Second Week of Advent
- Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
- Today in Catholic History
- Quote of the Day
- Today’s Gospel Reading
- Gospel Reflection
- Reflection Prayer
- New Translation of the Mass
- Franciscan Formation Reflection
- Reflection on part of the SFO Rule
Do not forget that “St. Nick’s day” is this week (Tuesday, December 6th). In many places of the world, it is St. Nicholas (and not Santa) who is the main gift giver. Put out your children’s shoes and they find treats of small gifts, fruit or nuts, and special Nicholas candies and cookies. Remember though, St. Nicholas gifts are meant to be shared, not hoarded for oneself.
My wife’s surgery (foot surgery) went well, and she is cooperating. Hopefully, she will be back at work within a few weeks. Thank you for all the prayers.
† 1075 – Death of Archbishop Anno II of Cologne
† 1110 – First Crusade: The Crusaders conquer Sidon.
† 1259 – Kings Louis IX of France (A Third Order Fransican and Patron Saint of the SFO Order) and Henry III of England agree to the Treaty of Paris, in which Henry renounces his claims to French-controlled territory on continental Europe (including Normandy) in exchange for Louis withdrawing his support for English rebels.
† 1334 – Death of Pope John XXII (b. 1249)
† 1443 – Birth of Pope Julius II, (1503-13), patron of Michelangelo, Bramante, and Raphael
† 1563 – The final session of the Council of Trent is held (it opened on December 13, 1545).
† 1674 – Father Jacques Marquette founds a mission on the shores of Lake Michigan to minister to the Illiniwek (the mission would later grow into the city of Chicago, Illinois).
† 1786 – Birth of John LA Luyten, Catholic Member of Dutch 2nd parliament [or 12/14]
† 1963 – Pope Paul VI closes 2nd session of 2nd Vatican Council † 1997 – Death of David Abell Wood, priest, at age 72 Memorials Feasts: Saint John of Damascus; the Great Martyr Saint Barbara, St. Ada (feast day)
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
“’Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ is an action of the risen Savior. The Holy Spirit reveals to the spirit of the believer the true reality, majesty and saving power of the Son of God. We are enabled to surrender our lives in a deeper way to God’s saving work. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to die to sin and live to God.” ~ Fr. Francis Martin, “The Life Changer”, St. Bede’s Publications
Today’s reflection is about John the Baptist preaching repentance and baptizing people, in preparation for the “One” who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
(NAB Mark 1:1-8) 1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God]. 2a As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. 3 A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” 4 John [the] Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. 6 John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. 7 And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Last Sunday’s Gospel was taken from the end of Mark. Today’s Gospel is taken from the beginning of Mark. Unlike Luke and Matthew, Mark does not include any details of Jesus’ birth. Instead, he begins with Jesus at the beginning of His public ministry, and with the appearance of John the Baptist in the desert wilderness. We are invited today to reflect upon the role of this last great prophet, John the Baptist, who ‘prepared the way’ for Jesus and for the Salvation that Jesus Christ would bring to us then, now, and in the future.
Many scholars believe that the Gospels reflect the personal and group tensions that likely existed between the followers of John the Baptist and the disciples of Jesus Christ. Each of the four Evangelists report on John’s preaching and baptizing, and each also emphasizes the importance of Jesus’ baptism by John. The four Gospels go on explain that John the Baptist was sent to preach in preparation for another.
Holy Scripture tells us that John (the Baptist) was filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb:
When the Blessed Virgin Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, the son in her womb, John, leapt in her womb as they were both “filled” with the Holy Spirit:
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:41).
The passion and fervor of the Holy Spirit dwelt in John, and made him the forerunner of the coming Messiah and Savior. John was divinely led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness – – prior to his “prophetic” ministry, – – where he himself was tested and grew in the “Word” of God.
