UNBORN WORD of the day


the very Word of God Himself came in through the front door and dwelt in the center of her home
November 5, 2007, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, The Incarnation

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Yesterday, November 5 was the feast day of St. Elizabeth and Zachery, the parents of St. John the Baptist. Yesterday, the focus of our blog was on Zechariah, (today we will concentrate on Elizabeth). The account of Mary’s Visitation to Elizabeth (and her unborn baby John) and Zechariah, is found in Luke 1:38-57.

  • Humble Elizabeth has an important role in this encounter; Fulton Sheen spoke of it in this way: “One of the most beautiful moments in history was that when pregnancy met pregnancy ‑ when child bearers became the first heralds of the King of Kings.” (The Worlds First Love)
  • Elizabeth seems to have been awestruck by the immediate revelation she received at this moment. Some people would be similarly overwhelmed should a famous celebrity or world leader walk in their front door, but for Elizabeth there could have been nothing more momentous than the pregnant mother of the Messiah – carrying Him within her – entering her home. The Holy Spirit imparts to Elizabeth the gifts of knowledge and understanding, and she, who is full of good will and faith, is enlightened as to the meaning of what is occurring (Lk 1:42).
  • Archbishop Goodier notes that “… throughout His life the one desire of Jesus was that He should be discovered; that He should be discovered, and recognized, owned. For every step made in that discovery He was grateful; no man made it but met with reward overflowing. The one thread of interest running through the whole drama of His life is the growth of this discovery.”( The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Vol. One) Unborn John and his mother Elizabeth share in this first discovery together, as if to remind us all that the first place Jesus should be discovered is in the family.
  • Consider the astounding words of Elizabeth which introduce, for the first time, two titles: the title “Lord” to describe unborn baby Jesus, and the title “Mother of (the) Lord” to describe Mary.
  • For Elizabeth this was a bittersweet time. Her husband was still distressed at having doubted Gabriel: as his wife, she was yoked to his troubled thoughts and sad countenance. With whom could she share her joy? To whom could she vent her anxieties about her son’s childhood, and from whom could she receive encouraging words in return? Who could understand her situation and nurture hope in her new mother’s heart? And who could lift the spirits of her husband? Enter Mary: her young faithful heart near exploding with the Holy Spirit and the exuberant joy of miraculous motherhood and intimate knowledge of the Messianic mission. Mary’s companionship and support were a great blessing for Elizabeth.
  • But more important than Mary, the unborn Lord arrives with His divine companionship. Now Elizabeth could pour out her heart…..and then listen with a renewed heart as the Word spoke to her. Conversations had been banished from her house and silence had been a constant companion, but now the very Word of God Himself came in through the front door and dwelt in the center of her home. Condensed from Unborn Jesus Our Hope.


Finally, with Mary and unborn Jesus came hope
November 4, 2007, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, The Incarnation

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Today, November 5 is the feast day of Saints Zachary and Elizabeth, the parents of St. John the Baptist. Today the focus will be on Zechariah, (tomorrow we will concentrate on Elizabeth). The account of the Archangel Gabriel appearing to Zechariah is found in Luke 1:5-25.

  • The priest Zechariah had been the first person told of the Messiah’s impending mission to the House of Israel. That God willed this is understandable as he was a faithful and holy priest. Zechariah represents the remnant of faithful souls within Israel awaiting the Messiah.
  • Gabriel’s initial greeting to Zechariah had been full of tenderness as he recounted God’s attentiveness to the prayers of both Zechariah and Elizabeth. He then proclaimed the conception and future mission of Zechariah’s son John.
  • But Zechariah confronts the Archangel with a doubting question: “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” Suddenly, this joyous breathtaking event sours.
  • Zechariah of Ain‑Karim, would have had a keen interest in the prophecies and teaching concerning the long awaited Messiah, but now by his own doubt and lack of faith he had rebuffed the exalted Archangel Gabriel, the same angel who had appeared to the great prophet Daniel.
  • The Archangel has no choice but to put aside the rest of the message as it was intended to be delivered. He delivers instead a brief angelic rebuke: “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news.”
  • The divine message has, in effect, been cut short and there is nothing left to say. Indeed, the Angel will see to it that Zechariah has nothing else to say for a very long time: “…..you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass….” And when would “these things come to pass”?
  • And so for the next six months, prior to the arrival of Mary (and unborn Jesus), Zechariah was a man ashamed, begging God to forgive him for his stubborn and hardened heart. He was acutely aware of his sinfulness and weakness and would have prayed often, readily identifying with many of the Psalms. “O Lord, rebuke me not in thy anger, nor chasten me in thy wrath…! I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning” (Ps 38:1,6).
  • Finally, with Mary and unborn Jesus came hope. Literally, physically, supernaturally, prophetically. A great ray of light broke through the clouds of Zechariah’s thoughts and musings. As he could witness God fulfilling His promises to Israel ‑ in spite of his own obstinacy ‑ hope began to grow in him and even the courage to believe more fiercely that yes, God could forgive him, God would forgive him and even rely on him again. For Zechariah this visit was a wonderful gift from God, an indescribable consolation. And in three short months his lips would again sing aloud the praises of God his Savior. (Luke1:67-79) Condensed from Unborn Jesus Our Hope.


THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, I SHALL NOT WANT
November 1, 2007, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Biblical Reflections, Religion

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Today, Friday, November 2nd is All Souls Day, and the Psalm for today’s Mass is the one and only Psalm 23. My childhood was not very religious, but my grade two class did memorize Psalm 23 (King James Version, KJV). It left a formative and lasting impression upon my little eight year old mind. I would suggest to parents and teachers alike that this is one of the best religious passages for a child to memorize.

While only six verses in length, it is chock full of positive and healthy images for the childlike. Let’s look at a few (KJV) verses:

“The Lord is my shepherd” – this suggests a one-on-one relationship of simple dependency. But the shepherd is the one who CARES ‘for’ the sheep and ‘about’ the sheep.

He leads me “beside the still waters” and “makes me to lie down in green pastures”. For the childlike mind these are calm and peaceful images of a little innocent sheep being cared for.

“He restoreth my soul” – now we drift into the spiritual ever so gently. The child might wonder what is “my soul” and he is left with a beautiful image to guide his questioning.

“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. Perhaps this is now stretching the child’s moral framework, but that is a good thing. God, my shepherd is leading me somewhere “for His name’s sake”. There is a purpose behind His leading, it is not aimless, it is for my good (whatever that might be).

Even in a dark valley (“the valley of the shadow of death”) He is with me so I need not be afraid. He even comforts me.

He prepares a meal for me and pours mysterious oil upon my head. These are profound images that the child can ponder without fully understanding them. That is a good thing. The child doesn’t need to understand all of this like some dumbed-down cartoon. The child can be left wondering about such mysterious images.

“Goodness and mercy shall follow me” all through my life “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” – that is, His door is open and He invites me into His house. The Shepherd’s house is a place of safety, refuge and hope for me.

We do not think about God in simple childlike ways often enough. There are passages and stories in the Bible that are especially poignant for children (and the childlike). Let’s cherish them and pass them on.

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