Jubilee years have a deep history in the Hebrew Scriptures. According to the Book of Leviticus (25:8-13), during a jubilee observed every 50 years, slaves and prisoners were freed, debts forgiven, land and possessions returned to their rightful owners. Perhaps most important, during such a year, the mercy of God would be manifested.
give me the wisdom and courage
so that I may become an island of mercy
in the midst of a sea of indifference.
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled’” (Luke 1:41-45).
God is present to each of us in different ways. In the encounter described in this Gospel passage, Elizabeth was aware of the presence of God in Mary. We are challenged to become aware of the presence of God in our own lives. How is God present to you in the people with whom you live and work? Where is God present to you in nature? What about the person next to you on the train or plane?
Elizabeth shows us that when we see goodness, we should acknowledge it, both to the other person and to God. This gratitude creates more goodness, and naming it gives us appreciative and joyful hearts.
We live in a time and place very different from the first century Palestine of Mary and Elizabeth. But we and those holy women have some important things in common. Like Mary, we too discover God’s will for ourselves in prayer and reflection. Then, like Elizabeth, we too live it out as a prayer of praise and gratitude.
When you look over the past year of your life, for what or for whom are you grateful?
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International storeTags: a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Advent, Blessed are you among women, Catholic, Catholic Church, catholic RENEW program, Christ, Elizabeth, God's love, Gospel according to Luke, Holy Spirit, infant lept in womb, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Mary, Mary mother of God, Mary's greeting, Mass, prayer, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Scripture, Sunday Gospel, Word of God
The Jubilee Year of Mercy opened on December 8, the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of Second Vatican Council. On this date we also mark the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This liturgical feast day recalls God’s actions of mercy from the very beginning of humankind. This is why Pope St. John XXIII opened the council with the words: “Now the Bride of Christ wishes to use the medicine of mercy ….”
Mary, Mother of Mercy,
turn your gaze toward us
and watch over our year-long penitential journey
to receive the mercy of your Son.
“Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, ‘I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn,
Many followers of John the Baptist believed that he was the Messiah. John wanted them to pay attention to their lives and to the coming of the Holy One. John told them that he baptized with water, but the one coming would baptize with the Holy Spirit. John also told them that nothing he did or said pointed to himself.
This is good advice for us, too. Like John the Baptist, we should not perform good works to point to ourselves. None of us is the one from whom these good things come. Our baptism in the Spirit is about trying to live a life of faith and good deeds.
But how do we live that out? John the Baptist said that it does not necessarily require momentous changes in our lifestyle. Keep doing what you do, he told the soldiers, citizens, and tax collectors, but be more generous with your extra coat and food, and be just in all of your actions.
What various roles do you play in your life? How do you serve others in each of these roles? In what way can you improve?
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International storeTags: a reflection on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Advent, baptize with the holy spirit, baptize with water, catholic RENEW program, Christ, Church, community, God's love, Good News, good works, Gospel, Gospel according to Luke, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Jesus Christ, John the Baptist, Luke 3, Mass, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, Scripture, Sunday Gospel, Word of God
Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew
from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.
Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved,
and forgiven by God.
Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm,
may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.
Campus RENEW / Theology on Tap / RENEW Worldwide