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)

    • 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.”

    • 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:   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...
      •  "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....

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