Recent list of Blogs (Dec./Nov. ones)

Here is a list of the last 29 blogs. If you missed some of them, then look at the list at what might interest you. I list the most recent and go back to around Nov. 1st.

*Double Christmas Blog The Gospel in You/The Four Gospels
*Holy Family Feast Homily
*Children’s Christmas Mass Homily
*A Practicing Catholic
*Christmas Message
*Fulfillment in Christ
*Pope Francis and a Rose-y Advent
*National Christmas Tree Visit
*ADW Blogger on “Baptized and Anointed: Priest/Prophet/King
*Advent Sunday IV Homily Jesus as Fulfillment
*Bible Background: Isaiah 61 & Jesus says He is a King
*Advent Sunday III Homily Jesus as King
*More thoughts on Prophet Moses and on Jesus, and our own call
*Homily Follow-Up The Uniqueness of Jesus, THE Prophet
*Advent II Homily Christ Jesus as Prophet in Mission
*Advent I Homily The Priesthood of Jesus and the Church
*Christ the King Sunday Homily Serving the Divine Master
*St. Paul’s Quick Pointers
*Already Gone
*Sunday Nov. 16 Homily
*U.S. Bishops in Baltimore
*I am leafin’ it all up to You, Lord
*Sunday Nov. 9 Homily
*All Soul’s Homily
*Cardinal Wuerl’s Reflection (passing along)
*’Do Good’ Haters of The Church
*We-bola

Double Christmas Time Message: A/The Gospel in You. B/The Four Gospels: A Respect for their messages.

[Part One] “And On Earth Peace to those on whom His favor rests. “

As we reflect on our Catholic-Christian faith this Christmas, can it be openly asked of us: “What Gospel of Jesus are you living?”

Hopefully it IS the Gospel of Jesus in you. [“Christ in us, the Hope of Glory”*—Colossians 1:27] Hopefully it is a Gospel of Jesus Alive and Living in the world through His people. Hopefully it is a message that Christmas is our Holyday/Holiday to tell the world that there is a Christ Mass going on in this very day (Christ=word meaning THE Anointed One and Mass=word meaning celebration). The celebration of Jesus the Lord is going on in His Body, the Church, from our founding until the Lord’s Return in Glory. Hallelujah!

Hopefully it is a story that others can see that truly Jesus is living in you and that He is sending His Goodness into the world via the life of you, His servant. For this is the Fulfillment that we were leading to in our Advent Series on Christ as Anointed Priest, Prophet and King.

The Christmas Gospel from the Morning Mass of the 25th (The Nativity Morn) comes from the evangelist Luke, and perhaps all of us should take ownership of its words as what we also need to say to the world at Christmas and every day: “I herald good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger… Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”

If you recall the blogs and homilies of Advent, then you might see how this final line of the Christmas Lukan Gospel does connect all so well to The Message that God has been sending us at St. Edward’s. God has planned to send His Peace and Reconciliation to those on whom His favor rests.

Now, we know that the Favor of God did come upon Christ Jesus, the Blessed Eternal Son become man. Jesus said that this anointing of favor would come upon His followers. It says so in Matthew 11:25,26 “Father, You have revealed things of mystery to Your little ones. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will. All such things have been handed over to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him. [Also see Luke 10:22 or John 5:21 for more Scriptural proof on this.]

Remember, in God’s plan in coming among us, He was bringing an anointing to us through The Anointing on Jesus. This is a very Catholic understanding of things. Jesus is Mediator between Heaven and Earth. He is bringing the sacred into us by His works. It is our understanding of Sacrament, and Incarnation, and a Saving God Who chooses to become truly human. God intends to share His life into us by the Son and the Way of the Spirit.

It really all is unveiled with Mary’s acceptance of God’s plan and of the fruit of her acceptance: Blessed Jesus.

In the midst of the Gospels for the Birth of Christ (Luke 2), one finds the great testimony of faith and openness in Mary,
who was willing to be a maidservant to The Lord (Luke 1), and as a result, Christmas comes to the world when her son Jesus is born in Bethlehem. Luke 2:6 says “the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth…” She was a way for God to reveal Himself in His Son. In today’s Gospel section of Luke 2:19, Mary becomes quiet as she ponders and treasures the wonders that God is doing in her life and for the world. This so much describes our idea of sacrament and of “becoming holy as He is holy” as the Scriptures guide Catholics to live by.

We are very much meant to model Mary in giving welcome to Christ Jesus into the world by our own life and its availability to God. For, as Mary, we bring Jesus into the world, too, though not by childbirth, but indeed we do so by faith. We can ponder the treasures and wonders of God, too. We are designed by God to delight in our soul of His plans and ways. What a treasure it indeed is to behold God’s Son coming into our lives and living each day His life in us for our salvation.

The Gospels in the New Testament and the lived experience we call as our gospel of salvation is clearly the message brought to us by God in His Word and in His Church.
This is the Gospel Story that moves to life in the writings off the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and comes to us. This is the Gospel Story that has been lived by a people, Christ’ Church, that has been told by the witness of her members and of her many saints. As Mark’s Gospel ends in its final lines, “we are baptized and believe, and we go and preach the Gospel of Christ to all of creation.”

You and I by our baptism are designed for living the Good News. Like Mary, God weaves a story of our own cooperation with His Grace and Plan, and He takes the events of our one life to tell a story of Immanuel, the “God-with-us.” Christ is meant to come through our lives to tell a story.

How does our Gospel life (according to you) get put together? It is done a little differently than how the Good News in the Four Gospels (of the Evangelists) was put together. The evangelists saw a picture of Christ interacting with many, and the told of how the many accounts all worked together in a beautiful ministry of the Savior, from crib to the cross/ resurrection/ ascension and exaltation of The Lord. But for us, as we live as a Christian, we have our own account of God working within each of us. Then, as a Church, we have a corporal story and account of God working through us as His people, His beloved.

How does it work? God sends inspiration and teaching moments and circumstances our way, and more into our daily lives, such as the part of other Christians in our story—and with that—we are meant to be living a life all in tandem with His Son and in the power of His Spirit. It is “His Story” with our lives. What’s the title of the story? Maybe it’s: Jesus in me, Jesus in us. Or it could be “Give us our Daily Bread.”

That is Christianity. The Life Saver Jesus now lives in you and me.
Christ is inside—of each one of us—to make a Story of God’s redemption of humankind. That’s what a Christian is. What we accept in the Lord Jesus to do in our lives is our becoming His own, or our “becoming Christian (or becoming or being born again into peaceful communion with Him).” We are a holy work in progress, working with an affirmative “yes” to God in our will, minds and hearts. From there, the story is told. The Good News as told as working in you. God tells a story of faith via you.
For those who would be picking up a bible at all nor going to church, you are the “new” testament that there has been an Incarnation, that is, a coming of God into this world to participate and save us into reconciliation with Himself.

