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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category


Genesis 1:9-31: The Mystery of IncarnationNativity_450x259

Monday, June 13, 2015

Richard Rohr, OFM in his June 5, 2015 tells us: “If incarnation is the big thing, then Christmas is bigger than Easter (which it actually is in most Western Christian countries). If God became a human being, then it’s good to be human and incarnation is already redemption. Francis and the Franciscans were the first to popularize Christmas. For the first 1,000 years of the church, there was greater celebration and emphasis on Easter. For Francis, if the Incarnation was true, then Easter took care of itself. Resurrection is simply incarnation coming to its logical conclusion: we are returning to our original union with God. If God is already in everything, then everything is unto glory! Much of the early church did not have trouble with what many would now call universal salvation (apocatastasis, as in Acts 3:21). We are all saved by infinite love and mercy anyway. ‘God alone is good’ (Mark 10:18), so there’s no point in distinguishing degrees of worthiness. Everything in creation merely participates in God’s infinite goodness, and our job is to trust and allow that as much as possible.

“As Matthew Fox said, we made a terrible mistake by starting with ‘original sin’ (a phrase not in the Bible); we absolutely must begin with original blessing. ‘God created it, and it was good’ is stated six times in a row in our Creation story (Genesis 1:9-31), ending with ‘indeed it was very good!’ But, up to the present time, most of Christianity concentrated on what went wrong with our original goodness . . .

“The Franciscan starting point is not sin; our starting point is Divine Incarnation itself. So our ending point is inevitable and predictable: resurrection. God will lead all things to their glorious conclusion, despite the crucifixions in between. Jesus is the standing icon of the entire spiritual journey from start to finish: divine conception, ordinary life, moments of enlightenment (such as his baptism, Peter’s confession, and Jesus’ transfiguration), works of love and healing, rejection, death, resurrection, and ascension. That is not just Jesus; it is true for all of us.”

Richard Rohr, OFM, Adapted from an unpublished talk and posted on June 5, 2015 at: https://cac.org/richard-rohr/daily-meditations

Christ is present in all of creation. Christ is present in each of us. This is the mystery of incarnation. We know that God creates the universe and the microverse out of great love and deep compassion. We know that Christ comes to walk among us as salvation and redemption. We know that the Spirit abides with us to console and heal. This we know and yet it is mystery when we wonder . . . how is it that God loves us this deeply and this well? And how is it that we fail to trust this great love?

To read a commentary about the mystery of the incarnation, click on the image above or visit: http://www.catholica.com.au/ianstake/023_it_print.php 

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Numbers 9:15-23

The Bidding of the Lord

In Numbers 9 we see the Hebrews put all of their trust in God. May we learn to be faithful to the Lord in our daily wandering rather than be lured by little gods.

In the Exodus story we know that the Hebrews stumbled in their journey of fidelity. May we turn back to God in all of our drifting and forgive others as God forgives us.

In Numbers 9 we see the Hebrews do the Lord’s bidding when the Fiery Cloud settles into the desert sand to rest; we see them rise to follow the pillar of smoke and flame when it is time to journey. May we place all trust in the Lord rather than resort to our own schemes and small plans.

In the Exodus story we know that the Hebrews grumbled about God’s care of them in their journey of transformation. May we always seek counsel in the Lord and share the Word we hear with fellow pilgrims.

In Numbers 9 the Cloud tarries for days or rises after only one evening’s rest so the Hebrews are unable to predict God’s movement in their lives; yet they know that the Lord is with them in the Fiery Cloud. May we learn patience in the Lord and give thanks for the many surprises that await us.

In the Exodus story we know that the Hebrews grew impatient with God’s timeline and grumbled about God’s provisions. May we keep in mind how great is God’s generosity and share God’s love with others.

As a child, I loved to hear my Mother read out the chronicle of the people who wandered in darkness for generations, doing God’s bidding despite their frustration. Somehow I knew that there were great lessons to be learned in this long story of turnings. Mother’s calm and steady voice would rise up to give emphasis to the peril the Hebrews endured; it would fall to a low and gentle register to underscore God’s constant presence and encouragement to the people. Closing my eyes, I stored those reassuring sounds and images for unknown times in my future. As I grew I began to encounter my first overwhelming obstacles and remembering the comfort and safety of those drowsy evenings with Mother reading about the Fiery Cloud that served as guide and guard, I drew on those stored images.  When fear threatened to paralyze me or lead me in the wrong direction, I allowed that pillar of fire and smoke to draw me toward God. Even today when I meet with an obstacle that threatens my physical, mental or spiritual life, I move toward the Fiery Cloud to step inside. And there I find a sanctuary that none can penetrate.  I find a peace that none can rattle.  I find a floating solidness that both sustains and carries me toward God.  And in God all problems both great and petty melt away.

