December 17, 2014

Mt 1: 1-17

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

My Family Tree

The first questions that we ask others are usually related to their family and where they live. The roots of our family ground us in this world while the leaves of our family trees stretch into the next. Jesus’ family tree details fourteen generations and, like every family tree, Jesus’ tree contains an assortment of characters from the wise and brave to the foolish and the disreputable. But Jesus’ tree is also our family tree—where all are invited, welcomed and loved.

This Christmas, as you are putting up your Christmas tree, take some time to think about family trees and how important they are. Give thanks for those ancestors, both known and unknown, who carried the torch of faith through the ages, and remember them in prayer. As you are putting up your Christmas tree ask yourself how Jesus is a conscious and deliberate part of your family tree?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of two, originally from Ireland, and Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

O Wisdom, O holy word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care: Come and show your people the way to salvation!


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December 16, 2014

Matthew 21: 28-32

“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Two Sons

I am the mother of two sons and, as in the gospel today, I can ask each one of them the same question and get two different answers.  It is not unusual that one will say “Yes” and not do as he is asked, and the other will say “No, I don’t want to!” After letting them hear what the consequences of their actions will be, they will usually give in to the request and complete the task they were asked to do. I’m happy when they have done as I asked, but frustrated that it took so much convincing from me to get it accomplished.

Is this how God feels when he asks something of me? Is this how I reply to his request to “go out and work in the vineyard today”? How much easier would it be to be still and listen for his word? For the daughter to do his will out of love for the Father?

When God asks us to “go out and work in the vineyard today,” let my ears and heart be open. Let my “yes” be as Mary’s was, knowing that whatever God asks of me offers a path that leads to him.

—Pam Pipas, RN serves as Health Care Coordinator for the Jesuits of the Akron, Cleveland, Detroit, and Toledo region.

Prayer

Thank you, loving God, for for the blessing of our family. I often forget just how much you trust us as parents, by giving your precious children into our care. Please give me the eyes to see you in my children, your heart to love them, and your wisdom to help them grow. Amen.


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December 15, 2014

Matthew 21: 23-27

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?”

And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Gospel Joy

According to Pope Francis, the joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. But in today’s gospel the chief priests and elders meet him and show not joy but doubt. They challenge Jesus to a hearing. They summon him to defend his right and authority to teach in the temple.

Imagine the reaction of Jesus’ listeners: Is today’s lecture over? Will Jesus quietly leave by the side door? He does not. He defends himself by asking his questioners how they feel about the baptism administered by John. The question was not difficult for believers on the street. For them, John was clearly a prophet and his baptism was of heavenly origin. Case closed.

The chief priests and elders, however, were not in that group. Jesus had backed them into an awkward corner. We presume, therefore, by the end of the story that they drop the charge and allow him to continue to preach the Good News…with authority and love.

Has someone ever “cornered” me by speaking the truth? Have I been silenced … hurt … healed … freed?

—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.

Prayer

O God, you invite us today to a renewed personal encounter with your Son Jesus Christ. Our Holy Father Francis reminds us that whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Help us experience how good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost!  Amen.

—Pope Francis: The Joy of the Gospel

 


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December 14, 2014

Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.

He has filled the hungry with good things,  and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel,for he has remembered his promise of mercy.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

God’s Amazing Ways

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is of course central to Advent and to Jesus’ life. Yet, she appears only a few times in scripture.

Mary’s “Magnificat” gives us a window into her spirit. Mary was unmarried, pregnant, poor—to be scorned in her culture as she would be in our own. Nonetheless, she strongly proclaimed the amazing ways God was working in her life and in our world. She sang with clear vision and boundless gratitude. Perhaps only those who have lived so close to the edge can appreciate the power and mercy of God as she did.

God turns our world’s notions of success upside down. “He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.” Mary’s song also foretells the mission of Jesus and his followers—to heal lepers, listen to foreigners, cross boundaries, spread God’s compassion. Two thousand years later, Jesus’ followers still stand with suffering people.

Consider your own “Magnificat:” Are there good things that you believe God has done in your life? Are there ways God’s grace seems to be working amid the people you care about—in your school, family, neighborhood or city?

—Mary Anne Reese is a lawyer, poet, and member of Bellarmine Chapel, a Jesuit parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Prayer

“Let Mary’s soul be in us to glorify the Lord; let her spirit be in us that we may rejoice in God our Savior.”

