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December 17, 2018

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.

Waiting for the Messiah

I read this Gospel passage and looked at the footnotes and found a long list of technicalities. Matthew did not include some people in this genealogy, the last verse is generation listing does not include fourteen generations but the summary at the end says that it does. It is easy to read this and think to yourself, “What is the meaning of this passage then?”

I believe the whole point of this Gospel passage is to demonstrate how long the wait for the Messiah truly was. I often explain to my students that in the Old Testament, the idea of an awaited Messiah does not explicitly appear in many of the earlier stories such as Abraham, Moses, and David. However, the longing for the Messiah is still present through the peoples’ innate longing to experience the perfection of God.   

Though the Messiah has come, humanity naturally continues to look forward to the meeting of the God whom our ancestors in faith sought. The Advent season is a time to recognize the natural desire to experience and know God and to respond actively through prayer and reflection.

—Beth Moeller is a member of the Billiken Teacher Corps through Saint Louis University and is the campus minister and theology teacher at Loyola Academy of Saint Louis, a middle school for boys.

Prayer

Lord God, in this Advent season of preparation, we remember the many years that God’s people waited in the hope of the Messiah’s coming.  As we ready ourselves to celebrate the birth of that Messiah, open our hearts to seeking you through prayer and service to our neighbor. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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December 16, 2018

Third Sunday of Advent

Zep 3: 14-18A

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;

shout, O Israel!

Rejoice and exult with all your heart,

O daughter Jerusalem!

The Lord has taken away the judgements against you,

he has turned away your enemies.

The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;

you shall fear disaster no more.

On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:

Do not fear, O Zion;

do not let your hands grow weak.

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,

a warrior who gives victory;

 

he will rejoice over you with gladness,

he will renew you* in his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing

as on a day of festival.*

I will remove disaster from you,*

so that you will not bear reproach for 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.

Rejoice!

As Christmas approaches, the Church’s message through the Readings is: Rejoice!

Zepheniah exhorts us: Sing aloud … Rejoice and exult with all your heart! Paul, in Philippians states: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

Yet we might ask: Rejoice? Now? Ecological crisis looming; people all over the world forcibly seeking refuge; 30,000 or so infants dying daily from preventable causes; thousands of abortions daily; rampant violence; massive storage of nuclear arms. Rejoice?

Prophets see beyond and deeper than what’s in front of us. Isaiah tells us in the psalm: The Lord, your God, is in your midst.

Can we experience this in the now, along with major crises?

John the Baptist admonishes soldiers, tax collectors, others – us – to strive for God’s justice, to build the Kingdom. Share! Do not extort! Be honest! Be Christ-like and leave control and the outcome to God! Hope in the Lord, and … rejoice!

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits Central and Southern Province. He serves as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso, Texas, where he ministers to people who are migrants and refugees.

Prayer

Loving God, as I labor in your vineyard, it’s often hard to rejoice. Only with your Grace can I see beyond the immediate suffering. Give me that Grace and the Joy to await and again celebrate Emmanuel.

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ

 


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December 15, 2018

Ps 80:2AC, 3B, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,

From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.

Rouse your power.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,

look down from heaven, and see;

Take care of this vine,

and protect what your right hand has planted

the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

May your help be with the man of your right hand,

with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

Then we will no more withdraw from you;

give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

Prepare the Way of the Lord

We are at the halfway point of Advent 2018. As Christmas shopping and holiday preparations consume more of my time, how am I doing as I “prepare the way of the Lord”? And what exactly does all this “preparing” mean for me personally? Amidst the Christmas rush, is there some person or situation that needs more of my time and attention? Is there some real family need that I am neglecting?

Today’s verses from Psalm 80 invite me to “take care of this vine you have planted.” In what personal, practical ways is God inviting me to turn to him? During these Advent days just how is the Lord trying to show me his face? And in what particular “Advent ways” am I nurturing God’s gift of faith in my heart–this “vine” that God has planted?

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

Prayer

The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end of all within us that is not yet Christ.

—Thomas Merton

 

 

 

 

 

 


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December 14, 2018

St. John of the Cross

Is 48: 17-19

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go. O that you had paid attention to my commandments!

Then your prosperity would have been like a river, and your success like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.

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.

Teaching us for our own good

Clunk, shuffle. “Take off mama’s boots and put them by the door.”

Twist, squeak. “Let me adjust the bathtub knobs.”

News from day care. “We do not bite people.”

I don’t mean to be overbearing. But I see what’s happening, and I don’t want my daughter to fall, to burn herself, or to hurt other people.

