December 31, 2016

Dec. 31

December 31, 2016:  Seventh Day in Christmas Octave




  • 'Olympics' tie pin:  Let the earth rejoice (psalm); The light was coming into the world, but the world did not know him (gospel)
  • 'Christmas music' tie:  Sing the Lord a new song (psalm)
  • White shirt:  The light shines; John testified to the light (gospel)
  • 'Christmas trees' suspenders:  All the trees shall exult before the Lord (psalm)
  • 'Children' pin:  He gave those who accepted him power to become God's children (gospel)
    • 'Owl' pin:  Jesus, the Word, God's Wisdom (gospel)
    • 'Noël' button:  Christmas season
    • Oops, forgot these:
      • 'Clock' tie bar:  "Children, it's the last hour" (1st reading)
      • 'Abacus' tie pin:  They weren't really of our number (1st reading)
      • 'Law scroll' pin:  Moses gave the law; Jesus Christ, grace and truth (gospel)
    Listen

    • Prepare ye, from Godspell/ Schwartz (normally associated with Advent, but in line with today's gospel)
    Pope Francis homily
    “When the time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption.”  God wants us to live as his children.  God chose out of love to free us.  Surprisingly, God accomplishes this through a small, vulnerable newborn who draws near and embraces our flesh, our weakness, our littleness.  God didn't put on a human mask but shared completely in our condition.  He wanted to be close to all who felt lost, demeaned, hurt, discouraged, inconsolable, frightened, separated, or lonely, so that sin, shame, hurt, despair, and exclusion would not have the final word.
    The manger invites us to make God's “logic” ours.  It's not centered on privilege but encounter and closeness.  The manger invites us to break with the logic of exceptions and exclusion.  God shatters the chains of privilege that cause exclusion, to introduce the caress of compassion that brings inclusion, that makes the dignity of each person shine forth.  A child in swaddling clothes shows us the power of God who approaches us as a gift, a leaven and opportunity for creating a culture of encounter.
    We're tempted to adopt the logic of privilege that closes us off and closes off others' dreams and lives.  We need the Lord to enlighten us, because we can end up narrow-minded, with attitudes that force others to conform to our ideas.  God's light helps us learn from our mistakes to improve and surpass ourselves, to find strength to start anew.  Thank God for his generosity in our life and our history.  Show gratitude that goes beyond nostalgia to living memory that generates personal and communal creativity because we know God is with us.
    Contemplate how God has been present all year; every moment bears graces and blessings.  The manger challenges us not to give up on anything or anyone.  To look upon it means taking our place without complaints, resentment, closing in on ourselves, or seeking escape or shortcuts; it means recognizing the times call for bold and hope-filled initiatives and renunciation of self-promotion and concern with appearances.  It means seeing God gets involved by involving us, making us part of his work, inviting us to courage.
    At the manger we see young Joseph and Mary, full of hopes and questions, looking ahead conscious of the difficult task of helping their Child to grow.  Reflect on these faces and accept responsibility for our young, the debt we owe them.  Today's culture idolizes youth and seeks to make it eternal, but we've condemned our young people to have no place in society, because we've pushed them to the margins, forcing them to migrate or to beg for jobs that don't exist or don't promise them a future, vs. dignified work and involvement in society.  We expect them to be leaven for the future but 'condemn' them to knock on closed doors.  Don't say there's no room in the inn for life, but help them find real possibilities for building a future.  Don't be deprived of their hands, minds, and ability to prophesy.  Stake their future on true inclusion that provides work that's worthy, free, creative, and participatory.  Help them not become disillusioned by our immaturity; spur them on so that they can dream and fight for their dreams, grow, and become ancestors of our people.
    Contemplate the God-Child!  In Jesus, faith becomes hope, a leaven, and a blessing.  “With a tenderness that never disappoints, but can always restore our joy, Christ makes it possible for us to start anew.”
    Read

