Monthly Archives: November 2013

1st Sunday of Advent – Meal Preparations


Study: Looking back on my life, where have I seen examples where preparation and planning have made a real difference?  How can I apply these example to my current situation?

Pray: What special circumstances are you facing right now that would benefit from planning?  Take this to prayer and ask the Lord for guidance and strength.

Serve:  How can I help someone with their planning and preparation?  How can I help them reach their goals?

Readings for 1st Advent

It seems that in the six weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, cooks everywhere are in their element.  Baking, planning, shopping for ingredients and (of course) eating are some of the principal activities during the holiday season.

I love it!

Those who delight in feeding people begin planning their Christmas menus as soon as the Thanksgiving crowd has moved away from the table.  Christmas cookie bakers are checking carefully to make certain that they have all their spices and supplies on hand.  Furthermore, those who have elaborate or time consuming recipes to prepare will even set aside blocks of time – some as much as days – to insure that all will be ready for the feast.

Food is a basic need for human life.  We can take it for granted, especially when we have such an abundance before our eyes.  Yet we dedicate special moments to gather and feast, grateful for the people in our lives and the times we can share together.

Preparing the food, often through labor intensive and consuming effort, points out the importance of the season.  We dedicate time, energy, planning, and special care to show that what we are doing is precious and sacred.

These preparations remind us that hard work and thought are sometimes necessary so that all will be in order when the celebration begins.  We want to be ready, and we want to make certain that those things we can control are in order.

What’s true for food also applies to the heart.  Just as time and effort are necessary preparations for a feast, so to they are crucial in our dealings with others.  We know when life is going smoothly – with God, ourselves, and others; we also know when something is not right, and listening to our conscience through reason and prayer usually shows us exactly what we need to do.

Advent offers us an opportunity to examine our lives and discover how we are preparing for the coming of Jesus into our world.  Such preparation includes prayer, relationships, and an examination of our thoughts, words, and actions.  May we look closely and make the necessary changes to be prepared when the Lord arrives.

34th Sunday of the Year – Christ the King

Jesus Christ

Study:  Consider people you know who have been good role models of leadership.  What qualities did they possess that you admired?

Pray:  Is there a major decision or choice in your life that requires guidance.  Ask the Lord for direction.

Serve:  Is there someone you know who is searching for meaning and purpose?  Is there some way that you can help them find their path in life?

34th Sunday Readings

The Feast of Christ the King brings the Church calendar year to a close.  Next week begins Advent, and we will start a new liturgical year with the cycle of “A” readings in the Lectionary for Mass.

Why do we end the year with the notion of Christ the King?  Why do we place this feast here?  What’s the point?

The feast has several levels of meaning.  By calling Christ our King we are making a statement that Jesus is the Lord of our lives.  It means that we place Christ first, and that we serve the Lord Jesus with the allegiance of our hearts, minds, and bodies.  We belong to Christ, who rules us.

In addition, to claim Christ as our King means that we are members of his kingdom.  Through our baptism we are called to the community of faith, the Church, and we possess an inheritance that is ultimately not of this world.  We are citizens who have a responsibility to work together – for this world and the world to come.

Furthermore, the King will come at the end of time to call His faithful people home to heaven.  We believe that the world will end on a future, unknown day (and once again, let me stress it is an UNKNOWN date…).  This feast reminds us that in the end we belong to one home or the other, one Lord or another.

Finally, to say that Christ is our King reminds us that all our power, strength, hope, and direction come from Him.  The skills and talents we possess are from the King (who made us).  The forgiveness we cherish is from the King (who died for us).  The life of the Holy Spirit which sustains us was sent by the King (who asked the Father on our behalf).

Therefore, to claim Christ as our King is to make a statement about who we are.  As followers of this King we offer our lives in service to the one who is our Lord.  We make this King our first priority in all things, and we look upon Jesus Christ as both the beginning and end of our existence.

This is a good time for us to search and prepare our hearts.  As this Church year comes to an end we begin to make ourselves ready for the Lord who comes to us, that he might find us alert and watchful for his arrival.  May we renew our allegiance to Christ our King so that he will rule us with mercy, grace, and love.

