#Ang Dalawang Buntis Fourth Sunday of Advent , December 23, 2018

Reading 1 MI 5:1-4A

Thus says the LORD:
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
and the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
and they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.

Responsorial Psalm PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19.

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Reading 2 HEB 10:5-10

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.’”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, :Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Alleluia LK 1:38

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 1:39-45

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

The Tale of Two Mothers

“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”  (Lk. 1:45)

5236277111_0c2ebf8133_bToday’s Gospel is truly beautiful. We have two protagonists. They are women, and they are both pregnant. Who are they? Mary and Elizabeth. Yet, why is the story beautiful? It is just natural for women to get pregnant. Unless we need to go closer to the stories and place ourselves in the shoes of Mary and Elisabeth, we can never see the true beauty of their story.

First, Mary, she is young, and at the same time, she is pregnant with no husband. St. Joseph is indeed the husband of Mary, but he is not the father of the baby. Perhaps, in our time, if a woman gets pregnant and yet without a husband, this is an unfortunate event, but life goes on for both the woman and child. however, if we go back to the time of Mary, way back two thousand years ago, that woman would be a great disgrace her family and community. She would be expelled from the community, and sometimes, they would be also stoned to death. Mary understands that when she accepts the will of God, to be the mother of Jesus, she faces death. Indeed, death is the future of Mary.

Second, Elizabeth. Elizabeth has a husband, so nobody will stone her, but her situation is also difficult. She is too old to get pregnant. Once I asked my medical doctor-friends, why is it risky to get pregnant if you are old? One said that as we grow old, so does our body and our muscles. With weaker muscles, a mother will have a difficult time during the process of giving birth, and this can be very dangerous to the baby and the mother.  I said further, why not caesarian? They said that it is also difficult if not deadly. As we grow old, our hearts weaken. If we place ourselves under the knife, with weaker hearts, there is a big possibility that we will not wake up. Like Mary, death may be the future of Elizabeth.

If Mary and Elizabeth know that it is dangerous and even deadly to be pregnant, why are they still following the will of the Lord?

The answer is at the very name of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah. Zachariah is from the Hebrew word “Zakar”, meaning to remember. Meanwhile, Elizabeth is formed two Hebrew words, Eli and Sabbath, meaning God’s oath or promise. So if we combine the two names, Zachariah-Elizabeth, they mean “God remembers His promise” or “God fulfills His promise.”

Elizabeth knows it is deadly to have John in her womb, but she still follows the will of God, because she is aware the baby was a fulfillment of God’s promise. Mary from Nazareth, the north part of Israel, travels to Judea, the south of Israel, in haste. But, why in haste? Mary is excited, and she wishes to witness how God fulfills His promise to Elizabeth. The moment Mary sees Elizabeth; she knows that the baby inside her womb is also a fulfillment of God’s promise.

Every child, indeed every on us is the fulfillment of God’s promise. Mary and Elizabeth never see the babies in their wombs as mere inconveniences in their lives or unplanned garbage that can be disposed of. Yet, to accept these babies as gifts of God, Mary and Elizabeth have to be courageous because they are going to sacrifice a lot including their own lives. Elizabeth and Mary are brave women and mothers.

The questions are for us: Who among us is not coming from a woman’s womb? We are all here because of a mother. Indeed, not all mothers are perfect. Some of them are not rich, some are having attitude problems, some are not good examples. Yet, the mere fact we are here now, one woman in our life, against all odds, has decided to courageously accept us as a gift, as the fulfillment of God’s promise. To all mothers, thank you very much.

Deacon Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP
with
Xenon Oble and Marvin Obedo.

In an outburst of praise & thankfulness, Mary recalled & enumerated d good things d Lord has done 2 her & 2 His pipol. Like Mary, count & appreciate ur blessings. Thankfulness is a secret to happiness. Be grateful. Be joyful.

Wen in crisis or difficulties, some ppol resort 2 stress eating, go into sports or other activities. Like Joseph, w/ confidence in God, we can sleep on our troubles. God is in control

Today’s readings teach us how 2 rejoice: 1st Rdg & Resp. Ps: -God is in & among u/ur midst 2nd Rdg: -by kindness & thanksgiving Gospel: -generously share wat u hav -be fair & just -dnt take advantage of pipol -be contented -be humble like John Rejoice!

John’s greatness is the greatness of being Jesus’ precursor & the greatness of courage. Introduce Jesus to others like John. Fearlessly denounce injustice, immorality & sins on any given chance.

Imagine losing some pipol u love for years. And for God, imagine losing us 4 eternity. That’s why He looks 4 us & rejoices in finding us. Help those who seem lost in life. Bring them bak 2 God.

Life cn intoxicate us w/ material or spiritual desires tht either we possess or possess us. Stay sober & moderate. Vice & sin destroy. Discipline urself b4 it’s too late

Leaving the boat & their father, the disciples are entering into a new way of living & relationship. Don’t be intimidated by anything new when Jesus is with you. He is the new “new” that calls you to a better “new” you.

Persecutions, like problems in life, may be viewed as difficulties to run away from. But they may also be taken as opportunities to grow, to shine & to be better. Never fear pain & sufferings. They are chances for us to gain the “championship ring”.

The end-time that Jesus predicted may frighten us. But there is one consolation. It’s not going to take place at once. That means we have time to prepare, to repent, to love. Let not what’s scary make you worry.

Generosity is not about wealth or poverty. It is the attitude of giving not what we have but what and who we are. You are generous for who you are, not how much you give.

Jesus knew what wud happen to Jerusalem & its pipol & the causes of d bad events to come. Stay close to Jesus. Do what he commands u to do. Sufferings & pains wud come, but obeying him makes us safe & sound.

What the wicked servant said to the king was used against him. The king condemned him for his own words. Be careful of ur action & words. They may be used against you. Say & do only what builds others up & makes a better you.

To pray persistently like the widow in the parable, wanting swift justice to be served, demands a strong faith. Whatever it is u are asking from God, just dnt giv up praying. His timing is perfect. Just wait in faith.

Pipol are always running in pursuit of many things, even in matters of faith: in haste of finding God, His presence or His answer 2 their prayers. Believe & stay calm. Live & promote the gospel values of life & love. There God is found.

Gratitude is an attitude. It does not come frm one’s nationality, religion, profession or education. It is an expression of appreciation 4 a favor or blessing received or evn anticipated. Say thank you 2day. Evriday.

Jesus wants us to watch out & be careful. He knows that committing sin is inevitable. But to cause others to sin is 4 him more woeful & terrible. Bring others to God & not to the devil.

How many lost souls hav we found & brought back 2 God? Have we exerted efforts, like a shepherd, 2 lead them back 2 Him? Is someone in ur family or circle of friends in need of guidance & direction? Dnt be indifferent. Do something.

Fr. Ramon T. Salibay, O.P.

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