Strive to be the Holy Family!

Feast of the Holy Family

Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14

Colossians 3:12-21

Luke 2: 41-52


Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family.  Our feast day is one of my favorites because for many of us we have just spent a lot of time with friends and family. Maybe we are thinking “the best lights of this Christmas Season have been the tail lights of friends and family driving away.” If that is the case, the Holy Family has much to teach us in this Christmas season.


There may be a part of us that says, “Why can’t we have just one story of how the Holy Family struggled to live their life of faith together.” I don’t know if it would help, but we may assume that they did struggle at times because that is what families do. The Church always holds up the ideal and says, “Now there is where I want you to strive to be, try and get there.” 


After all this visiting with family and friends, we may be asking “Why can’t we be more like the Holy Family, we have all these problems?”  I firmly believe that problems in a family are not reflective of a lack of holiness, none of us are called to be perfect, but we are called to be faithful.  I believe that difficult situations in families are an opportunity for faith because it is then that we need to reach out to our loving God in faith for help and guidance. All of us in families face our particular hardships.  Our readings today should give us some encouragement to continue to be like the Holy Family.


In our first reading from Sirach, the writer helps us to strive to be like the Holy Family by saying, “God sets a father in honor over his children.” All of us who are fathers need to be men of honor, which means we look to God for help and direction. We are to be fathers with integrity, and we are, to be honest. We are always as honest as our last secret. It says that mothers have the authority over their children. The other line I like because I am trying to do it myself is to “take care of your father when he is old; even if his mind fails him.” It continues by saying there are blessings given when we honor our fathers.


In our second reading from Colossians helps us to strive to be like the Holy Family by putting on clothes of heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another. The reading continues, “Whatever happens to give thanks to God.” Good advice! And finally, “Children obey your parents in everything.” So, how have we done with this new wardrobe?


Our Gospel has much going on, but the line I want to focus on is after Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the temple Mary says to him, “Son, why have you done this to us?” We would respond the same way or even more dramatically. What this shows me is that it was over time that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus grew into what it meant to be the holy family. It took time to understand what it meant and they at times struggled.  In the end, even though Jesus knows who he is and what he is about the returns home with Mary and Joseph, and he remains obedient to them, and Mary kept all these things in her heart.


Is your family holy?  Yes!  If you respond faithfully to God’s will for you and your family.  Let us look to Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, the Holy family and strive to be like them.   


Evil in the world and in us!

Friday, December 28

Holy Innocents

I John 1:5-2:2

Matthew 2:13-18


While visions of sugar plums may still be dancing in our heads, the Church confronts us on this Feast Day of Holy Innocents with the stark realization that darkness, evil and sorrow are still at work in the world in us.


In our first reading from I John, the writer tells us, “When temptation looms, and darkness seems all around us, look to the light of Christ to save us.” We are not to give into sin, the battle rages on, and it can be won when we place ourselves at the feet of God’s mercy. Have you been more tempted since not receiving the Eucharist?


In our Gospel today we are given the story of all the innocent children who all died at the hands of King Herod. King Herod was so paranoid that someone would take his kingship from him, at the news of a newborn king he has all the male babies under the age of two killed. How tragic!


Our lesson is a reminder that evil lurks around every corner. The challenge for us is to listen to God’s voice and place our trust in him when we do this evil will not harm us. God has come to save us, to see us through all the evils that are in our world and our heads, let us put our trust in God.  


Of what we have heard and seen?

If I was to go back to my chair and sit down, with what you have heard and seen be enough to have you understand the Christmas message and be filled with joy?

Would it be enough if we heard and seen what the Shepherds heard and seen and believed as they did?


In our Gospel, we heard that the shepherds were tending their sheep. Since sheep were a staple food source, many people were shepherds. On this night an angel appears to some shepherds, and the angel tells them the good news that in the city of David a savior of the world has been born and they are to find him in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. As the news is given to the shepherds the heavens open and all the angels in heaven begin to give glory and praise to God. The shepherds go and see as they have been told and they do find Mary, Joseph, and the newborn king. The shepherds were the ones who share what they have seen and heard and it from them that we have the goods news of Jesus Christ being let loose in the world. So for the shepherds, what they heard and saw it was enough and they believe and their lives are changed.


