Fourth Week of Advent

Wondering why the very early entries? As a new boss came to Galilee Center, Tagaytay, I tendered my courtesy resignation and now I plan to spend the rest of my sabbatical year in another venue. Please accompany me with your prayers as I bring before the Lord my humble discernment. As I am not certain that I will have easy access to the internet, I decided to post these earlier. As for Simbang Gabi (the Filipino Novena Masses for Christmas), I will try to post my reflections from time to time, given the very busy schedule of priests in these shores during this season of hope, joy and festivities. God bless you…

For the rest of the season, again we acknowledge the reflections of Kathy Coffey from the Catholic Update…

Sunday: Startled by Good News

Today Elizabeth gets the last word: praise for God’s stunning intervention in a lonely life. Through her story, we can learn to trust God as biblical women did, sure that surprising interventions bring great good.

Monday – December 21

(Song 2:8-14 or Zep 3:14-18a; Lk 1:39-45) A lovely interlude

Let’s imagine today’s Gospel conversation, beyond what Luke records. “But I’m not married!” Mary wails. “And I’m old!” Elizabeth adds. Then, in the hopeful way of women, they don’t get stuck on the problems. They move to the joys, the enormity of God’s blessings. Settled comfortably with a snack and tea, they marvel how the impossible has happened.

Tuesday – December 22

(1 Sam 1:24-28; Lk 1:46-56) Canticle of joy

Mary’s song echoes back to her ancestor Hannah and forward to Jesus. (Compare the Magnificat to the Beatitudes.) Caught in perplexity, she sings praise. She faces enormous challenges, but her response is perfect, never doubting God’s justice. Mary’s meeting with Elizabeth begins as an ordinary encounter, a family reunion—then breaks forth into exuberance.

Wednesday – December 23

(Mal 3:1-4, 23-24; Lk 1:57-66) Glad tidings

The stories of the high holy days are interwoven with the joys that still lighten our days. What could be more uplifting than the news of a baby’s birth? John’s is further enriched by his father Zechariah breaking his long silence—agreeing with his mother’s name choice.

More good news: “The hand of the Lord was with him” is true for all of us too.

Christmas Eve

(Is 62:1-5; Mt 1:1-25) Jesus’ great-great-grandmothers

The Incarnation blesses us all. Jesus’ life was enmeshed in gritty human stories just as ours are. We heard the same Gospel earlier, in Advent—so we know it’s important.

How did Tamar feel about being passed down to the men of the family like an heirloom? Rahab was as spunky as the feisty women with whom Jesus enjoyed mentally sparring. Ruth is touchingly loyal to her mother-in-law, but how did she feel about Boaz bargaining for her? And did Bathsheba love Uriah, or David? It’s food for thought.

Christmas Day

(Is 52:7-10; Jn 1:1-18) Words like bells

One translation of John 1:14 is that the Word “pitched his tent in us.” That’s something to celebrate today: God chose to dwell not only among us, but within us, a human like ourselves. Do we act with the confidence and kindness of those who carry God within?