December 31, 2014

Dec. 31

December 31, 2014:  7th day in Christmas Octave

  • 'Clock' tie bar: "Children, it's the last hour" (1st reading)
  • 'Abacus' tie pin: They weren't really of our number (1st reading)
  • 'Tree' pin:  Then the trees shall exult (psalm)
  • 'Children' pin:  He gave those who accepted the true light power to become God's children (gospel)
  • 'Ten commandments' tie: While the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Christ (gospel)
  • Owl pin:  Jesus, the Word, God's Wisdom (gospel)
  • 'Noël' pin:  Christmas season

  • Prepare ye, from Godspell/ Schwartz (not normally associated with Christmas but in line with today's gospel)
Pope Francis World Day of Peace message
No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters:  I wish peace for everyone and pray for an end to conflicts and suffering; may we act worthy of our humanity.  Last year I spoke of the desire for full life including fraternity allowing us to see others as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced.  We're relational beings, so our dignity and freedom must be respected; exploitation damages communion and our call to respectful, just, and loving relationships.
Listening to God’s plan for humanity:  Conversion to Christ, the beginning of a life lived Christian discipleship, generates fraternity as bond of family life and basis of life in society.  Adam and Eve brought about the first brothers, Cain and Abel, who had the same origin, nature, and dignity as their parents, created in God's image.  All people are in relation with others, from whom they differ but with whom they share origin, nature, and dignity; fraternity is the network of relations essential to build the human family God created.
Between creation and the new birth in Christ, sin disrupted fraternity and disfigured the beauty and nobility of our being brothers and sisters.  Cain's murder of Abel out of envy bears witness to his rejection of their call to be brothers; the story brings out the difficult task we're called to, taking care of each other.  Ham’s disrespect drove his father Noah to curse him and bless the others who honored him, creating inequality among brothers.  Estrangement from God expresses refusal of communion and gives rise to enslavement including rejection and mistreatment of others, violations of human dignity and rights, and inequality; hence the need for ongoing conversion.  Christ came to reveal the Father’s love for us; whoever responds to the Gospel becomes an adopted son of the Father.  You need to exercise personal freedom and be converted to become a Christian.  Those who responded to Peter’s preaching entered into the first Christian community; differing social status didn't exclude anyone.  In Christian community, communion is lived in love shared among brothers and sisters.  The gospel can redeem relationships by shedding light that we have in common both adoptive sonship and brotherhood in Christ.  [more tomorrow...]
  • 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.
    Wordle: Readings 12-31-14
  • 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.
    • Creighton:  For 2015 let's resolve to testify to the light of Jesus Christ and to live out God’s justice with joy.  If Christmas is a season of enlightenment, then it can be a time of renewal and life-changing resolutions.  Recognize God is among us and has given us the power to be his children living in Christ's light and God's justice.
    • One Bread One Body:  "How to end a year":  People in the Church socially and culturally but who haven't given their lives to Jesus and the Church may have been sacramentalized but not evangelized; they're in danger of becoming antichrists (1st reading).  Make a total commitment to Jesus; we're privileged God has given us the life, freedom, faith, and love to do so.
    • Passionist:  In 2014 did I make room for God?  Did I let Christ thrive in my heart?  Did I reach out to others?  Did I apologize to that person who hates me?  Did I forgive that person who betrayed me?  Was I Jesus' hands?  God of beginnings and endings, thank you for the gift of time.  Help me let go of our regrets and failures so I may give birth to your love in the world.
    •  To the Jews the "word of God" was active, creative, dynamic, and equated with his wisdom.  The Book of Wisdom describes 'wisdom' as God's eternal, creative, and illuminating power.  John describes Jesus as God's creative, life- and light-giving word come in human form.  Jesus is the wisdom and power of the God who made and sustains the world, in human nature to accomplish our salvation.
    "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.  In darkness, we needed light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator.  These things moved God to descend to human nature and visit us, since we were in so miserable a state." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)
    "Christians keep proclaiming the Incarnation. The Son of God assumed human nature to accomplish our salvation.  The Son worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted with a human will, and loved with a human heart.  Born of Mary, he became one of us, like us in all things but sin."  (Gaudium et Spes).
    Jesus partook our humanity so we could partake his divinity (2 Pet 1:4). God willed that we be united with him. When Jesus came, God became known as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we became his children.

