The Word of God

Daily Reflections

  • 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 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • 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

  • 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.”

  • 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