Sunday, December 31, 2017

God's Peace Enabling Us to Walk as Jesus Walked

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, persons highly favored by God and playing a significant role in our salvation.  The first reading, Sirocco 3: 26, 12-14, speaks to us of the importance of how one relates to one's parents and how parents relate to their children! Paul asks us, in the second reading, Colossians 3: 12-21, to "[p]ut on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another; if one has a grievance against  another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so much you also do. And over all these put on love, that is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful."

There is no better counsel for the New Year! We do not need to look for any other New Year's Resolutions. If we read this passage from Colossians every evening and examine our behaviors that day in light of this passage, we are well on our way to experiencing the peace that only God can give!  In that peace is the strength we need to begin anew the next day as "God's chosen ones, holy and beloved," putting on "heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another."  It is in peace that we are given the wisdom to forgive others as God has forgiven us. It is the peace of Christ that opens our hearts to God's love within us, "the bond of perfection."

Let us pray for this peace that God wants to give us each day and each night.

Friday, December 29, 2017

God's Beloved Children

In today's first reading, 1 John 2: 3-11, St. John addresses us as the "Beloved".

What a powerful message. John names us for who we really are:  God's "Beloved",   that is "dearly loved," or "a much loved person,"  "one who is loved affectionally and unconditionally". By whom? God, our creator.  Proof? God sent His only begotten Son to earth to become one of us to teach us how to love and how much the Father loves us. He sent His only begotten Son who held nothing back to show us the depth, the breadth, the length and the height of God's love for each one of us--being obedient to the Father to the point of enduring a torturous death at the hands of evil men for our salvation!

In today's Gospel, Luke 2: 22-35, the prophet Simeon gives testimony to who Jesus is and why He was sent to us by saying:  " own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel."   Prophetess Anna, also there at the moment that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the Temple to meet the requirements of the Law, "began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38), and, not only the deliverance of Jerusalem, but also the deliverance of all humankind from Satan's determination to keep us out of heaven by luring us into sin and disobedience, into lying, cheating, and other sins that harden our hearts and block us from seeking forgiveness of our sinful behaviors and attitudes..

How does John the Baptist prepare the way of the Lord? By "proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Luke 3: 4).

May you and I, in humility, admit our sinfulness before the Lord, repent and be saved.  May we recognize our need for our Savior Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

God Watches Over Us

Today we celebrate the Feast of Holy Innocents, who were murdered by Herod.  Furious that the magi did not cooperate with his plan to "worship" the child Jesus, he ordered that all little children two years and under be slaughtered, in hopes that among them would be Jesus. God had other plans and spoke to Joseph in a dream after the magi left:  "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him" (Matthew 2: 13-18).

Joseph did not question God. He simply obeyed, got up in the middle of the night and left Bethlehem for Egypt!  As with Joseph, God also is intimately involved in our lives, directing us to do certain things to protect us from evil, though we may not be away of danger that is about to come upon us.  God watches out for us, as He watched out for His only begotten Son.  As children of God, the Lord cares about the dangers we may be entering and redirects us through the Spirit of God speaking within us. Those hunches we follow have a divine origin.  Are we listening, as Joseph did?  Do we live our lives as children of God? Do we realize that God watches out for us, day in and day out?  He cares!  He bothers. He takes us by the right hand and walks beside us through the valley of darkness. He is, in fact, our light in the darkness, as He was for Mary and Joseph!

Let us pray for this awareness!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

St.John, the Beloved Disciple

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John, the Evangelist, the beloved disciple who rested his head on the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper, who was present when Jesus was transfigured and spoke with Elijah and Moses just before His Passion, Death and Resurrection. John was one of the apostles  who accompanied Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane and the only one to stand beneath the cross with Mary, Jesus' mother. John listened to Jesus' words throughout Jesus' three-year ministry and was the first of the apostles to believe in Jesus' resurrection. "[H]e saw and believed," John tells us in today's Gospel, John 290: 1, 2-8, when Peter and John entered the empty tomb and saw "the cloth that had covered [Jesus] head...."

We can fall in love with Jesus just as John fell in love with Jesus.  How?  By listening to His Living Word in the Scriptures, Words that have power to transform our hearts, enlighten our minds and reconcile us to God.  We can also fall in love with Jesus  by staying close to Mary, Jesus' mother, by being with others in their "Gethsemanes" and "Calvaries", as John was with Jesus. And, yes, we can fall in love with Jesus by receiving the Eucharist as John did at the Last Supper and whenever he broke the bread  with others "in memory"of Jesus, being given the power to do what Jesus did at the Last Supper--change bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus--a divine power given to every ordained priest through the bishop.

