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The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

Scripture Readings

On this fifth day in the octave of Christmas, we reflect upon the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Simeon was regarded as a holy man among the people of Israel and was blessed with the promise of seeing the Messiah. Joseph and Mary prove themselves to be good Jews also by bringing Jesus up to Jerusalem for His presentation.

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

Scripture Readings 

The Feast of the Nativity symbolizes the innocence of the incarnation as we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel.   The powerful God of creation sent his only son to be a vulnerable child to dwell among us.  Never mind what the infant mortality rate was two thousand years ago.  Never mind that they did not have cars, heating or air conditioning.  Never mind that there was no electricity, prenatal care, or birthing centers with sterile and somewhat comfortable birthing conditions.  Jesus’ birth was at a disadvantage for all these reasons and one more.  Today’s gospel reminds us that he was hated for who he was almost from the time of his birth.  Yet, into this world, Christ was sent to bear witness to a loving God who wants to be one with us.

Feast of Saint Stephen, first martyr

Scripture Readings

Here we are, the day after Christmas.  This is a time for joy, cheer, good company, and martyrdom.  Yup, the day after celebrating the nativity of adorable little baby Jesus we have the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr (makes sense why Good King Wenceslaus is a Christmas carol now).  This begs the question, “What’s the deal Church?  Why celebrate the feast of the first Christian martyr the day after Christmas?  Can’t we just get a couple days of cute baby action?”  Obviously the answer is no, but I want to spend our reflection this morning exploring why the Church might celebrate the feast of Stephen the day after Christmas.

The Nativity of the Lord – Christmas

Scripture Readings

It was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I was walking to the back of the church for the entrance procession for our school Mass. A kindergartner waived to me and said, “Hi, Jesus!” I waved back as I smiled. In my mind I said, “Girl, you are killing me!” Think about it, though. There was a time when a little child could wave and another human person and say, “Hi Jesus!” There was a time when Jesus walked as a human person and a blind man cried out, “Jesus, Son of David! Have pity on me!” There was a day, when the disciples looked at a human person and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”! There was also that fateful day, when a Roman Centurion looked up to a human person nailed to a cross, and exclaimed, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Mt 27:54). Christmas is the day on which humans look at a baby lying in a manger in a stable and said, “Hi, Jesus!” 

Monday in Fourth Week of Advent - Mass in the Morning

Scripture Readings

I watch my grandkids on a regular basis.  Almost every time my 2 year old granddaughter comes over, she looks at me and says, “Nana, I came here!”  In her simple language, she is telling me that she left her home and traveled to my house to be with me.  As I reflected on the readings and the imminent arrival of Christmas, I think that Jesus is reminding us of same- “I came here!”  Jesus has come down from heaven to be present in our lives!  Emmanuel- God with us!

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” These were Elizabeth’s words to Mary. Two days before Christmas, are there better words to reflect upon? Mary’s role in the history of salvation can never be overestimated. Even though Joseph is not part of today’s gospel reading, I would like to bring him into the picture. In my three points, I would like to reflect on both of them.

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

Today’s readings include the genealogy from Matthew.  A few years ago I would have likely skipped it entirely.  Maybe, just maybe, I would have skimmed it.  My assumption would have been something like this, “Here are some Old Testament greats to help set up why Jesus is so great.”  In those few years I’ve become more familiar with Scripture and have realized how wrong that assumption would be.

Friday of the Third Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

My daughter's been begging me to read a lot of stories about Jesus lately.  These aren't scriptural stories.  They're fictional stories, but each one of them is telling something true about who God is for us. There's one about a clown, for example, who juggles; everyone laughs at him, but Jesus does not.  In fact, in the story, Jesus delights in this juggler who juggles with all his might.  Or, there's a story about a little mouse who plays a little acorn drum for the baby Jesus.  In this story, the little mouse is looked down upon by his other animal friends, because he is so tiny, but it turns out that he and his joyful playing of a drum end up being the  most captivating for Jesus.  

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

God wants us to know he’s “for real.”  He’s serious.  He loves us and wants to be a transformative part of our lives.  As proof in today’s first reading, he says to Ahaz, ‘Ask for a sign!  Whatever you can think of, I’ll show you!’  But Ahaz doesn’t want to believe.  There are times when we don’t want to believe either.  When God calls us to do something challenging and promises to be with us through the difficulty, we sometimes would rather avoid the challenge altogether.  Perhaps we don’t want to ‘jump’ to find out if God will ‘catch us.’  Perhaps we believe God’s call in our life was once and done.  Perhaps we are just comfortable with how things are today; whether life is good or bad, at least we know how to deal with it.  For whatever reason, Ahaz simply didn’t want to hear God’s call. 