With boundaries and instructions, I try to teach her for her own good. Yet, I cannot protect her from every physical and emotional hurt in this life. Instead, I try to show her the way she should go and also hold space for her to explore, take risks and grow.

As a parent of a two-year old, I can begin to imagine what God may feel like in this passage. How many times must God have said to humanity, “O that you had paid attention…!”

What is God teaching me for my own good?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division and serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.

Prayer

God, You are more patient than the most patient parent. Help me to allow myself to be loved by you. Teach me for my own good. Lead me in the ways I should go. Guide my feet in the way of peace.

Amen.  

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks

 


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December 13, 2018

St. Lucy

Is 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.

God will be all in all

Before I read this prophecy to my third graders last weekend, I asked some questions:

Me: “What is Advent all about?”

Child: “Preparing for Jesus’s birthday.”

Me: “True. We’re also preparing for something else. Does anyone know?”

Child: “When Jesus comes back and God will be all in all.”  

Then we read the prophecy and looked for clues of either event. Despite the tough vocabulary, at least one child listened to the end. She said this was a Parousia prophecy. “The end says that everybody sees and knows that God made everything. All people – Catholics, Jewish people, Hindus – all together seeing and knowing God.” After catching my breath – she actually said Hindus – I realized I could probably read the passage a little closer. Take a few minutes to read it again to find something that you missed about the time when God will be all in all.

—Mark Bartholet is a John Carroll University alumnus who coordinates the Contemplative Leaders in Action program and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Peter Catholic Church, the Jesuit parish in Charlotte, NC.

Prayer

Hearing Better Voices

We make a pause
amid many voices–
some innocent and some seductive,
some violent and some coercive,
some forgiven and genuine,
some not.
Amid this cacophony that pulls us
in many directions,
we have these old voices of your prophets;
these voices attest to
your fierce self,
your severe summons,
your generous promise,
your abiding presence.

Give us good ears,
perchance you have a word for us tonight;
Give us grace and courage to listen,
to answer,
to care,
and to rejoice,
that we may be more fully your people.

—Walter Brueggemann from Prayers for a Privileged People

 

 

 

 


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December 12, 2018

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Lk 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.

God is with us

Today, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. She looked like a woman from his own culture and spoke to him in his own language, and she gave a message like the angel’s message in today’s Gospel: “Don’t be afraid. Nothing is impossible with God. Go, and tell those in power that God is with you.”

When I was teaching students from Mexican immigrant families at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, I heard the name of Our Lady of Guadalupe often in conversations with my students’ parents about their prayers and hopes for their children. She reminds us that God is with us, in all nations, and has a special care for the humble and those in need.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

—Beth Franzosa teaches in the Religious Studies department at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

Prayer

O God, Father of mercies, who placed your people under the singular protection of your Son’s most holy Mother, grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, may seek with ever more lively faith the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

 

 

 


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December 11, 2018

Mt 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.

God’s Deepest Desire: Our Closeness

Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep is one we have heard very often. In the context of Advent, we can imagine not only ourselves, but the entire world as a lost sheep. At one point in the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites those making the retreat to look down on the world with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They see the world for what it is, the holy, the profane, and the mundane. They look on us now, too. They see people loving and hating, at peace and at war, some starving and some in luxury, those working for justice and those who (hopefully) unknowingly work against it. Those who have wandered, and those who are close to his heart. They see our own hearts, at times following the law written in our hearts, at other times turning away from our creator. And they say in unison “It is time for salvation to come. It is time for them to know how great Our love is.”

—Mike Tedone, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province in his first year of regency at Sacred Heart Nativity Schools in San Jose, CA.

Prayer

Lord, at times I am in the fold. Other times, I am lost and wandering. But you come and search for me, to bring me close to you. Grant me the grace to see you as you enter into my life each day, so that by your grace I may live in such a way that others may see that I am inspired by you, the Good Shepherd. Amen.

—Mike Tedone, SJ

 


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December 10, 2018

Lk 5:15-26

But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.

When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the one who was paralyzed—”I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.”

Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”

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.

Bringing another into the presence of Jesus

In Jesus’ time, it was believed that disease or paralysis was a result of a personal sin. It was believed that being paralyzed was an outward sign that identified that the person had a shady moral compass.

