Second Sunday of Advent
St. Barbara's branch
John, Chapter 12, Verse 25
Whoever LOVES his life--loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.
We are all seeds and a seed that is not buried will not bear fruit. Jesus is mentioning his own self-giving which He joins to that of His disciples. They are called to identical servant roles. This is servant leadership.
The servant leader is servant first…. Becoming a servant-leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. For such people, it will be a later choice to serve—after leadership is established. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them are the shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature (Greenleaf, 2002, pp. 24-25)
Finding your Voice
The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness is a book written by Stephen R. Covey, published in 2004. It is an upgrade of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989. As such, it clarifies and reinforces Covey's earlier declaration that "Interdependence is a higher value than independence." The eighth habit is "Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs." Voice is Covey's code for "unique personal significance." Those who inspire others to find theirs are the leaders needed now and for the future, according to Covey. The central idea of the book is the need for steady recovery and application of the whole person paradigm, which holds that persons have four intelligences - physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Denial of any of them reduces persons to things, inviting many problems. The industrial age is assumed to have been a period dependent on such denial. Covey believed the information age and a foreseen "Age of Wisdom" requires "whole" people (in whole jobs). The book talks of "5 Cancerous Behaviors" that inhibit people's greatness:
People can discover their voice because of the three gifts everyone is born with:
· The freedom to choose
· The natural laws or principles – those that dictate the consequences of behavior. Positive consequences come from fairness, kindness, respect, honesty, integrity, service and contribution
· The four intelligences – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. Covey talks about great achievers expressing their voice through the use of their intelligences.
Achievers for example
1. develop their mental energy into vision
2. develop their physical energy into discipline
3. develop their emotional energy into passion
4. develop their spiritual energy into conscience – their inward moral sense of what is right and wrong and their drive towards meaning and contribution.
ON KEEPING THE LORD'S DAY HOLY
The Celebration of the Creator's Work
"Shabbat": the Creator's joyful rest
12. In the Creator's plan, there is both a distinction and a close link between the order of creation and the order of salvation. This is emphasized in the Old Testament, when it links the "shabbat" commandment not only with God's mysterious "rest" after the days of creation (cf. Ex 20:8-11), but also with the salvation which he offers to Israel in the liberation from the slavery of Egypt (cf. Dt 5:12-15). The God who rests on the seventh day, rejoicing in his creation, is the same God who reveals his glory in liberating his children from Pharaoh's oppression. Adopting an image dear to the Prophets, one could say that in both cases God reveals himself as the bridegroom before the bride (cf. Hos 2:16-24; Jer 2:2; Is 54:4-8).
As certain elements of the same Jewish tradition suggest, to reach the heart of the "shabbat", of God's "rest", we need to recognize in both the Old and the New Testament the nuptial intensity which marks the relationship between God and his people. Hosea, for instance, puts it thus in this marvelous passage: "I will make for you a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord" (2:18-20).
Second Sunday of Advent
The voices of Isaiah and John the Baptist tell us to prepare.
“As the journey of Advent continues, as we prepare to celebrate the nativity of Christ, John the Baptist's calls us to conversion and sounds out in our communities. It is a pressing invitation to open our hearts and to welcome the Son of God Who comes among us to make divine judgement manifest. The Father, writes St. John the Evangelist, does not judge anyone, but has entrusted the power of judgement to the Son, because He is the Son of man. “And it is today, in the present, that we decide our future destiny. It is with our concrete everyday behavior in this life that we determine our eternal fate. At the end of our days on earth, at the moment of death, we will be evaluated on the basis of our likeness or otherwise to the Baby Who is about to be born in the poor grotto of Bethlehem, because He is the measure God has given humanity. “Through the Gospel John the Baptist continues to speak down the centuries to each generation. His hard-clear words bring health to us, the men and women of this day in which even the experience and perception of Christmas often, unfortunately, reflects materialist attitudes. The 'voice' of the great prophet asks us to prepare the way for the coming Lord in the deserts of today, internal and external deserts, thirsting for the water of life which is Christ.” — Benedict XVI
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.
HAVING taught us on the first Sunday of Advent to sigh with the prophets for the redemption through Christ, the Church on this day reminds us, in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, of the joyful promises of God for the salvation of the gentiles, and of Jesus Christ s actual coming, in order to quicken our desire for it, and to produce in us an alacrity in making ready our hearts by penance and love.