What am I, what are you, doing to fall in love with Jesus?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

St. Stephen's Witness

It is the day after Christmas and the Church celebrates the martyrdom of St. Stephen described in the first reading, Acts 6: 8-10; 7: 54-59.  In the Gospel itself, Matthew 10: 17-22, Jesus asks us to "[b]eware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans....Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved."  Eight days after his birth, Jesus is brought to the temple and Simeon says to Mary:  "You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected--and a sword will pierce your own soul too--so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare" (Luke 1: 14-15).

Jesus also tells us in the Gospels not to be afraid when  you encounter troubles in the world, as He, too, encountered troubles and conquered them. In the darkest day of our salvation history, when Jesus hung on the cross dying, He, like Stephen, said to God: "Into your hands I commend my spirit." Three days later Jesus conquered suffering and death and rose again. Forty days later, Jesus ascended into heaven. Stephen, as he faced his murderers, was "filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of God standing at the right hand of God.'"

May we like Jesus and like Stephen commend our spirits to the Lord when we, in turn, are at death's door waiting to pass through death, by whatever means, and enter eternal life. Like Stephen, when we are dying, may we look to heaven and see Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father waiting for our return to our eternal home.  In preparation for that moment, may we, throughout life's difficulties turn to the Lord for help.  May we always take refuge in the Lord and focus on the Lord when we are facing challenges instead of locking ourselves into our anger, feeding it and thus succumbing to temptations we would otherwise be able to resist because God is always at our side, as He was for St. Stephen.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Blessed, Faith-filled Glorious Christmas

In today's first reading, Isaiah 52: 7-10, the prophet Isaiah burst forth with "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation and saying to Zion, 'Your God is King!'"  As we take time to ponder the crib, looking at the baby Jesus, may we realize that that tiny baby born in a filthy stable is "Your God and King," Christ the Lord, Creator of the Universe, your Creator and the Creator and of every human being who lives in this universe.  That tiny baby is God the Son, who becomes one like us in all things but sin.  That tiny baby is the only begotten Son of God, who leaves the glory of heaven and does not cling to equality with God but humbly becomes a human being.  That tiny baby is God, His glory and His Power hidden from us!

My mind is baffled by the truth that God also hides Himself from us and for us in the consecrated Host.  Yes, my faith tells me that God is hidden in this Sacred Bread--we do not see God in His glory or power, yet, in the Eucharist, I believe, God does come to us in all of His power and glory to transform us into Himself, purifying our hearts,  renewing our minds, reconciling us to the Father--making us one with the Trinity  and with one another--and, yes, strengthening our wills to follow His Way more faithfully.

I invite each of us, with Mary and Joseph, with all of the angels of God, with those who have preceded us into heaven, to meditate/ponder:

The humility of God in the infant Jesus.

The humility of God in the Sacred, consecrated Host and whom, I believe, we receive every time we receive Holy Communion during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!  What a privilege and what a grace!

The humility of God dwelling in each human being who is full of grace and continually cooperates with God's graces to do what is right and just, merciful and loving, compassionate and understanding!

Truly God is with until the end of time! With all of the angels in heaven and on earth we sing: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will! Are you and I persons of good will?  If not, what needs to change?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Human Will Embracing God's Will

In today's Gospel, Luke 1: 57-66, we witness Elizabeth and John rejoicing in the birth of their son.  When the eighth day to circumcise him was upon them, those conducting the ritual wanted to name him Zachariah after his father. Elizabeth says: "No. He will be called John." The presiders objected: "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." Not being able to communicate with Zachariah because of his muteness, the presiders made signs to him.  Zachariah asks for a tablet and writes: "John is his name." Immediately, Zachariah's ability to communicate is restored!

Wow! Talk about God revealing His will and His power, both in the birth of John the Baptist and in restoring Zachariah's ability to speak!  God also wills for His plan to be fulfilled in us and that we, too, become His mouthpiece, conforming our wills to His!  Whatever within ourselves that we have distanced from God, God brings near to Himself. Whatever is  barren, God makes fruitful. And whatever part of our hearts has become hardened, God softens so that the will of God in our lives can be realized, as it was within Elizabeth and Zachariah.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Called by the Lord and Dedicated to God for Life

In today's first reading, 1 Sam 1: 24-28, Hannah brings Samuel to the Temple, saying to Eli: "'Pardon, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request.Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.' She left Samuel there."

