December 31, 2015

Dec. 31

December 31, 2015:  7th day in Christmas Octave

  • 'Christmas music' tie:  Sing the Lord a new song (psalm)
  • White shirt:  The light shines; John testified to the light (gospel)
  • 'Law scroll' pin:  Moses gave the law; Jesus Christ, grace and truth (gospel)
  • 'Clock' tie bar:  "Children, it's the last hour" (1st reading)
  • 'Abacus' tie pin:  They weren't really of our number (1st reading)
  • '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' pin:  Christmas season

  • Prepare ye, from Godspell/ Schwartz (normally associated with Advent, not Christmas, but in line with today's gospel)
Pope Francis
Audience:  In the Christmas season we remember Jesus' childhood.  The crib scene invites us to adore the Child Jesus and to contemplate the Incarnation as a revelation of God’s saving love.  Devotion to the Child Jesus can teach us much about our faith.  St Thérèse of Lisieux, who took the name Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, knew how to live and witness to the “spiritual childhood” assimilated through meditation, as Mary taught, on God's humility.  God is humble!  We, who are proud, vain, and think ourselves great stuff, are nothing, but he, the Great One, makes himself a child.  The Gospels tell us little about Jesus' childhood, but we know from experience the message newborns bring. 
Jesus in a baby walker/ Clèves Master
To grow in faith we need to contemplate the Child Jesus more often and so come to understand more fully the meaning of his coming.  Like every baby, he wants to be at the center and asks us to care for and protect him; we put Jesus at the center of our life and know, even if it seems paradoxical, it's our responsibility to protect him.  He wants to be in our embrace and fix his gaze on ours.  Make the Child smile to show him your love and joy.  His smile gives us the assurance of being loved.  Children love to play, but playing with children means abandoning our logic to enter theirs.  We need to understand what they like, not make them do what we like.  We're called to abandon our pretense of autonomy to accept true liberty, knowing and serving the one before us.  The Child is the Son of God who came among us to show us the Father's face abounding in love and mercy.  Hold him tightly in your arms and place yourself at his service.  He's the font of love and serenity.  Go to the nativity scene, kiss the Baby Jesus, say, “Jesus, I want to be humble like you,” and ask him for this grace. [Full text]
To Pueri Cantores at their Rome Congress:  A song for our Christian journey:  Motto:  Cantate spem vestram! (“Sing out your hope!”)  Christian life is a joyful journey:  sing for this.
Q/A:  Do you get angry? / Yes, but don't let a normal and inevitable human reaction to injustice or even irksome behavior become a habit. Anger poisons your soul if too long or too often indulged.
Q/A:  Will the world always be as we see it on the news, full of bad, sad, even tragic stories? /  The struggle between the devil and God will continue until the end.  Inside each of us is a struggle between good and evil, graces and temptations.  But there are many good things in the world; why aren’t they publicized?” Think of the many holy people who give their lives to help others, in deed and in prayer.
Prayer intentions for January
  • That sincere dialogue among people of different faiths produce fruits of peace and justice
  • That by means of dialogue and fraternal charity and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, Christians may overcome divisions

  • 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.
      • Creighton:  Lyrics for Barbara Dilly's new song, “Children, it is the last hour...  We must continue the work God's begun.”  Tune to come on her site.
      • One Bread, One Body:  "Christ and the antichrists":  On this last day of the year, we read the Father is warning his children "it's the final hour."  Antichrists have appeared and are appearing, but as deceptive and powerful as they are, we with "the anointing from the Holy One," the Spirit within us, have no reason to fear.  May we end this year totally dedicated to Jesus....
      • Passionist:  Reflect on 2015, the good and the bad.  Our lives have become cluttered with selfishness, consumerism, inconsiderate behavior, lack of understanding of others, rejection, hate....  Jesus wants to live with us… with-in us.  "The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us."  Do I make room in my heart?  Next year I hope to lose weight (of hurt and hate), clean house (my mind and soul to make room), stop smoking (burning myself up), eat healthier (feed myself with words of life), and be a better person (treating others like they're Jesus)....
      •  "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us":  The "word of God" was a common expression for an active, creative, dynamic word.   The writer of Wisdom addresses God as the one who "made all things by your word."  God’s word is also equated with his wisdom. "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth."  "Word" and "wisdom" are seen as one and the same.  "For while silence enveloped all things, and night in its course was half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven... into the midst of the land."  Jesus is the wisdom and power of God who assumed human nature to save us. 
      "Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise.  We lost the good; it had to be given back to us.  Closed in darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator.  Are these minor?  They moved God to descend to human nature and visit it!" (Gregory of Nyssa, paraphrased)
      "The Son of God ...worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved.  Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin (Gaudium et Spes 22).
      We behold God's glory through Jesus Christ, who partook our humanity so we could partake of his divinity.   By our being united in Jesus, God becomes our Father and we become his children

