Daily Mass Reflections - 12/4
“....for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea” ~ Isaiah 11:9
The diversity, symbolism, and beauty of the Advent Season remains fully on display today, for on the heels of yesterday’s celebration of the Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, the Church takes a moment today to commemorate the great Saint John Damascene. A Priest and Doctor of the Church, this was a man who spent the vast majority of his life in the Monastery of Saint Sabas near Jerusalem. It was here that he penned The Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a treatise that would become for Eastern Schools what the Summa of Aquinas became for the West.
Saint John Damascene possessed an undying devotion to the Blessed Mother. His sermons on her feasts are legendary, and as our Church stands poised to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th, these sermons remain every bit as relevant and compelling as they were when he wrote them in the early-mid 700s.
In today’s 1st Reading (Isaiah 11:1-10), a Reading I affectionately refer to as the “Jesse Tree Passage,” the Advent Prophet Isaiah foreshadows a “shoot that shall sprout from the stump of Jesse.” ”From his roots,” Isaiah goes on to say, “a bud shall blossom.” Continuing to herald this Man who would go on to be our Savior Jesus Christ, Isaiah explains how “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord.”
These my friends are of course the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Jesus would possess these gifts in full perfection from the moment of his very being, as would his Mother Mary, the sinless vessel through which Jesus would enter the world. These are the gifts we too receive during our Baptism, that great day in our faith journey when we are washed free of the stain of original sin while being “sealed” with these Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
We further explore the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in today’s Gospel (Luke 10:21-24) wherein we encounter Jesus in intimate conversation with his Father. This passage offers us the opportunity to explore the mystery of this Trinitarian Relationship. Jesus addresses his Father, and in doing so uncovers his own deepest identity within the Holy Trinity. He says, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, you have revealed them to the little ones,” yet another reminder of our need to cultivate a child-like faith in order to enter the Kingdom.
Pray incessantly for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, for you and for all whom you encounter. With these you will be rich, and require nothing more.
“Lord do not let my heart lean either to the right or to the left, but let your good Spirit guide me along the straight path.” ~ Saint John Damascene