God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.

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Second Sunday of Advent, Year B Mark 1,1-8

The Gospel excerpt of the 2nd Advent Sunday brings the opening words of Mark’s Gospel. Since the Gospel writings did not have their headings, the opening verse fulfilled the function of a short expression of the content of the entire writing. Mark’s Gospel begins with the sentence: “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” At the beginning, it is stated that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but then we gradually go through the entire Gospel to the foot of the cross, where the centurion’s confession is heard: “He was the Son of God.”

Joyful the message

Mark is the first to compile a writing about Jesus and call it the word “gospel,” which translates as “joyful message.” In the Greco-Roman environment, the term often denoted a message of victory. We also encounter the meaning of the heir’s birth to the throne or the day of his enthronement, referred to as the gospel. Already in the Old Testament, through the prophets, God announces the good news about the salvation of Israel and the future salvation that He will grant to all nations. They are mainly texts from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, for example: “The Spirit of the Lord, Yahweh, is upon me because the Lord has anointed me, he has sent me to proclaim joy to the smitten, to bind up the brokenhearted, to announce freedom to the captives and release to the bound.” (Is 61, 1) In the New Testament, the term gospel has only a spiritual and religious meaning. First of all, it refers to Jesus’ proclamation of God’s salvation. It is not a “word of warning”; “the last admonition,” but it is the gospel = God’s glad tidings for humanity.

The Lord’s Anointed

Mark announces in the first verse that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. Each of these titles has a deep meaning. Jesus translated from the Hebrew word “Jeush,” which means “God is salvation”. In the Old Testament, this Hebrew name was Joshua, who led the nation of Israel to the promised land. Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah” and means “Anointed One”. In the Old Testament, the office of king, prophet, and priest was handed down by anointing with oil. The Jews began to use the title “Messiah” to denote the awaited Lord’s Anointed One (Messiah), who would fulfill the promises of the prophets and bring freedom, peace, and justice to Israel (cf. Is 61, 1-3; Ps 89, 21-34). While in the Old Testament, God’s sonship was understood only in the symbolic meaning of election and love (e.g., a king or an entire nation was considered the son of God), the Gospels point to an exclusive relationship in which Jesus is of the same essence with the Father and his son ship is a direct participation in the divinity of the heavenly Father.

A new beginning

However, the evangelist did not just write some brief announcement that briefly introduces who Christ is and then calls to behave according to him. He wrote the story of Jesus, clearly showing that the cross is necessary to understand Christ. Therefore, there is no definitive answer about Christ in the Gospel until after the crucifixion. The very first word of Mark’s Gospel is “beginning.” So, the Gospel is the beginning and the foundation, not the completion. It is an invitation to follow Christ along the path marked and traveled by the first disciples. However, “beginning” also refers to the first book of the Holy Scriptures, the Book of Genesis. It begins with the conjunction “at the beginning.” The joyful message of the Son of God, which Mark passed on, is a new beginning for humanity, a new work of God as noble and unique as the world’s creation.

The desert and the voice

The first place mentioned in Mark’s Gospel is the desert. It’s not fiction. Only a few kilometers from the Jordan River begins the so-called Judean desert. In every culture, the desert also has a symbolic meaning. It is a sign of loneliness, separation from society, and danger to life. In the language of these last days, we can say that the desert symbolizes “lockdown.” However, in the noise of advertisements, stress, and constant rush, the desert becomes a deliberately sought-after place where a person meets himself and God. It allows him to calmly ask about the meaning of life and the goal of his human journey. John did not offer a baptism of repentance in the streets of Jerusalem but chose the desert. Mark speaks of a voice” that sounds in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

It refers to the Old Testament prophets, through whom God spoke and called people to repentance. Do we still have the desire and desire to listen to the Lord’s voice in today’s noisy society? Do we also perceive the situation of the current “closure” as a possibility through which God speaks to us? In this Advent season, let’s accept the word of the gospel, which invites us to conversion. During today’s Sunday, look at the family photos of your baptism or the baptism of your children. Keep an eye on them throughout the week. Talk about what being a Christian means and what faith gives you.

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Should a priest attract a people?

Not really. Instead, following the example of Christ, he should provide the best possible service to those whom the Father draws. Therefore, he should “attract” mainly truth and love. And then to lead those whom these have attracted. Jesus himself certainly attracted many, thousands of them. But He also repelled many, and they abandoned Him for the “hard talk” of truth; they wanted to stone Him, kill Him, and eventually. When He left the earth, only one hundred and twenty of those thousands remained people. And He says: “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him, who sent me. All that the Father gives me will come to me. And to him who comes to me, I will not cast him away, for I did not come down from heaven to fulfill my will, but the will of him that sent me. And the will of him that sent me is that I should lose nothing of what he has given me, but that I should raise all things on the last day” (Jn 6:44, 37-39).
Likewise, the apostles. They did not try to please people or attract people. Place instead, they bore witness to the Truth, which attracted some, some repelled, as Paul says, “But we preach Christ crucified, for
to the Jews an offense, to the Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are called, so the Jews to the called, both Greeks and Gentiles, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:23-24). Thus, those who have been drawn not by them but by the Truth, the Father Himself, are then shown the way and give service, bringing them what they were already seeking, only they were not finding it and needed to learn how to find it themselves. Again, Paul writes: “I testify that I am clean from the blood of all, for I have not departed without preaching to you the word of God, the whole will of God” (Acts 20:26-27). And with him also, it was still true what was true with Jesus, “They believed all who were foreordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

Evangelization is thus a ministry in which people who seek truth and goodness and desire them, and “by perseverance in good works seek glory, honor, and immortality” (Rom 2:7); we show them the Way they seek the Truth for which they desire, and the Life they crave – Jesus Christ, so that they may go, no longer unquestioningly and receive the Holy Spirit and already possess the Life for which they are destined and to which they have long been drawn by the Father within. This is why neither evangelization nor pastoral care can degenerate into “drawing people” into the Church! If this were to happen, the Church would become a populist and end. The Church must bear clear witness to the Truth and must at the same time provide a clear and compelling service – showing the Way, teaching
and training, and providing the sacraments – to those who are not drawn to this Truth by some “tricks” designed to “draw people” but by the Father Himself. And to remember Christ Himself, to whom, when His disciples “heard Him, many said: “That’s a hard saying! Who can listen to it?!” … then many of his disciples forsook him and walked no more with him. Jesus said to the Twelve: “You also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and known that thou art God’s Holy One.” Jesus answered them: “Did I not choose you twelve? And one of you is the devil” (Jn 6:60, 66-70).

It doesn’t matter the number. Five thousand men, plus women and children in one day, twelve men, including one traitor, the next day – does it matter? The number is predetermined. Many or few, the Father will draw all who are predestined to Life. But the Church must be where they can be removed this way. Not a populist NGO trying to attract people, but the Church, clearly witnessing the Truth, proclaiming “nothing else but Jesus Christ, and he crucified” (1 Cor, 2) and bestowing in the sacraments the Holy Spirit, the Life of God, and the power of God for those who have been drawn to it and desire it. And, of course, know-how and training in living and growing in this gift!
And the priest, bishop, evangelizer, or animator himself must first be like this drawn by the Father! “For out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks. A good man brings forth out of a good treasure good things, and an evil man out of an evil treasure evil things” (Mt. 12, 34-35). And let’s not worry so much about those numbers. It just so happens that people go away when we try to attract and please people. They don’t need another worldly institution, and a mall or a water park is better than such a secular “church.” But if we preach the plain, clear truth in the power of the Spirit, then the Father Himself will bring all who are to be carried, just as in that day of Pentecost, when “when they heard it, pain pierced their hearts, and they told Peter and the rest of the apostles, “What shall we do, brethren?” Peter said to them: “Do repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of for the baptism of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. … They received his word and were baptized, and that day about three thousand souls were added” (Acts 2:37-38, 41).

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Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Luke 1, 26-38

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Francis’ intervention against the rebels.

Has the Pope run out of patience? He warns the Germans that, for now, the actions against Burke are a turning point. ,”

Has the Pope run out of patience?  He warns the Germans for now, the actions against Burke are a turning point

The Pope defined red lines for the German bishops; he was”  more vigorous in punishing his critics from America. What is going on?