    • 1 Jn 2:18-21  It's the last hour, and many antichrists have appeared, but you have God's anointing and knowledge of the truth.
    • Ps 96:1-2, 11-13  "Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!"  Announce the Lord's salvation; he comes to rule the earth with justice.
    • Jn 1:1-18  In the beginning was the Word who was God.  Life and light came through him.  God sent John to testify to the light so all might believe.  The Word was in the world, but the world did not know or accept him.  But to those who did accept him he gave power to become God's children.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory.  From his fullness we all received; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  The only-begotten Son, God, has revealed God.
    Reflect
      • Creighton:   Today's readings remind us God had the first Word and Act and has the last. As we recall the year, instead of focusing on our shortcomings, blaming others, or despairing over the “antichrists,” notice where God has passed and where grace has shown up.  "Sin and evil are inevitable, but all shall be well" (Julian of Norwich).  Even amidst sin and evil, God holds us close.  Forces will try to lead us astray, but we recognize Jesus' voice of grace and truth and are given opportunities each day to see truth and grace.
      • One Bread, One Body:  "The end of another year of love":  2016, has come to "the final hour."  What did Jesus receive from us?  He can work miracles in this hour.
        Jesus in a baby walker/ Clèves Master
      • Passionist:  Christmas seems so long ago though the season is still young.  Many see the new year as a time to erase the past and resolve to be better, repairing relationships, restoring, refreshing, and rebuilding themselves.  But we began a new year with Advent, preparing the way for the Lord.  Did I make room in the inn of my heart for Jesus' birth?  Did I sweep out the junk from my life to make room?  We can still focus on what’s really important and welcome God's new opportunities to come home to his love and mercy, to testify to the true light by how we live.  Lord, grant us a broom to sweep away whatever keeps us from recognizing and welcoming you...
      • DailyScripture.net:  "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us":  The "word of God" in Old Testament Scripture is active, creative, and dynamic:  "By the word... the heavens were made."  "He sends forth his commands;... his word runs swiftly."  "My word is like fire, like a hammer that breaks the rock."  In Wisdom God "made all things by your word"; "wisdom" is God's eternal, creative, illuminating power.  "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth."  "Word" and "wisdom" are seen as one.  "While silence enveloped all things,... your all-powerful word leaped from heaven... into the land that was doomed, a warrior carrying the sword of your command."  John describes Jesus as God's creative, life- and light-giving Word come to earth in human form.  Jesus, God's wisdom and creative and sustaining power, took flesh to save us. Jesus became man while remaining God.  "Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise.  We had lost the good; it had to be given back to us.  Closed in darkness, we needed light; captive, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator.  They moved God to descend to human nature and visit..." (Gregory of Nyssa).  Christians proclaim the wonder of the Incarnation.  "The Son of God worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted with a human will, loved with a human heart.  He has been made one of us" (Gaudium et Spes).  If we'll behold God's glory, it'll be through Jesus Christ, who partook our humanity so we could partake of his divinity.  God wants us to be united with him.  By our being united in Jesus, God becomes our Father and we his children....

      December 30, 2016

      Holy Family

      December 30, 2016:  Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

      See about a dozen connections with today?
      Legend below
      Listen
      Read
      • Sir 3:2-6, 12-14  God sets parents over their children.  Honor your parents:  atone for sins, preserve yourself, store up riches, have your prayers heard, and live long.  Take care of your father; your kindness won't be forgotten.
      • Ps 128:1-5  "Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways."  You'll eat the fruit of your handiwork; your wife shall be like a fruitful vine and your children like olive plants around your table.
      Wordle: Readings 12-29-13