In a few short weeks we celebrate the season of Lent, a time of God’s sacrifice for us as Jesus walks among us. It is a celebration of Sacrificial Love, of Hope against Desperation, of surety in a world that offers only turmoil. Let us turn to the story of the people who once walked in darkness (Isaiah 9), let us follow the Fiery Cloud as we wander through the dangers of the desert, and let us step into the pillar of smoke and light when the chaos of life menaces.  For there is no better sanctuary than God.  There is no better hope than Christ.  And there is no better peace than the serenity we find in the Spirit.

And so, we pray . . .

Let us rise as the Hebrews rise to do the bidding of the Lord.  Let us rest as the Hebrews rest to await the wisdom of the Lord.  Let us follow as the Hebrews follow . . . to do the bidding of the Lord.  Amen. 


Adapted from a reflection first written in December of 2011.

mage from: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/41559827

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Da Vinci: St James

Leonardo Da Vinci: St James

Saturday, January 1, 2021

New Year’s Day

Joy and Our Choices

James 1:2-3

The New Testament Letters bring us the good news that the risen Christ still walks with us each day. Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude remind the faithful that although much has been asked of Christ’s followers, much is also given.

With them, we remember that there is always hope when we sink into doubt, always light when we walk in darkness, and always joy, even when we suffer sorrow. Today James reminds us that strength appears when we consider our trials with joy.

On this day when we celebrate new beginnings, let us consider . . .

The author of this letter is a relative of Jesus and is generally described as the brother of the Lord. (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3) We know that he was the leader of the church in Jerusalem and that Paul described him as one of the pillars of the early church (Galatians 2:9) “James represents a type of early Christianity that emphasized sound teaching and responsible moral behavior. Ethical norms are derived not primarily from christology, as in Paul, but from a concept of salvation that involves conversion, baptism, forgiveness of sins, and expectation of judgment”. James lived out his beliefs until his death in 62 CE when, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, he was stoned to death under the high priest Ananus (Senior 368-369).

James 1:2-3: Consider it all joy, my [sisters and] brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

If we have the time to read James’ entire letter, we find that he “advocates living faith and practical love. His concern is behavior . . . [and his] target is the Christian who is ‘double-minded’ . . . who lives by two standards at once; that of God and that of the world. James demands a choice. Not only speech, but also the use of possessions and the practice of fairness within the community . . . He especially attacks envy, which perfectly illustrates the morals of ‘the world’ as opposed to God”. (Senior RG 547-548)

joyJames calls us out of our egocentric selves but rather than scold he calls us to an alternative option to the sorrow and fear the world offers. James tells us with his words and shows us with his life that we find strength and power in the choosing of joy in all we think and say and do. During this Christmastide and in the early days of this new year, how do we choose to respond to this invitation?

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.368-369 & RG 547-548. Print.

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/leonardo-da-vinci/head-of-st-james-the-less

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christholyspiritWednesday

December 29, 2021

Joy and the Holy Spirit

Acts

 The New Testament brings us the good news that not only does God walk among us as one of us, God’s Spirit lives constantly within, bringing us healing, hope and joy.

The Apostle Peter who denied his friendship with Jesus three times on the evening before the crucifixion now stands before anyone who will listen as he describes the joy of his relationship with the risen Christ. Using King David’s words, Peter calls others to this same intimacy.

Acts 2:23 & 28: I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.

As we read more of Peter’s speech in Acts 2:14-41, we have the opportunity to decide what words we might use to describe our own relationship with the risen Christ.  We might also consider how the Spirit has settled into our bones and has brought us moments of joy at unexpected moments.

Perhaps the greatest joy we find in this collection of early stories is in Chapter 15 in which Luke describes the first church council in Jerusalem. Early leaders come together to sort through a conflict with the potential of erasing the church before it has even found its footing. Taking heed of the counsel of the Holy Spirit, council members not only resolve their conflict, they go forth to share their joy with others.