—St. Ambrose

 


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December 13, 2014

St. Lucy

Matthew 17: 9a. 10-13

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Getting the Point

The prophet Elijah was celebrated in Israel for his awesome, wondrous deeds. So it is not surprising that the reality of the coming Messiah would be equally awesome and wondrous. That the Son of Man would “suffer at their hands” must have seemed incomprehensible. Understandably, the people of Jesus’ day simply missed the point.

What about me? Do I miss the point of Jesus’ life and message? Does Jesus in fact come to my home and heart this Advent 2014 in ways that I miss or perhaps reject?

These days before Christmas, can I open my heart and invite Jesus into my doubts and questions, my fears and fragile hopes?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

These Advent days, Lord, help me turn to you. Let us all see your face and we shall be saved. That is your promise. This is our hope!


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December 12, 2014

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Zechariah 2: 14-17

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord.

Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and they shall be his people, and he will dwell among you, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.

The Lord will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land, and he will again choose Jerusalem. Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the Lord! For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Building the Kingdom

Today we observe the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She appeared to a man who saw himself as someone without importance, asking him to do something larger than his own self-worth. Isn’t that sometimes the story of our own lives? Haven’t there been moments where we’ve felt unworthy of something great, not smart enough for something complex, or lacking in strength for something challenging?

The yearning affection of Our Lady is embodied through the image left on Juan Diego’s tilma, or cape. This image endows a reminder that her Son is faith, hope, and love for all and in all, belonging to all people of skill, schooling, and skin color. And just as she asked a small and meek man from Mexico to prepare the way for the building of a church, so too La Virgen asks us to ready ourselves for the building of her Son’s Kingdom on earth.

—Damian Torres-Botello, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.  

Prayer

Lord, when I am prideful, grant me humility.
When I am blind, grant me sight.
When I am troubled, grant me peace;
When I am afraid, help me be brave.
All this so my expectant heart can give birth to joy when you arrive.

Amen.


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December 11, 2014

Isaiah 41: 13-20

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel! I will help you, says the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Now, I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them.

Then you shall rejoice in the Lord; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, so that all may see and know, all may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

In God’s Hands

What a great refrain:  “the hand of the Lord has done this.” Advent invites us to honor this  power of God—past (in the birth of Jesus), future (in the return of the Lord), and present (in how God is with us now).

Advent beckons us with special Scriptures, with special people—Isaiah, the Baptist, Mary, Joseph—with special feelings, festivities, anticipations, hymns, and parish efforts. All these seasonal nudges are means to get our attention, so we can perceive all-the-more what “the hand of the Lord has done” in our lives.

Like Ignatius, we contemplate “the special favors” the Lord has done, re-affirming that the Lord is the provident hand in our lives—it’s not simply mere luck, happenstance, or my own doing.

Though St. Ignatius knew so keenly that “the gentle arrangement of divine providence requires (our) cooperation,” the Lord remains THE source of grace and blessings.  So, throughout this day and season let’s bring to mind what “the hand of the Lord has done” for us.

 —Fr. Richard Baumann, SJ serves as Tertian Director for the East Africa Jesuit province.  He is a native of Cincinnati OH and a past provincial of the Chicago Province..

Prayer

More than ever I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth. But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God.  It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.

—Pedro Arrupe, S.J., in Hearts on Fire, ed. by Michael Harter, S.J. © Loyola Press, Chicago, 2004.


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December 10, 2014

Matthew 11: 28-30

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Moving Towards Jesus

Jesus invites all who are burdened and labor to come to me and rest. Let’s face it—each of us, especially at this time of year, could certainly use more rest. The days are shorter, the nights longer, and the allure of our blankets on cold mornings is hard to resist. One Sunday my three year old son, Ian, was accompanying me up to receive Communion. He noticed the slow and deliberate pace of the line and loudly shouted “Come on everybody, let’s get moving for Jesus!” I reflected (after my initial embarrassment!) that he was right. We all should be moving to Jesus and not motivated by the hectic pace of the season.

In what ways are you moving towards Jesus, especially at this time of year when the yoke of the world—the pressure to rush, to consume, to decorate and to eat can seem overwhelming?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of two, originally from Ireland, and Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

Lord, we pray for the grace to experience the newness of life in you. When we empty ourselves of all that puts us at a distance from you – carrying our burden by ourselves, staring at the loss in our life and looking past so many blessings, depleting our energy by putting ourselves last or engaging in the black hole of negative conversation – we simply cannot celebrate the newness of life in you.

With profound gratitude, Lord, we place our life totally into your hands, and we know that your divine spark will deepen the significance of our day.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 


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December 9, 2014

St. Juan Diego

Matthew 18: 12-14

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Come Home

This gospel reminds me of the prodigal son.  Those who do what they are expected and do not stray seem to get less notice. Those who wander off, perhaps to where they should not, and then get lost, receive fanfare and special celebrations when they return.

