The Word of God

December 1, 2018


Reading 1 – RV 22:1-7

John said:
An angel showed me the river of life-giving water,
sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God
and of the Lamb down the middle of the street,
On either side of the river grew the tree of life
that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month;
the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.
Nothing accursed will be found anymore.
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
and his servants will worship him.
They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun,
for the Lord God shall give them light,
and they shall reign forever and ever.

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true,
and the Lord, the God of prophetic spirits,
sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.”
“Behold, I am coming soon.”
Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 95:1-2, 3-5, 6-7AB

R. (1 COR 16: 22B, see REV. 22: 20C) Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great king above all gods;
In his hands are the depths of the earth,
and the tops of the mountains are his.
His is the sea, for he has made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Alleluia – LK 21:36

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Be vigilant at all times and pray
that you may have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day 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 to stand before the Son of Man.”

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Red Means Go


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 1, 2018

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy.” One of the hardest things we have to learn to do as human beings is wait, and yet it is something that we do each and every day. We wait for the green light, we wait for the toast, we wait for lunch hour, and we wait to go home at the end of a long day. According to Taylor Forbush who is a traffic engineer in Utah, we spend about five months of our lifetime waiting in traffic at the red light. That is certainly quite a bit and yet we are called upon to wait for the Lord without becoming drowsy or listless.

Here is the point: waiting for the Lord is not idle laziness nor is it abandonment of effort. What it means is that waiting can and should be an active process, that is, we are actively looking forward to hearing and listening and following Jesus and making sure that the normal distractions of this life do not block or confuse that peaceful, active waiting period which we call life. It is also very possible that we must let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the one that He has waiting for us. “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

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December 2, 2018


Reading 1 – JER 33:14-16

The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14

R. (1B) To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior,
and for you I wait all the day.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

Reading 2 – 1 THES 3:12—4:2

Brothers and sisters:
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love
for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts,
to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that,
as you received from us
how you should conduct yourselves to please God
and as you are conducting yourselves
you do so even more.
For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

Alleluia – PS 85:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Show us, Lord, your love;
and grant us your salvation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 21:25-28, 34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day 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 to stand before the Son of Man.”

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Advent One: Anxiety Cure


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 2, 2018

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life.” That certainly is not a message or sign we will see in shopping malls or office parties but unless this Christmas is to be anything more than just a replay of the last five or six holidays, then the real message of the season is to watch and wait. Waiting can be painful; forgetting is horrible depending on who forgets who. However, the level of this suffering cannot possibly be matched when one does not know what to do with their lives. “Show us, Lord, your love; and grant us your salvation.”

Advent is the time of waiting for Christmas but it is much more. We don’t just wait for a day; we wait for the fulfillment of all festive moments such as Christmas. We long for God. We long for pure love. We long for a life where no one ever lies to us or abandons us. And we walk through this life with feet of clay like everyone else so that together we wait for heaven. “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

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December 3, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 2:1-5

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In 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.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They 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.

O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the LORD!

Responsorial Psalm – PS 122:1-2, 3-4B, 4CD-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your walls,
prosperity in your buildings.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Because of my relatives and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
Because of the house of the LORD, our God,
I will pray for your good.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Alleluia – SEE PS 80:4

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come and save us, LORD our God;
let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 8:5-11

When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”

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December 4, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 11:1-10

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A Spirit of counsel and of strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.

On that day,
The root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
The Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
He shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Alleluia 

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, our Lord shall come with power;
he will enlighten the eyes of his servants.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 10:21-24

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

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Childlike Christmas


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 4, 2018

One day in the Jubilee Year 2000, a young and very curious five-year old, son a of very busy and dedicated Mom, approached her days before the great holiday and asked innocently, “What does Jesus get for His birthday?” That one very honest and simple question launched years of joy-giving traditions with this particular family that turned wish-lists into giving lists, love packages of baked goods for lonely neighbors and looking through special catalogs to purchase food and much needed items for poor children all across the globe. Can you stop for a minute and try to imagine the kind of adult that little boy has become? Yes, you can: “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike.”

During these special and wonderful days of Advent, make a list of all the blessings you have and not all the things that you think you need; spend more time in silence and then listen intensely; share your faith in ways that you’ve never thought possible and be a voice of hope for those around you. Then we might all understand what is written in our First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah: “There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.”

“Christmas, my child, is love in action.”  ~Dale Evans

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Declaration of Peace


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 3, 2018

There is something quite marvelous that has happened every Christmas Eve in Finland since the early 14th century: it is simply known as the Declaration of Peace. It is accompanied by all kinds of musical instruments including drums, choral singing and even symphonic strings. What it is? It is basically a highly anticipated announcement made in the old capital of Turku that attests and demands everyone to act with peace and love during the Christmas Season.

Here is the actual text: “Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior; and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all, by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully, because he who breaks this peace and violates the peace of Christmas by any illegal or improper behavior shall under aggravating circumstances be guilty and punished according to what the law and statutes prescribe for each and every offence separately. Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city.”

This Declaration helps us understand and work for the meanings found in our Readings today: “One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” And in the Responsorial Psalm: “Because of my relatives and friends I will say, ‘Peace be within you!’” The great Season of Advent attempts to accomplish the same as the Finnish declaration: we are called to be people of peace and comfort for each other. We are to be people of faith and hope that call upon the name of Christ in every situation. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Let us, you and I, declare peace today. The time is right.

“It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”  ~W. T. Ellis

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December 5, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 25:6-10A

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.

On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (6CD) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Alleluia 

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 15:29-37

At that time:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
went up on the mountain, and sat down there.
Great crowds came to him,
having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute,
and many others.
They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.
The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking,
the deformed made whole,
the lame walking,
and the blind able to see,
and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way.”
The disciples said to him,
“Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?”
Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.

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Christmas Food


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 5, 2018

“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples, a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” Without a doubt, Christmas is filled with memories of families who gather to celebrate and bring food. All across the country, soup kitchens and parish halls, and local social centers are replete with Christmas lunches and dinners for the less fortunate with always plenty of volunteers to help bring the spirit of Christmas alive in the hearts that seek it. “They all ate and were satisfied.” The remarkable and often repeated image of eating and banquets and intimate settings of meals points to the context and framework at which Jesus is present and why He was born to us in such miserable and longing poverty.

The world is starving. Our souls are hungry. The only way to face this is to be fed with the Bread of Life and allow Jesus to be the center of our existence. “I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” As we prepare for Christmas, let us remember that there are those around us who are waiting for us to invite and share the tenderness and great meaning of this time. Make this Christmas beautiful by remembering others and saying only the good things that people need to hear. This is our moment and our Christmas.

“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.” ~Margaret Thatcher

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December 6, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 26:1-6

On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:

“A strong city have we;
he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
Open up the gates
to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith.
A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace;
in peace, for its trust in you.”

Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock.
He humbles those in high places,
and the lofty city he brings down;
He tumbles it to the ground,
levels it with the dust.
It is trampled underfoot by the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 118:1 AND 8-9, 19-21, 25-27A

R. (26A) Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This gate is the LORD’s;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.
O LORD, grant salvation!
O LORD, grant prosperity!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
we bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God, and he has given us light.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia – IS 55:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call him while he is near.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 7:21, 24-27

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

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Nicholas In Us


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 6, 2018

Today is the time-honored, child-revered, legend-laden Feast of St. Nicholas. Let us celebrate as co-travelers through what is left of mystery and grace left in our world. Something is certainly different about today and perhaps this is why. The one everyone knows as Santa Claus has a remarkable history all his own reaching all the way back to the third century to a monk named Nicholas. Most historians place his birth around 280 A.D. in modern-day Turkey and describe him as someone much admired for his beautiful generosity and kindness. Many sources reveal that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick, including three poor sisters from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. For the next seventeen centuries, Santa Claus evolved and became the virtual symbol of happy, childlike innocent fun together with an almost magical sense of giving and receiving and spreading goodness throughout the entire year. It is the kind of existence that is painted by our First Reading today: “Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith. A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you.”

