These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
The Magi were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Mt 2:1-12)
Tomorrow, Monday, January 9, I leave for the United States and will return to Colombia on Thursday, February 9. I will be helping in Saint Eugene Parish in Asheville, NC. The Daily Reflection and the Flower Ministry will both be on vacation. Following today’s Mass, the Sunday Mass on Facebook will also be on vacation. Those interested may stream Sunday Mass with the Padre on YouTube from Saint Eugene Parish, Asheville, on January 15, 22, & 29 (https://youtube.com/@StEugeneChurch). Mass on Facebook will return on Sunday, February 12 at 3:00 pm Colombia time and 3:00 pm Eastern Time Zone in the USA. Today is also my birthday—and YOU are the best birthday present ever!
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 149)
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance, let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people, and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
The human story, as well as our personal story, is often one of failure and disappointment. But over and above all, the human story and our personal story are the story of GRACE. The Bible tells us that God not only loves us but that God delights in us. Perhaps, the best response is to sing God’s praise with music and dancing and Christmas lights!
God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life. (1 Jn 5:5-13)
According to the Letter of John, eternal life is not some inherent part of the human condition . . . rather it is God’s gift to us in Christ.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers (and sisters). (1 Jn 3:11-21)
At Christmas we hear a lot about love. Love is fine until it begins to cost us. But it is precisely in what Christ has done for us by laying down his life for us that we learn what love truly is. Saint John Neumann (1811-1860) was the immigrant bishop of Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love.”
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah,” which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas,” which is translated Peter. (Jn 1:35-42)
How important are those who bring us to the Lord! Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, and here we are 2,000 years later standing on the rock of Peter’s faith. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) was a teacher at heart and is credited with being the founder of the parochial school system in the United States. She brought many disciples to the Lord.
See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. (1 Jn 2:29-3:6)
Because of God’s great love for us in Jesus, we, too, are children of God. Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus dates to the early church. As Saint Paul declares 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 to the glory of God the Father that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:1-11). Today is the titular feast of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). My grandmother thought that the abbreviation I-H-S stood for “I Have Suffered.” Actually, they are the first 3 letters of the name, Jesus, in Greek.
Alleluia (Heb 1:1-2)
R. Alleluia, alleluia. In times, past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets: in these last days, he has spoken to us through his Son. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
As we continue to marvel at the Word Made Flesh, we realize how truly marvelous is this interchange between God and ourselves. Saint Basil (330-379) and Saint Gregory Nazianzen (329-390) were great teachers of the church who put their teachings into practice.