Thursday, January 17, 2019

Thoughts on the Wedding Feast of Cana


Imagine the scene… everyone is rocking out to the latest re-mix of The Horah. The bride and groom are getting their groove on in the center of a circle of happy party-goers. Delicious trays of dates, figs and lamb kabobs are everywhere.  Heaps of hummus and olives entice the guests. And then- THE WINE IS GONE!

The hosts of the party would be disgraced. The celebration would end. The wedding would be ruined.

So, being the quintessential Jewish mom, Mary looks at Jesus from across the room and beckons Him with one finger (as only your mom can).  Jesus sees his mother and begrudgingly tells His friends to, “Hold that thought!” and he trudges over to Mary.

“Mom! I was talking to my friends,” He bemoans.
Mary smiles and says, “They have no more wine.”
Jesus looks at her and thinks, “And…” 
Mary does not say anything else.
Then Jesus realizes what she is saying.
Here? Now?  He thinks to Himself.
“But, Mom! No way! That is not my problem! Nuh-uh!  It is not time yet!”
Mary smiles at Jesus. She looks at the servants and tells them, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Jesus could never deny His mom. His love for His mother is so great.  Even though He might not have wanted to perform His first miracle at the wedding-He did. He saw that it was for the good of the bride and groom and it was what His mother wanted.

I have always loved this story.  It is my favorite in the whole Bible. When I was young, I loved it because I thought Jesus was being cool and did not want the party to stop-LOL!

When I became a mom, the significance changed as I felt Jesus’ overwhelming love for Mary through my babies.

And now?  Now I love this this story even more and I reflect on it often. I know with absolute certainty that when we bring our prayers and petitions to Mary, she will bring them to her Son. She will tell Him what we need and if our petitions are for our good, Jesus will not deny His mom’s requests.

If Jesus can turn water into wine, imagine what He can do for us when His mom asks.  



Reflection by: Jackie Halpin Curran


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Baptism of Jesus


Baptism of Jesus

I don’t know about you, but as a child growing up and being the youngest and only one still in our family home, when my mother or father spoke with authority, I definitely listened and sometimes shook wondering what the message was going to be this time.

As we read in Luke’s Gospel on the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, he hears the voice of the Father.  In the Entrance Antiphon this weekend, the message is even stronger……‘the voice of the Lord thundered’!  God had Jesus’ attention without a question of a doubt.  And the message you ask?? 
“This is my beloved Son, with whom (you) I am well pleased.”

Now if my parents had proclaimed such an outspoken affirmation to me, I think I would have fainted on the spot.  However, even though my loving parents were not big on verbal expressions of affection, the love was always there.

I re-read the scripture for this feast, and each time kept coming back to the Father’s words to his Son.  Jesus, being fully human, must have LOVED that message. Only God knew what Jesus was on earth to do.  To suffer and die in order to save us.  So the Lord gave his Son a very loud loving message so Jesus would know just how much he was loved for all that he was going to sacrifice for us. 

The message this weekend is one of gratefulness.  The Father proclaimed his words of love and thankfulness to Jesus.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we heard God say to us, ‘with you I am well pleased’. Strangely enough, as I began writing this blog, I found buried on my desk a reflection that began, “A friend dared me to start counting one thousand things I love……one thousand gifts, one thousand graces…… Before I knew it, thankfulness to God began fully to change me…..to usher me into a fuller life, one of joy.” 

The year is new. Plenty of time to start afresh. My youngest granddaughter gave me a “gratitude box”, filled with small note paper and a little pen and said she had one also, writing a note each day for something she was thankful for. She encouraged me to do the same.  With Brooke’s encouragement and the words of God in our readings this week, I will start anew – once again. 

“We are his and he forever is our God and he alone”     (Christ the Lord, by Sarah Hart)

By Mary Keefe



 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

National Migration Week


This Sunday, the Church in the United States marks National Migration Week (January 6 – 12).  It usually coincides with the Feast of the Epiphany when we celebrate the time when the three strangers from the East came to do homage to the newborn King, Jesus.  I share with you below information from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website about this week.

For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week, which is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.  The theme for National Migration Week 2019, “Building Communities of Welcome” draws attention to the fact that each of our families have a migration story, some recent and others in the distant past.  Regardless of where we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.   Unfortunately, in our contemporary culture we often fail to encounter migrants as persons, and instead look at them as unknown others, if we even notice them at all.  We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, as fellow children of God, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious or fearful of them.  During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as community members, neighbors, and friends.  To do so, we will look at the important role that foster care plays in the lives of unaccompanied immigrants and refugees, highlight MRS’ Parishes Organized to Welcome Refugees, and examine local initiatives that are making important contributions in this regard.  For more information, visit:
                                   
Fr. Bob


Saturday, December 29, 2018

Lost and Found


As I was reading this week’s Gospel it reminded me of an incident that occurred many years ago while at Duxbury beach with my son and niece.  My son was about three years old, and my niece five.  The kids were at the waters edge chasing the waves and having fun.  I was about 3 feet away just watching them.  For what seemed like a moment, my eyes gazed towards the horizon as I watched a beautiful sail boat in the distance.  When I looked back, my son was gone.  I jumped up, and frantically began scanning the water.  I looked up and down the beach, but saw nothing.  My heart was pounding.  Suddenly I heard a voice saying “miss, miss he ran down there” I ran in the direction that she was pointing, and found him.  Whew!  I have never felt such fear. 

How fearful Mary and Joseph must have felt when they realized that Jesus was not with them.  I wondered what went through their minds as they searched through the crowds of people in their caravan, and then on the day’s journey back to Jerusalem, and then another three days before eventually finding Him in the temple.  By the end of that first day, I would have been a basket case, and I’m sure many parents can relate to that.  According to the Gospel reading, they did experience “great anxiety” during their search.  Once they found Jesus, his response to their question “why have you done this to us”, leaves them somewhat confused.  They did not understand what he was saying to them. 

I’ve read this scripture many times, but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that this holy couple, who were handpicked by God, didn’t always understand what the Lord was saying to them.  They too had to live in faith and trust that everything would work out. 

Do you ever question what the Lord is doing in your life?  I know I do.  Sometimes the answers to my questions are crystal clear, and at other times not so much.  Listening to what God is trying to tell us is so important.  I’ve really tried during this past advent season to spend more time listening to God.  It has been a challenge. I must admit I’ve slacked in this area of my prayer life during the past few years.   

God speaks to us in many ways.  Sometimes it’s through Scripture, another person, a thought or an inspiration.  We will never know what he’s trying to say if we don’t stop and listen.  Now that the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is coming to an end, I’m hoping to carve out some time each day to just sit in silent meditation and listen.  I hope you can spend a few quiet minutes each day to find Jesus in the silence of your heart too. 

Reflection by Cheryl Provost

Thursday, December 20, 2018

O Little Town of Bethlehem


Although it may be hard to tell now, when I was younger I was quite the runner.  My parents were crazy and started making me run competitively when I was four years old.  By the age of seven we were traveling across the country to compete in national cross country and track races.  This continued through my childhood and into my teenage and high school years, until my knees and legs decided they had enough pounding.  Being that immersed in running, one of my idols growing up was Steve Prefontaine.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Steve Prefontaine, he was a US Olympian from the University of Oregon who finished 4th in the 5,000m at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and died tragically in a car accident before the next Olympics.  At the time of his death at the age of 24, Prefontaine held every American distance record between the 2,000m and 10,000m.  Even in his short life, he became the greatest American distance runner in history and if it wasn’t for his tragic death, he may have become the greatest distance runner in the world.  There have been multiple movies made about his life, but my favorite is simply titled “Prefontaine.”  There is a scene in the movie where he is talking about what motivates him and drives him and he says “All my life people have been telling me ‘you’re too small Pre,’ ‘you’re not fast enough Pre,’ ‘give up your foolish dreams Steve.’” But he didn’t listen to those critics, he knew that he was destined for greatest. 

You may be thinking, that’s great Matt but its 4 days before Christmas, why are you talking about some random runner from the 70s?  Great question – this weekend in our first reading we hear the passage from Micah foretelling the greatness that would come from the town of Bethlehem.  When the people heard the prophet Micah first speak that message, they must have thought he was crazy. Bethlehem? Nothing good will ever come from Bethlehem, it’s too small, it’s the smallest of the towns of Judah, no one knows Bethlehem, and no one cares about Bethlehem.  Why would God choose Bethlehem?  Little did they know that one day, Jesus, the Son of God, would be born to a virgin, in a stable, in that little, unimportant town.

God doesn’t care if you are the biggest or the smallest, the fastest or slowest, the richest or poorest.  God loves you because you are you.  You are enough.  You are a beautiful child of God.  He is calling each one of us to greatness.  Every day he calls you to be the greatest version of yourself that you can be. Let me say that again, You are enough.  You are enough. You are enough.