Without drifting needlessly into cynicism, let us state that St. Nicholas is still alive and well in the hearts of those who love Christmas and who never forget the true source and power of the season, Jesus Christ. If we accept the Lord Jesus into our everyday thinking and acting, then St. Nick is alive through us because Jesus is alive in us. In this first week of Advent waiting and watching for the birth of Jesus, consider how Christmas both amazes and mystifies our families and friends, especially children. Let us be the miracle people are seeking, the hope they look for and the true spirit of love and peace that we all need to experience. It is clearly straight from the mind and heart of Christ: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.”

“O good St. Nicholas, you who are the joy of the children, put in my heart the spirit of childhood, which the Gospel speaks, and teach me to seed happiness around me. You, whose feast prepares us for Christmas, open my faith to the mystery of God made man. You good bishop and shepherd, help me to find my place in the Church and inspire the Church to be faithful to the Gospel. O good Saint Nicholas, patron of children, sailors and the helpless, watch over those who pray to Jesus, your Lord and theirs, as well as over those who humble themselves before you. Bring us all in reverence to the Holy Child of Bethlehem, when true joy and peace are found. Amen.”

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December 7, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 29:17-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
But a very little while,
and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard,
and the orchard be regarded as a forest!
On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book;
And out of gloom and darkness,
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD,
and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
For the tyrant will be no more
and the arrogant will have gone;
All who are alert to do evil will be cut off,
those whose mere word condemns a man,
Who ensnare his defender at the gate,
and leave the just man with an empty claim.
Therefore thus says the LORD,
the God of the house of Jacob,
who redeemed Abraham:
Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of,
nor shall his face grow pale.
When his children see
the work of my hands in his midst,
They shall keep my name holy;
they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob,
and be in awe of the God of Israel.
Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding,
and those who find fault shall receive instruction.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 27:1, 4, 13-14

R. (1A) The Lord is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Alleluia 

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, our Lord shall come with power;
he will enlighten the eyes of his servants.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 9:27-31

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out,
“Son of David, have pity on us!”
When he entered the house,
the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them,
“Do you believe that I can do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
And their eyes were opened.
Jesus warned them sternly,
“See that no one knows about this.”
But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.

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Christmas Faith


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 7, 2018

“And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.” Many of us are aware that this time of year, although wonderful for many, is a time of sadness and loss for others. Part of the challenge here is that from this Christmas to the last, there may been significant changes such as a loss of a job, a friendship and/or a dear loved one. It also increases this pain for some to see many others happy and cheerful and excited over the season, while deep inside there is pain and loneliness. “I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living.” This is precisely why we have to be focused on the real meaning of Christmas lest we be blind to the deep, lasting grace and comfort that is poured out for the many in this world.

“Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘Let it be done for you according to your faith.’” This Christmas transformation comes about when we make our way to the manger and see ourselves lifting the baby Jesus not only into our arms but into our souls, our understanding, and into our very lives. On this First Friday of December, let us commit to a number of things: find a trusted voice and speak about the struggles that exist in the world today while offering those very same trials to God in the same breath. Listen to others especially when we sense that a grateful shoulder is needed. Spend time this week reading and re-reading the Christmas Narratives found in the Gospels of St. Luke or Matthew. Let all those images fold into your imagination and dreams and then help others prepare when you can. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

“Christmas is a bridge. We need bridges as the river of time flows past. Today’s Christmas should mean creating happy hours for tomorrow and reliving those of yesterday.”  ~Gladys Taber

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Christmas And The Homeless Baby


swaddled baby in mother's arms with father looking

My recently acquired membership in the sixty-plus club comes with some surprising benefits among my family and friends. It is definitely true that time seems to travel much faster as once remembered and good memories seem closer while bad ones appear further and further away. Other benefits include an apparent increase of loving patience from those who have recently joined the forty-plus club, more enjoyment of peace and quiet, and because the body has also fallen captive of this time change, this same peace and quiet both seem easier to find. Such was the moment a few weeks ago as I was sipping my coffee and thanking God while simultaneously begging Him for much more help and understanding with a number of impending issues ahead. An indifferent cold wind outside painted the perfect backdrop to be still and stay warm, acutely and highly useful in contributing to the main task of preparing mental notes of what had to get done, what could wait and tracking down those other nagging chores and concerns that escaped the grasp of my memory.

Out of the blue, as if to break in with a flashing news alert, I received a call from my nephew spiced with a tone of fear and restlessness of which I was not accustomed to hearing from him. “Please,” said he, “I’ve got to see you. I have news. I have sad news. I must tell you in person.” Without a doubt, this was truly the best way to get someone’s attention. Unquestionably it worked that morning and soon I found myself driving anxiously to my home to discover the painful yet unrevealed news. While in my car, with my imaginations in overdrive, I thought about the last fifteen years or so since I have watched my nephew grow into a man. It seemed like just yesterday that he was in middle school. Where had the years gone? How did I miss all the in-between growing spurts and pains? Well, I was about to have a front seat to a dramatic turn of events that has since helped shape how I will approach Christmas this year with those closest to me.

“I lost my home,” he staggered through hushed sounds of tears and shallow breaths. “You lost your what?” I followed. I wasn’t sure I heard right. Did he say he lost his comb? Wait, that wouldn’t make any sense so I just sat down to listen more carefully. Seeing as I am not well versed in these financial matters, let us agree to state here for the sake of time and interest, that because of a series of missteps and inaction, he did in fact lose the home he had been dreaming of buying and settling down and now within one excruciating week that dream was about to be boxed into cardboard containers and carried away with the sobering knowledge that anything he would leave behind would be sold, given away or just trashed. Not a pretty sight, for sure. What further surprised me was how much weight he placed in my opinion of him and how I was going to think of him going forth. “Nothing has changed between us,” I said while trying to wrap my mind around all that was transpiring before me. “Now you’ve got to keep moving and find a new home.”

A new home? Those few simple words started to echo curiously in my mind as if I had said something remarkably deep and resilient. Then I looked at my watch. It was less than a month away from Christmas and the whole idea of moving and finding a home made perfect sense. It was the real-life experience of Jesus in the first few minutes of post-birth life on this planet with parents who were probably as forlorn and worried as my nephew. In those few moments of the most difficult unfolding truth for a thirty-year-old to hear, we both realized a sobering, troublesome truth that he was homeless. Maybe not for long, certainly not forever, but right then and there, he was homeless and all of a sudden I felt incredibly helpless and sad, perhaps yet another throwback of emotions finding their roots in the first Christmas.

Jesus was a homeless baby. Not surprisingly, we do not normally have the opportunity to think about this revealing truth inundated as we are every year with all the wonderfully crafted and awe-inspiring Christmas cards, memes, photoshopped pictures and our very nice and serene Nativity Scenes popping up all around us. Yet, the first Christmas, if we think about it in quiet reflection, was hardly full of silent nights and warm cheer, but rather and more accurately painful and even empty, certainly not our modern idea of a merry Christmas. This gut-wrenching aspect of these days are not without great merit and can actually deepen our care and awareness about the reality of this time and actually create in us a spirit that makes life around us so much better and more beautifully significant.

