Monday, December 31, 2012

Toast and resolutions

Numbers 6:22-27; Ps 67 May God bless us in his mercy; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21

To make an end is to make a beginning.

We find ourselves at the end of 2012.  2012 has grown old and we have grown tired of it, as we long for a new day to dawn in our lives and so we pressed forward for the bells to ring and the fireworks to shout in the new year: 2013.

As it is noted, we welcome The year of our Lord 2013.

Just spend a few moments pondering that title:  The year of our Lord

Anno Domini or AD was the notation used to mark the years as they went by.  It was to designate that the birth of Christ changed things for us.  Time was no longer time but rather it was filled with the presence of God.

Today many people just use CE or Common Era as a political correctness.  But can time ever be common once God enters into it and becomes one of us.

Try to focus on that reality as we enter the new year of the Lord 2013.  As we gather around the catholic world celebrating the solemnity of the Mother of God, this holy day of obligation, we are to remember that time is no longer measured by the movement of the sun or the planets or the revolution of the Earth but rather by the maker of the stars.

We are all living in his time as he lives with us, here and now, the incarnate one.


This day I went into Victoria to go to the bank.  I had a few transactions needing to be done before the new year got under way.

I was then going to meet some friends for lunch.  I had a bout 45 minutes before they would be ready so I decided to got to Hastings, grab a Chai Tea and open my kindle reader and spend a few moments in the quiet unfolding reality of the page.

While I was just settling down into my chosen read, a gentlemen from the local newspaper approached me.  He was wondering if I wanted to participate in the "Question of the Day" part of the news paper for tomorrow.

Basically he would ask me the question then take my picture and put it in the paper.  Luckily I was incognito.  He did not know that I was a priest.

I asked him  what the question of the day was.  He informed me the question was as follows, "What did I think was the most significant event of 2012?"

 I refused to ask the question.  I politely decline the offer for several reasons.  I don't like what the Local Paper as become.  I think it to be a poor media for information. In fact I no longer subscribe to it.

Secondly, I didn't want my mug on the front page.  In my kind of work, the Bishop usually gets irritated with such things.

Thirdly, I didn't like the question.  I felt that if chose one event as the most significant event of 2012 then I would trivialize all the other events, moments, encounters.

At the time, I thought having a quiet time to drink a Chai tea and read a little was pretty significant.

How could I have told him that the most significant event in 2012 is not just one event but what happens everyday around the world when the Priest gathers at the altar and the passion of Christ is re-experienced and the bread and the wine become the real presence of Christ.   The saving grace of Christ is brought to us live each time, time after time.

That is what I wanted to tell him.  But I figured he would misquote me as often is the case with newspaper and then it would trivialize the celebration of the Eucharist, which is really our one great act of fidelity.

No matter how we botch up our lives and make a mess of things every time we go to mass we are faithful to the words of Christ, "Do this in memory of Me."

Is there anything more significant then that and yet it is that celebration that makes every moment significant.

But perhaps we should in this new year try to make each moment and event significant, making it mean something.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures, so says Thornton wilder.  But i think it is less about being conscious of our treasures and more about being conscious that we are God's treasure as St Paul reminds us,

 "As proof that you are sons, God sent his Spirit of his son in to our hearts crying "abba, Father.  SO you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir..."

THis is the mentality we need to bring to each moment of the new year.

Last I leave you with a quote from my favorite president, though he was smart enough not be ever be elected, Ben Franklin, "Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you to be a better man."

Mary Mother of God pray for us

Prayer for the New Year
Breathe in me Holy spirit, that my thoughts may be holy
Act in me Holy SPirit, that my work too may be holy
Draw my heart o Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy
Guard me then O Holy Spirit that I always may be holy.  Amen

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Holy Family

1 samuel 1:20-22,24-28; Ps 84 Blessed are they who dwell in your house;  1John 3:1-2,21-24;  Luke 2:41-52

There is a sixth grader at school that wears a hoody often when it is cool outside.  The hoody he wears as the following words written on it, "believe the hype."

Believe the hype.  I asked him one day whether he understood what that meant.  He shook  his head and mentioned that he didn't know exactly what it represented.

So I gave a quick tutorial of "hype."

Hype is associated with an extravagant or even exaggerated sense of publicity or attention given to something or someone.  We see this a lot when a prospect is chosen number one in their prospective  fields of expertise such as football and or basketball.

There is a lot of hype that circulates these players with a sense of great expectation.  The talent and skill set points toward something huge on the horizon.

People get excited and a lot of commotion ensues.

RGIII in Washington as the new Redskins quarterback created a lot of hype.  Johnny Manziel, the aggie quarterback, created a buzz and stir and especially with the Hiesman trophy in his clutch, a lot of hype is generated.

There was certainly a lot of hype built up around the coming of the Messiah.  There was a lot of publicity and stir centered around this CHild who was to be named Emmanuel, God-with-us, God saves.

With a name like that, we should expect great things.  The stir and commotion was building.

Let's face it is pretty darn hard to compete with the hype of Jesus.  Just to note few things.

His mother was a virgin who conceived by the Holy Spirit and whose news of such an event was brought forth by the Angel Gabriel.

Not only that but Joseph gets news of this reality by an angel as well speaking to him in his dreams.

This isn't normal folks.

Then we get the long journey to Bethlehem, where MAry heavy with child is riding on a donkey, all the while Joseph is pondering where he might find a place for them to stay.

What they get is a stable where the feed trough becomes the crib.

Then we get the angels bursting on the scene causing a stir amongst the shepherding folks with the good news of glad tidings about a savior being born.   Then the heavenly Choirs joins in and singing Glory to God in the highest...

Again, this isn't normal.  Talk about publicity surrounding this event of the birth of this child.

Then  the Magi show up with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh while following this star that seems to hover over the place where this child sleeps.

Again, talk about hype.  Talk about extravagant and exaggerated commotion.

Herod who gets wind of the developments sends out his posse to rid the land of such a nuisance like the child.

Then Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus pack up and get on the move to Egypt to protect their life and escape harms charge.

The hype is swirling around.

After all this hype, what do we get,  Nothing! We get nothing for the next 12 years of Jesus' life.
The hidden life of Joseph, Mary and Jesus just simple unfolds with no fuss.

It is just an ordinary developing family that keeps God at the center of their life together as the gospel points out, "each year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of passover, and when he was twelve they went up according to festival custom."

