“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” Jesus (Gospel St. Matthew 5:38-48)
As we have journeyed through the Sermon on the Mount these few weeks, we could conclude that Jesus is very demanding. Today, we are encouraged not to be driven by fear but to love our enemies and build friendships and trust. But we are challenged to ask our self what we stand for as Christians.
A child returned from Sunday school and told his parents that the teacher said we must love our neighbors and even our enemies. So, he said, “I love all the dragons and monsters.” His dad said, “Just start by loving your sister.”
On June 17, 2015, nine members of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina were shot to death in the basement of their church. The shooter, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, wandered into the room wearing jeans and a sweatshirt; and instead of telling him to leave they invited him to join them. There they were in prayer and study, and as they bowed their heads in prayer, he shot them. Can you imagine the anguish the families of those nine good people felt? I cannot. And that is what makes the rest of this so stunning. Only three days later, when invited to share a statement as the shooter was arraigned in court, several of the family members turned to the shooter and through their tears, said, “I forgive you.”
Today’s readings come right into our hearts and invite us to do some “house cleaning.” There’s a lot of attack and counter attack in our lives today, and here we are being told to hold no grudges, seek no revenge, and let go and let God. When we pray for someone who has hurt us, the gift is to ourselves. When Jesus rose from the dead and entered the room of the disciples where the door was locked, he simply said: “Peace be with you.” And he showed them his hands and his side. At the sight of the Lord, the disciples rejoiced? He said it again. “Peace be with you.” And then he breathed on them. “Receive the Holy Spirit… If you forgive each other’s sins they are forgiven. But if you hold them bound, they will hold you bound.” Jesus knew that the most powerful weapon in the world, if not the universe, is simply love and mercy.
As a priest over the years, I have received many broken souls who come in to confess their anger toward someone who has genuinely hurt them. They don’t see how they give control to their persecutor. I simply ask them, “Have you prayed for this person? Do you love this person unconditionally like God loves them?” You would be surprised how often the answer is, “No.” Jesus only gives us commandments that will help us. But all commandments must eventually be done out of love rather than rules or obedience.
St. Paul tells us: Bless your persecutors; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same attitude toward all. Put away ambitious thoughts and associate with those who are lowly. This could restore peace and joy and gentleness in our lives.
Father Jeff bought this poster you see on the video boards at the Holocaust museum. We reflect on what we stand for as we celebrate our thirty years as a parish.
What do we stand for? We as a community hope to integrate what we stand for in our vision. We are cultivating and fertilizing our community organically with:
Courage, friendship, wisdom, justice, faithfulness, honesty, tolerance, imagination, equality, fairness, citizenship, self-discipline, integrity, responsibility, creativity, assertiveness, caring, confidence, honor, empathy, accountability, respect, kindness, restraint, conservation, purpose, sincerity, sharing, loyalty, forgiveness, truthfulness, loyalty, cooperation, giving compassion, humor…
Queen of Peace is celebrating 30 years and will have a round-table discussion this Wednesday to look at where the community wants to stand for in the next five years and beyond.
Father Rene (top photo first from the right) was murdered less than a year after my 25th, and we are devastated, but we forgive the person as Jesus teaches us.
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Gospel: Matthew 5:17-37
God is love.
All commandments coming from God are about love.
There are no exceptions and no amendments.
“Night to Shine” is an annual prom for people with special needs sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. The proms were hosted Friday at over 375 churches in all 50 states and 11 countries including South Africa, Peru, and the Philippines. In his welcome video, Tim Tebow proclaimed to people with special needs, “You are created by love, for love and in love.”
A follower of Jesus must be all about abundant love and fruit of God’s love. Followers of Jesus are like trees of life. We welcome all who come to our shade. It doesn’t matter if one is saint, sinner or lumber jack, the tree of life will freely and indiscriminately offer her shade, beauty, fragrance, fruit, oxygen, peace and even wood. The tree bears much fruit beyond what we see. The tree is gratuitous in that she gives while asking for nothing in return. The tree loves unconsciously in that she is unaware. She gives her gifts even when no one is present or appreciates her. What would it be like if we realized that each of us was created by love, for love and in love?
