Readings 20141201

The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net

Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table? God’s gracious invitation extends to all – Jew and Gentile alike – who will turn to him with faith and obedience. Jesus used many images or pictures to convey what the kingdom of God is like. One such image is a great banquet feast given at the King’s table (Matthew 8:11 and Luke 13:29). Jesus promised that everyone who believed in him would come and feast at the heavenly banquet table of his Father. Jesus told this parable in response to the dramatic request made by a Roman centurion, a person despised by many because he was an outsider, not one of the “chosen ones” of Israel. In Jesus’ time the Jews hated the Romans because they represented everything they stood against – including foreign domination and  pagan beliefs and practices.

The power to command with trust and respect
Why did Jesus not only warmly receive a Roman centurion but praise him as a model of faith and confidence in God? In the Roman world the position of centurion was very important. He was an officer in charge of a hundred soldiers. In a certain sense, he was the backbone of the Roman army, the cement which held the army together. Polybius, an ancient write, describes what a centurion should be: “They must not be so much venturesome seekers after danger as men who can command, steady in action, and reliable; they ought not to be over-anxious to rush into the fight, but when hard pressed, they must be ready to hold their ground, and die at their posts.”

Faith in Jesus’ authority and power to heal
The centurion who approached Jesus was not only courageous, but faith-filled as well. He risked the ridicule of his cronies as well as mockery from the Jews by seeking help from an itinerant preacher from Galilee. Nonetheless, the centurion approached Jesus with great confidence and humility. He was an extraordinary man because he loved his slave. In the Roman world slaves were treated like animals – something to be used for work and pleasure and for bartering and trade. This centurion was a man of great compassion and extraordinary faith. He wanted Jesus to heal his beloved slave. Jesus commends him for his faith and immediately grants him his request. Are you willing to suffer ridicule in the practice of your faith? And when you need help, do you approach the Lord Jesus with expectant faith?

Christ comes to establish God’s kingdom of peace where all peoples can feast at his table
The prophet Isaiah foretold a time of restoration for the holy city Jerusalem and for its remnants (see Isaiah 4:2-6) and also a time of universal peace when all nations would come to Jerusalem to “the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob” and “beat their swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:2-4). Jesus fulfills this prophecy first by restoring both Jew and Gentile to fellowship with God through the victory he won for us on the cross. When he comes again he will fully establish his universal rule of peace and righteousness and unite all things in himself (Ephesians 1:10). His promise extends to all generations who believe in him that we, too, might feast at the heavenly banquet table with the patriarchs of the Old Covenant who believed but did not see the promised Messiah.

Do you believe in God’s promises and do you seek his kingdom first in your life? The season of Advent reminds us that the Lord Jesus wants us to actively seek him and the coming of his kingdom in our lives. The Lord will surely reward those who seek his will for their lives. We can approach the Lord Jesus with expectant faith, like the centurion in today’s gospel reading, knowing that he will show us his mercy and give us his help. “Lord Jesus, you feed us daily with your life-giving word and you sustain us on our journey to our true homeland with you and the Father in heaven.  May I never lose hope in your promises nor lag in zeal for your kingdom of righteousness and peace.”

The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com   “FEED MY SHEEP” (Jn 21:17)  

“In days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: ‘Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may instruct us in His ways, and we may walk in His paths.’ ” —Isaiah 2:2-3   Today, many stream toward shopping malls and purchasing Websites, saying, “Come, let us finish our Christmas shopping” (cp Is 2:3). Many merchants hear this call and have answered it, setting up shop to supply the consumer demand. We at Presentation Ministries follow a different call: to provide materials for instruction of those who “stream” to the Lord for instruction. The above passage, Isaiah 2:2-3, is a foundational prophecy for Presentation Ministries. Decades ago, we at PM heard the call of God to receive and then exercise the spiritual gift of teaching. We sensed that God was calling us to provide a banquet of Catholic Scriptural resources for instruction in God’s “ways” and to guide Christians as they set out to “walk in His paths” (Is 2:3). We heard that there would be a famine for hearing God’s Word (Am 8:11) and built up and made available a storehouse of teachings to instruct and feed people (see Gn 41:48-49, 56ff).

Pray for us in our ministry to send forth God’s instruction. Work with us by feeding people with God’s Word. We have many resources at our website, http://www.presentationministries.com, which can help feed both new and seasoned disciples. Isaiah prophesies that people will stream toward the Lord for instruction. Feed His people (Jn 21:17).  

Prayer: Father, You have been preparing us for years. May we be quick to lead the streaming crowds to the banquet of Your Word. Promise: “Many will come from the east and the west and will find a place at the banquet in the kingdom of God.” —Mt 8:11 Praise: When interviewed after winning a big game, Steven was quick to give the credit to the “Author of Life” (Acts 3:15).   (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)   

Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014.  The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements

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