FrGamble
FrGamble
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November 21st, 2011 at 6:45:35 AM permalink
The holy season of Advent begins next weekend. This is a four week preparation period before Christmas. To switch it up a bit I thought I would use the Old Testament readings this time. The prophet Isaiah is the main prophet of Advent and we actually cover seven chapters of his book during the season. I'd like to focus in on chapters 61-64 and break them into roughly the parts we would read on Sundays, so that your good comments can help in homily preparation. The First Sunday of Advent begins with Isaiah 63:16-19;64:1-7. As always thanks very much.

You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.
odiousgambit
odiousgambit
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November 21st, 2011 at 9:07:48 AM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds



It is good to know that even in those days it seemed God was holding back ... and that complaining about it did not bring an instant lightning bolt from the blue.
the next time Dame Fortune toys with your heart, your soul and your wallet, raise your glass and praise her thus: “Thanks for nothing, you cold-hearted, evil, damnable, nefarious, low-life, malicious monster from Hell!” She is, after all, stone deaf. ... Arnold Snyder
FrGamble
FrGamble
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November 21st, 2011 at 5:41:31 PM permalink
Yeah you are right, there is a real longing in this text that characterizes the season of Advent as we long for Christmas.
Ayecarumba
Ayecarumba
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November 22nd, 2011 at 11:26:20 AM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?

...

for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.



These passages have a symmetry. Is Isaiah's question retorical or heart wrenchingly honest? One could read into this translation that he is blaming God for letting the Hebrews wander away, then hardening their hearts so that they would not repent. Is this a complaint against pre-destination, or an admission of complete submission?
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo da Vinci
FrGamble
FrGamble
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November 22nd, 2011 at 3:41:12 PM permalink
Quote: Ayecarumba

These passages have a symmetry. Is Isaiah's question retorical or heart wrenchingly honest? One could read into this translation that he is blaming God for letting the Hebrews wander away, then hardening their hearts so that they would not repent. Is this a complaint against pre-destination, or an admission of complete submission?



Good question. It reminds of the psalms and many other writings from the Old Testament that hold nothing back in expressing to God what they are feeling and then almost after a period of calming down, or maybe in the act of honestly expressing what they are going through, they feel better and end with a statement of faith and trust. My favorite example is Psalm 22 which begins, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, far from my prayer, from the words of my cry?" and ends with this verse, "Let the coming generation be told of the Lord that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice he has shown."

To me this is a good example of real prayer. Prayer is not the rote memorized stuff - it is the real expression of our thoughts and feelings, our bitter complaints and anger, our praises and gratitude. This is what a real relationship is like, it is not saccharin sweet and perfect it is real like the psalms and like the prophet Isaiah.
EvenBob
EvenBob
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November 22nd, 2011 at 5:04:19 PM permalink
Padre, have you heard this modern day urban legend:

Advent inspired the Twelves Days of Christmas song. In England, is the 1600's,
if you were Catholic and were found out, you would be killed, the song
was written as a catechism, to be sung during Advent to help young Catholics.
Everything in the song, like maids a milking, pipers piping, means something
else. For instance, 10 lords a leaping stands for the 10 commandments. 4
calling birds is the 4 Gospels.

Maybe you could pretend this story is real, and write a sermon around it.

Origin of Twelve Days
"It's not enough to succeed, your friends must fail." Gore Vidal
FrGamble
FrGamble
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November 27th, 2011 at 3:28:22 PM permalink
This thread should probably go onto the Religion section too. I didn't get a chance to write out my homily for this weekend but wanted to just give it in outline form.

1. Advent prepares us to celebrate the historical first coming of Christ who became incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Mother and was born in the manger at Bethlehem. This is Christ who has come in the past.

2. Less known is the fact that the Season of Advent is also meant to prepare us for the future coming of Christ in glory. At the end of time Jesus Christ returns for what is called the second coming or the last judgement. Our readings for the first couple of weeks of Advent actually focus us more on this second coming than the first.

3. Both of these advents or comings of Christ can seem distant to us, as a historical reality in the past or a future hope in what we imagine to be the distant future (but it could be tomorrow). So how does Christ in the past and in the future help us right here and now.

4. There is also a third coming of Christ in the present. This is the doorway in which if we invite Christ into our present moment he can heal the past and fill our future with hope.

5. To invite Christ into your past there is no more important thing than to avail yourself of the sacrament of reconciliation this Advent. When we come to Christ in confession He walks with us in a journey through the past to forgive us of all our sins and set us free from them. Christ allows us to not be haunted, oppressed or defined by our past mistakes and difficulties. He redeems our past and sets our halo back on our head confident in not only God's love for us but our inherent goodness.

6. To invite Christ into our future we have to make some new year's resolutions. This is the beginning of a new liturgical year so let us recommit ourselves to living a radical life of holiness. Let us commit ourselves this day to be men and women of virtue, honor, goodness, and service to our fellow man. Let us hold fast to our Gospel values and be set apart as witnesses of honesty, purity, sacrifice, and love. In this way we will make choices in our present that will lead to a joyful and peaceful future. We also will change the future of the world by living as the best moms, dads, kids, and Christians we can.

7. If we do this and use the present moments God gives us as gifts to redeem our past and fill our future with hope than not only will we be ready to celebrate the memorial of His birth on Christmas, but we will also be ready to celebrate his coming in glory at the end of time.
AZDuffman
AZDuffman
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November 27th, 2011 at 3:39:52 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

The holy season of Advent begins next weekend.



Here is a serious question, is there a good reason that Advent is 4 Sundays long? In grade school it was always more fun to have a "late" Advent because week 4 is almost always short, sometimes only one day long, and that made Christmas seem to come faster with the short week 4. I remember Week 3 was a sort of "excitement" week with the pink candle, but why the 4 weeks instead of 3 or 5?
All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others
Wizard
Administrator
Wizard
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November 27th, 2011 at 3:46:39 PM permalink
Quote: FrGamble

Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?



I hate to open a can of worms, but I think this brings up a question I have never received a satisfactory answer on. Here we see that god is one the one to harden our hearts. In other words, it seems like god chooses to soften some hearts and harden others, as if he is choosing us, not us choosing him. Other passages can back this argument up, about God hardening Pharaoh's heart, and I think somewhere it says "Many are called but few are chosen." So, what is it FrG, free will or predestination?
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
EvenBob
EvenBob
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November 27th, 2011 at 4:14:50 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

In other words, it seems like god chooses to soften some hearts and harden others,



One of the passages that really soured me on the
Bible is in Job. Seems that god and the Devil were
hanging out one day (HUH?), and the Devil told god
his loyal servant Job wouldn't be so loyal if he had
a little bad luck come his way. So god told the Devil
to do his best and make Job miserable.

Job lost everything, his family
and his property and his health. Then god gave it
all back to him because he proved he was loyal.
This is an awful story, its horrible. God and the
Devil hang out with each other to torment people?

The Padre will say I'm missing the point. I don't
think so. This whole story was obviously written
to keep people in line, to threaten them. Behave
or else. Maybe it worked in a time when ignorance
ruled everything, today its an insult to anybody
capable of thinking for themselves.
"It's not enough to succeed, your friends must fail." Gore Vidal

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