Well, we have heard angels singing! Our choir is the voices of many angels. We have stars in the sky, and the message of the angels is that a newborn king has been born unto you and you will find him lying in a manger. Well here is Jesus lying in a manger. I guess we have all that they did. If I was to turn and go back to my chair and not say another word would that be enough for us to believe?


Is it enough from what we have heard and seen to believe and to have our lives changed and to go and tell others the good news. What we celebrate tonight is that God has been set free; he has been turned loose into the world. The child that has been born unto us is the savior of the world, and we now spend a lifetime making sure that what we have heard and seen is enough and that that good news becomes flesh in us.


Each time we gather in the Eucharist we are given the same opportunity to make the Word of God human flesh. On this night may it be enough.

Meeting and Greeting!


Fourth Sunday of Advent

Micah 5:1-4

Hebrews 10:5-10

Luke 1:39-45


By a quick show of hands: Who is traveling this Christmas to be with family or friends? Who is having people come to visit you this Christmas? Many people are traveling to be with other people this holiday season, and our readings are perfect for us as they give us some help in preparing to visit those people. Some of these meetings and greetings will be enjoyable, and there will be some not so enjoyable. Our readings give us a framework to live in.  


In our first reading from the prophet Micah, the prophet tells us that from the town of Bethlehem so small and insignificant something great will come. It is from here that the Savior of the world will come. If we feeling a little beat down, exhausted, not feeling up to par, something great can still come from us. In our meetings and our greetings even if we feel so insignificant and small something great is going to happen.


In our reading from Hebrews comes the whole message of the weekend. The writer says, “God doesn’t want sacrifice and offerings for our sinfulness, he wants for us to do his will.” In our meetings and greetings, are we able to say, “All I have done is the will of God.” To do this takes preparation and prayer.


In our Gospel story, we get a formula for all of our meetings and greetings as we hear of the story of Mary and Elizabeth. Mary enters the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and something wonderful happens. I believe our story takes places in a house because Elizabeth and Zechariah had made their home a sanctuary, a safe place to be. Our homes need to be a sanctuary for people to come. Elizabeth says, “How does the mother of my Lord come to visit me?” Elizabeth frames this visit as a holy exchange prompted by the spirit who moves her. Are we able to see in our meetings and greetings the gift that people are to us in the Lord? Elizabeth then blesses Mary for believing in what the angel had told her. The blessing is more than she is happy for Mary it is more like what Jesus said on a hillside when he gave the Beatitudes to the people. In our meetings and greetings be sure to bless those who come to us.


This Sunday reminds us of all the meetings and greetings that we have are all pregnant with new life. We must take upon ourselves the Word of God and bring that Word into these meetings. We should not wait for great strength before setting out, for immobility will weaken us. We are not to wait to see everything clearly because we are called to see the light of Christ and walk toward that light. May we be able to say in all of our meetings and greetings, “I have come to do the will of God.”

The light of the Christ child to come.

Thursday, December 20  

Of Advent

Isaiah 7:10-14

Luke 1:26-38


Tomorrow begins the winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year, and the longest day of darkness. After tomorrow the light will slowly begin to win over the darkness. What makes this year extra special is the winter solstice will be accompanied with a full moon, called the Cold moon, and there will be a special meteor shower with shooting stars. I think all of us look forward and to anticipate that more light will be filling our day. Our readings are about anticipating the light of Christ in our lives.