    December 30, 2014

    Dec. 30

    December 30, 2014:  6th day in Christmas Octave

    • 'Children' pin: I write to you, children, because you know the Father. (1st reading)
    • 'Eyeball' pin: All in the world... enticement for the eyes... is not from the Father. (1st reading)
    • 'Owl' pin: Jesus grew and became strong, filled with wisdom (gospel)
    • 'Mele Kalikimaka' shirt, No-'L' pin:  Christmas season (through Jan. 11)

    • What is the world to me/ Pferfferkorn tr. Crull:  tune, lyrics+ (1st reading)

      Wordle: Readings 12-30-14
    • 1 Jn 2:12-17  Children, your sins have been forgiven.  Fathers, you know Him.  Young men, God's word is in you, and you've conquered the Evil One.  Children, you know the Father.  If you love the world, the Father's love isn't in you; all in the world is not from the Father.  The world is passing away, but if you do God's will, you'll remain.
    • Ps 96:7-10  "Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!"  Praise and worship the Lord; God is king and governs with equity.
    • Lk 2:36-40  Prophetess Anna, 84, worshipped night and day.  She thanked God and spoke about the child.  Joseph, Mary, and Jesus returned to Nazareth; Jesus grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and God's favor.
      • Creighton:  The 1st reading warns how the world may take our attention away from God.  Actions that promote my personal security may be the ones the 1st reading warns against.  May I give God recognition.  Lord, open us to your presence.  Let us be willing to accept roles that bring us closer to you, and give us strength to live them.  Give us grace to say no when that will bring us closer to you.  Help us take time to come to our personal Epiphanies.
      • One Bread One Body:  "Break the world record":  "The world" = carnal allurements, enticements for the eye, pride.  One who believes Jesus is Son of God conquers the world and proves the world wrong about sin, justice, and condemnation.
      • Passionist:  After Jesus was presented in the Temple, prophetess Anna thanked God and spoke about the child who would deliver Israel.  Jesus comes to deliver us from sin, self-doubt, fear, confusion, sadness, hatred, greed, and divisions and bring peace.  We must unite ourselves with him in the temple of our hearts and present ourselves to God; we'll be filled with wisdom and God's favor.
      •  God gives us hope for the kingdom of heaven and eternal life; hope grows with prayer and perseverance.  Elderly Anna had great hope, expecting God would fulfill his promises.  Age and disappointments can make us cynical and hopeless if our hope isn't in God like hers was; her faith and hope fueled her zeal and fervor in prayer and service.  We grow in hope by trusting Christ's promises and the Spirit's help.

      December 29, 2014

      Dec. 29

      December 29, 2014:  5th day in Christmas Octave

      • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  Spirit was with Simeon (gospel)
      • 'Eyeball' pin: “I've seen the salvation you prepared in everyone's sight.” (gospel)
      • 'Sword' pin: Mary, a sword will pierce you (gospel)
      • 'State law' pin (a stretch):  keep Jesus' commandments (1st reading)

      • 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 your brother, you're in darkness, but if you love him, 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.”