Jesus was baptized to fulfill the law. When he came up out of the water a voice was heard from heaven. “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus follows the law of love even if it costs him his life. Jesus knows that God has written all the laws and commandments of God into his heart and to his followers’ hearts. He knows the law better than lawyers, politicians and judges. We also must know God’s commandments this well. All we have to do is look within and share this wisdom and love with all.
It is something like learning to swim. When I asked my father to teach me to swim, he simply picked me up and walked me out to the end of the dock on that delicious morning and threw me out into the deep water. As I flew across the sky with panic and joy, I didn’t have time to be mad at my father for putting me out into the deep, because it was about survival. My heart was as pure as a six year old who grew up on the waters edge. My father knew I had the rules of swimming in my heart and soul. If for some reason my fear froze my ability to start the dog paddle, my dad was ready to jump in and save me if I cried out to him. I never cried then.
However, over the years there were times when I rebelled against my father’s commands. Some were unreasonable or mixed with anxiety or alcohol. Some of the rules I came to understand protected me from dangers. Some of those commands were good, but overkill.
So to begin his mission to teach us his Father’s laws and commandments (to swim in God’s love), Jesus climbs up the mountain and tells the people how loved they are by God. He tells us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, blessed are they who grieve, blessed are the clean of heart, blessed are peacemakers, blessed are the persecuted for helping the oppressed, poor and orphaned, and blessed are you when you share the cross with me.” He goes on to tell us that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Basically we are love in the world!
Jesus is like my father. When we desire with all our heart, soul, strength and might to love like God and follow all of God’s commands; he is going to bring us out into deep water and throw us into the sea. We have the wisdom, courage, understanding, knowledge, counsel, reverence and fear of the Lord to interpret the law of God. Jesus knows we can swim even in the storms of persecution. If for some reason our fear freezes our ability to love (which is the law) in the storms of insult and persecution, Jesus is standing ready to plunge into the deep water and save us if we cry out to him. He might also say, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
So after fifty years, I am beginning to remember another commandment that my father gave me just before he threw me off that dock into the deep waters, “Do not be afraid, I will be with you.”
Jesus assures us that he loves us too much to ever abandon us. He promises to be faithful always, in good times and bad times, in sickness and in health. God throws us with love to be love for a world in desperate need of love and truth. Are you ready to plunge into the Good News and follow this law and love of God into the kingdom of heaven? Here is even Great News. Jesus doesn’t wait for us to cry out to him, he jumped in with us. Let us swim and dance. The Mass never ends, we take Jesus with us.
Eye has not seen
Ear has not heard,
What God has ready for those who love Him
Spirit of Love, come give us the mind of Jesus,
Teach us the Wisdom of God.
(St Paul to the 1st Letter to the Corinthians 2:6-10)
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them saying, “Blessed are…” nine times.
Jesus was a Teacher, not a trainer. A true teacher teaches in a way so that the student (or disciple) becomes an equal. Jesus, the Teacher, does not want to be our Master, but he does want to be our Friend and Beloved.
Today we heard the introduction of the Sermon on the Mount. This is at the very beginning of his Mission. His Mission is to teach us all about the Kingdom of Heaven. He is attempting to give us the rules, just like we have rules of conduct in school, work and growing up in a family.
What kind of rules do we have growing up in a family? Yes… clean your room, say “please” and “thank you”, go to bed a certain time, eat your vegetables (not just M & M’s), take out the garbage, do your homework, go to church, say your prayers. When we are kids, if we rebel against these duties, there are consequences. As an adult, we have the freedom not to follow through with these rules, but the consequences might be more grave and could rob us of a peaceful and productive life.
A thousand years before Jesus, God gave us the Ten Commandments through Moses. They tell us to love and obey God, our parents and our neighbors. We are to rest and worship with God one day a week. We don’t kill, cheat, steal, lie or become envious and greedy. This Gospel passage today is like the first day of catholic school. Jesus is going to teach us much more than rules, which can be challenging by themselves. If we don’t learn these beatitudes, there are grave consequences like remaining slaves rather than children of God or never finding the Kingdom of Heaven.
