O God, who brought the shepherds to Bethlehem with angel song in their hearts, teach us their simplicity. Show us how to follow Mary in her habits of cherishing and reflecting. Help us see the bright presence of your Son Jesus in our lives. As we begin a new year, bring us closer to you and to each other. We ask this through the same Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Dear Sisters and Visitors: Blessed and Happy New Year 2020!
Numbers 6:22-27; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21
We begin today the new year we call 2020 and traditionally we have added “A.D.” after the numerical identifier. When in 1963 I visited the Pergamon museum in what was then East Berlin, it struck me that all ancient numerical dates were followed by “vuZ” (vor unserer Zeitrechnung, “before our way of counting time”). The suffix was politically correct in a professedly atheistic state, but it did not change the fact that “our way of counting time” was determined by a very specific event, by what Paul in today’s second reading refers to as “the fullness of time”. Whether we attempt to be politically correct by using “vuZ” or today “CE” (common era), the number still points to that event.
1 John 2:18-21; John 1:1-18
1. He Came to His Own: Our God came looking for us. “It is not that we have loved God, but that he has first loved us” (Cf. 1 John 4:10). What is it that so attracts God to us? The Bible uses images of the love of a spouse or a parent to help us understand how deeply God desires to make us his own. He knows that this is where our true happiness lies. Often, he looks for man in mysterious ways, but in Jesus Christ he plainly shows himself and his desire to be with us. Do I appreciate the gift of the Incarnation? Do I understand a bit better each day how humbly and powerfully God looks for my love?
1 John 2:12-17; Luke 2:36-40
“Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice.” Thus says today’s Psalm. So, too, says our hearts in this Christmas season! For a people who have walked in darkness, have seen a great light. We bask this day in the after glow of Christmas. It is the light we gravitate towards on these dark days of winter.
Anna, like Simeon, was part of that people shrouded in darkness; but her faith in the faithfulness of God, prepared Anna for her encounter with her salvation in the person of the child Jesus. Disciplined by prayer and vigil, on seeing Jesus she immediately began to give thanks to God, who was faithful to his covenant and sent the messiah to those “looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
"It will be Christmas if, like Joseph, we give space to silence; if, like Mary, we say
“here I am” to God; if, like Jesus, we are close to those who are alone;
and if, like the shepherds, we come out of our enclosures to stay with Jesus.
It will be Christmas if we find light in the poor grotto of Bethlehem". Pope Francis
Christmas is a pilgrimage to Bethlehem that calls forth the memory of our heart. While our maps are becoming more and more precise, the interior of human beings is becoming an increasingly unknown land. I wish you dear Sisters that this year's journey to the truth of Christmas would be an experience of God's presence. Let the heart regain its greatness and God act in us and lead us step by step to the depth of his Mystery.
Faith and the journey of the family
Faith and the family: In Abraham’s journey towards the future city (Heb 11,10), the Letter to the Hebrews mentions the blessing which was passed on from fathers to sons (Heb 11:20-21). The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love... Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith. Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love. Faith also helps us to grasp in all its depth and richness the begetting of children, as a sign of the love of the Creator who entrusts us with the mystery of a new person. So it was that Sarah, by faith, became a mother, for she trusted in God’s fidelity to his promise (Heb 11:11).
By Vatican News
Thousands of young people are currently converging on the Polish city of Wrocław for the 42nd European Meeting of Young People, sponsored by the Taizé Community, which is taking place from 28 December 2019 through 1 January 2020. It’s the third time that Wrocław has hosted the event, and the fifth time overall that the Meeting has been held in Poland.
The annual European gatherings, according to the Taizé website, “are part of a ‘pilgrimage of trust on earth’ led by Taizé for over forty years”. Participants are given the opportunity to “pray together, to be part of a local church… and to explore themes such as understanding among peoples, peace, questions of faith, and social commitment”.
The specific theme for this year’s gathering is: “Always on the move, never uprooted”.
1 John 1:5—2:2; Matthew 2:13-18
‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’
“Herod!” says the Office of Readings, “you slay those little ones because fear in your heart slays you.” It was a penetrating psychological insight from an early Christian writer. Aggression is a manifestation of fear. But how is it that it looks just the opposite of fear? Why, because it is the repression of fear. If a person has not faced his own fear he will project it onto others and fight it there. If he hasn’t fought the war within he will fight it without. And of course (because it is all about fear) he will pick the easiest target. Even school children discover it: deep down, bullies are cowards.
"URBI ET ORBI" MESSAGE
OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
Central Loggia of the Vatican Basilica
Wednesday, 25 December 2019
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:1)
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Merry Christmas!
From the womb of Mother Church, the incarnate Son of God is born anew this night. His name is Jesus, which means: “God saves”. The Father, eternal and infinite Love, has sent him into the world not to condemn the world but to save it (cf. Jn 3:17). The Father has given him to us with great mercy. He has given him to everyone. He has given him forever. The Son is born, like a small light flickering in the cold and darkness of the night.
1 John 1:1-4; John 20:2-8
Today’s scriptures are an interesting mix. In 1 John, John talks of Christ coming into the world. The Word of life was made visible. John says that what he has seen and proclaims to us, is so that we too may have fellowship. The psalmist proclaims the glory of the Lord and calls us to give thanks. And in the Gospel of John, the disciple proclaims to us about the empty tomb. He saw and he believed.