January 22nd: Readings and Reflection Questions

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First Reading:  Isaiah 8: 23 – 9:3

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun
and the land of Naphtali;
but in the end he has glorified the seaward road,
the land west of the Jordan,
the District of the Gentiles.

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness:
for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian. Continue reading “January 22nd: Readings and Reflection Questions”

January 15th: Readings and Reflection Questions

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First Reading:  Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6

The LORD said to me: You are my servant,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.
Now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Continue reading “January 15th: Readings and Reflection Questions”

January 8th: Readings and Reflection Questions

 

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First Reading:  Isaiah 60: 1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses. Continue reading “January 8th: Readings and Reflection Questions”

January 1st: Readings and Reflection Questions

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The Octave Day of Christmas; Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

First Reading:  Numbers 6: 22-27

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.” Continue reading “January 1st: Readings and Reflection Questions”

December 25th: Readings and Reflection Questions

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First Reading – Isaiah 52: 7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!”

Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
for they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD restoring Zion.
Break out together in song,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the LORD comforts his people,
he redeems Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations;
all the ends of the earth will behold
the salvation of our God.

So 700 years before Christ was born, Isaiah was preaching about His arrival.  St. Jerome once said that Isaiah “was more of an Evangelist than a Prophet, because he described all of the Mysteries of the Church of Christ so vividly that you would assume he was not prophesying about the future, but rather was com?posing a history of past events.”

How crazy do you think people thought Isaiah was?  Do you think he was, or what he said was very popular?

How hard is it for you to preach the word of God in a time when people might think you are ‘crazy’?  Do you hesitate to discuss His gifts, delights, mercies, graces, or His arrival not only during the month of His birth, but all year long?

 

Second Reading – Hebrews 1: 1-6

Brothers and sisters:
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways
to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son,
whom he made heir of all things
and through whom he created the universe,
who is the refulgence of his glory,
the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say:
You are my son; this day I have begotten you?
Or again:
I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me?
And again, when he leads the firstborn into the world, he says:
Let all the angels of God worship him.

 

Gospel – John 1: 1-5, 9-14

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 to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but 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 to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.

You buy gifts at Christmas for friends and family.  You buy gifts for people on their birthday.  This Sunday will mark a double whammy for God because it’s Christmas and His birthday.

So what are you going to get God this year?

If God were to have a “Christmas” or “Brithday” list, what do you think would be on it?

CHALLANGE:  Your challange this week, if you chose to accept it, get something for God off his birthday list.  Maybe make it a family event, have you kids help buy it, plan it, deliver it, etc…  

December 18th: Readings and Reflection Questions

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Joseph from the movie “The Nativity Story”

First Reading:  Isaiah 7: 10-14

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

  • Can you imagine if God told you to ask for a sign?!  There are thousands of people throughout history who have been given signs of faith by God.  Saint Juan Diego was given such a sign 485 years ago (who’s feast day was Monday) through an apparition of Mary which is known today as Our Lady of Guadalupe. 
    • Have you ever been given a sign from God?  If so, discuss.
    • Do you know anyone who has been given a sign from God?
    • Why is it that God chooses to give signs to some people and not everyone?  Think of the people he has chosen to give signs, is there a pattern?

 

  • Interesting side notes:
    • It’s believed that the word Guadalupe was actually a Spanish mistranslation of the local Aztec dialect. The word that Mary probably used was Coatlallope which means “one who treads on snakes”!)
    • The stars on Our Lady’s Mantle coincide with the constellation in the sky on December 12, 1531. All who have scientifically examined the image of Our Lady over the centuries confess that its properties are absolutely unique and so inexplicable in human terms that the image can only be supernatural!
    • Though the dimensions are microscopic, the iris and the pupils of the image’s eyes have imprinted on them a highly detailed picture of at least 13 people. The same people are present in both the left and right eyes, in different proportions, as would happen when human eyes reflect the objects before them.

 

Second Reading:  Romans 1: 1-7

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus,
called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God,
which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh,
but established as Son of God in power
according to the Spirit of holiness
through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship,
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Gospel:  Matthew 1:  18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

  • Growing up, I always assumed Christ was most influenced by his mother but last year I read a book called “Joseph the Silent” by Michel Gasnier which gave me a slightly different perspective.  During the era and geography of the life of Christ, it is most likely he spent most of his days working with his father Joseph as an apprentice.  The human side of Christ was more than likely shaped by Joseph. 
    • Who influenced you the most growing up?  Who from your childhood do you think you most take after?
    • How about your children, do you have a large enough influence in their life?  Do they take after you at all?  How can you continue to shape your children in the mold you want for them…the mold of your mentor, the mold that you consider to be the best version of yourself (I think I owe Matthew Kelly $1 for that), or better yet Joseph…and even Jesus Christ himself.
  • The Catholic Encyclopedia citing the texts contained in the apocryphal writings writes that:  When forty years of age, Joseph married a woman called Melcha or Escha by some, Salome by others; they lived forty-nine years together and had six children, two daughters and four sons, the youngest of whom was James (the Less, “the Lord’s brother”). A year after his wife’s death, as the priests announced through Judea that they wished to find in the tribe of Juda a respectable man to espouse Mary, then twelve to fourteen years of age. Joseph, who was at the time ninety years old, went up to Jerusalem among the candidates; a miracle manifested the choice God had made of Joseph, and two years later the Annunciation took place.