09 Dec Matthew 11:11 (Circle of Blessing)
“…there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matthew 11:11 (full readings)
Jean’s Reflections: In the circle of blessing and reconciliation which God initiates, John baptized with water those who were willing to acknowledge their own darkness. So often, though, repentance and wanting forgiveness from God is not accompanied by wanting to do God’s will, or having inner freedom to do God’s will — to love neighbor. The Pharisees “did the right thing” in all the externals – often out of duty rather than love – and showed that their hearts had not been transformed. They neglected the greater part of the law: mercy for those in darkness. They were unwilling to bear another’s burdens as God who daily bears our burdens for us. The kingdom of heaven comes to fulfillment through Jesus Christ who baptizes by fire and the Holy Spirit, who gives freedom from “having to” follow the law as slaves so that we have freedom for “wanting to” follow the law as lovers. Jesus’ mission is to bring good news, that is, forgiveness, mercy, and compassion to those who walk in darkness so that they, too, may participate in the circle of blessing and offer forgiveness, mercy, and compassion to their neighbors who are sinners all. Until I see myself as one who walks in darkness and has received liberation and forgiveness from God I will have a difficult time sharing in his mission with my whole heart. Mercy and forgiveness of those who have trespassed against me is my way of showing that God’s mercy and forgiveness of me has changed my heart. When I witness myself bringing good news to the poor, the captive, the blind, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner, I recognize that I have stepped into the circle of mercy sharing in the life of God. When all men are willing to acknowledge their own darkness and, through their changed hearts, forgive their enemies the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb…there shall be no harm or ruin…and the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the lord (from last Sunday’s first reading).
Faith Challenge: Be aware of whether the choices I make from my “gut” or emotions are in line with God’s will that I love my neighbor as God does.
Feast Day: St. Juan Diego “Similar to ancient biblical personages who were collective representations of all the people, we could say that Juan Diego represents all the indigenous peoples who accepted the Gospel of Jesus, thanks to the maternal aid of Mary, who is always inseparable from the manifestation of her Son and the spread of the Church, as was her presence among the Apostles on the day of Pentecost” (Pope John Paul II, beatification homily).
Faith Quote: “Don’t lose any opportunity, however small, of being gentle toward everyone. Don’t rely on your own efforts to succeed in your various undertakings, but only God’s help. Then rest in God’s care of you, confident that God will do what is best for you, provided that you, for your part, work diligently but gently. I say ‘gently’ because a tense diligence is harmful both to our heart and to our task and is not really diligence, but rather over eagerness and anxiety…. I recommend you to God’s mercy. I beg God, through that same mercy, to fill you with God’s love.” ~ St Francis de Sales
* Save Unborn (& family): Abortion reality (images)…#1 death cause (23% pregnancies). Prov 24:11 & Jer 1:5. “A great poverty that a child must die that you might live as you wish.” Mother Teresa
* Evangelize:Make room for unbelievers & re-evangelization of self, by way of prayer (relationship) and following Christ’s example of love (service/sacrifice/mercy). Matt 28:19.