Sunday, December 16, 2018

Third Sunday of Advent

   “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!” (Phil 4: 4-7)

   The third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday; we are to put aside our earthly concerns and troubles and fill ourselves with joy.  Joy at the anticipated coming of our Savior and rejoicing for the many blessings He brings.

   So many times I see people in stores or in the malls who appear to be in such a rush at this time of year.  On the roads it seems drivers are even more rude and in a hurry than usual.  Everyone is hurrying to prepare for Christmas.  Sadly, it is all too often the secular Christmas that has become the focus in our society.  Little thought is given to the true joy of the season.

  If we are to experience the real meaning of the season we need to take a break from the rush, hurry, spend and buy attitude.  I’m sure most of us still have things needing to be done before Christmas but we can’t let those things replace the joy of the season by turning it into just another exercise in frustration.

   Take the time to light the advent candle and say a prayer of joyful expectation for the coming of Jesus.  Sit down and read some from the bible; get to know Jesus a bit better.  He is coming to save us from sin, to offer us peace, joy and happiness in heaven.  Those are things we should be focused on rather than the earthly celebration of money, gifts and cards that will be in the trash next week.

   Sit down with your children and talk about what Christmas really means.  Tell them of the real St. Nicholas.  Perhaps read Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  Help them understand that the love and caring in the Cratchit family is worth far more than all the money Scrooge had accumulated.

   Call a friend or family member you’ve not spoken to for a while and wish them the joy of Christmas.  Visit a sick or elderly neighbor who may have no family to visit them.  Think of the joy you can spread by just taking a few minutes to sit and talk with them.  Let them tell you of their memories and share your own.

   When someone pushes ahead of you at the store, wish them a Merry Christmas; ask God to bless the driver who just cut you off rather than swearing at them.  Let go of the angst, hurry and frustration so many experience during this season and rest in the joy of our Lord’s coming.  Come, Lord Jesus!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Eyes of a Child

   Advent is a time of waiting.  A time of preparation for the coming of our Lord.  It is a time of expectation and hope.  The arrival of the expected Messiah and the hope of eternal life through His love and mercy.

   In the eyes of the children we can see the joy of anticipation and hope as they look to the calendar each day to see how many more days they must wait for Christmas.  They watch in wonder as the presents appear beneath the tree.  Their anticipation grows with each passing day.

   Do we look at Christmas with the same level of expectation and hope as our children?  When we look at the calendar are we counting the days until we celebrate His birth or are we frustrated because there is still so much we need to do before Christmas?  The urgency and rush of the season can overwhelm us and take from us the joy that we should be anticipating.  The greatest gift ever given will be remembered and celebrated on that day.  Our thoughts and anticipation should be for the coming of our savior yet we spend our time worrying about getting the shopping done or what we’ll wear to the Christmas parties.

   We need to take a lesson from our children.  We need to focus on what is important rather than the trivial.  The kids know what matters; the gifts under the tree.  Their focus is directed toward that one expectation.  They may not understand the true meaning of Christmas yet but they know it is the most important day of the year.  We will teach them the real reason we celebrate as they mature enough to understand but for now their joy and happiness is a wonderful example for us to emulate.

   On Christmas Day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ; the One who came to lead us to eternal life.  There is no other event that is more deserving of our anticipation, expectation, joy and happiness.  Even though they don’t fully understand the reason, children know the importance of that day.  Let’s join in their incredibly jubilant celebration of Christmas and welcome the birth of our Lord with joy.

Friday, December 14, 2018


   When I contemplate God and all He has done there are so many questions that I would love to have answered.  Though I can never fully understand His plan in this world I pray that He will grant me greater understanding in the next.

   As I think of God, the most common question that arises is why.  Why did He create the world?  Why did He make man and woman?  Why did He give us free will?  Above all why did His only Son become man and live among us, giving His life to free us from our sins?

   Why did He create the universe?  Certainly He didn’t need it.  As pure spirit He needs no physical place to exist.  Yet He desired to create and so created a universe that continues to expand and grow.  Uncountable stars and planets move in sync, never disrupting His design.

   He filled our world with animals of all kinds; mammals, fish, birds, and reptiles.  The world was designed to provide all the needed water, flora and fauna to support the animals He had created.

   Then He created humans.  He could have stopped with the animals and had a world that would have never rejected or defied Him.  Yet He created man and woman and gave them dominion over His creation.  We are to be the stewards of all He created.

   Genesis tells us that He created humanity in His image (see Gen 1: 24).  He gave us free will; the ability to choose rather than simply follow.  Our free will is our greatest gift yet we have used it to deny Him, reject Him and ignore Him.  He asks us to accept Him and love Him freely rather than demanding that we do so.  We have the choice of loving or not loving.

   We have repeatedly failed in our efforts to love Him and follow His plan.  We have sinned and have nothing of enough value to pay for our sins.  Jesus became man to pay the price for us.  He paid for the remission our sins by His death on the cross.

   When I consider all the “whys” I come to only one conclusion.  God did all these things because He loves us.  He loves us enough to give us all we need in this world; enough to show us the way to eternal happiness.  He loves us enough to die for us.

   As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our savior let us contemplate the depth of His love.  So great that He came to die for us and pay for our sins.  Let us give Him our love in return.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


   Throughout history God has chosen people to further His plan.  Those chosen were not usually the high and mighty but the ordinary.  They weren't always qualified but were willing.  God chooses those who will answer; He provides any needed qualifications.

   Noah was faithful to God and was chosen along with his family to repopulate the earth after the great flood.