Parents are sometimes accused of having a favorite child. As a mother, I would say that is never true! Instead, what I would say is that sometimes an individual needs that extra attention, love, care, or guidance because it is what is required at the time, or so that they can return to a better path. How blessed we are that, when we stray, God will look for us until we return, and will rejoice when we are found!

Can’t we all find someone who needs a little extra care or support, not because he or she is a favorite or special, but because he or she is one of these little ones who is lost?

—Jane Glynn-Nass, RN, BSN, serves as Provincial Assistant for Health Care within the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Come home where the welcome runs to greet you. Come home to the fire that warms your soul. Return to the soul that bore your infant steps. Return to where I wait for you.

—Excerpted  from the song “Come Home” by Bob Dufford, S.J., © 2005 OCP publications, Portland OR

 


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December 8, 2014

Solemnity of the  Immaculate Conception Of The Blessed Virgin Mary. Patronal feast of the Church in the U.S.
Holy Day of Obligation.

Luke  1: 26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

I Am With You!

What is it like suddenly to hear your name called out when you’re walking down a street? I guess it depends on who is calling you. If it is the voice of a stranger, you’re going to feel surprised. You may even panic and want to run!

As Luke tells it in today’s gospel, Mary was troubled but she didn’t run. She listened to Gabriel and was calmed when he said: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” What a compliment!

Mary’s life, from her very conception, was holy and pleasing to God. She had no reason to fear. The Blessed Trinity (through Gabriel) now calls her name and invites her to say yes or no to becoming the mother of the Messiah. Mary’s surprise gives way to joy and acceptance: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.

Through salvation history, God calls and we respond. Sometimes it’s life-altering, sometimes not. But three things are constant: God will call, he will honor my freedom to decline, and he forever promises: Do not be afraid, I am with you!

—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.

Prayer

Mary, Virgin and Mother, you, moved by the Holy Spirit, welcomed the word of life in the depths of your humble faith. As you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One, help us to say our own “yes” to the urgent call, as pressing as ever, to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

—Pope Francis: The Joy of the Gospel  

 


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December 17, 2014

Mt 1: 1-17

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Aminadab, and Aminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

My Family Tree

The first questions that we ask others are usually related to their family and where they live. The roots of our family ground us in this world while the leaves of our family trees stretch into the next. Jesus’ family tree details fourteen generations and, like every family tree, Jesus’ tree contains an assortment of characters from the wise and brave to the foolish and the disreputable. But Jesus’ tree is also our family tree—where all are invited, welcomed and loved.

This Christmas, as you are putting up your Christmas tree, take some time to think about family trees and how important they are. Give thanks for those ancestors, both known and unknown, who carried the torch of faith through the ages, and remember them in prayer. As you are putting up your Christmas tree ask yourself how Jesus is a conscious and deliberate part of your family tree?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of two, originally from Ireland, and Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

O Wisdom, O holy word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care: Come and show your people the way to salvation!


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

December 16, 2014

Matthew 21: 28-32

“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.”

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Two Sons

I am the mother of two sons and, as in the gospel today, I can ask each one of them the same question and get two different answers.  It is not unusual that one will say “Yes” and not do as he is asked, and the other will say “No, I don’t want to!” After letting them hear what the consequences of their actions will be, they will usually give in to the request and complete the task they were asked to do. I’m happy when they have done as I asked, but frustrated that it took so much convincing from me to get it accomplished.

Is this how God feels when he asks something of me? Is this how I reply to his request to “go out and work in the vineyard today”? How much easier would it be to be still and listen for his word? For the daughter to do his will out of love for the Father?

When God asks us to “go out and work in the vineyard today,” let my ears and heart be open. Let my “yes” be as Mary’s was, knowing that whatever God asks of me offers a path that leads to him.

—Pam Pipas, RN serves as Health Care Coordinator for the Jesuits of the Akron, Cleveland, Detroit, and Toledo region.

Prayer

Thank you, loving God, for for the blessing of our family. I often forget just how much you trust us as parents, by giving your precious children into our care. Please give me the eyes to see you in my children, your heart to love them, and your wisdom to help them grow. Amen.


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December 15, 2014

Matthew 21: 23-27

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?”

And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Gospel Joy

According to Pope Francis, the joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. But in today’s gospel the chief priests and elders meet him and show not joy but doubt. They challenge Jesus to a hearing. They summon him to defend his right and authority to teach in the temple.

