December 22, 2014

The Gospel Today

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months
and then returned to her home.

Reflection (Sem. Jonathan Cigaral):

We are all sinners.  It is a fact, and it is a reality.  All of us are doing things that keep us away from God.  We sin against God.  Sin is a rupture of our communion with Him.  At the same time it damages communion with the Church.  However, God is greater than what sin can do to us.  The Gospel for today reminds us that the power of God reverses the effects of sins.

Our God is a God of compassion and mercy.  Mary, in her Magnificat, first proclaims the mercy of God who always keeps His promises.  At the heart of God is the desire to give and to forgive.  Love, not anger, brought Jesus to the cross.  Crucifixion came as a result of God’s great desire to forgive, not His reluctance.  Jesus knew that by His suffering He could actually absorb all the evil of humanity and so heal it, forgive it, redeem it.  Because of this, He set into motion the entire redemptive process that culminated in the cross and was confirmed in the resurrection.

Secondly in Magnificat, Mary proclaims the change that is to take place in human condition.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, God gave us a gift of CONVERSION that entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Conversion according to Jacques Pasquier is rather a long process,  a spiritual journey made up of failures and falls and, also, made of new beginnings, new discoveries, the experience at every moment of FIDELITY of a GOD who CALLS US BACK to Him, who CHANGES our hearts of stone ‘into hearts of flesh.

The process of conversion is nothing else than the constant living out of the Paschal Mystery, lived at the level of daily experience: death to a part of oneself, that the real self – the ‘God self’ in us – may grow.  Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians expresses this constant call: ‘that your hidden selves may grow strong, that through faith Christ may dwell in your hearts.’Ephesian 3:17

As we await for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and as we prepare for this joyful occasion, it makes more meaningful if we do not just prepare the external aspects of our life but more so internally.  Examine your life for the past year.  How has God manifested in your life?  Have you acknowledged the presence of God in your life?  Have you done things that helped in your spiritual growth and developed your relationship with God?  How have you become a good brother or a sister to your neighbor?  Have you done certain actions that broke your union with God?

Answering these questions compelled me to go back to my own conversion experience in life.  My life before I entered the seminary was all about worldliness.  I abused God’s graciousness and kindness to me.  Despite all His goodness, I chose to live a sinful life.  Until finally I felt that I needed to do something to change my ways.  It was through the sacrament of confession where I felt and realized the love of God.  I felt that I was really forgiven from all my wrongful actions and decisions in life.  If there is one change that the sacrament of confession brought in my life, it’s the courage to say “yes” to God’s call.  Here I am in my third year of priestly formation.

The power of God to reverse the situation of man goes beyond impossibilities.  No matter what the condition is, God remains a God of love and compassion, always ready to grant the longings of his children who want to be with Him in His Kingdom.

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