Let the Adventus Begin – Good News for November 30

30 11 2008

Mark 13: 33-37

Jesus said to his disciples, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.

Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” 

The Daily Path: Today is Advent Sunday. It signals the beginning of Advent season and the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Advent comes from the Latin words adventus, meaning “coming” or advenioto come to.” If you read about Advent you’ll see some common terms used to describe this period such as: expectant, waiting, preparation. 

I still have some wonderful childhood memories of Advent. The traditions of the Advent wreath, lighting the Advent candles, and perhaps my favorite… the Advent calendar! These all contributed to the excitement in the weeks before Christmas. I’m certain there is much I don’t recall about the fifty Advent seasons I’ve experienced in my life. However, during the next four weeks I plan to tap into what Advent memories I retain in the hope they will renew that same joyful spirit I once had in preparing for the coming of our Lord. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us to “Watch!” Do you remember that group of shepherds who were on watch duty in the hills surrounding Bethlehem? What they saw was nothing less than spectacular… the coming of Jesus!

Perhaps over the next four weeks you will join me on this hill to keep watch. 

Why Stop Now? – Good News for November 29

29 11 2008

Luke 21: 34-36

Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.

Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” 

Revelation 22: 1-7

John said, “An angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the street… On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations… “Behold, I am coming soon.” Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.

The Daily Path: Today marks the end of my calendar Thanksgiving week. I want to add a final entry to my Gratitude List. I am grateful for the inspiration that God has given me this past week.

Today’s readings (Luke 21: 34-36 / Revelations 1-7) remind me that all I was inspired to see over the course of this week should always be kept in my heart. Instead of Thanksgiving Week, I should aspire to a Year of Thanksgiving. In doing so perhaps I can avoid becoming “drowsy” and instead “produce fruit twelve times a year.” 

In closing, let me send thanks to everyone who God inspired to walk with me this week on the path. Your company was most welcome and I invite you to continue alongside.

Light Friday – Good News for November 28

28 11 2008

Luke 21: 29-33

Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.

Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away,  but my words will not pass away.”

The Daily Path: It’s been my experience that the spiritual journey is like the bud on a fig tree. You start out as a tiny little bump on the branch. Growth happens ever so slowly. Almost undetectable change from day to day. Then all of a sudden… KA-BOOM! You blossom! Out go your petals toward the sun and the next thing you know you’re a piece of fruit. “Now available on isle 5, baskets of Golden Delicious Faithfuls shipped fresh from God’s Garden©.”

Light Friday – As I craft today’s blog, millions of Americans are already hitting the stores for what is known as Black Friday… the day Holiday shopping begins in earnest. Here in the U.S., stores drop prices and open their doors at 4 a.m. to harvest the fortunes that will be spent on gifts.

This isn’t a commentary on the orgy of thoughtless spending that begins today. It is, however, a reminder of the good works that organizations like Toys-for-TotsCatholic CharitiesSalvation Army, and local food banks do at this time of year.

As you struggle with figuring out what useless gift you feel obligated to buy for Uncle Wally, please remember the families who will need help this year just to put food on the table. Or think about the motel rooms across the country where families will have a “Christmas branch” sporting a single ornament made from an aluminum can, that will serve as their Christmas tree. A “tree” under which no presents will reside.

Perhaps the best gift you can give Uncle Wally is a note telling him that instead of buying him the “Amazing Home Barber Shop,” the combo razor, shaving cream and cologne dispenser on sale for $19.99, you chose to give that money, in his name, to a relief organization. Perhaps old Wally will get a huge smile on his face, the same kind of smile those three children in a dingy motel room haven’t known since their father lost his job at the plant two years ago.  

How can we turn Black Friday into Light Friday? As we shop this year, please remember Matthew 25: 35-39.

Like the fig tree in spring, we can blossom in December!

I Am Grateful – Good News for November 27

27 11 2008

Luke 21: 20-28

“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.

Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 

When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

The Daily Path: On this day of giving thanks I’d like to share my Gratitude List.

I’m grateful for my renewed faith in Christ. I’m grateful that He reached out and touched me when I was a stranger and out in the cold. I’m grateful that I am once again able to “raise my head” and experience His love and share witness with others. I’m grateful for His mother, Blessed Mary, who continues to hold my hand and intervene on my behalf. 

I’m grateful for my wife and children, and the endless joy they bring. I’m grateful for having remarkable parents who offer unconditional love, unwavering support and life lessons that have formed who I am today. I’m grateful for the rest of my family and extended family.

I’m grateful for my friends, old and new, and the ones who have yet to enter my life. Their generosity, love and compassion has touched me deeply.

I’m grateful for my parish community.

I’m grateful for my health.

I’m grateful for my enemies and my failures, as they provide the opportunities through which I can grow. 

I’m grateful for the skills that have been given to me and pray that they may grow so that I can deliver what is being asked of me.

I’m grateful for the ability to once again see abundance where before I only saw want and despair.

I’m grateful that YOU are here and have taken a moment to reflect on Our Lord through this blog. I pray that God draws you closer to His love as He has done with me. 

Finally, thank you for the chance to share what I’m grateful for. May a special peace be with you throughout this day.

Kill the Turkey, Not ME! – Good News for November 26

26 11 2008

Luke 21: 12-19

Jesus said to the crowd, “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony.

Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.

You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” 

The Daily Path: Wow! The first 104 words of today’s Gospel are enough to make you turn tail and run away. It paints a grim picture of what you get as a follower of Christ. Seems much safer to open a box of Cracker Jacks to get your prize.

But in dying Jesus restored life. And we can do the same to gain Christ’s promise of eternal life after death. I’m not talking about becoming a Christian martyr, although that continues to happen, even today. I’m referring to allowing our ego (ME) to die so that we can really live as God wants us to. Remember our Thanksgiving Week theme? Matthew 25: 35-39 To pass the Final Exam requires a very small “me” and a huge WE. I don’t know about you, but I’m not very good at this dying thing. ME doesn’t like it.

Thanksgiving Eve

Tomorrow will likely be a busy day for you. Traveling. Preparing a meal. Playing in the annual Turkey Bowl (ouch!). Because you won’t have much time tomorrow, will you join me today in spending a few minutes crafting The Gratitude List for 2008? 

Who and what are your grateful for this year?

It can be a short list of one or a long list of many. Hand written or a simple reflection in your mind and heart. Do it right now. Beat the rush!

Final Exams – Good News for November 25

25 11 2008

Luke 25: 5-11 

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” 

He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’  Do not follow them!  When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” 

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” 

The Daily Path: None of us know when the end of our earthly life will come. Lately I’ve heard repeated messages in the Gospel and from the pulpit that essentially boil down to this: Don’t procrastinate! Live life as if you know the end will come in a few months. 

This past Sunday our pastor focused on the Gospel of Matthew 25: 35-39 in reminding us that Jesus gave us the answers to the questions we’ll be asked when we stand before Him on Judgement Day:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

As I continue this week of Thanksgiving, I’ll try to do more homework for God’s final exam. If I’m scheduled to take it tomorrow, I have a lot of cramming to do. 

Remember, my friends… YOUR test is coming, too. Will you join me in study hall this week?