        • Creighton:  John speaks in absolutes to drive home his message, but for us it's not a clear choice between loving or hating God.  God lets us make daily choices vs. choosing once and for all.  John is calling us to actual and effective love, to reach out to the least.
        • One Bread One Body:  To grow in love requires God's grace, willingness to accept it, and a process of transformation.  We go through the process by taking steps in obedience.  By obedience, Mary conceived and loved Jesus, Joseph became his foster-father and grew in love, shepherds and magi saw baby Jesus and began a new life, and Simeon met Jesus in the Temple.  Obey Jesus, the Way, Love.
        • Passionist:  Our world challenges our ideas about how to treat others.  May I walk in compassion and so walk in the light.
        •  God gives us opportunities to develop relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  Christianity is a relationship of trust, affection, commitment, faithfulness, kindness, compassion, mercy, support, strength, and other qualities that unite people in love.  God offers union with himself, author and source of love.  God will love us no matter what and wants our relationships to be rooted in his love.  Jesus offered his life for us so we could be forgiven and restored to unity and become God's adopted children, showing true kinship is not a matter of flesh and blood.  Our adoption transforms our relationships and requires loyalty to God and his kingdom first.

        December 28, 2014

        Holy Family

        December 28, 2014:  Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

        • 'Kneeling person' tie bar:  The prayer of a father or one who reveres their father is heard (1st reading)
        • 'Shield with sword' tie pin:  "Abram, I am your shield" (1st reading alt.); "a sword shall pierce you" (gospel)
        • 'Star' tie pin:  "Abram, look up and count the stars if you can." (1st reading alt.); from Abraham came descendants numerous as the stars (2nd reading alt.)
        • 'Fruit' tie:  You who walk in the Lord's ways shall eat the fruit of your handiwork (psalm)
        • 'Grapes' pin:  Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine (psalm)
        • Dressing today:  'Put on' compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (2nd reading)
        • '[Koala] Bear' tie bar:  'Bear' with one another (2nd reading)
        • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  Let Christ's peace control your hearts (2nd reading)
        • 'Owl' tie pin:  Let Christ's word dwell in you as in wisdom you teach one another (2nd reading); the child grew and became filled with wisdom (gospel)
        • 'Hearts' suspenders:  Sing with gratitude in your hearts; love your wives; grateful hearts (2nd reading)
        • Christmas pin:  season
        • White shirt:  color of today's celebration

        Pope Francis Angelus
        The infant Jesus with Mary and Joseph are a shining example of mercy and salvation for the world.  The light from the Holy Family encourages us to offer human warmth in those family situations in which there's a lack of peace, harmony, and forgiveness.  Our solidarity is just as present, especially with families undergoing difficult situations because of illness, lack of work, discrimination, and the need to emigrate.
        Jesus brings the generations closer together.  He is the source of love that unites, overcoming mistrust, isolation, and distance.  Grandparents are so important in family and society.  A good relationship between young and old people is key in communities' functioning.  The Holy Family is centered on Jesus, and when a family has faith, it gives them strength to face difficult situations, as Mary and Joseph did.
        • 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.
        • Gn 15:1-6; 21:1-3  Lord / Abram:  “I'll make your reward great.” / “What good will your gifts be if I remain childless?” / “Your own issue shall be your heir.  Count the stars; just so shall your descendants be.”  Abram put his faith in the Lord, who did for Sarah as he'd promised.  Sarah bore Abraham a son; he named him Isaac.
        • Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5  "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.
        • Ps 105:1-6, 8-9  "The Lord remembers his covenant for ever."  Praise and thank the Lord, and make his deeds known.  Seek his face, you descendents of Abraham.  He is our God and remembers his covenant.
          • 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.
          • Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19  By faith Abraham obeyed; he went, not knowing where.  He received power to generate, for he thought the one who promised was trustworthy.  By faith Abraham offered up Isaac; he who received the promises was ready to offer him, reasoning that God could raise the dead, and receiving Isaac back.
          • Lk 2:22-40  Mary and Joseph took Jesus to present him to the Lord.  The Spirit revealed to Simeon he'd see the Christ.  When they brought him into the temple, he took him in his arms:  “My eyes have seen your salvation, a light for the Gentiles, and glory for Israel.”  The child’s parents were amazed; Simeon told Mary, “This child is destined for the fall and rise of many, and to be a sign to be contradicted—and a sword will pierce you.”  Prophetess Anna, 84, came forward, thanked God, and spoke of the child.  The family returned to Nazareth.  The child grew, became filled with wisdom, and God's favor was on him.
            • Creighton:  Paul's writing often follows the pattern "you are [the body of Christ]; live faithfully [the reality that you are].  Today:  you are God's chosen ones; live with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, and love—virtues about relationship.  Today's me-society doesn't value humility, gentleness, or patience.  The Holy Family is a model of encountering one another while moving towards virtue.
            • One Bread One Body:  "Family feud":  Today's families are walking through a minefield; they need guidance, prayer, power, protection, God, and grace.
            • Passionist:  Family happens when we recognize God in each other.  Thank God for family at home and in the Church!
            •  Mary couldn't afford a lamb so offered two pigeons as the poor did.  Simeon, in tune with the Spirit, believed God would return and renew his chosen people, and the Messiah-King would also save the Gentiles. He recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of messianic prophecy and prophesied that he would be "a revealing light to the Gentiles." / When the Temple was destroyed, God promised to fill it with greater glory; the promise was fulfilled when Jesus came.  Through Jesus we're made living temples of the Spirit.  Simeon prophesied to Mary about the child and the suffering she'd undergo; the blessedness she was given as mother of God would become a sword piercing her heart.  Her sorrow didn't diminish her joy because of her faith, hope, and trust in God.  What do I hope for?
            • Universalis:  If not trumped by Holy Family:  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 that permeate history, sacrificed because they “don’t really matter.”  In God’s eyes everyone matters; no one is unimportant or unnecessary.  The honor given to these infants reminds us that our suffering for God’s sake has value even if we have little or no say in it.  We also remember those who die before birth for the convenience of those who have them killed.
            Special blessings to and prayers for our Holy Family parish and school communities in Artesia, Glendale, South Pasadena, and Wilmington!

