Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 (R/. cf. 1); Colossians 3:12-21 or 3:12-17; Colossians 3:15a, 16a; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Today we are invited to focus on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. One may think being holy is being free from problems, but God’ Son was born into a dangerous world. From the beginning, Jesus was seen as a threat. Herod was a royal thug intent on removing anyone who threatened him, but Joseph acted to protect the child from the king’s murderous rage. A reciprocal regard holds a family together.
Sirach focuses on the honor and respect that children owe their parents. Colossians urges parents not to discourage their children. Furthermore, husbands and wives are to honor one another. Calling wives “subordinate” is unfortunate vocabulary in many cultures today, given the frequency o spousal abuse, but urging husbands to “love their wives and avoid any bitterness toward them” helps restore a mutual regard.
All relationships are to be transformed in Christ to bring His presence into the word. This transformation happens when we are “swaddled” in compassion, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and above all, love. It is through this transformation that the grace of the Incarnation becomes enfleshed in the family and every family becomes holy.
What do you think makes a family holy?
Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29 (R/.2a); Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Matthew 1:1-25 or 1:18-25
Readers often dread the long list of names in this Gospel. Name after name after name – strange names, foreign to us, flowing together in a litany evoking and ancient world. But if one takes time reading them, even proclaiming them, as if you were reading a roll call of one’s own ancestors, on begins to realize that each name is to be honored. Each is a son or a daughter (five interesting women are mentioned.) Each was part of Israel’s history, Jesus’ history, salvation history. God was at work in each of these lives.
Matthew’s genealogy also implies that Jesus did not come from a perfect family; but a family of sinners. That is not to say the Jesus or Mary were with sin; rather Jesus’ ancestors in the lines of Abraham and David, through fourteen generations after the Babylonia exile (560 years after the death of Amel-Marduk, the king of Babylon – in Jewish tradition, one generation was the equivalent of 40 years.) Like Jesus’ ancestors, we too are not perfect. We are sinners, and we welcome Jesus into our human family.
The story of Joseph concludes the genealogy with the angel’s command that Joseph name the child born of Mary and the Holy Spirit. The name to be given is Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.” Tonight, we begin our Christmas celebration remembering that the Son of God, our Savior, was born into our human family.
What does it mean to you to have Jesus in your family and, by Baptism, to be in his?
Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 (R/. 7c and 10b); Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:23; Matthew 1:18-24
Sacred Scripture gives us several stories about dreamers – Jacob and his son Joseph come to
mind. But the most important dreamer of all was a carpenter named Joseph. In his dream, an angel came and spoke to him and said, “Do not fear to take Mary into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” In addition, in his dream, Joseph was told to name the child Jesus, which means “God saves.” When he awoke from the dream, he did what had been asked and took Mary into his home.
That was not the end of his dreams though. They kept coming. Voices spoke, “Joseph, take the mother and child into Egypt – Herod is trying to kill him.” “Joseph, take the mother and child out of Egypt – Herod is dead.” Each time Joseph listened to his dreams. Perhaps once one begins to live in God’s dream; it becomes clearer, if not easier. God’s dream is that we live in the world as God’s children, taking care of each other and working to bring God’s peace, justice, mercy, and forgiveness – God’s very presence, wherever it is needed.
How are you living God’s dream?
Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10; Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10 (R/. cf. Isaiah 35:4); James 5:7-10; Isaiah 61:1 (cited in Luke 4:18); Matthew 11:2-11
Isaiah is the prophet of joy in Advent. He pictures a dry desert that will blossom and flower when the Lord comes. He then images the healing that the Lord will also bring: feeble hands strengthened, weak knees made firm, blind eyes opened, deaf ears made clear, the lame leaping, and the mute singing for joy. This is the jubilation that accompanies the coming of the Lord. God wants all of us to have fullness of life. It will surely come in God’s good time. Even now, we get a taste of it, knowing that by our Baptism, we have entered into the life of the Trinity, and by receiving the Eucharist, we enter into communion with the Lord and each other.
For the fullness of joy, we must wait patiently, as James reminds us, not complaining but with hearts trusting in God’s promises. The rest is only a matter of time. While Jesus praises John as more than a prophet, nevertheless he concludes by saying, “Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Even now we are children of the kingdom.
How have you known the joy that is a gift of the Holy Spirit?
Zechariah 2:14-17 or Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; Judith 13:18bcde, 19 (R/. 15:9d); Luke 1:39-47
A few days after celebrating Mary’s Immaculate Conception, we honor her as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The feast of Mary’s being conceived without sin can seem to separate her from us as the sinless one, but today reminds us that this privilege only served to make her close to us. Because she was the mother of Jesus, she is now mother to all God’s children, especially the poor and most abandoned.
When Mary appeared to a poor native convert, Juan Diego, she asked him to go to the bishop and tell him that she wished a chapel be built to which all peoples would come to worship, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, the mighty and the lowly – and know each other as God’s children. She is truly the mother of the Church, of God’s pilgrim people. The Gospel presents Mary’s great song of joy, praising God not only for what God has done for her, having looked with favor on her, but for also what God will do through Jesus: lift up the lowly, cast down the mighty from their thrones, fill the hungry with good things.
What does Mary want to bring together in our day?
Christmas is coming, along with many atheistic notions that the reason we celebrate Christmas on December 25th is so that it coincides with a Roman Pagan holiday. This, however, is not true.
Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus died was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception. Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.
Read on here for more…
Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; cf. Luke 1:28; Luke 1:26-38
God’s word gives us two vivid images of the relationship we can have with God. A shadow has fallen over Eden with the disobedience of Adam and Eve, their no to God’s command. After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit that the serpent promised would make them like God, knowing good and evil, all they discovered was that they were naked. They had broken not their bond with God but with each other and with creation. Notice how mutual blame and suspicion have entered the world. Soon they will be barred from Paradise.
With Mary’s yes, a new day has dawned. The communion with God that was lost has been reestablished. Mary’s consenting word built a bridge over the divide when she answered the Angel Gabriel, “Be it done to me according to your word.” Today’s feast celebrates the gift of intimacy that Mary shared with God since the moment of her conception. It also signals to us that God wishes to bless us with every blessing in the heavens, for God has chosen us in Christ.
How can you respond to God’s invitation to deeper intimacy?
An excellent homily for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year A, from Father John Reutemann of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, titles “Bare Minimum Checklist for Heaven.” Do these things, and you will go to heaven!
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 (R/. cf. 7); Romans 15:4-9; Luke 3:4, 6; Matthew 3:1-12
Advent is a season that set before us visionaries like the poet-prophet Isaiah, the preacher-missionary Paul, and the herald-prophet John the Baptist. Each offers us a vision of God’s good creation coming together in unity. For Isaiah, it is all creation – human and animal; for Paul, it is the church in Rome “thinking in harmony with one another;” for John it is the Promised One coming to gather the good wheat into his barn, God’s harvest, which is the children of the kingdom.
We are brought together each Sunday to think, live, pray, and sing in harmony to the gracious God who continues to come to us in Jesus Christ, the One who came in the power of the Holy Spirit, an who continues to come in God’s Word and in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The risen Lord draws us more deeply into communion with the Father and with one another.
How can you help bring about God’s dream for a renewed and unified creation?