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Sunday, December 5, 2010

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Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10
Romans 15:4-9
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Matthew 3:1-12

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"this bud's for you"

"A Shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a Bud shall blossom." —Isaiah 11:1

The Church prepares us for Christ's Christmas coming by using the Biblical image of a felled tree and the remaining stump. However, this is not the image of a Christmas tree; the toppled tree symbolizes destruction and the stump symbolizes total destruction. John the Baptizer threatened: "Every tree that is not fruitful will be cut down and thrown into the fire" (Mt 3:10). Isaiah prophesied: "Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, lops off the boughs with terrible violence; the tall of stature are felled, and the lofty ones brought low; the forest thickets are felled with the axe" (Is 10:33-34). Then Isaiah immediately added that a Shoot, a Bud, would blossom from the stump.

No matter if whole branches of our lives have been sawed off through divorce, abuse, rejection, failure, or injustice — no matter if we have been chain-sawed and there is nothing left of our lives but a stump and sawdust — there's still hope. The Hope is a Shoot, a Bud, upon Whom the Spirit of the Lord rests (Is 11:2). The budding Hope is the One more powerful than John the Baptizer and the One Who baptizes "in the Holy Spirit and fire" (Mt 3:11).

If the words of Ash Wednesday have come true and you have returned to dust, even sawdust, don't despair. For every stump, there's the Bud, Jesus.

Prayer:  Father, this Christmas may I expect to receive "more love, more power," more of me in God's life (see the song "More Love, More Power").

Promise:  "Live in perfect harmony with one another according to the Spirit of Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and voice you may glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." —Rm 15:5-6

Praise:  Praise Jesus, our hope, our Resurrection and Life (Jn 11:25). Alleluia!

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 28, 2010

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