by Fr. Michael Barry
Sunday , December 1st
December 1st is the first Sunday of Advent a season of preparation for the feast of Christmas. We cannot and should not approach Christmas in a routine fashion. Remember God sent Hi Son Jesus in the ‘fullness of time” To understand that we need to visit John 3,16 which says that God loved the world so much that He sent His Son. Man had strayed from God and joined the kingdom of Satan. God love His creature so much that He destined that man should be able to return to His Creator. We need to keep that though and action foremost in our minds as we approach Christmas and the season of Advent.
Sunday December First Sunday of Advent. In the season of Advent we will read a lot from Isaiah the prophet who describes thing that are opposite and that are different but somehow are united. For example ”They shall beat their swords into plowshares”. The gospel message is clear. Be prepared and stay alert despite any age or time.
Monday, December 2nd
In the first reading Isaiah tells us that the Lord will wash away the filth of Jerusalem. When we read such writings of scripture we should apply them to ourselves. The gospel tells us of the faith of a Centurion who knows Jesus and depends on his trust in Jesus. All Jesus has to do is to say the word. Jesus responds that He has not seen such faith in all of Israel. The bottom line is ‘trust in the Lord’.
Tuesday , December 3rd
Again it is Isaiah who tells us that opposites will be together e.g. ‘ the calf and the young lion will browse together’ Perhaps the psalm gets it right “Justice shall flourish in His time and fullness of Peace forever.” Truly we can only find peace in Jesus Christ. The Christmas hymn ‘Glory to God in the highest and peace to people of good will’.
Wednesday, December 4th
Again it is Isaiah who runs the gamut as it were because today he talks about ‘good food’ on this mountain. What Isaiah is describing is a time not seen by the Israelite. A time of blessings and good living which God is about to bring to them. This is exemplified in the gospel where Jesus has pity or compassion on the crowd and performs a miracle to feed them because I don’t want to send them away hungry. Realistically if we could only realize God hungers for us.
Thursday , December 5th
Again by this time we can almost tell what Isaiah is prophesying.. “ A strong city have we” The gospel warns us that we need to be true to our faith and live it. Jesus is demanding a total commitment. You cannot just pay lip service. You must believe with your whole being. Christmas is new again this year . It has to be so experienced anew. Jesus makes all things new. Pray to have a fresh new Christmas.
Friday, December 6th
. These prophecies of Isaiah that we have been reading in the first readings are awe inspiring. Today he tells us that the deaf will hear and the blind will speak. Unthinkable events even for us today yet all things are possible only in Jesus Christ, join Him. In the gospel Jesus asks the penetrating question which He is asking you today. He asks the blind man “Do you believe that I can do this” The blind man answers yes “ and is healed. All Jesus wants from you is your ‘yes’
Saturday , December 7th
“No more will you weep” This again is from Isaiah. It shows the compassion and the love of God for His people. It is still the same today. God is not out to punish us but to love and save us. We have a similar idea or thought in the gospel where Jesus is going about healing people because His heart was moved with pity for them. Now in our time His heart is moved in love for us. God has first love us . Could we not in our limited way reciprocate o return that love especially when He appeared in the first Christmas.
Sunday, December 8th
Today is the Second Sunday of Advent and it takes precedence over the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The first reading is a breakthrough reading because Isaiah had been talking about a new and different age for Israel. Now he speaks more pointedly about a ‘messiah’ an individual anointed by the Holy Spirit who will redeem us and save us none other than Jesus Christ. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is a dogma of the Catholic Church that is a teaching that must be believed in faith that the Blessed Mother of God was conceived and born without original sin. This was declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854. That was how special Mary was to the Father for the birth of His Son.
Monday , December 9th
The feast of the Immaculate Conception is traditionally celebrated on the 8th but this year it is transferred to Monday. The gospel tells us of the conception of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly Mary utters her ‘fiat’ which is her consent and agreement to God’s plan. Mary’s obedience is over powering of what God wants from us , our yes.
Tuesday, December 10th
The gospel of Matthew today is a wonderful testimony of God’s love for us .It tells us of the lost sheep and the hunger and determination of the shepherd to leave the 99 and find that sheep. Usually a shepherd would not abandon the 99 in pursuit of the one. He would leave it as lost. God’s love for us in so great that He will not let us be lost. That is a deep mystery the infinite loving the finite. Why not? It is His creation after all.
