Isaiah 11:1-10; Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12
Our joy increases as we draw close to Jesus. We are like fish to water. Alleluia!
In these days before Christmas, we hear a lot of Christmas carols. Many of the older ones were written from a deep Catholic European faith by church musicians often funded by royal families. Do you have a favorite Christmas carol? I like “O, Holy Night” and “O, Come All Ye Faithful.”
As Catholics, we have the great joy of knowing and experiencing that once Jesus physically left earth he remains with us in many. He is in our churches and chapels, the sacraments, our tabernacles, our daily prayers, our bodies after our baptism and commitment to be followers of Jesus and where two or three are gathered in his Name. Is that awesome?
When we run out of “bread,” our priests consecrates more “daily bread” for us. And the extra “Jesus” are kept for special occasions. Remember that the Eucharistic Liturgy or Mass is the best meal on earth and Jesus is our food. The more we participate in these areas of Jesus’ presence for and with us, our joy in his love for us increases.
Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
Today, the reading of the OT prophet Isaiah speaks of more gifts that God has for us. The list in 11:2-3 tells us we are given seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that come to each of us at our baptism. They are there to help us grow more like God. They come along with three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity (love). So we have ten gifts with baptism. They help us know what creation, life on earth and later in heaven are all about. When we meet Jesus and accept his invitation to follow and learn from him, our Christian life makes sense.
Our first reading from Isaiah, perhaps the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, helps us know many of the things that God, the Father, will do to bring us into the Kingdom of God, forgive our sins and teach us how to bring God’s love and blessings to others. Thus we help God save all mankind. Matthew’s gospel passage today shows us the last Old Testament prophet, John the Baptist. He was an Essene Jew waiting for the immediate coming of Israel’s savior. Jesus, John’s cousin, comes to him for baptism. John was preaching repentance for Jews and a water cleansing, baptism. The next day John points out Jesus as that awaited Savior, the Lamb of God. St. John’s gospel tells us that John, James and Andrew (Peter’s brother) heard John the Baptist’s proclamation and went off to be with Jesus that day. Jesus asked why they were following him. They wanted to know where Jesus was staying. Jesus replied, “Come and see!”
What is Advent?
So what is Advent? Writing Christmas letters, cards and buying presents for family and friends? Jesus is beckoning us to come closer to him each day and even more than once a day. We don’t want to be fish out of water. I want to get as close to Jesus as possible. I make him present in my hands each day at Holy Mass, “‘This is my Body; this is the cup of my Blood.” Not mine personally but those are Jesus’ words for us at the Last Supper. We have been doing this for almost two thousand years, and we bring Jesus to people and people to know and love Jesus more. Alleluia! Praise the Lord of lords and King of kings! As we get closer we get flooded with more of Christ’s love, peace, joy and radiant light. Let us be more lit up with Jesus and radiate his love and joy through us to all around us each day.
Thank you for reading this. I am praying special blessings for all of you, your family, friends and those around you each day. Thus we spread the “good news” of Jesus. Rejoice in the Lord always, again we say rejoice.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2016 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)