Sunday, December 8, 2013

Today's Mass Readings - December 8, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - Isaiah 11:1-10
On that day a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. 5Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea. 10 On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
P S A L M - Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
R: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king, and with your justice, the king’s son; he shall govern your people with justiceand your afflicted ones with judgment. (R) Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more. May he rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.(R) 12 For he shall rescue the poor man when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. 13 He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. (R) 17May his name be blessed forever; as long as the sun his name shall remain. In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed; all the nations shall proclaim his happiness. (R)
2ND READING - Romans 15:4-9
Brothers and sisters: Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, to confirm the promises to the patriarchs, but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written: “Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles and sing praises to your name.”
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Matthew 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea 2and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan were going out to him 6and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do notpresume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in his hand. He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”



We all like to talk and hear about how God is a loving God and that His mercy reaches to the depths of the earth and to the heights of heaven. This knowledge of His love and care for us brings us comfort and strengthens us. However, if love is to be true love, there is always an element of choice involved — the choice to give on the part of the giver (in this case, God, so we can remove any doubts about whether or not He really wants to love us), and on the part of the receiver, us. It is here that Shakespeare, through his character Hamlet, would say, “Aye, and there lies the rub!” That is, here is where the problem begins.

       We all have to make choices in life for which we will be held accountable. We cannot avoid this assessment if we want to believe that we have free choice and, thus, we are not just a small part of a “wind-up universe” that God has started and which will eventually run down to nothing. In other words, for there to be truly free acts, there has to be responsibility attached to them. This is what John the Baptist refers to when he talks about the “winnowing fork” of the Holy Spirit.

       A time of reckoning will come for us — when we will give an account of our lives, the sum total of the choices we have made, to God. There is little to fear if we live lives of goodness as best as we can. But there is much to fear if we ignore the responsibility to do good and simply live carefree and irresponsible lives. The lives of the saints remind us of the costs that we are called to pay when we follow Christ. We will not all become saints, but that simply begs the question, “Why not?” Unfortunately, the simple answer is that most people are not committed enough to excising sin from their lives in order to become saints. Thus, we are reminded that at some time in the future such excision will have to be done if we are to achieve our goal of eternal life in heaven. Fr. Steve Tynan, MGL
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Are you aware of any sins in your life? What are you doing about them? How committed are you to getting rid of them from your life?
Holy Spirit, lend Your winnowing fork to my life and grant me the grace to allow You to show me how to get rid of all the sins that hamper my ability to grow as a disciple of Jesus.

Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.

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