Wednesday , December 12th
Our Lady of Guadalupe. Today is a very special feast day.It celebrates the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Tepeyac Hill in Mexico. She appeared to Juan Diego and asked for a church to be built. Juan Diego went for a second time to his bishop after having been refused the first time. He threw open his Tilma before the Bishop and there appeared roses that were indigenous to the Bishop’s province in Spain. The church was built. Mary told Juan Diego that she represented the God of all the tribes in the area. After Guadalupe devotion to Our Lady of Guadeloupe went viral. In Europe at the time(1531) over seven million Catholics left the Church while seven million joined the Church in North America.
Thursday, December 11th
The first reading for the past ten days have been from Isaiahi and today day 11 is no exception . Isaiah has God telling us that He has no equal. It reminds us of the first commandment. First I am the Lord your God you shall not have strange gods before Me. No Christmas tree, gifts or celebration can replace Him. The gospel reinforces that with the familiar quote which we ignore and it says: ”Come to me all you who labor and find life burdensome and I ill refresh you”
Friday , December 13th
The first reading directs us to the right and good way to live for Isaiah says that the Lord will teach us what is good and follow His commandments then our prosperity will be like that of a river. The readings during this Advent Season speak about a new era when the prophets tell us bout the future coming of Jesus Christ or the Incarnation as he know it
Saturday, December 14th
Today’s readings are confusing because the first reading speaks of Elijah shutting up the heavens where no rain fell for years. The gospel has the disciples asking Jesus about Elijah because Elijah was supposed to return before the Messiah. Jesus tells them that Elijah has already come. Many interpret this as John the Baptist. So then the coast’s clear for Jesus the Messiah to come.
Sunday , December 15th
Third Sunday of Advent. The readings take a slight turn today onward because they now emphasize more the messianic age where things and living will be different. Peace is a strong virtue or presence in this new age. For instance Isaiah tells us that the desert and the steppe will bloom. The eyes of the blind will be opened etc. It will be different because God is fulfilling His promise to send His Son in the ‘fullness of time’.
Monday, December 16th
In the gospel today there is a confrontation between the scribes and the Pharisees who question Jesus about His authority . In a typical answer Jesus puts them in the spot. I’ll tell you if you first tell Me where John’s baptism was from. They were conflicted because if they said it was from God then He would say then why didn’t you accept it or if they said human they would have to deal with the crowd who believed John to be a prophet. They answered We don’t know. The principle may escape us and that is when we want it our way it is never right . It has always to be His way or no way. E can resist but we cannot deny Him.
Tuesday , December 17th
In the gospel today there is a confrontation between the scribes and the Pharisees who question Jesus about His authority . In a typical answer Jesus puts them n the spot. I’ll tell you if you first tell Me where John’s baptism was from. They were conflicted because if they said it was from God then He would say then why didn’t you accept it or if they said human they would have to deal with the crowd who believed John to be a prophet. They answered We don’t know. The principle may escape us and that is when we want it our way it is never right . It has always to be His way or no way. We can resist but we cannot deny Him.
Wednesday, December 18th
The scriptures today become more distinct because the first reading tells us that the Messiah will be born of David’s line. The gospel tells us that ‘this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about’. It relates the story of how Joseph wanted t leave Mary because she was pregnant. The angel of the Lord appeared in dream and told him to take Mary as because the child as conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph agrees. We often marvel at Mary’s fiat’ or ’yes’ but e too need to see Joseph’s fiat or yes.
Thursday , December 19th
The scriptures have a powerful message if only we would stop and consider. For instance in the first reading we have an elderly couple, childless who by God’s blessing conceive and give birth to Samson who turns out to be a savior for his people from the Philistines, a type of Christ to come. The gospel is in sharp contrast because it tells the son of Zechariah who doubted God’s word to him that his wife Elizabeth had already conceived and was in her sixth month. He is immediately struck dumb. It should remind us of the psalm “If today you hear His voice harden not your hearts”.
Friday, December 20th
Today is the famous sign given about the Virgin Mary. The virgin shall conceive and bear s son, Isaiah 7,14. For us who know all about the conception this is a contradiction. Remember what the Angel Gabriel told Mary “nothing is impossible with God” When we encounter problems, unanswered prayers doubts etc., release everything to God because what seems impossible to you is not to God.
