Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas 2011 Lessons from the Manger




May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts.

OK I admit it in 8th grade I was smitten with Susan Asbell.

Susan if you somehow left Buffalo and are here in Connecticut. I’m sorry to embarrass you.

Yes I was smitten by her
completely smitten
and I did everything I could to simply to be close to her.

She was my first love...and it was wonderful.

You know the Manger scene teaches us so much.
about God and so much about ourselves.

We learn for example that we are indeed God’s first love.

We learn that God is smitten with us,
so smitten in fact that he couldn’t stay away.

The birth of Jesus shows us just how far God
the all powerful creator of the universe
will go to be near to us…

Bethlehem teaches us that God is close.
God is always close.

God could have come into the world in any manner He wished.
He could have come as a mighty King,
He could have just appeared on a cloud,
He could have announced his coming with claps of thunder and flashes of lightning,
but instead He chose to humble Himself and be born to a poor couple in a manger,
surrounded by animals, shepherds and kings.

You see the manger proves that God’s ultimate goal is simply to be loved by us.

Fear and force can rarely open a human heart.

Humble love,
gentle humble love almost always does.

God so desires a place in our hearts that
He came among us in the most humble and simply of ways.

By being born in a manger...
God teaches us that it is ok to have less.

By being born in a manger God tries to teach us that
the materialism and consumerism that drives our economy
and pushes us to seek more more better better newer newer
should not be where we place our hope.

In the long run the things we have are just not that important
if we all understood that lesson from the manger
We would be happier and holier.

And from the Christmas story we learn an important lesson from Mary and Joseph.

Mary and Joseph stood by each other and loved each other and supported each other even though they were in desperate straights.

In our current economy when so many marriages and so many families are strained because of material things
this is an important lesson indeed.

And when Jesus was born in the manger
tradition has it that there came
Simple shepherds from the fields
and distant kings from the east.

They all came to pay him homage and they were all welcomed at the Manger.

The presence of the shepherds and Kings teaches us that God’s message
and God’s love is for everyone,

the rich and the poor,
the noble and the less than noble,
the healthy and strong,
those sick and weak,
good or bad,
addicted or not addicted,
legal or illegal,
no matter what race,
no matter what faith,
no matter what country.
God even loves the people who drive us crazy.
All are welcome at the Manger
and all  have a place in God’s heart.

And so holy ones,
No matter what the new year may bring.

May we learn these simple lessons of the Manger well.
Let us never forget that God is close to us.
Let us walk humbly and be gentle with each other.
Let us try to live simply
Let us stand by those we love no matter what challenge comes our way.

Finally, let us share a genuine concern for everyone no matter who they are or
where they come from
or what they have
or have not done.

The Gospel tells us that on that beautiful night in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.

All of creation  was so moved by the humble love of God that  “suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly hosts with the angel, praising God and singing:

"Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to people of good will."

May that same song spring from our hearts as we contemplate the beauty of the Manger

Thank you God for loving us so much !!!

Good people of St. Paul Church

May you have most blessed and Merry Christmas.


Friday, December 16, 2011

4th Sunday of Advent Year B - 2011

May the Peace of Christ reign in our heart.

Once during graduation at WCSU a plane flew over with pulling a sign which read Gretchen will you marry me?
Everyone started pointing and waving and cheering. The whole place when nuts…

When the President of the University who was speaking noticed that no one was paying attention to him and everyone was pointing up and yelling he looked up and read the sign.

Then to get try and get everyone’s attention again he asked the crowd… “Well Gretchen what is your answer?”

This woman a few rows ahead of me jumped up and started yelling Yes Yes Yes I will marry you and every one was cheering

Then all of a sudden there was a stir in the crowd because they noticed that on the other side of the graduates there another woman  yelling at the top of her lungs “yes yes yes I love you I will marry you. “

When the two women noticed each other they didn’t know what to do, neither was sure the message was meant for her awkward awkward awkward….

Wonder boy the groom to ge didn’t figure there might be two Gretchens in the crowd both expecting a proposal.

I don’t know how the story ended.

What was obvious from the start when they were asked the big question both responded exuberantly to love’s call.

In a sense in today’s Gospel Mary was also asked the big question and after a moment of doubt she was exuberant in her response to God’s call

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord”, she said

“Be it done unto me according to your will.”

Today’s Gospel relates a real historical event.

And to make sure we understand that it is not a parable or teaching story with a message, the Evangelist situates it in history by giving us the concrete details about the encounter.

He made sure we knew the name of the Angel Gabriel,
the town where it happened Nazareth of Galilee,and the name of the person he spoke to… Mary.

This is the first time we hear her name.

Tradition tells us that Mary was poor.

She was young.

And she was a woman.

And in her times all of these things made it exceptionally doubtful that she would or could ever really amount to anything or make a difference in the world.

Yet it was her yes to God that changed the world.

It is important to note that Mary response was a reasoned response.

She just didn’t say yes blindly. She was confident enough to questions the Angel. How can this be for I do not know man?

And when the Angel answered her question and when she understood Her yes was immediate and exuberant like the Gretchens

And all of this just goes to show us that frequently God doesn’t use things we consider important or people that we consider important to accomplish his plan for our salvation.