God is given first place this family.  Jesus lives in the ordinary and everyday unfolding of life.

Perhaps that is the point.  Perhaps this is what means to be a holy family, letting Jesus enter the hidden recesses of our family and allowing him space to live there.

Then at twelve we get this reality as the gospel reveals.

Mary and Joseph began to search for Jesus.  For three days they search.  Imagine what was going through their heads: was he kidnapped, was he a terrible accident, was he hurt or worse, was he put in slavery.

I could only imagine the aguish Mary and Joseph experienced.

It is easy to sense the tension and irritation in Mary's voice as she speaks those words, "Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety."

Think about that anxiety.

Anxiety is  about fear, apprehension, worry. It comes about with a sense of loss of control.

Remember Mary and Joseph and Jesus go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover. The passover is on of the tree principle feast in which the Jewish identity as the chosen people is embrace and rediscovered.

The reason behind the feast of the passover is for the people to remember the mighty acts of God.  They gather to recall how God took care of them and led them from slavery; how they crossed the red sea unharmed and how for forty years God fed them with manna and journeyed with them with a pillar of fire at night and cloud during the day.  They relived the experience of God leading them to the promise land.  They were to rediscover the reason for their hope and the foundation of trust in their life: God was with them.  God was at the center of the unfolding of their human lives and history.

The feast is about trust.

After the celebration of trust and reliving God's embrace in their lives, we get MAry and Joseph filled with anxiety and fear and apprehension.

How so like us in our lives.  It is easy to speak about trust on a general scheme of things but much harder when trust demands a personal response in our life, in our family?

Where are we with our personal trust of God leading and guiding us in our families?  How often do we take matters in to our own hands and bring about our own undoing?

We see this all the time in regards to married persons and so called "birth control."  Fear and apprehension dictate rather than trust in God's loving embrace.

Then we get to the punch line of today's gospel.  Jesus responds, "why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father' s house.

I would have gotten the snot knocked out of me if I would have done that to my family.  But Jesus' words are important.

He reminds us all of the centrality of God's will in our life.  Ultimately, trusting God is a personal reality not just a generals consensus.

Jesus was not born into the world to be Mary and Joseph's child.  He was born to do the Father's will.

As it is for JEsus so it is for all of us, all of our children.  Children are not given to parents so they can be their possessions.  Children are given to parents so they can grow understand God's will in their life.

How parents need to discover this time and time again.  How parents need to understand their role as parents isn to foster in their children a deep desire for and a willingness to pursue happiness which only comes in living for the will of God in their life.

This is what it means to be a holy family in the first place.

Their circumstances are not unlike the circumstances of every and any family.  They encountered the same challenges and heart aches and mystery as our families encounter.  They do the same thing our families do, but they do it differently.  Here in lies the crux of the holy side of things: they learn to keep God at the center both generally speaking and personally living.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Feast of John the Evangelist

IT is striking how much ground we cover during the Christmas Octave.

On Tuesday we gathered around the creche and there our gazed joined the gaze of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the like as we met the gaze of the infant child wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Yesterday we jumped ahead quite a bit.  On the second day of the Octave of Christmas we gathered with Paul as cloaks were laid at his feet and Stephen the Deacon was stoned the death because of his faith in the Risen Lord.

Today we are taken to the empty tomb.  In today's gospel, we run with Peter and the beloved disciple as news spread that the place where JEsus was buried is now empty and the tomb is wide open for all to see.

What an amazing journey.

Our gaze meets the infant; our gaze meets Stephen as he gives his life for Christ; our gaze falls on the empty tomb.

We are reminded in these short three days that Jesus is born for a reason.  The incarnation is the beginning, it is not the end.  We are taken to the empty tomb to remind ourselves that this child is born to not only die but to rise.

We are taken to the site of the first martyrdom in Stephen to remind ourselves what is at stake and how we are to rise with Christ  by the faith we profess.

As we celebrate the feast of John the Evangelist to day we look into his heart and experience his faith in Christ.

John gives us the gospel as well as the three letters and the book of revelation.

There is a common theme to his work as he paints the picture of Christ and gives us an insight in to the early christian communities after the resurrection and ascension.

As we ponder his words there are some common themes.  John repeats over and over again that JEsus is the bread of life, the light of the world, the way and the truth, and the one who comes to make our joy complete.

Life, light, truth, and joy resonate from every word and every page.

The story of Christ does not begin and end with the manger and the tomb, the incarnation  and the resurrection.  IT is carried forth in us as we like the beloved disciple, peer in to the empty tomb seeing and believing.

We by our belief, in our faith must carry forth the reality of introducing the world the one who is Life, Light, Truth, and Joy.

What in our life today will bear that to the world.  Our will we introduce others to this Life, Light, Truth, and Joy?

This is our task as we journey forth.  As our gaze falls on the manger and peers into the empty tomb and give witness to the martyrdom of Stephen, we must turn our gaze to those around us and let our faith shine forth the reality of Christ: Life, Light, Truth, and Joy,

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A christmas thought

Looking back on yesterday's celebration and looking forward to the upcoming Christmas season I was pondering a thought posed by Pope Benedict some years back.

First, notice that I mentioned the Christmas season.  Christmas is not just a day celebration, it continues until the Epiphany which is january 6th.

We must keep the Christmas spirit's integrity by prolonging not cutting short the festivities of the season.

Pope Benedict's thought that has been coming to mind for some time, but most especially in the Christmas season is as follows, "Imagine a world without the beauty awaken by faith."

Imagine a world without the beauty awaken by faith.

Think about how our world would look.  Not it isn't hard to imagine, since our current society seems to be bending in that direction.  But think of the darkness that would ensue.  Think of behavior no longer checked by a conscience informed by belief and faith in a higher power.

Think about a world that knows no constraint, no discipline, no mercy, no love, no generosity.

Imagine a world without the beauty awaken by faith.

But we have faith and thus beauty as become visible in our world and in our cities and in our homes.
Just look around your own place, see how alive it has become due to the decorations, the lights, the trees, the poinsettias, the wreaths and the bows.

All of this is making visible the beauty that belongs to faith.

Christmas exposes the beauty awaken by faith in a new dimension.  It is not so difficult to see the beauty that comes from our faith in the living God.

But what of the beauty that comes from God's faith in us.

Christmas is really about the beauty awaken because of God's faith in humanity for he has chosen to become one with us.  God has paid us the highest compliment.  In the child, in the manger, we recognize our true dignity.  Unashamedly God has humbled himself.

