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December 31, 2018

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

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.

Light overcomes darkness

Like most people, I thrive in the light. But I live in a part of the country where winter is a very real thing. It’s dark and it’s cold, and it can affect my mood. Friends and siblings who live in sunnier parts of the country scoff at those of us willing to put up with the cold of winter. But I have no desire to move to a sunnier climate. For me, without winter, there is no joy in spring.

The timing of today’s Gospel is a gift from our Church: just when our nights are long, and shadows seem to have fallen over our country, we are reminded that darkness cannot overcome the light of God. Through his incarnation, Christ brought light and life and knowledge of the Father!

As we begin a new year, how can we let go of the darkness in our lives to fully embrace the light God offers? How can we bring light and the “joy of spring” to others?

—Therese Fink Meyerhoff is the director of communications for the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Loving God, bring us light in the darkness, peace in the turbulence. And may we be the bearers of your light to others.  Amen.

—Therese Fink Meyerhoff

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

December 30, 2018

Feast of the Holy Family

Lk 2:41-52

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.

Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

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.

Caring for each other

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to use our imagination to experience a Gospel passage. Christmas is great for this! Pregnant Mary and Joseph rejected at the inn, a scene that has become ‘Posadas’ in Hispanic Catholic culture. Imagine the flight into Egypt of the Holy Family, a paradigm for violence-fleeing families today. How was Jesus’s family life? The Spirit will move our hearts in our sincere prayer.

Jesus increased in wisdom and in years with the love of Joseph and Mary. Many suffer from an absent father. Quality family time and presence is so crucial!

We must also care for each other since, as John reminds us, we are all God’s children – brothers and sisters in Christ. Many suffer today from the absence of the Kingdom family, due to individualism and one’s own created busyness. Do I responsibly care beyond my blood family? How? Am I seeing well?

—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, thank you for bringing the Christ into the world in such a humble way: A family with much love but little material goods. Help me to see better and love my family, the Kingdom family, especially those rejected by society.

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ

 


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December 29, 2018

Lk 2:22-35

St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

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 Grace Was Upon Him

Once again the reality of the calendar crams so much spiritual reality into this Christmas weekend. Today we meet Simeon, a righteous man who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die without seeing the Messiah.  Mary and Joseph arrived to present Jesus to the Lord, meeting first Simeon and later Anna. After these encounters, Luke then relates that Mary and Joseph returned with Jesus to Nazareth. where Jesus “grew in size and strength, filled with wisdom….and the grace of God was upon him.”

As the new year 2019 approaches, take time this weekend to flip through your 2018 calendar. Where over the last 12 months was God’s grace strong in your personal life? How was God’s grace active and alive within your family? What personal life experiences do you especially treasure from this past year? How will they influence the way you begin this new year of grace and possibility?

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

Prayer

For all that has been, thank you. For all that is to come, yes!

—Dag Hammarskjöld

 

 

 


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December 28, 2018

Feast of the Holy Innocents

1 Jn 1:5-2:2

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

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 light

Light is warmth… A rare sunny day during the long, grey Chicago winter.
Light is beauty… Impressionist painters who convey light on canvas through tiny splotches of color.
Light is life… The way in which green plants turn sunlight into food and growth through photosynthesis.
Light is energy… My daughter who shouts, over and over again, “Mama, more lights! More lights!” as we drive through the neighborhood at Christmastime.
Light is mystery… The fact that only a tiny fraction of light is visible to the human eye.

“God is light…”
God is warmth.
Beauty.
Life.
Energy.
Mystery.

“… walk in the light…”

In this season of Christmas, how am I experiencing God as light?  Inspired by the Incarnation, how might I walk in the light and embody warmth, beauty, energy, life, and Mystery?

—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

Lord Jesus Christ,
Your light shines within us.
Let not my doubts nor my darkness speak to me.
Lord, Jesus Christ,
Your light shines within us.
Let my heart always welcome your love.

