The Nativity of the Lord

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Gospel: John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkens has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He cane to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his swelling among us, and w say his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “this was he of who I said, “The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came from Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.

 

Reflection

John was sent by God as testimony to His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was sent by God to be our life, our light, our way, our truth. Jesus was born today to be the light in our lives to show us the way to his father so we may know him. Today’s birth of our Lord and King changes us forever. Because of His birth, we cannot be the same person we were yesterday. Through this miracle birth we are transformed forever. Today, we remind ourselves that we were sent by God. We were sent by God to continue the work His Son started both within us individually and for the benefit of one another. Each time we experience Jesus at the altar, we are given the grace and truth that can only come from this baby-king. Each time we see the face of Christ in one another, we experience this re-birth and renewal. Emmanuel, God-with-us, is here!

 

Prayer

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We praise you Father for the coming of your Son into our lives. We thank you counting us worthy to receive this precious gift and ask for the strength and fortitude to carry Him in our hearts. Help us to deliver his message of peace to our neighbor and to all corners of the world. We ask this in your Son’s name. Amen.

Most Rev. George R. Lucey, FCM

Presiding Bishop – American National Catholic Church

Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Advent

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Gospel:  LK 1:67-79

Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
for he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Reflection
This passage from today’s Gospel from Luke is always recited daily during morning prayer at the liturgy of the hours.
This passage reminds us of God’s faithfulness to His people in fulfilling the covenant he made to Abraham.  He never forgets His people even though how many times His people have turned away.
As we approach the Christmas season, we hear about the stories of how the promise of God comes to fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.  We marvel at God’s extravagant love unfolding through the Gospel stories.  John the baptist plays an important role as he prepares for the coming of Jesus.
Like John, we too are prophets of the Most High.  We are asked to pave the way of the Lord and speak the truth of God’s love and forgiveness.   Specially in the world we live in now where we hear the horrors of violence and negativity with much frequency, the message of God’s love needs to get through the darkness.
May the message of Christmas resonate with all of us and bring healing to the world.
Prayer for Peace

We pray for the power to be gentle;
the strength to be forgiving;
the patience to be understanding;
and the endurance to accept the consequences
of holding on to what we believe to be right.

May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil
and the power of love to overcome hatred.

We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe
in a world emancipated from violence,
a new world where fear shall no longer lead men or women to commit injustice,
nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.

Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy
to the task of making peace,
praying always for the inspiration and the power
to fulfill the destiny for which we and all men and women were created.

– Author Unknown, Offered by Beth Amyot

Rev. Fr. Geety Reyes, FCM
Associate Pastor – St. Francis of Assisi American National Catholic Church

 

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

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First Reading: Mal 3:1-4, 23-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,1
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Lo, I will send you
Elijah, the prophet,
Before the day of the LORD comes,
the great and terrible day,
To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike
the land with doom.

 

Gospel: Lk 1:57-66

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”

 

Reflection

I had always assumed that the Jewish people were still waiting for the Messiah.  Last year it occurred to me to “google” it.  Just as all Christians are not the same, the Jewish people are not the same.  The article that I found had short responses to this question from ten different people from ten different Jewish groups.  In general, what I found was that the Jewish people are not waiting for the Messiah; however, there is a strong belief in a Messianic Age.  This Messianic Age will be brought about by people collectively working to bring about a more just world.

Our first reading says that the Lord is sending the prophet Elijah to prepare the way for the day of the Lord.  The gospel tells us about the birth of John the Baptist, whose job it was to prepare the way for the Lord.  From the Christian perspective, we are not waiting for the first entrance of the Messiah, but we are waiting for the return of the Messiah, for the second coming of Jesus, the Christ, Jesus the Messiah.  Before he left this world, he commanded his followers to go and make disciples of all the world, baptizing people in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The scriptures tell us that God does not delay, in the way that we understand delay.  Rather God is waiting in order to maximize the crop yield, waiting for the most to be saved.  This is what we always need to have in mind.  As a teacher, they tell us to begin with the end in mind, the goal.  Our goal, as disciples of the Lord, as members of God’s family is too maximize the crop.  God’s singular business is loving others and bringing about the Kingdom of God.

