Sunday, December 21, 2014

God's Gift

Again we hear the Gospel of the Annunciation on this Fourth Sunday of Advent.  We are drawing closer to the Holy Night when Christ was born.  This year we have a good part of the week to finish up our preparations, our decorating, our cooking, our shopping, before Christmas.  We might find in those days more time to pay fuller attention to what Christmas is all about:  The birth of Jesus is announced to an insignificant young country girl in her early teens, in a village of no renown. No great hoopla.   In a great leap of faith, she accepts this mysterious proposal of becoming pregnant, not in the usual way, but by the power of God and thus becoming the mother of God.  Her child is not of her and Joseph, but of God!  He is the Gift of God not only to Mary and Joseph but to all of us.  He enters our humanity, our world, fulfills his mission of redemption through his passion and death, leaves us a pattern of behavior, "rule" to follow so that the true love of self-sacrifice can build a Kingdom worthy to be returned to God the Father at the end of time.  When his work was done, he does not leave us, by stays with us in the Eucharist and is present in our hearts through our baptism.  In addition he leaves us his mother to continue to nourish us and lead us to her Son.  How immeasurable is God's Gift? How worthy of all the praise and glory we can muster in our Christmas festivities!
Bro. Rene

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Focus Is On Mary

The  last week of Advent, beginning with Vespers this evening, focuses on Mary.  The story of the Annunciation both this morning and tomorrow call our attention to this important event, without which there would be no Christmas.  The repetition of this Gospel passage is an invitation to us to read it over and over and to ponder it.  Each time we do, we will find something that hasn't struck us before.
A line expressed over and over again in the film, Captain Phillips, by the pirate leader has become a favorite with me lately, and has proved true time and time again:  "In the end, everything will be all right."  Yesterday I could not find my credit card in its usual slot in my wallet, and I thought that I must have lost it somewhere between the gas pump, barber shop, school and home.  Typically, I called, I searched, I retraced my steps.  No panic, although I was being admonished by "everyone" to call Visa and cancel the card.  I remained calm, prayed to St. Anthony, convinced that it would turn up, and continued with the evening plans.  When I finally got home, another search of the wallet uncovered the card with the bills...where I NEVER put it.  I still don't know how it got there, but it all turned out right, without having to cancel the card.
Can you imagine Mary facing the proposal to become the mother of God?  What thoughts went through her head?  Yet she said yes, and indeed, despite the mixture of joy and swords of sorrow, "everything turned out all right" so far, and we are assured that it will "in the end."  Ponder the annunciation and see what God says to YOU!
Bro. Rene

Friday, December 19, 2014

Zechariah's Doubt

The father of John the Baptist was struck mute when he questioned the angel Gabriel's announcement that he would become the father of a child.  It was a natural thing to doubt, perhaps even ridicule this thought, especially with his wife being barren all their married life, and now certainly passed the child-bearing age.  One author suggests that if Zechariah had paused to reflect on his own experience and knowledge of the Scriptures, he might have come to the conclusion he was forced to accept: "Nothing is impossible with God." (Lk 1:37 )  He had plenty of time to reflect while unable to speak, and when his tongue was loosened proclaimed a magnificent hymn of praise and faith, which we now refer to as the Benedictus.  "Blessed be the Lord and God of Israel, for his has come to his people and set them free."  (Lk 1: 68)
And so it is with us, we are not muted, but we are blunted by our lack of reflection and faith.  May we take some time in these hectic days before Christmas to reflect on God's workings in our lives; to reflect on the story of Zechariah and the other events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and proclaim in word and deed our own Benedictus.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Joseph's Compassion

Luke's account of the birth of Jesus is told from Mary's point of view; Matthew focuses on Joseph.
Without Mary's YES at the annunciation,  the Word would not have become flesh, Without Joseph's YES, the story would not have been able to proceed.  His expectations of Mary, his whole life had been turned inside out by Mary's pregnancy, but his willingness to believe the angel who spoke in a dream, that this child was of the Holy Spirit and would be the Savior of humankind demonstrates his faith, his love and compassion for Mary and his generous compliance to God's plan. He accepts the child as his own and proves to be a strong husband and father.  He brought Mary to Bethlehem; at the prompting of an angel, fled to Egypt to protect the mother and child from Herod's jealous wrath; settled later in Nazareth and provided for his holy family.  Spiritual writer, Barbara Taylor Brown writes:  "God's birth requires human partners--a Mary, a Joseph and you, a me--willing to adopt it and give it our names, accepting the whole sticky mess and rocking it in our arms."   "In the mystery of Christmas" Deacon Jay Cormier reminds us, God's "yes" depends on our "yes.'
How willing are we to take on the role of Joseph to be father to Jesus, to give compassion and forgiveness to ourselves and others?
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wisdom Comes From God

We hear the word, wisdom, over and over; we search for it, we long for it, we listen to elders and teachers, we read extensively, hoping that we will acquire it and meld it into our bones and DNA, yet it eludes us.  What is it, if not a sense of balance, a perspective, a serenity, a guiding light that enables us to accept, to choose rightly, to find joy in all.  It is a gift, that try as we might, we cannot earn, nor buy, nor does is necessarily come with age. We cannot manufacture it nor achieve it on our own.  It comes from God, who IS Wisdom and who shares it with us;  there are some young people who are already wise, who have the above qualities, and there are senior citizens who do not have them. Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit that comes with Confirmation and is cultivated through a life of prayer, fidelity to the Gospels, and participation in the sacraments.  Our daily contact with God enables us to blend our will with his, to experience his nearness and loving presence, and trustingly place our lives in his hands, knowing that his plan and vision are the best ways to deep inner peace and the "sweet ordering" of all things. Wisdom assures us that in the end, "everything will be all right."   The call for the coming of Wisdom, becomes more explicit in this final eight days before the arrival of WISDOM, the birth of Jesus at Christmas.  O Wisdom, coming from the mouth of the Most High....come and teach us the way of prudence."  "O" antiphon for December 17th.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Joyful Noise

A click on the above site will bring a joyful noise into your day and perhaps a tear as the beauty of the music overtakes the Aerospace museum and your heart.  The USAF can bring happiness and peace through music and shows us how one small action can multiply.  Let us proceed this day to bring a joyful noise into our world by one small deed.
Bro. Rene

Monday, December 15, 2014

Space For Silence

This morning our celebrant at Mass sat down in his presider's chair in silence instead of giving a homily.  It was a welcome moment that needed no introduction.  We could hear the silence; how blessed it was and such a contrast to Friday night when dressed as Santas and Elfs, members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Lawrence sang their way into several local restaurants, announcing on a bull horn that we were there to raise money to help continue the projects we sponsor to help the youth serviced by the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA and Lazarus House. A noble, and enjoyable task.  For the most part we were welcomed with warmth, laughter, joyful singing and amazing generosity.  At one crowded restaurant I was distracted, however, by at how the patrons were being bombarded by several large TVs on all sides screening a football game, an army of waiters and waitresses addressing the needs of the tables, which were nearly on top of each other, and us with our Rudolphs and Frostys.  Noise pollution at its best.  The sad thing is that noise has become a way of life, we are used to it and accept it because few of us remember anything different.  The contrasting silence this morning was soothingly deafening and spoke of the need this Advent to make space in our lives for more of it.  How else can we think, let alone reflect on the meaning of Christmas and our need to prepare for it? More silence, less noise. Amen!
Bro. Rene