This is not an attempt to guilt people into an over-gushing of temporary charitable acts that start and end in one day. That is self-absorbed guilt-relief and unsustainable. This aspect of homelessness has to be something much deeper and much more significant. You and I are, in essence, homeless because our final home is in heaven and everywhere we live today, no matter what city or state, home or apartment, cave or tent, is, by definition, temporary. If this is true, then how could it shape Christmas and the brave new year we are all about to enter into? Here are a few thoughts:

If we truly understand this Christmas mystery, wrapped not-so-tenderly in stark homelessness, then I believe it will truly change the way we treat each other. Instead of over-reacting when someone offers us a cross word or an ugly, condescending look, remembering that we are all trying to find our way home with varying degrees of success might take the edge off the ferociousness that sometimes characterizes human interaction, especially during this highly overrated buying season to get all the right gifts for all the right people with not enough money to go around or enough time to accomplish it all.

It will also reveal a new way to understand anger and harried frustration, both inside of each of us and the seemingly endless display from others around us. Everyone has lost something. Everyone is afraid of something. And yes, everyone misses someone. Gone unchecked, these subtle realities of being human can create exasperated resentment and pathetic posturing that creates more of the same in other family members and co-workers. Knowing that the first Christmas was about a homeless baby struggling for the basic human needs of food, water and shelter, could very well usher in a new sense of patience and love and certainly forgiveness beginning with a most sincere sense of gratitude of what we do have rather than focusing on what we do not. We would then be invited to approach every life situation from now on with the poignant thought, “How can I make things better?”

Finally, the plight of Jesus and Mary and Joseph could also remind us about our perceived value of possessions. Imagine what they were able to carry. Can you see a bag of toys and the latest electronic-cyber gadgets strapped over the donkey carrying the holy family to and from the manger moment? Hardly. We all know and accept that there is a readily and perennially explosive amount of attention placed on buying and purchasing and getting and receiving gifts around this time. Things. Things. Things. It would not be a hard stretch to remember that this homeless baby would grow up into an awesome human being, the quintessential man, who would then remind us that although the world teaches us to love things and use people, His message would be the opposite, even sealing it with his own final selfless act on the cross.

In a few short weeks, Christmas will be upon us and the comfort and joy that is potentially ours will be waiting once again when we gather around the God-made-Man who was not only born homeless but who also died homeless. Whether you belong to the twenty-plus, thirty-plus, forty-plus clubs or beyond, it’s time to make a brand new memory and relive a timeless one. It is the time to remember to thank God that we have a home waiting for us with all those we miss and remember with great fondness and perhaps even with sad longing. The time has come once again to make room in our souls for the one who was homeless and yet gave each of us an eternal home.

Don’t you want a real Christmas rather than a silly, expensive and self-indulgent one? I know I do. I will try very hard to convince my nephew that he has been given a unique and wonderful chance to experience a phenomenal Christmas that will not only shape the rest of his new year, but recalibrate and reformat the rest of his life.

That’s my hope and I’m sticking with it.

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December 8, 2018


Reading 1 – GN 3:9-15, 20

After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree,
the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with meC
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4

R. (1) Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.

Reading 2 – EPH 1:3-6, 11-12

Brothers and sisters:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.

In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.

Alleluia – SEE LK 1:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

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Out Of The Blue


Reflection Mass Reading for December 8, 2018

Today is the glorious Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary which has a long and complex history. It goes back to the understanding of the mystery of Mary in her privileged relationship with God and with the mystery of salvation, to which she is associated from the first moment of her existence, as being “full of grace” and love of God. In a particular way, the expression “full of grace” has been rediscovered in its most profound sense that she was prepared from the beginning of time for this remarkably pivotal role in all of Salvation: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” (Gospel)  The very words that the Angel Gabriel addressed to Mary placed front and center at the moment that Jesus Christ became incarnate in her body and as true God and true man, sacrifices everything for our salvation to heaven.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it this way: (490) To become the mother of the Savior, Mary “was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role.” The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as “full of grace.” In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God’s grace. (491) Through the centuries the Church has become ever more aware that Mary, “full of grace” through God, was redeemed from the moment of her conception. That is what the dogma of the Immaculate Conception confesses, as Pope Pius IX proclaimed in 1854: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin.”

For us today, this is truly overwhelming: God wants all of us to be saved and only one like us (Jesus) and one like Him (God) could accomplish that. Our humanity with all its weaknesses and damage still has the potential of true greatness. “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.” (Responsorial Psalm) The disobedience of Eve has been forgiven and humanity has been restored by the obedience of Mary. This is why the two will always be inextricably intertwined for all humanity: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (First Reading)

“O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son, we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve her from all stain, so too You would permit us, purified through her intercession, to come to You. Amen.”

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December 9, 2018


Reading 1 – BAR 5:1-9

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever:
wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,
bear on your head the mitre
that displays the glory of the eternal name.
For God will show all the earth your splendor:
you will be named by God forever
the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.

Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights;
look to the east and see your children
gathered from the east and the west
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that they are remembered by God.
Led away on foot by their enemies they left you:
but God will bring them back to you
borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.
For God has commanded
that every lofty mountain be made low,
and that the age-old depths and gorges
be filled to level ground,
that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.
The forests and every fragrant kind of tree
have overshadowed Israel at God’s command;
for God is leading Israel in joy
by the light of his glory,
with his mercy and justice for company.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6.

R. (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Reading 2 – PHIL 1:4-6, 8-11

Brothers and sisters:
I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,
because of your partnership for the gospel
from the first day until now.
I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it
until the day of Christ Jesus.
God is my witness,
how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
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.

Alleluia – LK 3:4, 6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
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.”

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When It’s Time It’s Time


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 9, 2018

“I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the Gospel from the first day until now.” One of the great things about living in the liturgical season of time within the community of the Church is that there is always something new that recalls something past that projects into the future. None more pertinent time that this embodies is the current Season of Advent. Just think of it, we move into yet another pre-Christmas mode recalling past times, perhaps even last Christmas, and many others no doubt, to set the stage for something wonderful. “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee…” Even the inspiration of Luke’s Gospel brings this concept alive because of the historical context with which it begins. At a certain place, in a certain span of time, God speaks and acts in our lives. Always has. Always will.

“For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.” Here is the somewhat-alarming, yet not surprising assertion we will make today in honor of the “most wonderful time of the year.” How we prepare and celebrate Christmas says everything about how we prepare and experience the closing and perhaps most compelling last minutes of our lives. If we have done nothing and the 25th arrives and throws us into a panic, chances are that’s how it’s going to be when our time is up. If we have relished every single moment, song, quiet time with Jesus, listening and reading from the awesome Word of God, then Christmas will find us as excited as a child waiting for that special request lodged beneath the tree not without a glance over to the dining room table to see if cookies and milk were enjoyed by the special guest. And then my friends, it will be Christmas forever.

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December 10, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 35:1-10

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
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 comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water;
The abode where jackals lurk
will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus.
A highway will be there,
called the holy way;
No one unclean may pass over it,
nor fools go astray on it.
No lion will be there,
nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it.
It is for those with a journey to make,
and on it the redeemed will walk.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
They will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 85:9AB AND 10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (Isaiah 35:4F) Our God will come to save us!
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD –for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Our God will come to save us!
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Our God will come to save us!
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.
R. Our God will come to save us!

