Malachi 3: 1- 4, 23-24 “Thus says the Lord GOD: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek...”
Psalm 25: 4-5ab, 8-9 10 and 14 “…Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way…”
Luke 1: 57-66 “…‘He will be called John.’ But they answered her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who has this name.’ So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, ‘John is his name,’ and all were amazed...”
Saint John of Kanty (1390-1473) Also known as John from Kenty, or John Cantius, he is a native of Poland he is considered a patron saint for teachers, students, priests and pilgrims. He was born in Kenty, only 13 miles from Pope John Paul II’s own birthplace, and it is said that this Pope had a lifelong devotion to this professor saint. St. John studied hard, became a priest and taught Sacred Scripture at the University of Krakow. He was known for his love of scripture, the Church, example of humility and his caring for the poor.”
As I spent time preparing for the reflection of today’s readings, I turned to the Praying Advent section of Creighton’s website. We were barely in Advent when this was due and yet, I had already felt a tug to begin thinking about Advent the week before. I had the privilege of listening to a person witness to the wonder of the Eucharist on the Friday before Advent began, and I was struck by this man’s devotion. I recalled my own spiritual path, dotted with signs of awareness, but of late I had been a little lax. I thought then, thank goodness for the Church’s Advent and Lenten seasons when we feel a call back to spiritual attentiveness. But where Lenten practices call for a daily sort of attention, as in fasting, almsgiving, giving something up, or making a commitment to do something for someone; Advent can slip by unnoticed. My own Advent prayer suffers as I get caught up in the activities of shopping and getting together with friends, family and co-workers. From our website, in the third week of Advent I read about seeking reconciliation. On that Friday night before Advent began, I wondered if I would take advantage of this season with its many graces? Then reading through the Advent preparation site, I was drawn to the message of becoming aware of the darkness in your life, and allow the Lord to shine some light on it. I knew the Lord must be trying to get my attention; that was two hits on the topic. The readings today are about St. John the Baptist, whose whole message was about repentance; that became my third connection to explore repentance. About repentance, Fr. Thomas Keating says when we pray contemplatively, we respond to Christ's call to repentance; and (we) change the direction in which we are searching for happiness. (Better Part, Fr. Thomas Keating, Chapter 3 Part II)
My dark spot drew me towards the deterioration of some family relationships that have occurred through the years. Maybe some of you can relate to having difficulty being around some of your family over the holidays too. You excuse the change, certain that you haven’t changed or caused the riff. You are the same person, but that one family member is sure tough to be around anymore. Mostly I would say our relationships deteriorated at one point and they never got any worse, but they certainly haven’t gotten better. Then you see the family videos from Christmas to Christmas, and you realize you all got along and in fact were a happy family twenty some years ago. Almost as if suddenly, life got more complicated and you found you didn’t have as much in common with those family members any more. You wonder if life could ever get back to just being simple again? Then there is the dimension to consider of what you are passing down to the nephews and nieces, and you think again, where did the life go when we had so much in common?
All week long we have been hearing about the foretelling of Christ’s coming. Today we hear from one of the Minor Prophets, Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. From the last chapter of Malachi, chapter 3, he is writing of a messenger who will “prepare the way before me” (Mal 3:1) This is the foretelling of the life and work of John the Baptist, a cousin to Jesus, son of Elizabeth and Zechariah. But he also speaks of Jesus as the one who will be refining and purifying as is done to silver and gold. And he asks who can stand when he (Jesus) who is the “messenger of the covenant whom you desire” (Mal 3:1-3) appears? Is Christ calling me to an undoing here? How much refining do I need? It would just be easier if my family members could go through this refinement. I guess I will spend some time and listen to the Lord to see what I can do to not go through the next twenty years in the same fashion.
In the Gospel from Luke we are in the first chapter, and listening as Elizabeth and Zechariah choose their son’s name. Much to the amazement of the people of their town, Elizabeth says his name will be John, and Zechariah agrees, with his writing the name John on a piece of paper. One strong sign from this story is Zechariah gets his voice back, which had been stilled since he found out that Elizabeth was pregnant, because he didn’t believe it possible. John the Baptist has always fascinated me because he could feel Jesus’ presence in Mary’s womb. He seemed to be a man of few words, at least not many were recorded, but much was written about him. I have prayed for his intercession to increase my Faith; to be able to feel Jesus the way he did when it is said he lept in his mother’s womb when Mary came to visit Elizabeth. (This is the reflection point of the second mystery of the Joyful Mysteries, the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.)
Unfortunately Advent is almost over even though we are on the last day of the third week; but Jesus can work miracles, so lets ask him to shine a light on our darkness, so we can receive the grace of this season. God Bless
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