33rd Sunday of the Year – Life is difficult

Life is difficult

Study:  Reflect back on life – what have been some major obstacles that you faced?  How did you find the strength and wisdom to overcome them?

Pray:  What current obstacles are before you right now?  Bring these to prayer and ask the Lord for guidance and perseverance.

Serve:  Is there someone in your life who is facing a difficult time in life right now?  How might you be able to offer support?

33rd Sunday Readings

M. Scott Peck, author of the classic personal growth book The Road Less Traveled, begins his text with a simple statement:

Life is difficult.

If we assume this point – that there are times in our lives that are difficult – then we can gain a clear perspective on those moments which confront us with struggle.  We recognize that challenge is indeed a part of life, and how we respond to difficulty shapes and defines who we are.

Difficulty poses a common trap.  When life challenges us we may be tempted to avoid the situation altogether.  It may (falsely) appear that it is easier to stay away from the problem – to run away, hide, pretend it is not there, or direct our attention on something else.

When this happens we may choose an (apparently) easier path.  This is the direction of least resistance; we do not seem to experience the stress or unease we felt before.  Yet this feeling does not last for long.  Sooner or later, the problem we attempted to avoid returns, usually greater than before.

In the end we are confronted with two crucial steps.  First we must recognize the situation (life is difficult).  Second we face the struggle and choose an appropriate response.  Sounds like fun, right?


The Gospel today is clearly not what we call a “warm-fuzzy” sort of reading.  Luke makes it clear that a life of faith will be marked with difficulty.  Pain and suffering will confront us from a variety of perspectives throughout our lives.

The Cross of Christ is our model for this brutal truth.  We know that there is hope and resurrection awaiting us, but we also know that the path to eternal life may also demand steadfast patience and sacrifice.  Indeed, the Lord asks no less than our very lives.

Yet while this reading presents us with a sort of blunt honesty, it also provides us with a powerful hope.  God will not abandon us in our weakness to journey alone.  In our moments of struggle the Lord walks with us, offering strength and guidance to help us on the way…even when life is truly difficult.

32nd Sunday of the Year – What comes next?

Question Mark

Study:  Consider this – if my life ended today, would I be prepared?  Is there anything in my life that needs to be said or done, anything that requires attention?

Pray:  Do I need to ask the Lord for strength – especially to do something difficult or challenging?  Is there something that requires God’s grace to accomplish?

Serve:  Do I know someone who could use help to face an obstacle to Heaven?  How can I support them in their journey?

32nd Sunday Readings

I love to read mysteries.  I like the way they tease my brain with surprise facts, last minute insights, and clues (both helpful and misleading) which point to the solution.  Mysteries intrigue me, and I enjoy them largely because they keep me guessing until the end.

When I am in the middle of the book and no end is in sight, I begin to wonder, “What comes next?”  Sometimes my curiosity overcomes my patience and I am tempted to read the last couple of pages to find out the answers.  I want to know!  I might be rooting for the villain, or failing to give credit to the hero.

Mysteries often remind me that there is more to the story then first appears.  As new facts are added the truth becomes visible, but often in an entirely different way.  The end can be a complete surprise as information and insight shape the story.

“What comes next?” is not only true for mystery novels but applies to life as well.  Our faith in Jesus Christ holds at its center that there is life after death.  We believe that death is not the end; indeed, it is a gateway to an eternity where we may spend it either in union or isolation from God – otherwise know as Heaven or Hell.

We speak of the afterlife quite frequently in our prayers and common speech.  But what does it mean to profess that death is not the end of existence?  How does a belief in the afterlife shape our thinking and our actions?  Two thoughts surface.

First, a belief in life after death tells us that there is more to the story of our lives.  This world is not the end, and many of the beliefs and convictions that we think are important might not be as crucial after further reflection.

Second, if we acknowledge that there is more to life than just this world, then we are bound to consider how we wish to live as we prepare for the world to come.  Ideas such as power, wealth, and prestige just don’t seem to carry as much weight in Heaven.  (The power comes from God, wealth has no purpose, and everyone is loved and esteemed…)

When we think about “What comes next?” in our lives we our challenged to examine if we are living with the full end in sight.  The Scriptures today invite us to consider that if we take our future afterlife seriously, then we may rethink how we live today.

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