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Meditation on John 1:1-5
 

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

The light shines on in the darkness.
 
The darkness may surround you,
but the darkness will not overcome the light.
The darkness may be your constant companion,
but it need not overcome you.
It need not be your life.
Seek the light. Seek it all around you, within you.
Let it be your lifelong partner, your protector, your energy, your salvation.
The light, the light within you and all around you, will help you overcome the darkness.
The darkness will try to surround you, take over your life,
and penetrate your very being,
but it need not destroy you.
The light will always shine, out there, somewhere.
Seek the light wherever you can find it,
and always look within, past the darkness, to the Spirit of Light that lives within you.
Yes! The Spirit of Light is your greatest gift to lead you out of the darkness.
Seek the gift. Rejoice in the gift. Live in the gift. Banish the darkness.
Live in the Light of the Spirit
 
—Bill Ayres
 
Scripture passage from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. All Rights Reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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All-powerful God,
Your eternal Word took flesh
when the Virgin Mary placed her life at your service.
Lift our minds and hearts in watchful hope
to hear the voice which announces
the coming of Jesus in glory.
May we be open to the Holy Spirit as Mary was,
that we too may make Christ present to our hurting world.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 
Adapted from Waiting With Joy: Weekly Reflections on the Sunday Readings, Advent, Year A, by Sr. Donna Ciangio, OP; © RENEW International.

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A reading from the book of the Prophet Isaiah
(Chapter 7:10-14)
 
Ahaz was the ruler of the kingdom of Judah at a time when Judah and other small nations were allied against the Assyrian Empire which was more powerful and certainly brutal. But Ahaz refused to be true to the coalition, so some of the nations that should have been his partners turned against him. While Judah was under attack from two directions, “The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the Lord your God…. But Ahaz answered “I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord.” This was a phony excuse designed to mask Ahaz’s lack of faith. Isaiah told him, “Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel”—a promise that Judah, the nation of David, would endure—in spite of its enemies and in spite of Ahaz.
 
Isaiah never tells us who the virgin is nor who the child is, except to say that his name will be Emmanuel which means “God with us.” The prophesy was fulfilled, not in Ahaz’s time but more than six centuries later with the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6)
 
“Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.” Today, and every day, let us ask God to enter ever more deeply in our minds and hearts.
 
A reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans
(Chapter 1:1-7)
 
The Rome of Paul’s time was large for its time though not as large as it would become. That’s why it was necessary for him to introduce himself properly as an important apostle. That is why he referred to himself as “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.” It is “the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.” These are Paul’s credentials, and he wants to make sure everyone knows who he really is. This was especially important, because Christians were being arrested and martyred every day. If they were risking their lives, they needed to know that Paul and his message about God, Jesus was the real deal.
 
We do not risk our lives or suffer for the faith as the martyrs in Rome did, but we need to remember that our forebears in faith suffered and many do today.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
(Chapter 1:18-24)
 
This gospel passage focuses on Joseph, a troubled man with a critical decision to make. Mary had not yet lived with Joseph, but she was pregnant. How? By whom? What should he do?
 
Matthew is the only evangelist who tells this story: “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.” Then Joseph had a dream in which the angel of the Lord said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins…. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.”
 
Each of us has difficult decisions to make throughout our lives, usually without the help of angels in our dreams. Praying and asking for counsel from family or friends can help, and then asking the Holy Spirit to guide us can lead us to the best decisions in troubling times.
 
Image courtesy of FreeBibleImages.org.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
ever faithful to your promises and ever close to your Church:
The earth rejoices in hope of the Savior’s coming
and looks forward with longing
to his return at the end of time.
Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling the joy and the hope
that Christ’s presence will bring.
For he is Lord forever and ever.
Amen.

 
Adapted from Waiting With Joy: Weekly Reflections on the Sunday Readings, Advent, Year A, by Sr. Donna Ciangio, OP; © RENEW International.

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A reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah
(Chapter 35:1-6a, 10)
 
This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, a day of rejoicing because of the great promise that we hear from Isaiah. The prophet addressed this message to the Jewish people in a time of terrible crisis: exile from their homeland, the destruction of their homes and temple, and their enslavement by a foreign power. Yet, in the midst of all their suffering, Isaiah has this powerful message of hope: “Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God; he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.”
 
We do not face the same kind of horror in our society, but what sufferings are you going through now that may seem hopeless or at least painful? Have any of your relationships caused you suffering? How can you bring healing rather than continuing the pain? Have you allowed relatively minor troubles to diminish your joy? How can you turn that around into thankfulness for all you have been given?
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10)
 
“Lord, come and save us.” Those words resonate with us thousands of years after they were written. How and when have you asked God to save you or someone you love? Do you feel you were heard?
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint James
(Chapter 5:7-10)
 
James is telling his hearers to be patient for the coming of the Lord. Of course, he is talking about the Second Coming which the Christians of that time thought would occur any day. Today, we are not impatient for the Second Coming. We hardly think about it, but we should always be thinking and praying for the continuous coming of Jesus into our minds and hearts. Let us think of Christmas not as the coming again of the baby Jesus. That only happened once, 2000-plus years ago. Rather, let us rejoice in the remembrance of that event that changed the world and our own lives so profoundly, and then enter into an even deeper bond with Jesus whose Spirit lives in us.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
(Chapter 11:2-11)
 
Put yourself in John’s shoes, or rather sandals, for a minute. Here he is, a man with a mission from God to prepare the way for the long-awaited Messiah, and he is stuck in prison. He is giving it his all, but he wants to make sure Jesus is the real deal, so he sends his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?” John is risking his life, and he wants to be sure. Jesus answers, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”
 
How many times has Jesus healed you, not necessarily from a physical ailment but emotionally or mentally? How many times has Jesus brought you or someone you love back from the death of sin or addiction or some other deep darkness? This week is a good time to remember all the times when Jesus healed you or a loved one in any way.
 
Maybe it is right now that you feel powerless or deeply injured. Ask Jesus to be present to you to help heal you. And this Christmas, let us thank Jesus for all the times of healing and all the gifts he has given us.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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