Monday, December 31, 2012

“I have never heard anything about the resolutions of the apostles, but a good deal about their acts.”

“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) American theologian

Gospel text (Jn 1,1-18):
In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God; he was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in him, life which for humans was also light. Light that shines in the dark: light that darkness could not overcome. 

A man came, sent by God; his name was John. He came to bear witness, as a witness to introduce the Light so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light but a witness to introduce the Light.

For the Light was coming into the world, the true Light that enlightens everyone. He was already in the world and through him the world was made, the very world that did not know him. He came to his own, yet his own people did not receive him; but all who have received him he empowers to become children of God for they believe in his Name. These are born, but without seed or carnal desire or will of man: they are born of God. And the Word was made flesh; he had his tent pitched among us, and we have seen his Glory, the Glory of the only Son coming from the Father: fullness of truth and loving-kindness.

John bore witness to him openly, saying: «This is the one who comes after me, but he is already ahead of me for he was before me». From his fullness we have all received, favor upon favor. For God had given us the Law through Moses, but Truth and Loving-kindness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God-the-Only-Son made him known: the one who is in and with the Father.

“What are your New Year’s resolutions?”

 This question may make you cringe because, yes, it’s that time of year again! New Year’s resolutions can be exciting as we dream up new projects and new activities, but they can also fizzle as we realize that we can’t climb Mount Everest or run a marathon in addition to taking care of a family and working full time.

Today’s Gospel reading is about new beginnings, too. But these new beginnings are not resolutions that we must accomplish. Instead, the focus is on what Jesus wants to do for us. As the Word who created all things, he continues to shine his light into areas of darkness in our hearts. As Messiah and Redeemer, he continues to offer us power over sin and freedom from oppression.

This is the “power to become children of God” that Jesus gives to everyone who accepts him. It’s heavenly power, divine grace, to help us do what we could never do on human energy alone. It’s power to obey, grace to forgive, and inspiration to serve other people. It’s there, waiting for you, simply because God loves you so much. You don’t have to earn it; you just have to accept it and learn how to cooperate with it.

God is on your side!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.”

As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live – Pope John Paul II

(Gospel text: Lk 2:41-52)
Each year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the feast
of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old,
they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning,
the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem,
but his parents did not know it.
Thinking that he was in the caravan,
they journeyed for a day
and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances,
but not finding him,
they returned to Jerusalem to look for him.
After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers,
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him,
they were astonished,
and his mother said to him,
"Son, why have you done this to us?
Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety."
And he said to them,
"Why were you looking for me?
Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?"
But they did not understand what he said to them.
He went down with them and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor
before God and man.

We don’t know much about Jesus’s childhood except for this little excerpt. If you are a parent, you can just imagine the panic of discovering that you’ve lost your child and if that child is the Savior of the World… well, I am thinking that Mary and Joseph were a little panicked.

We all lose Christ from time to time.

There are times when our souls are on fire for the Lord, and there are times when the embers are just smoldering. Even the Saints had periods of time when they didn’t feel as connected to Christ as before.

There are a hundred opportunities every day for us to look for Jesus in what we are doing and what's happening in our lives. Too often, we simply don't look. We get too wrapped up in our own heads, too caught up in our hectic schedules to stop and look. And so, we find stress and anxiety instead of joy.

In every event of our day, every task, every burden, every struggle, there will be joy once we find Jesus in it. We will be heavy with worry till we do. He is there with us in everything and He wants to be found.

It only remains to be seen whether we will look for Him.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

“‘Great’ holiness consists in carrying out the ‘little duties’ of each moment.”

All of us can attain to Christian virtue and holiness, no matter in what condition of life we live and no matter what our life work may be.--Saint Francis de Sales

(Scripture Text: 1 Jn 2:3-11)
The way we may be sure that we know Jesus
is to keep his commandments.
Whoever says, "I know him," but does not keep his commandments
is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
This is the way we may know that we are in union with him:
whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you
but an old commandment that you had from the beginning.
The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
And yet I do write a new commandment to you,
which holds true in him and among you,
for the darkness is passing away,
and the true light is already shining.
Whoever says he is in the light,
yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother remains in the light,
and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.
Whoever hates his brother is in darkness;
he walks in darkness
and does not know where he is going
because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Too many people walk around telling others how they are a Christian, but at the same time they commit acts of hate and injustice towards other people in the public square and in the work place. 

It is not enough to walk around and say that you “know” God and you follow him, but also, your actions must show it consistently in all facets of your life, not just for one hour on Sunday. 

As the reading today says, “Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.”  But, “Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.” 

Whether it is going out of our way to help someone out, or simply showing everyone the respect that they deserve on a daily basis, it all contributes to living out our life in the way that God wants us to live.

Unfortunately, due to our fallen nature accomplishing this virtuous way of life is impossible without God’s help. Jesus’s conduct was so high above our ways (Is 55:8-9) that no human being can imitate His conduct without His grace to live according to the Spirit (see Rm 8:5). Sadly, too many people think they can live without God and his Church.

There is a reason Jesus Christ is called a Savior, we all need him, whether we realize it or not.

By committing to a Sacramental life, frequent confession and weekly reception of the Eucharist, along with a daily prayer life, we slowing grow more and more virtuous in our daily lives through grace.

St. Catherine of Siena said it best, “If you are what you are meant to be, you will set the world on fire.”

Why settle for mediocrity?

Friday, December 28, 2012

“We do not really know how to forgive until we know what it is to be forgiven. “

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave - St. John Chrysostom

(Scripture Text: 1 John 1:5—2:2)
This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ
and proclaim to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, "We have fellowship with him,"
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, "We are without sin,"
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, "We have not sinned," we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Although many people don't want to talk about sin, especially around Christmas time, we all believe in sin. We believe that Herod, Hitler, Stalin, and other villains in history chose to do things which are objectively wrong.

However, we would like to think that sin is rare, since many people maintain that most acts are not matters of objective right or wrong but only matters of subjective values. Nevertheless, sin is not rare, but universal. Everyone is a sinner, and many people sin frequently (see Rm 3:23).

Moreover, we would like to relegate sin to other people, especially to people like Herod. Our society likes to tell itself that it would never kill babies as Herod did (see Mt 2:16), yet since abortion has been legalized in 1973 over 50 million children have been killed in the womb in the United States.

If we are honest with ourselves, we can not help but conclude that not only is it true that there is sin, and sin is universal and frequently committed, but also that each one of us is a sinner.

There would have been no need for the Incarnation and Christmas except to free us from sin.

This Christmas, receive one of the greatest Christmas presents. 

Receive the forgiveness of your sins. – Go to Confession with a Catholic Priest.

Are you open to surprises, sacrifices, corrections, or challenges? Are there things you refuse to hear, defenses you won't let down, sacrifices you won't make, and sin you won't admit?

The first question is not: "What am I hearing?" but "What am I willing to hear?"