Christ, sharing him unselfishly with others, living simple and humble lives, lives of charity and service that enables His spirit to shine.
It is by following the examples of these 2 holy women that Christ is made visible and present in the world.
Now it is up to us to participate in God’s holy work,
as we partake in the Eucharist,
listen to his voice,
ask him to guide you,
and motivate you,
and then…. share him with the world!
ANG PLANO NG DIYOS: Reflection for 4th Sunday of Advent and 6th Day of Christmas Novena – December 21, 2014 – YEAR OF THE POOR Year B
Ano ba ang plano mo ngayong Pasko? May plano ka bang takasan o hindi magpakita sa mga inaanak mo? May paalala sa iyo si Donya Ina: “Malapit na ang Pasko hindi ka pa rin nagpapparamdam si Ninang at Ninong, Pag may okasyon laging present! Pag Pasko… di na makita? Anong style yan? Magregaloo din kayo pag may time mga Ninang at Ninong ah? Lab U!” Ngunit may ilan-ilan din namang hindi nagtatago pero may kundisyong inilalatag para sa kanilang mga inaanak. Sabi ng isang nabasa ko: “To all my inaanak, Eto ang mga requirements in claiming your gifts: 1. Original Copy of Birth Certificate 2. Original Copy of Baptismal Certificate 3. Picture or Video during the Baptismal Ceremony 3. Should know my complete name. Note: Deadline of claiming your gift is until December 31, 2014 only! Inaanaks with no requirements will not be entertained! Incomplete requirements, no gift! Merry Christmas!: hehehe.., astig si Ninong! Ang Diyos din sa simula pa ng magkasala ang ating mga unang magulang ay may plano na para sa atin. Isinugo Niya ang kanyang bugtong na Anak at dahil dito ang “Salita” na Diyos ay nagkatawang-tao. Siya ay tinawag na “Emmanuel” o ang Diyos na sumasaatin. Upang maisakatuparan ang planong ito ay pinili Niya ang isang karaniwang babae na taga-Nazareth na ang pangalan ay MARIA. Ngunit ang babaeng ito ay mayroon na ring plano para sa kanyang sarili. Sa katunayan siya ay naitalaga na kay Jose upang kanyang maging asawa. Subalit binago ng Diyos ang plano ni Maria. Hindi naging madali para kay Maria na tanggapin ang bagong planong ito. Hindi niya lubos na maunawaan ang ibig sabihin nito ngunit sa kahulu-hulihan ay isinuko n’ya rin ang kanyang plano sa Diyos: “Ako’y alipin ng Panginoon, mangyari sa akin ayon sa iyong sinabi.” Marahil tayong lahat din ay sari-sariling plano sa ating buhay. Kalimitan ay nalilito pa nga tayo kung ano ang nais nating mangyari sa ating buhay. Kalimitan din ay palpak ang planong ating sinusunod. Yun ay sapagkat mali ang ating tanong. Hindi kung ano ang plano natin bagkus kung ANO BA ANG PLANO NG DIYOS PARA SA ATIN? Minsa ay nagkakabangga ang plano natin at ang plano ng Diyos para sa atin. Kung hindi magkatulad ang nais nating mangyari. Sa ganitong pagkakataon ay kakikitaan natin ng pagiging modelo ang Mahal na Birhen. Siya na inuna muna ang kalooban ng Diyos para sa kanya at simang-ayon sa plano nitong maging ina ng anak ng Kataas-taasan! Nawa ay lagi rin nating unahin ang kalooban ng Diyos. Sa katunayan ay lagi nating binabanggit ito sa ating panalangin: “Sundin ang loob mo, dito sa lupa para ng sa langit!” Hindi madali ang sundin ang plano ng Diyos. Nangangahuugan ito ng paglimot sa ating sariling mga plano. Kung minsan ay magdudulot pa ito ng paghiirap at sakrispisyo ngunit kung magagawa naman natin ito ay mararanasan natin ang kakaibang ligaya sa ating buhay. Gayahin natin si Maria at maging bukas din tayo sa pagsunod sa plano ng Diyos. Sa kabila ng ating pag-aalinlangan maging tapat lagi tayo sa Kanyang Salita at isabuhay ito araw-araw.Ipinaskil ni kalakbay ng kabataan
Sunday, December 20, 2015
December 21 MISA DE GALLO – LUKAS 1:39-45. UNSA MAY BILILHONG GASA NGA ATONG MAHATAG SA ISIGKATAWO NING KAPASKOHAN? Human masayod nga mahimo siyang inahan sa Manunubos, ang unang gibuhat ni Maria mao ang pagbisita sa iyang paryenti nga si Isabel. Labing siguro, gusto niya nga motabang ug mosilbi kang Isabel nga mabdos usab niadtong higayona sa iyang katigulangon. Labaw sa tanan, buot ni Maria nga ipaambit sa iyang paryenti ang kalipay nga iyang gibati tungod sa batang Hesus nga diha sa iyang sabakan. Kining ebanghelyo magpahinumdum kanato nga ang kalipay, dili ang mahalong butang, maoy pinakanindot nga pinaskohan nga atong mahatag sa isigkatawo. Sama kang Maria, lipayon nato ang ubang tawo pinaagi sa atong pagbisita, pagtabang, ug pagdala kang Kristo ngadto sa ilang kinabuhi.
