Catholic Reading and Reflection: For Wednesday 31st May (Joyful Anticipation of the Messiah)

First Reading: From the Book of Zephaniah 3:14-18,

14 Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem!

15 Yahweh has repealed your sentence; he has turned your enemy away. Yahweh is king among you, Israel, you have nothing more to fear.

16 When that Day comes, the message for Jerusalem will be: Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp.

17 Yahweh your God is there with you, the warrior-Saviour. He will rejoice over you with happy song, he will renew you by his love, he will dance with shouts of joy for you,

18 as on a day of festival. I have taken away your misfortune, no longer need you bear the disgrace of it.


Responsorial Psalm: From Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6

2 Look, he is the God of my salvation: I shall have faith and not be afraid, for Yahweh is my strength and my song, he has been my salvation.’

3 Joyfully you will draw water from the springs of salvation

4 and, that day, you will say, ‘Praise Yahweh, invoke his name. Proclaim his deeds to the people, declare his name sublime.

5 Sing of Yahweh, for his works are majestic, make them known throughout the world.

6 Cry and shout for joy, you who live in Zion, For the Holy One of Israel is among you in his greatness.’


Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint Luke 1:39-56

39 Mary set out at that time and went as quickly as she could into the hill country to a town in Judah.

40 She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth.

41 Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

43 Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?

44 Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.

45 Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

46 And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;

48 because he has looked upon the humiliation of his servant. Yes, from now onwards all generations will call me blessed,

49 for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name,

50 and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him.

51 He has used the power of his arm, he has routed the arrogant of heart.

52 He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly.

53 He has filled the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty.

54 He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love

55 -according to the promise he made to our ancestors — of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.

56 Mary stayed with her some three months and then went home.


Reflection

Theme: Joyful Anticipation of the Messiah

Do you recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus in your life? Blessed are you if you see and recognize the Lord with the “eyes of faith”. The word “blessed” [makarios in Greek] literally means “happiness” or “beatitude”. It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained, and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life.

God gives us supernatural joy with hope in his promises
There is a certain paradox for those “blessed” by the Lord. Mary was given the “blessedness” of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. Anselm, a great teacher and Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), spoke these words in a homily: “Without God’s Son nothing could exist; without Mary’s son, nothing could be redeemed.”  To be chosen by God is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Mary received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. Her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises.

Jesus promised his disciples that “no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take away. Do you know the joy of a life given over to God in faith and trust?

They were filled with the Holy Spirit
What is the significance of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus? When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary’s womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise to give a Savior. What a marvelous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth’s heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leaped for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born.

The Lord wants to fill each of us with his Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. Do you live in the joy and knowledge of God’s indwelling presence with you through his Holy Spirit?

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking you more earnestly. Increase my faith in all your promises, my hope in the joy of heaven, and my love for You as my All.”

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