These spiritual exercises were transformative for me. They are available to those in the diocese of Bridgeport, CT.
The readings of Advent are a great source of inspiration and comfort and I always enjoy them and the season as well. The readings on Monday of this week (Dec. 16th) about the chief priests and elders confronting Jesus after He overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple area were a bit of a surprise! A writer at Word Among Us helped me to understand better and the article is included here.
Meditation: Matthew 21:23-27
3rd Week of Advent
By what authority are you doing these things? (Matthew 21:23)
The chief priests and elders were challenging Jesus’ right to teach in the Temple. And in one sense, their opposition was understandable. Jesus had just walked into the Temple acting like he owned the place, overturning the money changers’ tables, and driving them out. Then he began healing and teaching the crowd that gathered around him. It must have been an unsettling scene: a stranger from Galilee assuming a mantle of authority that belonged only to the priests who governed this holy place. Who did he think he was?
Jesus knew exactly who he was—the Messiah! But he also knew that these elders would never believe him if he told them that he was the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies and that his authority came from God himself. So instead, he turned the situation around and confronted them by bringing up John the Baptist, whom they had rejected.
That was then, but this is now. Unlike the elders in Jerusalem, we already know who Jesus is. What could this passage have to say to us?
Plenty, it seems. This story of Jesus’ confrontation with the chief priests and elders gives us an opportunity to consider what Jesus’ authority means for our lives. Of course, we proclaim that he is Lord, but our faith tells us that he is not a cruel dictator demanding unquestioning obedience from his subjects and ready to punish mercilessly every transgression we commit. No, his authority exists within the context of love. We obey his teachings because we know that he has only good in mind for us. We follow him because he is showing us the way to live in his own love.
Ultimately, Jesus’ authority is a gift, not a burden. It’s the gift of his protection from evil. It’s the gift of his grace to form us after his own image.
Jesus will never force his will on you. He is inviting you into a relationship with him—a relationship marked by trust and love, by humility and surrender. So don’t hesitate to take every concern, every difficult relationship, and every temptation to him. Place every area of your life under his rule, and let him fill you with his peace.
“Jesus, let my actions reflect your loving authority in my life!”
Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17
I was watching a fascinating presentation on EWTN earlier this week about Our Lady of Guadalupe. The symbolism of the life-size image found in Juan Diego’s cloak is amazing and some of which is shown here in an Instagram posting by EWTN. Some of the connections between the Aztec and Christian cultures are indicated below.
Part of the daily reading today was from Rom 12:5-16b where St. Paul was writing about how people should treat each other as followers of Jesus. While one cannot reduce Christ’s teaching to a mere eleven lines, this uplifting passage is a wonderful start and is included below.
Romans 12: 5-16b
5 So we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.
6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith;
7 if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching;
8 if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good;
10 love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.
11 Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
12 Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.
13 Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute [you], bless and do not curse them.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
16 Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;