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Daily Reflections

  • Please Hold My Hand

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 14, 2017

    “I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (First Reading) It seems that from the very moment of our appearance out of the womb and into this strange, new world, either someone is holding our hands or we are holding the hand of another. As children we gently and securely place our hands in the hands of those teaching us how to walk or eat or for security. Later we do the same for others much younger than ourselves, perhaps our own children, and finally, we return to the original posture and hold someone else’s hand for security and safety.

    “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.” (Gospel) It could be said that if the first Christmas had to face remarkable odds and the threat of violence, then every Christmas from the beginning to beyond will be faced with the same dilemmas. As in every Christmas, every day, we will have protection, guidance, truth and hope. This must be lived and repeated to each other as often as possible. “Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Gospel)

  • Reindeer and Eagles

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 13, 2017

    During this time of waiting and watching, profound images of Santa and his flying-reindeer figure with warmth, comfort and the beauty of Christmas bring back fond memories for many adults. “How does that work?,” we might have asked. All we knew was 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. “Behold, the Lord comes to save his people; blessed are those prepared to meet him.” (Responsorial Psalm)

    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. 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 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 creature of God’s universe. “They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.” (First Reading)

    God never promised us an easy flight but certainly a safe landing. That is most definitely true. As we watch children around us appreciate childhood again, the bills, promises and deadlines all loom as well. It is Jesus who makes all this understandable, warm, beautiful, and comforting for us, kids and big kids alike. That’s why we can believe every word of the Gospel today. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

  • Good News is Worth The Wait

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 12, 2017

    “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.” (First Reading) 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 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, too.

    “Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth.” (Responsorial Psalm) 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 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.” (Gospel) 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.

  • A Different Kind of Christmas Gift

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 11, 2017

    “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” (Gospel) Sometimes we think of Christmas gifts as those 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 the teaching of Christ the Lord whose perfect birthday gift could in fact be forgiveness. It is safe to say that he teaches us that we 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, 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 today’s Gospel. “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 we were the prisoner. The first to apologize is the bravest, the first to forgive is the strongest, and the first to forget is the happiest.

  • Comfort and Joy

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 10, 2017

    “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” (First Reading)

    “God rest ye merry gentlemen/ Let nothing you dismay./ Remember Christ our Savior/Was born on Christmas Day./ To save us all from Satan’s pow’r/ When we were gone astray. Oh tidings of comfort and joy/Comfort and joy/Oh tidings of comfort and joy.”

    Years ago, a young pastor seized on the anticipation between Thanksgiving and Christmas to teach the history of Christmas Carols. There was an almost hidden meaning behind this song. Back in the Middle Ages, the word merry meant great and mighty and the word rest really meant to keep or make. Thus, today, to arrive at the true meaning of this carol, we should sing, “May God make you all great and mighty people!” How would this bring us comfort and joy?

    Men and women who are great are also just and kind. They follow the Law of God with a heart of mercy, love and forgiveness. “Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.” (Responsorial Psalm) These attitudes help produce a clean conscience that can sleep through storms and spread the real message of Christmas through all the cumbersome activities, distractions, lack of time and money which invariably rob most people of the true Spirit of Christmas. As great and mighty Christians, we can make a difference this Christmas by living our faith before everyone we meet, especially our families. The next time someone asks us what we are doing or getting for Christmas, we can tell them and remind each other that Christ was born to die and that, in Him, we might live forever. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen is more than just a Christmas carol. It can be our way of thanking God for Jesus. “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Gospel)

    “Now to the Lord sing praises/ All you within this place/ And with true love and brotherhood/ Each other now embrace/ This holy tide of Christmas/ All other doth deface. Oh tidings of comfort and joy/Comfort and joy/Oh tidings of comfort and joy.”

  • Roses in December

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 9, 2017

    Today is the Feast of Saint Juan Diego who witnessed the amazing apparition of the Virgin Mary at Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City in the mid-sixteenth century. For the longest time the church resisted in proclaiming, through the proper and inspired channels, to name Juan Diego an actual Saint. This was because his body was never found, his grave was unmarked, and there were no other traditional markers that would underscore his existence. That was until St. John Paul II declared that the tilma, the outer garment of Juan Diego which received the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, was deemed proof enough, and so it is a most wonderful answer to the mystery of that hill so long ago. “He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you.” (First Reading)

    “Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.” (Responsorial Psalm) The most profound aspect of this humble saint, however, can possibly be found amid the anticipated joy of those who are longing for their own Christmas miracle. The dramatic scene where St. Juan Diego opened his cloak to reveal the image of Our Lady and a cascade of roses fell with aroma and the flash of red color spoke much more. There is always hope, especially in dark, uncertain moments. Roses in December for those who trust in God and claim the blessing of those who want to live in the Kingdom. In this Advent Season, keep praying for your miracle and wait with grateful expectation. “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Gospel)

    Prayer to Saint Juan Diego

    You who were chosen by Our Lady of Guadalupe as an instrument to show your people and the world that the way of Christianity is one of love, compassion, understanding, values, sacrifices, repentance of our sins, appreciation and respect for God’s creation, and most of all one of humility and obedience. You who we know is now in the Kingdom of the Lord and close to our Mother, be our angel and protect us, stay with us as we struggle in this modern life not knowing most of the time where to set our priorities. Help us to pray to our God to obtain the gifts of the Holy Spirit and use them for the good of humanity and the good of our Church, through the Heart of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Heart of Jesus. Amen.

  • Out of the Blue

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 8, 2017

    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 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. Traditionally, blue is the symbolic color for the Virgin Mary.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it in the following 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.”

    This is truly overwhelming for us today. God wants all of us to be saved, and only Jesus and 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 are and 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.