Some ask why it has come now and admire the Pope’s patience. Others consider the same event a great mistake by Francis with severe consequences.

We are talking about the publicized intervention of Pope Francis against his critic, the American Cardinal Raymond Burke. Few things better illustrate how polarized the Catholic Church is today than this recent news. It all started last Tuesday when several Vaticanists began publishing news that Pope Francis had announced the decision to take away Cardinal Burke’s salary and apartment.

According to these sources, the Pontifex announced this on November 20 at a regular meeting with the heads of the Vatican dicasteries, that is, as it were, his ministers. Versions differ on his exact words when discussing the steps taken against the 75-year-old prelate. And since there is apparently no record of the meeting, we will probably never know what words Francis used to convey the information to his closest colleagues.

What various journalists communicated more or less in unison was the fact that Burke should be stripped of the two privileges attached to his title of cardinal – his salary and apartment. Corriere della Sera commentator Massimo Franco, citing a high-ranking prelate at the meeting above, wrote that the Pope had announced “some measures of an economic nature accompanied by canonical sanctions” against Burke.

However, the term “salary” is not entirely accurate in the case of Burke since the American prelate currently does not hold any job position in the offices of the Roman Curia or the Vatican City State. However, each cardinal receives the so-called piatto cardinality (cardinal contribution). According to the Catholic daily Avvenire data, this amount is around 1,500 euros per month and belongs to each member of the College of Cardinals.

The cardinals working in the Roman Curia also have a salary, so their monthly income can be around 5,000 euros per month.

So, if we are talking about a financial sanction against Burke it should be a withdrawal of “only” the allowance he receives as a member of the College of Cardinals.

In terms of housing, Cardinal Burke has so far lived for free in a 400-square-meter Vatican apartment on Via Rusticucci, a short alley a few steps from St. Peter’s Square, according to available information. Some Italian media continue the topic by publishing unofficial information, according to which Burke received a letter at this address saying that if he wants to continue living in the Vatican apartment, he must start paying commercial rent for it, which is more than 10,000 euros.

Cardinal Burke is in the United States and will be in Rome in mid-December. He responds to media reports by saying that, despite the Pope’s plan, he would continue to live in Rome, even if he would be forced to find another place. “It is my duty as a cardinal to stay in Rome,” he declared. But the fact is that not all retired cardinals live in Rome.

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St.Nicholas Day

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A branch will grow from the trunk of Jesse › Isaiah 11:1.

Tree branches look barren and lifeless at the end of autumn or during winter. Even the genealogy of the kings of Judah – “the tribe of Jesse” – must have seemed like a dead stump to the people of Isaiah’s time. Moral decay and unjust laws caused the kingdom to resemble a wasteland, like forest thickets that fell under the ax (cf. Isaiah 10:34). But God promised that “a branch will grow from the trunk and a shoot will grow from the roots” (Isaiah 11:1) and life and vitality will reappear. The people of Jerusalem saw this prophecy as a description of a perfect king from the line of Jesse (father of King David), someone who would rule as a proper king should judge. “The spirit of the Lord will rest on him,” and he will restore the kingdom (Isaiah 11:2).

And with his life in peace and tranquility, he will reveal God’s glory to the surrounding nations. It sounds amazing! But God’s plans were even more noble than perhaps Isaiah and the people who listened to him imagined. For this prophecy did not only foretell an earthly king but prophesied the coming of a heavenly King. It is already clear to us – with more than two thousand five hundred years since the utterance of this prophecy – that the definitive fulfillment of this prophecy was and is Jesus. He is a descendant of David, who ascended to his throne in heaven. From this throne, in fullness of peace, he rules over all who come to him. By the way, he rules over us, showing that he has the spirit of wisdom and understanding, advice and strength, and all the other gifts that Isaiah describes in his prophecy (11, 2-3).