Lyrics of Lord Jesus Christ, Your Light Shines by Jacques Berthier © 1998 Ateliers et Prezzes de Taize

 

 

 

 

 


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December 27, 2018

St. John, Apostle and evangelist

Jn 20:1a, 2-8

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

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.

Knowing Jesus personally

The Feast of St. John has so many intellectual roadblocks for me. Partially, it’s the mystery around its celebration on the third day of Christmas. Celebrating the Holy Family and the Holy Innocents makes sense, but John, why? The selected Gospel confuses me even more. Why did the evangelist appropriate Mary Magdalene’s place in being the first to believe in the resurrection? And why a reading about the Resurrection when it’s Christmas?!?

St. Ignatius’s words get me out of my head. When I do, this reading becomes simple. A man sees the truth and the living Jesus becomes alive in him. Jesus is born again in John. When did you first know the resurrected Jesus personally? Remember that moment and let it fill your soul again with Christmas joy.

—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

John

This is the gospel of the primal light,
The first beginning, and the fruitful end,
The soaring glory of an eagle’s flight,
The quiet touch of a beloved friend.
This is the gospel of our transformation,
Water to wine and grain to living bread,
Blindness to sight and sorrow to elation,
And Lazarus himself back from the dead!
This is the gospel of all inner meaning,
The heart of heaven opened to the earth,
A gentle friend on Jesus’ bosom leaning,
And Nicodemus offered a new birth.
No need to search the heavens high above,
Come close with John, and feel the pulse of Love.

—Malcolm Guite

 

 

 

  

 

 


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December 28, 2018

Feast of the Holy Innocents

1 Jn 1:5-2:2

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

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 light

Light is warmth… A rare sunny day during the long, grey Chicago winter.
Light is beauty… Impressionist painters who convey light on canvas through tiny splotches of color.
Light is life… The way in which green plants turn sunlight into food and growth through photosynthesis.
Light is energy… My daughter who shouts, over and over again, “Mama, more lights! More lights!” as we drive through the neighborhood at Christmastime.
Light is mystery… The fact that only a tiny fraction of light is visible to the human eye.

“God is light…”
God is warmth.
Beauty.
Life.
Energy.
Mystery.

“… walk in the light…”

In this season of Christmas, how am I experiencing God as light?  Inspired by the Incarnation, how might I walk in the light and embody warmth, beauty, energy, life, and Mystery?

—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

Lord Jesus Christ,
Your light shines within us.
Let not my doubts nor my darkness speak to me.
Lord, Jesus Christ,
Your light shines within us.
Let my heart always welcome your love.

—Lyrics of Lord Jesus Christ, Your Light Shines by Jacques Berthier © 1998 Ateliers et Prezzes de Taize


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December 26, 2018

St. Stephen, first martyr

ACTS 6:8-10; 7:54-59

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.

When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

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.

The seriousness of the Christian call

What a reminder, as we celebrate Christmas joy, of the seriousness of our call! As we clean up the last bits of wrapping paper and finish our leftover cookies, we celebrate the second day of Christmas with the feast of the first Christian martyr. St. Stephen reminds us that following Jesus isn’t all angels and nativity scenes, but sometimes involves difficulty, opposition, and risk.

So, what do we do when living our faith is a challenge? St. Stephen shows us this, too, as he keeps his eye on Jesus and is filled with the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit continues to guide us as we grow closer to Jesus in the Christmas season and all year long.

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

Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created,
and You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit,
did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
grant that by the same Holy Spirit
we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations,
through Christ Our Lord.
Amen.

—Traditional prayer to the Holy Spirit

 

 

  

 

 


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December 25, 2018

Nativity of the Lord

Lk 2:15-20

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.

But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

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.

Events unplanned

Advent was a busy season of preparation. Cooking, baking, wrapping presents and writing cards have exhausted me. Preparing can be exhausting. Not everything has gone exactly as I had planned or would have liked it to play out. But Jesus’ birth has arrived; ready or not, it’s Christmas!

