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Dear brothers and sisters,
The Third Sunday of Advent is known in our liturgy as “Gaudete” (Sunday of Rejoicing). It may seem odd to be rejoicing during a penitential season, but the Gospel explains the reason for this in John the Baptist’s testimony on the “light.” In her message, Our Lady invites us to ponder on the mystery of the “light,” the very reason for our rejoicing. We will read “God with Us” (Message No. 585), from the book, “To the Priests Our Lady’s Beloved Sons.”
I. GOSPEL READING (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. 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.
Points for Reflection
1. Who are you?
As we heard last Sunday, the expectation on the coming of the Messiah was high at the time when John the Baptist appeared. It was not surprising, then, that people enchanted by his preaching Third Sunday of Advent (Year B) December 17, 2018 No. 03 2017 - 2018 WEEKLY REFLECTION On the Word of the Lord and the Message of Our Lady A Guide on Living Our Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary 2 would inquire about his identity: “Who are you?” To clear the enigma, he replied that he was not the “messiah,” nor “Elijah, nor the “Prophet,” but only “the voice of one crying out in the desert.” He assured them that the “One who is coming after me” was the One they sought, the One “whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” Ironically, the Messiah was already among them, but they did not recognize Him.
2. He came to testify to the light.
The testimony on the Messiah presented the “light” in a distinctly new perspective. Taken from the Johannine Gospel, this is reasonable, as the Fourth Gospel differs in many ways from the synoptic gospels. Interestingly, in creation, “light” was God’s first manifestation (Gen. 1: 3). From this first ever revelation in the first verses of John’s Gospel we read, “all things came to be through Him… What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race.” Taking this context, the Messiah is God’s Self-manifestation, now in human form, in the person of Jesus. He is “the light that shines in darkness; and the darkness has not overcome it” - reading again from the previous verses (Jn. 1: 4-5). This is a full-blown testimony on the Messiah! It is all about God and his wonderful plan, beginning from creation to redemption.
This is the reason for our rejoicing. It is like Israel in the First Reading (Is. 61:1-2a, 10-11), rejoicing in God’s promise that they would be free and be restored to their homeland. We are living in hard and trying times. But, even when circumstances and difficulties press in on us, creating a cloak of darkness, we know that the Light of Christ can never be extinguished. For now, we are simply waiting for this Light to grow into its fullness – into the bright, dazzling glory of His Second Coming. As we wait, we must work patiently for its fulfillment. In the Second Reading (1 Thess. 5:16-24), Paul exhorts us not to quench the Spirit nor despise prophecies, but rather test everything and retain what is good. And no matter how long we have to wait, we must “rejoice always,” because God is “faithful” and will “accomplish” this. That is why, although our work of waiting and preparation during Advent has not yet ended, the Church calls us to light the rose-colored candle this Sunday, praying the Magnificat with our Blessed Mother: “My soul rejoices in God.”
4. Witnesses to Joy
Here in the Philippines, we celebrate “The Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons” on the sixth year of our Spiritual Journey as we approach the Fifth Centenary of Christianity in our land in 2021. One thing that easily comes to mind is their witness to a joyful life. Pope Francis once said - “Where there are religious, there is joy” - quoting an old saying (Apostolic Letter to the Consecrated, 2014). This is true with priests. By their vocation, the clergy and the consecrated persons show that God is able to fill the hearts with joy to the brim. Not seeking for their own happiness, they find lifelong fulfillment and meaning in their service to God and to the Gospel. Foremost in their witness to a joyful life is sacramental brotherhood and community life. They, too, have their own disappointments and infirmities. But in all these things, they discover perfect joy, seeing the face of Christ, who, out of love, embraced the cross of suffering. Let us pray that they remain shining examples of a holy, simple and joyful life.
II. OUR LADY’S MESSAGE: “GOD WITH US” (MESSAGE 585)
December 24, 1996
Dongo, Como, Italy
a. Live with me the mystery of this holy night, in silence, in prayer, and in expectation. Share in the deep joy of your heavenly Mother, who is preparing herself to give you her divine Infant.
b. The Son who is born of me is also my God. Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father; He is the Word through whom all things have been created; He is Light from Light, God from God, consubstantial with the Father. Jesus is outside of time; He is eternal. As God, He carries within Himself the synthesis of all the perfections. By means of me, this God makes Himself true man.
c. In my virginal womb, there came about his human conception. In this holy night, He is born of me in a poor and unadorned cave; He is placed in a cold manger; He is adored by his Mother and by his legal father; He is surrounded by the humble presence of shepherds; He is glorified by the heavenly cohort of the angels, who sing the hymn of glory to God and of peace to the men who have been loved and saved by Him.
