January 1: The Blessing We Receive

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January 1: The Blessing We Receive

The blessing we experience in Christ Jesus is proclaimed in Numbers as the special blessing for the people of Israel. They and we are to be blessed by the invocation of God’s loving kindness, the shining glory of God’s face turned toward us in love, not away from us in anger. We are blessed by God’s own peace! Our wish and our hope are fulfilled in this blessing, which is made visible in the coming of Jesus. In Jesus, the image of the invisible God, God’s face is shown to us and God’s presence is made known to us in faithful and loving kindness.

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December 25: The Gift of God’s Word

On this day of gifts and gift‑giving, it seems appropriate that we take a moment to reflect on the great gift of God’s Word. Because it is creative, God’s Word always points to its author, always calls us to respond. Because it is powerful, God’s Word can link the sublime with the ridiculous, the transcendent with the immanent, the divine with the human. Because it is graceful, God’s Word establishes a relationship of deep intimacy between us and God.
At the heart of God’s Word lies a tantalizing tension between the mysterious and the mundane. In our liturgical celebration, this unresolved tension both reveals the meaning of life for us and calls us to respond, to act upon that meaning.
Once accepted and opened, the gift of God’s Word is a gift that keeps on giving and keeps on calling us to give in return. It dares us to be like the gift‑giver and to become gifts for others, not only at Christmas, but at every moment of life.

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December 18: Summoned by God

As Christmas draws near, Advent’s scriptures lure us into a world of dreams, signs, wonders, and the miracle of the virgin birth. Too often we allow the great stories of our faith, the ones that are most familiar, simply to wash over us. Today’s Gospel account of the events leading up to the birth of the Lord reads like a present-day soap opera. Yet Joseph’s courage, even in the midst of what must have been an incredibly confusing time, provides a model for us. Each week, we are summoned by God to embrace the way of goodness and truth through the proclamation of God’s holy word. Like Joseph, we are called to do as the Lord commands us. As we stand at the threshold of Christmas, let us have the courage to be open to whatever it is that the Lord will require of us as we celebrate the miracle of Bethlehem.

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December 11: A Season of Hope

Today we can bask in the imagery that the Mass readings offer us. In particular, Isaiah’s vision of a parched land that blooms with abundant flowers holds a message for each of us. Too often we are just like that parched land. We can allow ourselves to become ab-sorbed in the waves of consumerism that grip so many. We look for fulfillment in the things that money can buy. Unfortunately, this leaves us like parched land, thirsting for something that money can’t buy. This holy season has much to offer to quench our thirsts. In a word, this season offers hope. We are told that those who are ransomed by God will know joy and gladness. For them, sorrow and mourning will be no more. Let us place our hope in these promises.

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December 4: Prepare the Way

Saint John the Baptist appears on the scene today as Advent enters its second week. The mysterious consumer of locusts and wild honey, John echoes the words of the prophet Isaiah as he calls for repentance in the face of the nearness of the kingdom of heaven. The rhythms of the Christian life are often confounding. Each year we meet the Baptist and hear his calls for repentance. Each year we see him pointing to the one who is coming after him, the Lord Jesus. Yet each year the words and actions of John the Baptist echo anew in our hearts, because we have fallen into old sinful traps again and again. Advent gives us the opportunity once again to turn away from our sinful ways and embrace the gospel way of life. John the Baptist invites us to prepare the way for the Lord, in whom we place our hope.

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November 27: Be Prepared

Be prepared. It’s that simple. As this Advent season opens before us, the Lord Jesus summons us to stand ready for his coming. At this time of year much of our attention is focused on being prepared for the details that accompany the holiday season. We purchase gifts; we decorate our homes, inside and out; we prepare foods that we eat only during the holidays; we write and send Christmas cards; we attend holiday concerts; we prepare either to welcome family and friends into our homes or arrange for visits to their homes. We really can’t escape the details that make up the season. Perhaps this Advent is a time to attend to all those details with a different spin. As we prepare to celebrate the feast of Christmas, why not be deliberate about acknowledging the presence of the Lord as we go about these tasks? The Lord often comes to us in wonderfully surprising ways. Let us be prepared.

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