- Atong hunahunaon kinsa ang mga tawo nga angay natong tabangan ning panahon sa Pasko. Pangitaon nato ang labing naglisod, labing maluyahon, ug labing masulob-on.
- Mangita kita’g higayon nga makahimo og pagbisita sa mga igsoon natong naglisod. Dalhon nato kanila ang presensya ug gugma sa Dios. Hinumduman nato nga ang gasa sa kaugalingon mas importante kaysa gasa nga materyal. Posted byAbet Uy
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
DECEMBER 21 – LUKAS 1:39-45. UNSA MAY BILILHONG GASA NGA ATONG MAHATAG SA ISIGKATAWO NING PASKO? Human masayod nga mahimo siyang inahan sa Manunubos, ang unang gibuhat ni Maria mao ang pagbisita sa iyang paryenti nga si Isabel. Labing siguro, gusto niyang motabang kang Isabel nga mabdos usab niadtong higayona sa iyang katigulangon. Labaw sa tanan, buot ni Maria nga ipaambit kang Isabel ang kalipay nga iyang gibati tungod sa batang Hesus nga diha sa iyang sabakan. Kining ebanghelyo magtudlo kanato nga ang kalipay, dili ang mahalong butang, maoy pinakanindot nga pinaskohan nga atong mahatag sa isigkatawo. Ang pagbisita, pagtabang, ug pagdala sa gugma ni Kristo maoy gasa nga dili kabayra’g kwarta. Tinuod ang giingon, “The best gifts come from the heart, not from the store.”
December 21, 2016: Thoughts on the Sixth Day of Simbang Gabi
When angel Gabriel came and announced to Mary that she would conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus, she found it hard to comprehend because as she said, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man? And the angel said to her in reply, “ The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” Then angel Gabriel gave Mary a sign, a sign that will convince and assure her that what the Lord has told her will be fulfilled. That sign is: her cousin Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God. With that sign, Mary said, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:39-45).
Indeed, Mary becomes the embodiment and living expression of what it means to believe when she believed that was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled. As R. A. Torrey beautifully puts it, “Faith is taking God at His word. Faith is not belief without evidence. It is belief on the very best of evidence–the Word of Him ‘that cannot lie.’ (Titus 1:2). Faith is so rational that it asks no other evidence than this all-sufficient evidence. To ask other than the Word of Him Who cannot lie is not rationalism, but consummate irrationalism.”
Faith is, defined by the letter to the Hebrews as, “conviction of the things we do not see and confident assurance of the things we hope for will be fulfilled.”
Why do we have to believe?
First, in the letter to the Hebrews, the Bible reminds and warns us that it would be impossible for us to please God without believing. Our prayers, good works and virtues will only be pleasing to the Lord if these things automatically flow from our faith and become concrete expressions of our faith.
Second, eternal life consist in believing. Jesus himself said, “Eternal life consists in this: believing in God’s only Son and in the One who send him for us.” “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.
Third, faith is necessary for one’s salvation. St. Paul declared: Unless you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that Jesus whom they crucified has risen from the dead you will not be saved.” This is the reason why the First Vatican Council declares: Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for us and for our salvation is necessary to attain such salvation.
Fourth, faith is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven. As Jesus himself said, “Unless you believed and be baptized you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.
Fifth, faith produces miracles. The gospel reports many incidence when Jesus performed miracles because of the faith of the one who is in need or because of the faith of those who are praying on their behalf. This is the message of the stories of the healing of paralyzed man, the healing of the daughter of Canaanite woman, the healing of the servant of Roman centurion and many other faith producing miracle stories in the gospel.
May the Lord increase our faith especially in difficult situations, like the unexpected death of a loved one, failure in business or marriage, a lingering sickness or uncaring relatives and abrasive co-workers.
“Do not be unbelieving, but believe” (Jn 20:27) beg the Lord to increase your faith (see Mk 9:24; Lk 17:5; 22:32). Sustain this faith through the Word of God and the reception and celebration of the Sacraments, express it in your love of God and love neighbour, and being the disciples of Christ you must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: “All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.” Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: “So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (see CCC1816). Fr. Estong Bendita 2016.12.21
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Reflection for Wednesday December 21, Fourth Week in Advent; Luke 1:39-45
Are we aware of the fact that during this Christmas season there are people who badly want our presence and who want to touch base with us? These people desire us to be with them even for a short time. They may be our parents, our siblings our children and our relatives whom we have not seen and talked for so long.