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold the king will come, the Lord of the earth,
and he himself will lift the yoke of our capacity.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 5:17-26

One day as Jesus was teaching,
Pharisees and teachers of the law,
who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem,
were sitting there,
and the power of the Lord was with him for healing.
And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed;
they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence.
But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd,
they went up on the roof
and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles
into the middle in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said,
“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves,
“Who is this who speaks blasphemies?
Who but God alone can forgive sins?”
Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply,
“What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he said to the one who was paralyzed,
“I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

He stood up immediately before them,
picked up what he had been lying on,
and went home, glorifying God.
Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said,
“We have seen incredible things today.”

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A Different Kind of Christmas Gift


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 10, 2018

“As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Sometimes we think of Christmas gifts that come in brightly wrapped packages and delightful bows of many colors. But what about another kind of gift? In the great Season of Advent, the Lord Jesus through the Scriptures asks us to consider the powerfully wonderful and awesome gift of actually forgiving another human being for Christmas. The healing nature of letting go of past and ugly hurts is made clear by the entire life and body of teaching of Christ the Lord whose perfect birthday gift could in fact be forgiveness. It is safe to say that he teaches us that you and I are the ones who are being forgiven every time we forgive another person. It is like the oil of relationships that does not change the past but only the future. We can hear the energy of this awesome message in the First Reading: “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you.”

This concept was also made crystal clear in the Gospel of today: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins–he said to the one who was paralyzed, ‘I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.’” Jesus proposes forgiveness as a means to set a prisoner free, only for us to discover that the prisoner was us! The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. and the first to forget is the happiest.

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December 11, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 40:1-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

A voice says, “Cry out!”
I answer, “What shall I cry out?”
“All flesh is grass,
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it.
So then, the people is the grass.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
the word of our God stands forever.”

Go up onto a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
Cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 96:1-2, 3 AND 10AC, 11-12, 13

R. (see Isaiah 40:10AB) The Lord our God comes with power.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name;
announce his salvation, day after day.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
Say among the nations: The LORD is king;
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The day of the Lord is near:
Behold, he comes to save us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”

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Comfort As A Gift


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 11, 2018

“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” Do any of us remember making lists of things we were hoping to see under the tree on Christmas morning? I know it sounds a little selfish but perhaps it was just a way of raising the expectations and joys of the season with the product of wanting to give as much as we receive. Maybe not. More than a few of us will no doubt also remember the post-holiday discussions at school where everyone compared notes about which presents they got and what they didn’t. Perhaps if we had been given a different criteria at a younger age we would all better understand the true meaning of Christmas as the birth of Jesus. How about we look for ways to bring comfort to those around us?
“In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” Here is another analogy: what if we were told that we are all “Christmas Ambassadors” this year? What would that entail? It would certainly mean that you and I would be all about bringing comfort and joy to those around even if means just listening and helping another carry the load a little easier. It would mean a little less concern about what we receive and more on what we give. And here is a very important idea: do you know anyone who will be alone at Christmas? Then what are you waiting for?

I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses. Taylor Caldwell 

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December 12, 2018


Reading 1 – ZEC 2:14-17

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people,
and he will dwell among you,
and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
The LORD will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land,
and he will again choose Jerusalem.
Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!
For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.

Or – RV 11:19A; 12:1-6A, 10AB

God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.”

Responsorial Psalm – JUDITH 13:18BCDE, 19

R. (15:9D) You are the highest honor of our race.
Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God,
above all the women on earth;
and blessed be the LORD God,
the creator of heaven and earth.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.
Your deed of hope will never be forgotten
by those who tell of the might of God.
R. You are the highest honor of our race.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, holy Virgin Mary, deserving of all praise;
from you rose the sun of justice, Christ our God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

Or – LK 1:39-47

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,
“Most 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.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

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Guadalupe Equals Good News


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 12, 2018

“God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.” Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, perhaps one of the most world-wide and recognized celebrations of the place of the Virgin Mary not only in the story of Christmas, but in the whole plan of our Salvation. She said, “Yes!” to the invitation bestowed upon her to become the mother of Jesus and, because the Church is the Body of Christ, she is our mother, also.

“Blessed are you, holy Virgin Mary, deserving of all praise; from you rose the sun of justice, Christ our God.” This particular apparition of Mary is drenched in meaning and significance especially when one considers the horrible and destructive cult of human sacrifice that had been perpetuated in Aztec culture. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the tilma (outer garment) of St. Juan Diego presents a greatly different message. “I am bringing you life, life to the fullest through Jesus Christ!” is clearly the message of the Virgin for today and always. It is yet another beautiful reminder as we near the birth of Jesus this Christmas of the real reason and purpose of everything Christmas. “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.” Christmas joy can only be found in the real meaning and deep experience of the birth of a defenseless, innocent baby with a price tag on his head issued by criminally insane power-hungry madmen bent on death. Life wins when we celebrate and protect it.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin of Guadalupe, that in your apparitions on Mount Tepeyac you promised to show pity and compassion to all who, loving and trusting you, seek your help and protection. Accordingly, listen now to our supplications and grant us consolation and relief. We are full of hope that, relying on your help, nothing can trouble or affect us. As you have remained with us through your admirable image, so now obtain for us the graces we need. Amen.

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December 13, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 41:13-20

I am the LORD, your God,
who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I will help you.”
Fear not, O worm Jacob,
O maggot Israel;
I will help you, says the LORD;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
I will make of you a threshing sledge,
sharp, new, and double-edged,
To thresh the mountains and crush them,
to make the hills like chaff.
When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off
and the storm shall scatter them.
But you shall rejoice in the LORD,
and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain,
their tongues are parched with thirst.
I, the LORD, will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will 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.
I will plant in the desert the cedar,
acacia, myrtle, and olive;
I will set in the wasteland the cypress,
together with the plane tree and the pine,
That all may see and know,
observe and understand,
That the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 145:1 AND 9, 10-11, 12-13AB

R. (8) The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Let them make known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.

Alleluia – SEE IS 45:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let the clouds rain down the Just One,
and the earth bring forth a Savior.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 11:11-15

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and the violent are taking it by force.
All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John.
And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

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Let Your Christmas Light Shine


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 13, 2018

For many adults during this time of waiting and watching, the profound images of Santa and his flying reindeer figure as a larger-than-life episode in warm, comforting and beautiful Christmas memories. How does that work? All we knew is that because of those remarkable creatures, Christmas night was to be a success each and every year. As we age, much of the childhood props begin to fade and we are left with the only plausible explanation of why Christmas can and should make us very happy: “I will 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.”

The great transition into adulthood allows us to keep hold of the wonder and priceless chill of a star-lit sky hoping that everyone receives what they want and need for Christmas. And isn’t that the core of belief at this time? Let everyone be lifted high to welcome the King of kings and the Lord of lords to bring us a great sense of love and forgiveness and deep love for those whom the Lord has given to us to love. That would be accomplished not by the light of deer but of another wonderfully inspired messenger and equally important Christmas character: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist.”

We have probably heard it said that God never promised any of us an easy flight but certainly a safe landing. That is most definitely true. And while we adults watch children all around us appreciate their own childhood again, bills and promises and deadlines all loom as well. But it is Jesus who makes all this understandable and yes, warm and beautiful and comforting for all of us, kids and big kids alike. That’s why we can believe every word of the Gospel today: “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

He always knew he was a little different, but he let his light shine regardless of what others said. Be more like Rudolph! from An Autistic Christmas

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December 14, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 48:17-19

Thus says the LORD, your redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel:
I, the LORD, your God,
teach you what is for your good,
and lead you on the way you should go.
If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea;
Your descendants would be like the sand,
and those born of your stock like its grains,
Their name never cut off
or blotted out from my presence.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6

R. (see John 8:12) Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord will come; go out to meet him!
He is the prince of peace.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 11:16-19

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare this generation?
It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance,
we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
‘He is possessed by a demon.’
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

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Do You Hear What I Hear?


