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!

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Waiting for someone who has already come

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel reading that Elijah came but was not recognized. Jesus,  too, has come, Son of God, and many have not recognized Him.

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Sirach 48:1–4, 9–11

In those days, like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace. Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
By the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire. How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours? You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses. You were destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD, To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob. Blessed is he who shall have seen you and who falls asleep in your friendship.

Responsorial Psalm: 80

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
Take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Gospel: Matthew 17:9–13

As they were coming down from the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

Prayer of the Day
Divine Intimacy, Colloquy for Saturday of the Second week of Advent

O Mary, I love to contemplate you as you adore in profound recollection the great mystery which is taking place within you. You are the first temple of the Blessed Trinity, the first adorer of the Incarnate Word, the first tabernacle of His sacred humanity.

“O Mary, temple of the Trinity! Mary you bore the divine fire; Mother of Mercy, from you has blossomed forth the fruit of life, Jesus! O Mother, you are that new plant from which we have the fragrant flower, the Word, the only-begotten Son of God, because in you, fertile land, was sown this Word. O Mary, fiery chariot, you bore a hidden fire which was concealed beneath the ashes of your humanity. If I look at you, O Mary, I see that the hand of the Holy Spirit has inscribed the Trinity in you, by forming within you the Incarnate Word, the only Son of God. O Mary, I see this Word given to you, within you. (Saint Catherine of Siena)

O my Mother, teach me the secret of your interior life; teach me to live recollected with God present in my soul. Teach me your silence, communicate to me your spirit of adoration; close to you, in your school, I too wish to be the little temple of the Trinity. Help me to detach myself from creatures and to live in silent, loving adoration of the Trinity in the innermost depths of my soul.

The perfect gift: Jesus

Feast of Saint Lucy

Question of the Day

  • How well do you know the Christmas story? How well do you know the Old Testament prophecies of the promised Messiah? I’m told there are 300 of them that Jesus fulfills.
  • Is there someone you know who does not know the good news? Will you share with them the joy of Christmas?

Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 40:25–31

To whom can you liken me as an equal?
says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
and see who has created these things:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
not one of them is missing!
Why, O Jacob, do you say,
and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know
or have you not heard?
The LORD is the eternal God,
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary,
and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though young men faint and grow weary,
and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.

Celebrate the Hope

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The U.S. Postal Service does not have a problem with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, so what is WMATA’s problem?

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Hope in the darkness of Advent waiting

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Am I not here, who am your mother?
— Our Lady to Juan Diego, 1531

our lady_guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to be a great sign of Christ’s nearness to us today. She extends an invitation to all men and women to enter into communion with the Father. At the same time, Mary encourages all of us to enter into greater communion with one another. — Pope Saint John Paul II, December 13, 1987 address

Hymn Honoring Our Lady
Mary, Woman of the Promise by Mary Frances Fleischaker

Mary, woman of the promise;
Vessel of your people’s dreams,
Through your open, willing spirit,
Waters of God’s goodness streamed.

Mary, song of holy wisdom,
Song before the world began,
Faithful to the Word within, you
Carried out God’s wondrous plan.

Mary, morning star of justice,
Mirror of the radiant light,
In the shadows of life’s journey,
Be a beacon for our sight.

Mary, model of compassion;
Wounded by your offspring’s pain,
When our hearts are torn by sorrow,
Teach us how to love again.

Mary, woman of the Gospel,
Humble home for treasured seed,
Help us to be true disciples,
Bearing fruit in word and deed.

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Zechariah 2:14–17

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people,
and he will dwell among you,
and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
The LORD will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land,
and he will again choose Jerusalem.
Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!
For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.

Responsorial Psalm: excerpts from Judith 13

Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God,
above all the women on earth;
and blessed be the LORD God,
the creator of heaven and earth.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.

Your deed of hope will never be forgotten
by those who tell of the might of God.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.

Gospel: Luke 1:26–38

‘The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

The Apparitions on Tepeyac Hill

Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
by Pope Saint John Paul II, January 29, 1979,
during his visit to Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.

Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.

Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.

Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.

Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.
We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.

Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

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They acknowledged their sins

Second Sunday of Advent

The Church calendar year is organized so that collectively we live the life of Jesus in our public worship. The year begins then with Advent during the darkest weeks of the year. This time is marked by waiting for the light to come into the world. Advent is marked by preparations to celebrate the historic event of the Incarnation, Word made flesh, Son of God, Immanuel, as well as the spiritual event of welcoming Christ anew into our hearts.

A second aspect of the Advent season is to prepare for Christ’s second coming, when all of creation is reconciled to God the Father through Christ the Son. The Church has been “waiting” two thousand years. It’s easy to get complacent and think there is some kind of delay.

So Advent is also a time to ensure that we are ready to meet Jesus when he comes personally for us, when our time of walking among passing things is over, and our entrance to things eternal begins.

We hold all the truths of the faith together in oneness. Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. He will come again at the Second Coming. And we will see him face-to-face when we die.

A Promise

Before ascending into heaven, to take his place at the right hand of God the Father, Jesus told us “I will be with you always until the end of the age.”

Ordinary Time is Not So Ordinary

We receive Jesus at baptism, a coming that is strengthened at confirmation. Jesus comes to us in the flesh daily in the Holy Eucharist. He is with us when we are filled and moved by the Holy Spirit. Through our participation in the sacraments and daily prayer, we are invited to live in God’s presence, accessing graces, accomplishing all our tasks in union with Jesus, our weakness joined to his strength; our ignorance joined to his wisdom; our humanity united to his divinity. With Jesus, we address God as “Our Father.”

Advent Anticipation

Advent is a time to prepare our hearts anew to fully live the awesomeness of our faith. While we “wait” for Jesus “coming,” we also prepare. We look back at how we lived our Ordinary Time to see where we’ve become complacent or stagnant, and identify areas that we closed to God’s Spirit. We read about the mission of John the Baptist to encourage us to acknowledge our sins, and to seek the healing remedy provided by God (baptism, confession, Eucharist). We also look at our attitudes. The mountain of pride that have been built up must be laid low to prepare a way for the Lord. John the Baptist is a model of humility. He says he is not worth to untie the sandal of Jesus, a task that slaves performed.

Do we see ourselves as clearly as John saw himself? We are not to compare ourselves to other people, but rather to Christ. How conformed to him are we?

Eternal Life Preparation

The Advent season also prepares us for death, when we will see Jesus face-to-face. Truly our lives are “like summer grass.” Death, and Jesus, will come like a thief in the night. Five virgins were prepared. Five were not. Are you?

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Isaiah 40:1–5, 9–11

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Go up on to a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings; cry out at the top of your voice,Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by his strong arm;here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.

Responsorial Psalm: 85:9–14

I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD—for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

New Testament: 2 Peter 3:8–14

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.

Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be,conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire. But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

Gospel: Mark 1:1–8

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.”

John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Meditation of the Day
In Conversation With God, Volume 1

Behold, the Lord will come … The Saviour is about to arrive and nobody notices anything. The world goes on as usual, completely oblivious. Only Mary knows — and Joseph, who has been told by the angel. The world is in darkness. Christ is still in Mary’s womb. And there are the Jews, still arguing about the Messiah, without any idea that he is so near … Few people are expecting the Consolation of Israel: Simeon, Anna … We are in Advent, a time of waiting.

During this liturgical period the Church proposes the figure of John the Baptist for our meditation. For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he spoke of: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

The whole of John’s life is determined by his mission, even from his mother’s womb. This is to be his vocation. His whole purpose will be to prepare, for Jesus, a people capable of receiving the Kingdom of God. At the same time he is to give public testimony of Him. John will not seek personal fulfillment through his work but has come to prepare a perfect people for the Lord. He will not do it because it appeals to him, but because it was for this very purpose he was conceived. This is what all apostolate is about: forgetting oneself and fostering a true concern for others.

John was to carry out his task to the full, even to the extent of giving up his life in the fulfilment of his vocation. Many came to know Jesus through John the Baptist’s apostolic work. It was through an express indication of his that the first disciples followed Jesus. And many others were inwardly prepared thanks to his preaching.

One’s vocation embraces one’s whole life, and our whole being works towards fulfilment of the divine mission. God makes the conversion of many children of Israel depend on John’s future response.