      • Col 3:12-21 [quintessential "dress your life" reading]:  Put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with and forgive one another.  Put on love, and let Christ's peace control you.  Teach one another, singing with gratitude to God.  Do everything in Jesus' name, giving God thanks through him.  Wives, be subordinate to your husbands; husbands, love your wives and don't provoke your children; children, obey your parents.
      • Mt 2:13-15, 19-23  Angel to Joseph:  “Flee to Egypt; Herod wants to destroy your child.”  They departed.  When Herod died, angel told Joseph: “Go to Israel; those who sought the child’s life are dead.”  They went, but when he heard Herod's son was ruling, he was afraid, departed for Galilee, and went to Nazareth.
      Reflect
        • Creighton:  Ways the Holy Family is like ours:
          • Jesus had to develop like a normal kid:  learning language, prayer, craft,...
          • There were more than three:  “brothers” (Jacob, Joseph, Jude, Simon) and “sisters”:   cousins?  Joseph’s children from an earlier marriage?  They would have lived in the same compound with aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.  Joseph and Jesus' profession is tektōn (builder, craftsman); since wood was rare, they might have been stone workers.
          • They were a Jewish family:  they understood family as embedded in covenant community; they lived according to the Scriptures and practices of Israel.  Their relationships with others were as important as their relationship with God.
          • Jesus looked at his disciples as a new kind of family.  His disciples were a community deeper than blood. This group formed by faith was intimate kinship with Jesus.  Jesus’ human experience of family, and extended family, may have inspired him to use kinship language for what was to become the church.
        Vatican Council II calls the Christian family “the domestic church.”  If, for Jesus, the church is a family, then family can be understood as a kind of church.  We should make the church community a place of loving intimacy. The early church grew because they lived like a family who took care of one another.  Jesus’ years as part of the Holy Family were the seed of this way of living.  We're still learning....
          The Holy Family/ Gutierrez
          (More art)
        • One Bread, One Body:  "The family fights back":  The Christian family is being assaulted.  Fewer are surviving.  May this season be a time Christian families fight the culture of death.  May we be ministers of reconciliation and peacemakers, praying and sharing together. In obedience and unity is power against enemies of the family, today's Herods, and power to promote love and life....
        • Passionist:  Imagine yourself as the stable-master who let Mary and Joseph in.  Jesus is born angels sing, then a crowd pours in:  the hungry, the lonely, the poor, the anxious....  "When you welcome me, you welcome all who come with me?"  That stable is each of our hearts, and we're the stable-masters.  Jesus wants to make his home in our hearts.  We may need to clean up:  get rid of anger, lust, prejudice, selfishness and unforgiveness.  Our hearts expand, and all find a home.  The more we give love away, the more we have.  May the Holy Family be at home in us....
        • DailyScripture.net:  "An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream":  Joseph and Mary raised Jesus in the reverence and wisdom of the Lord.  Joseph is a man of God, praying, obedient, and willing to serve.  He recognized God's hand in the Incarnation.  He cares for his family diligently, setting aside his own plans when called.  God has a plan for each of us and gives us grace and guidance.  Do I trust him?  Will I  sacrifice my plans for his sake?
        Dress legend
        • 'Hearts' suspenders:  Put on love; love your wives; love one another; grateful hearts; let Christ's peace Christ control your hearts; if our hearts don't condemn us, we have confidence in God (2nd reading)
        • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  Let Christ's peace control you (2nd reading)
        • 'Owl' tie pin:  Teach each other in wisdom (2nd reading)
        • Angel:  Angel speaking to Joseph (gospel)
        • Tie with grapes and other fruit:  Your wife will be like a fruitful vine; You who walk in the Lord's ways shall eat the fruit of your handiwork (psalm)
        • "Happy birthday, Jesus" pin:  Christmas season; do everything in Jesus' name (2nd reading)
        • Dressing today:  'Put on' compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (2nd reading)
        • '[Koala] bear' tie bar:  'Bear' with one another (2nd reading)
        • 'Treble clef' tie pin:  Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (2nd reading)
        • White shirt:  Color of today's celebration
        Special blessings to and prayers for our Holy Family parish and school communities
        in Artesia, Glendale, South Pasadena, and Wilmington!