In this gesture, true beauty rises forth; true beauty is awaken in time as eternity fills us with this newborn face.

Every year Christmas is the same.  In the midst of the constant changing reality of our lives it is good to note that our life of faith is built upon that foundation that never changes: God's unchanging devotion and dedication to humanity.  God comes to us in this vulnerable and helpless form and offers us defenseless love.  

Though we are often surrounded by "bad" news.  Though our lives seems to be enshrouded in darkness.  We remember the light of this day we call Christmas and we once again hear the news of great joy and glad tidings as the angels approach the shepherds and angelic Choir burst in to song, "glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will."

The "bad" news has not triumphant over this good news.  We hear it again as if for the first time.
Echoing forth through the centuries once again it resonates deep with in our souls and we rejoice.

And for a brief moment as we look into the manger we rediscover the wonder and awe of it all.
Let it saturate our being so that as we enter the new year we will bring that joy with us and let it radiate outward each day anew.

We don't have to imagine a world without the beauty awaken by faith.  But we do need to appreciate and bring forth that beauty in our lives.

As God comes at Christmas so he comes each day of our lives.  As God comes in this vulnerable and defenseless way so he desires us to imitate his manner.

The beauty of Christmas is wrapped in that fact that it is common and a normal part of everyday life.  God enters the routine of living and growing and thus he fills our ordinary unfolding reality of life with a new kind of love.

He comes to in each moment in this vulnerable, defenseless way.

Think about the Eucharist.  In this piece of bread and this simple drink God unashamedly humbles himself again: vulnerable, helpless, defenseless and yet so transformative.

Imagine a world where we translate this gift of God and become what we celebrate. What would the world look like if we  became vulnerable.  What would the world look like if we no longer put up walls but simple offered love with out defense.

Truly then beauty would fill our lives.

Monday, December 24, 2012

eve of the birth

No i am not Aethist. But I thought i might explore the billboard that the aethist put up outside of New Jersey as they continue their so called "war" against Christmas. 

But first things first. 

Today is Christmas Eve. Christmas eve is a fascinating time. It has inspired poems and novels alike. 

We are all familiar with the following:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.'

The famous novel by Charles Dickens, 'A Christmas Carol' better known as 'Scrooge' begins on Christmas Eve with the following lines to captivate and intrigue,

"Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail."

Christmas eve is often the setting for many beginnings and such is the case for us. 

Christmas is where it all begins, so to speak. The anticipation of the child culminates in a child in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. 

The angels burst in song as they bring good news and glad tidings to the shepherds in the field, singing "glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth."

When you look at the christmas reality, it goes without saying, that no one could have ever imagined such a reality. No one could have ever imagined the sign the angels give, "a child is born and wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

Aethist are right to suggest that this isn't reasonable. That is what the billboard suggest, 'tis the season for reason.' They are correct; the child in a manger born to a virgin, a birth announced by angels to shepherds in a field, and a bright star to lead to way far exceeds our reason; it is more than we can imagine.

This makes no sense at all. But this is the beauty of Christmas. God comes in ways that we could never have imagined, never have dreamed, but we certainly have hoped for. 

God acts in ways beyond our imagination. This is what the good news is all about. God is not limited by our reasonableness, by our imagination. 

Reality is not what we can concieve it to be, it just is. Our job is to let reality inform our mind and not try to coerce reality with mind games.

This is where aethesit go awry. They what everything to fit their limited way of thinking. What kind of God is that. The God of the aetheist is therefore reduced to their ability to think. They make their thinking their God. In this case they are right not to believe. I don't have faith in their thinking skills, why should they have faith in it.

One thing I know about our thinking as far as humanity is concerned is that it is often flawed in many ways and very unpredictable.

Tis the season to move beyond our reason. Tis the season to be captivated by our God who comes to stretch our imagination, stretch out thinking, inviting us to allow reality once again to be the center of our life, not as we would have it or conceive it but as it is, "wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger." 

Whenever we say merry Christmas we acknowledge that God comes in ways that is beyond our wildest imagination and this is why it is faith and hope. Our Reason is purified by our faith otherwise it just remains our own jumbled mess and who could ever have faith in that.

God is more than and this is the good news of glad tidings that causes the angels to burst forth in song sining "glory to God in the highest and peace to men of good will on earth."

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 24 Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory; Luke 1:26-38
For today's gospel we read the annunciation scene.  The angel Gabriel comes to the Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David, and the virgin's name was Mary.

Thus begins the unfolding of salvation history in real time, as they say.

Yesterday the Pope spoke on the annunciation and i would like to share a few of his remarks with my own scattered in.

"Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you" is the opening salvo that inaugurates Jesus into history.

"Hail" is the greek word Chaire which translates into "rejoice."

4 times is this greek word used in the greek Old Testament and each time it is associated with the coming of the Messiah (Zep 3:14, Joel 2:21, Zech 9:9, Lam 4:21)

This proclamation is as the Pope points out an announcement of the end of sadness associated with the limits of life, suffering, death, wickedness, darkness that obscure the light of divine goodness.

It is the beginning of the goodness.


Why rejoice?   Because the Lord is with us.  The reality of being full of grace bespeaks of the communion Mary has with God.  This vital connection with him is what sets her apart and opens the world to divine goodness.

MAry is one who is shaped by the action of God.  THus she is full of grace, the Lord is with her, she can rejoice.

In and through herself, Mary has opened the world to her creator, to God himself.  She has placed herself in the hands of her creator without reserve.

Without reserve...Think about this reality, this bold commitment, this engaging relationship.

It is without reservation that "yes" is pressed upon her lips, "Behold the handmaid of the lord, be it done to me according to your word."

How different would our world be is more of us entered into that kind of relationship with God, without reservation!

Surely, rejoicing would be a more fundamental reality of our world rather than something contrived.

Where do we hold back?  What have kept in reserve?
Advent is about entrusting ourselves more completely to him who desires to shape us according to his action.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Connecticut and 3rd Sunday of Advent

What are we to do with the tragedy of Connecticut.

20 children shot down.  7 adults lives are ended, one of which is the shooter himself.

How are we to understand this?  Can we understand this?

As I was watching the breaking news about Connecticut in Warm Springs visiting a parishioner who was dealing with the effects of a stroke, I found my self disappointed with the news media.

The kept asking the question about how did the young man get the guns and the ammunition.  I thought  to myself, they are asking the wrong question.  How much time do we spend barking up the wrong tree.

