December 29, 2018

Holy Family (December 30, 2018)

Jesus Advanced in Wisdom and Age

Reading this passage, we can get caught up in the details of Jesus going missing (how could that even happen?) and on Jesus’ response to Mary, and overlook three details that Luke include in this passage.
  1. Luke tells us that “each year” [the family] “went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.”  This and other details in Luke’s account of the events in his Gospel up to this point tell us that Jesus’ parents were devoted to God in their religious practices.  Furthermore, they raised Jesus in the practice of the Jewish faith.
  2. Jesus is often portrayed in stories, paintings, etc. as lecturing the teachers.  Luke, on the contrary, tells us that Jesus was a twelve-year-old, “sitting in the midst of the teachers,” learning from them by “listening to them and asking them questions.” [1]
  3. While the parents “did not understand what he said to them, [Jesus] went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.”  He indeed lived as their son, “obedient to them.”
These three elements, while often overlooked, teach us some valuable lessons for good family life.  The Holy Family of Nazareth lived their religious faith.  Jesus was obedient to his parents.  And he learned from the wisdom and experience of his parents and others.  
Then Luke concludes that in such an environment, with such attitudes, “Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”

[1] John Petty,
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December 22, 2018

4th Sunday of Advent - C (December 23, 2018)

God in the Ordinary

Mary is from Nazareth, a town of no significance [1].  She goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who lives in a town with no name worth mentioning (Luke simply wrote, “a town of Judah.”). 

It is an ordinary meeting of two relatives, in an unimportant place.

A simple act of kindness on Mary’s part.

Yet, God is present.

Elizabeth and her son John recognize the presence of the Savior as soon as they hear Mary’s greeting. 

Ordinary people.  Ordinary situation.  There, God is present. 

 [1] In John 1: 46, Nathaniel judges Nazareth, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Image source:  Author:  an unnamed Vietnamese artist, 


December 15, 2018

3rd Sunday of Advent - C (December 16, 2018)

Good News

People ask John, “What should we do?”.  In response, John does not demand from them anything extraordinary.  John tells them to share what they have with those who have less.  The same applies even to the soldiers and tax collectors of an illegitimate government.  Do your job and don’t abuse your power or position.

Do what is expected of us and share with those who have less. 

That is how we are to prepare the way for the Lord and that is the “good news” of John’s message.  

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December 8, 2018

2nd Sunday of Advent - C (December 9, 2018)

The Word of God Came to John

Luke introduces a year, then a list of names of people and places to provide a concrete setting for “the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah.”

Into concrete situations, places, and people that the word of God comes into human history and our individual life.  Advent calls us to renew our encounter with God in the concreteness of life.

Similarly, each son and daughter of God, you and I, has a unique and concrete place in God’s plan of salvation for all humanity.  Advent reminds us of our vocation of furthering the Kingdom of God in the concreteness of our lives.  That is our vocation until “all flesh [has] see the salvation of our God.” 

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December 2, 2018

1st Sunday of Advent - C

To Love Is to Be Ready

One of the tenets of the Christian faith is the belief that the created world will one day end.  On that day, the Lord of the universe will return to judge.

Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel can be frightening for those who are not ready when he returns.

But for those who are ready, his return means “redemption is at hand.”

St. Paul reminds us the way to live in order to be ready when the Lord returns, namely to love one another with the love God gives us, and to grow in holiness.  Paul prays, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.” 

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