Ninth Gift


December 24, 2017


First reading                                     2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16


When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
"Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!"
Nathan answered the king,
"Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you."
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
"Go, tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?'

"It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock 
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever."



Psalm                                                      Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29

 For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Second reading                                     Romans 16:25-27


Brothers and sisters:
To him who can strengthen you,
according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages
but now manifested through the prophetic writings and,
according to the command of the eternal God,
made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith,
to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.


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.

Reflection

An Open Door
By Pietro S. Albano

Years ago, I attended a Pontifical Mass at a Marian shrine in the Philippines. The bishop gave an inspiring homily on Our Lady. After the celebration, people lined up outside the church to ask for the bishop’s blessing. I joined in the queue feeling a need to be blessed myself. The bishop did bless each of us, but after saying the blessing, he kept on saying “I have already blessed you in the Mass.” 

Fast forward, I came across Pope Francis’ homily in May 2013 (https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/dont-create-sacrament-of-pastoral-customs-pope-preaches). In one part of the homily, he talked about a lady who asked a priest’s blessing, but was refused because, according to the priest, she had already attended the Mass. She thanked the priest for his explanation and, “When the priest had gone, the woman turned to another priest: ‘Give me your blessing!’”. The Holy Father explained that the woman had another necessity for asking a blessing: “the need to be touched by the Lord”. There are other interesting stories he mentioned in that homily which, I guess, most of us could relate with. Like that experience I and other devotees had with that bishop. Or perhaps the rather cold treatment we have experienced when talking to our parish priest or any parish staff. The Pope compared the priest’s (and other characters in the story) attitude to a closed door.

There are, of course, moments when we were touched by a priest taking his time to mingle with parishioners, a nun patiently guiding an errant child, a bishop speaking up in defense of his oppressed flock, or a parish that welcomes everyone regardless if they are married, cohabiting, LGBT, etc. In such moments let us be thankful.

In today’s Gospel reading, we are shown an open door in the person of Mary. Full of grace, she willingly agreed to be God’s Mother.  And throughout her life – when she visited Elizabeth, when she rescued the newly-wedded couple from embarrassment, when she was in Calvary, when she was in the Upper Room -  she remained an open door for people to come in and experience God’s love. We recently concluded the 100th anniversary of Mary’s apparition in Fatima. Such apparition, for me, shows that until our time, Mary continues to be our open door towards reconciliation with the Father.


A few hours from now and we’ll be celebrating the Birth of Jesus. Will He see an open door in all of us?

Prayer



Loving God, out of love for us You sent Your Only Son to be our Saviour. Through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, open the hearts of Your people – especially the clergy and religious - to welcome Jesus in the many moments that He comes to us. In His Sweet Name, we pray. Amen.

The Gift


Yes

Lord Jesus, in You “it has always been ‘Yes’” (2 Cor 1:19). Today, united with You and Mama Mary, we will not refuse people asking for help. 


(Pietro is a Science Lecturer. He is actively involved in the Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Parish, Bulwell, Nottingham, UK and the Filipino Rosary Crusade. A husband and a father, Manong Piet - as he is called - is the web's Editor-in-Chief.)

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