Thursday, December 10, 2015 ~ Second Week in the Season of Advent
Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:11-15 Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Meditation: Throughout the history of the Church we have seen where God certain persons to be martyrs – some we know of, some we do not – to be witnesses to their faith in Jesus Christ. We see this taking place even in our own time in the Middle East with the radical group ISIS beheading Christians who choose to be steadfast in their faith rather to renounce is and embrace the Muslim faith. We pray for those modern martyrs who have been steadfast in their faith. But day-in and day-out most of us our called to be “dry martyrs” – bloodless martyrs who bear witness to the teachings of Christ versus falling prey to the way of the world, for instance following the Wisdom (capital “W”) of God the supreme being instead of the wisdom (small ‘w’) of the human beings who make up our U.S. Supreme Court (whose rulings often are in conflict with God’s teachings and commands and the teachings of Jesus Christ). We are called to live in testimony to the joy of the Gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord Jesus. What attracts others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries. He will fill us with the power of his Holy Spirit and give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith. Are you eager to live your life in witness to the teaching and commands of God and to the teachings of Jesus Christ, illustrating the joy and freedom of the Gospel?
Prayer: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the paths of your Only Begotten Son, that through his coming, we may be found worthy to serve you with minds made pure. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: John the Baptist suffered violence for announcing that the kingdom of God was near. He was thrown into prison and later beheaded as a “gift.” Since John’s martyrdom to the present times there has been violence and persecution at the hands of violent persons who, basically, feel threated by his teachings. The blood of the martyrs throughout the ages bears witness to this fact. The martyrs witness to the truth – the truth and love of Jesus Christ who shed his blood to redeem us from slavery to sin and Satan and the fear of death. The Lord Jesus gives us the power of his Holy Spirit to overcome fear with faith, despair with hope, and every form of hatred, violence, jealousy, and prejudice with love and charity towards all – even those who seek to destroy and kill.