Mary and Joseph did not have everything go according to their plan. They couldn’t have imagined that the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us, would be in a manger. They couldn’t have imagined that their visitors would include stranger-shepherd, that none of their family would be with them. They were exhausted from a journey, but God still came in their exhaustion.

What joy they must have felt, the birth of their child. And also, the joy of having others share in their joy and truth – that the Messiah and Christ, God who is Love, has been born into the world. When others may have doubted, these shepherds, complete strangers, come to support them and praise God with them, sharing the good news of Jesus’ birth even if others may be confused and doubtful.

—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

Jesus, help me to have a loving heart like your mother, welcoming others and reflecting on the events of your life. Help me to hold the events of today and this Christmas season in my heart; to see your face in those I love and those who have loved and supported me; to see your face in strangers who are seeking your love, mercy, and justice. May I always see your face and entrance into my life, especially in those moments I would not have expected. Amen.

—Mike Tedone, SJ

 

 

 

 


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December 24, 2018

2 Sm 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.

And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

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.

Chosen individually from a large flock

This passage beautifully captures the love of God that Jesus emphasizes throughout his ministry. God continually finds us within a flock of many. Though we may be one individual from a large flock, God raises and empowers each individual to a situation and place made specifically to shine on the gifts, personality and experience that the world needs.

—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

Loving God, we know that you have given us all things, and all that we have is a gift from you.  Help us to use these gifts and talents to further build up your kingdom here on earth. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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December 22, 2018

1 Samuel 1: 24-28

When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli.

And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” She left him there for the Lord.

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.

Yes, He Is Coming!

It is Christmas weekend, with all the personal energy and family activity this involves. No doubt we will cram many “adventures” into the coming Christmas season. As it all begins, take some time to ponder and savor the verses from psalm 25 which we pray during the Advent season:

Your ways, O Lord, make known to me: teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.
Good and upright is the Lord: thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice; he teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

Prayer

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

—O Antiphon for today

 

 

 

 

 


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Ignatian spirituality reminds us that God pursues us in the routines of our home and work life, and in the hopes and fears of life's challenges. The founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, created the Spiritual Exercises to deepen our relationship with Christ and to move our contemplation into service. May this prayer site anchor your day and strengthen your resolve to remember what truly matters.

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December 31, 2018

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

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.

Light overcomes darkness

Like most people, I thrive in the light. But I live in a part of the country where winter is a very real thing. It’s dark and it’s cold, and it can affect my mood. Friends and siblings who live in sunnier parts of the country scoff at those of us willing to put up with the cold of winter. But I have no desire to move to a sunnier climate. For me, without winter, there is no joy in spring.

The timing of today’s Gospel is a gift from our Church: just when our nights are long, and shadows seem to have fallen over our country, we are reminded that darkness cannot overcome the light of God. Through his incarnation, Christ brought light and life and knowledge of the Father!

As we begin a new year, how can we let go of the darkness in our lives to fully embrace the light God offers? How can we bring light and the “joy of spring” to others?

—Therese Fink Meyerhoff is the director of communications for the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Loving God, bring us light in the darkness, peace in the turbulence. And may we be the bearers of your light to others.  Amen.

—Therese Fink Meyerhoff

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

December 30, 2018

Feast of the Holy Family

Lk 2:41-52

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.

Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

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.

Caring for each other

In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites us to use our imagination to experience a Gospel passage. Christmas is great for this! Pregnant Mary and Joseph rejected at the inn, a scene that has become ‘Posadas’ in Hispanic Catholic culture. Imagine the flight into Egypt of the Holy Family, a paradigm for violence-fleeing families today. How was Jesus’s family life? The Spirit will move our hearts in our sincere prayer.

Jesus increased in wisdom and in years with the love of Joseph and Mary. Many suffer from an absent father. Quality family time and presence is so crucial!

We must also care for each other since, as John reminds us, we are all God’s children – brothers and sisters in Christ. Many suffer today from the absence of the Kingdom family, due to individualism and one’s own created busyness. Do I responsibly care beyond my blood family? How? Am I seeing well?