Although Mark attributes Jesus’ prophecy to Isaiah, the text is a combination of several passages from several books of Holy Scripture:
“See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.” (Exodus 23:20);
“A voice proclaims: In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” (Isaiah 40:3);
“Now I am sending my messenger — he will prepare the way before me; and the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple; the messenger of the covenant whom you desire — see, he is coming! says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1);
“This is the one about whom it is written: ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.’” (Matthew 11:10);
“This is the one about whom scripture says: ‘Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you.’” (Luke 7:27).
John the Baptist’s ministry is seen, and presented in this reading as God’s prelude to the saving mission of God the Fathers “Son”. John the Baptist’s life was fueled by one burning passion — to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of His kingdom.
John broke the prophetic silence of several centuries when he began to speak the “Word” of God to the people of Israel. His message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who also reproached the “chosen people” of God for their unfaithfulness and who also tried to awaken true repentance in them.
Among the Jewish people – – who became unconcerned with the things of God, – – it was John’s work and mission to awaken their interest, to unsettle them from their complacency, and to arouse in them enough “good will” to recognize and receive Christ when He came.
Why did Jesus say John the Baptist was more than a prophet as reported in Luke’s Gospel:
“Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.” (Luke 7:26)?
He was more than a prophet; he was the “voice” making straight the “way of the Lord”. John the Baptist became “the voice” who is coming:
“He [John the Baptist] said: ‘I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” (John 1:23).
“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service has ended, that her guilt is expiated, that she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins. A voice proclaims: In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!” (Isaiah 40:1-3).
Can you picture a man “clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist” (verse 6). Was he thought of as a “wild” man, with “crazy” ideas, OR, was he looked at as the prophesized “prophet”? Remember, he did have a large following, and was watched, with “some concern”, from religious and political figures of the area. They all knew the Old Testament prophesies of Isaiah. John the Baptist’s clothes and dietary habits recalled that of the prophet “Elijah” from the Old Testament:
“They replied, ‘He wore a hairy garment with a leather belt around his waist.’ ‘It is Elijah the Tishbite!’ he exclaimed.” (2 Kings 1:8).
Jesus Christ Himself even speaks of John the Baptist as the “Elijah” who has already come:
“Then the disciples asked him, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ He said in reply, ‘Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.’” (Matthew 17:10–12);
“Then they [Peter, James, and John] asked him, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ He told them, ‘Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things, yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.’” (Mark 9:11–13);
“He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17).
“All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come.” (Matt. 11:13-14).
John’s baptismal ministry was for repentance, for turning away from sin, and for taking on a “new way” of life according to God’s “Word”. Our baptism in, with, and through Jesus Christ – – by flowing water and the Holy Spirit – – results in a “new birth” and a glorious entry into God’s kingdom, as His beloved children:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.” (John 3:5).
”I [John the Baptist] have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1-8).
“John [the] Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mark 1:4),
AND, in bearing on their (and our) behalf the burden of God the Father’s decisive judgment, was baptized for the “chosen people of Israel”:
“It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.” (Mark 1:9).
As in the desert of Sinai at the Exodus, so here, in the wilderness of Judea (at the Jordan River also associated with Elijah and Elisha), Israel’s Son-ship with God the Father is to be “renewed” through the living waters AND Holy Spirit of Jesus’ baptism.
In conclusion, Mark’s description of John the Baptist’s appearance highlights John’s connection and permanence with Jewish prophetic tradition. Mark, in today’s reading, combines quotations from the Old Testament books of Exodus, Isaiah, and Malachi. Mark’s description of John the Baptist as an “ascetic”, living in the desert and “clothed in camel hair”, eating “locusts and wild honey”, is reminiscent of the description of the prophet “Elijah” found in the book, “Second Kings”. The people of Judea and Jerusalem flocked to John the Baptist, longing for and listening to his message of repentance and forgiveness. Many came to John to be baptized in the Jordan. Mark’s Gospel is direct and clear; John the Baptist’s role is only “to prepare the way” for another to come, “one who is greater” than John the Baptist.