In this, we can see our oneness with the Jewish people.  They may not be looking for a messiah, but they do continue to look for a more just and caring world.  Amongst the many different categories of people in this world are two that I want to mention.  There are many people who profess a belief in God but are not big on loving others.  There is also a group that is big on loving others but is not big on acknowledging God.  Our mission is to both acknowledge God, giving God his due, and love others.  It is in this sense that we work to bring the Kingdom of God more thoroughly into our physical reality.

We are the messengers who acknowledge, love and honor to God.  One of the ways we do that is by being faithful partners in the family business of bringing love and justice to all people.  Sharing God’s love with others.  Let us go and bring forth the Kingdom of God.  Let us prepare the world as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Prayer

Dear Lord, as we wait for the second coming of our Christ, help me to always seek you and your ways before all else.  Help me to work for your glory and not to seek the splendors of this world.  When I put myself first, help me to return to your path.  Help me to remember that if I allow you to work through me, I can do what you have called me to do, to prepare the world for your coming, to bring forth the Kingdom of God.

Rev. Fr. Louie Amezaga

Associate Pastor – Holy Family American National Catholic Church

 

 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

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First Reading IS 7:10-14

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask!  I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

Second Reading ROM 1:1-7

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus,
called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God,
which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh,
but established as Son of God in power
according to the Spirit of holiness
through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship,
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel  MT 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
Reflection

To those of you who are beloved children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ, I Michael in spirit of St. Paul extend to you greetings and salutations. The words for today span hundreds of years of time as the prophet Isaiah brings the beginning of the story that a woman without having slept with a man will bear a son who will be called Immanuel.  This is the beginning of the greatest act of hospitality that will ever be.  God, in creating him/herself in the image of humanity, will begin the trek that will end in being put to death so that we may live. In Romans this is continued through St. Paul in repeating the order of the birth and in the gospel, the fear and shame of having a child out of wedlock is transformed into a humble and hospitable response from St. Joseph who in the end does not divorce Mary but remains.

We, who proclaim and claim the title of brother or sister of Jesus, through God’s grace and blessing, live in hope and joy of the birth as we reclaim our birth as the children of God and the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ through our celebration of Christmas.  I chose the type of introduction to this days readings to honor the memories of our forefathers and mothers who preached the gospel to those far away through the act of a letter, and because I live far away from my brothers and sisters in the ANCC so what better way to send my love and the love of St. Mary’s to all the ANCC than in a letter that proclaims this love to all.

Prayer

In peace and in love of Christ I ask you to believe and pray in earnest that the light of the child will bless the world in peace and in love. I ask you to believe that in God all things are possible. I ask you to believe in the birth through the Holy Spirit and in belief that Joseph through the works of God, stayed with Mary throughout his life as a sign of fidelity to God and the love of Mary and Jesus. As the light rises and moves to Bethlehem, may the light of the Spirit of God descend upon you and all you know and all they know so the world can rejoice in the words of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!

May your Christmas tide be one of joy, peace and light in the Trinity!

Blessings,

Fr. Mike La Lone
Pastor – St. Mary’s Parish

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

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Gospel LK 1:39-45

Mary set out in those days
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

Reflection

Elizabeth is an amazing character with a wonderful story. She was barren and after many years of marriage, she despaired though she prayed, she would ever hold a child of hers in her arms. Her husband, a seasoned priest, unlike Mary, doubted the angel’s announcement to him and was struck dumb until the birth of his son. Both Elizabeth and Mary answered their ‘call’ from the angel Gabriel with not doubt but certainly with some confusion. They both asked the question, how? How is it that this is done to me? One woman elderly and barren and the other young and a virgin. The answer to both of the holy women’s question is, He comes. Jesus first came into our lives at his human birth in Bethlehem. And again, as we answered his call, Jesus came into our lives a second time, at our baptism and when we said, yes, he entered our hearts. He lives in our hearts where we will hear him and respond with leaps of joy.

Elizabeth and Mary are proof that God calls on his chosen and creates incredible good from humble beginnings. Jesus comes. Jesus came from his manger-throne. Jesus came from his tomb. Jesus will come again.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of Elizabeth who believed her prayers were answered as she carried St John the Baptist, who even from his mother’s womb knew the voice of his shepherd and responded with joy. We thank you for the gift of our Mother, Mary, who believed and carried the Son of Man into our lives. Above all, we thank you for the gift of Jesus, the babe who you sent to redeem us, the baby born a king. Help us to believe as the holy ones before us and carry the baby-king in our hearts, now and every day, as we await the second coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is in his name that we make our prayer. Amen.