      December 30, 2015

      Dec. 30

      December 30, 2015:  6th day in Christmas octave

      • 'Crown' tie bar:  Say, The Lord is king (psalm)
      • '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

      • What is the world to me/ Pferfferkorn tr. Crull:  tunelyrics+ (1st reading)
        Anna in the Temple/ Bacik
      • 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, worshiped 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:  Today’s Gospel tells of Anna after her decades of waiting.  Our faith walk demands patience, attention, and daily spiritual activity.  My thirst to know the Father can only be satisfied by his love dwelling in me.
        Not this Anna
      • One Bread, One Body:  "World war won":  The Lord chose us out of the world, and the world hates us, but we can choose to be the world's friends and God's enemies....
      • Passionist:  I think Jesus came as a baby to show us we have nothing to be afraid of.  Gabriel told Mary and Joseph, “Don't be afraid.”  The angel told the shepherds, “Don't be afraid.”  Jesus told his followers, “Don't be afraid.”  Don't be afraid to talk with God.  Don't be afraid of those who can harm the body but not the soul.  Don't be afraid to speak truth and stand up for justice.  Don't be afraid to follow me....   As babies want to be held and loved.  Jesus came as a baby to tell us he wants our love.  Once you caress a baby, you want to pass it around for others to hold.   Once we hold Jesus, he says, “Give me away to others so that I may bring them joy, and you'll still have me.”
      •  "All who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem":  God puts in us a desire for the kingdom of heaven and eternal life.  Hope grows with prayer and perseverance.  Anna had great hope, expecting  God would fulfill his promises.  Her daily prayer, prophecy, and worship is a model to all of us aging believers.  Advancing age and life's disappointments can make us cynical if we don't hope in God.  We grow in hope by trusting in Christ's promises and relying on the grace and help of the Holy Spirit.

      December 29, 2015

      Dec. 29

      December 29, 2015:  5th day in Christmas octave 

      How many connections with today can you find?
      Legend below

        Two turtle doves
      • 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.”
        • Creighton:  The 1st reading is not about a new commandment but a well-known one; we're challenged to walk the walk.  How do we respond as persons gifted by that light?  John makes it easy:  if we love others, we're in the light; if not, in darkness.  Tune into the news of violence, death, and destruction to see how hard it is to love others.  If I walk the walk, I confront the darkness in my actions.  John’s letter encourages me to start at home and love the ones there.  In today's gospel Jesus’ parents introduce him to the larger religious community of the law of Moses.  Simeon, who longed for this moment, holds Jesus, the awaited one, and revealed what he knew.  And Mary, a sword will pierce you.  We who want to walk the walk will share in that sword....
          Presentation of Jesus in the Temple/ Bellini
        • One Bread, One Body:  "Receiving believing":  How will my life be different after this Christmas season?  God wants us to begin the new year with a greater faith.  The Lord calls us to see like Simeon and Anna; though hundreds saw Baby Jesus, only they saw Him with the eyes of faith, recognizing him as the "revealing Light to the Gentiles" and the Glory of God's people.  Jesus wants us to believe more deeply that he's God and prayer is such an important privilege....
        • Passionist:  Love calls for effort to understand, feel compassion, and find common ground with the “sinner,” engaging them in dialogue, not putting them down.  Love is active, seeking union, not division.
        •  "The favor of God was upon him":  Jesus' parents fulfilled the Jewish rite of purification after childbirth; they couldn't afford a lamb so offered two pigeons.  Children are gifts from God.  Jesus was born into an ordinary home.  Mary and Joseph raised their son in the fear and wisdom of God; he obeyed them and grew in wisdom and grace.  The Lord's favor is with those who listen to him with trust and obedience.  Simeon was in tune with the Holy Spirit, who revealed to him that the Messiah and King of Israel would also save the Gentiles.  He recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of all the messianic prophecies and prophesied that Jesus was to be "a light to the Gentiles."  The Spirit reveals the Lord to those eager to receive him.  Jesus is the new temple....  Mary receives a crown of joy and cross of sorrow....  Our hope is in God's kingdom of justice, peace, and joy....
          • 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
            • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  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)
            • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  "Lord, let your servant go in peace" (gospel)
            • 'Law scroll' pin:  keep Jesus' commandments (1st reading)