        December 29, 2016

        Dec. 29

        December 29, 2016:  Fifth day in Christmas Octave

        See 12 connections with today?
        Legend at bottom
        Listen
        For 1st reading
        For Psalm 96
          Two turtle doves
          (gospel)
        • 1 Jn 2:3-11  If you say you know Jesus but don't keep his commandments, you're a liar, but if you keep his word, God's love is in you.  If you hate others, you're in darkness, but if you love them, you're in the light.
        • Ps 96:1-3, 5b-6  "Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!"  Sing to the Lord.  Announce his salvation, glory, and wondrous deeds.
        • Lk 2:22-35  Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to the Lord.  The Spirit revealed to Simeon he'd see the Christ.  He took Jesus in his arms:  “I've seen the salvation you prepared, a light for the nations and glory for Israel.”  Mary and Joseph were amazed.  Simeon to Mary:  “He's destined for the fall and rise of many, and to be a sign to be contradicted (and a sword will pierce you) so the thoughts of many may be revealed.”
        Reflect
          • Creighton:  John reminds us of the inner light that guides us on our journey to God, saying that if we say we know Christ but don't keep his commandments, we're liars. Jesus invites us to keep Christ’s word by living as Christ lived.  If we think we're in the light but are jealous or hate, we're still in darkness. Jesus’ commandment of love is the inner light that empowers us to overcome darkness/evil.  May we connect with the light of Christ, experience God’s grace, and allow Christ’s love and shine in and through us.
          • Presentation of Jesus in the Temple/ Bellini
          • One Bread, One Body:  "The Spirit of Christmas":  How do we live Christmas today?  It's a matter of the heart, a movement of the Spirit.  Before seeing Jesus, Simeon already experienced Christ because "the Spirit was upon him." Father, stir into flame the gift of the Spirit. "The way we know we remain in him and he in us is that he has given us of his Spirit." The Spirit is how we know the reality of Christmas.
          • Passionist:  Walking in the light requires loving others.  How am I the light of Christ to others?  “A light to reveal you...” from Simeon's prophecy calls me to reflect on how I'm growing in my faith. How is my prayer, reflection on the daily readings, attentiveness to homilies, openness to God's call?  We can’t be a light if we don’t have the light.
          • DailyScripture.net:  "The favor of God was upon him":  Mary fulfills the rite of purification after childbirth, offering pigeons since they couldn't afford a lamb.  This rite, with circumcision, recalls that children are God's gifts.  Jesus was born in an ordinary home, reared in the fear and wisdom of God, obeyed his parents, and grew in wisdom and grace.  How do I listen to God's word, submit to God, and help the young grow in wisdom and maturity?
          Simeon believed the Lord would return and renew his people.  The Spirit also revealed to him that the Messiah would also bring salvation to the Gentiles.  When Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the temple, Simeon, recognizing the child as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecies, and inspired by the Spirit, prophesied Jesus would be "a revealing light to the Gentiles."  The Spirit reveals the Lord to those eager to receive him.
          Jesus is the new temple.  God led his people through the wilderness, showing himself in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire.  His glory came over the ark and the tabernacle.  When the first Jerusalem temple was built, God's glory rested there.  When the temple was destroyed, Ezekiel saw God's glory leave, but God promised to fill it with greater glory, a promise fulfilled when the King of Glory came to his temple.  Through Jesus' incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension we're made living temples of his Spirit....
          Simeon prophesied to Mary about the child's destiny and her suffering. Mary was blessed to be the Christ Child's mother, but a sword pierced her as he died on the cross; she received a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow, but the sorrow didn't diminish her joy because of her faith and hope.  The Lord gives us joy to bear any sorrow or pain, and no one will take it.
          The hope God places in us is the desire for his kingdom and everlasting life and happiness.  The Spirit gives hope that enables us to persevere.   What holds me back from trusting God unreservedly?....
            • Elijah and Elisha:  a reflection on St Thomas:  Prophets Elijah and Elisha have similar names, and some of their miracles are so similar that some scholars have argued they're the same person.  Today’s feast reminds us of another historical coincidence:  King Henry of England appoints learned Thomas, his close and trusted friend, to a high office where he is expected to be loyal and take the king’s part against others, even the Church.  Conscious of his unworthiness for the office, Thomas undergoes an interior conversion and resolves to follow God’s voice within him.  His upholding of truth and the Church’s rights leads to a conflict with the king, who feels betrayed.  Thomas is killed, eventually canonized.
          That narrative applies to both Henry II and Thomas Becket, and Henry VIII and Thomas More.  Imagine a future scholar arguing (in error) there was only one Henry and one Thomas, and that early sources accidentally split them into two.
          Dress legend
          • 'Dove' pin:  Spirit was upon Simeon (gospel)
          • 'Eyeball' pin:  Darkness has blinded the eyes of those who hate their brother (1st reading); “My eyes have seen the salvation you prepared in everyone's sight.” (gospel)
          • 'Olympics' pin:  Let the earth rejoice!  Tell his glory among the nations (psalm)
          • 'Sword' pin:  Mary, a sword will pierce you (gospel)
          • 'Street lamp' tie bar:  The true light is shining; love others = remain in the light (1st reading); "I've seen your salvation, a light to reveal you..." (gospel)
          • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  "Lord, let your servant go in peace" (gospel)
          • 'Mary' pin:  Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple (gospel)
          • 'Law scroll' pin:  Keep Jesus' commandments (1st reading)

