This is a day of hope!

 

Friday of the Second Week

Of Advent

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Zechariah 2: 14-17

Luke 1:26-38

 

 

Today we celebrate the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe and last week we celebrated the Immaculate Conception of Mary. How wonderful to celebrate these holy days in the Season of Advent because Mary is the perfect example of what we are called to be which is people of great hope, staying alert, being watchful and waiting.

 

In our first reading from the prophet Zechariah proclaim what we know to be true of Mary as the prophet says, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter! See, I am coming to dwell among you.” God dwells in us; this should bring us great hope in all we do today.

 

In our Gospel, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, “Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with you.” Mary is afraid and does not understand what the angel is saying, but yet, she stands right there and says, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”  Her whole life takes on a whole new meaning, and she is our model of faith.  

 

May we take from this feast day, a little joy knowing that God is with us, and all he asks is that we be at peace with all he will ask us to do. Our Eucharist will go a long way in helping us succeed being people of great hope.

 

 

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Into the wilderness!

Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11

II Peter 3: 8-14

Mark 1:1-8

  

The overall theme of Advent could be summed up in what we heard proclaimed in two of our readings today, and that is “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Every Advent is about starting over, setting aside the things that hold us back from the Lord and begin to do the things that bring us to the Lord.

 

Last week I spoke about being in the darkness and looking for the light of Christ. I spoke of how that light shining in the darkness will bring us peace. Today I want to begin with that image of darkness and move to the next step which is going into the wilderness. The wilderness is also a scary place, and it may even be more frightening than the darkness because in the darkness our eyes will eventually adjust so we can see, in the wilderness is all the unknowns of our lives and we are not in control. When we move out of the darkness and into the wilderness, it will take all of our resolves. It may even shake us to our very core, to all the things we hold on to that are our core beliefs. Let me explain what I mean by going into the darkness and having our core shaken. I have a high need to be loved by everyone and to be accepted by everyone. I know it is impossible, and I do not recommend it for anyone else, but it is who I am! I can manage this fairly well on a day to day bases, but throw in let’s say, a building project and now people giving me their advice and things can get a bit squirrelly. In the wilderness of my life, I see peaceful darkness from where I came, and this gives me the courage to stand in the uncertainty of the wilderness. I would guess many of you know the distance from your darkness to the wilderness of your lives as you know the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or the trouble with a family member or friend.

 

To this transition comes the wonderful words of the prophet Isaiah. The prophet is trying to get the people who are being set free from captivity to come back home and to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. They will have to cross through a great wilderness, and the prophet is told to speak tenderly to the people because it is frightening to go into the wilderness. The prophet speaks words of great comfort as he says, “Comfort, give comfort to my people.” What will give them comfort, is the Lord will go with them.

 

In our Gospel, Mark is inviting the people to come out into the wilderness, to see John the Baptist. John knows a lot about the wilderness with his coat of camel hair, and he eats locusts and wild honey. John the Baptist calls the people out to the wilderness to know what he knows which is; it is ok, the Lord is here.

 

My friends in Christ, we need to move to the wilderness, it will be scary, and it will mean taking a risk, but it will be ok. We need to let go of whatever is holding us back and believe, to have hope and trust in God. Trust the Advent wilderness so a more powerful message will come to us.

 

Live in the fullness of God’s grace!

 

Immaculate Conception

Of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Genesis 3:9-15, 20

Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12

Luke 1:26-38

 

On this Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We profess that Mary was conceived without sin, that she remained sinless her whole life and that she gave birth to Christ our savior. Mary from the moment of her conception was “full of grace.” What is this “grace” that Mary received and was full of? I used to think that I received grace from God when I was good, and I lost graced when I was bad. Grace is a gift; it is a gift freely given from God to us. We can choose to participate in this God-given gift, or we can refuse it, either way, it is given to us. Mary spent her entire life in that grace and because she did she always points us to a holier way to live.

 

In our first reading from the book of Genesis, we see that God created Adam and Eve and placed them in paradise. However, this was not enough for Adam and Eve, to live in a perfect world, so they gave into temptation, and they realized their sinfulness. The awesome thing about this is God in his goodness still gave them the gift of grace and life began through them.  

 

In our second reading, St. Paul knows all about “grace” as he proclaims, “God has chosen us as he has already given us every spiritual blessing to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Mary is our good example of holiness living.  

 

In our Gospel, we hear all about Mary and how she is “full of grace” as she says, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

 

As we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may we say, “Behold I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”  May we be “full of grace” and with the help of Mary become more filled with hope, more prayerful, more at peace, and more filled with joy.

 

What are we building today in Christ?

Thursday of the First week

Of Advent

Isaiah 26:1-6

Matthew 7:21, 24-27

St. Ambrose

 

Have you seen the building plans? I hope you are excited about the new building plans? I do hope that you are excited about the building plans for our campus, but I am not asking these questions about that building project. The plans that I am concerned about are our building plans for our lives during this holy season of Advent. Our readings are all about building something new.