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 14, 2018

Christmas has a lot to do with listening. Think of all the different seasonal carols we look forward to at this time. We listen for our favorite lines, melodies, even the sound of bells ringing in front of malls and stores. We also listen for the voices of those whom we love. So does God: “If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea.” What we hear during this great Advent Season is the call to get real with our lives and with each other. There are many other voices shouting out at this all year long. The only voice that matters: “Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.” 
 
“We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.” Unfortunately there are many around us who hear the refrains of hope and salvation that you and I hear but continue to go forward blindly. We must pray for each other constantly until that day that we all see clearly what Christmas means and what greatness in heaven and eternal life is just waiting for us. Today, you and I must be that voice, that speaker to announce the Good News: Jesus Christ is Born! 

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.   Hamilton Wright Mabie

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December 15, 2018


Reading 1 – SIR 48:1-4, 9-11

In those days,
like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah
whose words were as a flaming furnace.
Their staff of bread he shattered,
in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
By the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens
and three times brought down fire.
How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fiery horses.
You were destined, it is written, in time to come
to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD,
To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons,
and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob.
Blessed is he who shall have seen you
and who falls asleep in your friendship.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 80:2AC AND 3B, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
Take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Alleluia – LK 3:4, 6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
All flesh shall see the salvation of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 17:9A, 10-13

As they were coming down from the mountain,
the disciples asked Jesus,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood
that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

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Christmas Fire


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 15, 2018

“In those days, like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace.” Since Christmas occurs for many of us during the winter season, a lot of chimneys and fireplaces are lit up filled with fire and warmth and light for the festivities to come. But that is not the only place where fire could be raging. Christmas brings us face-to-face with the baby Jesus to enlighten and “jump-start” our faith. Something truly can come alive in a most exciting way if we truly find our way back to the manger this Christmas. That may take some doing given all the distractions, worries, obstacles and hardships–just like the first Christmas! “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.” 
 
It is hard at times to imagine that this little baby at Christmas will die for our sins and lead us all into heaven. It is the same way with new parents who welcome their children into the world on the first day knowing that there is so much waiting for them ahead. “So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.” This is why our Christmas must light the fire of faith in each one us as we boldly face this Christmas and whatever the New Year has in store for us. Jesus is already there. 

Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. Washington Irving 

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December 16, 2018


Reading 1 – ZEP 3:14-18A

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;
the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
he will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

Responsorial Psalm – IS 12:2-3, 4, 5-6.

R. (6) Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Reading 2 – PHIL 4:4-7

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.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Alleluia – IS 61:1 (Cited In LK 4:18)

R. Alleluia, alleluia. 
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. 

Gospel – LK 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.”

Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.

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Christmas Is A Wonderful Life


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 16, 2018

One day on Christmas Eve, a man found himself at the very depths and the bottom of the darkest point of his life and in the famous movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” he discovers through a Christmas “Angel” what life would have been like if he had never been born. It gave him a new sense of purpose and a joy to be alive giving him every reasonable reason to be happy and overjoyed: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!”   This is our goal today as we near Christmas Eve ourselves, just one week away! How do we do this?

“The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” During these last few days that we have, let us consider accomplishing the following: 1) slow down, 2) forgive, 3) remember those who have less than we do. This we do to prepare for our Jesus who comes to save, comfort and forgive us: “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”  

This is where the wisdom, experience, and values of this Advent Season truly come into play. Only those things that we do for others, including the souls we try to rescue, will pass from this earth to the next. Everything else will burn up someday but those things done for Christ and for His glory, will endure forever. You can’t take it with you but you can certainly send it ahead and have it waiting for you when you use your time, talents, and treasure for the kingdom of God and for the glory of Jesus Christ: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” If we can enter into the true Spirit of Christmas, then it is truly a wonderful life! 

All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away. —on George Bailey’s office wall from the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life 

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December 17, 2018


Reading 1 – GN 49:2, 8-10

Jacob called his sons and said to them:
“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob,
listen to Israel, your father.

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise
–your hand on the neck of your enemies;
the sons of your father shall bow down to you.
Judah, like a lion’s whelp,
you have grown up on prey, my son.
He crouches like a lion recumbent,
the king of beasts–who would dare rouse him?
The scepter shall never depart from Judah,
or the mace from between his legs,
While tribute is brought to him,
and he receives the people’s homage.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 72:1-2, 3-4AB, 7-8, 17

R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 1:1-17

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations;
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ,
fourteen generations.

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It’s In The Genes


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 17, 2018

“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your father.” At very well-placed times of the year, especially around the dates that are most famous for the gatherings of families like right now, you will see a cascade of advertisements concerning the discovery of one’s family roots through DNA testing. Commercials abound with different companies competing for curious dollars to discover not only where families originated, but also identifying certain traits. Many believe they can learn significantly about where they are going by discovering where they are from. “In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed; all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.” 

With only a week away from Christmas Eve, we have been generously served the genealogy account from the Gospel of St. Matthew that traces the lineage of Jesus all the way back to Abraham: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” The importance of this moment is quite similar to the DNA searches that have grown into popularity in the last ten years or so. We want to know who Jesus is so as to know why He came. When we realize why He came, we will embrace Him into our hearts and families like a new born invigorating all of our lives with a freshness and transforming passage into a brand new year. We know where we are going because we know who is leading us. And we know exactly His origins and final destiny in heaven. 

God walked down the stairs of heaven with a Baby in His arms. Paul Scherer

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December 18, 2018


Reading 1 – JER 23:5-8

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 days Judah shall be saved,
Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name they give him:
“The LORD our justice.”

Therefore, the days will come, says the LORD,
when they shall no longer say, “As the LORD lives,
who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt”;
but rather, “As the LORD lives,
who brought the descendants of the house of Israel
up from the land of the north”–
and from all the lands to which I banished them;
they shall again live on their own land.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19

R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous deeds.
And blessed forever be his glorious name;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 1:18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, 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.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.

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I’m Dreaming Of A Kind Christmas


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 18, 2018

It seems everyone is dreaming at Christmastime: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.” (Clement Clarke Moore) Even amid the Holy Family: “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. When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.”  

As we continue our Advent journey toward a splendid Christmas moment, let us dare to dream of a life that is truly free and devoid of hatred, arrogance or selfishness; let us dream of a world that is full of peace and understanding; and let us dream of a life that beings with each one of us serving our Lord and King of Kings: “As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.” We can start right now. Where is that person that needs extra patience? When is the next opportunity to be gentle and understanding? Who will go to the manger with us? Behold! The time approaches quickly!

When it comes to kindness, paying it forward, and good deeds, every day should be like Christmas. Brenda Priddy

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December 19, 2018


Reading 1 – JGS 13:2-7, 24-25A

There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,
whose name was Manoah.
His wife was barren and had borne no children.
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
“Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son.
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb.
It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel
from the power of the Philistines.”

The woman went and told her husband,
“A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed.
I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me,
‘You will be with child and will bear a son.
So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.
For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb,
until the day of his death.'”

The woman bore a son and named him Samson.
The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him;
the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 71:3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17

R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!
I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD;
O God, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.”

