Sunday, December 20, 2009


Sceptre of the house of Israel,
who openest and no man shutteth,
and shuttest and no man openeth;
Come and bring forth out of the prisonhouse
him that is bound.

MASS READINGS: Isaiah 7:10-14; Luke 1:26-38
(Although we had different readings in church on account of today being a Sunday, these are the readings actually set for 20th December.)

We all know friends or relatives in difficult circumstances: struggling with cancer, separated from loved ones, depressed or discouraged, saddened by death or other losses. What can we say or do?

"I'll pray for you", "I'll remember you at Mass", or "I'll light a candle for you" are the kind of things we might say. To those without faith those expressions might mean very little. But when Christians promise to pray for others, our promise is based on what the Angel said to Mary: "Nothing is impossible with God" (better translated as "No word of God is lacking in power").

Speaking to Ahaz, God makes the same statement: "Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven." (Isaiah 7:11)

Mary models the kind of faith that makes "I'll pray for you" really mean something. In his sonnet, "The Lantern out of Doors", Gerard Manley Hopkins, speaks of his and our concern for friends who for various reasons are no longer within the reach of any good we can do. Where we can't go, he says, Christ follows and cares; in his words, Christ is "their ransom, their rescue, and first, fast, last friend." One of the lessons of Advent is persistence in prayer. Because we believe nothing is impossible for God, we trust that God can care for others and do for them good beyond our little conceptions.


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