When our minds are developing, they work more like a puppy that needs to be trained or disciplined (discipled). If I train my puppy to be mean, what does it grow up to be? Yes, a mean dog. Does it have a choice? No, of course not. Can the dog say to itself, “I don’t feel like being mean anymore.”? That is why rules for dogs are so important when they are young. That is why rules for children and teenagers are so important when we are young. But here is the difference. We don’t just learn rules growing up. We have to learn how to think and grow in faith. We need to master the gifts of the Holy Spirit like wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
When Jesus goes on to finish teaching the crowd, the Gospel writer tells us, “When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
Jesus is the best teacher we will ever find. Our catholic schools allow the Jesus in our teachers, parents and guardians to connect with the Jesus in every student. Once we learn the basic commandments, the goal of catholic schools is to become disciples and teachers. Let us all grow in wisdom, faith and love.
1st Reading: Prophet Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility;
Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs!
2nd Reading: St. Paul to the Corinthians 1:26-31
God chose the foolish… the weak, the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing..
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
Blessed are…, for they…
3rd Week Ordinary Time, January 2017
Matthew 4:12-2 ~ When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee… Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”… He called them and they immediately left their boat…and followed him… Jesus went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.
Two brothers were discussing their future goals after Sunday school one day. The first said he wanted to be rich and famous. The second said he wanted to follow Jesus to the fullest. The second went on to reach his goal. His name was David Livingstone, the renowned medical missionary and explorer of Africa. The first went on to be rich, but his fame came from another. His tombstone reads, “Here lies the brother of Doctor David Livingstone.”
Jesus was on a mission to teach us about a God of mercy, love and compassion who happens to be his Father. Jesus, walking along, met Peter and Andrew, James and John after they had just finished their hard days work as professional fishermen. What happened to their nets and boats? What was so compelling about Jesus that they’d leave without concern for the details that had preoccupied their lives and gave them a sense of security?
Clearly there was something magnetic, even contagious about Jesus that caused people to forget the important and unimportant-the boats and the nets—and all the things that distract us everyday to follow him. There was something about Jesus that compelled people to connect with our God who they had heard of, often spoken of and who drew them toward goodness.
We might say it’s no problem connecting with Jesus, he was a healer of both external and internal wounds, he was exemplary, he put his life on the line for his friends. Our problem is more about connecting with God’s people. Maybe that’s because God’s people don’t represent Jesus very well in the world today. God’s people don’t practice what Jesus preached. We need to connect, though, because God’s fullness is not revealed in any one of us; but when we connect with one another we manifest God’s goodness.
“Repent, (metanoia, change course), the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” What John and now Jesus is saying is that repenting or changing course is essential to entering heaven. To follow Jesus is a drastic change of life goals or plans. Before the brothers could teach, preach and heal people, they had to first change course. They had to learn to fish in a different way. It was like learning to drive in one of those countries that drive on the other side of the street. It was like learning to write with the other hand. It was like learning to speak a new language or breaking an addiction or a toxic relationship. It could also be like trying to learn to speak after suffering a stroke. In reality it is all of these. It sounds impossible, but nothing is impossible with God.
Even Simon had to let go of his name and pick up a new name Peter. Once we repent, the hard work begins. So often, people go back to their old ways because the internal emotions are too uncomfortable.
Before we can go out and proclaim the good news or heal the sick, Jesus must first call us. Then we must listen to his teaching. Then and only then does Jesus send us out two by two. An isolated Christian is a dead Christian.
This Gospel passage is from the 4th chapter of St. Matthew’s account. The Gospel passages we hear in the following five weeks are critical if we wish to reach our goals in life. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 speak of the goodness and expectations of God. This is what he was teaching in the synagogues. This is what Jesus was proclaiming as Good News. This is where his authority to cure every disease and illness comes from.
I am going to go out on a limb and assign some homework this week. It only takes about 5 or 10 minutes to read, but it will probably take you a lifetime to learn. I am still learning! What would it be like to hear Jesus as he went to all the synagogues? Read and pray these chapters out loud a couple times this week if not daily. You will most likely recognize many of the teachings which all boil down to “love God and love neighbor” with no exceptions. However, to apply these teachings will be a true metanoia experience, but don’t be afraid, you are in good company. Mark Twain once said: “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture which they cannot understand; but as for me, I have always noticed that the passages in Scripture which trouble me the most are those which I do understand.”
It may be important to invoke the Holy Spirit. “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle in us the fire of your love… O God who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of your faithful, grant that by that same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in your consolation forever.”
Jesus is longing to go to the ends of the world, teaching the mercy of God, preaching the kingdom of heaven, and curing every disease and illness. All he needs is your body, soul and fire… and your change of direction.