One of my favorite sayings that I reflect on often is that “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” No one is too small, too young, too little or too unimportant to do amazing things if they are open to God’s will.  God chose little, unimportant Bethlehem to be the birthplace of the Savior of the World, just think what great things he is choosing you for!


May you and your loved ones all have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and blessed New Year!

Matthew Bensman



Friday, December 14, 2018

Rejoice!


It’s the third Sunday of Advent, yikes!  Where does the time go?  Are all my gifts bought and wrapped? Are all my homemade goodies made?  Do I have my dinner planned or at least have all my ingredients? Have I forgotten someone I need to get a gift for? Did I get that gift for the giving tree?  Am I ready? 

It’s a lot to think about but if you look at this weekend’s readings the message is clear…It’s all going to be okay.  Thank heavens for the soothing and supportive words from this weekend’s readings, they couldn’t have come at a better time.  The first reading from Zephaniah says “The King of Israel is in your midst you have no further misfortune or fear”, have no fear for God is with you, what a welcoming thought. Try to remember that when you’re standing in line at the check-out  counter waiting patiently while in the back of your mind you’re thinking about having to pick up the kids or get something before the store closes or be on time to meet your friends.  Have no fear! God is with you! 

The psalm again tries to allay our worries and our fears by reminding us that “God is indeed our savior; I am confident and unafraid”.  Be confident and unafraid?  The holidays are really nothing to fear however the immense pressure we put on ourselves to get it all in is stressful and can be overwhelming.  How about adding to that phrase by holding on to the thought that God is good and to “be confident and unafraid” that it will all get done, you won’t miss anything and if you do it will still be okay!  If that isn’t enough to help you through the often stressful preparation for the holidays then you should take a look at the second reading to the Philippians which says “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Have no anxiety? That’s a tall order you’re thinking.  It’s the holidays and stress comes with the territory.  That may be so but remind yourself how wonderful it is that the peace of God which surpasses all understanding is protecting your heart and mind with all there is to do and think about.  

And if you’re still missing the message then go straight to the Gospel of Luke 3:10-18.  The crowds are bewildered as they don’t know what to do. They need guidance and focus.  John the Baptist instructs them, he tells them to share what they have, he tells tax collectors to “stop collecting more than what is prescribed” he tells them to “be satisfied with your wages”.    We are not tax collectors and we have every intention of being the best givers this Christmas so what would John tell us if he were here right now? He would probably say, stop running about trying to do everything, be mindful, be happy with what you have accomplished and stop taking on more things than prescribed; be satisfied!  Good thoughts John and amen to that!  

Ok, so there you have it, in each reading on this third Sunday of Advent, the same messages are trying to reach you, listen to them!  Rejoice, and be less anxious, and be at peace.  I know this is not easy and we go through this every year with the same struggles but do try to lessen that stress and focus on the goodness of God, the joy of His coming and the salvation to come and the rest will mercifully fall into place.


By: Mary Juliano-Hayes

Thursday, December 6, 2018

How can we embrace Advent?


I don’t know how many of you have social media accounts, but I am sure many of you do! I like Social media and how it has evolved. I love seeing people’s pictures and keeping up with friends from all over the world, but this time of year is a time when I need to step away from face book.  Why you ask?  Because its “Christmas Season” and my stream is full of people’s perfect Christmas trees and light displays, pictures of families going places to see Santa or the enchanted village, and kitchen counters full of freshly baked cookies and perfectly wrapped packages.  It is really hard to think about being quiet, and preparing for the coming of Jesus on Christmas.  Instead my Facebook feed sends me the message loud and clear:   I am not doing enough and clearly my children are being slighted because they are not having enough Christmas experiences! No matter how committed I am to Advent, the messages are hard to ignore for me, never mind my children.  I have learned these last few years, that it is possible to embrace the season of Advent, but it takes intentionality.   This Advent there will be no personal social media for me.  I am going to embrace my Advent, not how others spend the month of December!

The message of Christmas in our world has become to go more places, buy more things, bake more, decorate more and certainly be exhausted by December 25th.  My home has an Advent Wreath, a Nativity Scene, and have birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas morning, but my teenage daughter insists that the Christmas Season lasts from Thanksgiving till December 25th.  My message isn’t as strong as the message of the world.  I will continue to fight that battle, and lead by example.   How can I lead by example when I just admitted I have trouble ignoring the messages of the world too?  How do we “DO Advent” with intentionality?

This Sunday we hear the famous words of John The Baptist, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” John is calling us to repent and to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Savior, Jesus.  So what does one who wants to celebrate Advent as a time of waiting and self-reflection do?   When John calls us to repentance and to ready our hearts.  What is he really saying?  He is asking us to visit the question,

Who is Jesus in our Lives here and now?  Do we know him or just know about Him?  Do our lives look different because Jesus is our Savior?

One way I have found to ready my heart each Advent has been the Best Advent Ever by Dynamic Catholic.  If you are not taking part in the Best Advent Ever, I strongly suggest it as a way to ready yourself for the coming of Jesus.  I play the quick video each morning as I put on the tea kettle and my daughter makes her lunch.   I hope the message will be absorbed even as she vocalizes that she isn’t listening.  On day two the reflection was particularly good and when I watched it the first time it brought tears to my eyes.   I encourage you to watch it here and subscribe if you like it:


The question asked of each of us is, Do we know Jesus?  If we can’t say yes right now, what might we do this Advent to change that?  John’s command to prepare is really to get to know Jesus better.  My commitment this Advent is to stay off social media and live my Advent not someone else’s… and I think The Best Advent will help me?   How will you get to know Jesus better this Advent, so you can welcome him anew on Christmas?

By Jeanne Cregan

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Light the Advent Candle One, Now the Waiting Has Begun


Happy New Year!

This weekend we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent which begins our new liturgical year.  As you walk into the Church this weekend you will notice a change.  Gone is the green symbolizing the growth that takes place in our lives during ordinary time and in its place stands the purple of repentance and humility.  We are living in darkness as we wait for the Light of the World to come into our hearts and lives on Christmas morning. 

Like many families, our family has the tradition of lighting the candles on the Advent wreath before dinner each night during Advent.  Before we light the candles, we turn off all of the lights in the house, so the only light present during our prayer is the light that illuminates from the wreath.  This week, the light will be dim, one small flame from a single candle, a mere flicker in the darkness, showing us how far we are from Christ. But as we get closer and closer to Christmas morning, that light grows and soon the light from the four candles will fill the room, telling us that the Lord is near.

At the end of the prayer we sing the verse of the week and refrain from the Advent Song.  This week, this will be our song to end our prayer - 

Light the Advent candle, one:
Now the waiting has begun;
we have started on our way,
time to think of Christmas day.


Refrain
Candle, candle, burning bright,
shining in the cold winter night;
candle, candle, burning bright,
fill our hearts with Christmas light.



Part of my spiritual preparation this Advent will involve spending more time in prayer, meditating on the words of Jesus in Scripture, using a centering prayer known as Lectio Divina.  If you aren’t familir with Lectio Divina, there are four steps, the 4 R’s – reading, reflection, response and rest. During the first step, reading, you read the scripture passage slowly, sometimes multiple times and let the words of scripture sink into your hearts.  During the second step you reflect on the passage, was there a word or phrase that stuck out to you or resonated in your heart?  Step three, response, we let our hearts speak back to God and finally we rest and let go of everything in our hearts and minds and just be in the presence of the Word of God.

This week as I was praying my Lectio Divina I was focusing on this week’s gospel, Luke 21:25-28, 34-36, and the phrase “beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life” struck me and continued to speak to me as I listened and reflected.  Working retail the last 3 years, I had grown to dislike the holidays.  Christmas meant angry customers, destroyed stores, and long hours away from family and loved ones.  Depending on the shifts I worked, I could go 3 or 4 days without seeing my children while they were awake.  I was consumed by the anxieties of life and grew to dislike everything that we associated with Christmas.

But as I sit and reflect, what I was really doing was forgetting to celebrate Advent.  Life was overtaken by Christmas and the commercial aspects of it, I forgot about the real reason for Christmas, the birth of our Savior.  The trees, the lights (Graham, my 2 year old, is mesmerized by every Christmas light he sees), the gifts, the parties are all great and awesome, but as you are preparing for those things, don’t forget to also celebrate Advent. Prepare your heart for the light of Christ, because without it, we will continue to live in darkness and be consumed by the anxieties of our daily life. 

Take some time this Advent season to sit in the darkness and let the light of the coming Christ fill your life. 

Blessings this Advent season,

Matthew Bensman


Thoughts on the Wedding Feast of Cana

Imagine the scene… everyone is rocking out to the latest re-mix of The Horah. The bride and groom are getting their groove on in the cen...