Feast of the Holy Family
Jesus was born into a human family, with everything that entails. He learned to live with an immediate and extended family (and based on the lineage we hear in other Bible passages, his relations were far from perfect). In an imperfect world, with imperfect people and imperfect families, today's readings give us some very practical advice on how we can live more fulfilling lives: put the wants and needs of others before your own...as Christ did.
Paul gives us a very concrete example of how this looks in one of the most fundamental sets of relationships we find ourselves in: the family. Before getting up-in-arms about how Paul could write, "Wives, be subordinate to your husbands," let's look at the reading in context and see how Paul is challenging everyone to stretch their hearts and love others the way Christ loved us.
What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
4th Sunday of Advent
We’ve looked at the light of Christ in our thoughts and actions. Now, in this final week of Advent, we look at the light of Christ in our words. In my experience, people WANT to talk about God and faith in their lives…they’re just afraid of what others will think and uncertain where others stand on the issue — so they don’t say anything. Our words have the power to give people that opportunity to speak about God's presence in their life. Our words have the power to invite God into a conversation. Our words have the power to crack open the door to God’s presence. Others don’t have to walk through that door; they can pass by our invitation. But for those who want to go there and just don’t know how, we can give them that opportunity. Something as simple as, “I’ll pray for you,” can be enough. This week: use your words to invite God into a conversation! (I think you'll be surprised by how positive responses can be!)
3rd Sunday of Advent
Last week it was spending time at the manger, allowing the Light of Christ to settle in our thoughts and minds. This week it's allowing the Light of Christ into our actions. Little kids are so good at giving presents: at first glance their artwork might not be a Van Gogh or Monet, but their intention in making these various works as gifts turns them into masterpieces! Intention and generosity can transform something mediocre into something truly beautiful. As we prepare for Jesus's Birthday, let's make some presents for Him this week, let's make some works of art for Him - an extra act of generosity, an extra prayer, a task of holiday preparation or an hour of ordinary work, intentionally offered up to God as a gift: these actions might not be perfect in themselves, but given as a gift to the Lord they are transformed into something that He sees as beautiful and worthy of going up on the heavenly frig. Let the Light of Christ into your actions this week: "God, I made this for You!"
2nd Sunday of Advent
Have you ever put yourself in the manger scene? Have you ever experienced the birth of Jesus or the time after His birth, with Mary and Joseph, or the shepherds, or the wise men? Lectio Divina (Latin for "Divine Reading") is a form of Christian prayer where we read a passage of Scripture and then use our imagination to place ourselves in the scene: then we see, hear, touch, taste and feel everything as if we were there! We interact with others in the story. We take on different roles. And through this form of imaginative prayer the Scriptures come alive! At Christmas we celebrate the coming of Christ into the world, the coming of clear Light into a sometimes foggy and murky world, into our sometimes foggy and murky lives. This week, find some time to let the Light of Christ enter your mind - spend some time in that manger scene. (Then next week we'll talk about the Light of Christ shining in our actions, and the final week of Advent how the Light of Christ can shine in our words.)