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Friday, 13 December 2019

Reassurance


Third Sunday of Advent
15 December 2019


First reading                                                                    Isaiah 11:1-10

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.

They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples;
the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
Second reading                                                    Romans 15:4-9

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God so that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name.”

Gospel                                                                     
Matthew 3:1-12

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'”

Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Reflection
By Theresa Ballo


In the Gospel, John’s disciples approached Jesus and asked him the question John had told them to ask Jesus in person: “Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?” To which Jesus answered “Go back and report to John what you hear and see.  The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are healed, the dead are raised to life, and the poor have the good news preached to them.  Blest are the ones who find no stumbling block in me.”  In a very candid way, Jesus told John’s disciples that He was “The One” sent by God!

It is so amazing how marvellous Jesus is capable of doing miracles that only He can perform. However, in most times, we succumb to our own understanding of the events that are happening in our lives especially the negative and traumatic experiences. We lack patience to wait for the unfolding of the seemingly ugly events into an opportunity of growth and improvement. A chance to say to ourselves in awe, “I can actually bear this” (kaya ko naman pala).

I felt very sad when I read in the news this morning that one of my childhood crush in the cast of Tabing Ilog back in the 90s died of suicide. Even without me knowing his family, I prayed for them. I just can’t imagine how hard it is for his family especially this season of Christmas. I wonder how will this event change their view of Jesus’ birth and a promise of His Second Coming because of what happened.

Then, I thought of my friends who are clinically diagnosed of depression and other personality/mood disorders. In prayers, I recalled the faces of my students who resorted to cutting, suicidal attempts and other self-destructive behaviors. I say a prayer of thanks for sending people to inspire and save me during those times I experienced all these myself back then. Each time I am saved, relentlessly I asked Jesus in prayer, Is this you Jesus? What do you want me to do? Why do you keep on saving me over and over again? Even though I know that I am loved, still feelings of guilt and shame follow a thoughtless act of self-harm. Those feelings are even harder to deal with.

Having therapists or counselors as my colleagues and experiencing how to become a patient and a client as well made me more compassionate and kind to others. In most times, we don’t know what the person is going through. Behind a strong or sometimes a happy fa├žade is a gentle person waiting to be cared for, asking for patience and assurance. Advent is not just a season of waiting but also a period of reassurance because all of us already know who it is yet to come. Our Messiah is with us. We have the ability to share it, live with it or conceal Jesus inside our being. Make him known. Be like Jesus. He helps almost anyone who needs help, without any expectations of fame and fortune, just authentic kindness and generosity. May we choose to always radiate Christ Jesus wherever we are.


Prayer

Loving Jesus,

We pray today for those who are confronted by the sadness, ambiguity, and confusions of mental and emotional illness, and for those upon whom they depend for attention and care. Give them the grace to fight over distress, confusion or isolation. Provide for them an environment of assurances and peace. Give them an understanding and willingness to seek and accepts help when necessary. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Followers

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