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Samson and John: Christmas Bookends


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 19, 2018

Everything that has been revealed in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament; conversely, everything in the New completes Revelation in the Old. We have that occurrence today in our Readings. Samson in the Old Testament: “The woman bore a son and named him Samson. The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him; the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.”  St. John the Baptist in the New Testament: “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” Both of these powerful individuals prepared for the coming of Christ in their distinctive ways. Samson, with remarkable physical strength, fought for Israel and with the ultimate sacrifice of his own life, defeated the powerful Philistines who were intent on destroying the people of God. John the Baptist prepared the world for Jesus the Christ with his own blood as a great witness to the Messiah who would save all of us, the veritable new people of God. 

What is clear is this: God used ordinary people to achieve extraordinary wonders so that we could have Christmas and Easter, that is the dawn of eternal life and the full splendor of the beautiful Day of the Lord for all of us in heaven. The Lord uses you and me today to do much the same. With Christmas less than a week away, challenge yourself to speak to as many people as you can with this greeting: “I am praying for you this Christmas.” See what happens. 

Loving God, help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds and the worship of the wise men. Amen. 

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December 20, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 7:10-14

The LORD spoke to Ahaz:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary men,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 24:1-2, 3-4AB, 5-6

R. (see 7C and 10B) Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 1:26-38

In the sixth month,
the angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

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Signs and Symptoms


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 20, 2018 

Around this time of the year, a scratchy throat, watery or dry eyes, and a pounding, relentless headache could all be signs of the flu or much worse. With our informational technology, the internet, and a myriad of medical shows and programs on TV, you and I have become “mini-doctors” able to diagnose and recognize everything from cancer to broken hearts just by reviewing the signs. How do we recognize the signs of the true meaning of Christmas?: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”  

Great. We are to look for the sign of the baby born in Bethlehem and accept this as the utmost important sign of Christmas: “Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.” So how do we know that we have let Him into our hearts? What indications might be present to prove such a thought? What are the symptoms of a great Christmas? Here are a few: 1. We have slowed down and begun to notice the little beautiful gifts from God everywhere; 2. We have learned to be patient with most difficult people around us; 3. We have stopped to pray for those we love and those we don’t know who need the prayers nonetheless; and 4. We have forgiven everyone. Impossible, you think? Think again: “Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” 

This Christmas, give the Holy Spirit everything that would hurt you. Let yourself be healed completely that you may join with Him in healing, and let us celebrate our release together by releasing everyone with us.  A Course in Miracles

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December 21, 2018


Reading 1 – SG 2:8-14

Hark! my lover–here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
and come!
“For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

“O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely.”

Or – ZEP 3:14-18A

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;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
He will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21

R. (1A; 3A) Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield,
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust.
R. Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 1:39-45

Mary set out in those days
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,
“Most 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.”

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Listening For Christmas


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 21, 2018

“The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love.” It should be quite clear by now that we know Christmas is coming! Look around you. There are so many decorations, and lights, and, in some circles, even ugly sweaters! And depending on where you live and work, the smells of this glorious time have already filled the air with sweet and delectable aromas of baked goods, soups and candies, and, in some circles, that one-of-a kind fragrance of tamales. Apologies to those unfamiliar with this exquisiteness, please conduct an internet search.  

There are also sounds of Christmas: “Let me see you, let me hear your voice, For your voice is sweet, and you are lovely.” (First Reading) These are not just ordinary sounds, either. These are the words of comfort, joy and resolution for everything we carry that allows anxiety to creep into our souls. When we attune our hearts for these sounds, we begin to understand the real mystery of this great time now almost upon us. Spend some time in real, staggering silence before Christmas Eve. Try to hear your own heart beating. That is where God speaks. Listening is how prayer begins. Responding in action is our Christmas gift to God: “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.” With only a few more days, open your heart to the wonders of this holy time. Listen carefully. 

Let us keep Christmas beautiful without a thought of greed, that it might live forevermore to fill our every need, that it shall not be just a day, but last a lifetime through, the miracle of Christmastime that brings God close to you.  Ann Schultz

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December 22, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 SM 1:24-28

In those days,
Hannah brought Samuel with her,
along with a three-year-old bull,
an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine,
and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
After the boy’s father had sacrificed the young bull,
Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said:
“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.

Responsorial Psalm – 1 SAMUEL 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8ABCD

R. (see 1A) My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“My heart exults in the LORD,
my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in my victory.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“The bows of the mighty are broken,
while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,
while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“The LORD puts to death and gives life;
he casts down to the nether world;
he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich,
he humbles, he also exalts.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
“He raises the needy from the dust;
from the dung heap he lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage.”
R. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 1:46-56

Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months
and then returned to her home.

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You Remembered


Reflections on Mass Reading for December 22, 2018

When you get right down to it, Christmas is all about a promise kept. Promises are rampant throughout the Scriptures and is evidenced from the First Reading of today: “I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD.” However, we may be treading on thin ice here. How so? Most of us have painfully experienced broken promises. The more we loved and trusted the person who hurt us this way, the deeper the pain and disappointment. As adults we have come to, or soon must arrive at the conclusion that people with good intentions make promises but only those with good character and integrity of heart actually keep them. 

Back in the first moments of human history, God made a promise to our ancestors when all had gone astray. He said He would try again with our human race and send us a Redeemer who would save us all from the grips of selfishness and evil and bestow us with true freedom. “My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.” This is why we can search for and find the happiness and joy of Christmas as we live and move and have our being. These final days of preparation are of extreme importance to accomplish this. We can and should join the Virgin Mary when she sang for us today: “He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy.” With just a couple of days before Christmas Eve, find every way you can to find this joy. Remember that He remembered His promise to humanity and to you personally. Let His promises at Christmas shine on all your problems now and while there is breath in your body and beyond. 

Who can add to Christmas? The perfect motive is that God so loved the world. The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son. The only requirement is to believe in Him. The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life. Corrie Ten Boom

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December 23, 2018


Reading 1 – MI 5:1-4A

Thus says the LORD:
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
and the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
and they shall remain, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Reading 2 – HEB 10:5-10

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.'”

First he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, :Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Alleluia – LK 1:38

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 1:39-45

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.”

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Almost There


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 23, 2018

A group of high school seniors were somewhat perplexed at something they read in history class and were simultaneously frustrated by the apparent inability of their teacher to explain it to them with only his feeble (as they put it) attempt to shift their attention from the fact (as they saw it) that he did not understand it either. He said, “You’ll just have to get older and grow up first before you know what it means.” Here is the quote from Alexander the Great: “I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” “He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD, in the majestic name of the LORD, his God.” On this fourth and final Sunday of Advent, we have finally arrived to Christmas Eve. All that we have done or not done now comes into play as the sun sets and lights come on in our churches and homes. “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.” As we near the great and glorious Season of Christmas tomorrow tonight, we are about to be empowered for the rest of our days if we believe: “We have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  

What we must continue to fight so that we may prevail with Jesus in this holy time are the issues of fear and anxiety which have literally inundated all of Earth’s major literary works from all known cultures. Some have reported that Shakespeare wrote about fear in every one of his major works. “Of all base passions, fear is most accursed.” (Henry VI, Act V, Scene 1)  It has likewise been said with numbing regularity that the phrase “do not be afraid” is found 365 times in the whole of Scriptures. There is no time today to either dispute or confirm that but only to say that it is mentioned enough to believe it no matter how many times it appears on the pages of our Bible. The mother of Jesus, the primary witness of the birth of Christ not only was comforted by the presence of her son and Savior in her body and holding Him for the first few moments of His life, knew exactly of which we speak: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

It is time to sing because we are sheep led by the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is time to shout with relief because He did what He promised. There can be no more allowances for fear, for doubt or for self-pity if we are really serious about this life and what great things that come out of it. Open your hearts and make yourselves ready! We are His sheep, His servants, His handmaids, His hands and feet. Let Christmas come with all its wonder!