            December 27, 2014


            December 27, 2014:  St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

            • 'Eyeball' and 'hand' tie 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)
            • White shirt:  color of St. John's feast
            • Pin:  Joyeux Noël!


            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.

              • Creighton:  John's Gospel never gives the "beloved disciple's" name, he's been identified as apostle John, son of Zebedee, author of the gospel.  Many early Christians saw Christianity as gnostic (where salvation is for a select few "in the know"); to counter that threat to faith, the "beloved disciple" shows the importance of the love between him and Jesus, and between Jesus and us.  John's gospel calls each of us to a similar deep and loving relationship with Jesus; God calls you to become the disciple Jesus loves.
              • One Bread One Body:  The "beloved disciple" may not be named to show that he represents all Jesus' disciples; we're all beloved, can have a miraculous relationship with Jesus, must stand at the foot of the cross, must deny ourselves and take up the cross daily, and must believe in and proclaim the risen Lord.  Become more aware of being Christ's beloved.
              •  John was the first apostle to reach Jesus' empty tomb. When he saw it, he must have recalled Jesus' prophecy that he'd rise.  He bears witness to what has existed from all eternity:  Jesus, word of life, announced by prophets, made flesh.  
              • 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.  See Catholic Encyclopedia.

              December 26, 2014


              December 26, 2014:  St. Stephen, martyr

              • Red shirt:  Stephen's martyrdom
              • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  Stephen was filled with the Spirit (1st reading); when you're handed over, the Spirit will speak through you (gospel)
              • 'Stone/rock' tie pin:  they stoned Stephen (1st reading); be my rock of refuge (psalm)


              Today we recall St. Stephen's witness.  Chosen by the Apostles, together with six others, for the diaconate of charity, he became the first martyr, offering his life in honor of the King of Kings and so showing us how to live the mystery of Christmas.

