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Your Father wants one thing for you this Christmas...

Posted on December 24, 2014 at 5:04 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Midnight Mass Gospel (Luke 2:1-14):
 
'Caesar Augustus issued a decree for a census of the whole world to be taken. This census – the first – took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to be registered. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and travelled up to Judaea, to the town of David called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them at the inn.
In the countryside close by there were shepherds who lived in the fields and took it in turns to watch their flocks during the night. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing:
‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace to men who enjoy his favour.’'
 
 
As humans we often find it difficult to accept a very simple message.  We naturally want to dig deeper to not only figure out the answer but also figure out why the answer is what it is!  We have a longing for knowledge and that is not a bad thing.  But sometimes just discovering the simple answer is all we need. 
 
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ.  It is God incarnate, God made man.  It is the time when God became man to save the world.  An event that would change the world forever.  So, to suggest we simplify the meaning of such a significant event seems a bit harsh. 
 
But simplify it we will!  Because Christmas can be wrapped up in one word that encapsulates everything that this earth shattering event means for us.  That word?  Joy. 
 
It is joy that God wanted to bring to the world when He came to earth as a tiny baby, born of Mary.  What is the one thing every parent wants for their child?  It is happiness.  They want their child to experience joy throughout their whole life.  And this parental wish can be stretched right back through time and through all parents to the Father of Creation. 
 
God wants His children to be happy!  He wants us to be full of joy!  This is why He came to us.  He came to save us from sin so that we could live a life of perfect joy and ultimately unite with Him in Heaven at the end of time. 
 
This Christmas, think simply about what this event truly means for us.  Think joyful thoughts, say joyful words, do joyful things.  Your Father wants you to be happy. 
 
 

Pope Francis at Angelus: Jesus is our Joy

Posted on December 15, 2014 at 7:01 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Pope Francis, in his Sunday Angelus address, told the thousands gathered in St Peter's Square that Christians are called to live and to witness to the joy that comes from the nearness of God and from God’s presence in our life. He said that Christian joy is not simply the fullness of joy that we will experience in heaven. Rather, it begins even in this life, it is experienced even now, “because Jesus is our joy.”
 
Click here to read the full story at news.va: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-at-angelus-jesus-is-our-joy
 
 

Dwelling on the Word of God: St Joseph – A Role Model for Dads (Wednesday 19th March 2014)

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 12:00 PM Comments comments (4)
 
Today’s Gospel (Matthew 1:16,18-21,24):
 
‘Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
  This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do.’
 
 
Isn’t Joseph such an inspiration to all?  When Mary was found to be with child Joseph’s first thought was to spare Mary the indignity of public outrage about her pregnancy.  He wanted to protect his wife, to make sure she would not be judged and persecuted for being pregnant after having taken a vow of perpetual virginity. 
And then, when the angel appeared to him to tell him that Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit and that he should still take her as his wife, what then did he do?  He did precisely what the angel told him!  He didn’t think I must be going crazy or this is ridiculous; he did exactly what the angel told him.  With his great faith Joseph knew he had been visited by an angel of the Lord and that he must do as the angel says.  He didn’t hesitate to do the Will of God.
 
And that is our challenge; to become less hesitant in doing the Will of God.  Can we be more like Joseph and trust in God, always reacting positively to the little signs He puts before us?  Are we prepared to put our own interests to one side and focus on the needs of others around us, just as Joseph did with Mary and the child Jesus in her womb?  Joseph was a real man!  He put his family first and made sure they were safe.  Yet this wasn’t any old family, this was the Holy Family.  This family included Jesus Christ, God made man!  It included Mary, the Mother of God and Mother of all!  What strength in faith must Joseph have had to carry this huge responsibility? 
 
To all the dads and would-be dads out there: look to St Joseph as you set about the task of raising and looking after your family.  He had a very simple way of looking at life.  He put God first, others second, and himself third.  That way he gave his family the best chance of surrendering to God’s plan for their lives.  Our job is to help our families recognise God’s plan for us and to submit ourselves to that plan.  Dads, your family needs you to be strong in faith; your family needs you to lead them to holiness here on earth so that your eternal home will be in Heaven with the Father of all.
 
 
 
 
 

Dwelling on the Word of God: A Child is Born for Everyone (Tuesday 24th December 2013)

Posted on December 24, 2013 at 7:24 AM Comments comments (2)
 
From today’s Psalm (Psalm 88):
 
‘I will sing forever of your love, O Lord’
 
 
Sing!  Rejoice!  Dance!  Because the Lord our Saviour, our hope and our light, is coming! 
 
