God or balloons – what do you see?: Homily for Sunday, December 3, 2017

Readings for Today

I recently saw a video online from one of my former students.  She has two little girls.  She and her husband were filming the girls as they ran out of the house to see what was different about a small house built in the back yard. Obviously, the parents were hoping the girls would get excited for the arrival of their elves on the shelf, which they had from last year. Now the girls were excited.  About the balloons on the top of the house.  Not about the elves, or the presents on the ledge of the small backyard house. Now I am sure they did eventually, and will continue to get excited about their elves.  But they started so distracted.  They loved the balloons, but missed the elves.

In a way, we can be like that too, especially with the season of Advent.  We can get distracted by tinsel, and glitter, and sales and gifts and presents.  We can focus too much on what we have to do, so that the season of Advent becomes simply one big long list of stressful things on a to-do list. But these things are the balloons on the house.  They are not the center piece.  They are not the priority. If we are not careful this Advent, we could miss the “reason for the season.” We could find our hearts and souls are not ready to receive Jesus this Christmas.

The first reading served as inspiration for the song, “Redeemer, Lord” written by John Foley, SJ.  I find it quite reflective and a great way to pray on this first Sunday of Advent, so I have added a YouTube clip below..

Advent and Christmas Resources to help celebrate the season

With Advent Beginning on the evening of December 2, there can be the feeling that we want to do something to grow spiritually, but we just do not know what. We think of giving things up for Lent, or doing something extra, but the hectic time of year can cause us to pass Advent by for other things.

But Advent is a time of spiritual growth too. We are preparing to celebrate that God became human.  The second person of the Blessed Trinity, has become on of us.  And, Jesus did this so that we could be saved! What are you going to do to open yourself to new spiritual growth? How are you going to meet Jesus this Advent season? Below are some suggestions to help out.

From the US Bishops

Beginning the Church’s liturgical year, Advent (from, “ad-venire” in Latin or “to come to”) is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.

The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas. The final days of Advent, from December 17 to December 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas).

Advent devotions including the Advent wreath, remind us of the meaning of the season. Our Advent calendar above can help you fully enter in to the season with daily activity and prayer suggestions to prepare you spiritually for the birth of Jesus Christ.  More Advent resources are listed below.

About Advent Wreaths

Busted Halo

 

Franciscan Media

Dynamic Catholic

Word On Fire

 

 

Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Advent: Have you heard? (December 7, 2016)

“Have you heard?” This question can be quite popular. It may signal some wonderful piece of big news.  Sometimes, the news is gossip.  Sometimes, the news is major, something tragic or happy. Whatever, this question get attention.  People want to know the latest news.  No one wants to be left out.

In many respects, today’s first reading is about this question.  Have you heard? What big news follows this question? The LORD is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth.  Wow.  That’s big.  Have you heard?  When was the last time you asked someone this question  as a faith question? Have you heard? God is the eternal God. Have you heard? God has created the world.  Share your faith.  Ask the question.

Most of us have friends, acquaintances, and others who may not believe.  They may not know God id the Lord, the eternal God, the creator of the ends of the earth.  They may not be aware that God longs to comfort, to heal, to provide rest.  God longs to remove from us our burdens, and those things that make us weary.  So, have you heard?  God is looking for you.  God wants to enter into an eternal relationship, because God is the Lord.

Readings for Today

2nd Sunday of Advent: Time to Get to the Spiritual Gym (December 4, 2016)

Anyone who belongs to a gym and exercises regularly knows that gyms will get crowded soon.  People give gym memberships, or others make New Year’s resolutions.  Either way, shortly after the first of the year, the gym is crowded.  But soon, people begin to fade away, the initial resolutions become weak, and the commitment to get in shape is gone.  Our spiritual lives can become like that too.  We have some initial enthusiasm, but without commitment and discipline, we find that we do not remain engaged in growing spiritually.

And so with the start of the second week of Advent, time to get into spiritual shape.  Read the bible.  Pray the rosary.  Seek out adoration.  Find the sacrament of confession.  Read a good spiritual book.  Talk to others.  Share your faith.  C’mon!  It is time for all of us to get into spiritual shape!

Readings for Today

Some Ideas This Advent

Looking for easy ways to become a little more peaceful this Advent?  While certainly not exhaustive, the list below is a start.  Hopefully listening to these daily reflections will help, but there are other resources too.

Best Advent Ever from Dynamic Catholic (click this link for more info and to sign up (it’s free!))

“Beginning the first Sunday of Advent (November 27) and continuing every day until December 26, you’ll receive short inspirational videos, practical tips, or free Christmas music that will help you slow down during the busy Christmas season to focus on what’s really important in life.  Don’t miss the opportunity to make this your best Advent (and Christmas) ever.”

Lectio Divina for Advent (from the USCCB)

Lectio divina is a form of meditation rooted in liturgical celebration that dates back to early monastic communities. It was a method practiced by monks in their daily encounter with Scripture, both as they prepared for the Eucharist and as they prayed the Liturgy of the Hours.

The Latin phrase “lectio divina” may be translated as “divine reading.”  As one reads and invites the Word to become a transforming lens that brings the events of daily living into focus, one can come to live more deeply and find the presence of God more readily in the events of each day. The method of lectio divina follows four steps:

  • lectio (reading)
  • meditatio (meditation)
  • contemplatio (contemplation)
  • and oratio (prayer).

Use these Lectio Divina guides to meditate, contemplate, and pray on your spiritual preparation for Advent and Christmas.