There are four evangelistic stories called the Four Gospels. They announce the basic story of salvation, just doing so from four perspectives of the one, true Jesus Christ.

In Luke 2 tonight (the Gospel), the evangelist says that the Christmas Event brings “good news of great joy for all the people: (as) to you is born…A Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: (the) child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

These lines give us followers of Jesus great joy.

Christmas gives us a Savior who is the Good News. Jesus is Salvation.

He has a lifetime of saving and loving and guiding to do in you—and me—this Savior—as He is not just the babe of Galilee. He is your Savior and mine in the here and now. He remains Savior in the glorified state in Heaven now, as exalted, yet He also is “born in time” as St. Luke says. He is born into us, in our time. He comes to save us. Jesus said plainly: I have come to seek and save the lost.” It is a big verse of Luke’s Gospel. It’s Luke 19:10.

God’s Son comes to us to be a LifeSaver.

We take a little commercial break in this homily. There is a Christmas present I remember from my past. The company “Lifesavers” made round breath mints and flavored candy in the shape of those water floating life savers. But rather than just buy a small roll, at Christmas they sold a whole “book” of lifesavers, in this box that looked like a book on a shelf, which opened up, and there were six rolls of candies for you inside, in assorted flavors. I got one of those about every Christmas for a span.

Maybe every Christmas Jesus is also saying that there is another LifeSaver you get at Christmas: His Holy Offering. Listen to the Eucharistic Prayer today that honors how we have Jesus as our Saving Offering for Peace with God.
This gift asks us to open it, just like my book of lifesavers had to be opened and unwrapped. So with us, we have to let Jesus open our way for a life of Grace, and He calls us to surrender to His Presence in us. When one does, by the help of the Holy Spirit, truly we can proclaim, that: Jesus is Lord.

Then your life is a Gospel Story.

We are all meant to be a Gospel story of how God is able to save us.

These 72 candles around the Christmas sanctuary do represent the glow of how Jesus’ 72 disciples went out with His message and actions of love. The gospel passage is in Luke 10. It is about a person and of persons going out as Good News ambassadors. These people were getting to know and love Jesus, and He sent them out two by two to start announcing Him and His message of “Good News.” Those “72” ordinary disciples (they were not apostles) had quite a story to tell themselves, being witness to Jesus walking the earth, and the things he taught and the things he did.
Guess who the “72” are now? It is you and me. It is The Church.

==========================================[PART TWO]

While people’s lives will reflect many different things about Jesus’ Story, there are fundamental unchanging points of the Incarnation. What are some basics: That God did come to us, as promised. That God became man. That He is and was Jesus of Nazareth, from a time about 20 centuries ago on earth. That now we who are truly Catholic (along with other Christians) profess that Jesus is Alive in us and in the whole People of God, because Jesus is Risen and He now is fulfilling His part to save us all in His Name. God is here. Jesus is given to our hearts. We live Him.

Truly the Son of God is living in His people on earth, and He has gathered many to Himself in Glory already, who once lived here on earth as His believers.

The Four Gospels proclaim Him from the Bible: “Truly this is (was) the Son of God. “ So says Mark 15:39, Matthew 27:54.

“To you is born this day…a Savior, Who is Christ and God.” So says today’s Luke 2:11 of the Christmas Story. And John’s Gospel says it in the first and fourteenth line of his Gospel that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God… and the Word (Person) became flesh and lived among us.”

As you get your own Good News story told to the world, it does help a lot to read the Four Gospels of the New Testament in the Bible to recognize Jesus. (Are you reading the Gospel Accounts of Christmas at home or in private for devotional time this Christmas season. It really is on the spiritual menu! The Church provides many pertinent Gospels for your look== given in the Daily Liturgy of the Word and especially in Sunday’s Gospel of the Sacred Liturgy.
Yet you also should pick up your Bible and do some prayerful reading of it yourself in these days.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are very happy to help us grow in our love and knowledge of Jesus.

They give us special perspectives of Jesus, the One Savior, the Son of God.

Luke’s Gospel shows that Jesus is born on our common level, and is born to a carpenter Joseph and his wife Mary, with Israel under occupation. In a sense, Luke says how Jesus ‘sneaks into the world’ and who would have thought to look for a new-born Savior in a shepherd’s town, Bethlehem? Who knew that the One first met by the local shepherds in this little place would save the whole world?

Some times in reading Luke, I feel like he is trying to drop us into a view of reality and life-as-it-is, as he unfolds the “live’ story of Jesus from start to finish—and the utter reality is that God really did come into the world as a humble child. He also died for sins. He also is the only one ever to rise from the dead.
Luke’s Gospel ends with the Ascension of Jesus, but this evangelist wasn’t able to stop there. He was inspired to write on and also give the Acts of the Apostles, the story of the Church getting started.

In comparison, Matthew’s Gospel will put some more attention on Jesus’ line of ancestry, which is back to King David. Jesus is of royal lineage, but one that was lost due to Israel’s lack of fidelity, and then suppressed by oppressor kingdoms. Yet Jesus is King in Matthew’s Gospel, and he shows it by being the only evangelist to mention how the infant Lord was heralded by kings or magi in the Christmas narrative. Jesus is King of Heaven come down, as told by the events with angels and miracles and fulfillment of Old Testament promises of God, and Jesus is come to lead the human race to victory over that what has held us down: sin, sickness, division, death. Christ the King overcomes them all, and then Christ ‘commissions’ us to live in His Name and His Victory. Matthew 28 ends with the Great Commission. as would God do it.
One other thing well known in Matthew is his inclusion of a long “Sermon on the Mount” that takes up several chapters of his gospel.

In comparison, the Gospel of Mark does not have a Christmas Story narrative in it, but opens the Gospel with Jesus’ ministry being announced in the desert by John the Baptist, His forerunner. It is a curious Gospel that opens not in Bethlehem, but in a desert by the Jordan. It asks if you will be interested enough to come out and see your need. Then, if you are willing to “follow” Christ, will you plunge in?
Mark is saying, that, like Luke, the Lord among us is fairly hidden, but are we ready for Him to be revealed? All through this Gospel Jesus is saying that salvation is a secret—that God really is come to earth in a human existence with divinity robed up in the flesh—He is certainly “discoverable” by the seeker. In the start of the Gospel of Mark people are out looking in the desert for hope; in the end of the gospel women have gone to Jesus’ tomb looking for hope. Jesus delivers it!
• Mark’s gospel speaks that God came among us. In Mark 1:11 he says, “the Voice comes from Heaven, You are my Son, the Beloved, with You I am well pleased.“ This affirms what he said in Mark 1:2 that God was coming, not a human origin person. Mark 1:3 points us to Isaiah 40:3, where again the way is to be prepared for God Himself to come. Again, here is the essence of Christmas, that this Jesus is “God with Us.” Mark 1:4-5 makes reference to a lot of people involved in confession and repentance. If you knew that God was to be on your doorstop tomorrow in all His glory, how would you prepare? Turn from self and sin, and open up the eyes of your heart!
• Mark 1:9,10 points to Isaiah 64:1 where Isaiah prays “O that you would tear open the heavens and come down” (NRSV). Isaiah’s prayer is answered through the miracle of Christmas. Mark’s Good News says that IT has happened. The heavens are opened up!
• Mark’s Gospel leaves you with a brief Resurrection Story of Jesus. He seems to be asking at the end: ‘Interested, O seeker?