d. Bow down with me to adore the Infant Jesus just born: He is the Emmanuel; He is God with us.
e. He is God with us, because in the divine Person of Jesus are united the divine nature and the human nature. In the Incarnate Word, there is realized the substantial unity of the divinity and of the humanity. As God Jesus is above time and space; He is immutable and impassible.
f. But as man, Jesus enters into time, undergoes the limitation of space, subject to all the fragility of human nature.
g. He is God with us, who makes Himself man for our salvation. On this holy night, the Savior and the Redeemer is born for all. The fragility of this divine Infant becomes remedy for all human fragility: his cry is alleviation for all sorrow; his poverty is wealth for all misery; his pain is comfort for all the afflicted; his gentleness is hope for all sinners; his goodness becomes salvation for all the lost.
h. He is God with us, who makes Himself redemption and refuge for all humanity. Enter with me into the bright cave of his divine love. Allow yourselves to be placed by me in the gentle and sweet cradle of his Heart, which has just begun to beat.
i. Bow down with me, in an ecstasy of supernatural blessedness, to feel its first beatings. Listen to the divine harmony that rises from them with heavenly notes of love, of joy, of peace, which the world has never known. It is a song which repeats to each man the eternal and sweetest rhythm of love: I love you; I love you; I love you. Each of its beats is a new gift of love for all. Listen with me to his first sounds of crying. It is the cry of a little baby just born; it is the sorrow of a God, who carries upon Himself all the sorrow of the world.
j. He is God with us, because, even in his human fragility, Jesus is truly God. Jesus Christ is God, outside of changes of time and history: He is the same yesterday today and forever. During this year, when the Church is inviting you to enter into the contemplation of the mystery of Christ, enter, each and all, into the refuge of my Immaculate Heart. As Mother, I am leading you to understand the great gift of this holy night.
k. The Father has so loved the world that He has given it his only-begotten Son, for its salvation. The Holy Spirit has made my virginal womb fertile, because the Son born of me is nothing else but the precious fruit of his divine action of love. Your heavenly Mother has given her maternal assent, so that there might be fulfilled the divine prodigy of this holy night.
l. Beloved sons, bow down with me to kiss my newborn Son, and love, and adore, and give thanks because this frail Infant is God-made-man; He is the Emmanuel; He is God with us.
Points for Reflection
1. Jesus’ Divinity
Our Lady describes the mystery surrounding this “light,” to which John the Baptist testified. “The Son who is born of me is also my God; the only begotten Son of the Father; the Word through whom all things have been created; Light from Light, God from God, consubstantial with the Father. Outside of time, He is eternal; He carries within Himself the synthesis of all the perfections” (585 b). Here, the Messiah’s divinity is remarkably highlighted.
2. Our Lady’s Divine Maternity
From Jesus’ divinity comes Our Lady’s divine maternity. “By means of me, this God makes Himself true man” (585 b). “In my virginal womb, there came about his human conception” (585 c). The Catechism (CCC, 495) explains this: "The One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence, the Church confesses that Mary is truly Mother of God (Theotokos)." This is the first Marian dogma, declared in the year 431 in the Council of Ephesus.
3. An Outpouring of Love
The Baptist’s testimony on the “light” is as an outpouring of love. “Enter with me into the bright cave of his divine love. Allow yourselves to be placed by me in the gentle and sweet cradle of his Heart, which has just begun to beat. Bow down with me, in an ecstasy of supernatural blessedness, to feel its first beatings. Listen to the divine harmony that rises from them with heavenly notes of love, of joy, of peace, which the world has never known. It is a song, which repeats to each man the eternal and sweetest rhythm of love. Each of its beats is a new gift of love for all” (585 h-i). God’s redeeming act is indeed His “gift of love for all” and because of this, we have all the reasons to rejoice!
God bless you all!
Yours in the Immaculate Heart,
Note: This reflection is shared with all cenacle and other prayer groups (priests and laity), communities and Marian organizations, associations and movements within and outside of the Philippines, with Our Lady’s words transcribed verbatim for those who do not have copies of the messages. This may also be shared with private individuals for their personal use.Our Lady's messages are taken from the book: "To the Priests, Our Lady's Beloved Sons", a compilation of 604 messages in the form of locutions given by the Blessed Virgin Mary through Fr. Stefano Gobbi of Italy. (Imprimatur: Bp Donald W. Montrose, D.D., 1998 Abp Francesco Cuccarese, 2007)