To welcome, include, and love

Vatican Exhibit: Divine Creatures

Leonardo Baldini recreates 10 works of sacred art that depict the life of Jesus, including the Annunciation,  the Incarnation, the kiss of Judas, Ecce Homo, carrying the cross, lying in the tomb, and the resurrected Christ dining with those he met on the road to Emmaus. For this project, the artist employs people with disabilities as “actors/models.”  The result is stunning.

An announcement of beauty, of art, of hope, of humanity, and of love. — Barbara Jatta, Director of the Vatican Museums

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Accept the call of God

Embrace your cross, race toward your goal

The world needs proud warriors, animated by their faith—warriors like St Paul and St Luke who risked their names, their reputations, to take their faith, their love for Jesus into the world. God is calling each one of us, each one of you to do great things. — Jim Caviezel to Student Leadership Summit 2018

God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful. — Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Meditation After the Epiphany: Deo servire, regnare est
In Conversation With God, Vol. 1,
excerpts from 49.1, 49.2, 49.3

Jesus, model of obedience

The whole of Jesus’ life was an act of obedience to the Father What I do is always what pleases Him (John 8:29), he will tell us later; and on another occasion he said clearly to his disciples: My meat is to do the will of him who sent me; and to accomplish the task he gave me (John 4:34).

Food is what gives energy for life. And Jesus tells us that obedience to the will of God — manifested in so many different ways — should be what nourishes and gives meaning to our lives. Without obedience there is no growth in the interior life, nor true development of the human person. Obedience far from lowering the dignity of the human person leads it to maturity by extending the freedom of the sons of God (Second Vatican Council, Perfectae Caritatis, 14).

God is not indifferent to any situation in our life. He is waiting for a response from us at each moment; the response which coincides with his glory and our personal happiness. We are happy when we obey because we are doing what Our Lord wants for us, which is what is best, although at times it costs us effort.

God’s will is shown to us through his Commandments, through those of his Church, through things that happen, and, also, through those persons to whom we owe obedience.

fruits of obedience

The Apostles, in spite of their limitations, know how to obey. Because they trust in Our Lord they cast their net to the right of the boat (John 2:61) where Jesus had told them, and they make a great catch of fish, despite its not being the right time, and despite their earlier experience that day of there apparently not being a single fish in the lake. Obedience, and faith in Our Lord’s word, works miracles.

obedience and freedom

Obedience, which always involves subjection and self-giving, is not a lack of freedom or maturity. There are bonds which enslave and others which liberate. The rope which attaches a climber to his companions is not a bond which impedes, but a safety link which prevents him from falling into the abyss. And the ligaments which join the parts of the body are not bonds which hamper our movements, but a guarantee that they can be performed freely, harmoniously, and firmly.

On the contrary, true freedom is threatened by disordered sensuality, narrow-mindedness, originating in selfishness and the desire of doing one’s own will. These obstacles are overcome by obedience, which raises and broadens one’s personality.

Behold, our God will come and save us

Third Sunday of Advent: Gaudete Sunday

Rejoice!

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 61:1–2a, 10–11

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.

Responsorial Psalm: Luke 1:46–50, 53–54

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:
R. My soul rejoices in my God.

the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
R. My soul rejoices in my God.

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 has remembered his promise of mercy.
R. My soul rejoices in my God.

New Testament: Thessalonians 5:16–24

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

Gospel: John 1:6–8, 19–28

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
He said:
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,'”

as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.

Meditation: Profound Joy
In Conversation With God, Volume 1, by Frances Fernandez

15.1 Advent: a time of happiness and hope. What happiness is — being near Jesus; unhappiness — losing him.

The liturgy of today’s Mass repeats the words of St Paul in which he urges the first Christians of Philippi: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. And the Apostle goes on to give the basic reason for this profound happiness: the Lord is at hand.

This is also the joy of Advent, and that of every day: Jesus is very near us. He is nearer every day. And St Paul gives us the key to understanding the origin of any unhappiness we may feel: it comes from our putting a distance between ourselves and God, through our sins, through tepidity.

Our Lord always brings us joy and not affliction. His mysteries are all joyful mysteries, the sorrowful mysteries we bring on ourselves. (PA Reggio, Supernatural Spirit and Good Humor)

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, said the Angel to Mary. It is the nearness of God which makes the Virgin rejoice. And the nearness of the Messiah will make the unborn Baptist show forth his joy in the womb of Elizabeth. And the Angel will say to the shepherds: Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day a Savior … Joy is to possess Jesus, unhappiness is to lose him.

We shall be full of joy if Our Lord is really present in our life, if we have not lost him, if we have not allowed our sight to be clouded by tepidity or lack of generosity. When one attempts to discover happiness along other paths which lead away from God, all one finds in fact is sorrow and misery. All those who, in one way or another, ever turned their backs on God have had the same experience: they have proved that apart from God there is no true happiness. There can be none.

To find Christ, and to remain in his company, is to possess a deep happiness which is new every day.

Prayer (from Roman Breviary)

Come, Lord, and tarry not; reveal Thy power and come to save us. Come and be our salvation, according to Thy promise! Thou art our Savior; Thou wilt free us from all our iniquities and cast our sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt descend like rain upon the fleece and wilt bring us justice and peace. … Thou wilt be my guide and my shepherd; Thou wilt teach me Thy ways and I shall walk in Thy paths. Thy coming fills me with joy and my soul rejoices in Thee, my God and my Savior. O Lord, I rejoice in all Thy deeds and I exult in Thy works. How admirable are Thy works and how great is Thy mercy!

See Also

To love each other

I’ll Push You: Portrait of a brother and his keeper

Question of the Day

God, what is this path you are putting me on? What do you want to do with this? And how do you want to work in this? — Justin

Quote of the Day

I had moments of feeling like I was a burden… When you deny someone the opportunity to help you, you actually deny them the joy in life. — Justin Skeesuck

Video of the Day

Introducing “I’ll Push You”
Life Today Randy Robison interview with Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray