Saturday, December 29, 2018
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
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!
Friday, December 14, 2018
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
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
By Jeanne Cregan
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