Meditation: Friday of the 3rd week of Advent

– Peace is a gift from God

the plan of salvation is universal

– Saint John the Baptist wants only Jesus to shine

“BEhold THE LORD is coming. In the light he comes, to visit his people, to give them peace and eternal life”, we recite today in the opening antiphon. Peace is one of the signs of the arrival of the Messiah. The prophets remind that he will bring peace to Israel and that only with his help will they be able to repel their enemies. This is why he bears the names of “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty-God, Ever-Father, Prince-of-Peace” (Is 9, 5). Peace is not only the result of a human strategy but a gift that comes to us through his hands; it is the fruit of the presence of God among his own. “A child is born to us, a son is given to us”: a peaceful presence that will have no end.

This is what Zechariah recalled on the day of his son John’s circumcision. In front of his close relatives and friends, he sang the Benedictus, a hymn of praise and thanksgiving. Happy to have received the gift of his unexpected fatherhood, he exclaimed: “Thanks to the tenderness, to the love of our God, when the star from above visits us, to illuminate those who live in darkness and shadow of death, to lead our steps into the way of peace” (Lk 1:78-79). On the night of the 24th, we will also listen with joy to the song that the angels address to the shepherds of Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men whom he loves” (Lk 2:14) .

We see, ultimately, that the Lord wants his disciples to enjoy the peace he brings us through his presence. ” Peace be with you ! (Jn 20:19), such is the greeting of the Risen One. It is in the intimacy of prayer and in receiving the sacraments that we again find the gift of peace. Therefore, together with the whole Church, we humbly ask: “Come, Lord, visit us with your peace, so that we wholeheartedly rejoice in your presence”. [1].

ISAIAH announces, in today’s first reading, that salvation is a message addressed to all men, including strangers, those who “have joined themselves to the Lord to honor him, to love his name, to become his servants; all who observe the Sabbath without profaning it and hold fast to my covenant, I will lead them to my holy mountain and fill them with joy in my house of prayer, their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar” (Is 56:6 -7). No one is excluded from this call because God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the full knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). After the Incarnation, the worship of the Lord is no longer limited to a rite, to a determined place, but can be done with one’s heart anywhere. “Are you in Jerusalem, are you in Brittany? said Saint Jerome. It does not matter. The heavenly presence is before you, open, for the kingdom of God is within us” [2].

The prophet Isaiah summons those who are far from God, both those who have never had the opportunity to know the Lord and those who have left the way or have gone astray. Decree ad gentes of the Second Vatican Council recalls that “the Church, salt of the earth and light of the world (cf. Mt 5, 13-14), is called more urgently to save and renew every creature, so that all may be restored in Christ, and that in him men constitute a single family and a single People of God” (no. 1).

“To be People of God, according to the Father’s great plan of love, means to be the leaven of God in our humanity, it means to announce and bring God’s salvation to our world, which is often lost, which needs to have answers that encourage, that give hope, that give new vigor to the journey. May the Church be a place of God’s mercy and hope, where everyone can feel listened to, loved, forgiven, encouraged to live according to the good life of the Gospel. And to make the other feel listened to, loved, forgiven, encouraged, the Church must keep the doors open, so that everyone can enter. And we have to come out of those doors and spread the gospel.” [3].

AT THE BEGINNING of Advent, the Church exhorted us through the mouth of Saint Paul: “The hour has already come to arise from your sleep. […] The night is almost over, the day is near. Let us cast off the works of darkness, put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:11-12). Then we listened to the strong voice of John the Baptist inviting us to come even closer to Christ, who said that “John was the lamp that burns and shines” (Jn 5:35). In him we see the one who announces with humility the messenger of universal peace. He does not draw attention to himself but to the true light which is Christ.

As we read the Gospel for today’s Mass, we remember that John the Baptist knows that everything comes from God, even the breath that animates him. As soon as Christ begins to be known, he hides himself voluntarily and sends his disciples to follow Jesus; he ended his life in silence, abandoned, in the depths of a jail, without any complaint, happy to have devoted himself entirely to the service of God. Saint Gregory the Great observes that “John persevered in holiness because he remained humble in his heart” [4]. John the Baptist himself had said: “He must grow up; and I, whom I diminish” (Jn 3, 30).

If we contemplate him again, we will discover a man with a strong personality, possessing firmness and determination far from any weakness or lightness of character. However, to accomplish his mission, he does not hesitate to decrease “so that Jesus alone may shine”. [5]. Saint Josemaria encourages us to follow the example of the Forerunner: “Remember that it is a sign of divine predilection to go unnoticed […]. I am very happy to think that one can live one’s whole life in this way: to be an apostle, to hide and disappear. Even if it is sometimes difficult, it is very beautiful to disappear » [6].

This is what we ask God in today’s Mass: “Let yourself be moved, Lord, by our offerings and our humble prayers”. Mary, Queen of Peace, will ensure that our aspiration for peace and humility is effective, animated by the sole desire that Jesus Christ alone reigns in our soul.

[1]. Hallelujah, Friday of the 3th Advent week.

[2]. Saint Jerome, Epistolae, 2, 58, 2.

[3]. Pope Francis, General Audience, June 12, 2013.

[4]. Saint Gregory the Great, Homiliae in Evangelia20, 5.

[5]. Saint Josemaría, LetterJanuary 28, 1975.

[6]. Saint Josemaría, Letter March 24, 1930No. 21.

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Meditation: Friday of the 3rd week of Advent

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