January First - The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God : The Blessing

December 29th, 2014

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First Reading  Numbers 6:22-27
God gives a blessing for the Israelites.

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 67:2-3,5,6,8
All the people sing praises to God.

Second Reading Galatians 4:4-7
God sent his Son to make us children of God.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:16-21

In the first reading we find the ancient prayer of blessing which God gave to Moses to hand on to Aaron and his sons: “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num 6:24-25). There is no more meaningful time than the beginning of a new year to hear these words of blessing: they will accompany our journey through the year opening up before us. The Mother of God is the first of the blessed, and it is she who bears the blessing; she is the woman who received Jesus into herself and brought him forth for the whole human family. Thus we can say that the message of hope contained in this blessing was fully realized in Mary. This was the very experience that the shepherds of Bethlehem too had, who reappear in today’s Gospel. They had the experience of standing in God’s presence and seeing the Blessing. Let us ask the grace to behold this Blessing, to receive that blessing and to be a blessing to all whom we meet.

December 28 - The Feast of the Holy Family

December 26th, 2014

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First Reading
Genesis 15:1-6; 21:1-3
(or the first reading from Cycle A: Sirach 3:2-7,12-14)
God fulfills his promise to Abraham, and Sarah gives birth to a son.

 

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 105:1-6,8-9 (or the psalm from Cycle A: Psalm 128:1-5)
A prayer of thanksgiving to God for his faithfulness to his covenant.

 

Second Reading
Hebrews 11:8,11-12,17-19 (or the second reading from Cycle A: Colossians 3:12-21)
Paul examines Abraham's example of faith.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:22-40 (or shorter form: Luke 2:22,39-40)

 

 

This Feast of the Holy Family can help us see that families can be holy. The story of the Holy Family is the story of life not always turning out the way you expected. It’s the story of a teenage mother, conceiving a child before she was married.  It’s the story of an anxious father, confronting scandal, planning on divorce. It’s the story of a family forced to become refugees, living as immigrants in the land that once held their ancestors as slaves.  It’s the story of a missing child, and days of anxious searching by his parents. The Holy Family has to go through all the difficulties and challenges like a normal human family. But there had two great qualities: Trust in God and sacrificial love. These are the same two qualities which will bring happiness and fulfilment to our families as well.

December 25 - The Nativity of our Lord: God enters our messy world

December 23rd, 2014

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First Reading
Isaiah 9:1-6
To those in darkness, a child will be born who will have dominion over the earth.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 96:1-2,2-3,11-12,13
Sing a new song to the Lord.

Second Reading
Titus 2:11-14
God has appeared, bringing salvation to all.

Gospel Reading
Luke 2:1-14

 

Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Why did God chose this messy condition, this dirty place to be born? The crib/the stable is a symbol. It is a symbol of our tainted nature, symbol of our wounded humanity and messy world. God wanted to be a part of this messy and sinful world. God wanted to be born to a broken and a wounded world. If the Word truly dwelt among us, then he was part of a family that, like most, was fairly dysfunctional, a mix of the good and bad, the saintly and the sinful, the glorious and the not so glorious. And this is such good news for us. The good news of Christmas is that God himself pushed into the dysfunctional and ambiguous family of man. And he continues to join us, even though we, like so many of his Israelite ancestors, are unworthy of him. Like them, we are flawed, compromised, half-finished. But he becomes our brother anyway. That's the amazing grace of the Incarnation. What appears to be our most chaotic, congested, convoluted times in our lives might be the best time for God to enter and be born (and flood us with his saving grace). 

December 21 - Fourth Sunday in Advent: Nothing is impossible with God

December 20th, 2014

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First Reading
2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16
The Lord promises David that he will raise from his descendents a kingdom that will endure forever.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 89:2-5,27,29
A prayer of praise to the Lord for his faithfulness to his covenant.

Second Reading
Romans 16:25-27
Paul praises God for making his revelation known.

Gospel Reading
Luke 1:26-38

 

Today’s Gospel presents to us the Annunciation to Mary by archangel Gabriel. Mary knew that from the human point of view she may not even be able to bring her pregnancy to its full term but she had faith to believe that what is impossible for us is possible for God. And so with that faith she said “yes.” She surrendered into the hands of God, and it really was surrendering because she did not know what the consequences would be. But she had faith to believe that no matter what difficulties would follow, God would provide a way out and a remedy. Mary’s final words to the angel are a model for each of us, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) And because Mary surrendered to God, Jesus came. Mary shows us how to be a follower of Jesus, making a loving surrender into the hands of God who loves us. When we wonder if we can make such an act of trust and abandonment into the hands of God let us remember that when God calls us he also gives us the grace.

 

December 14 - Third Sunday of Advent : Shine Jesus Shine

December 9th, 2014

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First Reading  Isaiah 61:1-2a,10-11
The Lord's salvation will be made known to the poor and the oppressed.

Responsorial Psalm  Luke 1:46-50,53-54
Mary sings praise to God.

Second Reading  1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Paul encourages the Thessalonians to rejoice and pray always.

Gospel Reading 
John 1:6-8,19-28

Today we celebrate Gaudate Sunday, the Sunday of Joy in the midst of the Advent penitential season. We rejoice because the Lord is near to us in the coming celebration of his birth, made present for us now. Today’s Gospel presents John the Baptist once again but this time, as a wonderful companion and friend to Jesus. He made no exaggerated claims of his greatness but claims the truth in clear terms. He could have lied and pretended to be the Christ to gain cheep popularity. But John always spoke the truth and said that he was only the voice but the Word was Jesus, that he was only the messenger but the Message was Jesus, that he was only a shadow but the light was Jesus. In keeping with the life example of John the Baptist the Gospel invites us to let Jesus shine in and through us. Can we allow Jesus to shine in us? That’s the lesson we learn from John the Baptizer.

December 7 - Second Sunday of Advent : Prepare the way; metanoia

December 2nd, 2014

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First Reading Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11
Isaiah tells the people to prepare a way for the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 85:9-14
The Lord's salvation is near.

Second Reading  2 Peter 3:8-14
Peter teaches that we must always be holy because the return of the Lord cannot be predicted.

Gospel Reading
Mark 1:1-8

The message of Advent can never change or be changed: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John preaches repentance, metanoia, change, renewal, and return to God. “Change yourselves from deep within”, is the focus of his message. Our preparation is an essentially an opening of our inner being to God’s comforting and healing presence so that the Holy Spirit can transform and make a new creation of us. Repentance begins with recognizing our need for change and renewal, with dissatisfaction with who and what we are, and with the progress we have made in following Christ. This recognition of our unsatisfactory spiritual condition is basic to desire, and desire is what Advent preparation is all about. 

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