Wednesday, December 20, 2017

December 20 in the Last Days of Advent

The gospel for December 20 is from St Luke's 1:26-38.

As I read it over this very familiar gospel, the song often sung at Christmas "Mary did you know?" came to mind. What actually did Mary know? I found a lot of answers today.

  • Mary knew from the Angel's greeting that she was "full of grace." This means that she is so full of grace that she is without sin. Mary was immaculately conceived in the womb of St. Anne. CCC 491 "The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." (1)
  • Mary knew the Lord was with her.
  • To Mary this greeting "full of grace" was troubling, so what did she do with what she knew? She pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
  • The Angel reassured Mary that she did not need to be afraid. This assumes she was afraid or had something to fear. Mary knew that people are not greeted by angels every day. Mary knew she had found favor with God and this could comfort any fear she felt.
  • Mary knew she would conceive. She knew the child would be a boy. She knew is name -- it would be Jesus, meaning Savior. Even the name of the child revealed the future and His destiny.
  • Mary knew not only his name, Jesus, Savior, but that one day He would be great. And He will be called 'Son of the Most High' and He will have the throne of His Father David! (What?? the line of David was cut off in 587 BC.) These three points show the child to be the long awaited Messiah for whom all Jews were waiting:
    • This child will be in the kingly line of all Jews
    • He will be God's own son
    • He will be Savior
  • Mary knew He would rule over the house of Jacob, how long? FOREVER, without end
  • Mary knew she needed to catch her breath with all that the Angel is revealing, so she asks "How?" "How can this be?" Whenever we ask "how" the answer is always The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will come upon her, the Holy Spirit overshadows, the Holy Spirit gives power, the power of God Himself. That's how, and Wow!
  • Mary knew the child to be born will be called Holy. Holy means set apart.
  • Mary knew the child to be born will be called Son of God- That's pretty specific.
At this point, a LOT has been revealed to Mary, she has been flooded with the Angel's news. But almost as if to put an exclamation point on his message, Gabriel tells her one more thing as if to say "and I can prove it will happen": He tells her something else impossible that has already happened. "Elizabeth has conceived a son in her old age"  "FOR NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD."

Then the entire world and all the angels held their breath to await Mary's response to all she now knew. 

Mary knew she was only a handmaid, the lowest type of servant. Mary knew she lived in a small, unknown "backwater" town, Nazareth, Mary knew she was not married and she knew not man. But she said YES "Be it done to me according to your word."

And Luke 1:39 which is not part of the gospel tells us all the more of what Mary did with all she knew. It wasn't enough just to know. Knowledge, with Love, looks for action. So Mary "set out" to go help Elizabeth.

Announcement of the Birth of Jesus
Luke 1:26-3826In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,27to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.28And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”29But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.30Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.31Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.32He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,* and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,33and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”34But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”*35And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.36And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;37for nothing will be impossible for God.”38Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

(1) The song "Mary did you know?" while beautiful, is theologically incorrect with the line "the child which you delivered, will soon delivery you." Mary was saved at her conception, in advance  see CCC 491.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Second Sunday of Advent Year B

John the Baptist

God sent a man, John
He came for testimony
to testify to the light
to give witness
or martyr
For others to believe
He was not the Christ
He was not Elijah
"He was the voice of one crying out
in the desert
Make Straight
the way of the Lord."
And John Baptized
with water

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It's Advent!

Advent is very short this year, in fact, it is the shortest Advent possible. The Fourth Sunday of Advent is December 24, Christmas Eve.

For quite some time, I've been wanting to hear Advent Songs during Advent. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer just doesn't help me prepare for Christmas.

So I spent the best $12 of the year creating my own Advent Playlist on my iPhone.
First I googled "Best Advent Songs" From these two lists I purchased the ones I like through itunes: This list by Matt Fradd pulls all the YouTube videos, so you could just enjoy the music of Advent this way.

Here's a few songs I selected:
  • O Come O Come Emmanuel
  • O Come Divine Messiah
  • Alleluia Hurry the Lord is Near
  • Every Valley Shall Be Exalted (I recommend all the music in Handel's Messiah too.)
  • Tender Mercy (Zechariah's Song)
  • Veni Per Mariam
  • Maria Walks Amid the Thorns
  • Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming
  • What Wondrous Love is This?
It's amazing how many versions of each song there are. Have fun choosing your own!

First Sunday of Advent Year B

The new church year begins today! Year B in which we focus on the gospel of St Mark.

Watch! For He is Coming

He may come in the evening
He may come at midnight
He may come at cockcrow
He may come in the morning

I must be watchful
I must be alert
I don't know the time He will come
I must be the gatekeeper

Watch & Pray!

Because I get so tired
so drowsy
so distracted
I go to Him each mornging

And He sustains me to
For He is Coming