              In today's gospel Jesus tells his disciples when he sends them out, “All will hate you because of me, but whoever endures will be saved.”  The words strip Christmas of false sweetness, making us understand that in trials, love overcomes violence and life death.  To welcome Jesus and prolong the joy of the Holy Night, we must bear witness in humility, in silent service, without fear of going against the grain.  You may not be called to shed your blood like Stephen, but you're called to live coherent with the faith you profess.  Living the Gospel is demanding, but those who do with fidelity and courage receive God's gift of peace.
              Pray for all who are discriminated against because of their witness to Christ.  Pray too that religious liberty will be strengthened throughout the world.  May St. Stephen, Deacon and Protomartyr, sustain us, who hope to be crowned with the Saints.  May he give us Christian coherence:  to think, feel, and live as a Christian, not to think as a Christian and live as a pagan.

              Wordle: Readings 12-26-14
              • Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59  Many couldn't withstand Stephen's wisdom and stoned him.  “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
              • Mt 10:17-22  When they hand you over, don't worry; the Spirit will speak through you.   Endure and be saved.

                • Creighton:   Luke's story of Stephen's martyrdom draws parallels with Jesus' passion and death:  Both were accused by false witnesses of threatening the temple.  Both were taken out of the city to be killed.  Both surrender their spirit to their Lord.  Both forgive their killers and pray that God forgive them.  The parallels help us understand that Jesus' followers will imitate his life, death, and resurrection.
                • One Bread One Body:  St. Stephen was the first witness to give his life for Jesus the faithful Witness.  Witnessing is communicating a personal experience of Jesus.  Stephen was a witness because he saw Jesus at the Father's right hand and proclaimed it to the crowd.  Witnesses share from their personal experience of revelation from Christ.  Witnessing is in the context of a trial; 'courts' are at work, in politics, social events, entertainment, media, and even church.
                • Passionist:  "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit" applies to St. Stephen as well as Jesus.  Also, Jesus is placed into our hands, entrusted to us, his life and mission given to us.  We're called to protect and care for him and his mission, to nurture his life given to us, and to pass him on.  Hold the child.
                •  Our privilege is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who laid down his life for us.  He gives us grace to follow him and bear our cross with courage and hope.
                • Universalis:  St. Stephen, first Martyr, Apostles-appointed deacon organized food distribution to the poor performed miracles, confounded Jews in debate, preached Christ to and prayed for persecutors; see Catholic Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

                December 25, 2014


                December 25, 2014:  Christmas Day

                • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  They name him Prince of Peace (1st reading n); how beautiful those who announce peace (1st reading midday)
                • 'Tree' pin:  The trees shall exult for the Lord comes (psalm night)
                • 'Abacus' tie pin:  Census (gospel night)
                • 'Sheep' tie bar:  Shepherds in the fields (gospel night, dawn)
                • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  He saved us through ... renewal by the Holy Spirit (2nd reading dawn)
                • 'Angel' pin: God spoke through the Son; to which angel did God say...? (2nd reading midday)

                From Handel's Messiah

                Pope Francis
                Christmas midnight homily :  “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”  “An angel appeared and the Lord's glory shone.”  Tonight's liturgy presents the Savior's birth as light piercing and dispelling darkness.  The Lord's presence cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery and ushers in joy and happiness.  We've come to God's house, passing through darkness, guided by the flame of faith and enlivened by hope.  By opening our hearts, we can contemplate the child-sun.  Since the dark moment when envious Cain killed his brother, time has been marked by violence, hatred, and oppression, but God waited patiently.  The light reveals God's fidelity is stronger than darkness.  This is the Christmas message.  God is always there, like the prodigal father, waiting to see the lost son returning.