Why ask about the ammunition when so many other important question could have been asked like:

 What kind of darkness was he dealing with that caused him to act out in such a horrific manner?

Is the ammunition to blame?  Or is there a deeper sickness we are refusing to acknowledge that has swept through our nation?

I also began to wonder why do we even care about these 20 children that have been killed?  Will it make a difference in our lives?  Will it begin to change things in our society or in a few days will we just get on with lives as usual?  When this incident is no longer on the front pages or blasted on TV, will we just get on with living, simply throwing a prayer their way and being thankful it wasn't our family, our child, our mother, our sibling.

Why do their deaths matter and yet we live in a country where 1 million babies are killed in their mother's womb every year by abortion, abortion that is funded by tax payer money and yet nothing changes?

Why are we appalled  by this behavior when we have legalized the slaughtering of innocent children under the guise of reproductive health...what a joke.

The bottom line is that there is a sickness in our country.  Have you noticed that as our morality declines, plummets, so does the mental health of the people!  As we let our morality slide, the people don't get healthier they get sicker.  As more and more things are tolerated, then less and less things matter.

Take a look in our society.  Have you noticed how violence has been glorified in our entertainment?  Think of the movies that are produced.  Each movie gets more and more graphic and human life means less and less.

How often do we watch a film where someone "hero" leaves bloodshed in his wake and as people are killed off the screen just keeps moving.  There is no sense of mourning, no sense of grief, no sense of loss.  The bodies are squeezed off as the next scene shifts in.

Think about our video games.  How much blood shed is splattered on the screen and called entertainment.  No one can tell me that kind of disregard fro human life on the "big screen" or on the "video screen" doesn't have a negative impact on us.

We have so devalues life that taking life doesn't mean much at all.

The other issue is how we will deal with people who are mentally challenged, who are not like the rest of us.  What we do when we meet someone who is different?  Usually we distance ourselves or we stigmatize that person.

I was reading comments about the young man who was the shooter.  His classmates were making comments how he was shy and distant.   They said he never participated in class room discussion and he was always the first to leave the class room when the bell rung.  They mentioned ho he was socially awkward.  Surely these were tell tale signs of deeper issues, who knows perhaps anti social behavior or other mental challenges and yet where was the help he could have used?

Our society has not done well in providing help and aid to parents with mentally challenged children.  It is hard and because it is hard we quietly let them slip through the cracks breathing a sigh of relief when they are no longer ours to deal with.

Now I know there are many out there who care and who are concerned and who try really hard by investing their lives in giving aid, but a majority of us rather stand idly bye and do nothing.

We are the ones who are responsible not the guns or the ammunition.

The fact that the reporter want to politicize the issue and make it about our President's stance and the NRA was appalling.

Our culture and our society has been sliding downward for decades.  In the name of tolerance we have allowed our country to slowly deteriorate.

When will we begin to stand up for things that really matter, that should matter.

This isn't the first incident.  Remember colorado, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, the Theatre just within the past year where the young man opened fire.

We need to dig a little deeper than guns and Ammo.

What are we to do?   THis is the question posed to John the Baptist in today's gospel.

Listen to his response: those who have two tunice give one to him who has not, those who have food feed those who are hungry, don't cheat or steal, perform your duty in an honorable way.

John invites us to reach out to those around us.  We are to treat them as we treat our family.  We are to make them a part of our family.  IS this not the way we imitate God, who becomes one of us in order to incorporate us in his family.

IT sounds simple but it is truly effective.

God is all joy because he is all giving.  This is where we begin to start over and bring about restoration and renovation to our culture and our society.

Lastly, we trust that God is with us.  This is what Paul speaks of in today's second reading when he invites us to "rejoice in the Lord always."  Paul writes these words in prison.  He had been arrested and beaten and chained to the floor.  In that experience he pens those words, "rejoice in the lord alway."

Joy is not rooted in the circumstance of our life.  Joy is not first a feeling or sensation.  Joy is an attitude of faithfulness.  But it is not about our faithfulness, rather about God's faithfulness.

In one of his first letters Paul reminds us that the one who has called us in trustworthy and he will do it.

Our joy comes from the reality that we do not go alone.  God is with us.  God's fidelity will ultimately bring light to this darkness, joy in this sorrow, healing in this pain.

God is faithful, and this is what we build our foundation on; it is from this platform we are able to rejoice even in tragedy.

We pray for the Victim's families.  They who were preparing for Christmas, with gifts already beneath the tree are left with a dark corner to turn.  They went from looking forward to the Christmas break to now experience a breaking of their heart.  This is not fair.  This will not be easy.  This will hurt.

We ask God to make himself know in the midst of this reality.

But we also must make a promise not to forget, not to just get on with our lives.  We must make a change.  We must examine our lives and see where we have let our morality slide.  We have to begin to rebuild, renew, renovate.

Get on with our lives in not an option.  We tried that and it doesn't work.

God is with us, we now must let him lead us.
Only then is our rejoicing lasting, is our rejoicing real.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

guadete: in God all is joy, because all is giving

Words of Pope Paul VI  on Christian joy

"There is also needed a patient effort to teach people, or teach them once more, how to savor in a simple way the many human joys that the Creator places in our path: the elating joy of existence and of life; the joy of chaste and sanctified love; the peaceful joy of nature and silence; the sometimes austere joy of work well done; the joy and satisfaction of duty performed; the transparent joy of purity, service and sharing; the demanding joy of sacrifice. The Christian will be able to purify, complete and sublimate these joys; he will not be able to disdain them. Christian joy presupposes a person capable of natural joy. These natural joys were often used by Christ as a starting point when He proclaimed the kingdom of God."

"But the theme of our exhortation is situated on still another level. For the problem seems to be, above all, of the spiritual order. It is man—in his soul—who finds himself without the means to take on himself the sufferings and miseries of our time. These sufferings and miseries crush him all the more to the extent that the meaning of life escapes him, that he is no longer sure of himself or of his transcendent calling and destiny.

 He has desacralized the universe and now he is desacralizing humanity; he has at times cut the vital link that joined him to God. Hope, and the value of individuals, are no longer sufficiently ensured. God seems to him abstract and useless.

Without his being able to express it, God's silence weighs heavily on him. Yes, cold and darkness are first in the heart of the man who knows sadness. One can speak here of the sadness of non-believers, when the human spirit, created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore instinctively oriented towards Him as its sole and supreme good, remains without knowing Him clearly, without loving Him, and therefore without experiencing the happiness, even though imperfect, that is brought by the knowledge of God and by the certainty of having a link with Him that even death cannot break. 

