Archive for December, 2019

Preparing for Christmas Spiritually

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Lessons and Carols

Dc. Larry Brockman

Are you ready for the coming of Christ!  If you have been coming to Mass during Advent, then you know that this is the theme of the Advent Season- being ready for the coming of Christ.  But that begs the point.  What does it really mean to be ready for the coming of Christ?   

This is prime time in the holiday season.  Most folks are out there getting ready for Christmas the way our culture has taught us.  They are putting up lights or shopping or baking or partying or decorating the tree and house or writing Christmas Cards or any of those other things we all do to get ready.  But you have taken the time on such a busy Sunday afternoon to listen to what the coming of Christ is really all about and to understand why we are really rejoicing on Christmas Day.   

Now don’t get me wrong.  All of those things I mentioned above are fine traditions.  But they are putting the cart before the horse.  Because we are so busy celebrating and having a good time that we are missing the reason for our joy at Christmas.   

It is Jesus who is the real reason for the season and the amorphous “Spirit of Christmas” that everybody celebrates; that feeling of good will towards others; putting aside our busy work and school chores to celebrate; and the feasting on all those cookies and fine meals.  Well, they should proceed from our understanding of Jesus gift to us rather than precede it.   

We just spent about thirty minutes hearing about how the salvation of mankind came about and how Jesus became God’s ultimate gift to mankind.  Let’s review briefly what we heard.   

First, we heard about man’s fall- the story of Adam and Eve.  So, all of us who descended from Adam and Eve were born into a world crippled by that original sin.  Next, we heard from several of the Old Testament Prophets that God still loves us and that God would save us by sending us a savior.  The prophets said the Spirit of God would rest on this savior, God’s anointed one.  He would gather all his people into a special place- a place of everlasting happiness.   

Think about that a minute.  We can go on celebrating the secular Christmas for just so long.  And then, our life is gone.  But the Joy of Christmas is an everlasting joy, because we will be in an eternal home.   

Then, the Prophet Isaiah predicted this savior would come to us through a child.  And indeed, we hear in the Annunciation story that Mary will bear that child.  We also learn that the child will be God himself, in the person of the Son of God.   

Next, we hear about the birth of Jesus and the coming of the magi, the Three Kings.  And so, the promise of salvation made to the Jews was extended to all peoples as symbolized by the three Kings.     

Lastly, we heard what is called the “Last Gospel”.  St John tells us about the nature of God in a nutshell.  They are the clearest words on the nature of the Trinity available in scripture and they define Jesus as the second person of the Trinity.  Yes, Jesus is both God and man.     

And so, the whole story of Jesus coming was reviewed for us through these 8 scriptures passages.  We’ve heard all of it before, haven’t we?  But do we really appreciate what it all means?  And do we understand why it brings us so much joy?  

First of all, Christianity is unique.  It is even unique among those religions who believe in one God.  That’s because all other religions believe that God is so far above us that we cannot easily relate to him, especially not relate to him one on one.    But Jesus came into the world as one of us.  He grew, lived, played, learned, worked, taught, suffered, died, and was buried in the same way all of us experience life.  He related to people just like you and I one on one.    When Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to his disciples and promised them that if they believed in Him and followed His example, they would experience the same resurrection and life after death.  We learned that all believers are united together in the Church as one mystical body.  All that Jesus said and did is recorded in our Gospels so we can spread that word to everyone else.   

We call this the Incarnation; it is the source of our Christian joy because rather than a distant, austere God; one who is hard to relate to; we have a God that is close to us, intimate with us; and He has promised us all everlasting life.   

Christmas is the story about the awesome God who loves us all without limit.  When you give gifts, you are sharing God’s spirit of giving to His loved ones- the gift of Jesus, his promise of everlasting life, and love of God.   

And so, let us get ready for the Coming of Christ by reviewing our lives and assuring that we are living according to the Gospel.  Let us share the joy of the gift of Jesus and our salvation by recognizing the source.  The source of Christmas joy is Jesus Christ, now and forever, Amen. 

Finding the Light Burden

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

Is 40: 25-31; Mt 11: 28-30

Deacon Larry Brockman

“Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.  For my yoke is easy and my burden light”.  That really struck me and strikes me every time I hear it because it doesn’t seem to be so, does it?   

All of us face burdens and trials in life and some of them seem really hard, not easy.  We lose our jobs; we get illnesses, some of them chronic; we lose a parent or spouse or child.  We are accosted by difficult people; we are burdened with debt, fear, or the unknown.  And even though we pray for help it still seems really hard sometimes, doesn’t it?  

 It’s especially hard when multiple problems have to be faced at the same time because we feel that we have to be in control at all times; and when we get hit from all sides, we don’t feel in control.  That makes the whole dilemma seem that much worse.   

Now the first reading today gives some special insight about God’s relationship with us.  God makes it abundantly clear that we cannot hide anything from him.  No matter how much we think that we are in control and can circumvent fate ourselves; the reality is that God knows; He always knows; and but for the grace of God, none of our actions to do anything would be effective.  So, we are never really ever in control; God is.  

Isaiah speaks of God’s intimate knowledge of each member of His army; He knows each of them by their name and He leads them.  So, no matter what, the Lord is there to lead the way.  We can resist; or we can cooperate, it’s up to us.     

