Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, December 6, 2017 — He will destroy death forever — The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces — Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent
Lectionary: 177

Psalm 23:4 bible verse canvas print

Reading 1  IS 25:6-10A

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Art: Feeding the Five Thousand (The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes) by James Tissot

Gospel MT 15:29-37

At that time:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
went up on the mountain, and sat down there.
Great crowds came to him,
having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute,
and many others.
They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.
The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking,
the deformed made whole,
the lame walking,
and the blind able to see,
and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way.”
The disciples said to him,
“Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?”
Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.

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Homily Ideas For Isaiah 25: 6-10

God uses the image of a banquet, an elaborate meal, to give us an idea of the mother of all gatherings, the greatest celebration that will ever take place, the gathering of God’s people for all eternity in heaven.  That’s a picture to which we can relate.  That’s a picture that will make us hungry for heaven!  That’s the picture that God presents to us through the prophet Isaiah in the First Lesson.  Isaiah shows us the magnificent feast that God prepares for his people, and he proudly announces that the feast is ready!  The table is set.  The celebration is prepared.

See More:

https://pastorstrey.wordpress.com/2008/10/04/sermon-on-isaiah-256-9/

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In the first reading, the joys of salvation are described in terms of a great banquet. Rich foods, choice wines and a place at the table will be provided for every guest, honored by the invitation of their divine host. In order to become participants in the feast, the invited need only show a hunger and willingness to be fed.

http://www.nationalcatholicreporter.org/sanchez/locked/cyclea/ordinarytimea/sunday2896a.htm

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Commentary on Matthew 15:29-37 From Living Space
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The readings are about the abundance that comes from God. This is what salvation means – the fulfilling of all our needs: spiritual, emotional, social and physical. In the Gospel, full of trust and confidence, people bring their lame, the crippled, the blind and dumb. Jesus healed them all and the crowds were amazed. There then comes a scene which is a kind of parable of what Jesus stands for: the compassion of God and his desire that the needs of all be supplied. They have been with him for three days and are hungry. They must be fed. There’s not much to feed them with – seven loaves of bread and a few fish. It is enough for Jesus. And again and again people who have dedicated themselves to caring for the hungry and homeless have found what they needed turning up on their doorstep.
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At the end seven (a perfect number) baskets are still left uneaten. All this symbolises the care God takes of his people. And yet, where is it happening in so many parts of the world today? There is a crucial element in today’s Gospel we cannot overlook. It was not Jesus but his disciples who distributed the food. In our world there is an abundance. Food production outpaces population growth. If there is hunger, malnutrition and other unmet needs, it is because we, God’s stewards, are failing in our task of distribution. If there is hunger and suffering and death, it is not the work of God. It is our failure to work.
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Christmas is a time of giving. We could ask ourselves: To whom are we giving? With whom are we sharing what we have or can afford to buy? Perhaps we could widen the circle this Christmas with gifts that mean life or death for the receivers. Beneficiaries who will never know who their benefactors are and who will not be able to give anything back. Did Jesus not say something about giving so quietly that the left hand will not know what the right hand is doing?
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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02 DECEMBER 2015, Wednesday, 1st Week of Advent
CHRIST THE HOPE OF OUR SALVATION

SCRIPTURE READINGS: IS 25:6-10PS 22:1-6MT 15:29-37

What the world needs most today is hope.  Truly, many people live without much hope for tomorrow.  They do not have a future.  Some are just dragging their feet each day, going through the drudgery of life, and drifting through life.  They live without purpose and without meaning.  At the same time, we have to contend with life’s challenges, pain and sicknesses, division, injustices, betrayals, addictions, work and financial difficulties.  Indeed, when you are left alone, because your spouse has left you and even your children, upon growing up, have abandoned you, life becomes empty and meaningless.

If we are in this situation, then the scripture readings present Jesus as our Hope.  Advent is a season of Hope.  We are asked to look forward to the New Year with hope and confidence.  This hope is not an imaginary paradise but based on Christ who is the Hope of humanity.  Indeed, He is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah who said: “That day, it will be said: See, this is our salvation; the Lord is the one in whom we hoped. We exult and we rejoice that he has saved us; for the hand of the Lord rests on this mountain.”

How is Jesus the fulfillment of the Hope of Israel and that of humanity?