What sticks out to me about the Gospel passage today is the willingness and dedication of the people who help the paralyzed man attain forgiveness (ultimately, to be physically healed) for his sins. First, these men are helping a man who by his physical health was considered by society to be a bad person. Then these men are going out of their way, climbing a roof, lowering a paralyzed man who is probably very heavy and difficult to move, from the top story of a building just to bring him in the presence of Jesus. These men took the outcast of society and did all that they could to bring that individual to the face of God.

Perhaps we should look within our own society and lives. Who are the “paralyzed” outcasts that are in need of seeing the love, forgiveness, and greatness of God? In what ways can we lower them, so they may find themselves in the presence of Jesus?

—Beth Moeller is a member of the Billiken Teacher Corps through Saint Louis University and is the campus minister and theology teacher at Loyola Academy of Saint Louis, a middle school for boys.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to recognize the needs of those around me, so that I may respond in love and, in doing so, make you known in their midst.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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December 9, 2018

Second Sunday of Advent

Lk 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

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.

Preparing to see God

Advent brings a time of hope and expectation for new life. Luke quotes the prophet Isaiah:

In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD….
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed

Preparation is needed to “see” God’s saving action. Images include creating a level playing field and facilitating an encounter with God.

The prophet Baruch gives hope to God’s people. Paul, in Philippians, wants us to grow in awareness to then choose well:

… that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value …

What are the “rough places” and disordered affects in my life? Can I perceive and react to suffering – and also to grace! – in my midst?

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits Central and Southern Province. He serves as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso, Texas, where he ministers to people who are migrants and refugees.

Prayer

Loving God, as I once again anticipate the coming of Jesus, help me prepare by both looking inward and outward to recognize your presence.

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ

 

 

 

 

 


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December 8, 2018

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

LK 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.

Called and Sent

A personal challenge during these Advent days is to recognize just what Jesus’ invitation and call might involve for me this year. Who are the “sick” I am to cure? How in particular—perhaps with a listening ear, a bright smile, or a few thoughtful words—can I strengthen the heart of a family member or good friend?

And then there is Jesus’ challenging reminder that “without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Who needs a piece of my heart this weekend? Probably not in a dramatic, earth-shattering way, but more likely in the time it takes to listen, to affirm, perhaps to challenge, but always to love. Ask Mary to help you love totally as she did!

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

Prayer

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

—Traditional prayer

 


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December 17, 2018

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.

Waiting for the Messiah

I read this Gospel passage and looked at the footnotes and found a long list of technicalities. Matthew did not include some people in this genealogy, the last verse is generation listing does not include fourteen generations but the summary at the end says that it does. It is easy to read this and think to yourself, “What is the meaning of this passage then?”

I believe the whole point of this Gospel passage is to demonstrate how long the wait for the Messiah truly was. I often explain to my students that in the Old Testament, the idea of an awaited Messiah does not explicitly appear in many of the earlier stories such as Abraham, Moses, and David. However, the longing for the Messiah is still present through the peoples’ innate longing to experience the perfection of God.   

Though the Messiah has come, humanity naturally continues to look forward to the meeting of the God whom our ancestors in faith sought. The Advent season is a time to recognize the natural desire to experience and know God and to respond actively through prayer and reflection.

—Beth Moeller is a member of the Billiken Teacher Corps through Saint Louis University and is the campus minister and theology teacher at Loyola Academy of Saint Louis, a middle school for boys.

Prayer

Lord God, in this Advent season of preparation, we remember the many years that God’s people waited in the hope of the Messiah’s coming.  As we ready ourselves to celebrate the birth of that Messiah, open our hearts to seeking you through prayer and service to our neighbor. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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December 16, 2018

Third Sunday of Advent

Zep 3: 14-18A

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;

shout, O Israel!

Rejoice and exult with all your heart,

O daughter Jerusalem!

The Lord has taken away the judgements against you,

he has turned away your enemies.

The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;

you shall fear disaster no more.

On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:

Do not fear, O Zion;

do not let your hands grow weak.

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,

a warrior who gives victory;

 

he will rejoice over you with gladness,

he will renew you* in his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing

as on a day of festival.*

I will remove disaster from you,*

so that you will not bear reproach for 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.

Rejoice!

As Christmas approaches, the Church’s message through the Readings is: Rejoice!

Zepheniah exhorts us: Sing aloud … Rejoice and exult with all your heart! Paul, in Philippians states: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

Yet we might ask: Rejoice? Now? Ecological crisis looming; people all over the world forcibly seeking refuge; 30,000 or so infants dying daily from preventable causes; thousands of abortions daily; rampant violence; massive storage of nuclear arms. Rejoice?

