Daily Archives: December 16, 2007

Monday, December 17 – Lord of the Impossible

17 Dec
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Genesis 49:2, 8-10

Jacob called his sons and said,

“Gather round, sons of Jacob, and listen;
listen to Israel your father.
Judah, your brothers shall praise you:
you grip your enemies by the neck,
your father’s sons shall do you homage,
Judah is a lion cub,
you climb back, my son, from your kill;
like a lion he crouches and lies down,
or a lioness: who dare rouse him?
The sceptre shall not pass between his feet,
until he come to whom it belongs,
to whom the peoples shall render obedience.”

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Matthew 1:1-17

A genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah, Tamar being their mother,
Perez was the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram was the father of Aminadab,
Amminadab the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon was the father of Boaz, Rahab being his mother,
Boaz was the father of Obed, Ruth being his mother,
Obed was the father of Jesse;
and Jesse was the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,
Solomon was the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asa,
Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Azariah,
Azariah was the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah
Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh,
Amon the father of Josiah;
and Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers.
Then the deportation to Babylon took place.

After the deportation to Babylon:
Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud,
Abiud the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor was the father of Zadok,
Zadok the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud was the father of Eleazar,
Eleazar the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob;
and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary;
of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.

The sum of generations is therefore: fourteen from Abraham to David; fourteen from David to the Babylonian deportation; and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation to Christ.
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Judah played a couple of prominent roles in the Bible. First is when the sons of Jacob wanted to kill Joseph, Judah suggested that instead of killing their brother, the sons of Jacob should sell him to the Ishmaelites. The second is when Joseph was the right-hand man of Pharaoh and demanded that the sons of Jacob bring Benjamin to him, Judah offered to remain behind in Joseph’s custody as a guarantee that his brothers would bring Benjamin to Joseph.

Certain Jewish rabbis have held Judah to be the leader of his brothers and right from the start, we saw that Judah wasn’t a perfect leader. He didn’t even start out good, as he could surely have done more to protect Joseph. But if he did, then history would have changed, and Joseph may not have become Pharaoh. It was all part of God’s plan.

Similarly, as we look in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, we see that not all the kings that are listed were good kings. Some were, in fact, very bad kings and led the Israelites astray. Surely they could have done more to lead and protect the people of Israel, couldn’t they? But if they did, then perhaps the Israelites may not have been deported, and history would have changed. It was all part of God’s plan.

When we look at the history of the Catholic Church, we know that there have been good popes and bad popes. We have had popes that sanctioned crusades and popes that abused church laws, in particular the use of indulgences as our Christian brothers and sisters like to accuse the Catholic Church of. It is true. These popes could have done more to lead the Church in the way of the Lord, but if they did then history would have changed and perhaps the Reformation and later on, the Councils of Trent, and Vatican I and II, may not have taken place. It was all part of God’s plan.

When things don’t go according to our expectations, and we wonder why God would allow certain things to happen that seem impossible to fix, let us remember that our God is the God of the impossible. Let us trust that this too is all part of God’s plan, and that the Lord of the impossible can and will deliver His people from this situation. If there is someone in whom we can place our hope, it is our God.
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Prayer:
O Lord of the impossible, help me with this situation. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Doing the impossible in our lives.

Upcoming Readings:
Tue, 18 Dec – Jeremiah 23:5-8; Matthew 1:18-24
Wed, 19 Dec – Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a; Luke 1:5-25
Thu, 20 Dec – Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 1:26-38
Fri, 21 Dec – Songs 2:8-14; Luke 1:39-45; Memorial for St. Peter Canisius, presbyter, religious, doctor of the Church
Sat, 22 Dec – 1 Samuel 1:24-28; Luke 1:46-56
Sun, 23 Dec – Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24; Fourth Sunday of Advent

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Sunday, December 17 – Wait!

16 Dec – Third Sunday of Advent

The Joy Of Expectancy

At his coming Christ fulfilled the expectations of the prophets. He made the blind see again, the lame walk, and the lepers clean. We must not lose heart in the face of all the evils of the world, for we too have a glorious expectation.

Come Lord Jesus, and save us.

– the Sunday Missal
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Isaiah 35:1-6, 10

Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult,
let the wasteland rejoice and bloom,
let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil,
let it rejoice and sing for joy.

The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it,
the splendour of Carmel and Sharon;
they shall see the glory of the Lord,
the splendour of our God.

Strengthen all weary hands,
steady all trembling knees
and say to all faint hearts,
“Courage! Do not be afraid.

“Look your God is coming,
vengeance is coming,
the retribution of God;
he is coming to save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer
and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy,
for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.

They will come to Zion shouting for joy,
everlasting joy on their faces;
joy and gladness will go with them
and sorrow and lament be ended.

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James 5:7-10

Be patient, brother, until the Lord’s coming. Think of a farmer: how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains! You too have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon. Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgement yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. For your example, brothers, in submitting with patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
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Matthew 11:2-11

John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?” Jesus answered, “Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.”

As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says: Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way before you. I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.”
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If John the Baptist had lived in our era, he would probably have checked Jesus out on Wikipedia to find out whether or not Jesus is the Messiah.

Yes, my friends, we live in an ‘instant’ era. When we want food, we have instant noodles. All the information we want can be instantly found at the touch of the fingers. When we want to speak to someone, all we have to do is to pick up the phone and call the person. When we want to write a letter to someone, even our efficient postal services seem too slow, and we write an email or send a text message by phone.