Who does not recall the words of Saint Augustine: "You have made us for Yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You"?(10) It is therefore by becoming more present to God, by turning away from sin, that man can truly enter into spiritual joy. Without doubt "flesh and blood"(11) are incapable of this. But Revelation can open up this possibility and grace can bring about this return. Our intention is precisely to invite you to the sources of Christian joy. And how could we do this, without ourselves becoming attentive to God's plan, listening to the Good News of His love?"

"...But it is necessary here below to understand properly the secret of the unfathomable joy which dwells in Jesus and which is special to Him. 

It is especially the Gospel of Saint John that lifts the veil, by giving us the intimate words of the Son of God made man. If Jesus radiates such peace, such assurance, such happiness, such availability, it is by reason of the inexpressible love by which He knows that He is loved by His Father. When He is baptized on the banks of the Jordan, this love, which is present from the first moment of His Incarnation, is manifested: "You are my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on you."(24) 

This certitude is inseparable from the consciousness of Jesus. It is a presence which never leaves Him all alone.(25) It is an intimate knowledge which fills Him: "...the Father knows me and I know the Father."(26) It is an unceasing and total exchange: "All I have is yours and all you have is mine."(27) The Father has given the Son the power to judge, the power to dispose of life. It is a mutual indwelling: "...I am in the Father and the Father in me...."(28) In return, the Son gives the Father immeasurable love: "...I love the Father.... I am doing exactly what the Father told me."(29) He always does what is pleasing to His Father: it is His food and drink.(30)

His availability goes even to the gift of His human life; His confidence goes even to the certitude of taking it up again: "The Father loves me because I lay down my life in order to take it up again."(31) In this sense He rejoices to go to the Father. For Jesus it is not a question of a passing awareness. It is the reverberation in His human consciousness of the love that He has always known as God in the bosom of the Father: " loved me before the foundation of the world."(32) 

Here there is an uncommunicable relationship of love which is identified with His existence as the Son and which is the secret of the life of the Trinity: the Father is seen here as the one, who gives Himself to the Son, without reserve and without ceasing, in a burst of joyful generosity, and the Son is seen as He who gives Himself in the same way to the Father, in a burst of joyful gratitude, in the Holy Spirit."

"And the disciples and all those who believe in Christ are called to share this joy. Jesus wishes them to have in themselves His joy in its fullness.(33) "I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them."(34)

This joy of living in God's love begins here below. It is the joy of the kingdom of God. But it is granted on a steep road which requires a total confidence in the Father and in the Son, and a preference given to the kingdom. The message of Jesus promises above all joy—this demanding joy; and does it not begin with the beatitudes?"

"...Joy always springs from a certain outlook on man and on God. "When your eye is sound, your whole body too is filled with light."(78) We are touching here on the original and inalienable dimension of the human person: his vocation to happiness always passes through the channels of knowledge and love, of contemplation and action. May you attain this good quality which is in your brother's soul, and this divine presence so close to the human heart!"

"Let the agitated members of various groups therefore reject the excesses of systematic and destructive criticism! Without departing from a realistic viewpoint, let Christian communities become centers of optimism where all the members resolutely endeavor to perceive the positive aspect of people and events. "Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to love's forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure."(79)

The attainment of such an outlook is not just a matter of psychology. It is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit, who dwells fully in the person of Jesus, made Him during His earthly life so alert to the joys of daily life, so tactful and persuasive for putting sinners back on the road to a new youth of heart and mind!

 It is this same Spirit who animated the Blessed Virgin and each of the saints. It is this same Spirit who still today gives to so many Christians the joy of living day by day their particular vocation, in the peace and hope which surpass setbacks and sufferings. It is the Spirit of Pentecost who today leads very many followers of Christ along the paths of prayer, in the cheerfulness of filial praise, towards the humble and joyous service of the disinherited and of those on the margins of society. 

For joy cannot be dissociated from sharing. In God Himself, all is joy because all is giving."

Friday, December 14, 2012


Isaiah 48:17-19; Ps 1 Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life; Mt 11:16-19

Today is the feast of John of the Cross, a spaniard, a reformer, a priest, a holy soul constantly seeking to draw closer to God through detachment.

Here are a few of his words of wisdom, ""With what procrastinations do you wait, since from this very moment you can love God in your heart?"

Here is a little story for your enjoyment
One day a young man moved into a cave to study with a wiseman. He hoped to learn everything there was to know. After giving his student a stack of books, the wise man sprinkled itching powder on his student's hand and left. Every morning the wise man returned to the cave to monitor his student's progress. "Have you learned everything there is to know yet?" the wise man asked.
And every morning his student said, "No, I haven't." Then the wise man would sprinkle itching powder on the student's hand and leave. This was repeated for months. But one day, as the wise man entered the cave the student took the bag of itching powder and tossed it into the fire.
"Congratulations!" said the wise man. "You've graduated. You've learned you don' t have to know everything to do something positive. And you've learned how to take control over your life and stop the itching." 

Procrastination is all around us. 
We even have habits we do to encourage procrastination rather then effect a change in our lives.  Here  are just a few: avoidance, distraction (we distract ourselves), trivialization (we treat what needs to be done as trivial or not as important as it really is), Humor (we laugh or make jokes about our procrastination), Denial.

Procrastination is when we replace higher priority action with lower priority tasks.

Where do you procrastinate?  How do you encourage procrastination?  How has procrastination effected your life style and stress level?  

Hard work is usually easy work that has been set aside or pushed off until later. 

Think about the priority in your relationship with God.  Should this not be our top priority. 

How do we act in this regard?  How do we center our life around acting and not procrastinating when it comes to fulfilling the great commandment: love God with all our heart, mind, soul, strength. 

How do we distract ourselves?  How do we avoid?  How do we trivialize our relationship with God?  How often have we spoken those words, "God doesn't really care?"  How often de we joke about how we could be better or we could be more loving or we could work on our relationship more?

Things to consider as we continue our journey in Advent, this season of waiting but definitely not a season to procrastinate.

