Many of us received puzzles when we were young. Puzzles for very young children came with large pieces that, when put together, depicted farm animals or sailboats. Being able to see the relationship of the mixed-up pieces and then putting them together correctly was a significant step in perception—and our parents probably praised us when we completed them.
The image of a puzzle describes one major aspect of our lives. As we get older, the puzzles we face become more serious and complicated. We solve a good many of them, but I suspect that we all have life experiences/puzzles that continue to frustrate us. It helps to realize that our lives have been an adventure with the Lord, an adventure that will not stop after death.
With age and maturity, we understand more about the key influences of our past. Don’t we say that “with age comes wisdom”? Granted, our eyesight may weaken, but our “soul sight” improves.Read More »
Saint Paul believed that rejoicing was a basic disposition that we all should try to maintain, even when things don’t go our way. In his short Letter to the Philippians, in fact, he spoke about rejoicing fifteen times. And let’s not forget that Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter! He was not going to let his circumstances rob him of his joy.
So how did Paul maintain a joyful disposition? First, he rejoiced because he knew Jesus’ love. If you back up just two chapters in this letter, you’ll see him singing a hymn that extols Jesus’ willingness to empty himself, become a man, and die on the cross (Philippians 2:7-8). And then in the next chapter, he writes, “I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (3:8). The thought of Jesus’ love–a love that gives of itself freely–continually filled Paul with joy.
Second, Paul rejoiced in the Philippians themselves. They were his joy and his crown (Philippians 4:1). They were his dear friends who had joined him in a “partnership for the gospel” (1:5). He rejoiced because he knew he had brothers and sisters who loved him and supported him in his faith.Read More »
Waiting in Expectation
Waiting patiently for God always includes joyful expectation. Without expectation our waiting can get bogged down in the present. When we wait in expectation our whole beings are open to be surprised by joy.
All through the Gospels Jesus tells us to keep awake and stay alert. And Paul says, “Brothers and sisters … the moment is here for you to stop sleeping and wake up, because by now our salvation is nearer than when we first began to believe. The night is nearly over, daylight is on the way; so let us throw off everything that belongs to the darkness and equip ourselves for the light” (Romans 13:11-12). It is this joyful expectation of God’s coming that offers vitality to our lives. The expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises to us is what allows us to pay full attention to the road on which we are walking.
The Challenge of Aging
Waiting patiently in expectation does not necessarily get easier as we become older. On the contrary, as we grow in age we are tempted to settle down in a routine way of living and say: “Well, I have seen it all. … There is nothing new under the sun. … I am just going to take it easy and take the days as they come.” But in this way our lives lose their creative tension. We no longer expect something really new to happen. We become cynical or self-satisfied or simply bored.
The challenge of aging is waiting with an ever-greater patience and an ever- stronger expectation. It is living with an eager hope. It is trusting that through Christ “we have been admitted into God’s favour … and look forward exultantly to God’s glory” (Romans 5:2).Read More »
Think back to a time when you were chosen for some special privilege or honor. Maybe your employer chose you for a position over other qualified applicants. Or perhaps your teammates chose you as captain because of you ability to lead others. It’s a good feeling to be singled out in such a way. Or think about how you felt when your future husband or wife chose to marry you and spend the rest of their life with you.
We believe that God chose Mary, before creation of the world, to be the Mother of God. And because he had chosen her for that unique role, he prepared her in a special way. He preserved her from original sin and gave her to two devout, faithful parents.
The God who chose Mary has also chosen you–and from the beginning of creation as well. He knew you. He intended for you to be born. He wanted you so much, in fact, that he sent his Son to redeem you.Read More »
By Fr Luke Fong
It always puzzles me to read about how one of the most common arguments that atheists have is that we Christians have created a God who is a control freak and is an ultimate moral police hovering over our every action. Preaching about the contrary each time I ascend the Ambo at Mass to tell my congregation that this is a toxic and very erroneous view of God doesn’t quite reach the ears of those who need to hear the message, largely because if you are an angry atheist who believes in such a toxic narrative of God, the last place I would find you at is in a pew at Mass. Sometimes, I must confess, it does seem like I am preaching to the choir.
The very act of creation attests strongly to how much God is interested in us. Why else would he create if he did not care? Of course, we have some anthropomorphism going on here when we say this, but given the limitations that we human beings have, it is the best we can do. When we humanly create, be it with our artistic talents or creative skills, we do it for a multitude of reasons. Our ego could want our names to be immortalized, or it could just be that inherent need to see something of ours lasting beyond our own physical years. But because God is love, he has no ego as such. All he does stems from what and who he is. In Thomistic philosophy, there is no distinction between what he is and the things he does, unlike us. His essence is his act, and his act is his essence. So, if he is love, then all that he does is predicated on this fact. No ego needs, no hidden agendas.Read More »
We often talk about “The Christmas Story,” as if it were one single story. Actually, it’s made up of a number of individual stories, each of which tells us something unique about the Christ child. The story of the Annunciation tells us about Mary’s openness to God’s plan. The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth tells us how John the Baptist – Jesus’ forerunner – was called at birth. The stories of the shepherds and the Magi tell us that Jesus is worth searching for.
There’s another story we don’t often think about because it’s not as long. It’s the story of the innkeeper whose closed doors led Mary and Joseph to the manger. But just imagine for a moment that he did manage to find room for them after all. His inn, not the manger, would be honored throughout the world. There would likely be a grand church marking its location, and pilgrims would flock to it year after year.
As Advent begins, let’s not be like the innkeeper. He missed a grand opportunity because he didn’t make room for Jesus.Read More »
by Friar Jim Van Vurst, OFM
We know that God, our creator, is a pure and infinite spirit. But Scripture also attributes human characteristics to him. In his wisdom, God wanted to be real for his children. He wanted to be someone we could hold on to. In God’s own words to us, he has described himself in physical images. For example, Jesus described God like a “hen who gathers her chicks safely under her wing” (Lk 13:34). It seems significant, too, that there are 122 references to the hands of God.
We understand how our own hands are so important in expressing our love and care for one another—a touch, a caress, a protective hold. That image also tells us so much about God. In the creation story, God creates the heavens and earth by an act of will. However, when it comes to the gift of life, Genesis says, “Let us make human beings in our image and likeness” (1:28).
The image of us being held in the hands of God is such a help in understanding how close God is to us. We even think of God as picking us up after a fall. Of course, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, used his hands to touch, to hold, and to heal. Jesus “lays his hands” on a leper (Mk 1:41). To touch a leper would be unthinkable, making Jesus ritually unclean and unable to enter the temple. But that is exactly what he did. The leper was healed.Read More »