Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Homecoming

Did you go “home” for Christmas? Or did someone come “home” for Christmas? How does coming Home or “having them home” make us feel as parents, or as children?

Each year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” Lk 2:41-52

Think about how Mary must have felt when Jesus got lost in the temple at His presentation and then how she felt when she and Joseph found him listening and talking to the priests. Think about how Jesus must feel each time when we come home to Him.

There is so much said about taking “Christ” out of Christmas. But what about when we take the “mas” (Mass) out of Christmas. And what about those that only find the need to seek out Christ once or twice a year at Christmas and Easter? How much of that “homecoming” are they missing, and how much “hope” does Jesus find each time we “come” to see or find Him as Mary did?

The traditions within the Mass are much the same as the traditions within a home. In both, we ask for forgiveness, listen to the advice and wisdom of our parents/Father, break and share bread and give Thanksgiving for our blessings. No matter when we go to Mass (or home), no matter what our state of “grace” is or how we look or feel when we get there (Home or Mass), when I leave I feel like I have been “held,” given “hope,” “loved,” “nourished,” and “blessed.” “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” 2 Thes 2:15

It is my hope that you have all experienced these same feelings and were able to spend time with both God and family this Christmas. And if you have not yet had the chance to experience those feelings at your “family Home” for some reason, that you will continue to join us at worship, because Jesus is always present with loving arms to give us a Christmas Homecoming whenever we join with Him and are in his presence with our Christian family.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

It is not by chance that we celebrate Christmas and then Easter every year. The constant turning of the calendar and reminders of Jesus in each season also serves to remind us that Christ was sent by God’s grace to offer us forgiveness so that we might have the Peace and Joy of eternal life.

“Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Mt 1:18-25

So in the JOY of the season, please ask for FORGIVENESS from those you love. LOVE unconditionally, the way you want to be loved. Do not be afraid, but ask Jesus to offer you HOPE. REJOICE in the “Presence” of Christ in your life. And let Christ’s PEACE fill your life.

Wishing you a heartfelt Christmas message of HOPE, FORGIVENESS, LOVE, JOY and PEACE!

Monday, December 21, 2009

With God Anything is Possible!

Merry Christmas:

A Season for Miracles—One of my favorite things to do while getting ready for Christmas is to watch the Hallmark channel. Yesterday I saw one of my favorite scenes during the movie “A Season for Miracles.” The woman had just broken the trust of most of the townspeople where she had moved, including the man who had fallen in love with her. The scene is where the man is commiserating with a bartender, who was really an angel. The bartender/angel asked him, “What do you think about her actions?” His reply, “She made a mistake.” The bartender/angels reply, “Forgive her!” His: “I wish it were that easy.”

Then the angel reminded him, “What, you’ve never made a mistake? All of us make our own mistakes, in our own ways. But the solution is always the same—‘I forgive you!’ There’s a lot of power in those three simple words. They can change the world.”
Then he said, “I wish it were possible.” And the angel replied, “With God, anything is possible.”

“Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Lk 1:39-45

The birth of Jesus was a miracle, as was Elizabeth’s pregnancy in her “old age.” Do we believe that whatever the Lord says will be fulfilled? That all things are possible with God?

This is the same message Deacon Joe brought to us from Pope Benedicts messages this week: “With God All things are Possible.“

He also talked about the limits we put on our relationship with God and ultimately on our relationships with our spouses, family and friends. We put “limits” on our forgiveness, on our love, and on God’s power in our lives. We say we “believe” or that we “love” and yet we limit that love, by being selfish, by expecting forgiveness for our own mistakes, and yet not forgiving the mistakes of our loved ones. We expect our spouses to be unselfish, even when we are being selfish ourselves. We set “limits” on ourselves while having greater “expectations” of others. We stop short of truly forgiving, trusting, and unselfishly answering God’s call to love each other as He loved us.

Do we expect more of our spouses, our children or our friends than they know or are able to give? Do we give as much as we expect them to give? Are we willing to accept our spouse’s shortcomings? Why is it that we can forgive our children over and over, yet we are unwilling to forgive our spouse more than once? Do we recognize when the people we love are trying their hardest, and do we still ask for or want more? Is this the same thing we are asking of God, for Him to forgive us, yet we are unwilling to forgive others?

Are we setting limits on the possibilities God has for our lives.
What would have happened if Mary had not accepted her role as a wife and as the Mother of God? What would have happened if Mary had said “no” to God, or set limits on Jesus’ birth and place in her life?

So just like the Hallmark show, Jesus comes to us this week, in the Christmas story of love, humility and poverty to teach us to forgive without limit. If we truly give our lives to Him, if we truly forgive and ask for forgiveness, All Things Are Possible!

Wishing you A Season of Miracles. May God’s Blessings in Your Life this Christmas Season be Limitless.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Women of Faith:

I have always loved “pink Sunday” in the timeframe of the Advent wreath—When I read Sunday’s readings, it didn’t take me long to figure out why—what joyful readings of
Hope for the Christmas season! “Rejoice, Rejoice, again I say Rejoice.”

I have listened to several Christian radio and TV shows this week, all with messages which revolve around our expectations of love. “God is Truth; Love is Forgiveness; Happiness is in Giving; Love is Sacrifice; God is Love; Do Not Worry, be not afraid; and Trust in the Lord.”