                Isaiah announced the rising of a light. This light is born in Bethlehem and is welcomed by Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. When the angels announced the Redeemer's birth to the shepherds, they did so with these words: “This will be a sign for you: you'll find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” The sign is God's humility taken to the extreme; it's the love that assumed our frailty, suffering, anxieties, desires, and limitations. The message was God's tenderness: God accepts our poverty, is in love with our smallness, and looks on us with eyes full of love.
                How do I welcome God's tenderness?  Do I allow him to embrace me, or keep him from drawing close?  Allowing him to find and caress me is more important than seeking him.  Do I allow God to love me?  Do I have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties of those near me, or do I prefer impersonal solutions devoid of the Gospel's warmth.  The world needs tenderness!
                Our response must be the same as God’s response to our smallness.  Meet life with goodness and meekness.  When we realize God made himself small to encounter us better, we can't help but to open our hearts to him, and beg, “Help me be like you, give me tenderness in difficult circumstances, give me the grace of closeness and meekness in the face of every need and conflict.”  “O Mary, show us Jesus!”
                Urbi et orbi:  Happy Christmas!  Humble people hope in God's goodness and welcome Jesus.  The Spirit enlightened the shepherds to adore him and led elderly Simeon and Anna to to the temple to recognize him as the Messiah.  Jesus is the salvation for every person!
                Savior, look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria; bring them hope, as also to displaced persons, exiles, refugees, children, adults, and elderly, throughout the world. May the suffering receive help to overcome the rigors of winter and live with dignity. Open hearts to trust, and bestow peace on the Middle East. Protect all who suffer in Ukraine, give peace to Nigeria and the rest of Africa. Save victims of violence, objects of trade and trafficking, and people forced to become soldiers. Comfort the families of the children killed in Pakistan. Be close to all the sick.
                My thoughts turn to children who are killed and ill-treated, be they killed in the womb, displaced due to war and persecution, abused, or massacred.
                Holy Spirit, enlighten us, that we may recognize in the Infant Jesus, the salvation God has given each of us.  May Christ's power, which brings freedom and service, be felt in hearts afflicted by war, persecution, and slavery.  May God's power, by its meekness, soften the hearts of people immersed in worldliness and indifference.  May his redeeming strength transform arms into plowshares, destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness.  Then we'll cry out, “Our eyes have seen your salvation.”

                Wordle: Readings 12-25-14 midnight
                • Is 9:1-6  The people in darkness have seen a great light; they rejoice.  A son is born to us:  Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
                • Ps 96: 1-3, 11-13  "Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord."  Sing a new song of God's salvation; the Lord comes to rule with justice.
                • Ti 2:11-14  God's grace has appeared, saving, training us to live temperately, justly, and devoutly as we await the appearance of the glory of Christ.
                • Lk 2:1-14  Mary gave birth to a son.  An angel appeared to shepherds and said, “Fear not; I proclaim news of great joy for all:  a savior, Christ, and Lord has been born for you.  You'll find an infant in a manger.”  “Glory to God, and peace to those on whom God's favor rests.”