FirstlyJesus is the New Moses who will shepherd His people, the One who will ascend the Mountain of Jerusalem. St Matthew deliberately mentioned at the beginning of the gospel that when “Jesus reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee… he went up into the hills.”  Going up to the hill to teach reminds us of Moses who went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Commandments from God.  Jesus is the teacher of the New Covenant, just as Moses was the teacher of the Old Covenant.   That is why we sing in the responsorial psalm.  “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.”   In fact, in the gospel, we have Jesus who sat down like a teacher and taught the crowd for three days and they listened to Him attentively, almost as if they were on a retreat with the Lord.

Secondly, Jesus is the fulfillment of the One who gives hope to us by leading us out of darkness into His wonderful light.   To underscore this as well, St Matthew began by saying that He “reached the shores of the Sea of Galilee.”  This is a reference to his earlier citation in Mt 4:15f from the prophet Isaiah 9:1f who said, “The land of Zeb′ulun and the land of Naph′tali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”  Again the responsorial psalm reiterates this message when it says, “He guides me along the right path; he is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort.”

Thirdly, not only is Jesus our shepherd who gives us hope, but He fulfills our hopes.  We read in the gospel how in His compassion, like a shepherd for His sheep, He healed all those who were sick, crippled in life, blind, whether physically or spiritually, possessed and wounded. St Matthew noted, “large crowds came to him bringing the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others; these they put down at his feet, and he cured them.  The crowds were astonished to see the dumb speaking, the crippled whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight, and they praised the God of Israel.”  He is our healer.

Fourthly, as the hope of humanity, He fulfills our hunger.  The prophet Isaiah says, “On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wine, of food rich and juicy, of wine strained wines.”  This prophecy is fulfilled in Christ when we read in the gospel how He multiplied bread and fish to feed the crowd of four thousand.  As if it was not marvelous enough that He could feed all with only seven loaves and a few small fish, after eating as much as they wanted, “they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.”   Of course, we know that the multiplication of loaves anticipates the Eucharist, His own body and blood that He gave to us at the Last Supper.  Indeed, today we still continue this feast whenever we celebrate the Eucharist, when He comes to feed us with His Word and nourish us with the Bread of Life and allow us to touch Him sacramentally in the Eucharist. That is why with the psalmist, we sing, “In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever.  You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.”   With Jesus, our spiritual hunger is filled by His love and by His Word.

Fifthly, Jesus is the Hope of humanity because He takes away all our sins and guilt.  Many of us are not able to forgive ourselves, especially the mistakes that we have made in life.  At times, we cannot forgive the mistakes of others and those who have hurt us or have been unfaithful to us.  Jesus comes to assure us that our sins are forgiven.  Through the sacrament of baptism, He has restored our dignity as the children of God by forgiving us our sins.  As the prophet said, “The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every cheek; he will take away his peoples shame everywhere on earth, for the Lord has said so.”  Even when we sin today, let us remember that no sin is too difficult for the Lord to forgive.  All sins can be forgiven unless we do not want to be forgiven.  The Lord does not want us to live in shame.  He invites us to come and seek forgiveness and healing in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Finally, Jesus is our Hope, indeed, the last and the fullness of Hope because by His death and resurrection, He has taken away our fear of death and our attachment to this earthly life.  Indeed, Isaiah had already prophesied, “On this mountain he will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, and the shroud enwrapping all nations, he will destroy Death for ever.”  As the psalmist says, “Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life.  In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever. ”   With Jesus, we no longer need to fear death because we will live with the Lord forever in His dwelling where there is eternal rest, peace, love and reunion with God and with our loved ones.

Having recognized that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, the Hope of humanity, what must we do?  We must respond to His invitation to find hope.  Advent therefore is an invitation to take the step of coming to Jesus to find hope in life again by connecting with Jesus.  If we want to renew our hope in life and refresh ourselves, we must listen to Him attentively by praying the Word of God daily, receiving Him in Holy Communion, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation for healing and reconciliation. Indeed, Jesus our Good Shepherd is full of compassion for us.  He cares for us more than we think.  He knows our needs as He told His disciples, “I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat.  I do not want to send them off hungry, they might collapse on the way.”  He wants to strengthen us in our journey of life.