For this reason, she says in the Introit of the Mass: “People of Sion, behold the Lord shall come to save the nations, and the Lord shall make the glory of His voice to be heard in the joy of your heart.” “Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep.”
Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the ways of Thine only begotten Son, that by His coming we may be worthy to serve Thee with purified minds.
EPISTLE. Rom. xv. 4-13.
Brethren: What things so ever were written, were written for our learning: that through patience and the comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of one mind one towards another, according to Jesus Christ: that with one mind, and with one mouth, you may glorify God and the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another, as Christ also hath received you unto the honor of God. For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the gentiles are to glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: Therefore, will I confess to Thee, O Lord, among the gentiles, and will sing to Thy name. And again, He saith: Rejoice, ye gentiles, with His people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye gentiles; and magnify Him, all ye peoples. And again, Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse; and He that shall rise up to rule the gentiles, in Him the gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you all with joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.
What are we to learn by this epistle?
To be grateful to God for having called us, by His grace, to the true faith, and for having received us into the bosom of His holy Church. Again, we are taught that by envy, discord, pride, and hatred we lose our salvation. Finally, St. Paul refers us to the Scriptures for instruction.
Why do the Holy Scriptures profit us?
1. They teach, correct, and instruct us in justice, that we may serve God faithfully, and be ever ready for good works.
2. They sustain our patience in suffering, and our hope of eternal life, by many promises, and by the example of Jesus Christ and His saints.
Why is God called the God of patience, comfort, and hope?
1. Because He looks with patience and long-suffering upon our sinful lives.
2. Because He gives us grace to carry our cross with patience and joy, and removes our despair by spiritual consolation.
3. Because He gives us hope that after this life, we shall possess Him, the object of our desire.
O God of patience, comfort, and hope fill our hearts with joy and peace, and grant that we may become perfect in all good works by faith, hope, and charity, and that we may attain the promised salvation.
GOSPEL. Matt. xi. 2-10.
At that time: When John had heard in prison the works of Christ, sending two of his disciples, he said to Him: Art Thou He that art to come, or look we for another? And Jesus making answer said to them: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have the Gospel preached to them: And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me. And when they went their way, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: What went you out into the desert to see? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went you out to see? a man clothed in soft garments? Behold, they that are clothed in soft garments are in the houses of kings. But what went you out to see? a prophet? Yea, I tell you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: Behold I send My angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee.
Why was St. John cast into prison?
Because he rebuked King Herod, who was living in adultery with the wife of his stepbrother. This teaches us that we should not be deterred from our duty, though great suffering and misfortune should thereby befall us. Is it not nobler and more profitable to our salvation to be a martyr for truth, as St. John was, rather than to gain favor with the world by timidly looking on, or by deceitful flattery?
Why did St. John send his disciples to Jesus?
St. John sent his disciples to Christ so that they, too, might be convinced that He was the Messiah.
Superiors and parents should learn from this to see that their dependents and children are well instructed in the faith.
Why did Christ merely say to the disciples of St. John: Go and relate to John what you have heard and seen: the blind see, the lame walk?
Because they ought to have been convinced from the miracles He wrought, which were the fulfilment of the prophecies, that He was the promised messiah.
What was the object of the question, “What went you out to see?” which Our Savior asked?
1. To praise the constancy of St. John, who was not to be deterred from exercising his sacred functions either by the commands of Herod or through fear of imprisonment and death.
2. To approve the austere life of St. John, that we should thereby be encouraged to crucify the flesh and to do penance.
Why did Our Savior say that St. John was more than a prophet?
Because he was destined to see the messiah, to preach to men, and declare Him to be the Savior of the world. And as he was a messenger of God, to announce the coming of Christ and prepare His way, he was called an angel (Malachi. iii. T).
Why did Jesus add, “Blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in Me”?
On account of those who would be scandalized, at His humility, His poverty, His ignominious suffering and death upon the cross, and who would, accordingly, despise and reject Him; although the more He humbled Himself for them the more they ought rather to love and honor Him.
Why does the Church set before us this gospel?
