Joy in the Family

Joy in the Family

by Fr. Norm Tanck, CSB

The Gospel for this weekend’s Feast of the Holy Family ends by telling us that, “When Mary and Joseph had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him”. We can assume that not only Jesus grew and became strong, but also that Mary and Joseph continued to mature and that as a family they grew stronger because of their love for one another and their desire to be obedient to God’s plan for them. Their obedience and love for each other gave them hope in the face of adversity and filled them with joy in ordinariness of everyday life. It was their love for one another that sustained them through difficult times. We can look to Mary and Joseph as an example and model of a family in distress as they were forced by conditions beyond their control to flee from Bethlehem to Egypt and move from place to place before they were able to settle in Nazareth. It was their love that brought them moments of peace and consolation in the hardscrabble life in a small Galilean town. And it is their love that is the model for Christian families today and a model for us as a Christian community. Reflecting on the Holy Family, Pope Francis said, “The true joy which is experienced in the family is not something random and fortuitous. It is a joy produced by deep harmony among people, which allows them to savour the beauty of being together, of supporting each other on life’s journey. However, at the foundation of joy there is always the presence of God, his welcoming, merciful and patient love for all. If the door of the family is not open to the presence of God and to his love, then the family loses its harmony, individualism prevails, and joy is extinguished. Instead, the family which experiences joy — the joy of life, the joy of faith — communicates it spontaneously, is the salt of the earth, and light of the world, the leaven for all of society.”

Sunday’s Readings:

Genesis 15.1-6; 17.3b-5, 15-16; 21.1-7

Psalm 105

Hebrews 11.8, 12-13, 17-19

Luke 2.22-40

Gaudete Sunday

Gaudete Sunday

by Lisa Fernandes

Today we celebrate the third Sunday of Advent also known as Gaudete Sunday or Rejoice Sunday. Advent generally is a time for us to prepare and make way for Christ’s coming. In the Gospel we read about John and his role in this important event when he says: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” (John 1.23) On Gaudete Sunday we are rejoicing because our preparation is almost done. As the first reading says: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God;…” (Isaiah 61.10) Advent is also a time of new beginnings and is the start of each new liturgical year. I recently heard a comparison between Advent and the wait for the birth of a child. Parents are nervous and anxious; they are unprepared even amid their joy when awaiting the birth of a child. In the same way, in Advent we are happy to remember the birth of Christ and await his coming again, but at the same time we are anxious; we are not prepared and have not reconciled our sins with God. In our family we have many different kinds of advent calendars and candles to mark the countdown including secular ones – a hand painted wooden tree with ornaments added each day, one with chocolates (of course) and a candle with 24 days of December marked. Most importantly, though, we have a traditional Advent Wreath with three purple candles and one pink one. The purple ones can be seen as representing sacrifice. Today on Gaudete Sunday, we will be lighting the pink one which reminds us of the joy among our more solemn preparation from the past couple of weeks. Each candle that is lit brings more light into the darkness. During this time of year, let’s reflect on the spiritual preparation of the season as well as the secular preparation for feasts and gift buying and try to be Christian towards others as we deal with holiday crowds! As Catholics we can focus and pray upon some of the themes of Advent like hope and anticipation, peace, joy and love even though at times the world seems to be lacking these. Perhaps we can remember that Christ’s birth is the greatest gift of all.

Sunday’s Readings:

Isaiah 61.1-2a, 10-11

Luke 1

1 Thessalonians 5.16-24

John 1.6-8, 19-28

Prepare the Way of the Lord!

Prepare the Way of the Lord!

by Jessica De Luca

Advent is a time of preparing – preparing to celebrate the coming of the Lord. If you are like me, a staple in preparing for any event in life begins with making a to-do list; Christmas is no exception. I am always sure to have a list made, sometimes even before December rolls around. It would be fair to say that my typical to-do list would not include a “pause and reflect” bullet point; if it did, it would likely show up somewhere near the bottom, maybe even as an afterthought. “Pause and reflect” is however, what we are told to do as we enter this second week of Advent. Today’s scripture readings remind us to “prepare the way of the Lord” by preparing ourselves. What a beautiful and well-needed reminder! It is easy to be overwhelmed in this season by the seemingly endless lists of to-dos. Preoccupied by the things to get done, we often fail to pay attention to what is most important: consciously thinking about how we are going to prepare for Christ to enter into our lives. As the readings tell us, preparing ourselves for the coming of the Lord must include an examination of our conscience. We are called to seek forgiveness for our wrong doings and are told to “strive” to let Christ find us each “at peace”. This can be a real challenge for us, especially if there are sins we are not ready to acknowledge or purposely ignore. Encouraging us to spend time in self-reflection and repentance is the beautiful image of Christ offered in our first reading. Christ is described as a shepherd that feeds His flock, carries the lambs, and leads His sheep. We know that the Lord is compassionate and merciful. Our second reading tells us He is “patient” with us too. Inevitably, by pausing and reflecting, by examining our conscience and being at peace, we are faced with a decision to act. Preparing the way of the Lord includes thinking about what we can be doing better in our lives. Perhaps this is something as simple as adding more prayer time to your day, or helping a person in need. In this next week, may we take a break from the hustle and bustle and spend time thinking about how we can better prepare ourselves. Let us all make a to-do list for the Lord, so he may fill our lives in a new and deeper way this Advent season.

Sunday’s Readings:

  • Isaiah 40.1-5, 9-11
  • Psalm 85
  • 2 Peter 3.28-14
  • Mark 1.1-8