John’s Good News is a later entry, decades later, to a Church up and running. The other three synoptic gospels have earlier ‘publishing dates’ you might say. John speaks to the turn of the first century but says “we already have entered a new time period” when Jesus Christ came to us. John says that Christmas is like a whole new beginning for the world, while still granting us the freedom afforded humankind in the first round-about.
“In the beginning was the Word…” starts off John, borrowing the same words to start the Bible that Genesis uses, which was: “In the beginning, God.”

John is saying in His reflection and understanding of Jesus, that Jesus is the re-beginning of creation. Jesus is New Life and a New Order—freely to come in to willing participants. John is saying in chapter one of His Good News that Jesus is the Word, or God’s Son, entering the world, but Who was there always.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…”

So, like a voice that goes forth and represents a Person, God’s Son comes into humanity to express the love and saving goodness of God. He is God communicated to us in a way we could “hear” or “get.” The Word comes as a Person.
John tells more in his opening of His Gospel. In John 1:14 he says that now He comes in the flesh appearing: “The Word was made flesh.” John 1:14. In the verses before that announcement, John says that Christmas and all that follows it in Jesus’ life will be a choice put up for humanity. We can change to be reconciled to God or we can stay estranged as we are. “But as many as received Him (the Word—Jesus—to their empty souls) to them He gave right to become children of God, who believe in His Name (or maybe said: to those who truly will trust and obey God and His coming to save us). “ This is a great line in John 1:12. One needs to understand it.

As Christmas is here, we translate the holy celebration of this season as to like the celebration of a life of faith lived life long: Will we let God work in us that we can become children of God? Do we celebrate our salvation at Christmas? Is it a big deal—God’s coming in Christ Jesus to us?! Will we be the believer at Christmas—celebrating Jesus and celebrating Church?

Homily: Holy Family Feast 12-29-14

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Homily for the Sunday in the Octave of Christmas Holy Family Sunday

Christmas has hopes for it to be a family time. Christian families have reason to gather and re-unite once again, or at least to get in touch and send some love to their kin. People do try to connect with family in this season. The Celebration of the Lord’s Birth and its season has become an inspiration for this to be a special time. So we try to have family gathering. For families that are together in a home and young and all there, it has a lot of possibilities to be a good time, if one can resist the secular pressures for it to be some holiday for just consumerism or materialism. Just getting together can be enough for Christmas without much of the other stuff. Yet it’s not always easy for Christmas to be a blessed “family time,” and some circumstances keep family apart, so we sympathize with them.

Here, though, comes along a time when some families do have the grace and privilege to spend much time together, and can enjoy each other’s company and to relax together, and to have special family meals together, and exchange some gifts in the name of love and care and Christmas. If you are having it, then let us thank God for all the graces and blessings our families can enjoy and let us also ask God to bless our families and help our families continue to grow to become what they are called to be.

Christmas pasts can conjure up some memories of the holydays/holidays bring some of the best times in life. We are glad for any of that to be recalled and celebrated. It is what ought to have come in the holy time that it is–and across the world.
If not, if we have a hard one this time, or a Christmas past of some hurt or disappointment, then let us offer that to God, and say that we do want to experience the goodness that the Lord can bring to His people, and we hope and pray for us to one day experience the best of what can be found in our Home together in Glory with God. There is a Christmas Future we can call the Perfect One that awaits when we see The Lord face to face and behold His everlasting Presence, and no longer see or believe imperfectly.

It is fitting that during this family time every year we reflect on The Holy Family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We call it “The Holy Family” because it was the most holy of families. I have a wall plaque of the Holy Family in the hallway into my residence, and I have a little sculpture of the Holy Family set out in the living room, as to remind me to ask their blessing. I grew up around here, and I am thankful that all my siblings and family members were able to be together for a time here at Christmas. That’s a Holy Family blessing going on, for sure.

We think of the Holy Three in the Holy Family: Mary was immaculately conceived and was sinless all her life and quite the example of womanhood and female living, and in her womb she conceived Jesus of the Holy Spirit.

Joseph was her chaste spouse. He was one of the remnant faithful men in Israel that keep the True Faith, just like ancestors through his line back to King David. He is called Good St. Joseph for this steadfast faith. He is called Joseph the Just for his service to Justice all his life. In raising Jesus from infancy into the teen years, he had a major part in the Holy Family, and his love for Mary was outstanding. Their family was an outstanding one. It is a model to us.

Jesus is the third member of course. He is the One Who makes it a unique and Holy Family. Jesus, being the Son of God, brought an amazing Presence to His family. He blessed family and home life. He lived the day-to-day existence of a home. He was an only child, but had many relatives and friends in faith and in the Nazareth community.

Yet in our Gospel (Year B) we see an early moment in The Holy Family as Jesus is being presented in The Temple in Jerusalem. The text proclaims that “the parents brought in the child Jesus (there) to perform the custom of the law in regard to him…” and it says that a priest met them for this religious ceremony. This man Simeon took the infant Jesus into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” Obviously, the priest had some prophetic gift in the Holy Spirit to expect and now know that he was meeting the long-expected Christ Person, who had been brought in suddenly this day as an infant in the care of Mary and Joseph. They came for the priest’s blessing on the child.

Mary and Joseph’s reaction to this prophetic announcement was great, and the text says: “The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him…” and Simeon gives a specific prophecy to Mary saying that her child will suffer and that she Mary would have an anguish over her son’s situation, which would feel like a piercing sword in the heart (but to remain in faith in God, for His purposes will come through it). Mary would remember those words well, about 33 years later.

Joseph and Mary would have a family life with Jesus over the span of time. There were moments to remember, both good and as also hard. It is so with our own lives of being family. Parents today have their grand moments in a child’s life: Baptism, First Day of School, First tooth to come out, First Communion, Birthdays for the child, graduation…. and they savor them. Family life also has difficult moments to suffer: sicknesses, partings, misunderstandings, disappointments, and even death.

As Simeon told Mary, we too can take courage that God can work and will work through the trials. He will save us. He came to save and redeem us. Jesus Christ the Lord will accomplish His plan. He has made promises that He will keep.
As Simeon showed on his face, we also have joyful moments and ones to savor in our lives, as this one in the Temple with THE Holy Family was his highlight of a lifetime.