            December 28, 2015

            Holy Innocents

            December 28, 2015:  Holy Innocents, Martyrs

            • 'Children around Christmas trees" tie:  Holy Innocents
            • Red shirt:  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)


            Pope Francis
            To young adults at Taizé-organized meeting:  In this Jubilee of Mercy, the theme of mercy that brings you together makes me particularly close to you.  Reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  Thank you for committing your creative forces and imagination to this.
            You want mercy to be manifested in all its dimensions, including social ones.  Continue on this path; the courage of mercy will lead you not only to receive it for yourself but to come close to people in distress. Where there are Christians, anyone should be able to find an oasis of mercy.  This is what your communities can become.  This applies particularly to the migrants who need your welcome.  Your founder loved the poor, the disadvantaged, those who apparently don't matter; his and his brothers' lives showed that prayer goes together with solidarity.  By your practice of solidarity and mercy, may you live the demanding happiness the Gospel calls you to.
            During these days you gather, may you better discover Christ, the face of the Father’s mercy.  He spoke through the prophet Hosea in the message, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”
            • 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.
              • Creighton:  How can we be repulsed by the massacre of the baby boys in Jesus' time and not at senseless killing today?  Holy Innocents, pray for us!
              • One Bread, One Body:  "Emergency call":  Today's Herods kill children through abortion, starvation, and abuse, but there are also Josephs told how to save children's lives.  What is God telling me?  What am I willing to hear?
                The Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents/ Dore
              • Passionist:   Today's feast highlights the difference Christian and secular celebrations of Christmas.  Secular Christmas is over:  gifts opened, food eaten, music no longer heard, decorations taken down.  But for Christians it's still the Christmas season, and the Christmas story is only one chapter in salvation history.  So we sing Glory to God in the highest, but we remember the cross is also part of the journey.  The Holy Innocents' martyrdom reminds us that even in the midst of rejoicing there can be sorrow.  They died in place of Christ.  Pray for those suffering pain and sorrow today, and reach out to alleviate their suffering.
              •  "Rachel weeping for her children":  Who can explain suffering, especially the suffering of innocent children? Herod's massacre seemed useless and unjust.  Why couldn't God have prevented it?  Suffering is a mystery.  These innocents are the first martyrs for Christ.  Suffering takes many forms:  illness, disease, handicap, physical and emotional pain, slander, abuse, poverty, injustice....  But in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called to his purpose.  There's a paradox for those the Lord blesses:  Mary was blessed to be the mother of God, but a sword pierced her heart as her Son died on the cross; she received a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow, but the sorrow didn't diminish her joy fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God.  "No one will take your joy from you."  The Lord 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 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.