   God called Abraham to be the father of His chosen people, the Israelites.  His descendants outnumber the stars.

   Moses led the Israelites out of slavery to the promised land.

    A young Jewish girl named Mary was called to be the Mother of God.  She became the handmaid of the Lord.  The Holy Spirit came upon her and she was overshadowed by the power of the Most High.

   John preached baptism for the forgiveness of sin and heralded the Savior's coming.  His joy was seeing the Messiah.

   The apostles were chosen to spread the good news of Jesus throughout the world.  They were the beginning of Christianity.

   Each of those chosen were just ordinary people.  They were chosen by God to do extraordinary things.  There willingness was all God required.

   We too are chosen.  We share with all those before us the choice to accept or reject God's call.  Especially during this time of preparation for the coming of our Lord let's prayerfully consider what God's plan for us might be and respond to that calling.

You have been chosen by God,
Before the world began;
To be Holy, to be blameless in His sight;
To be full of love

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Simple Life

   “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”  (Luke 2: 7)

   Born in a stable or cave since there was no room in any of the inns in Bethlehem.  Placed in a manger, a feeding trough for animals; perhaps a foretelling of the Eucharist by which He feeds us?
   He was without sin yet insisted that John baptize Him in order to fulfill all righteousness; unnecessary for Him but an example to all of the need for baptism to wash away original sin.  He was tempted by Satan just as we are tempted each day; by His rejection of those temptations He gave us the example to follow in our efforts to avoid sin.  Turn to God and His word and Satan loses every time.

   He chose the ordinary as His followers.  He lived the life of an itinerant preacher, not as pastor of a Mega-Church or great Cathedral.  His ministry, His good news was for everyone, not just the rich and famous who could contribute the most to His ministry.  He taught in simple words to a people who would not have understood great theological teachings but could understand the parables He used.  He fed thousands with a few fish and loaves; perhaps to show that even the smallest gift given to God in love can be the source of miracles.

   He lived, taught and died as a simple man.  Yet by His life, death and resurrection we were given the possibility of salvation and entry into eternal life in His presence.  He set His majesty aside to live as we live and reclaimed it at His resurrection, returning to the glory from which He came.

   During this Christmas season I choose to contemplate the simplicity of Christ’s life; a life lived for me and a death suffered for my sins.  I want to welcome Him in simplicity yet give Him all glory and praise.  I want to serve Him in all things and join Him in eternal life.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Worthy Quest

   Why do so many spend their life on a quest of some sort?  Some have sailed the sea seeking new land; others climb mountains; some have even gone to the moon.  What are they searching for?  Why do they risk their lives to find it?

   Perhaps we seek for many things because we know that something is missing within us.  Our lives seem incomplete, so we look for something, anything that might give us the wholeness we desire.  The satisfaction of having accomplished something to enrich our lives.  Something to give us a sense of worth.

   I will never go to the moon or climb a mountain.  My days of sailing the seas are over.  My life has been at risk on a few occasions and I have no desire to put it at risk again.  I’ve found what I believe to be the greatest, most worthy quest of all.  The desire to know and love God more and more each day.  The longing to spend eternity with Him.

   To love God is to know the love He has for me and to fill my heart with that love.  No other love can compare with the love God offers.  His is a love for all eternity.  A love reflected in His creation of all things, included me and you.  His wish to have us as part of His family.

   The greatest search is the search for God.  Nothing else offers the hope and promise of an everlasting relationship with a God who loves us without end.  No other search can end in eternal happiness in the presence of our Lord.

   Finding God is the most joyful encounter possible.  He is present in His word and in the universe He has created.  He is there in the laughter of children and in the love of parents for those children.  He is in the love shared by a man and a woman in a sacramental marriage; a love intended to be a lifelong commitment to give oneself for another.  Most of all, He is there in our heart, waiting for us to return His love.

   “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”  (St. Augustine)

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Welcoming Spirit

   Our Lord welcomed everyone.  He didn’t reject anyone who came to Him.  Those who most would have ignored or turned away were greeted with love and forgiveness.  The prostitute the Pharisees and Scribes wanted to stone wasn’t condemned but forgiven.  Matthew the tax collector became an apostle; Peter became the first Pope even after denying Christ three times.

   We are to follow Jesus’ example, forgiving and welcoming all who come to Him.  The parable of the prodigal son is the perfect example of how we are to greet those who wish to come home to God (see Luke, chapter 15).  We are to be as the father who was wronged by his son.  He waited and watched for his son’s return.  When he saw him on the road coming home he ran to greet him and welcome him.

   Soon we will see many in church who we’ve rarely seen there since last Easter or Christmas.  Many will be upset because these “intruders” are in their pew or crowding in beside them.  They should have been there all along but aren’t; now they want to take their favorite seat.

   If we keep in mind how Jesus would have reacted to those strangers coming in we can hopefully welcome them with love and respect.  After all, if Jesus could dine with sinners and forgive those who had sinned shouldn’t we at least be willing to share a seat with those who have come to praise and honor His birth?

   The pews will be crowded but isn’t that a blessing?  How wonderful it would be if those who come for Christmas were to be so impressed with the loving welcome they received that it brought them back to worship Him every week of the year.

   Only by accepting, loving and welcoming others can we be an example of Christ.  We must share the love of God with all who come to Him.  Even if it’s just once or twice a year.

Lord, may we welcome all those come
Just as you did.
May we love them and accept them
Just as you did.
May we show them that Your love is for everyone
Just as you did.