Lord, when you came to the seashore
You weren’t looking for the rich nor the wise,
But only asking that I might follow
O Lord, with your eyes set upon me
Gently smiling, you have spoken my name
Close to you, I will find other shores
Lord, you knew what my boat carried
neither money nor weapons for fighting,
but nets for fishing my daily labor
(PESCADOR DES HOMBRES by Cesareo Gabarain)
We could connect with others and follow Jesus toward God, toward pleasing God, by seeing the Sacred in others. The Holy Spirit unites us with the Divine and offers the only route to Good News in this world.
Jeff McGowan and I worked together on this homily.
Have a blessed and holy week. Pray and journal about Matthew 5, 6, and 7 and see how Jesus calls your from your boat. You might even walk a few steps on water!
Behold the Lamb of God ~ 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time ~ St. John 1:29-34:
John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him… Behold the Lamb of God; I did not know him; baptize with water; baptize with the Holy Spirit; Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.
The following prayer has guided my life. The Cursillo prays it before they witness to their study, piety, action and close moment with Jesus:
Come Holy Spirit,
Fill the Hearts of your faithful.
Enkindle in us the fire of your Love.
Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created,
and you shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of your faithful,
Grant that by the same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise,
and forever rejoice in your consolation, through Christ Our Lord. Amen!
Do you know what happens to black coal if it is deep enough in the ground, under great enough pressure, suffering and a million years? Yes, it becomes a crystal clear and radiant diamond. We don’t have to wait millions of years to become God’s diamonds, God’s children… because Jesus, the Lamb of God, takes the suffering on himself.
This week I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass at one of our nursing homes. O how they suffer. It was amazing how Jesus spoke through them. When they were anointed, they were reminded that they would be healed of something to help them renew the face of the earth. I asked them what they wanted to be healed of. They didn’t look at me like I was off my rocker. They didn’t say, “Duh, cant’ you see I need healing of my abandonment or bitterness or physical suffering.” They didn’t want temporary relief, but everlasting healing. What they asked for was wisdom, knowledge and understanding… courage, counsel and reverence… wonder and awe. They wanted the Holy Spirit! After communion we sang this song. We heard Jesus cry out to us,”
Come, come unto me
I will make you a jewel, precious and rare, the glory you’ll bear,
In the crown of God.
~From the dawn of creation, to the tree on Calvary
I chose you and gave my life, to be my own and to be my delight.
~There are words you alone can say, and there are deeds only you can do.
Trust in me and do not tremble, for I go with you to show you the way!
*Come, come unto me… (Bob Hurd)
While holding the Body and Blood of Jesus, the priest proclaims: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the LAMB!” We respond, “O Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.”
Since we were little children, we have been saying this every Sunday, if not more, but I sense we get stuck on the first part of unworthiness. God wants to heal us. We just have to ask. God sent God’s own beloved son to us so that we can feast on His Body and Blood and become what we eat. (The Lamb of God.) Two thousand years before Jesus, Isaac was carrying the wood on his back while his father, Abraham, was carrying the fire. He cried out, “Dad! Here is the wood and you have the fire. Where is the sacrifice?” Abraham gently responded to his son knowing what he was about to do, “Son, God will provide.” The ram was caught in the thicket and took the son’s place.
Now Jesus is carrying the wood of the Cross and he cries out to God, His Father, “Abba, Daddy! Here is the wood, and here is the fire (anger) of the people. Where is the sacrifice?” God responds with a whisper, “My Beloved Son… You are the sacrifice!” Jesus says, “Your will be done.” God allows us to sacrifice his Son.
So both father and son will die.
When we dare to eat the body and blood of Jesus, we become God’s daughters and sons. We will either watch our beloved ones die, which is really death itself, or we become like Jesus… the sacrifice. We die.
Like John the Baptist, we are not worthy to receive Jesus. We need to be healed. Our black coal needs to radiate Christ within us. Sometimes, I say to Jesus, “Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul will be healed of… my doubt… my addictions… my depression… my anxiety… my bitterness… my unforgiveness… my jealousy… my need to control… my lack of generosity…” Then I can help renew the face of the earth.
Soul healing comes through the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Blood of the Lamb.
“Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.” Jesus needs to heal us, so that the Jesus in us will attract others. It is Jesus working through us, and it is not because we are worthy.
