P. René Butler MS - 3rd Sunday of Advent -...
Unafraid (3rd Sunday of Advent: Zephaniah 3:14-18; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18) In some respects, the most important words spoken by the Beautiful Lady of La Salette were the first: “Come closer, children, don’t be afraid.” Without these, the... Czytaj więcej
P. René Butler MS - 2nd Sunday of Advent -...
Remembered by God (2nd Sunday of Advent: Baruch 5:1-9; Philippians 1:4-11; Luke 3:1-6) At the end of her Apparition, Our Lady of La Salette rose above the children, as Maximin tried to seize one of the roses around her feet. She seemed to look at the only point on... Czytaj więcej
P. René Butler MS - 1st Sunday of Advent - Be...
Be Vigilant at All Times (1st Sunday of Advent: Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thess. 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-36) Vigilance is like attention or observation but adds an element of persistence and urgency. When we are vigilant, we are careful not to allow something to escape our... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - Feast of Christ the King -...
A Holy House (Feast of Christ the King: Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33-37) “Holiness befits your house, O Lord, for length of days,” declares the psalmist. This statement of fact is also a commitment to preserve the holiness of God’s... Czytaj więcej
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Unafraid

(3rd Sunday of Advent: Zephaniah 3:14-18; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18)

In some respects, the most important words spoken by the Beautiful Lady of La Salette were the first: “Come closer, children, don’t be afraid.” Without these, the rest of her message would never have been heard.

We love such assurances, because we need them. They abound in today’s Scriptures. Zephaniah: “Fear not... be not discouraged.” St. Paul: “Have no anxiety at all.” And our responsorial psalm, which is not from the Book of Psalms but from Isaiah 12: “I am confident and unafraid.”

In the Gospel John the Baptist encourages his listeners to be generous in sharing, to avoid greed, to be honest, to be satisfied with what they have. These are excellent ways to reduce stress and anxiety in life.

But then comes the shock. The Baptist adopts a more ominous tone in preaching about the one who is to come after him. “His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Luke then concludes, “Exhorting them in many other ways, he [John] preached good news to the people.” The Good News is not always pleasant news.

Any public speaker knows that you need to find diverse ways to reach people. The more diverse the audience—adults, teens and children, various cultures or levels of education, etc.—the more difficult that task is. There needs to be something for everyone.

The Blessed Virgin understood this. First she had to establish that she is on our side (“Don’t be afraid... How long a time I have suffered for you...”), and then she was free to say other things her people needed to hear. Some would respond more to her warnings, others to her promises, others again to her tears, or her concern for their well-being.

We often point out that Mary’s “great news” is like the “Good News,” not only in its content but even its style. Both can be demanding, even harsh to certain ears. Both confront us with choices.

None of this means we need to live in fear. Whether the call comes to us from the Scriptures or from La Salette, we can be confident and unafraid.

Remembered by God

(2nd Sunday of Advent: Baruch 5:1-9; Philippians 1:4-11; Luke 3:1-6)

At the end of her Apparition, Our Lady of La Salette rose above the children, as Maximin tried to seize one of the roses around her feet. She seemed to look at the only point on the horizon where one could see beyond the surrounding mountains. 

What made me think of this is a sentence in our first reading: “Stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God.”

I will not claim that Mary was thinking precisely of this text from Baruch but, still, the match is nearly perfect. It was surely just such a vision and hope that inspired her to grace us with her presence.

And there is more. Devoted as we are to the Beautiful Lady, our hearts are attuned to the themes of mourning, glory, peace, worship, mercy and justice, all of which are found in the same reading.

What moves me most powerfully is the image of Jerusalem’s children returning to her, “rejoicing that they are remembered by God.” A similar thought is expressed in Psalm 136:23, “The Lord remembered us in our low estate, for his mercy endures forever.”

A very famous passage from Isaiah 49 says the same, but from a negative perspective. “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”

St. Paul writes to the Philippians, “God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” He not only longs to be with them, but he desires every spiritual good for them. The encounter with God is the goal. 

John the Baptist was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, sent to prepare God’s people for just such an encounter. Mary at La Salette carries on the same tradition. 

To facilitate the encounter, we need to remove any obstacle that might prevent or even delay it. If we can rejoice that God has remembered us, perhaps then we will never forget him.

Be Vigilant at All Times

(1st Sunday of Advent: Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thess. 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-36)

Vigilance is like attention or observation but adds an element of persistence and urgency. When we are vigilant, we are careful not to allow something to escape our notice. We are anxious to see what is coming, whether bad, so as to avoid it, or good, so as to embrace it. 

Beginning twenty verses before today’s text, Jesus predicts various dire events, emphasizing the hardships they will cause. After all that he adds: “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

This turns our expectation on its head. Can the bad be the harbinger of good? Can famine and the other troubles mentioned by Mary at La Salette, for example, actually lead to hope? The answer is yes, if we are vigilant enough to see not only the events, but their meaning.

The people around La Salette were vigilant, to be sure, but the signs they observed concerned the weather and its effects on their agriculture. They knew that famine was coming. But Our Lady points out that they had failed to understand the ‘warning,’ a year earlier, in a blight on the potatoes. “Instead, when you found the potatoes spoiled, you swore, and threw in my Son's name.”

The Day of the Lord can inspire hope or fear, depending on our attitude. In our reading from Jeremiah (a prophet of doom if ever there was one) we find “those days” to be all hope and joy. In 1 Thessalonians, St. Paul comments at length on it: “You yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night... Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober” (1 Thess. 5:2,6). 

In our second reading, St. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians, who are conducting themselves to please God, to “do so even more.” 

This too is a form of vigilance. The more intense our relationship with the Lord is, the more we will see what he intends. La Salette points us in that direction. So does the Church in this Advent season. We cannot fail to recognize Christmas when it comes, but we must not miss its deepest meaning.

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