Stop trying and start trusting. Rick Warren

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December 24, 2018


Reading 1 – 2 SM 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16

When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
“Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?

“‘It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his Kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.'”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 AND 29

R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.”
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the rock, my savior.’
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.”
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Radiant Dawn,
Splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 1:67-79

Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
for he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

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Build Me A Manger


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 24, 2018

“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Should you build me a house to dwell in?” Well, here it is! It is Christmas Eve and whether or not we think we are ready for Christmas 2018, it is just a few hours away. Everyone will be getting ready for the many wonderful local and familial traditions including the special foods, visits, Masses and of course gathering around the nativity scenes to finally place that last missing piece of the baby Jesus. As we move forward with joyous expectation and the hope of glancing at Christmas through the eyes of children and the child-like, let us consider the entire mystery behind placing the Christ Child in the manger of our homes and churches. It is a powerful reminder that the Lord wishes to be born and alive and living within our own hearts, a personal manger, if you will. 

“In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” So tonight, let us place the last few details to make this manger the most safe, warm and inviting place for Jesus. Forgive those whom you need to forgive, let go of the mistakes that have haunted you this year and just count all the magnificent blessings that have been ours in abundance. Clear a special spot in your manger-heart right here, right now. “O Radiant Dawn, Splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.” Behold, Christmas has arrived and the Lord is here!

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.  W.T. Ellis 

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December 25, 2018


Reading 1 – IS 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet,
until her vindication shines forth like the dawn
and her victory like a burning torch.

Nations shall behold your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
you shall be called by a new name
pronounced by the mouth of the LORD.
You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD,
a royal diadem held by your God.
No more shall people call you “Forsaken,”
or your land “Desolate,”
but you shall be called “My Delight,”
and your land “Espoused.”
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29.

R. (2A) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
He shall say of me, “You are my father,
my God, the rock, my savior.”
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2 – ACTS 13:16-17, 22-25

When Paul reached Antioch in Pisidia and entered the synagogue,
he stood up, motioned with his hand, and said,
“Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen.
The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors
and exalted the people during their sojourn in the
land of Egypt.
With uplifted arm he led them out of it.
Then he removed Saul and raised up David as king;
of him he testified,
‘I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.’
From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'”

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Tomorrow the wickedness of the earth will be destroyed:
the Savior of the world will reign over us.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 1:1-25

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah,
whose mother was Tamar.
Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab became the father of Nahshon,
Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz,
whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed,
whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon,
whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
Solomon became the father of Rehoboam,
Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham,
Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh,
Manasseh the father of Amos,
Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers
at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel,
Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile,
fourteen generations;
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ,
fourteen generations.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, 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.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel, 

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.

OR – MT 1:18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, 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.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.

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I Will Not Be Silent


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 25, 2018

Our First Reading on this beautiful Christmas Day hails from the great Prophet Isaiah who speaks with the most profound enthusiasm about what can and should be in our hearts today: “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.” There is simply an entire breed of announcements that simply cannot be made without singing and deep joy literally bubbling over the top of the message itself. Today is one of those announcements; Christ is Born! “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”

The Genealogy of Jesus the Christ: Today in the Gospel we have presented the famous lineage of the Messiah from Abraham all the way to Jesus Christ right before our ears and eyes. Why? “From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus.” The very reason for our songs and carols and burst of joy on this day is that from all time the one who was promised to us has finally arrived and we are now safe and saved and empowered to walk in the light of Christ for the rest of our lives. This was no accident. And you and I are no accident, either. We were meant to be here and to make a kind of great impact on those around us with the same hope and anticipation of the first Christmas Day. Attempt to spend this night, the first day of Christmas, as the famous carol implores, “counting your blessings instead of sheep.” There is simply too much joy to go around for each and everyone of us. Merry Christmas! God bless us all, everyone!

I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world. Norman Vincent Peale

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December 26, 2018


Reading 1 – ACTS 6:8-10; 7:54-59

Stephen, filled with grace and power,
was working great wonders and signs among the people.
Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen,
Cyrenians, and Alexandrians,
and people from Cilicia and Asia,
came forward and debated with Stephen,
but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

When they heard this, they were infuriated,
and they ground their teeth at him.
But he, 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 Man
standing at the right hand of God.”
But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears,
and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 31:3CD-4, 6 AND 8AB, 16BC AND 17

R. (6) Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety.
You are my rock and my fortress;
for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
R. Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Alleluia – PS 118:26A, 27A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD:
the LORD is God and has given us light.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 10:17-22

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware 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.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
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.”

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Red and Green Christmas Witness


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 26, 2018

In some circles, the traditional colors of Christmas are red and green, which may explain why the unofficial flower of this great time of year is the poinsettia. Bright red and green colors all wrapped in a single potted plant. Red and green are also powerfully symbolically rich colors for life as well. Perhaps we have a clue in our First Reading as to the explanation of the red hue today, the second day of Christmas: “Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.” The blood of the martyrdom/witness of St. Stephen brings a considerable amount of sobriety to the joy of the time but it is so necessary. The gift of Christmas has everything to do with where we hope to end our earthly pilgrimage because of the great gift of Christmas. We want to go to heaven after a good and solid life of witness to the the real joy and meaning of this great time. We want to have enough happiness and peace in our hearts to say at the end of it all, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”

 So what about the green color? Likewise in many cultures and thoughts, green is the color of hope, a rich, fertile expectation that all will be well even after the harshness that life often brings to us. “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” And certainly, we can believe every word of this. Red and green, not one without the other, comprise the Christmas mystery. There will be moments where we must die to ourselves supported by the hopeful way we live our lives in and around those painful moments. “Rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your kindness.” And so He does.

“We give you thanks, O Lord of glory; for the example of St. Stephen, the first martyr who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand, where He lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.”

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December 27, 2018


Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

Reading 1 – 1 JN 1:1-4

Beloved:
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life —
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12

R. (12) Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are around him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Alleluia – See Te Deum

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the glorious company of Apostles praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 20:1A AND 2-8

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we do not know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.

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I Got There First


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 27, 2018

“So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple (John) ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.” This detail is one of the most interesting in all of the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection. Why was it important to have John, the youngest Apostle (perhaps 18 years old) reach the empty tomb of Jesus first, then wait for Peter, then go in and witness the moment that truly changed the rest of his life forever? We could say he got there first in two ways: “Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.” Although it was clearly not a race, John, the younger Apostle, allowed Peter, the first and head of the Apostles, to go into the tomb first to witness first-hand the miracle of the resurrection we celebrate at Easter. 

The second way is deep in so many ways. By some accounts, he lived nearly ninety years which means he had over seventy years to reflect and remember all that Jesus had taught him. It was also amazing that as the only Apostle who never abandoned Jesus in His darkest hour did not suffer a martyr’s death. His perspective on the whole of Jesus’ teaching was both mystical and simple: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life — for the life was made visible.”  “Love one another.” (1 John 4:8)

Love each other dearly always. There is scarcely anything else in the world but that: to love one another.  Victor Hugo

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December 28, 2018


Feast of the Holy Innocents

Reading 1 – 1 JN 1:5—2:2

Beloved:
This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ
and proclaim to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are without sin,”
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 124:2-3, 4-5, 7CD-8

R. (7) Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Had not the LORD been with us—
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive,
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.