Rev. Fr. John Bye-Torre, FCM

Pastor – St. Stephen American National Catholic Church

Friday of the Third Week of Advent

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Gospel   Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month,
the angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

 
Reflection
She said, “Yes,” and everything in the world changed. Don’t let the passage of time, the beauty of artistic portrayals or other things convince you that her answer was anything short of terrifying. Mary was young, unwed, and pregnant. What would Joseph say? Her parents? Others in her community. It would look awful. What a scandal! Still, she said, “Yes.”
 
You and I have received a promise that God will always love us and forgive us. We have received a promise that death has been destroyed and we will live forever. The best offer ever made has come to us because Mary said, “Yes.”
 
How many times in the course of a day do we take the quick and easy route by saying no. The reasons (excuses?) may be legitimate. We don’t have the time. We don’t have the knowledge. We don’t have the experience. Maybe we are simply uninterested. Maybe it seems too daunting or too hard. So we give into the temptation for the easy, “No.” If we look to Our Lady as an example, we just might be able to push ourselves to say, “Yes,” and in doing so, in ways large and small, change the lives of those around us as well.
 
The Fiat (Yes) Prayer
 
Holy Mary,
Obtain for me the help that I need,
to do my very best
using all the powers within me
and all the talents and skills I posses,
according to my possibilities,
to fulfill God´s plan
in every circumstance of my life.
Amen
Rev. Matthew R. Bailey, FCM, Vicar General
Pastor, St. Joseph of Arimathea American National Catholic Church

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

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Gospel Luke 1: 5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”

Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.”

 

Reflection:

“You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice in his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.”  So the angel Gabriel tells the priest Zechariah when he announces the future birth of the infant who will become John the Baptizer.  Thus, in Luke’s gospel, Gabriel’s announcement of the Christ’s forerunner anticipates Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she will bear the Son of God.

It’s fitting that this is today’s appointed gospel reading because the spiritual gift celebrated in the third week of Advent is joy.  The Greek word translated as “joy” is χαρά / chara. It comes from the same root that gives us the word “grace.”  So although it’s proper to associate the word “joy” or “rejoice” with a particular feeling or emotion, it ought not simply to be identified with that emotion.  More fundamentally, grace is a state or way of being.  To be in joy or to rejoice is to be graced, given something from God that helps us flourish.  Consequently, it’s entirely possible to be in a state of joy/grace even if we don’t feel particularly happy—yet another reason to beware reducing joy to an emotion.

John the Baptizer is a grace or gift to his aged parents Zechariah and Elizabeth, who until his birth were childless.  That’s why the news of his future arrival is a source of “joy” to Zechariah.  John was also a grace-gift to the people to whom he preached repentance, helping them as he did to move closer to being the people God wanted them to be.  He served on their behalf as a vessel or conduit of God’s grace.

There’s an important lesson for us here.  The ultimate source of grace/joy is, of course, God.  But we live in a sacramental universe in which grace can flow through any number of actions and events.  The seven sacraments are, obviously, conduits of grace.  But we can also be conduits if we attune our will to God’s and purify our intentions.  Like John, although obviously to a lesser degree, we can be vessels that bring rejoicing/grace to others.  God can work through us to help others inch closer to the fulfillment for which God destines them.

Action Step:

Sit quietly for a few moments today giving thanks to all the people in your life who are conduits of grace for you.

Fr. Kerry Walters

Pastor – Holy Spirit American National Catholic Church

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

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Gospel MT 1:18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. 
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. 
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly. 
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. 
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her. 
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.” 
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,


which means “God is with us.” 
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home. 
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus.
Reflection:
There are many ways to read and pray on this gospel passage, and as many times as I do one phrase keeps sticking out: “Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of God appeared…”. Throughout our lives we have our own intentions and ways we want to do things and at times we have a divine intervention that leads us in a different path.  Someone on our journey or a spark of creative energy in our mind that sends us in a different direction is not an accident – it is the work of our God. Through us and in us He is working. And what joy there is to know of the many ways God works in and through our lives.  If only we could get out of the way more often and show greater faith in the power and mercy of our God.  Joseph had other plans when it came to his relationship with Mary and one can only imagine the course of human destiny if a divine intervention did not take place.  But it did – because God had a plan for Joseph as He has for each and every one of us.  Let us pray for an openness to the direction God is taking us and yield to His power and mercy to take us where He wants us to go.
Action Step:
Today, pray this simple prayer – “Lord, I don’t know where I am going but with your wisdom and guidance I know you will take me there.  Amen”
Rev. Fr. Jason Lody, FCM
Pastor – St. Anthony de Padua American National Catholic Church

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

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First Reading GN 49:2, 8-10

Jacob called his sons and said to them: “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your father.

