Advent 2017 – First Sunday, Dec. 3rd

I love that the first verse of the first reading for Advent is “You, Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer You are named forever!”   Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus, we are reminded of His coming as a baby in Bethlehem but we also look forward to when He comes again.    I love the focus on God as our Father and that the Redeemer is forever with us.

And right in the second verse I am reminded why I need a redeemer.  I wander.   Soon forgetting that God is my Father and acting in ways that do not imitate God.

And the Gospel reminds me not to lose focus.  Watch, He is coming but we don’t know the day or the time.  Stay prepared.

I have little advents everyday.  I always need to be prepared to be Christlike to whoever I meet.

When I wonder how to be prepared I go back to the last Sunday in the Liturgical year– the reading from Matthew’s gospel, where the sheep and goats are separated. *

Always reflecting and thinking.

First Sunday of Advent
Reading 1 Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7

You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.Reading 2 1 Cor 1:3-9

Brothers and sisters:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Alleluia Ps 85:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Show us Lord, your love;
and grant us your salvation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”

*Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory,

and all the angels with him,

he will sit upon his glorious throne,

and all the nations will be assembled before him.

And he will separate them one from another,

as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right,

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.

Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food,

I was thirsty and you gave me drink,

a stranger and you welcomed me,

naked and you clothed me,

ill and you cared for me,

in prison and you visited me.’

Then the righteous will answer him and say,

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,

or thirsty and give you drink?

When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,

or naked and clothe you?

When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

And the king will say to them in reply,

‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did

for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left,

‘Depart from me, you accursed,

into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you gave me no food,

I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

a stranger and you gave me no welcome,

naked and you gave me no clothing,

ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

Then they will answer and say,

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty

or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,

and not minister to your needs?’

He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,

what you did not do for one of these least ones,

you did not do for me.’

And these will go off to eternal punishment,

but the righteous to eternal life.”

Praying for Wisdom – Wisdom leads to action!

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Wisdom is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.   Although it is a gift it is something to strive to reach a higher level.   Even Jesus who was conceived by the Holy Spirit had to wait to start His public ministry as He returned with His parents to Nazareth and there advanced in wisdom. (Luke 2)

In wisdom God’s timing is everything.

Today’s reading was about the wise and foolish virgins. (Matthew 25)  As they await the arrival of the bridegroom I am reminded that Christ is the bridegroom and the church His bride.   Maybe the foolish didn’t have patience to wait for God’s timing, thinking this is the plan & where is this groom.  This morning’s homily pointed out everyone slept, because the bridegroom was really late, but it was the wise virgins who were prepared in case of a late arrival.  Maybe they understood God’s timing wasn’t what was in their plan.  Salvation history would have told them something, 40 years in the desert, 400 years of slavery in Egypt…. just saying God isn’t always on our clock.

This scripture asks me to stay awake because I don’t know the day or the hour.   Had the foolish been awake there may have been time to run and get more oil.  In my life it may be when I need retreat or a prayer meeting.   I have been both foolish and wise.

Scripture doesn’t mentioned why the bridegroom was late.  In my human thinking I wonder – Was he sick and had to recover?  Was there a flood or fire and needed to take an alternate route?  Did he have some additional discernment to do before taking the leap of faith?  Or maybe he overslept?

But I know God knows the right time, so not late but on time.

God gives us lots of time to get prepared, as the next parable in Matthew tells us.  The parable of the talents, we are all given gifts according to our abilities and we have the time to work to multiply the gifts.  Invest our spiritual gifts, deposit the gifts where it can gain interest.  We can always have more wisdom, more grace, more of God’s gifts.

And the last part of Matthew 25 tells us that there will be a judgment on being prepared, being awake, and using our gifts.  Wisdom leads to feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked,  visiting the ill and those in prison.  Wisdom leads to multiplying the gifts by enabling other to receive and give gifts.

Of course God’s timing is always perfect but in my life I often wonder if I am prepared to face Jesus.  Everyday I face Jesus, in the people I meet and in the opportunities He gives to me to serve.  I met him in prayer I meet Him in the quiet of my heart and I met Him in the challenges of life.  Have I multiplied the gifts, have I grown in wisdom?  I wonder when I met the day will people see Jesus in me and does my attitude, behavior, gratitude be ready for judgment?

As always more reflection and more action needed. –

The Boy Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52)
Each year his (Jesus) parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking 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.

He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

 

The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long-delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’

 Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The Beauty of Dying

I was looking at all the colors of the fall in St. Louis this year. Brilliant reds, yellows and oranges brighten the hillsides as I was driving home today.  

The thought that came to mind was how beautiful dying looks.  I am called to die with Christ in order to bare fruit.

John 12:24. “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

In life I have had those moments of dying and detaching myself from my will so that I could grow in God’s will.   By going through the seasons in my life I could grow and be rejuvenated.    

And as I age I can see the beauty in the crosses much better than I could as a younger person.   As I detach from this world to focus on the kingdom of God.   The kingdom is lived starting now when I see God’s purpose.   

I started thinking about the wisdom of my friend who says it is easier to evangelize as she gets older. There are more years behind her than years ahead is her logic.   No time to be politically correct, no time to worry what others will think only time to live the truth.  Only time to live in the kingdom now.  Made me think how beautiful aging is, very colorful and brilliant.  

