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Wednesday, December 21, 2022

God is with Us: Christmas Sunday

                                                            God is with Us 

Christmas Sunday

December 25, 2022

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Isaiah 9:1-6; Psalm 96; Timothy 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14


          Merry Christmas, friends. The journey of Joseph and Mary on that long road to Bethlehem conjures up an eternal story for us, a story that appears on Christmas cards, paintings, and stained-glass windows, a story that is always fresh, and touches the deepest part of our soul. It is the story of love. Love is the reason God wanted to enter the world as one of us. The angels and shepherds rejoice that this story is being told, and all of creation settles into this moment when we know, in the firmament of our hearts, that God’s love has come for us.


          This is our moment to enter into a very quiet wonder, a hope that we could all know this God who wants to be with us, and that we can share this God with each other as a gift. This is a moment of silent mystery and joy, to be able to hold the One who is Word of God made just like us. This is a time of mutual embrace, where we hold the Christ child, and God holds us with pride and astonishment. On Christmas, as we worship in Church or gather with loved ones, we are the people we hoped we would be all year long.     


          Christmas brings about the possibilities for peace, harmony, and right relationship, at any level, whether it is within families or the family of nations. We know peace is possible, and we pray for peace throughout the year. Tonight, we get a sign. A child has been born for us, a Son is given, and he is the Son of Peace. His birth among us bring us to a liminal place, a place when heaven and earth are indistinguishable from one another, a moment in which God gently, silently kisses the earth in a sign of affection. In New England, we long to see a White Christmas because it is as if the falling snow is an expression that heaven and earth are one.


          In our Christian spirituality, we yearn to see and love the world the way God sees, knows, and loves the world. We become more understanding, patient, loving people as our worldview becomes more like Christ’s. We know that we have the desire and ability to let go of grudges, hurts, and anger and to replace it with goodwill, kindness, and radical affection for one another, in which God continues to reconcile and bring all into harmony. It is the day we know and understand that we are all brothers, sisters, friends of God, and we treat each other with dignity and honor. We see it is possible, we know it is possible, and this birth gives us the courage to make what seems impossible, a new reality based on God’s mercy.


          Mercy is born this day, a mercy that we do not deserve, but fuels our courage for reconciliation. It is not just a day when we look upon this birth in wonder; it is a day when God beholds us in wonder, to see the miracle of the persons that we are, to marvel at who we are becoming, to admire how we have become the people we hoped we would be all year long. We sit in mutual wonder and admiration in this moment of stillness, and we know this to be real and true. This is a moment of goodness, a time to share goodwill to others when it doesn’t make sense, but that our actions change the world for good. God was creative in bringing about the birth of Jesus to a young man and woman from Nazareth, and God continues to be creative in inviting us into this creative venture, where our goodness and mercy, changes the world one heart at a time. Let us bring our hearts, full of awe and wonder, to our world that is hungering for his mercy and reconciliation. Merry Christmas, my dear friends. For unto us, a child is born. For unto us, are hearts are changed.  


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.



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. Large public churches were built by the emperor and other benefactors. Sylvester was alive during the Council of Nicaea but did not attend because of old age.


This Week in Jesuit History


  • December 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. 
  • December 26, 1978. The assassination of Gerhard Pieper, a librarian, who was shot to death in Zimbabwe. 
  • December 27, 1618. Henry Morse entered the English College at Rome. 
  • December 28, 1802. Pope Pius VII allowed Father General Gruber to affiliate the English Jesuits to the Society of Jesus in Russia. 
  • December 29, 1886. Publication of the beatification decree of the English martyrs. 
  • December 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. 

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

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