Family Advent Calendar 2016

Looking for something to do in your family?  This calendar has an idea for each day of Advent.

BustedHalo Advent

Busted Halo is a website geared for teen and young adult ministry.  This link has resources for Advent they have created.  Included is a digital Advent Calendar, a virtual retreat and more.

Homily for Friday, December 19, 2014

Readings for Today

I am no gardener. Every plant I touch dies. It is largely because I do not remember to water the plants I have had. By the time I realize I should have watered the plants, they  are withered and brown. Dead. Dry. Lifeless.

Today we are reminded that with many things, it all matters how things begin. Our attention is focused to the things that come when we follow the Word and promise of God in our lives. Whether it is in the life of David, or Samson, or John the Baptist, great things come, impossible things occur when people are faithful to living the promise of God.

Yesterday we learned more about the character possessed by Joseph. Today we are reminded of those women who were faithful to the promise. They believed God. They trusted. They followed. Even if they did not live to know what happened to the children they bore. What they did know was the deep inner joy that comes from following God.

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Homily for Sunday, December 14, 2014

Readings for Today

How do you see the world? Sometimes there can be the temptation to believe that only certain types of academic study really deals with the truth. Others might make judgements about certain aspects of life because of preconceived ideas. We certainly see this in our politics. We can make decisions about what we believe about something simply be considering who came up with the idea.

This is not to suggest that we do not see the world honestly. It is to suggest that our own experiences, our knowledge, our openness and more cause us to see some things more clearly. Take the example of someone who is very good at golf and someone who is not. They can both see a golf ball on the side of the hill but due to their ability they do not see the shot ahead of them in the same way. The more experienced golfer, due to the greater ability, might choose to attempt a more daring shot. Both golfers see the same golf ball on the side of the hill, but they each see something quite differently.

We also know that some people can look upon an event and see the best, while others expect the worst. Some people are very abstract in the way they think, while others can be more concrete. Some people view the world through the lens of beauty, in artistic ways, while others can be more practical and see only how something works. We can find how we interpret experience to be colored by many things.

This is not to suggest that we can change reality. Far from it. Rather, it means that we all need to be careful that we are committed to seeing the truth. And we all need to commit ourselves to seeing what is true, good and beautiful. And yet, for those of us who believe, we know the Holy Spirit helps us to see things as they are. This is exactly what the readings are getting at for us today. We see more clearly because we expect to see God. “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me.

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Homily for Friday, December 5, 2014

Readings for Today

Isn’t time a funny thing? When we are very little, and we hear someone say, “I will be with you in a little while,” we usually can wait no more than a few seconds. As we grow older, our concept of time changes. It seems to move faster and faster. We arrive at a certain time in our lives, say at 50, and part of us, maybe even all of us wonders how it arrived so quickly. And yet when we were children, we may have felt like we would never get to be able to grow up.

Even in our adult lives, there are different types of waiting. If we are waiting for a loved one to visit, the wait seems long. If we are waiting for the doctor to give us the result of tests, the wait can be agonizing. As we have come to the place where we can deliver things faster and faster, it still seems to take too long for something we want very much to arrive.

When that loved one does arrive, it seems like time speeds up, and before we know it the visit is over. Parents know that their children grow up all too fast, and grandparents feel the same way about their grandchildren. There just seems to be no making sense of time. Even God speaks of time in a way that suggests there are differences in understanding it. “A thousand years is like a day” we read, and Jesus says , “I am coming soon”, and some two thousand years later we wait.  We wait for our prayers to be answered. Sometimes this seems like it will never happen.

And so what do we make of the phrase, “a very little while.” The actions that follow hardly seem like things that will happen in a little while. Consider the blind men in the gospel. How long had they waited for someone like Jesus to come along in their lives? And after all this waiting, it would be understandable that they no longer could believe that God would do this, this great restoration of sight so they could perceive clearly again. They could witness the vivid world around them.

These different notions of time caused the Greeks to develop two words for time. One is like what I describe. Χρονος, (chronos) from which we derive our word chronology. This is the time measured by watches and calendars. Then there is Καιρος (kairos) which is God’s time. It is the time when we experience the person and presence of God. It is when all is ready. It is the time for fulfillment. It is that time that is beyond measuring. It is in this sense that something happens in “a very little while.” It is this time that we focus on during this season of Advent. It is this time that made the blind men ready for Jesus to do something marvelous.

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Homily for Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Readings for Today

I was in high school when Al Michaels asked his famous question when the United States Olympic Hockey team beat the Russians in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. In an unbelievable voice, he asked, “Do you believe in miracles?” The win was something else. I remember being quite excited. The Cold War was still in full force, as shortly after these Olympics the United States would boycott the Summer Olympics in the Soviet Union due to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. And so an Olympic victory over a highly touted Soviet Olympic hockey team was something indeed. But a miracle?

Probably not. Though the term is used a lot to discuss unexpected results, such as the recovery of someone quite sick, or even an Olympic hockey game, the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team victory over the Soviets, as unexpected as it was, would not fit the definition. The US Olympic team was good. Of the 20 players on the team, 13 went on to play in the National Hockey League. No, for the Church to consider something a true miracle, then it needs to be inexplicable by natural events.

What do I mean? Well, take the case of Saint André Bessette, the Holy Cross brother who became famous because of his prayers on behalf of the sick. Two miracles are required. The first was the immediate healing of Giuseppe Carlo Audino, a man who had terminal cancer, given a very short time to live in 1958, who became immediately free from cancer after seeking Brother André’s intercession. After rigorous study, it was determined there could be no natural explanation for the healing.

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