Daily Archives: December 23, 2007

Monday, December 24 – Prophets

24 Dec – Mass in the Morning

Stretching The Soul

R. Lee Sharpe reveals an inspiring incident that happened when he was a boy. On a fine spring day, his father asked Lee to accompany him to the blacksmith’s, where he had left a rake and a hoe to be repaired. When they arrived at the shop, they found that the instruments were ready and looking like new.

His father handed the old blacksmith, Mr Trussell, a silver dollar, but he refused to take it. “No,” said Mr Trussell. “There’s no charge for that little job.” His father insisted.

Mr Trussell’s reply made such a deep impression on Lee, that he has never forgotten it. “Sid,” said the blacksmith to his father, “Can’t you let a man do something – just to stretch his soul?”

– 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
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2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16

Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies surrounding him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “Look, I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go and do all that is in your mind, for the Lord is with you.”

But that very night the word of the Lord came to Nathan:

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus the Lord speaks: Are you the man to build me a house to dwell in? I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be a leader of my people Israel; I have been with you on all your expeditions; I have cut off all your enemies before you. I will give you fame as great as the fame of the greatest on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel; I will plant them there and they shall dwell in that place and never be disturbed again; nor shall the wicked continue to oppress them as they did, in the days when I appointed judges over my people Israel; I will give them rest from all their enemies. The Lord will make you great; the Lord will make you a House. And when your days are ended and you are laid to rest with your ancestors, I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure. I will be a father to him and he a son to me. Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established for ever.”
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Luke 1:67-79

John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has visited his people, he has come to their rescue
and he has raised up for us a power for salvation
in the House of his servant David,
even as he proclaimed,
by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient times,
that he would save us from our enemies
and from the hands of all who hate us.
Thus he shows mercy to our ancestors,
thus he remembers his holy covenant,
the oath he swore
to our father Abraham
that he would grant us, free from fear,
to be delivered from the hands of our enemies,
to serve him in holiness and virtue
in his presence, all our days.
And you, little child,
you shall be called Prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord
to prepare the way for him.
To give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins;
this by the tender mercy of our God
who from on high will bring the rising Sun to visit us,
to give light to those who live
in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet
into the way of peace.”

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Today, we celebrate prophets. We celebrate the prophet Nathan, who was a voice for the Lord to King David. And we also celebrate the prophet John the Baptist, and his father who spoke the prophecy in the gospel reading.

Prophets are, essentially, those who speak for the Lord. We do not hear God’s voice thundering in the sky (that’s Santa Claus going, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”). We do not hear God speaking from our television sets. We don’t hear God speaking to us from the Eucharist. So where do we hear God’s voice?

We hear God’s voice in Christians, especially those who give others knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. This message, though prophesied by Zechariah over 2,000 years ago, remains true for us today. We still speak for the Lord when we share with them what has been revealed to us – that Christ came to save us from our sins and to reconcile us back to the Father. It is a message that is old, but not dead. It is the message that we are to speak, that we are to prophesy to the people who have not yet heard of it.

As we spend this final day before Christmas preparing, let us take a short break from worrying about food, or presents not bought or wrapped yet, insufficient drinks, ham, turkey, cake, or soup and just pause a moment. Remember whose birth we are about to celebrate. Remember why He came, and what He has done for us. Then put on a smile and share the joy that is in your heart – the joy of having a Saviour, a God-with-us, born as one of us, so that we can be like Him.
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Prayer:
Dear Lord, we offer to you this entire Christmas celebration which we are about to have. May it be a joyous celebration for You and for us. Happy birthday Jesus!

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Happy Birthdays!

