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December 29th, 2013

Know More About The Holy Family

Know More About The Holy Family

Today is the feast of the Holy Family, celebrated on the First Sunday after Christmas. What do we know about the Holy Family?

A Holy Family With Difficulties

Like every family, the Holy Family had difficulties. There is a great temptation to idealize them – to turn them into plaster figurines, placed on a shelf. But as much as this family was holy, this family was also human.

They had to live in the same world we do — with deadlines to meet, bills to pay, problems to confront. More than a few times, their patience and their love were tested. This was a family, after all, in which the father had planned to divorce the mother; a family in which the young son, during a trip to the big city, disappeared without telling anyone; and a family in which that same son, when grown, had some pointed words for his mother at a big wedding down the road in Cana.

A Holy Family That Loved And Prayed

But through all these difficulties, this was also a family that loved. And prayed. And trusted. At one time or another, every one of them – Mary, Joseph and Jesus – actively surrendered themselves to the will of God. Mary consented to conceive a child out-of-wedlock. Joseph listened to angels and fled to another country, turning his family for a time into refugees. And Jesus gave everything on the cross.

One of the things that made them so remarkable is that they were so unremarkable. They weren’t rich or influential. They were just Jesus, Mary and Joseph: the carpenter’s family, from a place called Nazareth. The great mystic and monk Charles de Foucauld had a deep affection for Nazareth. He visited there often, and meditated on the meaning of that place in the life of Christ. He wrote of the town: “Jesus came to Nazareth, the place of the hidden life, of ordinary life, of family life, of prayer, work, obscurity, silent virtues, practiced with no witnesses other than God, his friends and his neighbors. Nazareth, the place where most people lead their lives”

Each of us living in our own Nazareth

Each of us is living in our own Nazareth, a place of everyday life, and everyday problems. And we pray each day to find in our own Nazareth some kind of grace. In Jesus’ day, the town was a place of scorn. In the scriptures, someone even mocks it: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” And the irony is: of course.

It is the place were our salvation came of age. Where an ordinary existence nurtured an extraordinary life. Where a carpenter plied his trade, and a mother kept her house, and a little boy grew into a man. It is where a man who dreamed, and listened, went to raise his family. A holy family. And, almost certainly, a happy family.

How to form a holy Christian family?

Check Paul’s beautiful letter to the Colossians. From his words, we can draw lessons about how to form a healthy and holy Christian family — a family like the one in Nazareth. Put on compassion, Paul tells us. Kindness. Lowliness. Meekness. Patience. Forgiveness. And love. It is all that simple — and all that difficult.

I’m sure the Holy Family had moments when living those virtues seemed hard, or even impossible. But they did something most of us don’t. They listened to angels. They dreamed. And they let go — and let God.

We could do nothing better than to follow that model: to live faithfully, each in our own Nazareth, remembering the example of the Holy Family. And remembering, as well, to open our eyes and our hearts to what is around us, in our kitchens and living rooms. Cherish every ordinary, mundane, stressful, joyful moment. Add that to your list of resolutions for the new year. And if you do, your family may discover something the Holy Family knew, as well: “Grace is everywhere.”


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December 29th, 2013

God’s Love song – Ray Smith

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Play the song God’s Love by Ray Smith

Lyrics:

Our God is our fortress
Our strength in times of need
He is our salvation
He cares for His sheep

Our king and Brother Jesus
Who came down from above
Paid the price for man’s sin
Because of God’s Love

The wicked shall be ashes
Under the Saints feet
When the angels gather,
all of His sheep

The dead in Christ shall rise
They shall shine bright like the stars
They will live forever
In God’s Love

Rejoice and be happy
Let joy rule your hearts
For Christ will not forget us
His Word tells us so

God’s word is truth
God’s word is life
Rejoice and be happy
Because of God’s Love

When Christ shall return
Peace shall abound
When we’re in His Kingdom
No evil shall be found

Rejoice and stay faithful
Till Christ comes from above
We shall see His face
Because of God’s love
We shall see His face
Because of God’s love


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December 24th, 2013

Advent, Christmas and Epiphany

Advent Christmas and Epiphany

Are you busy celebrating Christmas? Is everything like the crib, Christmas tree, crackers, cakes all set up? Are you celebrating the Christmas Cycle giving enough importance to all the three phases like Advent, Christmas and Epiphany?

Our culture tends to skip Advent and start celebrating Christmas after Thanksgiving. Then it’s all packed up and stored away by New Year’s. This year, consider returning to the ancient practice of seeing the whole “Christmas Cycle” — the period that embraces both the Advent and Christmas seasons — as one unit of joyous celebration. Preparation comes first, then comes celebration extending a few weeks after Christmas Day.

The focal point of the Christmas cycle is obvious: God becoming one of us in Jesus, the Incarnation. All three phases of the cycle — Advent, Christmas and Epiphany — hinge on and celebrate that point.

These celebrations help us to name the ways our lives are caught up in the “big story” of Christ. And these feasts tie our lives to Christians throughout history. The tradition of the Church, the living gospel, is the real-life experience of Christians like you and like me, and those who have gone before us.

Advent

Advent season lasts for about four weeks. It begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. During Advent, we emphasize the joy that some would compare to the months before a child is born: excitement, wonder, joy, expectation, even exhilaration at the life that is in our midst right now, yet also a hope and longing, and carefulness to get things into order.

We prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.” In the season with this name, we keep in mind both “advents” of Christ, the first in Bethlehem and the second yet to come.

Christmas

During the Christmas season we celebrate the wonder of the Incarnation. How wondrously we are made that the Word of God would become one of us! God shows us how to live fully: by pouring out our lives for others. That is what the days of Christmas are all about. These days we remember the immense love of our God, that love which made Him send his only son to save us. We remember how special we are in the eyes of our Creator.

Christmas is not about the Savior’s infancy; it is about His deity. The humble birth of Jesus Christ was never intended to conceal the reality that God was being born into the world. Without forsaking His divine nature or diminishing His deity, He was born into our world as a tiny infant. He was fully human, with all the needs and emotions that are common to us all. Yet He was also fully God, all-wise and all-powerful.

Epiphany

Epiphany falls on the twelfth day after Christmas. Epiphany and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord celebrate Christ becoming manifest — that is, present to all people. On Epiphany we focus on the three Wise Men symbolizing the many races for whom Christ was born. The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of his public ministry.

God’s “Christmas gift” of the Incarnation is a gift for everyone! We wish all of you a Merry Christmas and urge each one of you to celebrate all the three phases of the Christmas cycle – Advent, Christmas and Epiphany – with equal importance. God bless you.


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