As I reflected on these simple messages I wondered why we try to make our lives so complicated, when God’s message is so simple.

Zep 3:14-18a says: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you he has turned away your enemies; (1) the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. (2) On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! (3) The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, (4) he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.”

“Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. (5) The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (6) Phil 4:4-7 (Parentheses’ () and italics/bold added.)
The messages of “pink Sunday” summarize an uncomplicated life, a life without worry, a life without expectation and yet a time of great anticipation and rejoicing for the coming of Christ more fully into our lives:

1) The Lord has forgiven us—we must also forgive and ask forgiveness of those we love.

2) The Lord is in our midst—we have nothing to fear; we should not worry or be anxious, but should look forward to His coming with expectation and anticipation. We should rejoice!

3) Fear not, do not be discouraged—Rejoice!

4) Be renewed by Christ’s love, by His forgiveness, by His rejoicing.

5) Fear not—In Prayer, Ask God, Give Thanks

6) Then we will receive Peace—Peace that surpasses everything because we will be protected by Christ Jesus.

What do we seek? What are our Expectations, Anticipations of our God?

Happiness? Happiness is in Giving as Christ gave to us: In His Presence, not His Presents, in unselfishly giving to others. I often wonder if we, as parents, remember this ourselves when we teach it to our children who seem to so instinctively know it. What happens to us as adults that we want someone/everyone to give us something of themselves, yet we are not willing to give anything/ everything of ourselves, as Jesus gave to us on the cross. Or because we don’t receive anything in return, we want to quit giving.

Love? The cross shows us how we must Love, with the ultimate sacrifice. God did not have any expectations of us when He asked Jesus to die for us. He gave us His son, and Jesus died for us. Do we die for each other, would we give our lives for those we love, for our neighbor, even for our enemies, as Jesus did for us?

Forgiveness? The ultimate forgiveness was given to us by Jesus on the cross, and is given to us in the sacrament of reconciliation. Do we accept the graces that God makes available to us, by coming to him with our failures and ask for forgiveness?
Do we forgive those who love us when they tell us they are sorry for the hurt they have caused? Once again, God did not “expect” anything in return for His forgiveness. Do we forgive, without expectations?

Peace? God promises freedom from worry and fear when we turn to him and ask him for his protection. Can we expect “peace in the world” if we cannot give our love and forgiveness unconditionally to those in our own families regardless of what we are given in return?

REJOICE! REJOICE! Christ is in our midst. Let us seek His Simple Truth with Joy in Expectation and Anticipation of His Birth this Christmas.

Rejoice as you ready Your Christmas Expectations!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Prepare Ye the Way

I don’t know what there is about the simple verse “Prepare Ye the Way” but it has always been one of those STOP verses. One that pulls me back and says there is something more important, something other than shopping, decorating, or baking and getting ready for a materialistic Christmas.

Maybe that is why I am so looking forward to this Christmas. Our family and extended family have agreed to “no presents” but lots of “presence.” And I’m working on simplifying the decorating. The baking…well that’s my relaxation and I learned many years ago that the only person that knew if I didn’t get something made on the list was me, so…

I am working on preparing the way with more thought and time for God, by truly making Jesus the Reason for each of my preparations: by celebrating God’s glory; giving prayer and scripture priority, rather than leftover time; and looking at satisfying my “shopping” urge by focusing on charities and friends who actually need my time and/or generosity.

Sunday’s readings each speak of preparing the way for Christ in our life. We are to prepare by giving God glory, by rejoicing, and by celebrating in prayer, by searching for His enlightenment and by opening our heart to be filled with a pure love and righteousness for Him. Bar 5:1-9 speaks of putting on the splendor of glory.
Phil 1:4-6, 8-11 says: “And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”

And John the Baptist, making way for Jesus: “John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord,make straight his paths .Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Lk 3:1-6

Father made the illustration of what is in our lives with three gifts: a pretty wrapping filled with garbage; an empty gift bag, or the plain bag filled with his favorite cookies. What “gifts” do we offer Jesus with our lives? Is our life “full of junk,” “empty,” or “sweet?” Is our gift “open” at the top, ready to be filled with God’s love and grace?

If we are like the “bag of junk” filled with selfish desires, greed and impurities and dressed excessively, looking good for the world; than are we willing to accept God’s greatest gift—God’s forgiveness and a chance to start anew.

Or are we empty—unwilling or not knowing what we are searching for to fill our lives. Trying to please a person or ourselves rather than God? Are we looking in the right place—upwards—to fill our life?

Or are we mixing the “sweets” with “the junk” and would we eat a sweet mixed in with the egg shells and banana peels? What is the “junk” in our lives that we need to throw away because it is “ripe?”

Let us “Prepare Ye the Way” by opening our hearts in love with hope and faith, setting ourselves on a straight and narrow path, and by getting the junk out of our life. Help me to be enlightened by what is of true value. Help me to remember “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”—that He is waiting for us to open the gifts of our life and our hearts to Him. Help me to be filled with His grace and spirit, through prayer and His word. And let our traditions mirror the true tradition of Christmas—family and gifts given in purity, with unworldly love, those of our “presence,” time, and charity.