Even more impressive is that we have all received the same Spirit that rested on Jesus (John 14, 16-17). Remember this when you spend time with the Lord during Advent. Fruitful sprouts can arise even from what in your life looks like dry ground and bare branches. Spirit can give you the gift of wisdom and understanding during holiday family gatherings. It can give you the gift of strength to overcome loneliness or other difficulties that may appear at this time of the year. After all, that which looks barren and dead in you carries life within itself because “a sprout sprouted” – Jesus, who is Life itself.

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St. Barbara.

Holiday: Patrons of miners 4

* around 273 Nicomedia, today İzmit, Turkey, or Heliopolis, today Baʿlbak / Baalbek, Lebanon
† 306 (?) Nicomedia, today İzmit, Turkey

Attributes: a tower with three windows, chalice, and hosts, cannon, torch

Patrons of miners, geologists, architects, masons, stonemasons, carpenters, roofers, electricians, farmers, butchers, cooks, bell ringers, bell ringers, firefighters, undertakers, hatters, gunners, gunsmiths, pyrotechnics, booksellers, goldsmiths; girls, prisoners, dying; for the happy hour of death; in storms, fires, fevers, sudden death

St. Barbara was born around 273 in Nicomedia (Turkey) in a pagan family. For disobedience (she did not want to submit to her father and get married), her father, the tyrant Dioskur, locked her in the tower he had built for this purpose. In solitude, she began to study and secretly received baptism here. During her father’s absence, she had one more window demolished in the tower, so instead of two windows, there were three on the tower, which was to symbolize the Holy Trinity for her. Dioskur was enraged and handed her over to a civil tribunal. She was tortured terribly, and finally, her father beheaded her with a sword. Sources state that it happened on December 4, 290. Other sources say it was in 306. However, God quickly punished her persecutors. Legend says that while the angels were carrying her soul to heaven, lightning struck Dioscuri and brought him before God’s judgment. St. Barbara belonged to the so-called fourteen helpers in need.

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About life after death. Death is not the end but a transition to a better state of being.

We are living on the last day of the church year. We survive him with the thought of death. The hope is that death is not the end of life but quite the opposite: death is a transition to a new, qualitatively better life. Thanks to this, we had the opportunity to learn during the year that there is more that death gives than it takes away. Even today’s gospel gives us hope. After all, if you “Watch all the time…” (Lk 21:36), we too will live forever if we live for God, with and in God.

If we were to read the events before today’s state, we would find out that Jesus’ teachings, in the Jerusalem temple and outside, were interrupted by many to catch him in his speech. Jesus knows the thinking of their hearts, and even in the dispute about the tax to the emperor, no one managed to convict him of anti-state activity. Who were the Sadducees? In the time of Jesus, it was a very influential party of some Jews. Some high priests also belonged to it. It was a party of gentlemen who allowed themselves a more accessible, more secular life and did not recognize life after death or resurrection from the dead. Calmly and without embarrassment, Jesus explained things clearly. Here on earth, in earthly life, there is dying and death. But dying and death do not exist in the other world. A clear answer from Jesus should strengthen today’s belief in life after death. Today, many people are losing faith in life after death.

For example, the latest poll in France found that half of the people there do not believe in life after death. But in today’s Gospel, Jesus confirms life after death with his word. First, he explains that life after death does not extend earthly life. After all, precisely because many people imagine and paint life after death as an extension of earthly life, they do not desire life after death and then do not even believe in it. Many people here on earth experience various difficulties, troubles, disappointments, and sufferings; how could they wish for such a life to continue even after death?! Therefore, in the Gospel, Jesus first radically rejects imagining eternal life after death in earthly terms.

Then he tells us that in the next world, we will be like angels and like sons and daughters of the heavenly Father. We will be caught up in God’s infinite love, beauty, joy, and bliss that infinitely surpasses all the bliss of this earthly life. That is why the apostle Paul wrote: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has entered into what God has prepared for those who love him” (Cor 2:9). So, according to Jesus, heaven is not life in some beautiful hall, or in some royal palace, heaven is life in the eternal love of God. Heaven is the blessed fellowship of those who live in God’s infinite love. And only he who has love in himself can be admitted to God’s eternal love.

The Lord Jesus requires us to cultivate love in our hearts here. Love of God and neighbor. This is because only love here on earth is the only way to eternal love in heaven.

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