Category Archives: Year A

Cycle in the liturgical year.

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin

Standing on the Promises of God

Mary, the mother of Jesus, visited her cousin Elizabeth who was also with child. When the child in Elizabeth’s womb hears Mary’s voice he leaps for joy. This child is John the Baptist. This moment of celebration brings joy to Mary and she prophesies:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.   (Luke 1:47-55)

What is remarkable about Mary and Elizabeth also is that they believed in the promise of God, even though great miracles of God were required. Mary, a virgin, had conceived a child and Elizabeth, who was well beyond any child bearing age, had also conceived. Nevertheless, these chosen instruments of God were able to believe God as did Abraham before them.

Are we able to believe in the miraculous today? Mary and Elizabeth understood that the promises God made to them were not just about them. Jesus and John the Baptist are children of the promise which God made to Abraham. Their births extended and expanded this promise down through the ages. Today, we are recipients of the promise.

God has made promises to us as well. His plans for us may not be as dramatic as that of Mary or Elizabeth, but they are important to God’s plan. Are we willing to believe in those promises and hold on to them. There may be obstacles in the way of our receiving God’s promise. The Apostle Paul tells us how to overcome these obstacles with this prescription:

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.   (Romans 12:12)

In time, the promises of God will come to pass. The blessing is in the believing and perseverance. Too often me take matters in our own hands and thwart God’s plans and purposes for us. Others are depending upon us to make the right choices. In fact, their future blessings depend upon our faithfulness. Let us be willing to see beyond ourselves as the wonders of God’s work unfolds.

God will do great things for us but he requires that we exercise our faith. Are we willing to hear, believe, and stand on the promises of God?

 

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Filed under Eucharist, Feast Day, Holy Day, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, The Visitation, visitation of the blessed virgin, Year A

Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Fire Walking

Satan wants to enslave us. He wants to force us to worship him, by enticements and even by hreats. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were very devout. They were not going to worship foreign gods even when they were in a foreign land. Nebuchadnez′zar’s fiery furnace would have been persuasive for most people, but not these three Israelites. They relied on God alone to save them, and even if He did not they were not going to worship the king’s golden statue.

We know the story. The King made good on his threat. But the consequences of his action were not anticipated:

Then King Nebuchadnez′zar was astonished and rose up in haste. He said to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” He answered, “But I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”  (Daniel 3:24-25)

Attempting to live holy lives does not guarantee that we will be not be tested in the fire. Rather, this is all the more reason for Satan to attack us, and attack us he will. We need to remember that the battle belongs to the Lord. If we are tested by fire, then we can be assured that Jesus will be in the fire with us.

Jesus is the only one who can set us free from sin:

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.   (John 8:31–36)

Our task is to continue in Jesus’ word and keep trusting in him.

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Filed under Jesus, lectionary, Lent, Lenten daily readings, Lenten study, Revised Common Lectionary, Year A

Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Two Cases of Adultery 

In today’s readings we have two cases of adultery, one concerning an actual case and the other a phony one. The circumstances are quite different in each one, but there is a commonality between them.

From the reading in John, a woman is caught in the act of adultery. The charges against her were true:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”   (John 8:3–5)

The scribes and the Pharisees were up to their usual tricks. This was an attempt to trap Jesus. But as usual they fell into their own trap when Jesus said to them:

“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”   (John 8:7)

Jesus forced them into a corner where they found themselves, grudgingly, showing mercy on the woman. Even though the woman had not asked him, Jesus demonstrated the mercy of God. He told the woman to “go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)

In the case of Susanna, the charges against her were false:

Then the two elders stood up before the people and laid their hands on her head. Through her tears she looked up towards Heaven, for her heart trusted in the Lord. The elders said, “While we were walking in the garden alone, this woman came in with two maids, shut the garden doors, and dismissed the maids. Then a young man, who was hiding there, came to her and lay with her. We were in a corner of the garden, and when we saw this wickedness we ran to them. Although we saw them embracing, we could not hold the man, because he was stronger than we are, and he opened the doors and got away. We did, however, seize this woman and asked who the young man was, but she would not tell us. These things we testify.”

Because they were elders of the people and judges, the assembly believed them and condemned Susanna to death.   (Susanna 34–41)

We have the trickery of the scribes and Pharisees and, in the case of Susanna, the falsehood of the elders, driven by impure motives. And then we have the motive of God which is to show mercy. Susanna looked up to heaven and put her trust in God. God then exposed the two elders:

Then the whole assembly raised a great shout and blessed God, who saves those who hope in him. And they took action against the two elders, because out of their own mouths Daniel had convicted them of bearing false witness; they did to them as they had wickedly planned to do to their neighbour. Acting in accordance with the law of Moses, they put them to death. Thus innocent blood was spared that day.(Susanna 60–62)

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