The photos are from my front yard.  It don’t really capture the real beauty.  

My reflections always takes me to new places.  Grateful for all the opportunities God has given me to die to self.  Grateful for the unique colors in my life.  Grateful to know there is a resurrection. 

Traditions and living Faith

I was thinking about “Traditions” this week.  Sometimes my family and friends down south wonder why I haven’t moved back to the bayou.  They endured rebuilding after hurricanes and floods. To them the bayou is home, a way of life, a culture like no other so they rebuild and want to stay in a place they love no matter the cost. 

I started reflecting on how I didn’t learn to swim and never learned to go fishing or hunting.   Without knowing these traditions it is just another place to live.  I love the people and miss them don’t get me wrong. But never loved peeling shrimp.  

But the traditions that were meaningful to me were those of faith. And it is the faith traditions that has continued in my life.  Knowing God, our Blessed Mother and all the saints.  Knowing Jesus in the Eucharist and believing in heaven.  Reading scripture and having prayer groups. 

Following in my faith Traditions became more than traditions it becomes a relationship with God and a purpose to live a God centered life.   Growing up the church was the center.  God was in everything. God provided the shrimp and fish for our parents to make a living.  Prayer was in the everyday living.   Going to mass was not only a spiritual experience but social. 

Today I was missing the all Saints Day tradition. The tradition of visiting the graves of those who gave us our faith and other saints that went before us.  Graves are shrines, a holy place.    

Our ancestors worked hard to build churches even with their limited incomes.   They taught us to pray.   They made sure we were baptized and studied the faith. All the traditions were meant to point us to God.   No matter where we go in life heaven is the final destination.  

I hope that wherever I am and wherever I go that I will always keep the faith, no matter the cost.    May I continue the tradition of my grandparents to pray for everyone to find their way so we all spend eternity with God and one another.   

(Photos below are from All Saints Day in Lafitte, LA- copyrighted by some cousins)

Station one – Jesus Is Condemned to Die

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself,  taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.   -Phil 2:6-11

Hiccups as I walk in God’s Plan

I remember early on in my faith life sincerely praying for God’s plan for my life to be revealed.  I wanted God to give me the instructions and to tell me His will for my life. I wanted directions like what is my vocation, what job should I do, where should I live, etc. etc.  Not just the “love God above all and love your neighbor as yourself “instructions.  Very young and immature.

I am thankful for the drive I had in wanting to do God’s will in my life, but I may have gone places not meant for me to go.   And maybe I should have landed in places I didn’t have the courage to go.   Thankfully God is everywhere and even when I got off the path, He was with me.

I woke up this morning thinking about the hiccups in life, the things that don’t go smoothly when life has disruption and changes.   Hiccups come unexpectedly.  Life is going great then someone dies, I lose a job.. things in life we all experience sickness, death of a love one or bumps in relationships.   — or the hiccup of sin!

I am thankful for a God who knew long before I was born that hiccups would happen.   Maybe the hardships was to make me lean on Him.  And thankful that He died for my sins as a way to bring me closer to Him.

I believe my wanting God to TELL me His will was so I can do it right and not make mistakes.  I wanted to be good and right and wanted to make God happy.  He probably got a good laugh and He also saw my brokenness.  He had to teach me that I didn’t need to earn approval.  He loves me unconditionally.

Not sure where I am going with these reflections but I do know God loves me.   I don’t have to be perfect but need to strive to be better.   I may fall off the path but He provides the way to get back on track.

Prayer for me has been keeping the conversation going with God.   Or sitting in His presence even when I didn’t feel like it but knowing I loved Him.   Prayer is also action for me, giving of myself even when I want to be selfish.  Forgiving when I want to be angry.   Prayer is walking with God, reading His words, listening to stories of the faithful…    St. Paul says to pray with ceasing, prayer is offering self to God in everything.   Prayer is giving up my sins to God so He can forgive, Prayer is telling God my brokenness so He can heal me.    My prayer makes me want to bring everyone to God and God to everyone.

I remember one prayer experience on a retreat a very long time ago.  The retreatants were able to lay prostrated before the Blessed Sacrament.  I remember telling God all those I was praying for and remember the feeling of people walking across me, as though I was a bridge.  Suddenly there was an urgency to pray for more people, not just family and friends but people I didn’t even know.  And that is what prayer is to me even to this day, bringing myself and others to God.

Always  reflecting more….  my being where I am may have come from zigging when I should have been zagging but every experience has brought me to God.  Not perfect, still a sinner, still searching for where I need to be and thankful for being in His presence.  I am in God’s presence even when I am unaware of how close He is to me.

 

Coming to the Lord dressed!

I remember as a child going to church 1/2 before mass. Time to pray and to prepare for receiving Jesus, bread of life!  As I got older I appreciated the sacrament of reconciliation as another way to get ready for the celebration of the mass.  

Lots more reflection needed on being ready to meet God.  Because I meet him in the Eucharist but I also meet him in people. 

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,but they refused to come.

A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.  The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.

The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.  Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.  Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.

But when the king came in to meet the guests, he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.  The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Matthew 22:1-14