                Wordle: Readings 12-25-14 dawn

                • Is 62:11-12  God proclaims, your savior comes!  They shall be called the redeemed of the Lord.
                • Ps 97:1, 6, 11-12  "A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us."  Rejoice; the Lord is king.  Light dawns for the just.  Be glad in the Lord, and give thanks.
                • Ti 3:4-7  When God's love graciously appeared, he saved us through rebirth and renewal by the Spirit, poured out on us through Jesus Christ, so we might be justified and become heirs of eternal life.
                • Lk 2:15-20  Shepherds went to Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph, and the infant.  They made known the angel's message, the hearers were amazed.  Mary reflected on this in her heart.  They returned, praising God.
                Wordle: Readings 12-25-14 daytimeDaytime
                • Is 52:7-10  How beautiful those who bring glad tidings, announcing peace and salvation.  Sing out, for the Lord comforts and redeems his people.  All the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.
                • Ps 98:1-6  "All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God."  The Lord has revealed his salvation, justice, kindness, and faithfulness.  Sing praise!
                • Heb 1:1-6  Before, God spoke through the prophets; now he's spoken to us through the Son, heir of all, imprint of his being.  He's now at the Majesty's right hand, superior to angels.  Let all God's angels worship him.
                • Jn 1:1-18  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  All life came to be through him, and this life was the light of the human race, and darkness hasn't overcome it.  God sent John to testify to the light, so all might believe.  The true light came to what was his own.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  From his fullness we've received; while Moses gave the law, Jesus Christ brought grace and truth.  No one has seen God; the Son, at the Father’s side, revealed him.
                  • Creighton:  Night Mass:  Night Mass:  "a child is born for us" prophesy; gospel of finding no room in inn and giving birth in stable.  Dawn gospel:  shepherds who heard angels' message also go to the stable.  Daytime gospel:  John's prologue, how “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  A giver wants the receiver to receive both gift and his message.  Today's Giver, Sender, Revealer, Wrapper, Lover, came to us to be received; we're asked to unwrap what the Teller is saying about life.  When I take Jesus tenderly and seriously, I take myself and you tenderly and seriously too.  The Gift of Christmas is harder to take in than hankies or socks.  The Timeless took on time and space; let's time to receive just what we can, but there is always more to be unwrapped and received. Imagine that!
                  • One Bread One Body:  On Christmas, we celebrate that God, already a human being inside Mary, was born.  He could be held, kissed, touched, seen, and heard—and hurt, rejected, and crucified.  We can still relate to Jesus personally:  we can love him, or refuse to make room for him.
                    • Passionist:  Luke is the only synoptic gospel to develop the nativity event and to use the term "Savior."  Luke tells us that when it was time for Mary to give birth, there was no room for them in the inn (a fenced area for animals and their owners).  The implication is that Mary and Joseph chose to stay in a stable, where there's more privacy.  Luke tells us the first to know about the birth were shepherds, outcasts of society, classified with prostitutes and tax collectors.  They announced to Mary and Joseph what the angels told them.  They proclaimed the good news to all they met and were filled with joy.  The first to preach the Incarnation were these poor, despised outcasts.  We get to Bethlehem by our routine family responsibilities (like Mary and Joseph) and listening to God's messengers of God (like the shepherds did).  We're rescued from sin and alienation from God.  Through us God is made present to outcasts.  Jesus, who became one with us, saves us.
                    •  We needed a savior who could reconcile us with God.  The joy of Christmas is eternal, not for a day or season. It's the joy of Jesus Christ made present through the Spirit who dwells in us.

                    December 24, 2014

                    Christmas Eve

                    December 24, 2014:  Wednesday, 4th week of Advent / Christmas Eve

                    • 'Castle' pin:  House of David (1st reading), Joseph taking Mary into his home (gospel)
                    • 'Angel' tie pin:  angel Gabriel (gospel)
                    • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  Jesus was conceived by the Spirit
                    • Abacus tie pin:  14 × 3 generations (gospel)
                    • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  the dawn shall guide us to the way of peace (gospel); Jesus, Prince of Peace
                    • 'Christmas lights' tie:  Jesus, Light of the World
                    • 'Christmas tree' suspenders, pin (legend):  Christmas!

                    Mary's attitude:
                    • Faith, listening to God's Word to surrender to it with mind and heart.  She doesn't know the road, the risks, or the pain, but she knows the Lord is asking and says yes.
                    • Capacity to recognise God's time.  She teaches us to seize the favorable moment when Jesus passes and asks for a prompt, generous response.  Jesus passes because the mystery of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem occurs as a spiritual event today.  The Word that finds a home in Mary's womb of Mary calls out to every Christian; it passes and knocks.  Each of us is called to answer yes like Mary, placing ourselves at the disposal of God and his love.
                    How often does Jesus pass into our lives, sending an angel, but we don't realize because we're preoccupied.  When we feel, "I want to be better" or "I feel remorse,” the Lord is calling.  Stop, pray, and clean up; don't miss him. Note Joseph's silent presence.  He and Mary invite us to receive with openness Jesus who made himself our brother and came to bring light and peace to the world.  Christ, our true peace, gives us peace of soul.  Open your door to Christ!