Like Simeon, we as family (and who are members of the Church family) know that Jesus is the Key Person of History. Indeed, He is The One “destined for the fall and rise of many…” and be a Great Sign to the world… and One Who would be “contradicted and fought against” as well as purposely ignored. Yet He comes, and He pierces the heart and asks for a response of faith in God, a true faith lived out of us, by our soul. He wants a holiness of body and a renewal of mind to come to us via this Lord come to us from Heaven. As the Gospel says: In Him, “the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed,” as He will judge all things and people in the end of time. So—what is our response? We do live in reverence and focus and worship to the Lord. And we look to do it in concord with others.

Jesus once said that “those who do the will of the Father are brother, sister, mother to Me” and He meant that we can join into life with God and connection to The Holy Family by our practicing Faith in Him. If we seek God’s will and then try to live for God, then we can be a family with special grace, even if faced with trials. The Holy Family is a model for families because despite their many trials, the family remained faithful, loving and united. We know that early on the Holy Family got forced to move out on the nation and area, as hatred came their way. They fled. They were led to safety. They lived likely in Africa in “hiding” for awhile. How did they get by? Perhaps the gifts of the Magi helped out their finance situation, as well as comforted them that God’s plan was underway, as even Gentiles had been enlightened about Jesus’ coming. Joseph and Mary and Jesus kept living, if but simply and in exile, but The Holy Family persevered.

There is a priest in Maryland who has come here to America to serve, but his roots are back in Ireland. He speaks of how moved he was in October of 1979 back there in the Emerald Isle when Pope John Paul II came to Limerick Ireland to visit the people and to speak. He came on a mission there, so says the priest who remembers it, to encourage families. I relate to you some comments by Fr. Tommy.

“Much of [John Paul II’s talk] in Limerick was in giving encouragement to families and in particular to parents. The Pope reminded the people that the family is primary and has been our greatest resource and, due to contemporary challenges, is more important than ever, saying: ““To all I say, revere and protect your family and your family life, for the family is the primary field of Christian action for the laity, the place where your ‘royal priesthood’ is chiefly exercised. The Christian family has been in the past Ireland’s greatest spiritual resource. Modern conditions and social changes have created new patterns and new difficulties for family life and for Christian marriage. I want to say to you: do not be discouraged, do not follow the trends where a close-knit family is seen as outdated; the Christian family is more important for the Church and for society today than ever before.”

Then, Pope John Paul II reminded parents that marriage is a vocation from God and that there is nothing more important for parents than being a good father and mother, saying: “Dear fathers and mothers of Ireland, believe in your vocation, that beautiful vocation of marriage and parenthood which God has given to you. Believe that God is with you – for all parenthood in heaven and on earth takes its name from Him. Do not think that anything you will do in life is more important than to be a good Christian father and mother. May Irish mothers, young women and girls not listen to those who tell them that [something else] is more important than the vocation of giving life and caring for this life as a mother. The future of the Church, the future of humanity depend in great part on parents and on the family life that they build in their homes. The family is the true measure of the greatness of a nation, just as the dignity of man is the true measure of civilization.”
(Homily of Pope John Paul II in Limerick, Monday October 1st, 1979)

As the Pope left Ireland that day, he asked families to give him a parting gift, that the nation’s homes would always be places of prayer, saying: “Your homes should always remain homes of prayer. As I leave today this island…would [you]promise me to do this–to pray in your homes?”

As families gather, or think well of one another and their faith connection, can we ponder that message of Saint John Paul the Great, and pray the help of the Holy Family to live in vocation, to enjoy the good times of family or home life, to endure the harder ones, and to try to pray more in the home, helping one another in this connection in the Spirit of God?
Prayer: “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, help our families fulfill our call to be Christian families, to continue to grow to become what we are called to be. Amen.”

Children’s Christmas Mass Homily

“AL”: THE DONKEY TO THE HOLY FAMILY.
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Of all the animals that were around Jesus for His Birth, could I interest you in the donkey?
In the Christmas scene there are cows—because of the barn stable, and there are lambs—because they followed their shepherds down off the fields and into Bethlehem town. There might be a dog, as likely many dogs were in a town like ol’ Bethlehem, and you could figure at least one was curious enough to see what the fuss was about over at the stable. There likely were birds, flying about in the air over the place where Jesus was born, too, and I think of the moment when suddenly they were greatly outnumbered by much larger creatures of God, the holy angels, perhaps a multitude of them, hovering about and singing Gloria’s. We suppose there were numbers of camels when the three kings or magi came with the caravans to visit the Infant King Jesus.

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Cow. Lambs. A Dog. Birds. Camels. But a donkey, I say, should capture your interest the most.
Yet some artists and storytellers of the Christmas story leave us out.

2 What else has fascinated them besides a donkey? In a couple of artists’ pictures of Jesus’ Birth, there is a unicorn near the Holy Babe Child in one and a stunning, bright-colored peacock by Baby Jesus in another.
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I think the unicorn (the horse with the point) is drawn there by the artist because he supposedly did not show up at the ark at Noah’s Flood, and he is sorry for that, so now he shows up very early for Jesus the Savior to surely get saved this time. The peacock (the bird with all the feathers) is put in another drawn picture of Bethlehem’s Big Day because He is a bird that symbolizes life without end, and a life in full color, and Jesus was born to show that! Right?!
Ok. But what about the Donkey? In my own understanding, I was the only animal that Joseph and Mary brought with them from Nazareth to Bethlehem. That is what makes it (me) important.

Hello, I am “Al” the Christmas Donkey. Do you know the good example I set long ago at Bethlehem? As I, the personal donkey to Joseph and Mary, drew near to greet the Baby Jesus, I showed that even a donkey, who is known at times to be a stubborn animal, had no problem going right up to greet and love the Savior. Some think us a dumb animals, too, but I think I acted pretty smart on that First Christmas Day. After Joseph and Mary, and an Archangel, I was the next person to greet the Savior. I went right up and wished Him a Merry Christmas, as He was the cause of it! I said: “Happy Birthday, special Child of Heaven! Welcome to our world.” That picture below is of me and the hand of the Infant Christ reaching up to me.
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3 This was the highlight of this Donkey’s life! I had other adventures before and after this original Christmas Day, but none beats this moment I had. The Babe didn’t speak, but He seemed somehow to know me, as if to say: “And hello to you, too, Al. Greetings from Heaven. I was up there not long ago and all is marvelous and terrific there, but I am dropping down to see all of you on earth.”

I would hope that my nice visit with Jesus can give a good example to change any human beings that might act stubborn, like a donkey, and be unwilling to go up close to Jesus and meet Him. Humans should not be stubborn but should instead be nice and open-hearted to the Lord.

