Tag Archives: Christmas

Gospel Reflection for December 25th, Christmas

25 Dec

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 9.1-6; Titus 2.11-14; Luke 2.1-20

“Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” – Luke 2.7

Jesus’ birth story in Luke’s gospel anticipates Jesus’ whole life and emphasizes his mission to people who are poor. In Bethlehem for a Roman census, Joseph finds shelter among the animals in a stable. There Mary gives birth. Like the holy family, many refugees, immigrants, and deportees today find little room among us. Like finding shelter in a barn during a census, many live in cramped camps awaiting legal status in a new country.

An angel chorus announces Jesus’ birth to shepherds, people who are poor and living out in the fields with their sheep. They find the child in the manger and become the heralds of the messiah’s birth. We recognize with the shepherds that Jesus is good news for the poor.

On the world stage Caesar counts potential taxpayers. His subjects give Caesar the title Augustus, the divine. But it is the child lying in the manger who incarnates the love and life-giving power of the universe. Jesus is the true savior of the world, the one who incarnates God’s love among us.

Where might Jesus be born today to express God’s willingness to identify with the lowliest among us?


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Merry Christmas!

22 Dec

merry-christmas

Jesus makes incarnate the heart of God, full of creative and merciful love that never stops calling us into the communions of family and church. We make a gift to you of the creative work of two of our sisters who taught and inspired us. Blessings on you and yours.


The Ox and the Donkey’s Carol
poem by Sister Alice Smith, CSJ ~art by Sister Madeline Schimanski, CSJ

ox-and-donkey-001The Christ child lay in the ox’s stall
The stars shone great
and the stars shone small,
but one bright star outshone them all.

The cattle stood in the cleanly straw,
and strange to them was the sight they saw.
The ox and donkey watched with awe.

The shepherds ran from the uplands wide,
the sheepbells tinkled, the angels cried
joy to the dreaming countryside.

The three kings bowed at the stable door,
their raiment trailed on the dusty floor.
They saw the sign they had journeyed for.

The kings came last in a lordly throng.
The shepherds ran in the space of a song,
But the beasts had been there all night long.
Noel     Noel     Noel

Gospel Reflection for December 25, 2016, Christmas

20 Dec

Christmas Readings: Isaiah 9.1-6; Titus 2.11-14; Luke 2.1-20

“While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have to child. Mary gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.” – Luke 2.6-7

In the Christmas story the angels know who Jesus is and give humble shepherds, and us, a sign. The sign is the baby, lying in a manger. A manger is a feed trough, so Jesus’ first crib hints that he will give his life to nourish ours. A manger is a place of low status, a place among animals at the margin of human society. The gospel writer Luke wants us to recognize with the shepherds that this child is good news for people like them who live in poverty.

Jesus begins life in a world without room for him or his parents because descendants of David have crowded Bethlehem to register in a Roman census. People hail Caesar as savior, give him the title Augustus, the divine, and pay his taxes. But it is the child lying in the manger who incarnates the love and life-giving power at work since day one in our evolution. In Jesus God becomes one of us and shows us God’s love.

How are you making room for the Christ child this year? How can we join Jesus in his work of saving the world?

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Christmas Mercy

24 Dec
Photo via Flickr user Martin Beek

Photo via Flickr user Martin Beek

Lord Jesus, Mary and Joseph were turned away at many places before they found a stable to rest. This Christmas, be with those who are searching for home or a safe place to rest.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you were brave enough to come to us as a baby. This Christmas, help us to pay attention to the babies in our midst and remember how little and vulnerable you once were.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you were born in a stable. This Christmas, help us remember to look for your beautiful presence in unexpected, unbeautiful places.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you were born to two people who loved you dearly. This Christmas, help us be thankful for those people who love us, help us celebrate the family and communities we have. Give extra love to those who need it right now.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, a bright star appeared in the sky to help the shepherds and wise people find their way to you. This Christmas, may the stars in the sky inspire us to live a life that seeks you.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord Jesus, you came to be a light in the darkness. There is still a lot of darkness in our world. This Christmas, shine brightly where there is war, fighting, poverty and hurt. Help us be a light to others with our thoughts, words and actions.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 

 

Gospel Reflection for December 25 & 27, 2015, Christmas/Holy Family

21 Dec

Christmas Gospel Readings: Luke 2.1-14; Holy Family Readings: 1 Samuel 1.20-22,24-28; 1 John 3.1-2,21-24; Luke 2.41-52

“Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the in.”

(Luke 2.7)

The child who is God’s joy for the world is born among the poor to include the poor in God’s good news.  Christmas opens doors and widens tables in the spirit of making room for the Christ child for whom there was no room in the inn.

Fittingly the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family on the Sunday after Christmas.  Already in the gospel for that day Jesus is a tween, a 12 year old who goes his own way instead of journeying home from Passover with his parents.  When Mary questions why he didn’t tell them where he was, Jesus expects they should have known he’d be about his Father’s business.

Mary gives us a model of a reflective disciple.  She is amazed at Jesus’ insight and wisdom; baffled by why he left their company; reproachful about the hurt and fear she experienced; and finally, willing to keep reflecting on what happened.

With what young people have you talked about how you live and practice your faith?