                    Morning:  Advent
                    Wordle: Readings 12-24-14 AM
                    • 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16  Lord to David via Nathan:  “Should you build me a house?  I chose you, have been with you, and will make you famous.  My people will dwell safely.  I'll establish a House for you, raise up your heir, make his Kingdom firm, be father to him.  Your throne shall stand forever.”
                    • Ps 89:2-5, 27, 29  "For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord."  God's covenant with David will stand firm.
                    • Lk 1:67-79  Zechariah prophesied:  “Blessed be God who came and freed his people, raising up a Savior from the House of David.  He promised to save, show mercy, remember his covenant, and free us to worship him.  You, John, will prepare the Lord's way, giving people knowledge of salvation by forgiveness.  In God's tender compassion, dawn shall shine on those in darkness and to guide us to the way of peace.”
                    Evening:  Christmas vigil

                    • Is 62:1-5  Nations shall behold your vindication and kings your glory.  You'll be a crown in the Lord's hand.  People will no longer call you “Forsaken” but rather “My Delight”; God will marry you and rejoice in you.
                      Wordle: Readings 12-24-14 evening
                    • Ps 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29  "For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord."  I'll maintain my covenant, my kindness, and your throne forever.  Blessed those who walk in your light; they rejoice and are exalted.
                    • Acts 13:16-17, 22-25  Paul:  “God chose our ancestors, led them out of Egypt, raised up David as king, and from his descendants brought a savior, Jesus.  John heralded his coming:  ‘One is coming after me; I'm not worthy to unfasten his sandals.’”
                    • Mt 1:1-25  Genealogy of Jesus, son of David, son of Abraham:  14 generations from Abraham to David, 14 from David to the Babylonian exile, 14 from the exile to Christ.  Before Mary and Joseph lived together, Mary was found with child.  Joseph was about to divorce her, but angel appeared:  “Take Mary into your home; the child was conceived through the Spirit.  Name the child Jesus; he'll save his people.”  This fulfilled the prophecy, “The virgin shall bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, God-is-with-us.”  Joseph did as the angel commanded.
                      • Creighton:  Today's readings are about the promise to David of a heir and about Zechariah's proclamation, but our minds may be elsewhere.  Our Savior didn't come into a wonderful palace; he chose to come as a newborn baby in a feeding trough.  We can be filled with something our world will likely not be celebrating:  that God-with-us wants to meet us in the lowliest places in our lives.  Let us approach the manger open to the graces we can hope for and receive:  peace, and that we might bring peace to others.
                      • One Bread One Body:  Hundreds of thousands pray Zechariah's canticle every morning as part of the Liturgy of the Hours.  The Church so emphasizes his prophecy because:
                        • It's a prophecy
                        • Zechariah prayed it when he was filled with the Spirit.  So may we be when we pray it.
                        • It reminds us Jesus is the Dayspring, the Dawn, Light of the world.
                        • It immediately precedes the Bible's account of the first Christmas, and praying this prayer has proven a good way to prepare to meet Christ in a new way.
                      • Passionist:  Airport Security stopped a priest leaving the Holy Land to x-ray his new crib set to check for explosives.   He said, they had no idea how explosive these figures are!  If only we knew!  We celebrate the volatile moment when God became united with humanity by taking on human flesh.  Luke uses the Greek splagchnon (tender compassion from one's innards) to describe God's feelings for us:  "The tender compassion shall break upon us."  How blessed we are that God is so fond of us!
                      •  When John the Baptist was circumcised, his father, Spirit-filled, prophesied a hymn of blessing for God's redemptive work in Christ, foreseeing the fulfillment of God's promise that David's dynasty would endure through the Messiah's coming.  The Spirit gave Zechariah a vision of his own son as prophet and forerunner to prepare the Messiah's way.  Every devout Jew longed for the Messiah's coming; Zechariah knew it was near.  The Spirit wants to give us vision, joy, and confidence in knowing God's love, protection, and care in Christ.  We're called to prepare the way that leads to Christ.  The Lord visits us each day with his Word and Spirit.  In sending the Messiah, God visited his people to redeem them; we celebrate God's gift of sending his only Son to redeem us.  May the Spirit inspire us and fill us with joy and boldness to proclaim the message of the Lord's visitation and redemption.