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Contents: Volume 2 - Christmas & Holy Family
Year C December 25th & 26th, 2021

 

 Christmas

&

Holy Family

(C)


1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Brian Gleeson CP

3. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

4. -- (Your reflection can be here!)

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1.

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Christmas 2021. Feast of the Holy Family 2021

Christmas Day 2021

Christmas is coming! Oops, Christmas is here. Jesus has come, ready or not!!

"Ready or not, here I come!" reminds me of the refrain in the children's game Hide and Seek. It seems to me that this year, that refrain is more relevant than at other times as it applies to Christmas. Usually Christmas, or rather Advent, is an unusually busy time of year; this year even Advent seems to have gotten swallowed up a bit!

Are we hiding from Jesus? Intentionally or not, for me anyway, it does not seem that I am not as open to the Good News of Christmas as I usually am. Am I hiding under all the new obligations, restrictions or pressures or just covered up by them?

Jesus comes anyway, ready or not. I am really, down deep, SO ready for a Savior! I do not need Jesus to fix everything here (but that would really help), but to remind me that Jesus has already fixed my fate in Him through His Birth, Death, and Resurrection and my Baptism.

So as we celebrate the Nativity of the Lord, let us remember that Jesus is the Light of the World. He is the imprint of God's being here on earth. He is ours and we are His.

Feast of the Holy Family 2021

Every parent and guardian has a unique understanding of Mary and Joseph's anxiety revealed in today's Gospel. Luke, the physician, relates this to us in a way that helps us understand the human condition and Jesus at 12 as well. How this all plays into the lives of families this 2021 is rather fitting for my family as our granddaughter who lives with her mom here with my husband and me is now 13.

The interactions of the Holy Family are open and full of emotion. Questioning the indications of the early path of a youngster does indeed bring anxiety to adults. Being misunderstood when trying to gain independence (developmentally appropriate for Jesus at 12 and teenagers) brings push back, mild or strong. Every parent and guardian I know wants the Holy Family's "play book" . We want our young people to "be obedient" and advance "in wisdom and age and favor before God and man"/humankind while we keep these things in our heart as Mary did.

There is no explicit, step by step play book. There is plenty of good guidance in Scripture, however. There is also today's hope that the model of the Holy Family will be valued and sought after by all family members. Perhaps that is the key here. Let us pray that all families will recommit to journeying with each other guided by the virtues expressed in the reading from Colossians of "heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness" as well as "love... peace... wisdom... and gratitude".

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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2.

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‘NO ROOM AT THE INN?’: THE CHALLENGE OF CHRISTMAS

Isaiah 9:1-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14

There was this good parish priest – let’s call him Fr Anonymous - who was respected by his people and his fellow priests. One year when it was getting close to Christmas he was on holiday. He was thinking about Mary and Joseph, and how they must have felt when they went looking for a room in Bethlehem for Mary to have her baby, and door after door slammed in their faces. He kept thinking: ‘No room at the inn or anywhere else!’ He had always been passionate about social and justice issues. This year he was thinking not only of the plight of Mary, Joseph, and their baby but also of homeless people everywhere. He was feeling so deeply about them that he decided to find out what it would be like to walk in their shoes. So, he put on some shabby clothes and a knapsack. Wearing a hat and a shaggy stubble of a beard, he found that as he went knocking on door after door looking for help. nobody recognized him. He found too that those who were better off were less likely to help than those who had little themselves. Sometimes rich people even set their dogs on to him.

When he went to a certain priests’ house, where one of his priest-friends lived, he was not recognized for who he was. But the housekeeper took pity on him, let him into the kitchen, and gave him a piece of toast and a cup of coffee. While he was sitting there in a spot he knew very well, his priest friend and colleague came in. He ordered him to leave immediately. He did just that.

The priest who went looking for help that year found out far more from his experiences than from anything he had read in books and newspapers, and anything he had seen on television, just what it’s like to be a homeless person, poor and defenseless. He also understood so much better than before what it must be like to be a refugee and an asylum seeker, doors slamming everywhere. He also felt closer than ever before to Mary and Joseph, forced to find a shed for a roof over their heads for their baby and themselves. Never before had the Christmas story been so real for him. Never before had he felt so close to the Christ-child.

For Jesus came on earth, not as a powerful prince living in a fine mansion in the most prestigious nation on earth, but as the foster son of a poor carpenter, born in a shed in one of the weakest nations on earth, a nation ruled by the Roman emperor, a nation paying taxes to a hated occupying power. When he arrived in our world, he was not visited by dignitaries, generals, or celebrities. He was greeted and visited by poor shepherds, probably unwashed and smelly. In their time and place, they counted so little that their testimony was simply not accepted in any court of law. But it was to those shepherds, nevertheless, that God gave the startling news: 'I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people.'

The choice of such aliens and outcasts as the first to receive the Christmas message shows that God has no exceptional love for the rich and famous and powerful, the world’s movers and shakers, and the manipulators of its markets. On the other hand, God does have quite special care and affection for the victims, the suffering, the poor, and the rejected. God became one of them and remains very much on their side.