In the gospel today the Blessed Mother walked more than 100 km from Nazareth to the residence of her cousin Elizabeth just to see her and to let her know that she is there for her. Mary visited her cousin not minding the long distance that she will be going through Mary simply wanted to express her support to her cousin Elizabeth.
The Blessed Mother was also pregnant around that time. Yet she purposely did not mind her own needs so that she could focus on the needs of her cousin. Mary could have simply brushed aside her cousin Elizabeth but she did not.
How many of us are willing to do that selfless act? How many of us are willing to forget our own needs so that we could give happiness to others? Let us all be like the Blessed Mother.
Let us forget ourselves and make a very big difference in the lives of others especially the poor ones who cannot repay our act of altruism. – Marino J. Dasmarinas
THE VISITATION – When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit… – Luke 1:41
During Pope John Paul II’s visit for the World Youth Day 1995 in Manila, I served with the lay counterpart of the Presidential Security Group that was tasked with his safety. At one event, I served as part of the security line at the back door of the Philippine International Convention Center. As we waited, I learned that a change in plans would make the Pope pass by where we were assigned. Then the most wonderful thing happened. He stopped right in front of me and I found my hand in his! He held it for what seemed like a long while as if he was praying for me.
The impact of that wonderful moment sank in only after the service when I broke down in joyful tears. To this day, I cherish that encounter, more especially because he is now officially a saint.
Encountering the Pope was a visitation from God for me, just as Mary’s visit was to Elizabeth. So powerful was the unborn Jesus’ presence in Mary that the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy.
As Christmas draws near, may we recognize the varied ways that Jesus visits our lives every day. May we, too, leap for joy as we encounter Him at every turn. Donna España (email@example.com)
Reflection: Has the Lord visited you lately? Don’t keep Him to yourself. Share Jesus with others!
Lord, let me recognize Your presence as You visit me every moment.
MARY’S GIFT OF COMPASSION – As Christmas draws near, we prepare for gift-giving and we keep in mind the saying that “it is better to give than to receive.” As we ponder on Mary’s visit to the infanticipating Elizabeth, we note how Mary teaches us about compassion, more than sharing of material gifts.
The Marian style of compassion is not only the practice of helping, giving or sharing. Pope Francis, at one time, meditated on the Gospel story of Mary’s visit to her cousin, and the Holy Father teaches that true compassion involves a “spiritual exercise.”
First, a listening heart. Mary’s compassion is not one that is based on action alone — reactive and impulsive before the great needs of others. Her compassion is one that is the fruit of deep listening — listening with her heart to God. It is a compassion that flows, not from noise and varied voices, but from silence with God. In being attentive to God who said through the angel: “Your cousin Elizabeth is now with child,” God did not tell her what to do: God made indications through an event. And Mary was attentive in her silence and listening: Elizabeth, old and long-barren, now with her first pregnancy in advanced years, meant someone who surely needed help.
Second, a free will to help. Mary’s compassion did not end with simply listening and realizing Elizabeth’s fragile situation. Mary allowed herself to be moved. And she made a decision to go and help Elizabeth by being with her.
Third, taking a concrete action. Pope Francis emphasized that Mary is not a person who was hasty. She was reflective, but when she was able to realize what the events meant, and what they challenged her to do, she went “in haste” to assist the elderly Elizabeth. Mary’s compassion was not a “dragging act.” Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP
REFLECTION QUESTION: List down persons who are “poor” in various ways — materially, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually. What spiritual gifts can you share in abundance with them this Christmas?
Move me with Your Spirit, Lord, that I may share Your compassion with those who need it.