Imagine the reaction of Jesus’ listeners: Is today’s lecture over? Will Jesus quietly leave by the side door? He does not. He defends himself by asking his questioners how they feel about the baptism administered by John. The question was not difficult for believers on the street. For them, John was clearly a prophet and his baptism was of heavenly origin. Case closed.

The chief priests and elders, however, were not in that group. Jesus had backed them into an awkward corner. We presume, therefore, by the end of the story that they drop the charge and allow him to continue to preach the Good News…with authority and love.

Has someone ever “cornered” me by speaking the truth? Have I been silenced … hurt … healed … freed?

—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.

Prayer

O God, you invite us today to a renewed personal encounter with your Son Jesus Christ. Our Holy Father Francis reminds us that whenever we take a step toward Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Help us experience how good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost!  Amen.

—Pope Francis: The Joy of the Gospel

 


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December 14, 2014

Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.

He has filled the hungry with good things,  and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel,for he has remembered his promise of mercy.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

God’s Amazing Ways

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is of course central to Advent and to Jesus’ life. Yet, she appears only a few times in scripture.

Mary’s “Magnificat” gives us a window into her spirit. Mary was unmarried, pregnant, poor—to be scorned in her culture as she would be in our own. Nonetheless, she strongly proclaimed the amazing ways God was working in her life and in our world. She sang with clear vision and boundless gratitude. Perhaps only those who have lived so close to the edge can appreciate the power and mercy of God as she did.

God turns our world’s notions of success upside down. “He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.” Mary’s song also foretells the mission of Jesus and his followers—to heal lepers, listen to foreigners, cross boundaries, spread God’s compassion. Two thousand years later, Jesus’ followers still stand with suffering people.

Consider your own “Magnificat:” Are there good things that you believe God has done in your life? Are there ways God’s grace seems to be working amid the people you care about—in your school, family, neighborhood or city?

—Mary Anne Reese is a lawyer, poet, and member of Bellarmine Chapel, a Jesuit parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Prayer

“Let Mary’s soul be in us to glorify the Lord; let her spirit be in us that we may rejoice in God our Savior.”

—St. Ambrose

 


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December 13, 2014

St. Lucy

Matthew 17: 9a. 10-13

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Getting the Point

The prophet Elijah was celebrated in Israel for his awesome, wondrous deeds. So it is not surprising that the reality of the coming Messiah would be equally awesome and wondrous. That the Son of Man would “suffer at their hands” must have seemed incomprehensible. Understandably, the people of Jesus’ day simply missed the point.

What about me? Do I miss the point of Jesus’ life and message? Does Jesus in fact come to my home and heart this Advent 2014 in ways that I miss or perhaps reject?

These days before Christmas, can I open my heart and invite Jesus into my doubts and questions, my fears and fragile hopes?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

Prayer

These Advent days, Lord, help me turn to you. Let us all see your face and we shall be saved. That is your promise. This is our hope!


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December 12, 2014

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Zechariah 2: 14-17

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord.

Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and they shall be his people, and he will dwell among you, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.

The Lord will possess Judah as his portion in the holy land, and he will again choose Jerusalem. Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the Lord! For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Building the Kingdom

Today we observe the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She appeared to a man who saw himself as someone without importance, asking him to do something larger than his own self-worth. Isn’t that sometimes the story of our own lives? Haven’t there been moments where we’ve felt unworthy of something great, not smart enough for something complex, or lacking in strength for something challenging?

The yearning affection of Our Lady is embodied through the image left on Juan Diego’s tilma, or cape. This image endows a reminder that her Son is faith, hope, and love for all and in all, belonging to all people of skill, schooling, and skin color. And just as she asked a small and meek man from Mexico to prepare the way for the building of a church, so too La Virgen asks us to ready ourselves for the building of her Son’s Kingdom on earth.

—Damian Torres-Botello, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.  

Prayer

Lord, when I am prideful, grant me humility.
When I am blind, grant me sight.
When I am troubled, grant me peace;
When I am afraid, help me be brave.
All this so my expectant heart can give birth to joy when you arrive.

Amen.


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December 11, 2014

Isaiah 41: 13-20

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel! I will help you, says the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Now, I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them.

Then you shall rejoice in the Lord; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive; I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, so that all may see and know, all may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

In God’s Hands

What a great refrain:  “the hand of the Lord has done this.” Advent invites us to honor this  power of God—past (in the birth of Jesus), future (in the return of the Lord), and present (in how God is with us now).

