Merry Christmas! The days of Advent are at a close, and now we join with believers everywhere to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We gather to rejoice on the Feast of the Nativity. We celebrate the Holy Family. Our joy spills over through the Epiphany of the Lord. While the season can be stressful, it is my hope and prayer that this season will mark the beginning of a New Year of grace for you! The Christmas gift, Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly, distributed at our Christmas Masses, could be a great help to a year of grace.
Need that comfort? It comes through various gift-wrapped gifts. Open the Bible, and you may find it if you turn to the right page. But come to Mass, and we will help you unwrapping the gifts. Comfort will be offered when the lector proclaims the beautiful Bible readings of Advent. Spirit lifting music will offer inspiration and peace. Praying together in a warm, loving community, another gift. Christ’s presence in word and sacrament: simply out of this world. Come, be refreshed, and face the chaos of this world with new strength. We’ll be waiting for you!
Our 1st reading is a prophecy of Zechariah, who foresees a restoration for Israel. Reminiscent of the golden days of the kingdom, he foresees God’s plan to bring about a universal kingdom (from seas to sea) through a humble messiah, one not riding in on a warhorse, but riding on a colt, the foal of an ass, a beast of burden, reminiscent of the days when the king was a shepherd, a pastoral leader. The case can be made that Jesus was very aware of this prophecy, and of his role, when he rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday just as Zechariah describes.
Don’t let Easter be just one day on the calendar. Let it launch you into a season rich with spiritual growth! Scripture is clear: the 50 days of Easter are a joyful time to relate to the Risen Lord in new ways. Too long Lent has been seen as the special time to focus on our spiritual life. Lent is for planting the seed in the cold dark earth. Live the Eastertime. Watch your spiritual life burst forth, bud and blossom. Do with us at St. Louis!
Balance. It is not easy to find, but definitely worth the effort! This Lent,
why not make assessing the balance in our spiritual life, and ‘finding the
sweet spot’ a goal? Finding balance in our practice of prayer, in fasting and
the place of sacrifice in our life, and in our almsgiving and service? Our
Gospel on Ash Wednesday will highlight one side of the fulcrum.
Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy and holy New Year! Among opportunities we offer that promote joy, spiritual heath, and holiness, let me recommend two. After the holidays, come and be refreshed with Discovering Christ, a seven-week program that will revitalize your faith and draw you into a deeper relationship with Christ.
Its the cycle of life, the cycle of the church year as well. We will soon open the church year with Advent, a time of anticipation. Through the Christmas season we will celebrate the birth of Christ. We move into the beginning of his ministry with ordinary time. Lent prepares us for celebrating his last days in Jerusalem. During Easter we rejoice in resurrection and new life. We return to ordinary time, and as the church year closes, we think of the last things: the Communion of Saints, our deceased loved ones, our own mortality, and the end of time.
Many episodes in the Old Testament are vivid, capture life in the Middle East, and would have resonated powerfully with early listeners, as they do with folks in many parts of the world today. Bargaining is part of everyday life in the Middle East - just travel to the Holy Land - you will discover that in the first shop you visit! Why wouldn’t Abraham bargain with God to save the people of Sodom? He had relatives living there! This passage communicates the closeness of Abraham’s relationships with God; he is comfortable conversing with God and negotiating.
While various artists have painted depictions of the visit in our first reading, few have achieved the sublime insight of Andrei Rublev, in his icon the Holy Trinity. One of the most famous of Russian icons, or of any icons, it depicts the Lord’s appearance to Abraham in the form of three visitors as the Holy Trinity gathered around a table. Check out the Wikipedia article Trinity (Andrei Rublev). Find out who is who, and much, much more!
“The command…. is very near to you, already in your mouths and on your hearts.” How does that work? First, the commandments aren’t mysterious, incomprehensible or arbitrary. There is a logic … how people can live together in peace, with one another, with the created world, and with our own consciences. The commandments help to shape our consciences, but also resonate with the best in human nature.