Secondly, we must also be like the disciples who supplied Jesus with the seven loaves and a few small fishes.  For those who have been blessed by Him, we are called to be the channels of His hope to humanity.  We are called to play our part by reaching out to others in compassion and service.  We should take the initiative of reconciling with those whom we have hurt, or with those who have hurt us.  We can visit our elderly who are lonely or sick.  We could give encouragement to our colleagues or children or friends who need our support because they feel so alone in their struggles and pains.   We can also reach out to the poor and those who are hungry and without support.  Most of all, let us be a light and hope to others by enlightening them, by giving them a smile, or reaching out to them in service and love.  In this way, we become the hope of Christ for others.   Only then will others truly believe that Christ is the Hope of humanity because they can see that our hope in Christ has transformed us to be people of Hope as well.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh

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http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
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Look at the words: Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given.
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This is what Jesus does. This is what Jesus did with the loaves and the fish — and this is what Jesus does again at The Last Supper.
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Jesus does this over and over again in the Mass — and with us in our lives.
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Whenever we are broken we can return to Him. We can be taken, blessed, broken and given back to Him.
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Archbishop Goh has said, “Without hope, everything will end in nihilism.”
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Nihilism says that life is without objective meaning. Nothing could be further from the truth if we follow Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
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Related:
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Our thanks and prayers go out to Fr. Henri Nouwen who has been my excellent teacher.
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Fr. Henri Nouwen

In Henri Nouwen’s book “Life of the Beloved” he outlines four words that he believes are central to the spiritual lives of Christians,

“To identify the movements of the Spirit in our lives, I have found it helpful to use for words: taken, blessed, broken and given. These words summarize my life as a priest because each day, when I come together around the table with members of my community, I take bread, bless it, break it and give it. These words also summarize my life as a Christian, because, as a Christian, I am called to become bread for the world: break that is taken, blessed, broken and given. Most importantly, however, they summarize my life as a human being because in every moment of my life somewhere, somehow the taking, the blessings, the breaking and the giving are happening.” (Life of the Beloved, 41-42)

The radical difference between the way God works and the way the world works is that the world only uses 2 of the four. The world takes and breaks with no idea of how to bless and give. Praise God that we have a Father who knows us and loves us enough to give us exactly what we need and then turn right around and use us to be a blessing to others through the experiences we have walking with God…being taken by him, blessed by him, experiencing brokenness through him and with him and then being given for others.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had blessed it, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” – Matthew 26:26

Nouwen says, we are now that bread….

http://mattdabbs.com/2014/07/28/taken-blessed-broken-given-we-are-the-bread/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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06 DECEMBER, 2017, Wednesday, 1st Week of Advent
JESUS IS THE FULFILLMENT OF HUMAN HOPE

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Is 25:6-10Ps 23:1-6Mt 15:29-37  ]

The season of Advent is a season of Hope.  The first week of Advent particularly focuses on this theme of hope.  Hope is what pulls faith and charity along.  Without hope, there is no faith to believe in God.  Without hope, we give up doing all good, especially when evil seems stronger.   So hope is necessary for one to put his faith in God and have the perseverance in love.  But what is the basis of Christian hope?  Our hope is in Christ.  (cf 1 Tim 1:1)

What are our hopes in this life?  We all seek freedom from pain and suffering.  All of us are fearful of pain, especially physical pain.  Those of us who are elderly are worried about who will look after us when we are demented or unable to take care of ourselves.  The tragedy is that many of us do not take care of our health until when we get sick.  Then we become desperate when medicine can no longer cure us even if we can afford the medical bill.  This explains why when Jesus sat down to teach, “large crowds came to him bringing the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb and many others; these they put down at his feet.”

Secondly, we fear hunger and we hope that we always have abundance.  Even if we are healthy, we are anxious about our material needs, whether we have enough food to eat, clothes to wear and place to stay.  Perhaps, some of us have never gone hungry in life unless we have fasted.  Hunger is an unbearable thing.   We feel weak and unable to think, much less to work.  It is because of our fear of the lack of material wants, that we pursue wealth like the rest of humanity.  We are so anxious that we might never have enough and so we hoard our money and things in case we need them one day.  We live in anxiety that we might not have enough money to give us a comfortable life till the day we die.

Thirdly, we fear loneliness and the departure of our loved ones.  We all need friends and company.  We are afraid to be alone, especially elderly people and those who are sick.  There is nothing more assuring than to have someone with us when life is not certain.  Even the very young feel secure only when their parents are with them to protect them from all harm and evil.  We all desire friendship and companionship.  There are many who are so fearful of loneliness that they would seek to get a partner at all costs.  Some are not ready for marriage or for a relationship but because of desperation, they cling to the other person thinking that the person could take away their loneliness and fear.  The truth is that no one can take away our loneliness.

