In the Gospel for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time C, Jesus attends a Wedding Feast at Cana with his mother and his disciples.  When the wine runs out, Mary asks him to help.  He has the servants fill empty jars with water.  He changes the water into wine.  The stewards compliment the bridegroom.  ” ‘Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.’  Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him” (John 2: 10-11).  The Wedding Feast reveals Jesus as the Risen Lord whose hour has not yet come.  The Risen Christ remains with us in the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist.  They initiate us through water and wine into the life of the Risen Lord.  The Risen Lord lives in us.  We are Christ for others.  We are Christ for the lonely, sick, imprisoned, depressed, hungry, homeless, divorced, and everyone who struggles.  How can you be Christ for others?

 

 

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In the Gospel for the Baptism of the Lord C, John baptizes Jesus.  “Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him  in bodily form like a dove” (Luke 3: 21-22).  God gives God’s spirit to Jesus while in prayer.  Through Jesus God gives God’s spirit to us in prayer.  God’s spirit changes us.  We gain God’s perspective.  We pray for what God wants rather than what we want.  We pray for the benefit of others rather than our own.  We pray to love others through the struggles and hardships of our lives.  How does your prayer empower you to love as God loves?

 

In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Magi visit the child Jesus.   On the way, they stop in Jerusalem.  “Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search diligently for the child.  When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage’ ” (Matthew 2: 7-8).  Herod feared a threat to his throne.  He wanted to know where to find the child Jesus to kill him.  Nevertheless, the magi went and searched diligently for the child.  When they found him, they returned home another way.   Christians today search for Jesus.  They find God the glory of God concealed in those who suffer (Pope Francis).  God is with us paying a holiday visit to a relative suffering from dementia, welcoming hungry guests to a holiday meal, serving lunch to the homeless, recognizing those different from us as brothers and sisters, advocating for an end to armed conflict throughout the world, and more.  How do you find God in those who suffer?

 

In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent C, Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth.  She greets Mary praising God and her cousin.  “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1: 45).  Elizabeth praises Mary for trusting God’s promises fulfilled in the conception of Jesus.  Mary believed the Angel Gabriel.  She said “yes” to God’s plan.  Mary is a model for all Christian disciples.  Life has no guarantees.  Things do not always go as planned.  Careers change.  Jobs end.  Loved ones get sick.  Accidents happen.  Money runs out.  In good times and bad, Christians do the best they can trusting in God’s loving care for them.  Trusting in God is a blessing from God.  Why do you trust in God?

In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent C, John the Baptist preaches a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  “Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’  He answered them, ‘Stop collecting more than what is prescribed’ ” (Luke 3: 12-13).  John wants them to avoid cheating anyone.  Tax collectors got rich by overcharging.  They kept for themselves anything not owed to Rome.  The tax collectors in the crowd seem to have a conscience.  They came to be baptized and repent of their wrongdoing.  God’s love can touch anyone, even those who have done wrong.  God loves the neighbor who gossips about you, family member who doesn’t speak to you, clerk who was mean to you, addicted friend who refuses treatment, migrant who is seeking asylum in the U.S., inmate who awaits execution on death row.  What can you do to love someone who has done wrong?

In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent C, “John [the Baptist] went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths’ ” (Luke 3: 3-4).  John prepares the way for Jesus the Messiah.  In Jesus God is accomplishing something new and wonderful.  John exhorts his disciples then and now to turn away from sin.  With a change of heart, we can make straighter the way to God for ourselves and others.  Through Jesus God loves us with mercy, compassion, forgiveness and more.  God wants us to love others the same.  How are you going to make straighter a way to God’s love?

 

 

In the Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent C, Jesus offers his disciples hope for the future.  “They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand” (Luke 21: 27-28).  Jesus identifies himself as the Son of Man.  He promises to come and save his disciples from persecution.  Jesus promises us the same.  No matter what evil or suffering we endure, Jesus saves us.  During Advent, we recall Jesus’ first coming and await his Second Coming.  We also open our hearts to his coming into our daily lives.  Our redemption is at hand.  Jesus’ love saves us now.  Healed by his love, we endure with patience a chronic illness; care for a sick spouse; comfort a grieving neighbor; forgive a difficult relative; welcome strangers into our homes, communities, and nation.  Are you open to Jesus’ love today?  How?

In the Gospel for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe B, Jesus tells Pilate he is a king.  ” ‘My kingdom is not here.’  So Pilate said to him, ‘Then you are a king?’  Jesus answered, ‘You say I am a king.  For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth’ ” (John 19: 36b-37a).  Pilate thinks Jesus claims political authority.  Jesus testifies to his spiritual authority.  Lord Jesus rules our lives.  We acknowledge his authority when we open our hearts to God’s love.  We follow Jesus’ example of merciful love by our acts of charity: donating to a Thanksgiving food drive, buying toys for children whose parents cannot afford them, attending a nursing home Christmas party.  We also imitate Jesus by our acts of justice: lobbying for a livable wage, advocating for undocumented migrants, voting to end the death penalty.  How is Jesus king in your life?

In the Gospel for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time B, Jesus urges his disciples to patiently endure any suffering.  He knows they will face persecution for his sake.  He reassures them of God’s triumph over evil.  He promises his return in glory to claim God’s victory.  “They will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’  with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky” (Mark 13: 26-27).  God’s love is more powerful than sickness, death. or any human suffering.  Confident that God has the final say, Christians have hope.  Life is more than its troubles.  Our lives have purpose.  God wants us to live our lives in love of God, ourselves, and others.  Does your hope in God’s power over evil empower you to love?  How?

In the Gospel for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time B, Jesus praises a poor widow for her trust in God’s providential care.  Observing how people put money into the treasury, he saw “a poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.  Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.  For they  have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood’ ” (Mark 12: 42-44).  The widow exemplifies complete trust in God.  She made a real sacrifice giving what she needed to buy food for the day.  Jesus wants me to trust in God in the same way.  Yet I can rely on myself, secure in my privilege of education, job, food, clothing, and shelter.  But Jesus wants me to rely completely on God’s providential care.  The poverty of trust in God frees me to love others more than myself.  How does your trust in God’s providential care help you love others?