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30th December: Reflection and Liturgy

30th December 2019, Monday, Sixth Day within Octave of Christmas.
1 John 2:12-17 / Luke 2:36-40 

Shun the world’s attractions: The world passes; God alone remains.

Photographer David Crocket of KOMO-TV, Seattle, was caught at the foot of Mt. St. Helens when it exploded on May 18, 1980. He was nearly buried in the falling ash. Ten hours later he was miraculously spotted, picked up by a helicopter, and rushed to a hospital. After the ordeal Crocket wrote in Guideposts: “During those ten hours I saw a mountain fall apart.  I saw a forest disappear. . . .I saw that God is the only one who is immovable. . . .I feel somehow that I’m being allowed to start over . . .whatever is in his master plan for me.”


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Are we more committed to worldly goals than we are to heavenly goals? “I would like to live a long time. Longevity has its place, but I am not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The days between Christmas and New Year can be called the least productive week. It can also be called the holiday week where even if offices and factories are opened, the workers may want to take leave to enjoy the festive time. But more than just a festive time and to take a break from work, it is also a time for reflection and to think about the events that are just over and the events that are to come.  

After all, life is more than just having a good time and enjoying whatever pleasures there can be. Or as the 1st reading puts it - "the sensual body, the lustful eye, pride in possessions" - that is only what the world has to offer and can only offer and no more than that. But there is a mystery to life that gives us a hope for the future in which we look forward to.  

The prophetess Anna was one who knew what that mystery was and she looked forward to it and she lived to see it. May we also like Anna, spend time in prayer and even fasting, so that we will encounter the mystery of Christmas and look forward to the mystery of the future.

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Liturgy:

OPEN TO GOD’S MYSTERY
Introduction:
To thank God for the liberation he brings us in and through his Son, Jesus, is the core of every Eucharistic celebration. There we say: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” With the prophetess Anna, let us express our thanks for our liberation to the Lord, our God, and praise him wholeheartedly.
Too easily, as St John says, we lose our heart to the world; we follow its ways of thinking and acting. Let us ask the Lord to forgive us.

Opening Prayer:
Almighty Father,
you let humble, faithful people
recognize your Son
and welcome him as the Savior,
who brought freedom and life to his people.
May we, too, recognize and welcome Jesus
in all that is little and humble
and with him grow up in wisdom and grace
to the maturity of your sons and daughters,
so that we attain the full stature of Jesus.
We ask this through him, our Lord.

Intercessions:
– For fathers and mothers, that they may give their children the freedom to be themselves and to grow up as mature, responsible Christians, we pray:
– For all young people, that they may come to love Christ deeply and let his word take roots and grow in them, we pray:
– For small children, that they may come to love God through their experience of their parents’ love, we pray:
– For all of us, God’s children, that we may seek God’s will in all we do and form communities that care for one another, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts:
God, our Father,
through the food and drink of the Eucharist,
appease our hunger
and quench our thirst,
for all that is good in your sight.
We offer ourselves
together with your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Prayer after Communion:
God, our Father,
here in this Eucharist,
your Son, Jesus has offered us
his liberation and victory
to overcome in this world
evil in us and around us.
Dispose us to receive always with gratitude
the life and the light of Jesus
and to follow in his footsteps,
for he is our Lord, for ever and ever.

Blessing:

Old people, Anna as well as Simeon, women as well as men, often see with eyes the mysteries of God with a perspicacity that puts to shame theologians and holders of degrees. That is what they learn through prayer and reflection. May God bless these wise people, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Commentary:
Growth comes in different forms. Returning with his parents to Nazareth, Jesus grows in stature, in intelligence, and, above all, in faith. Anna, too, experienced growth in her life. In the presentation account, she appears in the temple together with Simeon. Widowed after seven years of marriage, she grew into her eighty- four years by a life of faithful prayer and fasting. It was a steady, sustained growth, culminating in her encounter with Jesus the Messiah.
The letter of John today looks at Spirit growth in fathers and sons. The father, as the elder, has been gifted with a faith experience of Christ, hidden from the ages and now revealed: God’s son.
in the flesh. This is the cornerstone that, once accepted, leads to a growth in faith and love. John then addresses the sons, or children, whose lives have been involved in the struggle, conquering evil not with a single blow but by facing the daily challenge.
The elderly and the young face a common crossroad: one fork leads to growth and the fullness of God; the other, to chaos and destruction. John summarizes the choices. One may follow the enticements of a world that is passing away; it offers affluence, entrapment, sexual license, and corrupting forces. But it is inevitably misleading. Yet, put quite simply, true growth lies in taking the other fork, the route of Jesus and Anna, that of doing God’s will.
Choices face us every day of life. It may appear gratifying to choose the wrong path. But the right choice leads to a clearer vision, one that grows within us. It is the way of God. As Paul says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child...; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways” (1 Cor 13:11).

Points to Ponder:
Life in widowhood Christian growth
Wrong choices
The right choice.