In order that we, like the disciples of St. John, may, by His works, recognize Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and that we may make ourselves worthy of the grace of redemption by doing penance earnestly and firmly, thus preparing the way of the Lord in our hearts.
Consolation in Adversities and Afflictions
What can and should console us in adversity?
1. A firm belief that everything is ordered by God’s wise providence, and that no evil can befall us except by His permission, who never allows us to suffer more than is for our good.
2. That if we call upon Him in adversity God will help us, whenever it is expedient for our salvation. Thus, to encourage us He says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee” (Ps. xlix. 15); and, “If God be for us, who is against us?” (Rom. viii. 31); and “Can a woman forget her infant so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? and if she should forget, yet will not I forget thee: behold, I have graven thee in My hands” (Isaias xlix. 15, 16).
3. That it is useless to resist Divine Providence, for all who have done so have been filled with shame and ignominy, “Who hath resisted Him and hath had peace?” (Job ix. 4.)
4. That our sufferings when borne with patience and submission lose their sharpness and bring us merit and reward. “For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us, above measure exceedingly, an eternal weight of glory” (n. Cor. iv.17).
Feast of St. Barbara 
Barbara (from Nicomedia) was the daughter of a pagan noble who worshipped false gods. Because of her striking beauty, her father enclosed her in a tower to hide her from the snares of men. Barbara vowed virginity, and during an absence of her father had a third window added to her quarters in honor of the Blessed Trinity; at the same time, she also adorned her bath with the sign of the holy Cross. Upon his return her father was so angered over these changes that a miracle was needed to save her life. She was presented before the magistrate, subjected to much torturing, and finally her own father wielded the sword that severed her head. Immediately God's vengeance struck him dead. The holy virgin is highly honored both in the East and the West as patroness of artillery men and of miners. She is especially invoked for preservation from sudden death. She is one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers."
In the past, the following prayer to St. Barbara was often recited:
Saint Barbara, thou noble bride,
To thee my body I confide
As well in life as at life's end.
Come, aid me when I breathe my last,
That I may, ere here all is past,
Receive the Blessed Sacrament!
St. Barbara, one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, is the patron saint of artillerymen, miners, and a happy death. Though her feast on December 4 obviously belongs to the cycle of saints and not to the temporal cycle of Advent, there is a custom observed in her honor that ties into the meaning of the Advent season. A Barbara branch is the name given to a twig that is broken from a fruit tree (especially cherry), placed in a bowl of water, and kept in a warm, well-lit part of the house, such as the kitchen. According to legend, if the Barbara branch blooms on or before Christmas Day, good luck will come to the person whose branch it is. Aside from this harmless superstition, Barbara branches are reminiscent of the image from Isaiah of Christ as a Flower from the root of Jesse (Is. 11.2; the Epistle for Advent Ember Friday); they can thus be instructive in teaching children the meaning of Advent and Christmas. They are also used as the Saint's tribute to the Christ Child in the manger, lovingly placed in the crèche when they have blossomed.
Things to Do
· Have a St. Barbara's Party, Syrian Style.
· Further reading:
- Short Biography and History by Father Weiser.
- Read about the German custom of St. Barbara's Twig, where every member of the family puts a small cherry or peach branch into water so that it will blossom on Christmas. If you have a young lady in your home desiring marriage, the custom of St. Barbara's Cherry Twigs will have St. Barbara pick the right husband for young unmarried girls. An alternative idea to this custom would be forcing Amaryllis or other bulbs to bloom for Christmas. Start the bulbs today!
· St. Barbara is the patron of artillerymen. Offer your rosary or say a prayer for all our enlisted men and women who are in harm's way. This page provides the Legend of St. Barbara and the explanation why she is the patron of artillerymen. Read the Ballad of St. Barbara by G. K. Chesterton.
· Read about Barbórka, Miners Day, which is celebrated in Poland and other European countries.
Jesse Tree Scriptures (The Symbols Are Only Suggestions)
December 1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbols: sun, moon, stars, animals, earth
December 2 Adam and Eve: Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24 Symbols: tree, man, woman
December 3 Fall of Man: Gen. 3:1-7 and 23-24 Symbols: tree, serpent, apple with bite
December 4 Noah: Gen. 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6-22 Symbols: ark, animals, dove, rainbow
· Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after 6 pm Saturday till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.
 The Collegeville Bible Commentary