Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Advent 2015

19 December 2015 - By

journey with Christ and his disciples

Let’s hurry
up!

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah

If there is one thing God really likes, it is journeys. Think of all the journeys in scripture.

Noah took a great boat trip. Abraham journeyed from Ur of the Chaldeans to the Promised Land. Joseph was sold off into slavery and went to Egypt. His brothers journeyed there for food and Jacob eventually moves to settle there. Once enslaved, the Lord frees His people and they journey back to the Promised Land – a journey taking forty years. Ruth journeyed and God accompanied His people in the Ark of the Covenant wherever they went. Israel journeyed into and out of captivity.

All these journeys set the stage for the coming of the promised Messiah – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We might think that once the stage was set the journeying would cease. Not so! Today we see Mary journey to her cousin Elizabeth. Mary acts as a sign. She shows us how to accept God’s will and how we are to put His will into action through journeying to serve each other. Mary would then journey back home, to her espoused Joseph, and together they would journey to Bethlehem to bear Him who was to shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD.

The journeying did not end there. Having come to fulfill His Father’s will, Jesus would journey throughout the territories of Judea and Samaria to preach the gospel. He journeyed to call all to repentance – to a change of heart. Finally, He would journey to Jerusalem to His death.

Those without faith see the journey ending there – at the cross, at death. But, thanks to God that death is no longer the end of our journey. Jesus opened the door to the only destination that matters – heaven in the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

In keeping with the Lord’s teaching and direction His followers have journeyed ever since. The Apostles went far and wide as heralds of the message of the risen Christ. Greece, India, Constantinople, Carthage in North Africa, Persia and Ethiopia, Armenia, Syria, Ephesus, Patmos, and Rome heard the Word preached. The Apostles’ journeys and that of their disciples, and their disciple’s disciples spread the gospel across the whole world.

As we near the end of our Advent journey and head to the forty days of the Christmas season, let us journey in haste. Like Mary, let us journey to show forth both our acceptance of God’s will and the great joy that comes from His service. Like the Apostles, let us journey to every end of our community to tell of the Great Shepherd. Let us help people see and realize His greatness, kindness, and peace. Let the urgency of our journey cause us to hurry up for the time is at hand.

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent 2015

13 December 2015 - By

rejoice

Rejoice, and share
rejoicing!

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you he has turned away your enemies; the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear.

Today we read a message of hope and rejoicing from the Prophet Zephaniah.

This message is found near the end of the third chapter of this very short book of prophecy. More than two-thirds of Zephaniah’s prophesy deals with judgment and can be considered, more than any other prophecy, as one of devastation, death, and Divine judgment. The Day of Judgment is pictured as a time of darkness, anguish, distress, destruction, plunder, and threat to all life, human and animal alike.

Israel had turned from God to false gods, fake gods of wood and stone. Israel’s leadership was unjust and abusive. Zephaniah’s prophecy occurred just before the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.

Today’s world is much like Zephaniah’s. Political leadership in our country and throughout the world is unjust and abusive. Most of the people in our country and across the world have turned from God or have turned to false gods who promise that through some set of works and deeds a person might be saved. Our world is filled with terror. In the not to distant future we will likely know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone affected by terrorism. We are only a few degrees of separation away.

Here we sit amidst all this turmoil and tendency to fear. We ourselves fear for our families, children, grandchildren, friends, and coworkers. In less than two weeks we will gather with them to celebrate Christ’s coming among us. Today we are reminded to rejoice! To rejoice!!!

If we, like ancient Israel, only lived for today, like politicians and believers in false gods, then we have reason to fear. We, rather, live forever. We have been delivered, not by works and deeds, but by faith in the One who has saved us. As Zephaniah foretold: The LORD has removed the judgment against you he has turned away your enemies; the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior. We need not be afraid for even if terror comes to our door, we have already been delivered to eternal joy.

We have reason to rejoice. More than that, we have reason to share our joy with the world. We must offer a share of our rejoicing to all people of good will. Those who follow false idols will be saved by our gift of joyful faith and perhaps even a politician or two might reject evil and also rejoice.

Reflection for the 2nd Week of Advent 2015

6 December 2015 - By

Advent

Who paved this
road?

For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.

The Prophet Baruch proclaims words similar to those proclaimed by Isaiah and Sirach: prepare, make straight the path for the Lord. We hear those same words re-proclaimed by John the Baptist:

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth…”

These prophetic words are heard in church each Advent. They easily define for us the things we are to do as part of both our Advent journey and throughout the rest of the year. We are to prepare ourselves and make ourselves ready for the coming of the Lord.