Finally, we hope for fullness of life and eternal life.  We fear death.  For many, death is the end of everything.  Those who do not believe in God cannot live fully because they know that life is temporary.  Whatever they do or have will be taken away upon death, which could come any time.  Moreover, when it comes unexpectedly, all the things we accumulate and build will have to be left behind.   Then as St Paul said, “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’”  (1 Cor 15:32)  Indeed, life is meaningless when everything ends upon death.  There is no reason to work hard, to build anything for the future because there is no future, there is only the present.  Then we just live for today without any thought of tomorrow.  This is what the world is doing.  Many are just trying to grab as much as they can, enjoy all that is available to them. Who cares for the ecology?  Who cares for the aging population?  Most of us will be dead and gone before the crises set in.  Therefore, if we do not have hope for tomorrow, then everyone would just live for himself or herself.

In response to the hopes of the world, the scripture readings provide us a certain hope.  Our life will not end in futility.  Pain, suffering, hunger and death will not be the last word.  The prophet Isaiah says, “On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food, a banquet of fine wine, of food rich and juicy, of fine strained wines. On this mountain he will remove the mourning veil covering all peoples, and the shroud enwrapping all nations, he will destroy Death for ever.”   Indeed, this is the promise of God for all of us, Jews and Gentiles.  “The Lord God will wipe away the tears from every cheek; he will take away his peoples shame everywhere on earth, for the Lord has said so.”

How will He do this if not by giving us Christ as the fulfillment of our Hope.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd in the responsorial psalm.  Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  (Jn 10:10f)  Indeed, because Jesus is the Good Shepherd, He will lead us to fresh and green pastures where He gives us repose.  He will revive our drooping spirit. He guides us along the right path.  And if we should walk in the valley of darkness He is there with His crook and your staff.”

In the gospel, Jesus showed Himself to be our healer, taking away all our illnesses and sufferings.  All those who were brought to Him, “He cured them.  The crowds were astonished to see the dumb speaking, the cripples whole again, the lame walking and the blind with their sight, and they praised the God of Israel.”  Today, Jesus continues to heal those who have faith in Him.  Many have been miraculously healed through prayer, healing services and most of all, through the Eucharist. Jesus continues to heal through the Church and her ministers, especially in the Sacraments of the Sick and Reconciliation.

Jesus also showed Himself to be the one who feeds our hunger.  In the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 thousand, St Matthew underscores that Jesus came not just to satisfy the hunger of the Jews but for all Gentiles as well.  (cf Mt 14:13-21)  When He multiplied the bread this time, he was in Gentile territory in the region of the Genneraset where He healed the sick.  (cf Mt 14:34-36)  Earlier on, He delivered the daughter of a Canaanite woman from the Evil One.  Indeed, with Jesus, we can be assured of His divine providence for He will give us more than we need.  At the end of the miracle, we note, “They all ate as much as they wanted and they collected what was left of the scraps, seven baskets full.”   Not only does He feed our physical hunger, but Jesus as the Bread of Life gives us our daily bread so that we can live on the Word of God, find inspiration, encouragement and direction in life.

Jesus comes to take away our loneliness too.  As the Bread of life, He comes to gather us together as one family to celebrate the banquet of life and love.  The multiplication of loaves is but a foreshadowing of the Eucharistic celebration.  Whenever we come together as the family of God, to worship and fellowship with each other, we receive support from the community.   As Christians, we are never alone but we have each other to care for one another.   Sharing in the Eucharistic banquet, we celebrate the Sacrament of unity and love.  So not only are we blessed with rich food but also with loving and caring company.

Finally, Jesus comes to take away the fear of death.  St Paul said, “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.”  (1 Cor 15:19) In His incarnation, Jesus died so that He could help us conquer the fear of death.  The letter to the Hebrews says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage”  (Heb 2:14f)  With death overcome by Jesus’ death and resurrection, our life is complete.   We know for certain that death is not the last word but eternal life with Christ.

This is what Vatican II in the Constitution of the Modern Church says, “The Church firmly believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, can through His Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme destiny. Nor has any other name under the heaven been given to man by which it is fitting for him to be saved.  She likewise holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point and the goal of man, as well as of all human history.”  (GS 3)   Truly, Jesus is the hope of every individual and every nation.  “Through Christ and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful. Apart from His Gospel, they overwhelm us. Christ has risen, destroying death by His death; He has lavished life upon us so that, as sons in the Son, we can cry out in the Spirit; Abba, Father.”  (GS 22)

Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, December 6, 2017 — He will destroy death forever — The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces — Even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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