Despite living in an ‘instant’ era, there are still some things that can never be instantaneously ours. Things like plants and animals take time to grow. We cannot hasten the growth of an infant into an adult overnight (despite what our comic books and movies say). For those of us who have tried to lose weight, we know that losing weight is not an instant thing either. We know, because we have tried and failed! For those who are looking to get fit, we know that one trip to the gym or running track does not build muscles or stamina overnight. If anything, that one trip puts us off exercise for a long time to come!

John the Baptist was looking for an instant answer when he sent his disciples to find out from Jesus whether he was the Christ. But Jesus, in his wisdom, chose not to give an instant answer to the query. Rather, he chose to provide John with all the evidence that he needed to find the answer on his own, in his own time, and in his own pondering.

Sometimes we adults are tempted to teach other younger people in this way. We give them some information and leave it up to them to find the answer on their own. However, there is a flaw in this – we don’t know just how much information we need to provide in order for them to find out the answer on their own, simply because we are not God. The ironic part about it is that we sometimes get frustrated when the other person does not get the answer quick enough because we too are looking for instant solutions!

This season of Advent, let us rediscover the joy of waiting. Let us take time to slow down, put aside our desires for instant results, and really discover God in the patience of waiting, that through God’s time, He may reveal to us all that He wants us to know.
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Prayer:
Dear Lord, we ask you to teach us to be patient especially in this season of Advent. Help us to remember every time that we need to wait, that You are showing us something important while we wait. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: The opportunity to slow down and see what He wants us to learn.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 17 Dec – Genesis 49:2, 8-10; Matthew 1:1-17
Tue, 18 Dec – Jeremiah 23:5-8; Matthew 1:18-24
Wed, 19 Dec – Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a; Luke 1:5-25
Thu, 20 Dec – Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 1:26-38
Fri, 21 Dec – Songs 2:8-14; Luke 1:39-45; Memorial for St. Peter Canisius, presbyter, religious, doctor of the Church
Sat, 22 Dec – 1 Samuel 1:24-28; Luke 1:46-56
Sun, 23 Dec – Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24; Fourth Sunday of Advent

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Friday, December 14 – If you want to be happy and fulfilled…

14 Dec – Memorial for St. John of the Cross, priest, doctor of the Church

The Lord measures our perfection neither by the multitude nor the magnitude of our deeds, but by the manner in which we perform them.
– Saint John of the Cross

St. John of the Cross (1542-1591) was born in poverty. He cared for the poor in the hospital in Medina and was a lay Carmelite brother in 1563 at the age of 21, though he lived stricter than their Rule. He studied at Salamanca, and was ordained a Carmelite priest in 1537 at the age of 25.

He was persuaded by St. Teresa of Avila to begin the Discalced or “barefoot” reform within the Carmelite Order, and he took the name “John of the Cross”. He was the Master of novices, and spiritual director and confessor at St. Teresa’s convent. His reforms did not set well with some of his brothers, and he was ordered to return to Medina. He refused, and was imprisoned at Toledo, Spain, escaping after nine months. He was the Vicar-General of Andalusia. His reforms revitalized the Order.

St. John of the Cross was a great contemplative and spiritual writer. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI on Aug 24, 1926.
He is patron saint for the contemplative life, and mystical theology.

Source: Patron Saint Index
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Isaiah 48:17-19

Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is good for you,
I lead you in the way that you must go.
If only you had been alert to my commandments,
your happiness would have been like a river,
your integrity like the waves of the sea.
Your children would have been numbered like the sand,
your descendants as many as its grains.
Never would your name have been cut off or blotted out before me.

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Matthew 11:16-19

Jesus spoke to the crowds: “What description can I find for this generation? It is like children shouting to each other as they sit in the market place:

‘We played the pipes for you,
and you wouldn’t dance;
we sang dirges,
and you wouldn’t be mourners.’

“For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed.’ The Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ Yet wisdom has been proved right by her actions.”
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If there is one lesson that all leaders, especially those in ministry, must learn, it is that no matter what they do, they cannot please everyone. The most important person for any of us to please is God. When God calls us to a particular mission, He wants us to be faithful to what He is calling us to. At times, that means that we need to take the unpopular route.

Once a month, a friend of mine leads a group of us in a prayer and an examination of conscience. There is one line that strikes me deeply. It goes, “Do I allow myself to be dominated by human respect?” This line means to ask us to consider whether we have done (or not done) certain things because we wanted to make a good impression on other people.

Often, when we do things based on human respect, we end up becoming unhappy because while we please other people, we do not please God and hence we do not feel fulfilled. For fulfilment comes when we live a life according to the purpose which we were made for. God has designed us all with a certain purpose, a specific mission in His plan, and He has given us the innate desire and the gifts needed to fulfil this desire.

When we choose to ignore this deepest longing of our hearts (to do God’s will), we choose to ignore the path that brings us fulfilment, the path that brings us happiness. Thus the prophet Isaiah proclaims:

“I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is good for you,
I lead you in the way that you must go.
If only you had been alert to my commandments,
your happiness would have been like a river,
your integrity like the waves of the sea.”

My friends, if you want to be happy in this life, then do what the Lord tells you, and travel the road that He leads you, because He who designed you alone knows what He designed you for. Take that route, even if it means taking the unpopular choice.
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Prayer:
Dear Lord, give us the courage to make the choice that pleases you and fulfils us, for we serve you alone. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Leading us in the way to true happiness.

Upcoming Readings:
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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