Anyway, some of the humans, that is, the shepherds, took my good donkey example and they also came close up to smile and talk to Baby Jesus, too, and to his parents, Joseph and Mary.

How nice is it to go over and see a beautiful, smiling baby! And this baby is Jesus. It is the First Christmas. “O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”
I, Al the Donkey, heard the angels say, and so I joined in with them, as I could, in song: Glo!—Hee Haw—oh—oh—oh–ooh!—Hee Haw—oh—oh—oh—ooh!—Hee Haw—oo—oo—oo—oo–oh-ria! Hee Haw! In excelsis Deo! Glory to God in the High–high–Hee Haw–est!
e G L O R I A !

Now, speaking of me,“Al” the Donkey, and of Joseph and Mary, my owners, let me tell you a little back story about the Christmas Story. It involves how I (the Donkey) came to be at Christmas. “Al” the Donkey to The Holy Family.
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Hi, I am “AL.” This is my story of Christmas. Before St. Joseph ever proposed marriage to St. Mary, he was a carpenter working everyday with wood. Joseph had collected lots and lots of wood. One day, a neighbor was cold and he had no firewood for his house to keep his family warm. Joseph carried some by, and gave it to them for free. In fact, each week he carried some free wood over for them, enough for them to stay warm, until the chilly times were over. The family was grateful, and the next Spring they gave him one of their donkeys. He laughed and said: “What I am to do with a donkey?” They said: “You could use it to carry wood to places. You also live alone, so you could talk to him and let him be your animal friend. You could also give your dear neighbor, Mary, some donkey rides.” Joseph said “ok-dokey.” Or,“ok-donkey!” He visited his beautiful friend Mary and suggested a donkey ride for her. She laughed, and said: “Joseph, you are full of surprises!” He said to her, “His name is Al.” Mary said: “Hello, Al!” And she took a ride around the town. It was all much fun. Mary liked Joseph. He was fun, while also serious about his carpenter’s work, and about his Faith in God, and Love of God. And Al’s Donkey (that’s me, who’s telling the story): Mary said, “That is a great and cute donkey.”
v Amen to that!

5 One day at the synagogue, which was the place where the people went to pray to God (like a church today), Mary was there along with other maidens (or unmarried women). Joseph was there, too, along with a number of other unmarried gentlemen. After prayers, they group of men and women mixed and talked to each other.
Mary felt a lot of love for Joseph. Joseph felt a lot of love for Mary. But they did not how to easily say it to one another or to show it. But Joseph said in a prayer (which I overheard): “If I am to speak of marriage to her, O God, then you will need to show me a sign. She already is so nice, and she is beautiful, and I can tell how she is so holy and good. But how do I speak to her of my feelings?”

It is interesting, but Mary also was asking God for some sign. And I overheard her pray: “Am I so interested in Joseph because he is the one for me? I know he loves You, God. He is just and good. But could you give me a sign, or even a big hint, that he is the one I should wed?”

It is interesting what standing-around donkeys can hear! Anyway, I was wondering what sign might come to them. A time came soon when they were both together with me, and then it happened!

Just suddenly, Joseph’s walking staff-stick, began to change. The top of it turned into a flower! It was the sign! Mary was amazed. Joseph was amazed. And I, Al the Donkey, was amazed.

I, Al, watched Joseph go up and speak with Mary. They talked together all day. (I, Al, just stood around and watched patiently and saw how two humans fall together in love.) When Joseph was ready to go home, he took me alongside of him, and it was funny—Joseph talked and talked with excitement to me over his love for Mary. Usually owners don’t talk so much to their donkeys, but Joseph and I had a nice friendship. I appreciated all he was blurting out. It was love! I did not how to respond, but just in my usually way of saying: “Hee Haw.”
When we got home, I noticed that Joseph knelt down and prayed for hours. That was impressive to me, and I, Al, don’t impress easily. I had quite a vision that day of a blooming sign in a flowery walking stick!
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6 Several weeks later, after Joseph and Mary had become engaged to be married, something unusual happened to Mary. She described it to Joseph, but it puzzled him. She said that she had been visited by an Archangel of God named Gabriel. Mary said that the Angel described to her that God the Holy Spirit had wanted to put a special baby into Mary’s womb. Mary told Joseph that she had said “Yes” to the Holy Spirit for this baby from Heaven, who would grow inside of her and be born some months away.
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Joseph was confused about it, and did not know who to go and talk about it, so he talked about it to me, his donkey, and he talked every day about it. I couldn’t answer him, not even with a “hee haw.” I was unsure about it all. Joseph then rose his staff up in the air, and prayed: “What am I to do, God? Am I to believe You really have come as a baby through her?! I need a sign of help.”
Then, Joseph was asked by Mary if she could borrow me and ride to go see her cousin Elizabeth. She had heard that Elizabeth was going to have a special baby too. Maybe that was the next “sign.” So, she rode me, Al the Donkey, over to the hills of Judah. It was a long ride. When the two ladies with babies met, there was something special going on. You could tell that history was about to change. Some of Mary’s relatives went back to Joseph to tell all about it. When they came back again to see Mary, who was helping Elizabeth with her baby John, she got the message, “Joseph says it is time to come home and be officially married. Then, we need to get ready for their baby to come. I believe He is the Son of God.” Wow, that was startling news, even to a steady donkey like me. So, I, Al the family transportation, got all set for another journey, and I took Mary back to Nazareth. She was heavier now, “with child.”
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7 When we were back in Nazareth, a quiet but joyful wedding took place between Mary and Joseph. They were so happy together in their shared home, but then the news came throughout the land. The government was forcing Jewish men to go back to their home towns and to register for a census and count of all of those men of the land. Joseph was from a little shepherd town called Bethlehem, which was not close-by at all. It was a long journey.
Suddenly I felt very important. Joseph wouldn’t leave without Mary, so she needed to travel with him, but since she was heavy with a baby inside, she would need to get a ride from me all the way there. Joseph said to me: “My good donkey friend, Al, this is a special trip. We have to get Mary safely to Bethlehem, and that is where the child will be born. I know this. We need to help her to feel comfortable, safe, and in good spirits. This could be quite upsetting, but we will do our best, right, Al?” I nodded, confidently.
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While I was travelling, I made up a little song.
It was the hardest job I ever had, so I needed to get into the right way of mind. The song is called Little Donkey. It is about the trip from Nazareth to the place of Bethlehem, where Jesus would be born, and where and when Christmas would start.