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

Imagine if your life was coming to an end, what might you want to say to those whom you love?  In the readings today remind us of the breadth of salvation history. Jacob, whom God has renamed Israel is dying.  He calls his sons together and tells them that Judah will be the number one son after he is gone. Indeed Jacob says, “You, Judah, your brothers shall praise”. This is a play on words as Judah means “you shall be praised”, however it alludes to the prominent role which the tribe of Judah will play. In Judah is found Jerusalem and from Judah arises King David, through whose lineage Jesus comes to us.

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

A little more than a decade ago, I applied for a faculty position at the University of Dayton. At the time, I knew that the competition for it would be very stiff. Faculty jobs were then (and remain today) a “buyer’s market”—that is, there were far fewer available teaching positions at universities than there were highly qualified people to fill them. Amazingly, I managed to get an interview. I felt good about the interview but, of course, I had no idea who my competition was or how fabulous they might have been in their interviews. Waiting to hear whether I got the job was tough. It got a lot tougher as the weeks went by. I don’t remember anymore how many weeks it was exactly. What I do remember was that there were enough of them that I knew the job had been offered to someone else. I didn’t get it. That was really tough, because I really, really wanted that job.

Monday of the Third Week in Advent

Scripture Readings

One of the best things about the holidays is remembering what Christmas was like at home as a child. We were a large family and there was always great fun, big messes of paper and presents, going to Mass and visiting grandparents and a lot of good meals. Most of my memories are good ones but I also remember some very painful holidays. There was a close relative that always seemed to be in a crisis of his own making and his behavior inevitably impacted everyone. Year after year I watched my parents feeling afraid, sad and frustrated over the behavior of this beloved relative. As a child, I did not understand these things and I remember wishing he would be gone and not come back and hurt my parents and grandparents anymore. Now I realize how much they loved him. Now I can see that, despite the pain they endured, they never stopped trying and hoping and helping because that is what families do when they love someone.

Third Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

This week, I spent quite a few hours in the confessional. I celebrated he Sacrament of Reconciliation for the students of St. Helen School on Tuesday. On Thursday, I was at the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the students at Immaculate Conception School. On the same evening, we also the Tri-Parish reconciliation service. In numerous instances, the sense of comfort and relief in the faces of the penitents is something that only I get to see. One penitent put it this way: “I just want to be this (makes a gesture connecting her heart and God above), to be OK.” Tears rolling down her cheeks, she longed to have God back in her life again. She left the confessional in total relief and peace. It’s also called joy!  

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

Have you ever had a wonderful evening with your spouse, children, or dear friends?  Maybe it was more than an evening.  It could have been a nearly perfect vacation or getaway.  Or if you are like me, maybe you’ve had the perfectly made coffee, dinner, or glass of chocolate milk.  In the midst of that experience a thought always zips through my mind, “Why can’t it always be like this?”  That question exists in our spiritual life as well.

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

The second candle in the Advent wreath stands for peace. Peace, in the ways we tend to use the word in our culture, refers to the fact that we agree with each other, or at least, we "agree to disagree" (aka "Let's just never ever bring up this subject again..."). We use it to refer to having harmonious relationships with family members, friends, and politically, with other nations or between political parties.

Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Scripture Readings

In holding someone’s hand, we know we are not alone.  I’ve been the one in need of a hand to hold and I’ve been the one able to offer a comforting hand.  Whether in sickness, fear, the labor pains of childbirth, accompanying someone dying, the grief that accompanies loss, the need to steady a young child, elderly or injured person,  praying with others, exchanging marriage vows, or simply sharing closeness on a walk, holding a hand connects us to another, comforts us and reminds us that we are not alone. 

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Scripture Readings

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates the miraculous appearance of Mary to a poor Indian near Mexico City some 470 years ago. On this Marian feast, I find myself reflecting on the Mother of God by thinking about my mom, my own motherhood, and the motherhood of all the many other women in my life (including the many ways to be mothers: biological, adoptive, foster, and spiritual).

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

I had the opportunity to travel to Ireland with my husband over the summer where we visited a sheep farm to observe sheep dogs in action. It was impressive to watch and hear the farmer use his voice and whistles to command the dogs to guide the sheep where he wanted them. One of the more difficult skills involved having the dogs separate one or two sheep from the rest of the herd. The sheep clearly did not want to be separated; there’s greater strength and safety huddled together as one flock. I got the impression that when there’s not imminent danger, however, it’s not uncommon for one to wander off, to go astray.

Monday of the Second Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

Advent is now in full swing as we wait and prepare for Christmas.  Although waiting typically involves patience, today’s readings indicate that maybe we are called to do more than just sit around and wait for Christ’s coming. The peace, healing, mercy and love of Christ that is described in scripture is a foretaste of what God desires for all mankind. Yes, the fullness of God’s kingdom is not here yet, but our actions and words can help hasten His arrival.