Acts 15:3: They were sent on their journey by the church, and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all.

joyFor more joy in Acts, read about Philip and the Ethiopian in Chapter 8; or explore the verses describing Paul’s arrival and address at Antioch in Pisidia in Chapter 13. Let us take a few moments of this precious Christmastide before 2014 closes to consider how joy has surprised us in the midst of sorrow. And let us consider how we might share this good news in the new year.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Image from: http://www.examiner.com/article/jesus-the-holy-spirit-will-teach-you-everything

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Bouveret: Last Supper

Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret: Last Supper

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Joy and Anguish

John

 The New Testament brings us the good news of personal freedom and the reality of our individual relationship with God. Joy continues to surprise us as we rejoice in the coming of the Messiah.

The lyrical opening of John’s Gospel foreshadows the joy and anguish that will follow . . . In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. (John 1:1-3) God never guarantees that life will be without pain, but God always promises that the pain will be an opportunity for grace and joy. Coming into the world as a vulnerable child, God brings light to our darkness and joy to heal our pain.

John 16:20 and 22: Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.

Jesus promises that the joy we find in sorrow is infinite and all-encompassing.

John 16:24: Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Jesus promises that his presence and joy are constant and all-powerful.

John 17:13: But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.

Jesus promises that his mercy and love are always authentic and just.

John 15:11: I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

Jesus promises that his grace and hope are forever healing and transforming . . . and he tells us how important we are in God’s expression of joy.

joyAs part of our Christmastide reflection, let us spend a bit of time with Jesus’ Last Supper Discourses and consider the gift of his presence among us.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_Supper

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Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Annunciation

Henry Ossawa Tanner: The Annunciation

Monday, December 27, 2021

Joy and the Impossible

Luke

 The New Testament brings us the good news of personal freedom and the reality of our individual relationship with God. Joy continues to surprise us as we rejoice in the coming of the Messiah.

Luke’s Infancy Narrative (Luke 1-2) is likely well-known to us. It is also likely that the story of the disciples who meet Christ on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-25) is also a familiar one. When we read these two stories side by side we understand that Christ’s joy defeats all sadness, bridges all gaps, heals all wounds, brings light to all darkness, and is always present in our lives. When we find ourselves in circumstances that offer every reason to doubt the power of God’s joy, we might turn to these verses to remind ourselves that with God all things are possible, with God there is always hope in the midst of despair, with God there is always a reason to celebrate.

joy

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Image from: http://truthbook.com/religious-art-gallery/jesus-pictures 

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holy_family_610x300@2xSunday, December 26, 2021

Joy and the Holy Family

Mark

 The New Testament brings us the good news of personal freedom and the reality of our individual relationship with God. Joy continues to surprise us as we rejoice in the coming of the Messiah.

Jesus steps into the Gospel of Mark as a grown man seeking baptism from his cousin, John. In this way, Mark moves directly into the substance of Christ’s story. Jesus comes as one of us to heal, restore, liberate and transform.  Mark records Jesus’ telling of the parable of the sower who plants the Word on the trodden path, among the rocks, in the thorns, and on fertile ground. The joy of God’s word takes root only in rich soil. Let us spend some time today preparing ourselves for the reception of God’s joy.

Mark 4:13-20: Jesus says: Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.

joyWe might believe that in order to bear fruit we must rid our lives of thorns and stones and hardness; and it is true that the elimination of these obstacles would certainly smooth the way for God’s word to take hold of us in a permanent and lasting way. But when we look closely at the last of Jesus’ words in this parable we might be surprised by God’s joy.

But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.

It is not so much that joy flourishes in the uprooting of all thorns and the clearing of all rubble; rather, we find infinite joy in God when we accept God’s Word . . . and agree to work in God’s vineyard. On this day when we celebrate the joy of the Holy Family, let us determine that we will live as sisters and brothers in Christ who hear, accept, and move forward with the Good News of Joy.


If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

Image from: http://saltandlighttv.org/blog/rosicareflections/the-future-of-humanity-passes-through-the-family 

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Bartolome Esteban Murillo: The Nativity

Bartolome Esteban Murillo: The Nativity

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas Day

Joy and the Tomb

Matthew

 The New Testament brings us the good news of personal freedom and the reality of our individual relationship with God. Joy continues to surprise us as we rejoice in the coming of the Messiah.

In the Gospel of Matthew we hear the familiar story of three wise seekers following not only a singular star in the heavens but also a call of the heart. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, the women who accompanied Jesus are astounded by joy when they arrive at his tomb to discover that he has risen as promised.