Wednesday of the 4th Week of Advent
Sg 2: 8-14 or Zep 3: 14-18a; Ps 32: 2-3. 11-12. 20-21; Lk 1: 39-45
A Meeting of Two Blessed Moms
â€œThe Visitationâ€ is the term that is commonly used when referring to the meeting of these two most uncommon mothers, Mary and Elizabeth – a meeting of two expectant mothers. Elizabeth was in her sixth month and Maryâ€™s pregnancy had just started. However, both of the mothers were expecting what was totally unexpected! But the key to this story is not just a meeting of the two moms but of the two baby boys whom they are carrying inside of them. In particular, it is the baby boy that Mary is carrying that will make this â€œA Blessed Visitation.â€ This exciting meeting directs our hearts to reflect on the following messages:
- A Leap in the Presence of the Lord
Mary goes to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth, enters the house and greets Elizabeth. And when she does, the sound of her greeting is picked up by baby John, in the womb, and he does a joyful little leap! Remember, the angel had said that John would be filled with the Spirit even in his motherâ€™s womb. And so when Mary greets Elizabeth, the Spirit causes John to recognize that Jesus was there, too. Wherever Mary went, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, sure to go. The presence of Christ among us brings us great joy. Jesus is really present here in this church and we have all the reasons to rejoice and leap. As with Elizabeth, the same Holy Spirit has worked in our hearts through the gospel so that we might trust in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
- The humility before the Lord
While John leapt, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and got excited with an outburst of emotions telling Mary: â€œBlessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!â€ The meaning from the context is that Mary had been given a great honour to bear the Saviour of the world while she herself was honoured to bear the forerunner of the Lord. What a wonderful blessing! Elizabeth continues: â€œAnd why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?â€ Hear the humble faith in Elizabethâ€™s words. She realizes that she is not worthy of such a visitation. And at the same time, she realizes that her Lord is coming to her, bringing great blessing. Such humble faith is truly the work of the Holy Spirit. Do you have the humility and the faith of the Elizabeth? You and I donâ€™t deserve to have our Lord coming to us with His blessing. It is purely by His grace and mercy that He does.
- Spirit-wrought Faith
Then Elizabeth has one more word for Mary: â€œAnd blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.â€ Faith is what we are seeing here all around. The faith prompted Elizabeth to know that this was no ordinary child that Mary was bringing into the room, but the Lord himself. Elizabeth commends Mary for her faith that Mary believed the great things the angel had told her about the son she would bear. The meeting of the moms was a meeting of two great women of faith. Both Mary and Elizabeth stand out as wonderful examples for us. They believe the Lordâ€™s words, and they received his gifts. The Holy Spirit could work such a Mary-and-Elizabeth faith in you, too.
- Miracles Galore
We see a whole bunch of miracles in our text today. At first it was the way in which both Elizabeth and Mary got pregnant miraculously. The way that they both believed and rejoiced in the good news of their Lord and Saviour was too a miracle. Even little John got in on the believing-and-rejoicing act. Any time anyone is given the gift of faith and joy in the Lordâ€“that is a miracle of God. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, working through the Word, working in our hearts, creating a saving faith and a blessed joy. And the great thing is that you and I have the same good news and the same Holy Spirit at work in our hearts today.
- Showers of Blessings
Today we have heard the story of the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Wherever Maryâ€™s baby boy goes, he brings blessing with him. Even in the womb, he brought blessing and joy to the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah. Blessed are you if you see and recognize the Lord with the “eyes of faith”. The word “blessed” [makarios in Greek] literally means “happiness” or “beatitude”. It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained, and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life. And Jesus brings blessing and joy into our homes, too. When we gather with our family for Christmasâ€“when the Christ of Christmas is the reason for our merrimentâ€“Jesus brings the joy with him. When we gather here with our church family, here in Godâ€™s house, Christ is surely present to bless us with his gifts. Christ is here, visiting us with his grace and favour. And that makes this a most blessed visitation.
- A Crown of Joy and A Cross of Sorrow
There is a certain paradox for those “blessed” by the Lord. Mary was given the “Blessedness” of being the Mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. To be chosen by God is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Mary received both. Her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fuelled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Jesus promised his disciples that “No one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and cannot be taken away neither by life nor death.
- God’s Indwelling Presence
When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary’s womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfilment of God’s promise to give a Saviour. What a marvellous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth’s heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leapt for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. Do you live in the joy and knowledge of God’s indwelling presence with you through his Holy Spirit? Do we recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus in our life and express our readiness to accept both the crown of joy and the cross of suffering as a part of our mission?
“Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking you more closely. Increase my faith in all your promises and the courage to face any challenge on my path.” By Fr. Dr. John Ollukaran CMI
December 21, 2016
Many Christians, without being too much aware of it, are still under the influence of various heresies (Gnosticism, Manicheism, Montanism, Puritanism, Jansenism, etc.) which are anti-body. These Christians are distinctly uneasy when the topic of sex and physical love is mentioned. And so, they are shocked upon reading the Song of Songs, from which today’s first reading is taken. For this literary masterpiece describes the physical love between a young man and his young wife in lyrical terms of great beauty, not hesitating to go into some anatomical details!
This praise of mutual love is meant to be read at various levels. Its deepest level refers to God’s love for Israel and, by extension, to Christ’s love for his Church. Also, it refers to the union between Christ and the individual soul (which has no gender, being spiritual).
But also, let us not forget it, this exquisite poem is an inspired portrayal of ideal human love. Here God himself describes with unmatched poetry the sacredness and depth of married union. Let us not look down on what he has declared holy and sublime. Human love was invented by God, let us not forget.
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