Advent

On the Inside; On the Outside


 

And So We Wait

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There is no shortage of waiting in life. Waiting for the weekend. Waiting to find out if you got that new job. Waiting to find out if you made the team. Waiting to hear the test results from the doctor. Waiting to get a driver’s license. Waiting to hear from colleges. Let’s face it: our days are packed with family obligations, work, school, sports and Netflix. But there is also a great deal of waiting in the midst of all the activity. Read More

There is None Greater

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What does it take to be great? According to the Lord, it takes humility. “The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.”(Ps 145:8) Let’s dive into these four attributes.

The Lord is gracious. The Christmas story is powerful because it is gracious. The Creator of the Universe, the One who is not like us, became one of us so that He could be one with us. This story is retold in many different ways. I think back to the movie, “Avatar.” A man traveled to another world. He became one of them. He fell in love with them. He was willing to die for them. He saved them from the evil ones. He was betrayed and nearly killed by his own. Sound familiar? There is no more gracious God then the Lord who became one of us.

The Lord is merciful. What does mercy mean? It means getting filthy, downright dirty, for another. It means sticking your hand into something slimy and gooey to help someone. For example: a bus driver who stopped to rescue two families from a burning house – and went on to finish his route; a grad student who lost her leg in an earthquake in Haiti, then returned to the country to build a school; a woman who donated her kidney to a Facebook friend. The Lord defined what mercy truly means: to do something beautiful, unexpectedly. The Lord is merciful because he gets right into it!

The Lord is slow to anger. We know what this means. We have all experienced it. We are all recipients of it. We live, breath, smile and give a big sigh of relief because the Lord turned the other cheek. Who would tell us the truth without fear of being rejected, rebuked or ridiculed? Only the Lord does not fear being hurt by our feelings. The Lord is slow to anger because He is rich in kindness.

The Lord is great in kindness. He gives what we need. He takes what we give. The difference between the two is immense. He gives us His Son. What do we give Him? For this reason, the Lord is great in kindness.

Let us imitate the Lord by living these four great attributes. Our God is amazing, full of humility and love. There is none greater!

God is with Us

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We are Emmanuelites…God is with us!

We used this call and response in Youth Ministry many years ago. And it had two purposes: first, to gain the attention of the teens so they could focus on what was about to happen. And second, to remind them to trust in the fact that God is with us at all times.

We are Emmanuelites…God is with us! Read More

Worth the Wait

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Last Sunday, we experienced something that hasn’t happened in quite some time; something that may not happen again anytime soon. Our three young adult sons were all home at the same time! Due to work schedules, college schedules, and the fact that each resides in a different state, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have all three at home together. So we took this opportunity to plan an early family Christmas celebration.

As we were watching the weather reports for the impending snow storm, we were very hopeful that all would be able to travel home safely. So we patiently waited for their coming. Despite snowy roads, all arrived safe and sound and we had a very enjoyable day together as a family. It was certainly worth the wait!

Today’s readings instill within us a deep and passionate desire for God. Just as we were anxious for our boys to come home, so must we be anxious for Jesus’ coming with that same desire and passion. But often times we find our patience being challenged during our waiting.

We are challenged in so many ways, and we often find that Advent (that season of hoping and waiting) is not always an easy thing to live out. In our world, we face the threat of war, terrorism, and violence. In our society, there is a lack of respect for life and for the dignity of all people. In our own lives, we struggle with family issues, work stress, illness, and trying to do the right thing. Our patience often runs thin when we are forced to wait for an answer.

But there is some good news: regardless of our hardships, Advent cultivates hope for each of us to carry on. We know as a people of faith that Jesus is always with us; both in our joys and in our sufferings. We are never left alone.

In these remaining days of Advent, let us prepare the way of the Lord. No one is greater, and no one is more worthy of our praise. Jesus is coming, and he is certainly worth the wait!

Wake Up!!!

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wake-up

Most of us can remember being told to ‘wake up’ when we were growing up. Maybe the words came from one of our parents after we tried to catch a few extra minutes of sleep on a school day. Maybe it was in the classroom when we discovered that not only did we not know the answer to a teacher’s question but we didn’t even hear the question! For many of us, waking up is hard to do!

In the next four weeks, the Church invites us to enter into the longing of those who first waited for the coming of the Messiah. Scripture helps us to do this through the figures of Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary. Advent also directs our minds and hearts to await Christ’s second coming at the end of time, spoken of in Matthew’s Gospel (MT 24:37-44): stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord will come. Advent is a time to wake up to God’s love, and to realize more fully that God wants us to love one another as God loves us – unconditionally. It is a time, especially, to renew our hearts in and through love; for the best way for us to prepare to remember the celebration of God’s coming among us in Jesus is through a conversion of our hearts.

It’s time for us to wake up! Advent invites us to wake up to something wonderful, to some good news – and that news is this: Jesus is coming! Let us prepare ourselves to receive him.

Warning Labels

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Maybe it’s just me, but I’m getting really tired of those prescription drug commercials on TV. Now I don’t watch a lot of TV, but it seems like when I do, there are more and more of these drug companies advertising their particular drug. And it’s not that I’m bothered by the dancing elderly people, or the guy playing with his grand-daughter and her dog, or the frisky couple sitting in two separate bath tubs overlooking a lake; what gets me is the never-ending warning labels within those commercials. Here is an example of one I recently saw: Read More

Fear Not, I Will Help You

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fear_not_2013_11_14-23While in deacon formation, one of our final steps before ordination was to meet with the diaconate board for final approval. The board was made up of both clergy and lay people and their primary responsibility was to make sure that we were prepared for ordained service to God’s people. I guess you could compare this to a final job interview – that lasted for more than four years.

The pressure was on, and I was feeling it. As I had mentioned before, I am a worrier, so this was an extremely stressful event in my life. We had a specified time to be there, so while I was waiting with my classmates, I felt pretty good about it all. One of my classmates emerged from his interview and stated that it was not so bad. But then another came out and said that it was a brutal experience. (They had two different groups interviewing us.) My stress level shot through the roof! I was feeling sick to my stomach, and apparently I was looking quite pale. Read More

Here I Am, Lord

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Last weekend, my wife Stephanie and I along with our pastor took a group of 11 teens to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. Today, I wanted to share with you our experience of this powerful three day pilgrimage. Read More

Behold!

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Photo Credit: http://kathyschiffer.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/The-Annunciation-John-Collier.jpg

Photo Credit: http://kathyschiffer.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/The-Annunciation-John-Collier.jpg

Our Gospel today was “the Annunciation”, the same Gospel we used for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Very often, you will see Annunciation in a painting or stained glass window, and it’s depicted with one striking detail: Mary, holding in her hands or reading an open book. One artist has said this is to show Mary reading Isaiah, learning that a virgin would give birth to the savior. Another artist said that it shows her devotion to The Word – the Word that she would one day bring into the world as Jesus Christ.

However you interpret this, it remains a compelling way of thinking of Mary, especially as we near Christmas, and as we think more deeply about The Word Made Flesh. And as we reflect on today’s Gospel, I want to focus on one word in particular that recurs in this passage. It’s a word Luke uses again and again in the story of the Nativity, three times alone in just this short passage. That word is: “Behold.” In literal terms, it means: “to see,” or “observe.” But in scriptural terms, it goes much deeper. Read More

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