—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, thank you for bringing the Christ into the world in such a humble way: A family with much love but little material goods. Help me to see better and love my family, the Kingdom family, especially those rejected by society.

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ

 


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

December 29, 2018

Lk 2:22-35

St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

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 Grace Was Upon Him

Once again the reality of the calendar crams so much spiritual reality into this Christmas weekend. Today we meet Simeon, a righteous man who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die without seeing the Messiah.  Mary and Joseph arrived to present Jesus to the Lord, meeting first Simeon and later Anna. After these encounters, Luke then relates that Mary and Joseph returned with Jesus to Nazareth. where Jesus “grew in size and strength, filled with wisdom….and the grace of God was upon him.”

As the new year 2019 approaches, take time this weekend to flip through your 2018 calendar. Where over the last 12 months was God’s grace strong in your personal life? How was God’s grace active and alive within your family? What personal life experiences do you especially treasure from this past year? How will they influence the way you begin this new year of grace and possibility?

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

Prayer

For all that has been, thank you. For all that is to come, yes!

—Dag Hammarskjöld

 

 

 


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December 28, 2018

Feast of the Holy Innocents

1 Jn 1:5-2:2

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

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 light

Light is warmth… A rare sunny day during the long, grey Chicago winter.
Light is beauty… Impressionist painters who convey light on canvas through tiny splotches of color.
Light is life… The way in which green plants turn sunlight into food and growth through photosynthesis.
Light is energy… My daughter who shouts, over and over again, “Mama, more lights! More lights!” as we drive through the neighborhood at Christmastime.
Light is mystery… The fact that only a tiny fraction of light is visible to the human eye.

“God is light…”
God is warmth.
Beauty.
Life.
Energy.
Mystery.

“… walk in the light…”

In this season of Christmas, how am I experiencing God as light?  Inspired by the Incarnation, how might I walk in the light and embody warmth, beauty, energy, life, and Mystery?

—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

Lord Jesus Christ,
Your light shines within us.
Let not my doubts nor my darkness speak to me.
Lord, Jesus Christ,
Your light shines within us.
Let my heart always welcome your love.

Lyrics of Lord Jesus Christ, Your Light Shines by Jacques Berthier © 1998 Ateliers et Prezzes de Taize

 

 

 

 

 


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December 27, 2018

St. John, Apostle and evangelist

Jn 20:1a, 2-8

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

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.

Knowing Jesus personally

The Feast of St. John has so many intellectual roadblocks for me. Partially, it’s the mystery around its celebration on the third day of Christmas. Celebrating the Holy Family and the Holy Innocents makes sense, but John, why? The selected Gospel confuses me even more. Why did the evangelist appropriate Mary Magdalene’s place in being the first to believe in the resurrection? And why a reading about the Resurrection when it’s Christmas?!?

St. Ignatius’s words get me out of my head. When I do, this reading becomes simple. A man sees the truth and the living Jesus becomes alive in him. Jesus is born again in John. When did you first know the resurrected Jesus personally? Remember that moment and let it fill your soul again with Christmas joy.

—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

John

This is the gospel of the primal light,
The first beginning, and the fruitful end,
The soaring glory of an eagle’s flight,
The quiet touch of a beloved friend.
This is the gospel of our transformation,
Water to wine and grain to living bread,
Blindness to sight and sorrow to elation,
And Lazarus himself back from the dead!
This is the gospel of all inner meaning,
The heart of heaven opened to the earth,
A gentle friend on Jesus’ bosom leaning,
And Nicodemus offered a new birth.
No need to search the heavens high above,
Come close with John, and feel the pulse of Love.

—Malcolm Guite

 

 

 

  

 

 


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December 28, 2018

Feast of the Holy Innocents

1 Jn 1:5-2:2

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

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 light

Light is warmth… A rare sunny day during the long, grey Chicago winter.
Light is beauty… Impressionist painters who convey light on canvas through tiny splotches of color.
Light is life… The way in which green plants turn sunlight into food and growth through photosynthesis.
Light is energy… My daughter who shouts, over and over again, “Mama, more lights! More lights!” as we drive through the neighborhood at Christmastime.
Light is mystery… The fact that only a tiny fraction of light is visible to the human eye.