How should we prepare? The Church helps to guide us – and the guidance certainly isn’t to be busy, busy, busy all the time with decorating and shopping. The Lord is expecting a different kind of present from us – a prepared, humble, and penitent heart – a heart filled with love for Him and for our neighbor.

A far more difficult question is, even with the Church’s help, whether we are able to prepare enough. How can we fully turn our lives around so that we are perfectly ready for the Lord?

Thankfully, Baruch tells us how those high mountains will be made low, how deep valleys and gorges will be filled in, how the road will be made ready – how we will be made ready: God will do it. The high mountains in our lives – those things too difficult to overcome on our own and the deep valleys of failure will be overcome and filled in by God.

Baruch tells us that God has commanded these things. Having commanded it, that is, having made it a requirement, He had to bring His command to fulfillment.

God brought all things to fulfillment by sending His Son, Jesus, to accomplish His command. Jesus was and is the only One who can level the mountains and valleys of sin, despair, and death for us. He took all those things away and paved the road of life for us. He took away our sins – all of them. In a similar way, God stated multiple times (see Deuteronomy, Jeremiah and Ezekiel) that He would make our hearts ready.

All of this mountain leveling, valley filling, and road paving are impossible for us on our own. We cannot earn God’s favor. Rather, we make ready by accepting Him fully in faith. That is the preparation that is most important. Accepting Him and traveling His way we shall see the salvation of God. He paved the road and we just have to take it.

Reflection for the 1st Sunday of Advent 2015

28 November 2015 - By

fail-to-prepare-prepare-to-fail1

It’s all
over?

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

The Thanksgiving leftovers are (almost) gone. If we were well prepared, the shopping is done. If not, perhaps we completed it (or at least started it) at the end of this past week.

We live in a time of “getting it done,” completing things, finishing. Perhaps getting things done relieves some of our worries. If we don’t get things out of the way, how could we possible deal with the stresses we have in daily life – our jobs, grades, children and grandchildren, our Social Security and retirement savings, health…

It is easy to say – I’m so glad that’s over. On to the next… Jesus asks for a different reaction in His faithful.

Jesus warns us against worry, against getting caught up in the day-to-day and worldly worries. Those are for a time only – but life in Him is eternal. Jesus also asks His followers to: Be vigilant at all times and pray. That is a warning against the: I’m glad it’s all over attitude. Advent helps us in readjusting and correcting our attitude.

If we are happy that Thanksgiving is finally over what does that say about the attitude of thankfulness that should be lived every moment of every day? If we are stressed about our shopping and cooking and traveling for Christmas – getting the decorations up so we can get them down – what does that say about our allowing Jesus to be born anew in us each day? If getting Easter done next is our goal, then do we see the power of Jesus’ suffering, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension? If we stress over work and money, what does that say about where our treasure is located? If each moment is lived with the stress of getting things done, are we truly preparing for the tribulations that are imminent? If we cannot wait for the next thing to be over, checking stuff off our list, are we ready to stand before the Son of Man at the end of time?

Advent reminds us that we are to be in constant preparation and longing – not for the next thing to be all over, but for Jesus to come again. We are to feed on Him in the sacramental life of the Church – gifts he left us to strengthen us for a journey to the only completion that matters – eternal life in Him. We are to: Be vigilant at all times and pray not just to get it done and over, but so that we may overcome every trial and test and obtain true victory.

Reflection for the Solemnity of Christ the King 2015

23 November 2015 - By

We do have a King.

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father, to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see him, [...]Read More

Reflection for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

13 November 2015 - By

What are we holding onto?

"Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."
[...]Read More

Reflection for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

7 November 2015 - By

Riches out of our poverty.

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all [...]Read More

Reflection for the Solemnity of All Saints 2015

31 October 2015 - By

We need a hero.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”
Many of our fellow Christians get worked up [...]Read More

Reflection for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

24 October 2015 - By

This is how I respond.

He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man replied to him, "Master, I want to see." Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you." Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.
The restoration of Bartimae’us sight appears to be a rather ordinary. [...]Read More

Reflection for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2015

15 October 2015 - By

Our Lord gets us.

...let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
Today our Holy Church calls us to confidence. This call comes directly from scripture. We start [...]Read More

Categories

Archives

…and the rest

December 2015
S M T W T F S
« Nov    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Meta

Bear