Sin had made its way in the world, and people were becoming desperate.  Poverty and disease were rife.  Inequality spanned the globe and hatred stretched to the four corners of the earth.  Where honour was bestowed on one man, jealousy rose in another.  Where riches were left to one family, poverty was inevitably passed down to another.  The devil had been working hard in the world and humanity was not at one.
 
Yet, a star rises in the East.  A star to herald the coming of a little child; a child that is to be born to change the world!  Foretold by the prophets for hundreds of years, he comes to give hope to all. 
 
This is the story of the Nativity.  The coming of the Saviour, the Messiah!  Yet here he was, coming into the world like any other child.  Not many people expected this and they certainly didn’t expect him to be born into such poverty!  Yet he was.  With no suitable accommodation available, the Saviour was born among animals in a stable.  And over two thousand years on we still celebrate this momentous occasion, the birth of a little baby boy in a stable. 
 
Sadly, however, not everyone feels the need to celebrate.  Yet this event was for everyone.  At that very moment Jesus was born, he was born for each and every person who has ever lived and who is yet to live.  Mary, in giving birth to Jesus, not only gave birth to the one who would save the world; she gave birth to the whole world.  The whole of humanity was already secure in the heart of that little child as it lay in the manger, wrapped in cloth, surrounded by animals and hay.  Not one person was forgotten. 
 
You see, this child was born to save.  He wasn’t born to lead the kind of life many of us are blessed to have.  He, unlike us, was born to die.  This beautiful, innocent, little child cradled in his loving mother’s arms and gazed upon by his doting step-father, will still have each and every one of us secure in his heart many years later when he is nailed to a cross on Calvary.  And on the third day, when he rises to Heaven, he takes each and every one of us with him in his heart to the Father.  This is no ordinary child.  This child was born for you, and this child died for you.  This child wants you to follow him to the Father; he wants you to follow him to the Kingdom of Heaven.  So, rejoice!  Join in the celebrations and let us praise Jesus and delight in his great gift of true freedom and eternal life for all! 
 

Dwelling on the Word of God: Rejoicing at Mary’s ‘Yes’ (Friday 20th December 2013)

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 8:19 AM Comments comments (2)
 
Today’s Gospel (Luke 1:26-38):      
 
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
 
 
The Annunciation: the ‘yes’ that saved the world.  Oh how grateful we must be to Mary our Mother for her ‘yes’ to God (also known as the fiat).  Without any kind of selfish thought Mary trusts completely in the Will of God and agrees to bear and give birth to the Saviour of the world.
 
Read the passage again and imagine the whole of Creation waiting to hear those words….’I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.’  Imagine the joyous scenes in Heaven as Mary says ‘yes’ to God…
 

Dwelling on the Word of God: Trusting in God’s Will as Joseph did (Wednesday 18th December 2013)

Posted on December 18, 2013 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)
 
Today’s Gospel (Matthew 1:18-24):
 
‘This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’
When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.’
 
 
To all the men out there: would you have acted as Joseph did in these circumstances?  Would you have trusted the angel in your dream?  Mary had taken a vow of perpetual virginity and here she was, pregnant.  It would have brought disgrace upon both Mary and Joseph for her to be with child given this vow.  And Joseph was aware of this; hence his decision to divorce Mary.
 
But, trusting completely in God, he listens to the angel in his dream and takes Mary home.  He does this despite the threat of public disgrace.  But Joseph has God on his side so there is no reason to fear!  He trusted the angel and knew that this was God’s Will. 
 
So, what does this mean for us?  Well, are we open to messages from God, in whatever form they may come?  Are we prepared, like Joseph, to submit to the Will of God, knowing that whatever might happen to us He is on our side? 
 
In today’s society the idea of knowing God is on your side is an important one.  We have been encouraged over the last year or so, first with Pope Benedict’s Year of Faith and now Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium exhortation, to evangelise.  Are we doing this?  Are we living our faith openly so that others can see and hear the Good News?  If you aren’t or if you struggle with the idea of evangelisation, remember, God is on your side and there is nothing that you and He together cannot face.

Dwelling on the Word of God: Family Trees (Tuesday 17th December 2013)

Posted on December 17, 2013 at 7:28 AM Comments comments (1)
 
From today’s Gospel (Matthew 1:1-17):
 
'A genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac, 
Isaac the father of Jacob….
 
....Matthan the father of Jacob;
and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary;
of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.'
 
 
This isn’t the whole genealogy of Jesus but it is the beginning and the end of it as detailed in Matthew’s Gospel.  Nowadays everyone is fascinated by their family tree.  Many of us like to delve into our past to see where we came from.  Jesus was no different!  He had a family tree just like the rest of us.
 
Yet, each and every one of us comes from the same source….God.  And each and every one of us is on a journey back to that source.  That’s the most important aspect of our family tree. 
 

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