In today’s Gospel we hear John the Baptist contrast his baptism of repentance with the baptism that Jesus will inaugurate. John says that he has baptized with water, but that the “one who is to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit” as well. John the Baptist’s baptism was not yet a Catholic Christian baptism. It was a “preparation” for the Sacrament of Baptism through which sins are forgiven and the gift of the Holy Spirit is received.
John the Baptist is presented to us as a model for preparation during Advent. We, too, in this day and time – – some two millennia later, – – are still called upon to “prepare a way for the Lord”. Like John the Baptist, we ARE messengers in service to the “One” who is greater than any on earth. Our Baptism commissions us to call others to life as disciples of Jesus.
Think about ways in which the example of others around you have “called” you to be a follower of Jesus Christ; who have been examples to you of Christian discipleship. What are the characteristics they posses that you have tried to (or can) emulate?
Jesus is ready to give us the “fire” of His Holy Spirit so that we may “glow with” the light, joy, and truth of His Gospel to a materialistic and secular world, so desperately in need of God’s light, joy, and truth. Jesus Christ’s “Word” has power to change and transform our lives so that we may be lights pointing others to Him. Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light, the truth, and the way of Jesus Christ. The question is: “Are you eager to hear God’s word and to be changed by it through the power of the Holy Spirit”? Do you point others to Christ in the way you live, work, and communicate?
As John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ, the Sacrament of Baptism “commissions” us to also prepare the way of the Lord. The grace of the Holy Spirit leads us to continually renew our lives so that we might lead others to Jesus. Can you identify at least one action that you will take this week to try to be a more faithful follower, a more faithful disciple, of Jesus? Pray that God will receive this action you have just identified, and use it to lead others to his Son.
The season of Advent invites us to renew our lives in preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ. Some of the first-century people who heard the message of John the Baptist repented for their sins and were then baptized. In the Sacrament of Baptism, our sins are truly forgiven, and we also receive the grace (the gift) of the Holy Spirit who helps us in our life of discipleship. Led by the Holy Spirit, we should use this Advent season time to renew our lives in “preparing the way” for Jesus.
“Prayer to the Holy Spirit”
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. And kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you will renew the face of the earth.
Lord, by the light of the Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful. In the same Spirit help us to relish what is right and always rejoice in your consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The Roman Catholic Church bases her teaching upon one source: The “WORD” of God. This revelation is communicated to us in two divine ways: Holy Scripture and apostolic “Tradition”. Many people (including most Protestants) believe in only the writings found in the bible are the word of God. However, Oral transmission of the faith is also the word of God as Peter reported:
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” (cf., 1 Thessalonians. 2:13) RSV
“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (cf., 1 Thessalonians. 2:13) KJV
My reason and purpose for this section on my blog is not to cause dissention or opposition with my fellow believers in Jesus Christ, yet not in union with the Roman Catholic Church. Instead, it is to provide “scriptural confirmation” for our beliefs and doctrines. Whether God speaks to us through the “Bible”, or through the “Tradition”, the “Word” is truly inspired from the Holy Spirit.
All Scriptural verses are taken from both the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible, and the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Tradition Found in Holy Scripture, Part 1
“I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you“ (1 Corinthians. 11:2). RSV
“Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.” (1 Corinthians. 11:2). KJV
“Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us” (2 Timothy. 1:13-14). RSV
“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.” (2 Timothy. 1:13-14). KJV
“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thessalonians. 2:15) RSV
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians. 2:15) KJV
“Catholic Answers” Website
“Virtues and Vices”
Where can you find the virtues in the SFO Rule?
How would you paraphrase what Saint Francis thought about each of the virtues? (Hint: All the Cardinal and Theological virtues can be found in the Catechism, paragraphs 1804-1829)
How have you been living the virtues?
04. The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.
Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.
Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.
05. Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity. The faith of St. Francis, who often said, “I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world except His most holy body and blood,” should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life.