I immediately thought of my parents. They, too, in faith, blessed me when I told them, at age 14,  that I wanted to be a Sister. In their blessing of me, they endorsed my being "dedicated to the Lord".  I entered the convent high school run by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother and following high school graduation entered the postulancy of this community. My parents drove me to their high school (some 160 miles from home) and left me there! In 2019 I will celebrate my 60th jubilee of being "dedicated to the Lord"!  Praise the Lord!  With Mary, in today's Gospel, Luke 1: 46-56,  "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has looked upon his lowly servant!"

In what ways have your parents blessed your calling in life, endorsed your dedication to the Lord, be that in marriage, religious life, priesthood, or the single life? Are you willing to bless your children/grandchildren and dedicate them to the Lord in the particular vocation to which they are called  to serve the Lord: be that the priesthood, religious life, marriage or the single life? Or do you put obstacles in their way, making them choose what you want for them, not what they want for themselves or that vocation to which God is calling them?

Remember God is the One who called you and and the One who calls your children or grandchildren, just as He called Hannah, Mary, Elizabeth and every other person throughout salvation history.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

God's Plan Stands Forever

In today's first reading, Zephaniah 3: 14-18,  we are asked to "[s]hout for joy,...shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your hearts,...! Yahweh  has repealed your sentence; he has driven your enemies away. Yahweh,  [your King,] is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear. ...[H]ave no fear, do not let your hands fall limp. Yahweh your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival."

What is proclaimed by Zephaniah we await in hope!  The day of our salvation is NOW, also, however!  Day by day we live into the reality that our sentence as been repealed; our enemies driven away by Yahweh, our God, a victorious warrior.  In the responsorial psalm of today's liturgy, Psalm 33, we are reminded that "the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of [God's] heart, through all generations....Our soul, says the psalmist, waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield, for in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust."

What we see happening in the world of today and, in particular, in our government that seems to be rejoicing in the  passage of a bill that is predicted by many to deprive millions of health insurance and that eventually, it is also claimed, will tax the middle class and the poor to line the pockets of the rich and create more billionaires, will most likely bring much suffering to many peoples. God's plan, by repealing our sentence, frees us from being enslaved to sin. The government's plan is likely to enslaves us to the effects of the sin of greed for generations to come.

We "wait for the Lord, who is our help and our shield, for in him our hearts rejoice; in his holy name we trust," as we know that "the plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of [God's] heart, through all generations."  

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"Nothing is Impossible" with God

"Nothing will be impossible with God," the angel tells Mary in today's Gospel, Luke 1: 26-38.  Messengers from heaven, to this very day, say to each one of us: "Nothing will be impossible with God."  The Spirit, God's communicator that dwells within our very being, repeatedly directs us to do something, to say something, to believe in God's plan for us or for another person. What is being asked we are able to accomplish because "nothing is impossible for God".  Like Mary, we need to be reminded from time to time and, many times, are the ones God calls upon to remind others: "You have found favor with God," or need to be told that we "are full of grace" since our baptism, our confirmation and at every Holy Communion when God, hidden in the consecrated host, comes to nourish us, purify us and strengthen us on our journey to our eternal home.  Why? Because "nothing is impossible with God"!  God spoke and the world was made. God spoke at the Last Supper--"Take and eat; this is my body. Take and drink; this is my blood poured out for you"-- and  the bread and the wine became the body and blood of the "Lamb of God" sacrificed for our sins as lambs, in the Old Covenant, were sacrificed as recompense for the sins of the Chosen People then. When the priest, at a Catholic Mass, says "Take and eat; this is my Body" and "Take and drink; this is my blood," the bread and the wine become the Lord Jesus--body, blood, soul and divinity--because "Nothing is impossible with God"!

The "Nothing is Impossible with God"  began with the creation of the world and continues in its re-creation every day in us and in all of creation! Immanuel--God with us--is forever!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

God's Plan of Salvation and Our Part in It

In today's readings, Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25a and Luke 1: 5-25, we meet two barren women,  a person who doubts God's plan to transform that barrenness into fertility, and two little boys taking shape in their mother's wombs who are destined  to be very important persons in our salvation history.  We also encounter two angels, both of whom open their conversation with : "Do not be afraid".  Zachary, who doubts God's power to transform Elizabeth's barrenness into fertility consequently loses his ability to speak for nine months.