In our first reading, King Ahaz does not see the light in the darkness he only sees the darkness. What is important to remember and it is why we are given this reading is God promises that the Messiah will come from the lineage of King David. King Ahaz who is that lineage is being threatened instead of trusting in the words of the prophet Isaiah he is putting his trusts in the Assyrian army. The Lord tells King Ahaz to ask for a sign, and a sign will be given, but he is weak, and he does not ask for a sign. The Lord still insists on giving the sign as he says, “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”


In the Gospel, Mary only sees the light in the darkness as she is frightened by her encounter with the Angel of God. The angel tells not to be afraid and to put her trust in God, and she listens to words of promise by the angel Gabriel. Mary accepts the sign that her cousin in her old age will also conceive a son. Though Mary is unsure how these things could happen, she places her complete trust in God and the Holy Spirit will be her sign that she needs.


How do we see the light of Christ in our lives? Do we look for this light with great anticipation as we welcome the light of the Christ child? May we accept the sign that is given to us in this simple bread and wine being transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ?


Are we wishing or praying?

Tuesday, December 18th  

Of Advent

Jeremiah 23: 5-8

Matthew 1:18- 25


We are blessed this week to have our readings so rich in the closeness of God to us. As I have been reflecting on our readings it has brought me to think about the difference between wishing something will happen and praying that something will happen. Prayer is not wishing, prayer is believing and knowing that if it is God’s will it will happen. Prayer calls us into action. Our readings speak about this very clearly today.


In our first reading from the prophet Jeremiah we hear him say, “The days are coming.” Jeremiah is preparing the people for when wonderfully things are going to happen. However, there is a subtle little change in the reading when the prophet says, “In his days.” The subtle change is telling the people, “We are not to be about wishing, we are to be about believing right now that it will happen.”    


In our Gospel, Joseph is making plans for a wedding day with Mary. Imagine his disappointment when he found out that Mary was pregnant with a child. He decides to ‘divorce her quietly.’ Joseph had no other choice but to divorce her quietly because of the way he prayed. We have no known words of Joseph recorded in sacred scripture. Joseph prayed his best through dreams; he is probably the strongest person of faith recorded in the history of the world. When he received his answer to prayer, he acted on every word from the Lord God.


My friends in Christ our task is to listen to the Word of God being proclaimed to us and to participate in it. There is no place that God’s Word cannot act in our lives.  


Rejoice always in the Lord!

Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-18

Philippians 4:4-7

Luke 3:10-18

Gaudete Sunday


Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! How is that working for you? Who has been sick all week? Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! How is that working for you? Who has known a relationship that is slipping through your hands? Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! How is that working for you? Who is stressed out about work or all the things we have yet to do before Christmas? Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! How is that working for you? Who wants Christmas to be over because the memories of past Christmas are just too painful? Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! How is that working for you? The challenge presented to us today is to be able to Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice! And know that it is working for us?


In our first reading from the prophet Zephaniah, there is a big challenge to us because the writer says, “If we know joy we are to shout it out and sing it from the rooftops.” The prophet is letting us know that because we believe in God we are not exempt from problems or difficulties, we need to know that God is on our side.


In our second reading St. Paul we need to remember that Paul is writing this from a dirty, dark, and cold prison cell, yet he knows joy. Paul gives us a three-step approach to knowing joy as he says, (1.) Do not be overwhelmed; the Lord is near. (2.) Let your kindness be known. (3.) Be a person of prayer. The most important of the three is to be a person of prayer. Troubles in our lives should always bring us to our knees in prayer.


In our Gospel, John the Baptist is the best example of what we are to do in rejoicing in the Lord. While John was in his mother’s womb, he leaps for joy in the presences of his cousin Jesus Christ. John could not see Jesus, but he knew of his closeness. In our passage today we hear the results of the crowds of people who come out to meet John the Baptists in the desert. The desert was a barren place to have crowds of people coming to John shows how desperate the people are to answers to their questions. The people ask, “What should we do?”  I love John’s answer, “Go home, back to your normal lives, and do what you know to be good and holy.” John’s answer is so simple we are almost disappointed in hearing it. John is letting them know that the ground they walk on is holy.


In this Advent Season may we know to “Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice!” We do this by knowing the Lord has not forgotten us!