This vital truth is illustrated by the condition of the Christ-child himself. The sign the shepherds are to look for is a baby wrapped in rags and lying in a manger, the feed trough of animals. So within and beyond these signs of poverty, vulnerability, and weakness, there is to be discovered the power of love, which is to say the power of God, the power of Love Itself. The impact and the significance of the circumstances of the birth of Jesus could not be better expressed than in three sentences from our scripture readings today. The first says: 'The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.' The second says: ‘God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race …’ The third says: 'Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’

In a nutshell, Jesus was born to us and among us, so that we might be born in a new way. Born to live like sons and daughters of the God who is particularly caring about the poor, the deprived, the lonely, the lost, the grieving, and the broken-hearted! Born to live with the same sensitivity and compassion as Jesus - walking his way, telling his truth, and living as he lived - for others! So, the Christ-child whom we adore in the manger, makes everything new again. He invites us to open our minds and hearts and lives to the hundreds and thousands of needy and broken human beings who won’t be having even a tiny fraction of the goodies which you and I will be enjoying over Christmas.

We can’t pretend that the Christmas invitation and challenge of Jesus our Saviour to get a life, a new life, will always happen at a time of perfect peace, tranquillity, and contentment. Here’s an extreme example! A newspaper reporter has said that whenever he was assigned to the Christmas shift, he always did a story on how many more murders occur on this day than on any other in the whole year. Sadly, what is meant to bring out the best in people when they get together to celebrate Christmas, sometimes brings out the worst.

But we, the gathered people of God, have only kind and gentle thoughts for one another and for all our fellow human beings as we celebrate God's overwhelming love expressed so touchingly in the Christmas story. May that God Who loves you deeply, both as a people and individually and personally, and who has given us Jesus to save us, bless you with faith, hope, and love, with patience and endurance, and with kindness, mercy, and forgiveness! To the very max! And to the very end!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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3.

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Christmas Day: Mass during the day.

"The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us... To all who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.

A little while ago, I went to the 40th birthday party of a good friend of mine called Wale. It was wonderful celebration. There was good food, good wine, good company. There were many good people there - many old friends who had not seen each other for a very long time. But for me, the best moment was when Wale’s four-year old son came in, all nice dressed up in a little pin-stripe 3-piece suit, with a little carnation in the button-hole, carrying his father’s birthday cake. And after Wale had blown out the candles and cut the cake, people shouted out "speech", "speech". I don’t know if they really meant it, but they certainly got it.

Wale is usually a rather gentle, shy and retiring Nigerian man who doesn’t normally talk a lot. But today he had something to say. He began by thanking us all for being there. Each of us had been chosen and invited because we had each been important at one time or another in his journey towards this point in his life. He said that, having himself come from a broken home, he had wanted all his life more than anything else to have a family. He felt that was God’s will for him - that was what God had created him and called him to be.

The road to that achievement had not always been straight. There had been moments when it had been a bit side to side. It had taken him time to learn how to steer his life.

There had also been moments of up and down - some quite big hills and valleys, peaks and troughs. He had been an athlete and he had been an addict. He had been in Bible College and he had been in jail. He told me that he had learned a lot more about God in the prison than in the seminary. He had done things that now made him swell with pride and he had done things but now made him shudder with shame.

But now, for the first time in his life he felt content - something that he had never expected, either on his best days or on his worst. On his best days he had imagined that his hopes and ambitions would be a force constantly driving him on to better things and greater achievements. On his worst days he had imagined the ongoing weight of his sins continually dragging him down to deeper and darker places. Never had he expected to feel truly content. But that is what he now felt. Now, as he stood with his wife by his side and his four-year old son playing at his feet, his life felt complete - not over, not ended, not finished, but fulfilled. He said that, if the Lord chose to call him home on this very day, then he would feel content. He would fell that he had lived well. There are not many in men who can say that at any time in their lives; certainly not many who can say it on their 40th birthday.

That moment was what, that year, really made my Christmas. To know that you have lived well is one sign - only one, but an important one, of the Christian life well lived. And it made me think rather more of what exactly we Christians celebrate at Christmas. And I have come to believe that the truth of the Christian celebration of Christmas is not just what we usually think of as the mystery of Christmas - that the world was made flesh - that God was once made man a long time ago; nor even the mystery of Easter - that he lived, died and rose again for our salvation; I think that what we as Christians truly celebrate throughout the year and not just at Christmas, is the mystery of Pentecost: that Jesus has sent upon his disciples, his Church, his people the Holy Spirit to live with us eternally. It is that Holy Spirit who takes over and transforms our lives and makes us the best people that we can be - that makes us the people God created us to be – that makes us Children of God.

So, if your Faith makes you ready to accept the grace of being a Child of God, then I invite you now to stand and proclaim our Faith.

Let us stand and profess our Faith in the Presence of God in the World, in our hearts and in our lives.

Paul O'Reilly <fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

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