Prophets see beyond and deeper than what’s in front of us. Isaiah tells us in the psalm: The Lord, your God, is in your midst.

Can we experience this in the now, along with major crises?

John the Baptist admonishes soldiers, tax collectors, others – us – to strive for God’s justice, to build the Kingdom. Share! Do not extort! Be honest! Be Christ-like and leave control and the outcome to God! Hope in the Lord, and … rejoice!

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits Central and Southern Province. He serves as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso, Texas, where he ministers to people who are migrants and refugees.

Prayer

Loving God, as I labor in your vineyard, it’s often hard to rejoice. Only with your Grace can I see beyond the immediate suffering. Give me that Grace and the Joy to await and again celebrate Emmanuel.

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ

 


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December 15, 2018

Ps 80:2AC, 3B, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,

From your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.

Rouse your power.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,

look down from heaven, and see;

Take care of this vine,

and protect what your right hand has planted

the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

May your help be with the man of your right hand,

with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.

Then we will no more withdraw from you;

give us new life, and we will call upon your name.

R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

Prepare the Way of the Lord

We are at the halfway point of Advent 2018. As Christmas shopping and holiday preparations consume more of my time, how am I doing as I “prepare the way of the Lord”? And what exactly does all this “preparing” mean for me personally? Amidst the Christmas rush, is there some person or situation that needs more of my time and attention? Is there some real family need that I am neglecting?

Today’s verses from Psalm 80 invite me to “take care of this vine you have planted.” In what personal, practical ways is God inviting me to turn to him? During these Advent days just how is the Lord trying to show me his face? And in what particular “Advent ways” am I nurturing God’s gift of faith in my heart–this “vine” that God has planted?

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

Prayer

The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end of all within us that is not yet Christ.

—Thomas Merton

 

 

 

 

 

 


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December 14, 2018

St. John of the Cross

Is 48: 17-19

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go. O that you had paid attention to my commandments!

Then your prosperity would have been like a river, and your success like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.

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.

Teaching us for our own good

Clunk, shuffle. “Take off mama’s boots and put them by the door.”

Twist, squeak. “Let me adjust the bathtub knobs.”

News from day care. “We do not bite people.”

I don’t mean to be overbearing. But I see what’s happening, and I don’t want my daughter to fall, to burn herself, or to hurt other people.

With boundaries and instructions, I try to teach her for her own good. Yet, I cannot protect her from every physical and emotional hurt in this life. Instead, I try to show her the way she should go and also hold space for her to explore, take risks and grow.

As a parent of a two-year old, I can begin to imagine what God may feel like in this passage. How many times must God have said to humanity, “O that you had paid attention…!”

What is God teaching me for my own good?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division and serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.

Prayer

God, You are more patient than the most patient parent. Help me to allow myself to be loved by you. Teach me for my own good. Lead me in the ways I should go. Guide my feet in the way of peace.

Amen.  

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks

 


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December 13, 2018

St. Lucy

Is 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.

God will be all in all

Before I read this prophecy to my third graders last weekend, I asked some questions:

Me: “What is Advent all about?”

Child: “Preparing for Jesus’s birthday.”

Me: “True. We’re also preparing for something else. Does anyone know?”

Child: “When Jesus comes back and God will be all in all.”  

Then we read the prophecy and looked for clues of either event. Despite the tough vocabulary, at least one child listened to the end. She said this was a Parousia prophecy. “The end says that everybody sees and knows that God made everything. All people – Catholics, Jewish people, Hindus – all together seeing and knowing God.” After catching my breath – she actually said Hindus – I realized I could probably read the passage a little closer. Take a few minutes to read it again to find something that you missed about the time when God will be all in all.

—Mark Bartholet is a John Carroll University alumnus who coordinates the Contemplative Leaders in Action program and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Peter Catholic Church, the Jesuit parish in Charlotte, NC.

Prayer

Hearing Better Voices

We make a pause
amid many voices–
some innocent and some seductive,
some violent and some coercive,
some forgiven and genuine,
some not.
Amid this cacophony that pulls us
in many directions,
we have these old voices of your prophets;
these voices attest to
your fierce self,
your severe summons,
your generous promise,
your abiding presence.

Give us good ears,
perchance you have a word for us tonight;
Give us grace and courage to listen,
to answer,
to care,
and to rejoice,
that we may be more fully your people.

—Walter Brueggemann from Prayers for a Privileged People

 

 

 

 


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December 12, 2018

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Lk 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.