In his own place and circumstances, each man has a God-given vocation. The divine will desires many other things that depend on the fulfilment of that vocation. Many great things depend — don’t forget it — on whether you and I live our lives as God wants. (Saint Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 755) Do we bring the people around us closer to God? Do we give good example in the way we carry out our work, in our family circle, in our social situations? Do we speak about God to our colleagues or fellow-students?

Quote of the Day

Our responsibility is great, because to be Christ’s witnesses implies first and foremost that we should try to live our lives according to his doctrine, that we should struggle to make our actions remind others of Jesus and his most lovable personality. We have to act in such a way that others will be able to say, when they meet us: This man is a Christian, because he does not hate, because he is willing to understand, because he is not a fanatic, because he is willing to make sacrifices, because he shows that he is a man of peace, because he knows how to love. — Saint Josemaria Escriva, Christ is passing by, 122

Question of the Day

  • Why hasn’t Jesus come again in the flesh?
  • Are you prepared for Jesus to come into your life or to come anew?
  • Are you prepared to meet Jesus in death and life after death?
  • How are you preparing the way for Him?
  • What sort of witness are you? The salvation of how many children of God depend on your response to God’s call on your life?

Prayer of the Day

May you hear the voice of the Lord in the joy of your heart.

The people of Nineveh believed God

Questions of the Day

“Someone said: what would happen if we treated the Bible like we treat our cell phone? If we always carried it with us; or at least the small pocket-sized Gospel, what would happen?”

“What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more times a day, if we read the message of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones?”

— Pope Francis, remarks before the Angelus, Sunday, March 5, 2017, Saint Peter’s Square

Scriptures of the Day

Old Testament: Jonah 3:1–10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:
“Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you.”
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD’s bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing,
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,”
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh,
he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe,
covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.
Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh,
by decree of the king and his nobles:
“Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep,
shall taste anything;
they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water.
Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God;
every man shall turn from his evil way
and from the violence he has in hand.
Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath,
so that we shall not perish.”
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.

New Testament: Luke 11:29–32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Quotes of the Day

“don’t forget what would happen if we treated the Bible as we treat our cellphone, always with us, always close to us!”

“If we always carried God’s Word in our hearts, no temptation would distance us from the Father, and no obstacle would take us off the path towards good”

— Pope Francis, remarks before the Angelus, Sunday, March 5, 2017, Saint Peter’s Square

One thing that might happen if we opened our Bible more often than we did our cell phone, is that we would understand the source of disharmony between men and women (see Genesis 3), and the unity, harmony, and wholeness found when we are restored in Christ—restored to ourselves, our spouses, our God, even our enemies. We might understand our value in God’s eyes rather than from the amount of our paycheck or the number of online “friends.” We might be more interested in making a gift of self out of love instead of sitting home and sitting out and demanding that someone recognize us. We might look for ways to engage respectfully those with whom we disagree rather than demonize and avoid them. We might allow God to begin to transform us, rather than trying to change others. We might.

Background

Nineveh was the capital Assyrian empire. The Assyrians are known for their cruelty and for torturing prisoners; they deported their captives from the nations they conquered. Israel was “neighbors” with the Assyrians beginning around 850 BC.

The tribes of Israel, which had been united under King Saul, King David, and King Solomon, would divide in 930 BC. The northern kingdom comprised ten tribes and was called Israel; the southern kingdom comprised two tribes, and was called Judah. The northern kingdom would fall to the Assyrians in 722 BC.

God’s people would experience three major deportations from the Promised Land: The first in 605 BC, the second in 597 BC; and in 587 BC, the southern kingdom of Judah would be conquered and exiled.

This is the time of the prophets whom God sent to speak his word to the people. God’s people in the north failed to care for the poor, failed to follow God, and their worship was corrupt, because they had no temple. Elijah and Elisha were the first of the pre-exile prophets, of which there were 13. Others were Amos, Hosea, Jonah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. God sent three prophets to his people during their exile: Baruch, Daniel, and Ezekiel. God sent another three prophets after exile: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

So what we read in the Old Testament story of Jonah is that the Assyrians—pagans and arch-enemies of the Jewish people—believed God, repented, and experienced God’s mercy. Is it any wonder that Jesus would say to the Pharisees that “prostitutes and tax collectors are entering the kingdom of heaven before you”?