All of us, with Jesus in our bodies and souls, cry out to the world:
We are one body, one body in Christ
And we do not stand-alone
We are one body, one body in Christ
And he came that we might have life.
~When you eat my body and you eat my blood
I will live in you, and you will live in my love. (2X)
Table of Plenty – John Michael Talbot
Truly, the Mass never ends, we take it with us. Thanks be to God!
God is Love. God is Good…
All the Time!
Isaiah 60:1-6 ~ Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
Paul to Ephesians ~ Brothers and Sisters: You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
Gospel according to St. Matthew: After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
How often has the most profound prayer
come amidst upheaval or crushing poverty or oppression?
I have been quite blessed;
I never worry about my food
better shelter than my Lord, Jesus
The poor struggle, but still fast and sacrifice better than I
In Iraq, in Africa, in Korea, in Okinawa, in Cuba, in death of loved ones,
All places of my upheaval,
and yet I had prayer and pondering most exquisite
like a great wine,
Praying in chaos…
“Walking beneath the moon and utter hatred in Fallujah
You, o Beloved, grasped my hand if not my heart and soul,
and saved me from despair.
You nurtured my burnt ashes and You fixed my broken compass.
Changed direction, or at least calmed my temper tantrum.
Discovered resources on my ship that I failed to recognize
Fished for desperate food
and then fished for sport and amazement
Jesus, you are wonderful to travel with.
When I was overjoyed at seeing your star…
basically only the light of your reality and truth,
I thought I saw the best of You.
But then when I saw you, like the wise ones,
for the first time all over again,
Baby in the manger with Mary, your mother…
I went prostrate and did you homage
and then opened the treasury of my heart and soul…
that inmost treasure you gave me out of love,
And offered it to You, my Beloved.
Your hand firmly placed on my shoulder
“Do not be afraid!”
And we walked down the mountain together as brothers and lovers
We returned to our home another Way
Wisdom is the refulgence of eternal light,
the spotless mirror of the power of God,
the image of his goodness,
And she, who is one, can do all things,
and renews everything while herself perduring;
And passing into holy souls from age to age,
she produces friends of God and prophets.
January 1, 2016
Numbers 6:22-27 ~ The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace.
Galatians 4:4-7 ~ God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
Luke 2:16-21 ~ The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen just as it had been told to them. When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
What is the message of good news of great joy all about? What is there to be amazed about?
It is important to meditate like Mary, the Mother of Jesus our Lord. She kept all these things and reflected on them in her heart.
In the first reading, Moses hands on the blessing from God, but now God bestows the blessing in person. The Lord bless you and keep you. The angels kept telling them over and over, “Do not be afraid!” God keeps us in his arms and heart. “The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.” God is like a mother and father with their newborn child, smiling at us and gifting us with their love. “The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace.” There is nothing to be afraid of when parents love their children unconditionally.
So now we are beginning to understand an adult Christmas. This is not an artificial Christmas (Christ-Mass). This is the real deal. This baby, who is now an adult, breathes on us the unconditional love that he received at his birth and from his parents and God. Jesus tells us not to be afraid.
Mary might have prayed and reflected in her heart like this. “The shepherds teach me that my Son is not mine alone. God has given him not only to me, but to the world. I must reflect in my heart on this Mystery. It is too big for me to grasp. I know this newborn Son has already changed my life. I guess he will continue to change me. I beg that I can be a good mother, helping my newborn Son grow into the man who God wants him to be. I beg that I can have the strength to stand by him in any hour of need. I beg to reflect on this Mystery in my heart, and know it is God’s will for me. I beg to trust the Mystery.”
This prayer of Our Mother was a most costly prayer. She was told by Simeon at his presentation, “And you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts and hearts of many will be revealed.” It takes a very special mother to take on this responsibility.
God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” “Momma, Mother!” So you are no longer slaves, but daughters and sons of God the Father and his Beloved Mary.
And now each of us can bless the whole world with the blessing and gifts we have received from our Heavenly Father and Mother.
“I, (state your name), bless you and keep you in my heart.
I let my face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
I look upon you kindly and give you peace.”
So let us return glorifying and praising God like the shepherds for all that we have heard and seen just as it has been told to us.
Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plain
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains … Gloria In excelsis Deo
Shepherd’s, why this jubilee
Why your joyous song prolong
What the gladsome tidings be,
That inspire your heavenly, heavenly song … Gloria In excelsis Deo
You see, the Christ-Mass (Christmas) never ends. We take it with us. Thanks be to God!
Holy is God’s name
My Soul bursts with love for the Living God
Morning pause, morning chill
Warmth in my heart, helping to warm the morning
Children and Lovers of God
Sun splashes the top branches and houses
Birds greet the morning, warming the sound.
“The Beloved has exalted me by a gift so great,
so unheard of,
that language is useless to describe it,
and the depths of love in my heart can scarcely grasp it.
I offer then all the powers of my soul in praise and thanksgiving.
As I joyfully surrender my whole life, my senses, my judgment…
for my spirit rejoices in the eternal Godhead (Beloved) of that JESUS, that SAVIOR, whom I have conceived in this world of time.”
(Mother Mary through Venerable Bede, priest)
Thank You God, my Father, my Mother, my Lover for the Gift of your wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, reverence, courage and wonder/awe…
Truly the best Christmas ever!
So for Christmas, God has prepared a gift for the World, You and Me.
God has wrapped us in swaddling clothes after Baptism in water and fire.
We are confirmed in the Holy Spirit and sent as Good News to the world.
The Spirit of the Beloved is upon us because Our Beloved God has anointed us to bring Good News to the Poor. God is sending us from this Christ-Mass (Chrism Mass)
to proclaim liberty to captives (emotionally, economically, psychologically, physically), recovery of sight to the blind (especially inward and of the soul),
to let the oppressed go free,
and a Year (of mercy and love) acceptable to the Beloved God.
The Gospel According to Saint Luke 2:1-14
These two branches may look the same from a distance, and in some ways they are alike. But there is also a great difference between them. This is from a real Christmas tree. And this is from an artificial tree. You can see, feel, and smell the differences when you are near the two branches. One branch is wounded and will die. One never had life and came from a box.
It’s easy to tell the difference between a real and artificial Christmas tree, but can you tell the difference between a real and an artificial Christmas?
Maybe you never thought about it, but you can have an artificial Christmas. Just as the artificial tree can serve a purpose, an artificial Christmas can be fun. You can give and receive presents, go to parties, sing songs and still not have a real Christmas.
A real Christmas includes the coming of God’s Son to be a part of life with people on earth. On the first Christmas He came as the Baby at Bethlehem. But the Baby was God, and He came to be the Savior. Jesus still comes to the world as the Savior who gives new life to people who know and believe this.
When Jesus was here the first time, some people wanted to know for sure that He was the real Savior. They did not want an artificial Son of God. Jesus told them to look at what He did. Jesus healed the blind, deaf, and crippled. He brought a dead person back to life. He had a message of love and hope for all people. They could tell that He was real because what He did was real. His actions proved that His words were true.
Just as Jesus pointed to what He did for people to show that He was a real and not an artificial Savior, you can tell if your Christmas is real by seeing what it does for you. Jesus once said, “You will know my real followers by their fruit.” Ask yourself some questions:
Will this Christmas help me feel the presence of God?
Will I realize that God not only came to a manger but also to me?
Will I see again how much God loves me and feel that love in action?
Will I see that God came not only for me, but for all people?
Will I also produce abundant Christmas fruit of love, joy, hope and peace?
Let us celebrate a real Christmas. Recognize that many things that look like Christmas offer only an artificial Christmas. They are not wrong, but don’t use them as a substitute for the real thing.
VIRTUAL and REAL CHRIST-MASS TREE: Gifts of Holy Spirit beneath the Tree of Life… and Fruit of the Holy Spirit in the Branches. Jesus is the Light and Star radiating from the top of the Tree of Life. Jesus is asking us to be living trees of life, where people live off the fruit of the Holy Spirit God sends through us.
Christmas is real when you know Christ comes to you. Christmas is real when we ask ourselves how we fit into the Christmas Story in the living Nativity. Christmas is real when we hold the child like Joseph and accept Jesus as his real son. (Joseph is not an artificial father.) Each of us will have the best and merriest Christmas ever if we receive Jesus as God’s Christmas gift, gratefully, cultivate his love responsibly, share him lovingly with justice, and return Jesus with abundance to God! That is what we do at this Christmas Mass. That’s a real Good News and Merry Christmas!