              December 28, 2016

              Holy Innocents

              December 28, 2016:  Holy Innocents, Martyrs

              • 'Christmas lights' tie:  God is light (1st reading)
              • Red shirt, 'blood drop' pin:  Martyrdom of Holy Innocents; Jesus' blood cleanses us (1st reading)
              • 'Bird' tie pin:  Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare. (psalm)
              • 'Angel' pin:  Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream (gospel)
              • 'Magnifying glass' pin:  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him (gospel)
              • 'Street lamp' tie bar:  God is light (1st reading)
              • 'OneLife LA':  Holy Innocents, help us to respect all human life. 
              Listen
              Paul pointed to Abram to indicate the way of faith and of hope.  Abram’s confidence in God’s promise to give him a son was a hope against hope because of his age and his wife's sterility, but he believed, and his faith gave him hope unreasonable to all appearances.  His hope opened new horizons, making him capable of dreaming the unimaginable.  Hope allows us to enter the darkness of an uncertain future and journey in the light.
              Even Abram had moments of discouragement.  In the gospel passage, the scene where Abram questions God takes place at night, but in Abram's heart there is the darkness of disappointment and discouragement.  Though he spoke familiarly with God, he felt alone, old, and tired.  Even this questioning by Abram is a form of faith.  Despite his disappointment, he kept believing in God–or else why would he complain to him?  Faith is not only silence that accepts everything without reply; hope is not certainty that makes you secure from doubt.  Faith can be struggling with God, showing our bitterness, and hope is also not being afraid to see reality and accept its contradictions.
              The sign God gives Abram–“Count the stars…  just so will your descendants be”–is a call to believe and hope.  To believe, you need to see with the eyes of faith:  they're only stars everyone can see, but for Abram, they became the sign of God's faithfulness.  This is the journey of hope each of us must walk. 
              Read
              • 1 Jn 1:5—2:2  God is light; in him is no darkness.  If we walk in the light, we have fellowship...  If we acknowledge our sins, he will forgive and cleanse us.  Advocate Jesus Christ is expiation for our sins and the world's.
              • Ps 124:2-5, 7cd-8  "Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare."  Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
              • Mt 2:13-18  Angel to Joseph:  “Flee to Egypt; Herod wants to destroy the child.”  They departed.  Herod, realizing the magi deceived him, ordered the massacre of all the boys two years old and under.
              Reflect
                • Creighton:  God is light, in whom is no darkness.  Imagine the terror Joseph felt when the angel told him to flee with Mary and their son.  We go from the anticipation of Advent, to Christmas joy, to fear and violence.  Angry Herod ordered the massacre of all the boys two years old or under in or near Bethlehem.  Joseph had faith, and Jesus was spared.  Think of today's children affected by violence:  the unborn, the medically fragile, the mentally ill, those who live in violence through no fault of their own; pray for peace.
                  The Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents/ Dore
                • One Bread, One Body:  "Royal flush":  Herod understood Jesus' life and birth threatened his kingship; he believed Mary's prophecy, "He has deposed the mighty and raised the lowly.  The hungry he has given every good thing, while the rich he has sent away empty."  Herod anticipated another prophecy, that Jesus would be a "Sign of contradiction."  Christ and Christmas are a revolutionary threat against worldly powers?  Live the true meaning of Christmas!
                • Passionist:  Imagine the darkness enveloping the families who lost innocent children in the Herod-ordered massacre!  Unfortunately innocent children are still killed worldwide; today's Herods are at least as dangerous.  Our faith in a God who is light and walks with us through darkness is the hope we carry.  The Gift of the innocent Child born in Bethlehem is the light that will guide us.  Embrace the miracle and give thanks for the gift!
                • DailyScripture.net:  "Rachel weeping for her children":  Herod's massacre of children who gave their lives for a person and truth they didn't know seemed useless and unjust.  Why couldn't God prevent it?  We can't understand suffering.  These children are the first martyrs.  Suffering, persecution, and martyrdom are the lot of all Christ's disciples.  Jesus' death won eternal life for us; his blood obtained pardon and reconciliation with our Father.
                Suffering can take many forms:  illness, disease, handicap, pain, trauma, slander, abuse, poverty, injustice....  "In everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called to his purpose."  Jesus said that those who are reviled and persecuted for righteousness' sake are blessed (makarios, happy), with a serene joy, self-contained and independent from chance and changing circumstances.
                Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God, but that blessedness became a sword that pierced her heart as he died; she received a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow.  But her sorrow didn't diminish her joy fueled by faith and hope. "No one will take your joy."  God gives each of us joy that enables us to bear sorrow or pain....
                • Universalis:  Holy Innocents, martyrs, baby boys slaughtered at Herod's orders in the hope that the newborn King of the Jews was among them.  They can stand for the “unimportant”/“unnecessary” pawns of history, sacrificed because they “don’t matter.”  In God’s eyes everyone matters.  The honor given these infants reminds us that our suffering for God’s sake has value even if we have little or no say in it.  Remember those who die before birth....