8 Little donkey, little donkey On a dusty road I’ve got to keep on plodding onwards With the precious load.
Been a long time little donkey Thru’ the starry night.
Don’t give up now little donkey Bethlehem’s soon in sight.
Little donkey, named “Al” Had a heavy day
Yet this little donkey carried Mary Safely on her way.
Joseph walking besides us he shows strength and no fear
The Journey’s for Christ’ Birth –it’s completion is near.
Little donkey carries Hope for the world to receive
Little Donkey carries the Savior for the world to believe

We reach a cattle barn and a shelter out back,
Joseph takes Mary off me, as well their traveling sack.
No time for resting, the Child is Come,
They name Him Jesus, and the shepherds come from
the fields and townspeople gather round Him too
And the Presence of angels are in the rafters roo.

and I sing with the Angels: Glo!—Hee Haw—oooh!—Hee Haw—oooh!—Hee Haw—oooh!ria! Hee Haw! Gloria to God in the High—high-Hee Haw–est!
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Our job is done, as God’s creatures to welcome Jesus and the First Christmas. I have greeted the Lord-Child. I go off to a corner of the barn to join a lamb who has become fascinated with a bright star in the sky. It catches my attention, too. Some days ahead we shall see camel caravans come over the hill upon following the Star to here, and 3 Kings will visit. They will kneel before the Baby Jesus. Even the Kings camels kneel before Jesus. It is an impressive sight.
The oxen in the stable stay close to Jesus, as do most of the lambs, as they enjoy warming Jesus.
Joseph comes back and feeds me some carrots and some other good foods. He says: Who knew, back in Nazareth, the role you were to play in my life, and in my wife and child’s?! I thank God for sending you. I thank you for being you, Al, our reliable donkey. I am sure you will be needed ahead, too.
I would be. But that is a story for another time. This is how a donkey got into Christmas. 6

–AL, THE CHRISTMAS DONKEY. THE DONKEY TO THE HOLY FAMILY.

A “Practicing Catholic?”

What is a Practicing Catholic?
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Bethlehem’s Actual Site: Where Christ Was Born

Jesus’ starting place was here in Bethlehem. Millions come to this site to give adoration and thanks to the Savior’s Birth among us.
Just a few miles away from Bethlehem is Jerusalem, which was the starting place for Jesus to begin the Church. Equally, millions go to see its holy sites, too. Catholics know that Pentecost Sunday was the Day of the Church’s founding. It happened right in Jerusalem, even as Jesus described: “Wait here…you will be clothed from On High.”

The Church was given the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and she began into that first century of being Christ’ Body, looking to practice faith in Him, and to grow. As St. John reminded them near the turn of the age, ‘We are now the children of God, and what we will become has yet to be revealed, but we shall see Him as He is, one day, if we remain faithful, and if we let Him help us grow into maturity.’

We have lived this mission right up to 2015 now. It has developed for centuries, but has always been on a day-to-day plan. Jesus told us to pray for “our daily bread” of sustenance from Him. He is our Bread of Life, and our Love and Reason to live. We have more to do in response to His plan. It will ask us to better join together in Christ with other believers and to be His “Church” all the more– as God’s assembly of people in His Son and by His Spirit. This takes a practice of faith in God.

Part One

What is a “Practicing Catholic?” I wrote a few things here off the top of my head.

They live the Creedal Faith.
They are members of The Church, and registered in a parish.
They support the Church with time, talent and treasure.
They proclaim the Gospel by their lives, in word and deed.
They seek to live Jesus’ New Commandment: Love One Another, as I have loved you. Then all will know you’re Mine.
They “come and worship the Lord,” with special communal honor given to Christ Jesus as Eucharist.
They repent of their sins, using the Sacrament of Reconciliation as needed, as to be one with God and others, for the progress of Christ’ Body, to her maturity and growth.
They affirm a Gospel of Life, and support God’s works of justice and peace and mercy, and believe God is among us.
They live a life of prayer, with dependency of God’s grace.
They are a people in The Word of God.
They seek to model the Paschal Mystery in their lives.
They know that Christmas is the Gift of a Savior to their lives, and they live year ‘round to embrace Jesus in their hearts.

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Part Two

An athlete who plays in the NFL gets into a taxi cab at a hotel in Canton Ohio. The taxi driver happens to recognize him as a starting player on the Cleveland Browns. The rider asks the cab driver, “Can you get me to the Football Hall of Fame?” The cab driver replies, “Well– I have seen you play, sir, but if you want to improve enough to be elected to the Hall of Fame, my advice to you is practice, practice, practice. Only those who stick to it and strive to be their best make it to the Hall.” The rider, embarrassed, says: “Well, what I meant, is can you drive me over to the Hall of Fame? I am coming as a visitor and general football fan today!”

This old, funny pun underscores one of life’s universal truths. If you want to become the best you can possibly be at something, regardless of your level of God-given talent, you have to work at it; you have to practice. How many of us can recall the countless hours of practice spent by ourselves or our children in the classroom, in the music/choir room, or on the athletic field? Although each pursuit has its own specific goals and rewards, the real return on all those hours invested in practice in our youth is learning this truth, so we can apply it in our lives as adults.

For example, when we refer to someone as a physician, we are implying that the person possesses the requisite education, degrees, and certifications – that he or she is qualified to practice. However, when we describe someone as a practicing physician, we are suggesting much more. By including practicing in the description, we are saying that the person also works regularly as a physician, thereby gaining practical experience, which presumably develops his or her skill. Contrast this with a non-practicing physician who pursues a different career path but completes the minimum continuing education requirement to retain a medical license. Which one would you want caring for your health or the health of a loved one?

So what does it mean to be a practicing Catholic? We tend to think of a practicing Catholic as one who regularly attends Sunday Mass. Yet, the above physician who fulfills only the minimum requirement is considered to be non-practicing. This underscores a fundamental disconnect when it actually comes to practicing our Catholic faith. But, why should we bother ourselves with more? What is our goal as Catholics, anyway?! It is Sainthood! It is holiness. It is Fulfillment and completion in Christ Jesus as His follower and member of His Body, the Church.

Following the Beatitudes, in which Jesus essentially states what it means to be a Christian, He tells us, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). We are perfected by the daily practice of living out our Catholic faith in every moment, in every situation, no matter where we are. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Heaven is our Canton Hall of Fame, and no one has ever gotten there by practicing only one hour per week or less.

Practice, practice, practice! Canton

Christmas Message

A Gospel of Christmas John Chapter One ‘In the Beginning was the Word…He was with God always… then the Word was made flesh…and lived among us…full of grace and truth…Jesus Christ…God the only Son.’

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Merry Christmas!! “The Archegos” wishes us a Fulfilling Christmas and a Fulfilled Life! Who’s the Archegos? Well, there is Good News in that answer!

Romano Guardini wrote an epic work in the last century called “The Lord” in which he comments on The Incarnation. I’d like to share some of his words from it, because he shares some insights from the text of the first chapter of the Gospel of John and all about God becoming man. He also points out a cool title and reality of Jesus, that is this “archegos” that the Savior is.