God is with us

Today, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. She looked like a woman from his own culture and spoke to him in his own language, and she gave a message like the angel’s message in today’s Gospel: “Don’t be afraid. Nothing is impossible with God. Go, and tell those in power that God is with you.”

When I was teaching students from Mexican immigrant families at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, I heard the name of Our Lady of Guadalupe often in conversations with my students’ parents about their prayers and hopes for their children. She reminds us that God is with us, in all nations, and has a special care for the humble and those in need.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

—Beth Franzosa teaches in the Religious Studies department at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

Prayer

O God, Father of mercies, who placed your people under the singular protection of your Son’s most holy Mother, grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, may seek with ever more lively faith the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

 

 

 


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December 11, 2018

Mt 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.

God’s Deepest Desire: Our Closeness

Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep is one we have heard very often. In the context of Advent, we can imagine not only ourselves, but the entire world as a lost sheep. At one point in the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites those making the retreat to look down on the world with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They see the world for what it is, the holy, the profane, and the mundane. They look on us now, too. They see people loving and hating, at peace and at war, some starving and some in luxury, those working for justice and those who (hopefully) unknowingly work against it. Those who have wandered, and those who are close to his heart. They see our own hearts, at times following the law written in our hearts, at other times turning away from our creator. And they say in unison “It is time for salvation to come. It is time for them to know how great Our love is.”

—Mike Tedone, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province in his first year of regency at Sacred Heart Nativity Schools in San Jose, CA.

Prayer

Lord, at times I am in the fold. Other times, I am lost and wandering. But you come and search for me, to bring me close to you. Grant me the grace to see you as you enter into my life each day, so that by your grace I may live in such a way that others may see that I am inspired by you, the Good Shepherd. Amen.

—Mike Tedone, SJ

 


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December 10, 2018

Lk 5:15-26

But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.

One day, while he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting near by (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus.

When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” —he said to the one who was paralyzed—”I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.”

Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”

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.

Bringing another into the presence of Jesus

In Jesus’ time, it was believed that disease or paralysis was a result of a personal sin. It was believed that being paralyzed was an outward sign that identified that the person had a shady moral compass.

What sticks out to me about the Gospel passage today is the willingness and dedication of the people who help the paralyzed man attain forgiveness (ultimately, to be physically healed) for his sins. First, these men are helping a man who by his physical health was considered by society to be a bad person. Then these men are going out of their way, climbing a roof, lowering a paralyzed man who is probably very heavy and difficult to move, from the top story of a building just to bring him in the presence of Jesus. These men took the outcast of society and did all that they could to bring that individual to the face of God.

Perhaps we should look within our own society and lives. Who are the “paralyzed” outcasts that are in need of seeing the love, forgiveness, and greatness of God? In what ways can we lower them, so they may find themselves in the presence of Jesus?

—Beth Moeller is a member of the Billiken Teacher Corps through Saint Louis University and is the campus minister and theology teacher at Loyola Academy of Saint Louis, a middle school for boys.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to recognize the needs of those around me, so that I may respond in love and, in doing so, make you known in their midst.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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December 9, 2018

Second Sunday of Advent

Lk 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.

He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

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.

Preparing to see God

Advent brings a time of hope and expectation for new life. Luke quotes the prophet Isaiah:

In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD….
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed

Preparation is needed to “see” God’s saving action. Images include creating a level playing field and facilitating an encounter with God.

The prophet Baruch gives hope to God’s people. Paul, in Philippians, wants us to grow in awareness to then choose well:

… that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value …

What are the “rough places” and disordered affects in my life? Can I perceive and react to suffering – and also to grace! – in my midst?

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits Central and Southern Province. He serves as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso, Texas, where he ministers to people who are migrants and refugees.

Prayer

Loving God, as I once again anticipate the coming of Jesus, help me prepare by both looking inward and outward to recognize your presence.

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ

 

 

 

 

 


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December 8, 2018

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

LK 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.

Called and Sent

A personal challenge during these Advent days is to recognize just what Jesus’ invitation and call might involve for me this year. Who are the “sick” I am to cure? How in particular—perhaps with a listening ear, a bright smile, or a few thoughtful words—can I strengthen the heart of a family member or good friend?

And then there is Jesus’ challenging reminder that “without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Who needs a piece of my heart this weekend? Probably not in a dramatic, earth-shattering way, but more likely in the time it takes to listen, to affirm, perhaps to challenge, but always to love. Ask Mary to help you love totally as she did!

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

Prayer

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

—Traditional prayer

 


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