                December 27, 2016

                John

                December 27, 2016:  St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

                • 'Eyeball' and 'hands' pins:  We've seen the Word of Life with our eyes and touched him with our hands (1st reading); John saw and believed (gospel)
                • 'Runner' tie pin:  Peter and the "beloved disciple" ran to the tomb (gospel)
                • 'Alps' tie pin:  The mountains melt like wax before the Lord (psalm)
                • White shirt:  Color of St. John's feast
                • 'Christmas lights' tie:  Light dawns for the just (psalm); Christmas season
                • 'Heart' pin:  Gladness for the upright of heart (psalm)
                • Button:  Joyeux Noël!
                Listen

                Pope Francis to young adults
                Stand firm in hope:  let the Lord live in your hearts and lives.  When the Lord calls us, he looks at all we might be able to do, all the love we can share.  He urges you on toward the horizon, not the museum.  With Jesus, the faithful friend, you can advance with joy and devote your talents for the good of all.
                Because so many feel discouraged by violence, injustice, suffering, and divisions, and believe evil is so strong, show in your words and deeds that evil is not the last word.  It's the time of mercy; nobody is cut off from God’s closeness and the power of his tender love.  Don't fear your limits; trust in Christ, who believes and hopes in you.  Build bridges of friendship and make God's love visible.
                Read
                Wordle: Readings 12-27-14

                • 1 Jn 1:1-4  We proclaim the Word of life—what was from the beginning, that we've heard, seen, and touched—so you may have fellowship with the Father, Jesus Christ, and us.
                • Ps 97:1-2, 5-6, 11-12  "Rejoice in the Lord, you just!"  The Lord is king; the heavens proclaim his justice, and all see his glory.
                • Jn 20:1a, 2-8  Mary Magdalene ran to Simon Peter and [John]:  “They've taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him.”  Both ran to the tomb; John arrived first and saw the burial cloths, then Peter arrived and saw them too.  John went in and believed.

                Reflect
                  • Creighton:  Christmas week unfolds unsentimentally with Stephen's martyrdom (yesterday), the massacre of the Holy Innocents, victims of a brutal political leader (tomorrow), and Thomas Becket's martyrdom (Thursday).  And today's gospel repeats the phrases "tomb" and "burial cloths."  The shadow of the cross looms over the Christmas angel choir.  But “a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  “We have touched him with our hands.”  “He saw and believed.” “So your joy may be complete.”  “Let the earth rejoice.”  John is the evangelist of the Incarnation.  The Word pitches his tent in the midst of human experience marked by ambiguity, loss, betrayal, division, and violence.  Incarnation is a mystery better pondered than grasped....
                    St. John the Evangelist/ Domenichino
                    (More St. John art)
                  • One Bread, One Body:  "The love beyond all telling":  Jesus' birth made it possible for people to see, hear, touch, and hold Jesus, to have a personal relationship with  him.  His Ascension, the giving of the Holy Spirit, and the birth of the Church made it possible for everyone to have a personal, deep, and intimate relationship with Jesus.  We can live in Jesus while he lives in us.  We can "grasp fully... the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ's love,... [and] attain to God's fullness."  Christmas takes us back to the roots of God's incarnate love....
                  • Passionist:  John loved proclaiming the good news, sharing Jesus' words and God's love.  “We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.”  His gospel is full of proclamations about God’s love.  May we use each moment, each opportunity, to proclaim the good news so our joy may also be complete!
                  • DailyScripture.net:  "John saw the Word made flesh and believed":   John was the first apostle to reach Jesus' empty tomb.  What did he see that led him to believe?  He must have recalled Jesus prophesying that he'd rise after three days.  John bears witness to the "Word of Life," Jesus the Word Incarnate, the word the prophets announced, the word now preached....
                  • Universalis:  John the Evangelist, Zebedee's son, nicknamed by Jesus “son of thunder” (as brother James).  At Jesus' Transfiguration and empty tomb,  Jesus put his mother in his care.  Exiled to island of Patmos; died at Ephesus.