Words of St James 4:13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit";  14whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


A federal judge’s has made a decision on “choose life” license plates, as to whether or not they should be allowed in the state.  Here is the statement below.
“The State’s offering of a Choose Life license plate in the absence of a pro-choice plate constitutes viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment,” US District Judge James C. Fox ruled."
"A viewpoint discrimination....."  What does that mean anyway!  Really.  It has become official.  I knew many of our public officials did not have a spine, but now I suppose they don't have a brain either.
A viewpoint discrimination.  What a joke.  Isn't that what the First Amendment is about in the first place, the right to a viewpoint that discriminates other view points.  Every view point is discriminatory.  
Let's look at the First AMendment once again shall we:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Abridging the freedom of speech....Isn't that what the ruling by the federal judge is doing. 
What about petitioning the Government for redress of grievances.....each license plate is a petition against the government for grievances if they want to make about abortion as the federal judge is trying to do.

Choosing life is a slogan that does not discriminates against those who choose death.  Since when is choosing life narrowly confined to the abortion question.   It seems to me it is simply a reminder to all of us about the value of life, from beginning to natural end. 

I say choose life with a discrimination in mind.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hear the words of the Blessed Mother, spoken to Juan Diego in 1531...
"Listen, put into your heart, that the the thing that frightens you, that thing that afflicts you, is nothing; do not let it disturb you?  Am I not here, am i not your  mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?  Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the embrace of my arms? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you"

In these words Juan Diego found comfort and courage to continue his mission.

Today's feast is more then a commemoration of an apparition. It is looking back to a beginning of the transformation of a society, a culture, a civilization.

It was these words that enabled a civilization to be transformed.

The Aztecs went from offering human sacrifices to come to the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist, discovering the power of the sacrifice of Christ that brings life and joy.

IT was also these words that transformed the Spaniards.  Mary through Juan Diego taught them to welcome the natives, to welcome the poor and lowly not to mistreat them.

In these words and in this image, a civilization of love began.

How much do we need to rediscover this civilization for ourselves, for our families, for our community, for our world.

Each time we look upon this image we are remind of the task at hand.  The mission did not end with Juan Diego but it begins a new with each of us who call her mother, who call him savior.

We pray that God will trace in our actions the lines of the mother's love and trace in our hearts her readiness of faith so that we may be instruments of that transformation of that civilization.

Like Juan Diego we must respond to life in faith and no longer react.  It is faith it is not instinct that drives us and determines our actions and our response of love.

It is not fear, it is not jealousy, it is not lust, it is not selfish desires, it is not hate, it is not resentment, it is not our differences;

we must be ready to respond in faith so we can build the civilization of love.  This is how we become children of such a mother as our lady of Guadalupe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What is your opinion

Isaiah 40:1-11; Ps 96 The Lord our God comes with power; Mt 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciple, "what is your opinion."

Jesus isn't really asking for our opinion is he?  Really, our opinion can be pretty far fetched at times.

It fact my boss in college use to tell me, "when i want your opinion, I will give it to you."

Unfortunately, the sense of one's opinion has been diluted.

Today in our present age, opinions really don't count for much because of them are founded on false presumptions or worse faulty judgment; they are not sound reasoning.

Most of what we have opinions on today are caught up in our own selfish advantage.  We think about ourselves and how things effect us, either making our life east and convenient or more difficult and it seems most of us choose the easy convenient path.

But, God does not.  Perhaps this is what Jesus wants us to realize.

To leave 99 sheep to fetch the one doesn't sound like it is much benefit to the shepherd.  He is the  one that has every thing to risk and everything to lose.  He is the one that puts himself in harms way.  HE is the one that chooses the difficult path and thus illuminates the very path we are to follow as well.

Normally, the flock was a communal flock.  Therefore, there were more than one shepherd keeping watch.  Thus, one shepherd could leave the 99 trusting it was being cared for by the other shepherds.

Which means of course God has put a lot of responsibility and trust in us to keep a look out over the flock.

Secondly, it the shepherd cared for each sheep as an individual and as it belonged to the all.  Just as God cares for each of us individually.  God loves us each.  God loves man and thus he loves humanity.

God's love is both patient and seeking.  He tracks us down.
God's love is also protecting love that brings security.  Could you imagine a better place then resting on the shoulders of the shepherd?

Lastly, Gd's love rejoices in his prize possession: each individual sheep.

Monday, December 10, 2012

on rough being made smooth

AS we begin the second week of Advent, I invite you to think about all the people you have encountered in your life.  Go back as far as you can remember up to the present day.  Let all of those faces and names roll through your memory and through your heart.

Some of them we carry with us all of our life.  We meet them and form lasting relationships, even friendships.  My father has a gentlemen that he met in the army that he calls at least three times a year in order to keep in touch.  He has done this for 50 years.

Some of them we just know their faces.  The encounter was so brief that we don't even remember their names or ever knew their names.  Some are only for a period of time.  We have those who were their in high school, those during college, those who we know through work, some through our community involvement and the like.

Some of these folks have made our life better.  In fact, we could say having them in our life has made our life a lot easier.  We enjoy being around them. We thank the Good Lord for them.  My uncle is one of those persons in my life.  I always enjoyed when he would visit as a child.  He had a way of bringing a little more peace and joy to the place he entered.  He also had a way of distracting our father just enough to where we wouldn't have to worry about orders or chores or other work around the house.  He made my life better and certainly a lot easier.

Some of the folks we encounter, well are of a different sort.   They make our life worse, more difficult and sometimes impossible.  They are negative all the time.  Every time you turn around they complain about this or that.   These are the people that grate on you and even irritate you.  Perhaps you have found yourself  praying against them, asking God to eliminate them from your life.
Maybe you just wanted them gone or even dead, anything to get peace.

 Think about all of those people, those who made your life better or worse, those who are still present and those who have faded away.  Hold them in your heart and mind for a moment.

when I was young, one of the treats i enjoyed was spending time with my cousin.  Often times when visiting our grandparents, we would convince our dad to let us stay over night at his house or even stay for the week.  It was always enjoyable.  He was an only child and spoiled.  I was one of ten and not so spoiled.  He had all the cool toys and latest gadgets.

When i would visit, my cousin and I would find ourselves gathering rocks of all shapes and sizes. We would spend have a morning roaming the country side looking for rocks.

We would then gather ourselves in his bedroom where we would have rocks scattered all over the floor.  He would reach under his bed and pull out this machine, it was like a miniature wash machine.  We would put handful of rocks in there with a little liquid and turn it on.  The machine would make noise and turn and shake and after a while, all those rocks would come out just as smooth as believable.
The Rock tumbler was an amazing machine.