              December 27, 2015

              Holy Family

              December 27, 2015:  Holy Family

              See 27 connections with today, Dec. 27?
              Legend below

              Psalm settings I wrote for today
              Pope Francis
              Homily:  Today's readings show two families on pilgrimage to the house of God.  Elkanah and Hannah bring their son to the Temple and consecrate him, and Joseph and Mary, with their son, go to Jerusalem for Passover.  It's beautiful when whole families go on pilgrimage.  In fact, family life is a series of pilgrimages.  Think of Mary and Joseph teaching Jesus how to pray!  It's the pilgrimage of education in prayer. Think how they'd pray together, and go to synagogue to listen to the Law and the Prophets, and to praise the Lord.
              It's important for families to journey together!  On life's pilgrimage we share moments of prayer.   How beautiful when parents bless their children, trace the sign of the cross on them as at baptism, and entrust them to the Lord like Elkanah and Hannah and Joseph and Mary did.  Pray before meals to thank God and learn how to share with those in need.  These gestures are part of the family's formative role in the pilgrimage of life. 
              Put the fruits of experience into practice.  For staying on in Jerusalem, Jesus probably had to beg his parents' forgiveness.  Moments like these become part of the pilgrimage of each family; the Lord transforms them into opportunities to grow, to ask for and to receive forgiveness, to show love and obedience.
              In this Year of Mercy, may every family become a place to experience the joy of forgiveness, the love that can understand and mend mistakes.  Within the family we learn how to forgive, because we're understood and supported, whatever mistakes we make.  Don't lose confidence in the family!  Open your hearts to one another.  Where there's love, there's understanding and forgiveness....
              Angelus:  By the example and witness of the Holy Family, each family can draw guidance for life and choices, and can draw strength and wisdom for the journey. Mary and Joseph teach us to welcome children as a gift from God, to rear them, cooperating with the Creator’s work and giving to the world.  In united families children mature, experiencing love, tenderness, mutual respect, mutual understanding, forgiveness, and joy.
              • 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.
              • 1 Sm 1:20-22, 24-28  Hannah bore a son, Samuel, so named since she'd asked the Lord for him.  Once he was weaned, Hannah presented him at the temple:  I am the woman who stood near you praying for this child.  Now I give him to the Lord.”  She left him there.
              • 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.
              • Ps 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10  "Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord."  I yearn for your lovely dwelling place; I cry out for God.  Hear our prayer, and look on your anointed.
              • 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.
              • 1 Jn 3:1-2, 21-24  See what love the Father has bestowed on us!  We're God’s children and shall be like him.  Believe in Jesus Christ, and love one another.  Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them...
              • Lk 2:41-52  When Jesus was 12, his parents went away with him for Passover but left him behind without realizing it.  When they didn't find him in the caravan, they returned to look for him.  In three days they found him in the temple, listening to the teachers, asking questions, and amazing people with his understanding.  Mary, astonished / Jesus:  “Why have you done this to us?  We've been anxious looking for you.” / Didn't you know I'd be in my Father’s house?”  They didn't understand.  He returned with them to Nazareth, obeyed them, and advanced in wisdom, age, and favor.
                • Creighton:  Today's gospel shows us the humanness of Mary, Joseph, and the boy Jesus.  How do we treat our family?  Do we let go of past wrongs?  ("Wives, be subordinate to your husbands" was written when men were head of household, and women's work was restricted.) 
                  • Jesus placed in a manger after being born in a stable, showing God's love and the family's poverty and rejection.  Unfortunately, families today are also rejected, and family members reject one another.  May we forgive those who have sinned against us and rejected us.
                  • Their flight to Egypt.  Many families don't survive.  May we hear and obey the Lord to be saved and defeat today's Herods.
                  • Jesus found in the Temple.  Families and members 'lose' Jesus, separated from him.  May all families seek the Lord as Savior, Love, and Hope...
                • Passionist:  Today’s feast is about the meaning of the Incarnation.  In today’s gospel, Mary and Joseph have an adolescent, and he's missing.  A lost child is an occasion of worry, fear, blame, guilt, and heartbreak for good parents.  We will find Jesus in our experience of God:  compassion, tenderness, mercy, forgiveness, hope.  Holy Family is about Christmas crashing into our lives, the coming together of human and divine, material and spiritual....
                •  "I must be in my Father's house":  God taught his people his way of  love of God and neighbor.  God's covenant love binds people together as his children and binds man and woman in marriage.  God wants his love to be the center of our relationships and actions.  Jesus was born into a family devoted to the word of God, but we know little about his home life, though he was surely taught scripture.  Jewish home life was centered on family prayers, psalm singing, and scripture reading, Sabbath observance.  He would have been required to memorize the Torah by the age of 13 and practice the counsels in Proverbs and Sirach.  He traveled with his parents the 80 miles (3 days) from Nazareth to Jerusalem for Passover every year; today's gospel is from one such journey....
                Remember this cute anachronism?  I recalled it because in it Mary treasures things, as she does in today's gospel.
                • Sunday-trumped saint, from 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.
                Dress legend
                • Tie with grapes and other fruit:  Hannah brought Samuel to the temple with bull, flour, and wine (1st reading); your wife will be like a fruitful vine; You who walk in the Lord's ways shall eat the fruit of your handiwork (psalm)
                • 'Castle' button:  "Blessed are they who dwell in Your house." "How lovely is Your dwelling place" (psalm)
                • 'Shield' tie pin:  God, behold our shield (psalm)
                • 'Girl with heart' pin:  Sing with grateful hearts; love your wives; love one another; put on love; let Christ's peace Christ control your hearts; if our hearts don't condemn us, we have confidence in God... (2nd reading); My heart and my flesh cry out for God (psalm)
                • "Happy birthday, Jesus" pin:  Christmas; do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus (2nd reading)
                • 'Holy Spirit' pin:  We know he remains in us from the Spirit (2nd reading)
                • 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 you (2nd reading)
                • 'Treble clef with cross' tie pin:  Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (2nd reading)
                • 'Owl' tie pin:  Teach each other in wisdom (2nd reading); Jesus advanced in wisdom (gospel)
                • '?' tie pin:  Jesus' and parents' questions (gospel)
                • NEW 'Magnifying glass' (on key) pin:  Jesus' parents searched for him (gospel)
                • 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 26, 2015