“God is light…”
God is warmth.
Beauty.
Life.
Energy.
Mystery.

“… walk in the light…”

In this season of Christmas, how am I experiencing God as light?  Inspired by the Incarnation, how might I walk in the light and embody warmth, beauty, energy, life, and Mystery?

—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

Lord Jesus Christ,
Your light shines within us.
Let not my doubts nor my darkness speak to me.
Lord, Jesus Christ,
Your light shines within us.
Let my heart always welcome your love.

—Lyrics of Lord Jesus Christ, Your Light Shines by Jacques Berthier © 1998 Ateliers et Prezzes de Taize


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December 26, 2018

St. Stephen, first martyr

ACTS 6:8-10; 7:54-59

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.

When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

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.

The seriousness of the Christian call

What a reminder, as we celebrate Christmas joy, of the seriousness of our call! As we clean up the last bits of wrapping paper and finish our leftover cookies, we celebrate the second day of Christmas with the feast of the first Christian martyr. St. Stephen reminds us that following Jesus isn’t all angels and nativity scenes, but sometimes involves difficulty, opposition, and risk.

So, what do we do when living our faith is a challenge? St. Stephen shows us this, too, as he keeps his eye on Jesus and is filled with the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit continues to guide us as we grow closer to Jesus in the Christmas season and all year long.

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

Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created,
and You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit,
did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
grant that by the same Holy Spirit
we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations,
through Christ Our Lord.
Amen.

—Traditional prayer to the Holy Spirit

 

 

  

 

 


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December 25, 2018

Nativity of the Lord

Lk 2:15-20

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.

But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

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.

Events unplanned

Advent was a busy season of preparation. Cooking, baking, wrapping presents and writing cards have exhausted me. Preparing can be exhausting. Not everything has gone exactly as I had planned or would have liked it to play out. But Jesus’ birth has arrived; ready or not, it’s Christmas!

Mary and Joseph did not have everything go according to their plan. They couldn’t have imagined that the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us, would be in a manger. They couldn’t have imagined that their visitors would include stranger-shepherd, that none of their family would be with them. They were exhausted from a journey, but God still came in their exhaustion.

What joy they must have felt, the birth of their child. And also, the joy of having others share in their joy and truth – that the Messiah and Christ, God who is Love, has been born into the world. When others may have doubted, these shepherds, complete strangers, come to support them and praise God with them, sharing the good news of Jesus’ birth even if others may be confused and doubtful.

—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

Jesus, help me to have a loving heart like your mother, welcoming others and reflecting on the events of your life. Help me to hold the events of today and this Christmas season in my heart; to see your face in those I love and those who have loved and supported me; to see your face in strangers who are seeking your love, mercy, and justice. May I always see your face and entrance into my life, especially in those moments I would not have expected. Amen.

—Mike Tedone, SJ

 

 

 

 


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December 24, 2018

2 Sm 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.

And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house.

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings.Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

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.

Chosen individually from a large flock

This passage beautifully captures the love of God that Jesus emphasizes throughout his ministry. God continually finds us within a flock of many. Though we may be one individual from a large flock, God raises and empowers each individual to a situation and place made specifically to shine on the gifts, personality and experience that the world needs.

—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

Loving God, we know that you have given us all things, and all that we have is a gift from you.  Help us to use these gifts and talents to further build up your kingdom here on earth. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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December 22, 2018

1 Samuel 1: 24-28

When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli.

And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” She left him there for the Lord.

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.

Yes, He Is Coming!

It is Christmas weekend, with all the personal energy and family activity this involves. No doubt we will cram many “adventures” into the coming Christmas season. As it all begins, take some time to ponder and savor the verses from psalm 25 which we pray during the Advent season:

Your ways, O Lord, make known to me: teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.
Good and upright is the Lord: thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice; he teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

Prayer

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

—O Antiphon for today

 

 

 

 

 


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