Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Day 2016

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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Christmas Day
December 25, 2016
Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18

            The grace of God has appeared in the flesh and has become our brother. God has become one of us so we can know him better and love him more dearly. In the early covenants, God promised, through his words, that our souls will be saved and eternal life with God will be a reward. God spoke words of love, of creation, of tenderness, or encouragement, of merciful judgment, of power, and of wisdom to our ancestors. God will care for us better than a father cares for his son. God’s Word becomes Flesh on this day to remind us that we do not have to worry about the fate of our souls. God’s Word is all around us breathing life and goodness each day into our lives.

            A little boy was born for us. This child was entrusting to us for care and protection. Who doesn’t like holding a newborn? Everyone wants a turn. The child brings the best out of us, and our dreams for each child is wondrous and limitless. Today is a day to dream about a world without boundaries, a world with frontiers open to mercy and compassion. We may sometimes get distraught by the great sorrow and suffering in the world. We know we cannot stop any of the major wars or terrorism, but this day is a day to dream like that because it certainly is possible. The power of this little child to create a blessed world filled with goodwill and cooperation is within reach. This I believe.

            I like a particular Christmas movie because of its title: Love actually. Its full title is “Love Actually, is all around.” In the movie, love prevails in every relationship. Nothing can stop love. It heals hurts and misunderstandings; it conjures up courage, as love has to be expressed; it unites peoples, families, and foreigners; it demands that people stand up for what is right and just; it makes people sensitive to other’s needs, and it gives joy. The whole point of the movie is to notice that love is around everywhere you go. No matter what tensions exists within relationships, love fundamentally gives room to the other person. A warm greeting, sending a Christmas card by mail, exchanging gifts, or even a simple smile is an act of fundamental caring. We overlook the many kind gestures that are tipped in love’s favor. Acts of kindness and caring far exceed the many instances of transgressing boundaries and bad behaviors.

            This is our feast of the Incarnation, a central doctrine of our faith. It is God’s self-gift to us. In our everyday lived reality, it means that when you touch the flesh of another person, you touch the flesh of Jesus Christ. We see it when we comfort a crying child with a hug, or hold the hand of your mother when you keep vigil, clasping the hand of an excited person to share delight, or to express a moment of intimate caring. Our faith, if it is to be real and valid, means that we must move beyond words to action, to touching the body. God is still enfleshed among us. Each tender encounter with another person is our sharing in the Incarnation, a moment when our words become flesh as well.

            Enjoy the small, minor moments. Everything is in the details. Notice how a young couple from a small, insignificant part of Palestine brought into the world a tiny child in a manger because they were not worthy enough to be given a proper room at an inn. These humble beginnings shaped our history. We cannot overlook the small gestures of kindness. It tells us love is there. Love actually, is all around. Look for this love and you will find it. Let your will and your heart be moved to compassion and sympathy. Love actually, is everywhere you go. You are love enfleshed. Touch another person with your love. You will find that Love Actually rules the world.

Merry Christmas everyone. May Christ’s love brighten your heart.
           
Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Acts 6) Stephen worked great wonders among the people and adversaries debated with him fiercely. They threw hit out of the city, stoned him, and laid him at Saul’s feet.  
Tuesday: (1 John) What we heard, and saw with our eyes, what we looked upon, and touched with our hands, concerns the Word of life.
Wednesday: (1 John) God is light and in him there is no darkness. We have fellowship with him. Walk in the light as he is in the light.  
Thursday: (1 John) We are friends with God if we keep his commandments. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.      
Friday (Sirach 3) God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Take care of your father when he is old.   
Saturday (1 John 2) It is the last hour and the anti-Christ is coming. You have the anointing of the Holy One, and you have all knowledge.

Gospel: 
Monday: (Matthew 10) Jesus said, “ Beware of men who will hand you over to their courts and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be led before governors and kings.   
Tuesday: (John 20) Magdalene ran to Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciples to tell the news that Jesus has been removed from the tomb. In fear, they ran to see the tomb.
Wednesday (Matthew 2) When the magi departed, an angel told Joseph to take his wife and child to Egypt because Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.  
Thursday (Luke 2) When the days were completed for the purification, Mary and Joseph brought the child to the Temple, where they met Simeon, a righteous and devoted man.   
Friday (Matthew 2) When Herod died, an angel told Joseph to return to Israel. “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”
Saturday (John 1) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came to be through him. A light shines in the darkness.  

Saints of the Week

December 26: Stephen, the first Martyr (d. 35), was one of the seven original deacons chose to minister to the Greek-speaking Christians. The Jews accused him of blasphemy. Though he was eloquent in his defense, Saul of Tarsus condoned his death sentence.

December 27: John, Apostle and Evangelist (d. 100), was the brother of James and one of the three disciples to be in the inner circle. He left fishing to follow Jesus and was with him at the major events: the transfiguration, raising of Jairus' daughter, and the agony in the garden. He is also thought to be the author of the fourth gospel, three letters, and the Book of Revelation.

December 28: The Holy Innocents (d. 2), were the boys of Bethlehem who were under two years old to be killed by King Herod in an attempt to eliminate the rise of the newborn king as foretold by the astronomers from the east. This event is similar to the rescue of Moses from the Nile by the slaughter of the infant boys by the pharaoh.

December 29: Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr (1118-1170), was the lord chancellor and archbishop of Canterbury in England during the time of King Henry II. When he disagreed with the King over the autonomy of the church and state, he was exiled to France. When he returned, he clashed again with the king who had him murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. 

December 30: The Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, was a feast instituted in 1921. It was originally the 3rd Sunday after Christmas. The Holy Family is often seen in Renaissance paintings - and many of those are of the flight into Egypt.

December 31: Sylvester I, pope (d. 335), served the church shortly after Constantine issued his Edict of Milan in 313 that publicly recognized Christianity as the official religion of the empire and provided it freedom of worship. The emperor and other benefactors built large public churches. Sylvester was alive during the Council of Nicaea but did not attend because of old age.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Dec 25, 1545. Isabel Roser pronounced her vows as a Jesuit together with Lucrezia di Brandine and Francisca Cruyllas in the presence of Ignatius at the church of Sta. Maria della Strada in Rome.
·      Dec 26, 1978. The assassination of Gerhard Pieper, a librarian, who was shot to death in Zimbabwe.
·      Dec 27, 1618. Henry Morse entered the English College at Rome.
·      Dec 28, 1802. Pope Pius VII allowed Father General Gruber to affiliate the English Jesuits to the Society of Jesus in Russia.
·      Dec 29, 1886. Publication of the beatification decree of the English martyrs.
·      Dec 30, 1564. Letter from Pope Pius IV to Daniel, Archbishop of Mayence, deploring the malicious and scurrilous pamphlets published against the Society throughout Germany and desiring him to use his influence against the evil.

·      Dec 31, 1640. John Francis Regis died. He was a missionary to the towns and villages of the remote mountains of southern France.