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Wednesday, first week of Advent

December 3, 2008

Blessed St. Francis Xavier’s Day! (look for his story in the “saints of Advent” category)

God our Father,
by the preaching of St. Francis Xavier
You brought many nations to Yourself.
Give his zeal for the faith to all who believe in You,
that Your Church may rejoice in continued growth throughout the world.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Readings:
Isaiah 25: 6-10 (God’s feast and salvation on the mountain)
Psalm 23 “I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life”
+ Matthew 15: 29-37 (Jesus healing and feeding the crowd on the mountain)

Once again we come to the Lord on His holy mountain. We leave behind our daily life in the valley to fix all our attention on the One Who saves us, the One who frees and feeds us through His Church (the continuation throughout time of His tangible Presence here on earth).

As the cripples, deformed, blind and mute are brought up the mountain to Jesus, He frees them from their disabilities in fulfillment of the divine promise made so long before. The Fathers of the Church saw these disabilities as foreshadowings of some of the failings we bring to Christ today. The mute are they that do not praise God; the blind, they who do not understand the paths of life; the deaf, they that obey not (“obey” literally means “to hear toward”); the lame, they that walk not firmly through the difficult ways of good works; the maimed, they that are crippled in their good works. Today, as then, He sets us free when we come, or are brought, to His mercy, especially in the Sacrament of Confession. He opens our lips to praise Him, our eyes to see His loving guidance and our ears to cooperation with His perfect plan. He strengthens our limbs and our choices for good works. This in itself is enough to astonish and uplift. As the crowds see the disabled made whole they glorify the God of Israel.

But Jesus isn’t satisfied. His heart is moved to compassion by our hunger. We have been with Him three days–the three days of the Paschal mystery (His death, burial and resurrection) which is re-presented in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He does not want us to faint on the way. He provides for us the richest food possible: His very own Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, served to each personally from golden vessels amid a festive, candle-lit banquet. And there are leftovers, precious fragments that must be gathered and preserved for those who could not be with us.

This is life in the house of the Lord–the real “good life”. May we never trade it in for its many shabby counterfeits.

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