Saturday , December 21st
We have two very interesting readings today. The first one is from the Song of Songs and describes the love between to lovers . It is physical and even sexual at time. However, it describes the love between God and Israel. So great is God’s love for us that God uses our language to describe it. Then the gospel of Luke tells of the Visitation where two impossible pregnant encounter. Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit and Elizabeth who was beyond conceiving because of her age is pregnant. There is also an encounter between the two conceived children, Jesus and John the Baptist. It is not we that we have problems with God. Instead we should pray the prayer of Mary’s Magnificent, “My soul proclaims the greatness of God.10 commandments
Sunday, December 22nd
This is the fourth or last Sunday of the Advent season which is a season of hope and expectancy for the coming feast of Christmas. The gospel tells us the story of Joseph’s problem of putting Mary aside because of her pregnancy and no husband. Before the law she could have been stoned to death. The angel appears in a dream and tells Joseph that Emmanuel which is God with us and Joseph believes and takes Mary as his wife. The story of the last week is nothing is impossible with God . Believe it.
Monday , December 23rd
The impossibilities continue. The gospel recounts the circumcision of John the Baptist when Zechariah, his father names him John and is told by the family that no one in the family has that name. Zechariah insists and immediately he regains his speech just as the angel had told him. All are amazed. There is a scripture which named Jesus as ‘wonder counselor’ How true it is. And we have been through a week of wonders that only God can do . Give Hi a chance with your life.
Tuesday, December 24th
I often pray with people to see what God sees. So often we want what we want .Christmas is a typical example of this condition. Remember “all I want for Christmas….” In the first reading today God tells David what He God has done for him. Stop and realize who you are and what continues to show you of how much He loves you. His love is genuine.
Wednesday , December 25th
Christmas Day. This truly is the day that the Lord has made. This day the feast of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is (get this) the fulfillment of God’s promise to us , prepared for us over the centuries. Now in the fullness of time. Christmas is not an anniversary it is ever new and when we live Christmas as such then Emmanuel personally which is God with us, happens to us. It is the Gift of that Ages .It is God’s abiding gift to us. Christmas is forever in our hearts.
Thursday, December 26th
Today is the feast of St. Stephen the first martyr. You may wonder why right after the most joyous feast of the Incarnation we have a feast of a martyr. The meaning may be lost because of Christmas but it even more meaningful when we consider Jesus last words to His disciples. “Go forth and be my witnesses” That is what we must do and as disciples of Jesus there is no substitute. Stephen did it and it is so important that the feast is right after Christmas.
Friday , December 27th
In this week after Christmas we celebrate the lives of Saints and Martyrs. Today is the feast of St. John, the Beloved disciple. John is a great example. He is consumed with a love for Jesus. He is the youngest of the Apostles yet as today’s gospel John looked into the empty tomb of Jesus and he saw and believed. Do we see Jesus in our neighbor? Do we see Jesus in our personal struggles? Do we allow ourselves to see Jesus at work with us? Yet these and many more examples should allow us to ‘see and believe’.
Saturday, December 28th
Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents. This is a tragic situation where all male children under the age of four are slaughtered. This is the result of King Herod’s envy and fear that this young King called Jesus will replace him. It seems very unusual but we are so often driven to make decisions based on jealousy and envy. It is one of the deadliest sins and shuts God out of our lives.. Envy even has a color . Green with envy is what it is what a weird description.
Sunday , December 29th
The feast of the Holy Family. The readings tell how children should behave to their parents and vice versa. St. Paul describes his very unpopular description of how wives should behave toward their husbands and who is in charge. A teaching that does not go over well in our modern society. What stands out is good order and proper behavior which God then blesses.
Monday, December 30th
The first reading is taken from the letter of St. John. This is an essential letter for us who want to love God because John tells us that God has first loved us and in the reading today. John draws the contrast between the love of the world and the love of God. If we love the world he says that God’s love cannot abide in us.
Tuesday , December 31st
Rather than look at the scriptures today let us look at the year ahead. This is the time of year where we make our New Year’s Resolutions. Make sure that you only make three or four resolutions at the most. Make sure that they are not something to make better as you did last year but never worked. Make sure that your spiritual life is the most yourself important. So how about I will have a solid prayer time every day at least 30 minutes. I will listen more to my spouse and not jump to conclusions. I will look and discover breakthroughs in my life when I that God / Jesus is talking to me. Happy New Year