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Gospel Reflection for December 25, 2014, Christmas/Holy Family

23 Dec

Christmas-Tree

Christmas Readings: Isaiah 9.1-6; Titus 2.11-14; Luke 2.1-20

“The angel said, ‘You have nothing to fear.  I bring you good news, a great joy to be shared by the whole people.  For this day in David’s city a savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord.  Let this be a sign to you; you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’”  

Luke 2.10-12

Many people today may identify with how unusual Jesus’ family is. His mother is not married when he is conceived. His mother’s husband is not Jesus’ real dad. His mother is still a virgin, probably still a teenager. Mary and Joseph face all the challenges any child presents new parents, but Luke’s story also tells us their baby is extraordinary–the savior, the messiah, God’s Son.

These titles make claims about who Jesus is that eventually get him arrested and condemned to death. Angels announce Jesus’ identity to shepherds and give them and us a sign. The sign is the baby lying in a manger, a feed trough. Jesus’ first crib hints he will give his life to nourish ours. A manger is a place of low status, a place among animals and shepherds who live at the margins of society. The child is good news for the poor, joy to all of us, and safe with temporarily homeless parents making do.

Where might Jesus be born today to express God’s willingness to identify with all of us, especially the lowly and left out?

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Christmas Grace

23 Dec

Plan to make your Christmas gathering special by setting the table with candles and wine glasses for a Christmas toast. You can have both regular wine and alcohol-free wine available so everyone can make the toast. Invite the oldest, youngest, and newest persons at the table to light a candle and say the blessing below. If the youngest and newest are children, have adults help.

Christmas-Draft-1(7)

The Meaning of Christmas (Or How Not to Hate What You Receive)

19 Dec

The Meaning of Christmas (Or How Not to Hate What You Receive) a guest post from Claire Bischoff

What is the worst Christmas gift that you have ever been given?GIFT from  iMakeGuernsey

On the first Christmas I celebrated with my then-boyfriend now-husband’s family, they gave me a navy blue and white striped sweater from an expensive brand name label that I wore only when I knew I would be eating dinner with them. The nautical nature of the sweater reminded me of the way my mother had decorated our house in the 80s, and I hated wearing things with labels meant to show people how much you spent on your clothes. The second Christmas I celebrated with their family they gave me literally the same sweater, only this time with light pink and dark pink stripes to replace the nautical theme of the year before. At least this sweater could be worn on Valentine’s Day to look festive.

The year after that the family announced that they would begin a new Christmas tradition: buying presents for yourself. We were all instructed to purchase what we wanted for ourselves, to wrap these presents up, and then we went through a whole silly charade about how surprised we were to receive these awesome presents on Christmas Day. Admittedly, I was into this new tradition (minus the fake surprise) for the first few years. Having been disappointed by the twin striped sweaters in the past, it was much better to pick out a matching hat, scarf, and mitten combo that I really needed and really liked. Also, it was a relief not to go through the agony of trying to find gifts for this family that clearly did not know me that well, nor I them.

After a few years of this self-centered tradition, I started to realize how antithetical to the Christmas season it is to buy your own gifts. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the gift God gave to humanity of God’s only Son, a gift that is beyond measure, as it is the gift of God’s very presence among us. We celebrate that fact that God so much wants all of us to be part of God’s family that God gave God’s only Son for our salvation. Christmas should be about celebrating our place in God’s whole human family, as well as in the small human family of our birth.

Certainly, my husband’s family, and me as a part of it, took awhile to catch on to this meaning of Christmas. But this year, we just might be on to something. There are going to be no gifts in the form of boxes wrapped under the tree. The gift we are choosing to give each other is time spent together–cooking a meal, playing games, making puzzles, and just generally enjoying each other, something we do not get to do often enough because of everyone’s busy schedules.

Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate ConceptionAnd this year I have also come to a new appreciation of those striped sweaters that I finally donated to the Good Will last year. Unfortunately, this awareness has been raised by a good friend of mine who is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. She has been receiving a lot of gifts this year, some of which bring her to tears because they speak to the bond she has with so many people, who know her so well that they know just what odd item will brighten her day. But she has also received the equivalent of the expensive sweaters my in-laws purchased for me years ago, things that cost quite a bit of money but that are really of no use to her. When I asked her if it frustrated her to get gifts like this, her response was that even if gifts seem stupid and unhelpful, they are people’s awkward way of saying that they care, and that we should cut the gift-givers some slack since it is the thought that counts.

So in addition to celebrating Christmas by spending quality with my family this year, my resolution is also to try to be appreciative of whatever anyone gives me, to approach gift opening with a stance of gratefulness that mirrors the gratefulness I have that God chose to be born of a peasant woman and made flesh among us. Merry Christmas!

What is the meaning of Christmas to you?

How do your family’s Christmas traditions reflect this meaning?

Photos courtesy of IMakeGuernsey and Roger Smith via Creative Commons License

Gospel Reflection for December 25, Christmas Day

20 Dec

The angel said, “You have nothing to fear!  I bring you good news, a great joy to be shared by the whole people for this day in David’s city a savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2.10-11

Luke’s gospel and the Christmas Liturgy of the Word fill the story of Jesus’ birth with the significance of this whole redemptive life.  The birth narrative is no realistic video in narrative form, but a story carefully crafted to communicate to every hearer the same tiding of great joy the shepherds hear.  A savior has been born to us.  The messiah that Israel has long awaited has come.  God’s own Son is with us.  Each statement proclaims the whole gospel in summary.

Where might Jesus be born today to express God’s willingness to identify with the lowliest among us?

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