I have always been just a little bit uncomfortable with the Church’s use of words to name this feast that in my own life-time has had several other names. “Back in the day” I can remember this day on the Church’s calendar as the “Feast of the Circumcision.” Then in 1960 Pope John XXIII removed the term “Circumcision” and simply called this day, “The Octave of the Nativity” which of course means the eighth day when, according to the religious law at the time required the ritual of circumcision for Hebrew children. … more »
26 December 2021 at Saint Peter the Apostle in Naples, FL
1 Samuel 1, 20-28 + Psalm 84 + 1 John 3, 1-24 + Luke 2, 41-52
Through the course of his mission, Jesus expands the whole idea of “family.” While the Gospel for today focuses on Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, it is not long before he asks the crowd gathered around him: “Who are my mother, brothers and sisters?” While sentimentality may like us to imagine that this holy family was the perfect family of all time, we might want to look more closely at what the Gospels suggest.
First of all, this is a family that knows anxiety and fear over a lost child. … more »
I don’t know who first got the idea of staging Christmas Pageants for and with children, but I want you to know that as an old priest and a pastor with parochial schools for way too long, I sat through more Christmas Pageants than any of you could imagine. That experience has led me to the conclusion that I’ll never have to worry about Purgatory. I’ve been there.
You know how they go, the little ones who can’t be trusted to remember lines are angels with various kinds of wire wings who flutter around and bump into one another looking anxiously around for someone to tell them when to get out of the way. … more »
Two women, one from Jerusalem and the other from Nazareth. One is there at the center of power, and her husband is of the Priestly tribe. The other has no husband and she lives in a place no one would ever have heard of until a visitor comes. They are for Luke, the meeting of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The old had a history of infidelity and idolatry, but it held the promise. The new is the promise and it begins with fidelity to the Word of God delivered by an angel who only appears once in the Old Testament in the Book of Daniel proclaiming the final time, the age of justice. … more »
There is plenty of reason to hear the words of the Prophet this morning and move his message into some kind of “Archive File” thinking that he was speaking to someone else a long time ago. One obvious reason for doing so is that there is plenty reason these days not to rejoice. Facing life for too many easily makes rejoicing just too much of a challenge. Personal, family, church, and social conflicts are way too many, and we constantly facing our weakness, our sinfulness, and our helplessness. For some this experience seems to explode with violence, hateful talk, blaming, and name-calling and fear.
With this great feast we are called to step out of our ordinary daily routines and pause for these few minutes to let the Word of God remind us of God’s plan for creation. Paul puts that plan in plain and simple language as he writes to the Ephesians. God has chosen us to be holy and without blemish. God destined us for adoption which in the society and culture of that time meant nothing more than a completely new existence. In that world at that time, when one was adopted, their entire old identity was wiped away. … more »
We can’t go any further into Advent without the presence and the voice of that man whose voice cried out in the wilderness. His voice is heard at a time when Rome held all the power, when Rome’s foot was on Israel’s neck. In that list of the powerful Luke includes two whose names might make us shudder because of the violence and deaths they will cause. Herod and Pilot are the names that in these opening verses give us a reminder of what is to come, because we know the end of the story. … more »