All the rocks of all shapes and sizes would eventually be made smooth; no jagged edges just smoothness.

Sometimes, i feel life is like that machine that tumbler. God has placed all of these personalities and temperaments in our life.  All of us are pulled and pushed together with all of or jagged edges.  Our encounters with each other however long or breve create that spinning and tumbling effect where we bounce off one another.

All of this is part of God's plan.  This is how we fulfill what John the baptist cries out, "make the crooked straight and the rough smooth.

God does this with the people around us.  All of us rubbing up against one another creates that smoothness, slowly wears away the edges, the jagged reality of our personalities.  This is how God completes the good work he has begun in us.

Just as in the gospel the word of God comes to John, a straggly figure, so the word of GOd comes to us each day through those people around us, and the rough ways have an opportunity to be made straight.

THere is no reason to be resentful, bitter or caught up in hate.  There is only a reason to be grateful that God loves us enough to put those people in our life, good and not so good, kind and unkind, generous and stingy so that our roughness could be made smooth.

This is how we prepare for the coming of the Lord.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sublime v sublimation

I have been thinking a lot lately about sitcoms and movies portrayal of love and how quickly people seem to have sex in these portrayals.  Just the other night I caught a few minutes of a sitcom and after 1 date the couple was already in bed together.  Wow! so much for getting to know someone.
Fr Ron captures what i was thinking in this  article below.  I hope it is enjoyable to you.
Advent: Preparing for the Sublime
A couple of years ago, Robert Waller published a book that became a runaway bestseller and an immensely popular movie. Entitled, The Bridges of Madison County, it stirred the romantic imagination in a way that few other stories have in recent times, especially as it was played out in its film version by Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. The story runs this way:
A photographer for National Geographic magazine is sent out to photograph a series of old bridges in Madison county. Lost, he stops at a farmhouse to ask for directions. As chance would have it, the man of the house has just left for a cattle show. His wife is home alone and she and the photographer instantly sense a deep connection and fall violently in love. Karma, soulmates, mysticism, whatever, they experience a rare and powerful affinity. Within hours they are in bed with each other, triggering a love-affair that leaves them both sacramentally scarred for the rest of their lives.

What the viewer of the movie or reader of this book is asked to believe is that something truly sublime has taken place, a masterpiece of love has been painted, and a noble thing worth more than life itself has just occurred. But can this be so? Can anyone paint a masterpiece in a couple of hours? Can a doctoral thesis be completed in two hours? Can sex with someone you met just two hours before be sublime?

To answer those questions, I suggest you watch another film which, ironically, was playing in theatres at nearly the same time. It's a version of Jane Austin's, Sense and Sensibility, and tells the story of a young woman who has to carry a very painful tension (one that includes the same feelings found in Bridges of Madison County) for a long time. But unlike the characters in Bridges of Madison County, she doesn't move quickly to resolve it. Nobody is in bed with each other within a couple of hours. She carries the tension for a long time, years, and then finally when it is resolved there is true sublimity. Why? Because something can only be sublime if first there has been some sublimation (and for more than two hours!)

In essence, this expresses the meaning of Advent: For something to be sublime there must first be sublimation; fasting is the necessary prelude to feasting; greatness of soul is contingent on first nobly carrying tension; great joy is not experienced if one is not first properly prepared; and what's truly divine can only appear after a certain kind of gestation. Advent is about proper waiting.

It should therefore not to be confused with lent. The crimson-purple of advent is not the black-purple of lent. The former symbolizes yearning and longing, the latter repentance. The spirituality of advent is not about repentance, but about carrying tension without prematurely resolving it so that what's born in us and in our world does not short-circuit the fullness that comes from respecting love's rhythms.

What is the connection here? How does carrying tension help lead to the sublime? It does it by helping to produce the heat required for generativity. An image might be helpful here. John of the Cross, in his book, THE LIVING FLAME OF LOVE, compares our pre-advent selves to green logs that have been thrown into a fire, the fire of love. Green logs, as we know, do not immediately burst into flame. Rather, being young and full of moisture, they sizzle for a long time before they reach kindling temperature and can take into themselves the fire that is around them so as to participate in it. So too the rhythm of love: Only the really mature can truly burst into flame within community. The rest of us are still too self-contained, too green, too selfish, too damp. We don't burst into flame when love surrounds us. Rather our dampness helps extinguish the communal flame.

What helps change this is precisely the tension in our lives. In carrying properly our unfulfilled desires we sizzle and slowly let go of the dampness of selfishness. In carrying tension we come to kindling temperature and are made ready for love. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, as a scientist, noticed that sometimes when you put two chemicals into a test-tube they do not automatically unite. They only merge at a higher temperature. They must first be heated to bring about unity. There's an entire anthropology and psychology of love in that image. In order to love we must first be brought to a higher psychic temperature. What brings us there? Sizzling in tension, not resolving things prematurely, not sleeping with the bride before the wedding, not trying to have the complete symphony within two hours.

The sublime has to be waited for. Only when there is first enough heat will there be unity. To give birth to what's divine requires the slow patience of gestation. In short-hand, that's the algebra of Advent.
Fr. Ron Rolheiser

Friday, December 7, 2012

What comes first

THis season of Advent we handed out books for the parishioners to help guide them in their reflection and help lead them to enter more deeply in to the season of advent waiting and anticipation.

NOw, as I a priest i don't always read this little books of reflections.  I have many things to read and sometimes they seem to much a nuisance.

Sounds terrible doesn't it.  A priest referring to books of reflection as nuisance. Well, I was wrong.

Today i actually had a few moments to sit in quiet and I opened the little magnificat book we gave out and read the reflection of tomorrow, the feast of the Immaculate conception.

I found it really insightful.

The question the writer posed was why doesn't God give every one the prevenient grace he gives to Mary.  Why not save us all from the effects of original sin?  Would not this have been better for us, better for the created world, and most of all better for God himself?

The reality is that God does give us all prevenient grace.  We just don't always respond in the affirmative.

Mary responded with an complete yes to God's offer.  We, however, i mean the rest of us, often drag out feet and often miss out on the beauty of surrender, the beauty of letting God have his way with us.

Does God give us prevenient grace, you betcha.

When someone warns us to put on our seat belt or to not text and drive, could this not be God's grace seeking  to preserve us from harm!

When our doctor tells us to start eating better and exercise or we might be headed in a direction our bodies cannot recover from, is this not PRevenient grace.

