Daily Archives: December 8, 2007

Sunday, December 9 – The Price of Peace

09 Dec – Second Sunday of Advent

Our Baptism With The Holy Spirit And Fire

May the Lord who gave us this baptism purify us in our celebration today; for he can brook nothing that lacks integrity and truth. Then, through the Spirit of our baptism, united in heart and voice, we will be able to give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

– The Sunday Missal

The Extraordinary Missioner

The Time Magazine of April 20, 1998 reported an interesting story of a “peacemaker in denim”. A young man, Bill Tomes, was a counsellor by profession. In 1983, Bill received two exceptional job offers. In order to make the right choice, he decided to stop by a church and pray things through. When he knelt down, “all the colours turned fuzzy except the face of Christ on a painting near the altar”, recalls Bill. Then he heard a voice: “Love. You are forbidden to do anything other than that.”

Bill immediately began a new life and a new mission. He became a lay youth minister for a parish in Chicago and worked with street gangs in the area. For the past 16 years, Brother Bill, as he is known, has tried to be faithful to Christ’s words to him. He has earned the trust of rival gang leaders. He convinces trigger-itching assailants to put away their weapons and go home to their families. More than once he has walked right into the gunfire and diffused a gang war or planned killing.

“People think I’m a fool,” confesses Brother Bill, “but I love these guys – all of them. I know that many of them have done bad things, even killed people. But no matter what, I won’t turn my back on them. I’m an ordinary man on an extraordinary mission.”

– What thoughts, feelings, occurred to you while you went through the story?
– What do you think is the ‘moral’ of the story?

– taken from “Persons Are Gifts”, by Hedwig Lewis, SJ

Isaiah 11:1-10

A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse,
a scion thrusts from his roots:
on him the spirit of the Lord rests,
a spirit of wisdom and insight,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)
He does not judge by appearances,
he gives no verdict on hearsay,
but judges the wretched with integrity,
and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.
His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless;
his sentences bring death to the wicked.

Integrity is the loincloth round his waist,
faithfulness the belt about his hips.

The wolf lives with the lamb,
the panther lies down with the kid,
calf and lion cub feed together
with a little boy to lead them.
The cow and the bear make friends,
their young lie down together.
The lion eats straw like the ox.
The infant plays over the cobra’s hole;
into the viper’s lair
the young child puts his hand.
They do no hurt, no harm,
on all my holy mountain,
for the country is filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters swell the sea.
That day, the root of Jesse
shall stand as a signal to the peoples.
It will be sought out by the nations
and its home will be glorious.


Romans 15:4-9

Everything that was written long ago in the scriptures was meant to teach us something about hope from the examples scripture gives of how people who did not give up were helped by God. And may he who helps us when we refuse to give up, help you all to be tolerant with each other, following the example of Christ Jesus, so that united in mind and voice you may give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It can only be to God’s glory, then, for you to treat each other in the same friendly way as Christ treated you. The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs, it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy, as scripture says in one place: For I shall praise you among the pagans and sing your name.

Matthew 3:1-12

In due course John the Baptist appeared; he preached in the wilderness of Judaea and this was his message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.” This was the man the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said:

A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.

This man John wore a garment made of camel-hair with a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judaea and the whole Jordan district made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. But when he saw a number of Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said to them, “Brood of vipers, who warned you to fly from the retribution that is coming? But if you are repentant, produce the appropriate fruit, and do not presume to tell yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’, because, I tell you, god can raise children for Abraham from these stones. Even now the axe is laid to the roots of the trees, so that any tree which fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown on the fire. I baptise you with water for repentance, but the one who follows me is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to carry his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand; he will clear his threshing-floor and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.”

We always think that when the kingdom of heaven comes, there will be peace automatically. But what exactly is required for this peace to reign in our hearts, among our people, and in our land? Let us take a look at what the first reading says.

“The lion eats straw like the ox”, let’s just take this one line and see what it is really saying, for its meaning applies to the wolf and the lamb, panther and the kid, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear. We know that lions eat meat, but in this kingdom of peace, the lion eats straw like the ox. Is it easy for a lion to eat straw? Why must the lion eat straw? Why can’t the ox eat meat like the lion?

There are two things about peace that today’s first reading is telling us. The first thing is that in order for peace to reign, sacrifices must be made. People have to give way to one another, as St. Paul says to the Romans in the second reading: “treat each other in the same friendly way that Christ treated you” and “be tolerant with each other”.

