18 Dec
3rd Week of Advent
Jer. 23:5-8
Ps. 71:2, 12-13, 18-19
Mt. 1:18-24
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There were three stages for Jews when they married in Jesus' time. There was the engagement, then the betrothal, and finally the wedding. The betrothal was already a serious commitment. To break it involved a kind of divorce and to have sexual relationships with another person would be equivalent to adultery. Imagine, then, the dilemma of Joseph. There could be only one explanation: Mary had been unfaithful and was having another man's child. It was a very serious matter and could have brought a death sentence to Mary if it was revealed. But Joseph was a "just" man and did not want to put her to shame. In this, for his time and indeed for our own time, he shows extraordinary forbearance. Few men would accept such a situation with such calmn and self-restraint. The whole incident, of course, is a way of expressing the truth of the Incarnation. Jesus has a human mother but a divine Father.

Jesus is still Emmanuel, God still lives with His people. And he does that through the Body of the Risen Jesus, the Church, the Christian community and communities all over the world. Now we are Emmanuel. Through us people can meet God and hear His message of love and salvation and forgiveness and reconciliation. Let us this Christmas renew our commitment to be Emmanuel for the people in our lives. May he be re-born in us and through us.

All powerful God, renew us by the coming feast of Your Son and free us from our slavery to sin.

Eternal Father, I offer You everything I do this day; my thoughts, words, joys and sufferings. Grant that, vivified by the Holy Spirit and united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, my life this day may be of service to You and to others. I also pray that all those preparing for marriage discover in Sacrament the source of Christ's grace for living a fithful and fruitful love. Amen.

That Christians may free themselves from the subtle forms of cultural conditioning which prevent them from recognising the dignity and rights of others

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P R A Y I N G    W I T H    T H E    C H U R C H    

INTENTION : That Christians may free themselves from the subtle forms of cultural conditioning which prevent them from recognising the dignity and rights of others

Our vocation and mission as Christians is to bring the light of Christ to the world in order to preserve the world from corruption by permeating it with the values of the Gospel. We need, ourselves, first and foremost to be enlightened by Christ. We do not generate light, we only refract, reflect and radiate. It is His light that we must cast on the world. The more transparent our lives are with the values of the Gospel, the better is the light of Christ reflected and the less we are seen.

The world in which we live is mixed with wheat and weeds. There is good and evil. Consumerism is but the logical sequence of a materialistic way of life. Spiritual values are forgotten. Our wants are made to appear as our needs and we are forced to get so immersed in the joys of this world as to forget the joys of the world to come. We are admonished to be aware lest we be trapped by these and other forms of cultural conditioning that mark this world.

Awareness is the first step to change. We pray that this awareness may help us to be delivered from the cultural conditioning that hinders and hampers our vision and prevents us from recognising the dignity and the rights of others.

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