Brothers and Sisters,

Our weekend readings make even more difficult demands on us regarding our behavior as Christians. We live in a culture where there is so much rhetoric about protecting oneself and one’s property, about guns and gated communities. How do we reconcile this with Jesus’ call to turn the other cheek and love one’s enemy? What does it take to embrace these teachings, which many of us... quite honestly... find foolish?  It's a very simple answer.... We need to stay rooted in Christ, to keep our trajectory always aimed toward heaven!  It is an easy solution, but very hard in "the doing".  I pray that we all may keep our focus on Christ and do as he taught us to do. 

 
 
Brothers and Sisters,
Our weekend readings build upon last week’s focus on expectations. Living the Christian life requires a deep sense of responsibility and a desire to go beyond the minimum of the law. Spiritual maturity and integrity lies somewhere between deadening legalism and a casual approach that mocks the rules and takes pride in “getting away with it.” We are given the freedom to act responsibly. Let us pray for the wisdom to discern what that means and to live accordingly.

 
 
Brothers and Sisters

What does it mean to be salt, light, a city built on a mountain?  Our weekend's readings remind us that, as baptized Christians, we can’t hide. God, who is a God of justice and mercy, had expectations of Israel. The Israelites weren’t off the hook regarding how they were to act, and neither are the followers of Jesus. God has expectations of us. People see us, they observe what we do and how we act. What are they seeing? We can’t be followers in name only!
 
 
Brothers and Sisters,

In a culture obsessed with strength and success, our weekend readings are startling. The qualities and behaviors identified in the Beatitudes look nothing like economic, political or social strength. Instead, they appear to demonstrate weakness. Saint Paul tells us that God chose the foolish, the weak, the lowly, and despised to shame the wise and the strong. 

Those of us who say we follow Jesus have some soul-searching to do. How do the Beatitudes fit with our professional and life-style commitments? How willing are we to engage in the really hard practices? And what would it mean if we don’t want to?

Something to consider as we get closer to Lent!
 
 
Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus begins his healing ministry by calling ordinary people ... simple fishermen to follow him. What was it about his invitation that appealed to them, caused them to accept it? 

One would not have guessed what was yet to come of his being and doing. We never know the outcome of an invitation or a promise that is made. We are called in many ways, most of them simple. We don’t know where we will be led. Our task is to keep our hearts and minds open to God’s calling, however or whenever it may come. Let us all pray for each other that we may have the grace to be open to God's will.

 
 
Brothers and Sisters,

In our weekend readings, we hear the titles of Jesus….Son of God, the Lamb, and the true Servant who brings salvation to the whole world. His role is completely based on his relationship to God, whom he calls his Father. Our role is based on our relationship to Jesus, when we begin to know him as he is and what he is called to do. Like him, our task is to continually deepen the relationship that leads us to know who we are and what we are called to do. That noble work is never finished!

 
 
Brothers and Sisters,

We live in a world that tends to segregate people along many lines, especially the weak from the powerful. This Christmas season and today’s feast remind us that God’s revelation is for all people and that Jesus was sent for all! God’s will for the human race is unity ... that all may be one.

This vision is yet to be achieved, and sadly, there are those still threatened by it. But today we are called to walk in the light of this truth and to ask: From whom are we still separated? Why? What are we called to do to bridge this chasm?

 
 
Brothers and Sisters,

Our weekend feast focuses on the role of Mary in the wonderful miracle of the Incarnation. She was closest to all that happened, and it was she who came to know that God is here with, for and among us. 

As we celebrate this feast of Mary under her title as the Mother of God, we look to Mary as a model of discipleship. In her humility she shows forth the strength and grace of God, which is at work in us as well. We begin this New Year under her protection as Mother of God and Mother of the Church!

 
 
Brothers and Sisters,

This great feast is for those who are sitting in darkness or waiting to hear a meaningful word from God.  Every Christmas we celebrate that Jesus is truly light for those who cannot see and that God has said everything that can be said in the Word made flesh. 

God is among us, showing us everything we need to know and lighting our way. If we have never really looked at who Jesus is and what he is for us, the glorious time to do so is now. 

My prayer for each and everyone is that we all live in that Divine Light! Wishing you the blessings of Christmas and a joy-filled New Year!

 
 
Brothers and Sisters,

Doubt and confusion are not unique to us, even in matters essential to our faith. People have long asked for signs from God when they are in turmoil. Joseph’s deep question about Mary is the focus of our weekend Gospel. His moving forward on the strength of answers given in a dream should be a source of deep encouragement for us. 

Serious questions are never inappropriate when God is involved; in fact, they can lead to amazing answers and events!