Never forget

God’s plan didn’t stop with Mary’s yes

God’s plan continues to transform the world he loves so much and every human being has a role to play in the salvation of the world.

All of us are called to say yes to love as wholeheartedly as Mary.

If you are young

Listen carefully to God’s voice in your heart

God believes in you and so do we.

I am sure that all of us agree that our young people face a much more complicated and difficult world than we did.

They will face so many more challenges

Young adults don’t be afraid you are up to anything that our culture can throw your way.

When God calls you… say yes like Mary… and your life will never be the same…

If you are a woman all I can say is that you’ve come a long way baby since the time of Mary.

Being a woman is no longer a sign of weakness.

I know most of you work and are full time Moms and have a multitude of things to do .

Sometimes I can’t believe how much you have on your plates but when God calls continue to say yes…

And help your families to do the same.  Think about it how many families practice their faith because their mom or their wife encouraged them… lots and lots and lots.

When it comes to holiness I think they often have us beat Gentlemen.

If you are poor and God calls say yes…

Never think for a second that how much you have in the bank, or how much your mortgage is or how much you make really matters to God.

No matter what your financial circumstances you have a role to play in God’s plan.

If we think about it all of us have been called to love and sacrifice over and over and over again in our lives.

And sometimes it has been frightening or daunting, and if we are troubled or afraid when God call  remember what the Angel said to Mary,

“Do not be afraid you have found favor with God”

Now God doesn’t usually put a plane in the sky to call you to love but you never know

he does however call and it is important for all of us to listen especially during this lasts week of Advent lest we miss our special role in God’s plan be it big or small

May all of us Like Mary say yes to God whenever love calls

The God and the world counted on her yes and they count on our yes too.


Friday, December 09, 2011

The 3rd Sunday of Advent – Year B – 2011

The other day I was in Bed Bath and Beyond and there were lots of people shopping.

All of a sudden I found myself in the middle of a scene.

Evidently this lady was looking at something and then she put it down and looked at something else.

When she turned around to pick it up again it was in the hands of another lady and there were no more on the shelf.

A huge discussion with lots of angry words ensued over a plastic cup for a coffee maker.

That’s mine…. no it’s mine I saw it first…. you put it down

The women  got so angry

Remember getting gas during the power failure.

I saw a man wait for 45 minutes just like me and inadvertently pull in the wrong lane.

He had his wife’s car and he forgot where her gas tank was.

When he tried to get in the right line so he could fill up people thought he was cutting in line.

What a mess, more angry words.

You know that storm brought out the best and worst in us.

In the CVS I saw a woman go off the deep end when her daughter asked for gum.

I was so embarrassed for the woman who lost it
and it let me tell you she really lost it.

Everyone in the store could hear and everyone in the store was uncomfortable.

Living in the presence of anger and bitterness is never easy.

Sometimes I hear from married couples who are so frustrated.

She drives me crazy he drives me crazy.

I thought he would change.

Ladies take a look love them as they are because what you see is what you get and what you got.

The other day I was exhausted and fed, up worried about a multitude of things, and I allowed those darn seeds of resentment or anger to take root in my heart.

Sometimes we play the one bad conversation over and over in our mind and forget all the good ones…

Dumb Dumb Dumb

You know when you think about it being angry is a choice and being angry is the easy choice.

We can chose to be angry or chose to not be angry.

St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that
God wants and needs more from us.

Show me in the Gospel where it says be bitter.

Show me in the Gospel where it says be resentful

Yet quite frequently we hold on to our resentments for dear life.

We refuse to let go of our hard feeling for fear that someone will get the best of us.

I’ve known families siblings etc. who have been angry at each other for years…


Never forget…. your family is your family is your family let it go…

To combat our propensity to be angry and bitter

In the second reading St. Paul calls to root our lives in prayer

Pray without ceasing he says.

Sounds good but how do you do it?

I believe that praying without ceasing is more than string of Hail Marys.

Praying without ceasing is simply making ourselves constantly aware of God’s place in our lives day in and day out. 24/7 as the kids say.

When we live in the presence of God our lives becomes a prayer.

Prayer allows us to put things in perspective and sort out what is really important.

Living in the presence of God allows us to see things as God would have us see them and deal with them as God would have us deal with them.

All of us need to weed out anger and bitterness from our lives.

In this angry frightened world of ours;

in this world where the fuse is just very short

and so easy to light,

we need to live peace filled lives.

We  need to forgive, live, and love like God would have us forgive live and love.

When we can accomplish this in our lives,
then l
ike John the Baptist we can be a voice in the wilderness calling the world to be peace filled lives.

And  only when we live peace filled
joyful lives in the presence of God we will

  • bring glad tidings to the poor,
  • heal the brokenhearted,
  • proclaim liberty to the captives,
  • and release to the prisoners,

You get the point….

This is Guadete AKA Joyful Sunday one of the two Sundays in the year when the priest gets to wear a vestment that looks like a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

Today the Church reminds us that with God it is so very possible to live  happy, peace filled, even joyful lives free from anger or bitterness.

And when we do we  like John the Baptist we will  Prepare the way of the Lord

No matter what challenges life throws our way.