You and I may identify with the barren women in this story or with Zachary who scoffs at the angel's announcement that his elderly wife will bear a child.  Are we experiencing a barrenness in our faith life, in our relationship with our loved ones, in our work environment, in the giving of our best selves in all that we do?   For sure, we are,like John the Baptist and Samson in that, we, too,  have an important part to play in salvation history now in the 21st century.  Do we know what that part is?  Perhaps we identify with Zachary in his doubting of God's plan of salvation, in His promises of great things to happen for a family member or for ourselves.

Lord, give us the knowledge of who we are in this Scripture passage and the courage to address the issues that we need to address for the plan of God to bear fruit in our life and the lives of those we love and in the lives of those to whom You send us to proclaim the good News in word by the way we live the Gospel message.

Monday, December 18, 2017

God Comes to Save Us

In today's first reading, Jeremiah 23: 5-8, God, through the prophet Jeremiah,  excitedly reminds us of the coming of the Messiah: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his day Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: 'The Lord our justice'."

Not only shall Judah be saved and Israel dwell in security, when God reigns, but so, too, shall any other country or nation. When God reigns in our hearts, in the heart of any nation or any government,  then, and only then, shall a person or a governor or leader lead wisely. Not otherwise.

How often I becry the fact that there is so much injustice in the world and so many unwise governors and leaders of the nations, so many unwise persons in the  Congress of the U.S..  However, those very facts remind me that only God is just. Only God is righteous. Only God governs wisely. We all fall short, including myself.  We are not God!  We need God's intervention. We need God's salvation!  Without grace, all of us will succumb to Satan, the  Father of Lies.  We are vulnerable, no matter what our position in life, no matter how many degrees we might have and no matter how wealthy or powerful we think we are.   Only by our cooperation with grace, our recognizing our need for a Messiah and the gift of salvation which God offers, will we resist Satan's lies. Relying on ourselves without calling upon the Lord, we are likely to continue to allow Satan, an intelligent fallen angel, to have  a heyday in his dealings with  us.  God alone can save us from the intelligent, cunning, deceitful ways of Satan, who roams this earth looking for someone to devour!

We thank you, Lord, for sending us Jesus, our Savior!  You alone are more powerful than Satan. And it is you who are our side, fighting Satan on our behalf!  Satan will not stand!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Rejoice: The Lord is Near

We open today's liturgy with the antiphon: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near"(Phil 4: 4,5).

Each of us today awakened because the Lord called us to continue our existence here on earth. As we journey through this day, God will give us new opportunities to grow in grace and wisdom (growing in age is automatic); growing in grace and wisdom depends on our openness to God.  God, who entered the earth, coming down from heaven and being born as a helpless Infant, tender, loving, in need of care--the God who created the Universe and all that is in it, human, plant and animal--continues the act of Incarnation every day.  The Incarnate God exists within us, sustaining us in existence. The Incarnate God exists in all that has life. God's creative energies continue their creative gift of life in myriad of ways, including our own life as unique persons. God works with us and through us to become the persons God designed us to be. God patiently awaits our acceptance of our need to be saved; yes, our realization that we need redemption--God's mercy and love making us whole, making us increasingly more  pure and more authentic, more altruistic, more generous with time and talent in helping others; making us lavishly more loving, making us deeply more honest, even in the smallest of ways that we do not live up to our potential as human beings!

[R]ejoice  heartily in the Lord, in [your] God is the joy of [your] soul" (Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11).

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Restoration of All Things

In today's Gospel, Matthew 17: 9a, 10-13, the disciples ask Jesus why the scribes keep saying that "Elijah must come first".  Jesus tells them that "Elijah has already come"  "to restore all things"  but the people "did not recognize him". They simply continued doing "whatever they pleased."  He then adds that the Son of Man "will...also suffer at their hands."

"Elijahs" also come to us each day to restore those parts of us that need to be reconciled to God. Do we listen or do we continue doing whatever we please?  Sadly, the example we see before us as we watch the news each evening tells us that people, for the most part, continue doing "whatever they please": passing legislature that brings suffering to the poor and needy, stealing money from the poor to line the pockets of the rich in what is called "tax reform", leaving millions without health insurance, separating children from their parents in enforcing the government's new immigration demands,  calling the news "fake news" and lying to us in a myriad of other ways.  People of integrity rise up to confront the corruption, the deceitfulness, the greediness and other criminal acts such as sexual assault on women and these people are not recognized or silenced in some way!