When the church warns us against chemical contraceptives and the damage it does to marriages and the health of families, is this not prevenient grace.

God gives us prevenient grace all the time.  We just don't like the way it sounds or form it takes.

Not unlike Mary in the gospel for the feast we ask that age old question, "how can this be?"

The problem is unlike Mary we don't wait for the answer to be given we just fly by the seat of our pants hoping it never catches up to us.  Some where deep in side we think we can get away with it unscathed.

Mary's patient response to the Lord shows us how to respond and thus anxiety his removed.  MAry shows us that God always goes first.  Yet how often do we put ourselves first in line and miss out on the prevenient grace God wished to bestow to us the whole time.

without spot or stain

Genesis 3:9-15,20; Ps 98 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has donemarvelous deeds; Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12; Luke 1:26-38

In the words of St. Anselm, "without God's son, nothing could exist; without Mary's son, nothing could be redeemed."

Today's feast is primarily about our redemption, God reaching down to offer us a hand so as to lift us from the mire and muck of sinfulness.  He has chosen to reach us through one of us.  He reaches through the Blessed Virgin Mary to incorporate our humanity in the range of salvation.

God chooses to redeem us but not without us. 

From the moment of her conception, by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Mary is preserved from all stain of original sin.  The grace of Christ won on the cross is applied to her in advance.

And why not.  God is outside of time. 

Think about salvtion for a moment.  There are two ways one can be saved from falling into a hole.  First and most oridanirly, once having fallen in a hole a rope is thrown down and the victim is pulled out of the hole and thus considered to be rescued or saved from falling inthe hole.  Though the effects of the fall are visible and very tangible on the one who has fallen but nonetheless is saved.

The second way of saving someone from falling in a hole is to actualy direct then around hole, thus preventing them from falling in the first place.  Salvation and rescue is still a reality though the person has been prevented from experiencing the effects of the fall.

In both cases, salvation is a gift of another.

Why is Mary the "lucky" one. 
We must remember God wants to save all of us, but that saving grace effects each of us personally.  The grace given sets us on a path, a new path in life.  This gift of grace forms an exchange or dialogue between God and humanity in which case each particular life setting becomes a place of encounter,a personal encounter that is also in itself a calling.  The grace empowers and enables the individual to recognize God's call and to pursue that call as one's mission in life.

Mary's call and misison is unique and different than the rest of us.  Her role as the mother of God required a different initiation in to the life of grace and thus she is "full of grace" from the very beginning.  For it is through her that Jesus is able to reestablish in himself the original purity of Creation and thus reorient  it (creation) to eternal glory.

Jesus takes Mary's humanity and makes it his own, free from the stain of original sin, thus reversing the disaster brought forth by the misuse of liberty granted to Adam and Eve.

Since Mary's womb becomes the noble resting place of the Trnity, her mission required a unique offer of grace.   The grace given at her conception becomes a defining moment at the annunciation.  It is what she is created for and with free unhindered use of her liberty she is able to responed with a complete openness to God's call.

Her unhinderd yes is what this grace bestowed upon her is all about.  Just like Adam and Eve were free of sin and thus brought forth self destruction with their abuse of freedom so Mary's "yes" paints for us what it means to truly give of one self completely, being at the disposal of God's will and call.

What we celebrate in Mary we must also acknowledge in us.  Just like Mary's life setting becomes a place of enocunter with the living God, so does our life setting and circumstance become a place of that encounter.

God also wants to enable and empowers us, each of us to hear his call and fulfill his mission for our life.

God continues to apply that grace over and over in our lived situation. The favor Mary finds with God is also the very favor he bestows upon us through her and her son.  We are all highly favored. 

Mary's conception also inagurates a new way of being human and makes its presence felt; a new age has dawned; sin gives way to grace.

In Mary we see God's smile upon humanity and all of creation; he has not given up on us.  When the world turns against him, God turns towards us. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Isaiah 25:6-10; Ps 23 I shall live in the  house of the Lord all my days; Mt 15:29-37

A bit of review form yesterday,  The advent readings are always so delicious.  Each year the church invites us to open the trunk of memories and experience again the voice of the prophet Isaiah.

I invite you to read the passage of ISaiah and just let it sink in:  On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feats of rich food and pure, choice wines...

there is always beautifully rich imagery that can not only captivate the imagination but also redeem it as we pray.

Secondly, Look to the psalm, a personal favorite of man, 23, The Lord is my shepherd.
This was the first scripture passage i put to memory when in 7th grade.  Our CCD teacher asked us to memorize a passage.  I was an overachiever as a kid, always wanting to do better, do more, leave an impression.

So I put the memory the entire psalm and recited for the class. I was definitely the teachers pet.

The psalm has stuck with me all of my life.

As I read it, specially the older I get I am struck by the first lines of the psalm, in particular the second part of the first line, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."

I realize i can pray those words but I am far from that reality.  The lord is my shepherd, but I do want many things.

I want a lot of things through out the day.  We make list of things we want.  We want and want and want.  SOmetimes, we are overwhelmed by the wants in our life.

And Just as we want and have that hunger for many realities it is good, especially in the season of Advent, to remember that Advent is not just about us wanting or longing for God and anticipating his arrival; rather it is just as much abut God wanting and longing for us.

God wants us; he longs for us; he goes out of his way to let his want of us to satisfy our want of so much.

Is this not the sentiment of reality we encounter in the gospel.  Jesus is surrounded by a crowd of all kinds: lame, deformed, blind, cripples. mute and many others.

All of them are wanting something.

Yet, when the evening draws close it is JEsus' response that is so telling, "I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way."

There it is, the heart and soul of Advent.  Christ hungers to satisfy our hunger.  He is worried for us; he is concerned for us; he anticipates our hearts and our sorrows and our needs.

He wants to provide for us.

How often have we in our life or seen others in theirs take their hunger and desires and allow it to lead them down paths of self destruction.  This is exactly what JEsus doesn't want, "for fear they may collapse on the way."

JEsus is concerned. Advent is about letting our wants and desires to be purified by his want of us.

Yet, It isn't jesus by himself that comes to satisfy; Jesus doesn't fly solo.
He gives to the disciples and they give to those around them.  Jesus involves the disciples in the process, just as he wants to involve us in the process as well.

Not only are we deepening our awareness of God's presence in our life this Advent, we are also bringing that presence with us to those around us.

This is what makes advent truly special and deeply transformative.