Guardini writes that John chapter 1 is all about a remarkable, hard-to-describe breakthrough of God into our midst. God manages to find a way into a human soul and save it. Guardini says that truly only a stirred love in our heart can realize what God has come to do, as in regards to saving people in this world from darkness and into The Light.

Guardini says that John’s Gospel leads off with the phrase “In the beginning God” because a new Genesis is taking place. God in Christ has started something in the world to get us going. He offers a spiritual gift that is “new life,” as in a new beginning for the human soul. We can be led by God anew. John 1:9 says “the True Light to enlighten everyone, was coming into the world… the life and light of all people.” This is referring to The Christ being born among us.
John 1:10-11 says that He came (which is Christmas) and that “He was in the world… He came to what was His own (the world and all creation belonged to Him, since He was “sent from God”—verse 6.

Now that Christ and Christmas is come, our author Guardini wants to get to work on us. In his Incarnation chapter of “The Lord,” Guardini speaks to the Christian, and says what really ought to be going on in our lives so to confirm that Love has indeed stirred in our hearts AND that we have caught on to the marvelous coming of Christ to us poor sinners. In essence, Guardini asks: Do you, the professed Christian, really live as if you need Jesus operating in our life so as to bring you fully into Light and Salvation. Do you?

This is where our Advent Series at St. Edward’s had brought us—to a similar question: Will Jesus be our fulfillment? The subject of the last session and homily for our Advent theme left us at “Jesus as Fulfillment.” To live in Christ as Priest, Prophet and King and share in the anointing of The Lord—this IS taking us somewhere.

That somewhere is fulfillment in The Lord.

Guardini points to a title of Jesus used in Scripture a few times that refers to Him as the Fulfillment and Destiny of Life for us. That, beginning in the Christmas revelation, this Savior of God comes to lead us. After all, Jesus does says over and over in the Gospels: “Follow Me.” Are we following Him? Because He does lead to human fulfillment!

Guardini will refer to a few Scriptures in His survey on this topic.

First he says: Christ must be operating inside us, specifically, in our soul. He is “the Captain of our Salvation to perfect us” (see Hebrews 2:10) and that this title is known as “archegos.” What is this title? It is found in a few places, referring to Jesus. He is The One leading us to fulfillment. In Hebrews 2:10 “archegos” is “Captain to perfect us.”

Secondly, we go over to Acts 5:31. The same Jesus as “archegos” is presented as “the exalted One at the Right Hand as our Prince and Savior. It’s following that title again as the Lord as Fulfillment. Now He is destiny for us. He leads us by sitting in the Heavens as our Hero, saying: ‘Believe, and reap the fulfillment of your life!’

Thirdly, we hear of the title “archegos” used again in the Letter to the Hebrews. Here in Hebrews 12:2 Jesus is the “Author and Finisher of our Faith,” or as some Bibles translate it, He is the Pioneer or the ForeRunner leading us.” (Heb 12:2) It’s that title “archegos” again. Fulfiller of our lives. Fulfillment. The One Who only can fill us and satisfy us.

I enjoyed going on this visit with Romano Guardini. I found his book on our parish library shelf. “The Lord” it is called.

The question is that, if Jesus truly is The Gift come to us as Christmas original, will we let Him be “Gift” to us? Well, what kind of gift is Jesus bringing? Scripture and Church Tradition proclaims He is the Gift as One Who will accept to save us and perfect us and finish us and even go before us (our archegos) to prepare a place in Glory? That’s quite a present under the original Christmas tree!

If you and I let Jesus to give His saving help to us, then we can know that He will be doing it uniquely in each of us, because there isn’t another “you” to receive Him. Nor another person like I. We have a crib or throne or first place to let Jesus come and be the born anew wonder in us.

Salvation is fulfillment, and each of lives are a bit different, so that means there is an unique way that you need to respond to God, and that I need to respond to God, to agree in our hearts to be completely His.

I love stories of faith and fulfillment. Each person can testify to a unique gospel life, to their own story of faith. In a way, we are each like a Gospel story in the making. It’s the Gospel of Jesus in you. Some might call it: The Daily Bread in me. Give us, O Lord, today, the daily bread, the daily supply of faith and life to bring me alive to fulfillment. Or, using the title, Be the “archegos” Lord, and I will follow. Amen.

Fulfillment in Christ (bulletin insert for Advent Sunday IV)

JESUS CHRIST AS FULFILLMENT THE PRIEST, PROPHET AND KING DEFINITIVE

Fr. Barron’s Advent dvd series taught that the Hebrew Covenant’s anointed persons were the priests, prophets and kings. These figures were chosen for blessing to reveal God and His ways for Israel, even while each one had their shortcomings as part of the human race in sin. Persons such as Ezra (priest), Elijah (prophet) and David (king) were used by God to lead His people to the ultimate fulfillment that Messiah (the Lord’s Own Anointed) would bring. Ezra had tried to rebuild the worship in Jerusalem and Israel, Elijah stood against the darkness and idolatry of his day and called down God’s Spirit, and David sought to rule and worship in a kingdom of God. All such anointed figures would lead to One Person being the fulfillment of all.

Jesus would be the definitive and perfect Priest, Prophet and King. As Priest, He brought God’s righteousness to all. As Prophet, He revealed the Kingdom and brought access the power of The Spirit, and as King He could usher us into the Kingdom of God, saying: “Repent, for the Kingdom is at hand.” He brought us all into the anointing, by our baptism into His death, and by our rising into living in Him by a new life. [BTW-This “Paschal Mystery” will be the focus of our Lenten 2015 theme.]

THE JESSE TREE: LOOKING OVER THE HEBREW TESTAMENT’S “LINE” FOR MESSIAH

The Jesse Tree in our church has various figures of the Old Testament (better called the Hebrew Testament) who were instrumental persons in preparing the Way of the Lord Jesus. The name Jesse refers back to a descendant of Jesus in the Davidic kingly line (Jesse was the grandfather to King David). The names Jesse and Jesus are also linked to “God’s salvation/Savior.” 1024px-Genealogy_of_Jesus_mosaic_at_Chora_(1)
Chora Cathedral dome mosaic with Jesus’ Genealogy figures

THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS: FULFILLMENT COMES THROUGH COVENANTS MADE TO THE CHOSEN PEOPLE (DAVID, ABRAHAM, OTHERS)

The genealogy of Jesus is proclaimed in the Church in her Advent readings, which describes the descent of Jesus. The New Testament provides one in the Gospel of Luke and another in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew’s starts with Abraham, through King David and his son Solomon, down the legal line of the kings via Jeconiah to Joseph. Luke gives a different genealogy, by ascent rather than descent, going back through Nathan (son of David), to “Adam, which was [the son] of God.” (Luke 3:23-38)