With the psalmist, in today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 80, we cry out: "Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved."

Though we do not have the power to change other people, we can change ourselves and become open to persons in our lives who challenge us to look at those parts of us that need to be restored by grace!

Friday, December 15, 2017

"Planted Near Running Water"

In today's responsorial psalm, we pray: "Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life. Blessed [are those] who....[delight] in the law of the Lord and [meditate] on his law day and night. [They are] like [trees] planted near running water that [yield their] fruit in due season and whose leaves never fade. Whatever [they] do prospers"  (Psalm 1).

Sounds peaceful, serene, without problems or setbacks or suffering.  Not so, however. Even trees planted near running water battle strong winds, severe storms, and unexpected difficulties throughout any season of the year.  What sustains them? being near running waters--their roots are constantly watered and nourished.   You and I are, not only planted near running waters, but "live and move and have our being in God" (Acts 17: 28), as fish live in water.  Moreover, as we stay close to the Lord and take advantage of the Eucharist on a regular, if not daily basis; as we spend time reading the Scriptures, reaching out in serving others' needs, loving and being loved by others, we are like "a tree planted near running water that yield its fruit in due seasons and whose leaves never fade."

May you and I take seriously our call to be nourished in these ways, reach other to others in ways that nourish them and allow ourselves to be nourished by others, as well!  We will then be among those "who delight in the law of the Lord." And, truly, our lives will bear "fruit in due season."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

God is God; There Is No Other

In today's first reading, Isaiah 41: 13-20, we are reminded that God is our God, a God "who grasp[s us by our] right hand" and that God says to us: "Fear not, I will help you."  There are, no doubt, times in our lives when God's help seems wanting. In faith we know that it is not!  We cry out in pain, in frustration, in helplessness and powerlessness and God seems silent. How often than not, God chooses silence in which to work in the core of our being.  It is in the silence of nature in the spring time of the year that all of creation comes to life and new growth appears. It is in the silence of the womb that every human being takes shape.  We do not see the growth that is taking place beneath the surface of the earth or in the darkness of the womb, but it is so. So, too, when we call upon the Lord and nothing seems to be happening.

Help us, Lord, when you seem silent or distant to cling to you in faith and hope, not letting a sense of helplessness  or powerlessness to drag us into a depression.  Remind us, through Isaiah that when we "seek water in vain," and when our "tongues are parched with thirst," that you will, in truth, answer us. Deepen our belief in what you, O God, say to use through Isaiah:  "I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I open  up rivers on the bare heights and fountains in the broad valleys; I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water....That all may  see and know, observe and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel..."

I believe in Your Providence, Your Presence and Your Power, Lord, even when I do not feel such! And you?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

God Gives Strength to the Weary

In today's first reading, Isaiah 40: 25-31, the prophet reminds us that "[t]he Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.  He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound...They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint."

Think of the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. To "the fainting" God gave strength. To the  weak, God made "vigor abound."   Those who hoped in the Lord, renewed their strength. In some cases, they soared "as with eagles' wings; they [ran and did] to grow weary," walked and did not grow faint.  Think of Mary on her way to visit Elizabeth, of Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem. Think of Jesus on His way to Calvary--how did He ever make it to the top of that hill where He was crucified. God provided the strength and the hope and the help He needed along the way. The same with you and me!  As long as we hope in the Lord, our strength is renewed!  I recall my mother saying often: "I don't know how we would make it without our faith!"  For me to this day, my strength is always renewed in prayer, in the times when I set time aside to soak in the light of God's Presence in contemplative silence. What about you?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mary's Visitation to Elizabeth: What a Visit!

Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  One of the Gospels that could be used for today's liturgy was Luke 1: 39-45, the story of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth. As soon as Mary entered her cousin Elizabeth's home, the child in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy and Elizabeth herself "was filled with the Holy Spirit." Elizabeth cries out in joy: "Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is there fruit of your womb. Why should I be so honored wit a visit from the mother of my Lord?"

No words passed between Mary and Elizabeth. John the Baptist, growing in Elizabeth's womb, recognized Jesus in Mary's womb. Elizabeth, too, recognized a Presence in Mary and just by Mary's presence was "filled with the Holy Spirit".  You and I also carry the Lord in our hearts. God--the Father, the Incarnate Son, and the Holy Spirit--dwells within us by virtue of our baptisms. In the Eucharist, consecrated at each Catholic Mass, God, hidden in the consecrated host as God was hidden in the Infant Jesus, God made man, we, too, are visited by God, as were John the Baptist and Elizabeth through Mary's visit.  We are filled with the Holy Spirit through all of the sacraments!