Upcoming Readings:
Tue, 25 Dec – Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18
Wed, 26 Dec – Acts 6:8-10, 7:54-59; Matthew 10:17-22; Feast of St. Stephen, first martyr
Thu, 27 Dec – 1 John 1:1-4; John 20:2-8; Feast of St. John, apostle, evangelist
Fri, 28 Dec – 1 John 1:5 – 2:2; Matthew 2:13-18; Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Sat, 29 Dec – 1 John 2:3-11; Luke 2:22-35; Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Sun, 30 Dec – Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

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Sunday, December 23 – Free Gift

23 Dec – Fourth Sunday Of Advent

Mary’s Child: The Emmanuel

God’s choice rested on the House of David which was to bring forth the Emmanuel, the God with us. But Mary’s Child was to belong to all the nations. We are one of those nations who, by God’s call, belong to Jesus Christ.

– from the Sunday Missal
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I Am A Gift Too

I must accept the fact that just as others are gifts to me, I am a gift to others. I am therefore responsible for the way I present myself: so that I make myself acceptable. Since I know that the wrapper is not the gift, I must take care not to give a false appearance: an outer show without an inner glow. I must not deceive people into believing that there is more to me than meets the eye. In any case, they will find out the truth, sooner or later, once the wrapping comes off – as it must.

Person-centered-persons gift themselves to others spontaneously and generously. They do not wait for special occasions; they grab every little opportunity where they can give themselves. They so present themselves that they are easy to open and ready for use!

– taken from “Persons Are Gifts”, by Hedwig Lewis, SJ
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Isaiah 7:10-14

The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.” “No,” Ahaz answered. “I will not put the Lord to the test.”

Then Isaiah said:

“Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.”

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Romans 1:1-7

From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.

This news is about the Son of God, who, according to the human nature he took, was a descendant of David: it is about the holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead. Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ. To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.
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Matthew 1:18-24

This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet.
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We Singaporeans are known for queuing up for things. The cheaper the thing is, the longer the queue. Sometimes we find ourselves queuing up without knowing what we are queuing up for. Sometimes the queue for a free gift can stretch for long distances. And sometimes, after queuing up and receiving that free gift, we don’t really know what to do with it. Some of us keep the gift somewhere in the cupboard. Some of us recycle the gift by giving it to another person. What do you do with such gifts?

Christmas is almost upon us… as if you didn’t know that. Apart from this being the fourth Sunday of Advent, even if you weren’t a Christian, you would know that Christmas is almost round the corner, giving the feverish pace at which people are buying gifts. Even if you weren’t the kind to give gifts at Christmas, you cannot possibly miss the amount of Christmas atmosphere around you.

Yet amidst all this, is it possible that some Christians are saying that we are missing “the reason for the season”? Most definitely! Looking at today’s readings, we see that the message of the first Christmas, though revealed for all to see, not all saw. In fact, only a few saw it and recognized it for what it was. Up to today, the message of Christ is still being made known to everyone, but only a few recognize it for what it is – a free gift.

Ahaz was given the chance to receive a sign from the Lord, but he turned down that offer. Still the Lord gave a sign, whether or not it is received. In the second reading, Paul wrote that his “apostolic mission was to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name”. He writes nothing about what if the people he preached to didn’t want to receive the faith. Even if they didn’t, Paul’s (and ours) mission is still to preach, whether or not the gift is welcomed or received.

Lastly in the gospel reading, we see the subject of what is being preached – the sign promised by God is a gift of God Himself to us. God gives Himself to us because God loves us. Even if we do not love Him back or wish to receive His gift, God is still going to give Himself to us because it is in His nature to give, just as it is in His nature to love.

The question for us therefore is: What are we going to do with this free gift?
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Prayer:
Dear Lord, make us ready to receive You this Christmas. Help us to receive You into our lives, and to share this gift of Yourself with others around us. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: The free gifts He has given us.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 24 Dec – 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Luke 1:67-79
Tue, 25 Dec – Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18
Wed, 26 Dec – Acts 6:8-10, 7:54-59; Matthew 10:17-22; Feast of St. Stephen, first martyr
Thu, 27 Dec – 1 John 1:1-4; John 20:2-8; Feast of St. John, apostle, evangelist
Fri, 28 Dec – 1 John 1:5 – 2:2; Matthew 2:13-18; Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Sat, 29 Dec – 1 John 2:3-11; Luke 2:22-35; Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Sun, 30 Dec – Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

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