by Sr Anita Rolenc, ND
Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Carefully read Zephaniah and 1 Corinthians. Both readings lay the foundation for the Beatitudes Jesus states in Matthew’s Gospel. Zephaniah urges us to seek justice and humility. St. Paul reminds us that God chooses the weak, the poor, the foolish ones so that whatever good these “lowly” ones perform is the result of God’s grace and power.
Then, Jesus challenges us to practice the Beatitudes, a step beyond the observance of the 10 Commandments. Notice the promise attached to each “Blessed are...” A promise of Jesus will be fulfilled because God is trustworthy. That’s a guarantee we cannot pass up!
For several years, I taught religion to students in grades 7, 8, 10 and 11 at St. Mary’s High School in O’Neill. In order for them to remember the Beatitudes, I devised this acronym: CHMMMPPP (pronounced CHIMP): clean of heart, hunger and thirst for justice, meek, merciful, mourn, peacemakers, persecuted, and poor in spirit. The Beatitudes in the acronym are not in order according the Matthew’s Gospel, but the students quickly learned the list of eight and remembered it years later!
by Theresa Homan, Notre Dame Associate
"I urge you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,...that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose." 1 Corinthians 1:10
It seems that rivalries and choosing sides have been common disorders affecting the Christian community since its very beginning. My head and heart are weary of all the violence, racial tension and divisiveness that seem to be sweeping our country. Yet even when I sit in darkness and when it appears that our land is overshadowed by death I do not feel despair. Light has arisen. Many people are responding to a wakeup call and are coming together and standing united.
Let us pray deeply and repent. Jesus died that we might all be united in the kingdom of heaven. And what is the purpose that we all share? The answer, of course, is Love. In the gospel for Jan. 29th we will hear in the Beatitudes how we can live that love well.
By Dot Connealy, Notre Dame Associate
from the gospel of John: "…Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God…"
Teaching young children in CCD has always been my pleasure and my treasure. I know that by listening carefully to them (esp. their questions) can help me delve deeper into my faith and beliefs.
Our lesson recently spoke of how Jesus is a man (while still being God). My little one said “How can Jesus be a man when he has “super powers?” (She is a big Star Wars fan.) When a child asks us a question like this, I believe, we must take them seriously and dig deep inside ourselves to answer them as sincerely as we can. I believe these times are "gifts" to us; they are an opportunity for us to exhibit our faith to them.
My answer was simplistic, but seemed to satisfy her. Jesus is God and man because he was born to be both. He was born in a manger and he lived and grew within a human family. He learned human ways, traditions and family ties. But, we also know that Jesus is the Son of God, too. He can heal, raise from the dead and share his Body and Blood with us in the Eucharist because he IS God’s son.
May we approach these difficult mysteries within our faith with a childlike trust and may we find our faith strengthened as we do.
A prayer: “Give me the heart of a child, my God; that I can see you more clearly and love you more dearly. Amen.”
by Sr. Celeste Wobeter, ND
Would you believe we are still in the Christmas Season? Contrary to our culture, the Christmas Season is not over at midnight of Christmas Day. Actually Christmas just begins on Christmas Eve. We are so fortunate to have several weeks to continue to ponder the amazing mystery of God becoming human. Born in a stable. Choirs of angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest!” Poor simple shepherds come to the stable. The Magi travel from the East bringing their gifts. And much more!
It is the visit of the Magi that we celebrate on this feast of the Epiphany. The Magi were searchers. They were searching for the Christ Child. They had no specific directions. No GPS! Only directed by a star! They could not travel by day, but could search only in the darkness of night guided by this star.
Perhaps the experience of the Magi can guide us in our searching. At times we, too, experience confusion and difficult situations in our lives. During these times we may feel we walk in darkness with no direction or support. Perhaps we can be encouraged by the persistence of the Magi in their searching. Each night as darkness appeared the Magi continued their journey and trusted in the movement of the star.
I wonder if they were inspired by the words of Isaiah in today’s first reading.
“Rise up in splendor, your Light has come!
See, darkness covers the earth and dark clouds cover the peoples.
But upon you, our God shines and over you appears God’s glory.”
Who or what is the Star that directs my searching?
What gives me hope in the midst of the darkness covering our world today?
How can I be hope and love?
by Sr. Cynthia Hruby, ND
And Mary Pondered
1st Reading: Numbers 6:22-27 “… The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you…”
Do you use FaceTime? Before Christmas I happened to watch the PBS program called The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer. From Anthony of Egypt through Greece, Romania, and on to Russia, monks and nuns carried forward this tradition of interior prayer. I could be scandalized by the stark contrast between the barren desert cave dwellings and the elaborate Orthodox lamps, vestments, and paintings. Setting that aside, I began to evaluate my prayer time that is given just to being in the presence of the Beloved. A mantra like the Jesus Prayer can direct one to “let his face shine” on exterior and interior senses. Blest be your Sacred FaceTime!
2nd Reading: Galatians 4:4-7 “… God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba Father!”
Not only does the Lord’s face shine on us, but the Spirit sent to us cries out, “Abba!” I think of Carey Landry’s song with the image of the potter shaping all of us into a people. At charismatic prayer meetings, I was encouraged to greater awareness of the Spirit within myself, others, and in community. For some, this was a popular movement, even a pious movement. In THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL, Pope Francis writes about the evangelizing power of such popular piety (121). He “exhorts” us to “approach it with the gaze of the Good Shepherd who seeks not to judge but to love” (125). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, ministers “can make present the fragrance of Christ’s closeness and his personal gaze.” The Pope refers to the art of accompaniment in which we “remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other” and give “our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates, and encourages growth in Christian life” (169). Much to ponder! We cannot give what we have not received. Open your Sent box!
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21 “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
The Gospel takes us to the Christmas scene with the Shepherds. They gaze and, very likely, receive Mary’s “mother gaze.” Jump ahead to the foot of the Cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple. Can you imagine the steady gaze exchanged then? That’s when Jesus said, “Behold your son... Behold your mother” (John 19: 26-27). Thus, Mary’s womb remains forever fruitful. She leads us to Christ, but Christ leads us back to his Mother. Much to ponder!
January 1, is also World Day of Peace
“…The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name..., and I will bless them.”