Matthew 2:9-10: And so the wise men left Herod, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the East. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.

God says: You do not have to travel across continents or go to faraway shores to find me. I am here within you. And just as I live in you so also does my mercy. Just as I accompany you so also does my love. Just as I guide and carry you, so does my joy.

Matthew 28:8: So the women left the tomb in a hurry, afraid and yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

God says: Just as my first apostles ran to share the joy of Easter with the world, so might you share the joy of Christmas during this special time of year. Just as these women are open to the reality of my love for them, so might you be open to the good news that I have come to restore and heal. In this Christmastide, rest in the joy of this child’s birth and allow my joy to fully live in you.

joyWhen we hear the Christmas story we focus on the sweetness of the child and God’s provision and providence; we tend to stay away from the story of the cross . . . yet it provides us with a greater example God’s joy in us. Matthew links this joy in the vulnerable child with joy in the loving man.  We might spend time with this linkage today . . . and allow God’s joy to show us something wonderful and new.


If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://www.phistars.com/2011/09/esteban-bartolome-murillo-virgin-mary.html

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Ignatius Loyola

Ignatius Loyola

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve

Joy and Exile

Baruch 5

“The office of prophet was due to a direct call from God. It was not the result of heredity, just as it was not a permanent gift but a transient one, subject entirely to the divine will”. (Senior 877) Today joy comes upon us from the depths of fear experienced by a people lost and roaming . . . as we rejoice in the coming of the Messiah.

Baruch, the well-known secretary of the prophet Jeremiah, records beautiful verses in both poetry and prose that present a prayer for displaced people. Viewed in this way, the words help those who are lost or misplaced, those who suffer during this time of year when so many others celebrate. When contemplated in the silence of personal exile, these ancient words might set lost feet down on ground once thought unstable; they might give a new horizon and a clear path to those living abandoned or in pain. On this day awaiting the arrival of God in our midst, we take time with these words and rhymes . . . as we listen for God’s message of hope, healing and joy.

Take off your robe of mourning and misery . . .

God says: Your days of loss and suffering have come to an end.

Bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name . . .

God says: Decide to stand in the joy I shower on you . . .

God will show all the earth your splendor . . .

God says: I know that you believe I have abandoned you . . .

You will be named for God forever . . .

God says: Yet I have never left your side, I have never left your heart . . .

Look to the east and the west and see your children gathered at the word of the Holy One . . .

God says: Do not despair that all of your energy and work have been lost for in this you are incorrect . . .

Led away on foot by their enemies they left you . . .

God says: You have been apart and separate for a time but you have not been alone . . .

God will bring them back to you . . .

God says: All of your lost hopes are not, in fact, lost. They live on in all those whom you have touched as you have traveled your road of exile and sadness. Do you not see how many ripples you have sent out upon the waters?

For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age old depths and gorges be filled to level ground . . .

God says: Have I not just done the impossible . . . arrived as God yet as a human babe?

joyFor God is leading you in joy, by the light of holy glory, with mercy and justice for company.

God says: Remember that I have done all of this and more. I continue to hold you in my own heart and plans. You continue to be more important to me than you imagine. Each time you show mercy despite your painful circumstances you tell the world about my love for you. Each time you stand for justice despite your littleness you show the world the great love I have placed in you. Each time you live in me, my heart bursts with happiness in you. Remember all of this and know that I love you . . . and know that I always will.

Today we give thanks for God’s constant attendance on us . . . even in those times when we have felt alone. If the holiday season is a time of trial, spend time with Baruch today.


Listen to an interview with Fr. James Martin, S.J., conducted by Krista Tippett and posted at www.onbeing.org Allow all feeling of separation and abandonment to become joy in “Finding God in All Things”. Listen at: http://onbeing.org/program/james-martin-finding-god-in-all-things/7121/audio?embed=1

For more about the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, click on the image above, or visit: http://sacred-texts.com/chr/seil/

Also visit: https://thejesuitpost.org/2012/03/the-exercises-the-ignatian-adventure/?gclid=CjwKEAiA_NmkBRCe3ubC1aWAtEcSJACxkkbq2_vDdXCBma8StGvC_eeJP2AQRzAgPHbsU0oHgiQDExoCPrXw_wcB

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. RG 323. Print.

Image from: http://sacred-texts.com/chr/seil/

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