“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise
–your hand on the neck of your enemies;
the sons of your father shall bow down to you. Judah, like a lion’s whelp,
you have grown up on prey, my son.
He crouches like a lion recumbent,
the king of beasts–who would dare rouse him? The scepter shall never depart from Judah,
or the mace from between his legs,
While tribute is brought to him,
and he receives the people’s homage.”

Gospel  MT 1:1-17

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar.

Perez became the father of Hezron,
Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.
Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth.
Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king.

David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah,
Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram,
Joram the father of Uzziah.

Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz,
Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos,

Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.

After the Babylonian exile,
Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud.
Abiud became the father of Eliakim,
Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok.
Zadok became the father of Achim,
Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar.
Eleazar became the father of Matthan,
Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David
is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations.

 

Reflection

 

The author of the Gospel of Matthew is often credited as writing to a primarily Jewish audience; in this case we see the importance of the tribe of Judah, and the genealogy of Jesus coming from that tribe. This was important to establish the authority of Jesus to the Jewish population, who was historically wary of outsiders.

What purpose does this lengthy genealogy serve for us today? Note that Jesus is linked to this genealogy through Joseph, but if we consider a virgin birth, for a biological genealogy perhaps it would have made more sense to do it through Mary’s line. Jesus enters Joseph’s line through a type of adoption. Jesus, in turn, claims us as his own, thereby entering us into this lineage through adoption. Hence we all become “children of Abraham” in the sense of inheriting God’s love and being assured we are valued, even though we may not be Jewish.

Adoption is a special form of family making, based on choice and not by accident. It is intentional. Many of the oppressed in our world today have been abandoned by their families of origin, and get their true support from their own “adopted” families of people whom they met in the world, and who care about them.

As we look forward to the days when God will gather all creation together once again, take solace in knowing that God has a very special genealogy with your name on it! We have all become part of the family, and this kind of genealogy is immutable and divine.

Prayer

Great creator and Father of us all, we praise your blessed name. We give you your rightful thanks for adopting us into your family in love. Please help guide us to be mindful of our family members in this life and the next, and help us to adopt a spirit of charity and love for each human being and all of your greater creation. Amen.

William Weightman

Seminarian

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

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Gospel MT 21:23-27

When Jesus had come into the temple area,
the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him
as he was teaching and said,
“By what authority are you doing these things?
And who gave you this authority?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me,
then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things.
Where was John’s baptism from?
Was it of heavenly or of human origin?”
They discussed this among themselves and said,
“If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us,
‘Then why did you not believe him?’
But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd,
for they all regard John as a prophet.”
So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”
He himself said to them,
“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Reflection

This Gospel reading is one in which the religious leaders try to trap Jesus into either insignificance or blasphemy. In Jesus’s time religious authority was handed down from one generation to the next by scrupulous examination and if the candidate was found worthy, a priest or rabbi would lay hands on him in a public ceremony to transmit Godly authority to him. A practice we still use today in our ordination rights.

Jesus, however had no such ceremony so they challenge him in public. Jesus, in rabbinical fashion responds to their question with a question and inserts them in a dilemma where they themselves cannot answer his question and thus compromise their own authority.

As Jesus dared the Sanhedrin to follow him. He challenged their self-serving attitudes and their faithlessness.

So as we enter in to this third week of Advent, we too are challenged by Jesus and we need to examine ourselves to ensure that we are indeed following Christ in a faithful manner and not for our own self-importance.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, give us to courage to recognize the authority of your Most Holy Word over us.

Help us to curb or selfish nature and to live as children of light, illuminating your path for all whom we encounter.

We pray in Jesus name.

Amen

Fr. Don Simon, Pastor

St. Katharine Drexel, ANCC

Fargo, ND