USCCB REFLECTION

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WHAT IS JESUS THINKING?

WHAT IS JESUS THINKING?

 
“Sitting close by were Pharisees and teachers of the law who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem.” —Luke 5:17
 
Jesus was surrounded by a large number of religious leaders and Bible scholars. It was something like a convocation of priests or a symposium of professors. In the midst of this august assembly, the roof was partly dismantled, and a man on a stretcher was lowered through the hole. Jesus said to the paralyzed man: “My friend, your sins are forgiven you” (Lk 5:20). Although Jesus knew that this statement would be considered blasphemy and would turn the religious leaders against Him, He spoke of His authority to forgive sins (Lk 5:24). He even healed the paralyzed man to confirm His authority to forgive sins (Lk 5:25). Jesus is preoccupied with the forgiveness of sins.
“You can depend on this as worthy of full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tm 1:15). Jesus has sacrificed His life for the forgiveness of our sins. There is “more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner” (Lk 15:7). The heart of Jesus is the heart of forgiveness.
Therefore, repent; confess your sins. May the shedding of Jesus’ blood, the giving of His life, and the love poured out in His death not be in vain. Jesus is thinking of you, and He wants to forgive your sins. Repent of your sins!
 
Prayer: Father, make my Advent Confessions life-changing.
Promise: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.” —Is 35:5-6
Praise: Pope St. Damasus I opposed schisms and heresies while promoting martyrs. He worked untiringly so the Church might be one

A voice of one crying in the wilderness

 

A commentary on Isaiah
by
Eusebius of Caesarea

It was in the wilderness that God’s saving presence was proclaimed by John the Baptist, and there that God’s salvation was seen. The words of this prophecy were fulfilled when Christ and his glory were made manifest to all: after his baptism the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove rested on him, and the Father’s voice was heard, bearing witness to the Son: This is my beloved Son, listen to him.The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. The prophecy makes clear that it is to be fulfilled, not in Jerusalem but in the wilderness: it is there that the glory of the Lord is to appear, and God’s salvation is to be made known to all mankind.
The prophecy meant that God was to come to a deserted place, inaccessible from the beginning. None of the pagans had any knowledge of God, since his holy servants and prophets were kept from approaching them. The voice commands that a way be prepared for the Word of God: the rough and trackless ground is to be made level, so that our God may find a highway when he comes. Prepare the way of the Lord: the way is the preaching of the Gospel, the new message of consolation, ready to bring to all mankind the knowledge of God’s saving power.
Climb on a high mountain, bearer of good news to Zion. Lift up your voice in strength, bearer of good news to Jerusalem. These words harmonise very well with the meaning of what has gone before. They refer opportunely to the evangelists and proclaim the coming of God to men, after speaking of the voice crying in the wilderness. Mention of the evangelists suitably follows the prophecy on John the Baptist.
What does Zion mean if not the city previously called Jerusalem? This is the mountain referred to in that passage from Scripture: Here is mount Zion, where you dwelt. The Apostle says: You have come to mount Zion. Does not this refer to the company of the apostles, chosen from the former people of the circumcision?
This is the Zion, the Jerusalem, that received God’s salvation. It stands aloft on the mountain of God, that is, it is raised high on the only-begotten Word of God. It is commanded to climb the high mountain and announce the word of salvation. Who is the bearer of the good news but the company of the evangelists? What does it mean to bear the good news but to preach to all nations, but first of all to the cities of Judah, the coming of Christ on earth?

TENDER, COMFORTING LOVE

“Comfort, give comfort to My people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” —Isaiah 40:1-2

This Christmas, the Lord wants us to have a special “encounter” with Him (see Church in America, 3). He wants our relationship with Him to be greater than any other love in our life. He will make our relationship with Him so deep, personal, and intimate that He will be a Source of comfort for us even in our worst sufferings (see Is 40:1-2; Ps 94:19). The Lord wants a tender relationship with us (see Is 40:2). He even lives in us and us in Him (Jn 14:20; 17:23, NAB). The depth and the intimacy of our relationship with the Lord is such that we can receive even His Body and Blood into our bodies.
We receive this deep, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. For example, Jesus’ disciples spent day after day with Jesus for years, but they never had a deep relationship. This was manifested when they abandoned Christ as He was crucified. However, when the Holy Spirit descended upon them at Pentecost, they became so close to Jesus that they gave their lives to Him, proclaimed His love to the nations, and even died for Him.
Therefore, let us pray: Come, Holy Spirit! Come, Christmas Spirit of comforting, tender, and deep love!

Prayer: Father, let it be done to me according to Your will (see Lk 1:38).
Promise: “Make every effort to be found without stain or defilement, and at peace in His sight.” —2 Pt 3:14
Praise: Jesus came forth from the tomb; “Truth shall spring out of the earth” (Ps 85:12). Praise You, risen Jesus, for conquering death and saving us.