Daily Meditation - Saturday 20December 2008 - THE IMMEDIATE FAITH AND TRUST OF MARY


Prayer and Liturgy ofToday
Two Posts Daily




O Antiphon
**for **

December 20
O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel; Who openest, and no man shutteth, Who shuttest, and no man openeth: come and lead the captive from the prison house, and him that sitteth in darkness and the shadow of death. .

Advent, Part II
[LEFT]From today (17 Dec) the prayers and readings take on a different nature.
In the first half of Advent we count forwards: first week, second week, and so on, paying attention to Advent Sunday, the day when Advent started.
Now in the second half of Advent, and Advent Sunday is forgotten: it is Christmas Day that matters. Today (17th December) is the eighth day before Christmas, tomorrow is the seventh day, and so on. The prayers follow this countdown, and the final readings from Isaiah build up to their climax. [/LEFT]

Readings and Meditation



God uses signs to communicate his purposes, his presence, his righteousness, his favor to his people (Psalm 86:17), and his assurance that he is speaking to them and that he will keep his promises.

God also performed mighty signs to demonstrate his saving deeds when he delivered his people from bondage in Egypt (Psalm 78:43). When God offered King Ahaz a sign, the king refused. God, nonetheless, gave Israel a sign to assure his people that he would indeed give them a Savior who would rule with peace and righteousness (Is. 7:11ff). The greatest sign God has given us is…



Mary regards herself not as priviledged or honoured but as one called to be the servant of others -
the one who serves and waits upon others.


• The visit of the Angel to Mary reminds us of the visit of God to different women of the Old Testament: Sarah, mother of Isaac (Gen 18, 9-15), Anne, mother of Samuel (1 Sam 1, 9-18), the mother of Samson (Jg 13, 2-5). To all of them was announced the birth of a son with an important mission in the realization of God’s plan.

• The account begins with the expression “in the sixth month”. It is the sixth month of the pregnancy of Elizabeth. The concrete need of Elizabeth, a woman advanced in age who is expecting her first son with the risk of delivery, this is the background of all this episode. Elizabeth is mentioned at the beginning (Lk 1, 26) and at the end of the visit of the angel (Lk 1, 36.39).

• The angel says: “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour, the Lord is with you”!. Similar words were said also to Moses (Ex 3, 12), to Jeremiah (Jer 1, 8), to Gideon (Jg 6, 12) and to other persons with an important mission in God’s plan. Mary is surprised at the greeting and tries to understand the significance of those words.

[quote]She is realistic

. She wants to understand. She does not accept just any inspiration.

• The angel answers: “Do not be afraid!” Just as it happened in the visit of the angel to Zechariah, here also the first greeting of God is always: “Do not be afraid!”. Immediately the angel recalls the promises of the past which will be fulfilled thanks to the son who will be born and who has to receive the name of Jesus. He will be called the Son of the Most High and in him will be realized the Kingdom of God. This is the explanation of the angel in such a way that Mary is not afraid.

• Mary is aware of, knows the mission which she is about to receive, but she continues to be realistic. She does not allow herself to be drawn by the greatness of the offer, and observes her condition. She analyses the offer according to certain criteria which she has available. Humanly speaking, it was not possible: “But how can this come about, I have no knowledge of man?”

• The angel explains that the Holy Spirit, present in God’s Word since the Creation (Genesis 1, 2), is capable to realize things which seem impossible. This is why, the Holy One who will be born from Mary will be called Son of God. The miracle repeats itself up until today. When the Word of God is accepted by the poor, something new happens, thanks to the force of the Holy Spirit! Something new and surprising such as a son is born of a virgin or a son is born to a woman of advanced age, like Elizabeth, of whom all said that she was barren, that she could not have children! And the angel adds: “See, your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God”.

• The response of the angel clarifies everything for Mary, and she surrenders: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word”. Mary uses for herself the title of Servant, Handmaid of the Lord.

This title of Isaiah, which represents the mission of the people not as a privilege, but rather as a service to the other people

(Is 42, 1-9; 49, 3-6). Later Jesus will define his mission as a service: “I have not come to be served, but to serve!” (Mt 20, 28). He learnt this from his Mother!

• What struck you the most in the visit of the Angel Gabriel to Mary?
• Jesus praises his Mother when he says: “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it” (Lk 11, 28). How does Mary relate to the Word of God during the visit of the Angel?



The painting is from the choir at the Angelicum, Rome.

This is what Christmas is all about…

Better bundle up - the goose bumps will freeze you!! I think I need to read this every year at Christmas.

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn’t been enough money to buy me the rifle that I’d wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn’t in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn’t get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn’t figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn’t worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. “Come on, Matt,” he said. “Bundle up good, it’s cold out tonight.” I was really upset then. Not only wasn’t I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We’d already done all the chores, and I couldn’t think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one’s feet when he’d told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn’t know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn’t going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn’t happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. “I think we’ll put on the high sideboards,” he said. “Here, help me.” The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I’d spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something. “Pa,” I asked, “what are you doing?” You been by the Widow Jensen’s lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I’d been by, but so what?

Yeah," I said, “Why?”

“I rode by just today,” Pa said. “Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They’re out of wood, Matt.” That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his r ight shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. “What’s in the little sack?” I asked. Shoes, they’re out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen’s pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn’t have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn’t have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn’t have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. …




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