Both aim to establish a direct descent of Jesus from David, and thus legal inheritance of the throne of Israel. The lists are identical between Abraham and David, but differ radically from that point. Traditionally, Christian scholars have put forward various theories that seek to explain why the lineages are so different, such as that Matthew’s account follows the lineage of Joseph, while Luke’s follows the lineage of Mary. The differences also can be explained by Jewish literary devices, such as using numbers, with Matthew’s working of 42 generations of three 14 generational spans, while Luke works in an unofficial count of 76 generations back to Adam, symbolizing the number for forgiveness of all sins, and a popular genealogy number from the uncanonical Book of Enoch. Matthew’s Gospel genealogy makes reference to periods of history, showing that those three eras now lead to the Fulfillment in ”Christ,” The Lord’s Anointed One, Jesus. Luke gives the genealogy of light of Jesus’ ministry now being public and fulfilled as He announces the time in a Scripture reading in Nazareth’s synagogue, while Luke 3:23–38 states, “Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was [the son] of Heli,” (3:23) and continues on until “Adam, which was [the son] of God.” (3:38) ###

Adam was “priest,” while in his innocence (as Fr. Barron teaches); Jesus in the New Adam: Fulfillment. David spoke of a “King of Heaven,” now revealed as Jesus the King: Fulfillment. Elijah prayed that God would come down to earth; God answered in Jesus Christ and the Pentecost Spirit, giving Fulfillment!
the Priest
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, freedom from those under oppression…This Word is fulfilled in your hearing.”-Jesus

Take a Look at Pope Francis’ 2013 Christmas Message/Rose Advent Sunday one

Pope Francis rang in his first Christmas at the Vatican with a Christmas Eve Mass preaching a message of love and forgiveness. “On this night, let us share the joy of the Gospel. God loves us. He so loves us that He gave us His Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats, ‘Do not be afraid,’ … And I, too, repeat, do not be afraid,'” the Pope said. “Our Father is patient. He loves us, He gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightened the darkness. Our Father forgives always. He is our peace and light.”

The pope called on the throngs gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica on to cast aside hatred.
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Pope Francis is the 265th successor to St. Peter the Apostle to Jesus.

The film crews and media came to Rome in 2013, to take in Pope Francis’ first Christmas as Pontiff.

As the popes do annually, Francis gave a special message at Christmas. Here are some more lines of what Pope Francis said: “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. Yet on the part of the people, there are times of both light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience and rebellion, times of being a pilgrim people, and times of being a people adrift,” the Pope said. “In our personal history, too, there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light. But if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us, and around us. Whoever hates his brother — writes the Apostle John — is in the darkness; he walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

Be not afraid. Get in The Light. God is Love. Good message.

The pilgrims gathering in Vatican City told the media how excited they were to celebrate and pray with the Pope. “We want to share this special moment with a person who is a beloved person, and we appreciate all he’s doing,” one woman said.
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On the Rose Sunday of Advent, Pope Francis spoke of the need for joy in Christmas. He commented that many people get in the rush toward Christmas, fretting about “all they still haven’t done for holiday preparations…” Francis points out, though, how we must let it be a time when we “think of all the good things life has given you…(because) it hurts (for the pope) to see Christians with a bitter face, restless with bitterness because they are not at peace,” he said, and concluded. “Saints have the face of joy.”
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Greeting Francis when he arrived at church that 2013 Advent Sunday was a handmade sign proclaiming in Italian, “Happy Birthday, Holiness” in brightly colored letters. Francis turned 78 that day last year, and becomes 79 this December.

The pope surprised the parents of sixty infants (who were baptized in the parish during 2014) in telling them that he was a Christmas Baptism Baby. He said that his own baptism took place on Christmas Day in 1936.

There must have been some extra joy poured on “Jorge” in that holy water at his baptism!

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The National Christmas Tree in D.C.

Here I am standing in front of the Christmas Tree at the Elipse in Washington.

Caption A: “Ok, snap the photo and let’s get some hot chocolate.”
Caption B: “Oh L.E.D. Christmas Tree, Oh L.E.D. Christmas Tree… la la la la, la la la!”
Caption C: “‘Hangin’ out by the National Christmas tree, with a large outdoor train set to be entertained by, and school choruses singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing– quite a nice evening.”
Caption D: “‘Wonder if anyone mistakes me for Joe Flacco?” (notice:I have on a Ravens jacket)

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ADW blogger Susan Timoney: “Baptized and Anointed: Priest, Prophet, King”

You are Baptized as Priest, Prophet & King
A message by: Susan Timoney. Archdiocese of Washington.
[Taken from her blog.]

There is much conversation these days about a Catholic’s responsibility to live and practice his or her faith in the world. Popular culture suggests that faith be considered something private. It ought not be discussed or shared outside of a circle of family and friends. All religious traditions share a common insistence that the faith one professes shape a person’s worldview and spill over into every aspect of one’s life. Catholics are no different in this regard and in fact lay women and men by virtue of their Baptismal vocation are specifically called to bring the Gospel to the world—in our homes, our workplaces and in our communities.

Priestly

At one point in every Baptism, the priest or deacon takes the oil of chrism and anoints the child (or adult) while saying that by Baptism the person shares in the priesthood of Christ. The Catechism teaches “Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers” (CCC, 1268). What this means in a practical way is that as lay women and men our responsibility is to give witness to our faith in the way we live our lives everyday and everywhere. As priestly people, we are called to present the events of our day as an offering to God—in thanksgiving for all that he has given us. (Take a minute to look back over the day thus far, does it make a good gift?)

Prophetic

We share in Jesus’ prophetic ministry by living as witnesses to the Gospel. Having an opportunity to consider in every situation “what Jesus would do” and act accordingly. Catholics do have a unique spin on this popular saying among Christians “WWJD”. Because we believe in the living presence of Jesus among us, in the Eucharist and in one another, our bracelets should read “WIJD.” What is Jesus doing in and thorough us. Giving witness to our faith does not only mean talking about it or praying out loud in your cubicle at the office. Francis of Assisi has a wonderful saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words.”

Kingly

As a people who share in the kingly mission of Jesus we are first and foremost people of hope. We have been promised eternal life as our inheritance, and so we need not fear death. In the age of the Israelites, kings were first and foremost stewards, stewards of the “treasures” God entrusted to them and stewards of God’s people who were in their care. The mandate of the steward king is to cultivate the kingdom for God, to be a partner with God in the transformation of the world in the light of the Gospel. So for Catholic men and women, particularly those with responsibility for leadership, governance, education and care of people there is direct relationship between the practice of our faith and our public life. We are always and everywhere called to participate in the building of the reign of God.

Let us keep in prayer the some 150,000 adult men and women in the United States’ RCIA programs in parishes who will officially join the Catholic Church at Easter and be about the work of bearing Christ to the World.
–Susan Timoney