                December 26, 2015:  St. Stephen, First Martyr

                • 'Owl' tie pin:  Debaters couldn't withstand Stephen's wisdom (1st reading)
                • 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)
                • 'Hand' tie pin:  Into Your hands I commend my spirit (psalm); beware of people who will hand you over... (gospel)
                • Tie with singing Santa:  Christmas time, plus tonight's sing-along Messiah at home with 14-piece orchestra when we did 51 of the 53 sections!
                • Christmas pin:  see yesterday for better view, here for legend

                • Love has come/ Maher
                • Love has come/ Grant
                • Look it up/ Presley, Orrall:  country song with verse about how hard it is for us to forgive ("forgiveness... It's what Jesus has in store for you, but I don't...")  This Bailey/Lowe cover avoids the original's bad language.  lyrics+ (Pope homily-inspired) 
                Pope Francis Angelus
                Stephen is a faithful witness, because he did as Jesus did.  He knew how to love, give, and forgive.  Forgiveness isn't just a good deed; it leads to results.  Among those for whom Stephen begged forgiveness was St. Paul.  Paul was born by God's grace and Stephen’s forgiveness.
                We too are born from God's forgiveness.  Every time we're forgiven, our heart is reborn.  Never tire of asking God's forgiveness; only when we're forgiven can we learn to forgive.  But forgiving is always difficult.  Every day we have the opportunity to train ourselves to forgive, to live this gesture that brings us closer to God.  Like our Father, we become merciful, through forgiveness we overcome evil with good, transform hate to love, and make the world cleaner.

                • Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59  Many couldn't withstand Stephen's wisdom; they 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:  Stephen was one of the original deacons.  It's ironic we celebrate the first martyr the day after we celebrate Jesus' birth; believing in that baby can get us killed.  More Christians are martyred every day than ever before, and we've become anesthetized to it.  Stephen endured to the end. May we strive to endure like them; God's power makes it possible.
                  • One Bread, One Body:  "Stephen's three 'last words'":  On Good Friday, we hear about the "last words" of Jesus.  Today, we hear the "last words" of Stephen, uttered as he was being stoned to death  "Look!...  I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God's right hand."  With St. Stephen, "let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus" so we'll be able to rejoice when persecuted.  "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (prayed while being stoned).  Just before he died, Jesus prayed, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."  May we respond as Jesus and his disciple Stephen did.  "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."  Jesus likewise prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing."  If we forgive always, we can even when persecuted.  Saul, glad to witness Stephen's death, heard these last words and eventually became a great apostle.  May we imitate Jesus as Stephen did.
                  •  "The one who endures to the end will be saved":  The Son of God took flesh to redeem us and give us new life.  The way to glory is through the cross.  To share in Jesus' glory, we must take up our cross and follow him.  Our privilege is to follow in the footsteps of Him who laid down his life for us.  The Lord gives us grace to follow him and to 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.