Old Calendar: The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
"As the journey of Advent continues, as we prepare to celebrate the nativity of Christ, John the Baptist's call to conversion sounds out in our communities. It is a pressing invitation to open our hearts and to welcome the Son of God Who comes among us to make divine judgment manifest. The Father, writes St. John the Evangelist, does not judge anyone, but has entrusted the power of judgment to the Son, because He is the Son of man."And it is today, in the present, that we decide our future destiny. It is with our concrete everyday behavior in this life that we determine our eternal fate. At the end of our days on earth, at the moment of death, we will be evaluated on the basis of our likeness or otherwise to the Baby Who is about to be born in the poor grotto of Bethlehem, because He is the measure God has given humanity."Through the Gospel John the Baptist continues to speak down the centuries to each generation. His hard clear words bring health to us, the men and women of this day in which even the experience and perception of Christmas often, unfortunately, reflects materialist attitudes. The 'voice' of the great prophet asks us to prepare the way for the coming Lord in the deserts of today, internal and external deserts, thirsting for the water of life which is Christ." — Benedict XVIJesse Tree ~ Joseph
St John’s cry in this second Sunday of Advent, re-echoes strongly in our hearts and resonates in our souls which are called to open wide the door to the Lord who is coming. For this, we are invited to repentance, so that we may bring ‘good fruit as evidence of repentance’. (Mt 3:8), otherwise we could become like the ‘tree that does not bear good fruit and will be cut down and thrown into the fire.’ (Mt 3:10). This implies and involves a true and authentic change of life. To realize this purpose, we must hope that the Lord that "is God of endurance and encouragement”, grants us “to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus” (Rm 15:5). As He welcomed us, we are also called to welcome each other "for the Glory of God "who is like ‘a shoot that shall sprout from the stump of Jesse’. The Glory of God will manifest itself to us with his “ spirit of wisdom and of understanding, spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord (Is 11: 1-2). This spirit will be no longer temporary, as already happened in the past, but will be permanent, constructed on He who the Lord will send. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, […]"Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." (Lk 4:18-21). As St Jerome referred to in the lessons of the second nocturne: "this branch without any knots protruding from the stump of Jesse is the Virgin Mary, and the flower is the same Saviour, who said in the Song of Songs: I am the flower of the field and the lily of the valley”. The devout St. Bernard, commenting the beauty of this flower that the Lord left to bloom for us, affirmed in his second homily of Advent, said: "The Son of the Virgin is the flower, purple and white flower, chosen among a thousand; flower whose sight gladdens the angels, and the smell of which restores life to the dead flowers in the fields as she calls herself, and not the flowers of the gardens, because the flower of the fields blossoms by itself without the help of man, without the processes of agriculture. So the womb of the Virgin, as an eternal green field, has produced this divine flower whose beauty is imperishable ever, and whose glory never be darkened. […]O heavenly plant, the most precious and most holy of all! O true tree of life, that you're the ' only one worthy to bear the fruit of salvation. " In this time, therefore, we must ask the Lord, as St. Augustine always affirms, the gift of conversion: "What, then? It is perhaps dependent on you, O man, if converted to God once you have earned his mercy, while on the contrary those who have not converted have not obtained mercy but have encountered the wrath of God? But you what resources available to convert, if you had not been called? Was it not He who called you when you were the enemy, to grant you the grace of repentance? So do not ascribe to yourself the merit of your conversion: why, if God had not intervened to call you when you fled from him, you would not have been able to look back1." Citations:
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Mt 3:1)
The heartfelt appeal of the man that from his mother’s womb was selected as the precursor, resonates more than ever in our time. The one that would straighten the tortuous path and the wayward road of the people of Israel, is the luminous figure who the Fathers of the Church have identified as the ‘last of the prophets’, St John the Baptist.
- Is 11,1-10: http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9abtajk.htm
- Rom 15,4-9: http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9aewjuo.htm
- Mt 3,1-12: http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9abttkc.htm
1. St. Augustine Expositionson the Psalmi, 84, 8-9.From the Congregation for the Clergy
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