The second thing that this reading tells us is that it is the strong that must give way to the weak, the mighty that must make way for the inferior, the right that must make the first move. All couples with a peaceful and loving marriage know this secret to peaceful living: We must be willing to apologise to the other even when we are in the right, to ask for forgiveness and accept that we are being forgiven even if we are in the right. This is the only way for peace to exist in a marriage and, in fact, any human relationship. The people with power must give way to those with less power.

The ultimate example has been shown to us by Jesus, the Prince of Peace. So as to let the kingdom of heaven reign on earth, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for us – he laid down his life for us. He could have easily used his divine power to swat away his enemies like flies, to crush his enemies like ants, but he chose not to. Rather, he chose to give way to those who sought to harm him. Why?

Because Jesus saw the bigger picture. Many times we quarrel with our loved ones, our friends, over something very small. Often, it helps to take a step back and look at the situation from the bigger picture. Ask yourself: Is this loss of peace really worth it? Is it my pride that prevents me from backing down and apologising to the other person? Do I really have to be right and risk harming our relationship?

Often, the most bitter of quarrels can easily be resolved if one side is willing to give way. Pride causes most of the arguments and unrest between loved ones, between friends, between communities, and even between countries. The elimination of pride in our lives can bring about much peace in the family, in our community, in our country, and in the world.

Work today for the coming of God’s kingdom of peace by being the one to make sacrifices, by being tolerant of each other, and by treating each other in the same friendly way that Christ treated you.

Dear Jesus, we ask you to eliminate pride from our lives, so that we might be able to work towards bringing your kingdom of peace where we are. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Paying the ultimate price for peace in the world.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 10 Dec – Isaiah 35:1-10; Luke 5:17-26
Tue, 11 Dec – Isaiah 40:1-11; Matthew 18:12-14; Memorial for St. Damasus I, pope
Wed, 12 Dec – Isaiah 40:25-31; Matthew 11:28-30; Memorial for Our Lady of Guadalupe
Thu, 13 Dec – Isaiah 41:13-20; Matthew 11:11-15; Memorial for St. Lucy, virgin, martyr
Fri, 14 Dec – Isaiah 48:17-19; Matthew 11:16-19; Memorial for St. John of the Cross, presbyter, doctor
Sat, 15 Dec – Sirach 48:17-19; Matthew 17:10-13
Sun, 16 Dec – Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11; Third Sunday of Advent

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Saturday, December 8 – O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam

08 Dec – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

you prepared the Virgin Mary
to be the worthy mother of your Son.
You let her share beforehand
in the salvation Christ would bring by his death,
and kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception.
Help us by her prayers
to live in your presence without sin.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

– Opening Prayer for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Genesis 3:9-20

The Lord God called to the man. ‘Where are you?’ he asked. ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden;’ he replied ‘I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.’ ‘Who told you that you were naked?’ he asked ‘Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?’ The man replied, ‘It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it’. Then the Lord God asked the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman replied, ‘The serpent tempted me and I ate’.

Then the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, ‘Be accursed beyond all cattle, all wild beasts. You shall crawl on your belly and eat dust every day of your life. I will make you enemies of each other: you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring. It will crush your head and you will strike its heel.’

The man named his wife ‘Eve’ because she was the mother of all those who live.

Ephesians 1:3-6, 11, 12

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ. Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes, to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved. And it is in him that we were claimed as God’s own, chosen from the beginning, under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things as he decides by his own will; chosen to be, for his greater glory.

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month 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 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is certainly a great celebration for all Catholics because it teaches us that Mary was conceived without Original Sin because she had the privilege to bear Christ in her womb.

What did Mary do to merit so great a privilege to be conceived without Original Sin? I really do not have the answer but if you would permit to hazard a guess, it should be her total submission to the will of God.

Adam and Eve committed Original Sin by eating the forbidden fruit and this was the sin of disobedience. The refusal to do God’s will meant that Adam’s descendants therefore had to suffer from the toil and suffering of this world. Just as Eve had a role to play in causing sin and its consequences of death to enter into this world, Mary came to restore life and to bring eternal life to this world.

It was God’s pre-determined plan that brought forth Mary into our history of salvation and that we should be redeemed by no less than his Son. The Gospel text, which is often read during the Feast of the Annunciation, also bears testimony to the fact that God is a great God: “for nothing is impossible with God.”

I would like to leave you with the line from the Exsultet proclamation during Easter that strikes me and I feel sums up today’s sharing:

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Nick Chia)

Lord we pray for the grace to remain obedient to your will as Mary did and that we may emulate her example of total submission to your will.

We give thanks for the exemplary role-model that Mary shows us.

Upcoming Readings:
Sun, 09 Dec – Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12; Second Sunday of Advent

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