Alleluia – See Te Deum

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MT 2:13-18

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“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.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

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The Ultimate Christmas Sacrifice


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 28, 2018

“A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.” The haunting refrain from the near-funeral dirge sounding quote of Jeremiah from the Gospel Reading is quite sadly and horribly fulfilled with the memories of today’s Feast of the Holy Innocents. “When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.” Herod, the blood-thirsty, criminally insane monarch was so consumed with his own power and self-importance that he truly lived in darkness, an evil-worn abyss that truly consumed him and fueled his destructive tendencies. 

“If we say, ‘We have fellowship with him,’ while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth.” One of the greatest gifts of Christmas is the interior light that shines within us all year long if we allow truth and humility to reign in our hearts. This begins with the miraculous moment when we forgive the person whom we think is responsible for our unhappiness. Jesus teaches us clearly that the place to be happy is here, the time to be happy is now. This is living in the light of truth that dispels the darkness first within us because of grudges and rancor, and even in those around us. “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.”

Let us pray.  “O God, whose praise the martyred Innocents this day proclaimed not by speaking but by dying, put to death all vices within us, that Your faith which our tongues profess, our lives also by their actions may declare. Amen.”

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December 29, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 JN 2:3-11

Beloved:
The way we may be sure that we know Jesus
is to keep his commandments.
Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments
is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
This is the way we may know that we are in union with him:
whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you
but an old commandment that you had from the beginning.
The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
And yet I do write a new commandment to you,
which holds true in him and among you,
for the darkness is passing away,
and the true light is already shining.
Whoever says he is in the light,
yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother remains in the light,
and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.
Whoever hates his brother is in darkness;
he walks in darkness
and does not know where he is going
because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 96:1-2A, 2B-3, 5B-6

R. (11A) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
The LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty go before him;
praise and grandeur are in his sanctuary.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Alleluia – LK 2:32

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
A light of revelation to the Gentiles
and glory for your people Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 2:22-35

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my 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.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
(and you yourself a sword will pierce)
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

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Now I Can Die


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 29, 2018

Have you ever heard the expression, “Now I’ve seen everything!”? It is a phrase that seems to suggest that something has just occurred that took the beholder by surprise and by storm, something that could not have been imagined or predicted. Something similar has happened for us today in the Gospel that chronicles the experience of Simeon in the Temple when he beholds the baby Jesus and realizes that life can never be the same again: “Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my 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.” You see, according to the same Gospel account, he had been promised by a special revelation from the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he actually clapped eyes on the Messiah. When he saw Jesus, he knew it was time. 

Our First Reading today gives us more than just a subtle hint of how we can live like this, and therefore, by extension, die a very happy death: “But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.” It is really quite simple: if we have spent our days trying to love each other, forgive at every juncture, pray for those who hate us, and treat everyone, especially the poor, as if they were Jesus Himself, then don’t you think we would recognize the Messiah, too? St. John agrees with the assessment: “Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.” 

To love another person is to see the face of God. Victor Hugo

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December 30, 2018


Reading 1 – SIR 3:2-6, 12-14

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.

Or – 1 SM 1:20-22, 24-28

In those days Hannah conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son
whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him.
The next time her husband Elkanah was going up
with the rest of his household
to offer the customary sacrifice to the LORD and to fulfill his vows,
Hannah did not go, explaining to her husband,
“Once the child is weaned,
I will take him to appear before the LORD
and to remain there forever;
I will offer him as a perpetual nazirite.”

Once Samuel was weaned, Hannah brought him up with her,
along with a three-year-old bull,
an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine,
and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
After the boy’s father had sacrificed the young bull,
Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said:
“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.”
Hannah left Samuel there.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (cf. 1) Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.

Or – PS 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10

R. (cf. 5A) Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
R. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.
Happy they who dwell in your house!
Continually they praise you.
Happy the men whose strength you are!
Their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage.
R. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.
O LORD of hosts, hear our prayer;
hearken, O God of Jacob!
O God, behold our shield,
and look upon the face of your anointed.
R. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.

Reading 2 – COL 3:12-21

Brothers and sisters:
Put 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 must 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.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, be subordinate to your husbands,
as is proper in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives,
and avoid any bitterness toward them.
Children, obey your parents in everything,
for this is pleasing to the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children,
so they may not become discouraged.

Or – COL 3:12-17

Brothers and sisters:
Put 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 must 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.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Or – 1 JN 3:1-2, 21-24

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
And so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask,
because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
And his commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as he commanded us.
Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them,
and the way we know that he remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.

Alleluia – COL 3:15A, 16A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let the peace of Christ control your hearts;
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Or – CF. ACTS 16:14B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – LK 2:41-52

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.”
And he said to them,
“Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor
before God and man.

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Wholly Family


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 30, 2018

More than a couple of decades ago, a young boy lay in his hospital room trying to recover from a respiratory disease that almost cost him his life. He was asleep late one night at the hospital with his father sleeping in a cot next to his bed when he suddenly lost his air and began to choke to death. The nurses were as professional and helpful as they could be and saved his young life. Minutes later, the little boy sat up in the bed and asked his father a most surprising question: “Daddy, am I going to die?” His father, who was about thirty years old thought hard and prayed over his answer. “Why do you ask me that, son? Are you afraid to die and go to heaven and see God?” His response was as touching as it was profound: “Oh no, Daddy! I’m not afraid to go see God. Not if He is like you, Daddy.” “God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.” 

The role of each family member in a home is so crucial and critical but none are so central as that of a father. Fatherhood propels the dynamic of the family as it was with the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We can easily see the blueprints for a happy and blessed family in the very core of those three wonderful holy and saintly figures that maintained Jesus in his infancy and adolescence. “The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him.” 

Not everyone, however, is given the same abilities or situations. Many of us come from hurting and broken families. The path ahead for those may be daunting and difficult but not impossible. Because of the Holy Family, we have the hope and the instruction to become whole and integral members not only of our family systems but also and more important in society. “Put 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 must you also do.” 

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. Desmond Tutu

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December 31, 2018


Reading 1 – 1 JN 2:18-21

Children, it is the last hour;
and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming,
so now many antichrists have appeared.
Thus we know this is the last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not really of our number;
if they had been, they would have remained with us.
Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.
But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One,
and you all have knowledge.
I write to you not because you do not know the truth
but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth

Responsorial Psalm – PS 96:1-2, 11-12, 13

R. (11A) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name;
announce his salvation, day after day.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the LORD.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
The LORD comes,
he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Alleluia – JN 1:14A, 12A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.
To those who accepted him
he gave power to become the children of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – JN 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.

And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son,
full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only-begotten Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.

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The Last Hour


Reflection on Mass Reading for December 31, 2018

“Children, it is the last hour.” Wherever we are right now as we read this last Reflection of 2018, we realize that the time has come, in these last hours, to gather all that we did and said in the last twelve months and offer this as our gift to God for all the hours He gave us. No doubt, there will be memories of some wonderful highlights and some painful setbacks and the temptation will be to only remember the low moments and let them overshadow the necessary gratitude to keep going, to be creative, to be innovative and to think differently and positively: “Sing to the LORD a new song.” On this New Year’s Eve, we must remember the newness of life and the strength we receive that comes from the Lord Jesus and the Gospel that cries out for life-long and complete acceptance: “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name.”

In a few hours we will begin again. We must begin again. The New Year of 2019 will no doubt be similar in at least two ways to the year we will soon put to rest. There will be the absolute best and marvelous moment and the most terrifying and sad one. The good news is, Jesus is already there, waiting for us to find Him and love Him, holding on and never letting go. May the Lord God strengthen all of us in the New Year and may His love and tenderness shower mercy and grace over each month, each week, each day, each hour, each minute, and yes, each second of 2019! 

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. To make an end is to make a beginning.  T.S. Eliot

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