When you interact with another human being, are they blessed as Elizabeth was blessed by Mary? And when you encounter another person, do you encounter God Incarnate? Are you "filled with the Holy Spirit" in those to whom you relate and vice versa?

May you and I, as vessels of grace, be present to others in such a way that they are blessed by us, as Elizabeth was blessed by Mary's visit!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Preparing for Our Savior's Coming

As we are enter the second week of Advent, we continue readings from the book of Isaiah.  Today, Monday, the 11th f Dec., Isaiah again brings us a message of hope:  The desert and the parched land will exalt; the steppe will rejoice and bloom....The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carol and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God."  The prophet  asks us to "strengthen the hands that are feeble make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he does with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you."

May our hearts rejoice at the coming of our God, a God as tender and loving as an infant, a God who has the power to melt those parts of us frozen by hatred, greed, or deceitfulness; a God who has the power to turn sin into holiness, a God who is able to transform that within us that which is  enslaved to God substitutes: power, pleasure, and control.  God "comes to save" us from all that causes division and from all that prevents us from loving freely and generously, from all that creates indifference among us.

Let us prepare for the coming of our Savior by taking time to call upon the Lord on a daily basis, reflecting on the Word of God in the Scriptures or in a favorites book that lifts our souls to the Lord in prayerful reflection on the meaning of Advent.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Spending time on God's Holy Mountain

In today's first reading, Isaiah 2: 1-5, the prophet reminds us that "[i]n days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: 'Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.'" On the mountain of the Lord, "[t]hey shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again."

As we prepare for the coming of the Lord, may we take time to ponder His Word, listening to the Lord in silent contemplation, knowing that the time we spend with the Lord is not wasted time.  In the silence, God is transforming our thoughts into God's thoughts, instructing  us in his ways so that "we may walk in his paths."  It is when we sit at the feet of Jesus in solitude that our "swords"--that is, our harsh words, our anger, our prejudice, our jealousy, our greediness, our pride and any other negative behaviors--are "beat...into plowshares," whereby they are used to produce fruit that will last: love, forgiveness, mercy, kindness, generosity and openness to be led by the Spirit.  It is in the prayer of solitude on God's mountain that we are trained in the ways of the Lord and abandon being at "war" with ourselves and others!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Advent: Preparing for Jesus' Coming

Advent:   A time to be alerted to the coming of Jesus, God with us,

Devoting time to seeing the Lord above all else,

Vying for greater intimacy with God, your Savior,

Ever mindful of one's need for redemption.

Now is the time to become reconciled

To the Lord, your God, and to one another in Christ Jesus and to make peace your goal!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Keeping Priorities Straight

In today's Gospel, Luke 21: 34-36, Jesus says to us:  Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day (the final coming of the Lord Jesus) 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 stand before the Son of Man."

Lord, help me keep my priorities straight. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily events of the day, to run frantically from one thing to another (and accomplish nothing of significance).  Help me focus on You versus being riveted to repetitive thoughts that deprive me of the peace which You,  Lord, want to give me.  Show me the way to Your peace! Redirect me when I lose that peace so that I have the strength to carry out your will in the small and not-so-small tasks or issues that you want me to address or accomplish today!  I ask this in Jesus' name!  Thank you, Jesus!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Triumph over Evil

In today's first reading, Daniel 7:2-14,  Daniel shares a vision he has throughout the night:  ...the four winds stirred up the great sea, from which emerged four immense beasts, each different from the others": A lion with eagle's wings, a bear with three tusks in its mouth, a leopard with four wings and four heads, and a fourth beast with ten horns looking more terrible than all the others.  All of these beasts lost their dominion, their power and their strength, as the "Ancient One took his throne," and as "[t]he court was convened" and "One like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven...reached the Ancient One."  This son of man was given "dominion, glory and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed."

All of creation is subject to the Lord. All humankind belongs to God: all nations, all peoples, all nationalities, all races belong to God. Evil, in any form--arrogance, pride, prejudice, jealousy, deceitfulness, lust, slothfulness, violence, and other forms of rebellion against God and others--will be destroyed.  "Dominion, glory and kingship" belong only to Jesus, not to us!