 

What we heard today from the prophet Isaiah is a song that the people would have sung giving worship to God as they returned to rebuild the Holy City of Jerusalem. Now, this was only a faithful remnant of people who did return to rebuild the city.

 

In our Gospel Jesus is making the connection of building a home on rock or sand. The home built on rock will be able to withstand all kinds of weather and if well maintained will last forever. A home built on rock is similar to the Word of God that can never be broken.

 

My friends in Christ are we building something new and beautiful that people will admire for generations to come? Are we more hopeful, more prayerful, more at peace? These are all signs that a new building is going up.

 

 

Do we know of God’s abundance for us?

 

Wednesday of the First week

Of Advent

Isaiah 25:6-10

Matthew 15:29-37

 

Our readings speak to us about God’s abundance to us in our lives. We all know the abundance of food, water, shelter, and clothing and having our needs met, and most of our wants. However, Advent is a time to waking up to all that God has to offer us, so there is more to these readings that need to be explored.

 

The prophet Isaiah sees life in abundance for God’s people when he says, “On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples.” The key word is “all” peoples. On this mountain, he will provide a feast of rich food and choice wines. He will wipe away all our tears.” To climb a mountain is hard work, but once one gets to the summit, it is all worth it.

 

In our Gospel, the people with Jesus is on a mountain, know the abundance of God as he heals the blind, lame, and the sick and anyone in need of healing. The people have been traveling with Jesus for three days without eating, and they are hungry. Jesus feeds them simple food of bread and a few fish, and they all eat until full, and there is food left over.   

 

My friends in Christ, as I reflect on the readings today, it is about knowing God’s abundance in our lives because we are willing to climb the mountain to seek Christ in all things. Are we willing to believe that God is going to be at the summit when we get there? This simple bread and wine will be transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ that is our abundance.

 

 

 

 

We are beginners in prayer!

 

Tuesday of the First week

Of Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10

Luke 10:21-24

 

There once was a baker who bought all her ingredients from the same farmer. She bought her butter, flour, eggs, and honey from him. One day as she was making bread she ran out of butter a little earlier than usual, so she became suspicious that the farmer was cheating her out of her butter. She went to the judge and demanded the farmer be brought in to be tried for cheating her. The judge had the farmer dragged in and demanded to see his weights and his scale, and how he measured the butter, he sold her. The poor farmer stuttered and stammered and said “I do not use weights when the baker comes I buy her one pound loaf of bread and I use her bread to measure out the butter. If there is any decrease in the butter, it is because of her bread.”

 

What are we using as our measuring line for our season of Advent? It most certainly must begin with prayer. We need to be serious about our prayer lives, or nothing is going to change this Advent Season?

 

In our first reading from Isaiah, he is very serious about prayer. The writer has animals that are natural enemies able to exist together. This image is pushing us to think of our enemies and how we need to pray to be at peace with those we keep at a distant. It is only possible with great prayer!

 

In our Gospel, we are given a very prayer of Jesus. We get a glimpse into their relationship, and we are given the example to be childlike. Jesus then follows this up with “Blessed are our eyes by what we have seen, and blessed are our ears by what we have heard.”   

 

Since Advent is about new beginnings may we think of our prayer life as a beginner, because that is all we will ever be but a beginner? Who among us will ever be able to truly come to know and understand the love of God for us? Let us begin to learn to pray well and come to know the love of God. 

See the light in the darkness!

 

First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 63: 16-17, 19; 64:2-7

I Corinthians 1:3-9

Mark 13:33-37

 

As a young child, my clothes closet in my bedroom was the place I would go when I got sent to my room when I had done something wrong. I would go in there shot the door and sit in the darkness until I would calm down. When I initially would get in there it would be very dark, but as my eyes adjusted I could see the light under the door, the light alongside the door and this would help me calm down. As I grew older in HS and college, when I needed to figure things out, I would go downstairs and start a fire in the fireplace and turn off all the lights and sit there in the dark until I could see where and what I was supposed to do. I would never go down in the basement in the dark, it was too creepy, but I would sit in the dark with the light of Christ. My morning prayer is always sitting in the dark in my prayer room before a lit small little candle underneath a crucifix. 

 

Advent is about being in the darkness and not being afraid, not running away, but just being there looking for the light of Christ. If Lent is about entering the desert, then Advent is about entering the darkness and seeing God in a whole new way and knowing he is in control. Advent is knowing the darkness is not our enemy but our companion, what we need to do is give our eyes time to adjust.  Advent is about finding Christ in the world as it is, and not as it might be and then going and finding him in all we do.

 

In our first reading from the prophet Isaiah is standing in the darkness in the ruins of the holy city. He is surveying the damage the Babylonians destroyed the city and he says, “Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay, and you are the potter: we are the work of your hands.” Those are the words of people not afraid of the darkness of life.

 

In our second reading St. Paul assures the people in the darkness that they have been given every spiritual gift they need to see their way through the darkness of life.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus says, four times “Be watchful. Be alert!” The darkness is not the problem, but falling asleep, not committing ourselves to God is a problem.

 

My friends in Christ, this Advent is about being invited into the darkness of life and find hope, so move slower, listen more and speak less.