Advent beckons us with special Scriptures, with special people—Isaiah, the Baptist, Mary, Joseph—with special feelings, festivities, anticipations, hymns, and parish efforts. All these seasonal nudges are means to get our attention, so we can perceive all-the-more what “the hand of the Lord has done” in our lives.

Like Ignatius, we contemplate “the special favors” the Lord has done, re-affirming that the Lord is the provident hand in our lives—it’s not simply mere luck, happenstance, or my own doing.

Though St. Ignatius knew so keenly that “the gentle arrangement of divine providence requires (our) cooperation,” the Lord remains THE source of grace and blessings.  So, throughout this day and season let’s bring to mind what “the hand of the Lord has done” for us.

 —Fr. Richard Baumann, SJ serves as Tertian Director for the East Africa Jesuit province.  He is a native of Cincinnati OH and a past provincial of the Chicago Province..

Prayer

More than ever I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth. But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God.  It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.

—Pedro Arrupe, S.J., in Hearts on Fire, ed. by Michael Harter, S.J. © Loyola Press, Chicago, 2004.


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December 10, 2014

Matthew 11: 28-30

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Moving Towards Jesus

Jesus invites all who are burdened and labor to come to me and rest. Let’s face it—each of us, especially at this time of year, could certainly use more rest. The days are shorter, the nights longer, and the allure of our blankets on cold mornings is hard to resist. One Sunday my three year old son, Ian, was accompanying me up to receive Communion. He noticed the slow and deliberate pace of the line and loudly shouted “Come on everybody, let’s get moving for Jesus!” I reflected (after my initial embarrassment!) that he was right. We all should be moving to Jesus and not motivated by the hectic pace of the season.

In what ways are you moving towards Jesus, especially at this time of year when the yoke of the world—the pressure to rush, to consume, to decorate and to eat can seem overwhelming?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of two, originally from Ireland, and Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

Lord, we pray for the grace to experience the newness of life in you. When we empty ourselves of all that puts us at a distance from you – carrying our burden by ourselves, staring at the loss in our life and looking past so many blessings, depleting our energy by putting ourselves last or engaging in the black hole of negative conversation – we simply cannot celebrate the newness of life in you.

With profound gratitude, Lord, we place our life totally into your hands, and we know that your divine spark will deepen the significance of our day.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

 


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December 9, 2014

St. Juan Diego

Matthew 18: 12-14

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Come Home

This gospel reminds me of the prodigal son.  Those who do what they are expected and do not stray seem to get less notice. Those who wander off, perhaps to where they should not, and then get lost, receive fanfare and special celebrations when they return.

Parents are sometimes accused of having a favorite child. As a mother, I would say that is never true! Instead, what I would say is that sometimes an individual needs that extra attention, love, care, or guidance because it is what is required at the time, or so that they can return to a better path. How blessed we are that, when we stray, God will look for us until we return, and will rejoice when we are found!

Can’t we all find someone who needs a little extra care or support, not because he or she is a favorite or special, but because he or she is one of these little ones who is lost?

—Jane Glynn-Nass, RN, BSN, serves as Provincial Assistant for Health Care within the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Come home where the welcome runs to greet you. Come home to the fire that warms your soul. Return to the soul that bore your infant steps. Return to where I wait for you.

—Excerpted  from the song “Come Home” by Bob Dufford, S.J., © 2005 OCP publications, Portland OR

 


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December 8, 2014

Solemnity of the  Immaculate Conception Of The Blessed Virgin Mary. Patronal feast of the Church in the U.S.
Holy Day of Obligation.

Luke  1: 26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

I Am With You!

What is it like suddenly to hear your name called out when you’re walking down a street? I guess it depends on who is calling you. If it is the voice of a stranger, you’re going to feel surprised. You may even panic and want to run!

As Luke tells it in today’s gospel, Mary was troubled but she didn’t run. She listened to Gabriel and was calmed when he said: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” What a compliment!

Mary’s life, from her very conception, was holy and pleasing to God. She had no reason to fear. The Blessed Trinity (through Gabriel) now calls her name and invites her to say yes or no to becoming the mother of the Messiah. Mary’s surprise gives way to joy and acceptance: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.

Through salvation history, God calls and we respond. Sometimes it’s life-altering, sometimes not. But three things are constant: God will call, he will honor my freedom to decline, and he forever promises: Do not be afraid, I am with you!

—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.

Prayer

Mary, Virgin and Mother, you, moved by the Holy Spirit, welcomed the word of life in the depths of your humble faith. As you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One, help us to say our own “yes” to the urgent call, as pressing as ever, to proclaim the good news of Jesus.

—Pope Francis: The Joy of the Gospel  

 


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