Then, Isaiah says that even young men faint and grow weary.  So those of us who are strong and like to be in control- beware; you will eventually faint and grow weary.  Our energy is limited, and we just can’t get there by ourselves.   

But the Lord does not grow weary- ever.  Isaiah says that the Lord gives strength to the faint.  So, if we let God lead, let Him take control, we will be strengthened in what we do.   

Well, that’s basically what Jesus is talking about as well.  We are all called to turn over our burdens to the one who is in control- God.  This means that we trust in God.  It does not mean that we abandon our efforts.  Rather, we trust that God will lead us through whatever we are faced with.  We still need to act; but we act knowing that God is behind us all the way.    Now when we try to control everything, and things don’t go our way; well, that usually results in very bad feelings inside- anger, hate, jealousy, disappointment, and lots of other negative emotions.    But when we trust in God and let Him lead us; He may just grace us with unexpected outcomes.  Sometimes those outcomes are even better than we ever imagined.  Often we get a feeling of satisfaction from the Lord; an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction that God has heard us; that he loves us; and that we are in harmony with him.  Those feelings of harmony are in stark contrast to the feelings of resentment we get when we try to be in control.   

There are hard times that all of us will have to endure in life.  But if we trust in the Lord and turn it over to him, we will be sure to find rest for ourselves- the eternal rest that never ends. 

Ascending the Mountain of the lord

Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Is 25: 6-10a; Mt 15: 29-37

Deacon Larry Brockman

Two mountains; two feasts; and the mercy of God.  That’s what we heard about today in both readings today.   

The gospel story has both a literal and a symbolic meaning.  In a literal sense, we see that Jesus shows an incredible amount of mercy and compassion.  Not only does he heal all the blind, the sick, the deformed, the mute, and the lame brought to him; but he meets the bodily needs of the whole crowd whom he senses is famished after following him for days.  Jesus was always thinking of others, not himself.   

Just imagine how exhausted Jesus must have been.  After all, he was faced with a constant stream of desperate people for days; and yet the further away he travelled to get some peace; the more crowded it got; the more individuals he had to heal.  Finally, he ends up on the mountain with nowhere to go!.  Even after all that, His focus was on everybody else, not himself.     

Now human beings are limited in their capacity to show mercy and compassion.  And since Jesus was fully human, he was under those limitations   But this story gives us just a hint at the breadth and depth of the mercy and compassion of God.  Jesus, God made fully human, demonstrates mercy and compassion almost beyond human capacity in this story.  And yet God himself has no such limits.  That’s what the literal part of the gospel tells us.  It tells us to rejoice over the unlimited mercy and compassion of God.   

The gospel also has a symbolic meaning.  And that meaning is foretold in our first reading from Isaiah.  Isaiah has been called the Gospel of the Old Testament because it foretells so much about Jesus life and mission.   

Today’s first reading is an apocalyptic vision of “the mountain of God”, that is, the Holy City of Jerusalem in the Kingdom of God.  The feast with fine wines and rich foods is the heavenly reward of all those who enter its gates.  When the Lord Comes again, we are all hoping we will follow him into this final place of rest and satisfaction.  Death will be destroyed there, yielding everlasting life for its inhabitants.  There will be no tears, and all nations will live in harmony.  The reproach of the people will be removed; so, all sins will be forgiven.  And as Isaiah himself says “Behold our God to whom we looked to save us!”  So, we will all be in the presence of God.  This is the ultimate vision of the mercy and compassion of God; a vision of salvation and happiness for all those who are saved.  

Today’s gospel has all the same symbols-  the mountain symbolizes the Kingdom; the healing of all the infirmities symbolizes forgiveness of any and all of our brokenness; and the bread and fish symbolize nourishment for all by God himself.  Jesus is God made man and symbolizes our presence in the Kingdom with almighty God.   

We are in the early part of Advent.  We are all being called to joyful expectation of the Kingdom like the crowd in Jesus’ time,  We need to be desperate for healing; humble and contrite in our approach; and hungry for what really satisfies our hunger.  If we are, then we can joyfully anticipate the limitless mercy and compassion of Jesus when he comes; and the rich feast in the Holy City of Jerusalem will be ours! 

Christ is Depending on You

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

Tuesday of First Week of Advent

Evening Prayer and Benediction

1 Cor 1: 4-9

Deacon Larry Brockman

Christ is depending on us.  Yes, He’s depending on you and me,  Just like Christ depended on Paul to spread the faith to the Gentiles.    We are the faithful ones- those of us who are so dedicated to the Eucharist  that we attend Tuesday Benediction.  Because we have been blessed with special gifts, gifts that help us with the knowledge of our Faith that Paul is talking about.   

At this time of the year, we are awaiting the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Not just the coming of the Christ child; but also the coming of Christ the King.  It can happen at any time for any of us- in a car accident; in our sleep; or in many other ways.  And as we’ve been hearing, we must be prepared for it- all of us.   

Many of our friends, relatives, and coworkers are not as ready as we are.  And Christ is depending on us to help them.  When we live according to our strong Faith, then we will be strengthened until the end.  And we will be blameless on the Day of the Lord.   

That is what the rest of mankind needs to know.  You can spread that confidence through your witness.  We all need to go forth from here resolved to share our Faith.   

Christmas is not about cards and cookies and holiday celebrations and all the rest of the hype, Christmas is about being ready for the coming of the Lord at all times.

So, let us all go share what it means to be ready for fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ.