Monday, December 24, 2012

Gospel Reflection

December 24, 2012
Monday – Advent – Year of Faith
Ninth Day – Misa de Gallo
by Rev. Fr. Jim Ferry (San Carlos Pastoral Formation Complex EDSA, Guadalupe, Makati)
5;00AM Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, Greenbelt, Makati

Reading 1 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

When King David was settled in his palace, and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side, he said to Nathan the prophet, "Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!" Nathan answered the king, "Go, do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you." But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said: "Go, tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD: Should you build me a house to dwell in?

"'It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth. I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance. Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old, since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his Kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.'"

Responsorial Psalm Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29

R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, "My kindness is established forever";
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
"I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations."
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
"He shall say of me, 'You are my father,
my God, the rock, my savior.'
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm."
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Gospel Lk 1:67-79

Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:

"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace."


What a beautiful Gospel, to bring to an end the days of preparation, the days of waiting. It tells us of the great prayer of Zechariah, as he speaks about his son, who will now be the obedient revealer of the Savior of the world. His son will be the last of the prophets, the one who immediately precedes Jesus. Zechariah speaks about Jesus as the One who will bring light when there is darkness, who will bring forgiveness of sin, wherever there is hatred and separation from God. Now is the time to proclaim the presence of the Savior.

As we allow this prayer of Zechariah, a prayer that is said every day by priests and religious, as they offer up morning praises to God, let us look at John and realize what was the work of John, and this is to let the people know that the Messiah is among them. And that He has come to bring a baptism, that will not only lead to the forgiveness of sins, but will lead to the presence of the Holy Spirit. A light that will open up the darkness of hearts which are in sin, and reveal that salvation is at hand. Jesus is among us.

As we bring to a close the Advent season today, we still have a day of reflection on how we ourselves proclaim Jesus. Yes, we gather every morning for the celebration of these dawn masses. We come together every Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist that has liberated us from sin. Yes, we offer many rosaries and prayers. But do we live what we celebrate? Do we live the mysteries that we pray? Do we allow the Liturgy of the Word in the mass to deepen our love and understanding and fidelity to Jesus? When we come to the Eucharist, do we truly join in and offer ourselves to the Father with Jesus, so as the Spirit changes bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, the Spirit will also change our hearts? Or do we just say prayers in a way that has become mechanical?

Even as priests, we must be careful that we do not just act that we celebrate. That each and every mass will be like our first mass, our last mass, our only mass. These are the words that Mother Theresa spoke to priests about the sacredness and the centrality of the Eucharist.

To our Eucharistic Ministers, you have been given the privilege to bring the Bread of Life to our people. You allow Jesus to deepen your hearts, deepen your faith, deepen your fidelity to Jesus in the way that you live out the mystery that we celebrate each and every day at the mass. To our lectors, you are proclaimers of the Word. They themselves allow the Word of God, first of all, to open up their hearts. And they realize that when they are proclaiming the Word, they are proclaiming the presence of Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

And to all of us gathered in the Eucharist, we realize that this is our Eucharist. That each and every one of us must enter into the celebration with an openness of spirit and heart. Not just sitting or standing, but listening and praying and participating in this marvelous mystery of faith, the greatest sign that Jesus ever left with us, the sign of His love.

We, like John the Baptist, must proclaim Jesus. But we proclaim Jesus, not as the One who remained in Bethlehem, not the Jesus who remained in Galilee or even in Jerusalem, or even in Golgotha on the Cross. But we proclaim a Jesus who is risen from the dead, and with us now. Do we live that presence of Jesus in us? Filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, filled with that intensity that we are called to be the voice of Christ in the world, called to, first of all, make sure that the mountains of sin are destroyed within ourselves before we speak of bringing Jesus to others. It is to be sure that in our own hearts, this Eucharist that we celebrate is truly the center of our prayer life and that it nourishes, not only the prayers that we celebrate, but the actions that we do, in order that Jesus might be born, or even reborn in our hearts, because of the intensity of our own love, the intensity of our own spirituality, the intensity oif our desire to bring Jesus to others.

We celebrate Christmas, the birth of the Prince of Peace. We celebrate Christmas, the birthday and the beginning of who we are. We are those who have been redeemed by Jesus. Let us be that prophet, that proclaimer. Let us be that one who brings light when there is darkness. Let us be the one who brings love and peace and reconciliation, where there is isolation and sin and hatred. Truly, allow this last day of preparing for the birth of Christ, to be a moment of tremendous grace for each one of us. To live out what we celebrate.

I, as a priest, you who belong to the royal priesthood of Christ in baptism, and within the Body of Christ, we should be faithful to what God has called us to do. Yes, in the celebration of the Eucharist. Yes, by the way we live our lives, in our oneness with Jesus. The best gift that you and I can give, not to one another alone, but the best gift that we can give to Jesus is our openness, so that He can work with us and allow us to bring Him to others. We must be conscious of the presence of Jesus within each of us and live lives of holiness. Lives of service. Lives that proclaim Jesus Christ is born of Mary. Jesus Christ has died for our sins. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Jesus Christ is with us. Amen.