January 6, 2019
Happy Epiphany! The arrival of the Magi, or three wise men or kings, from surrounding foreign lands was a testament of God’s mysterious wisdom and power. Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior all recognized a new star in the heavens and followed it first out of curiosity, but then seeing the Christ child and having been warned in a dream, left with faith in great things to come. Today’s feast is referred to in many parts of the world as the feast of the Gentiles. For Jesus did not only come as the Messiah to his own people but brought salvation through his life, death and resurrection to all who believe through him. The gifts they bore were very symbolic of the newborn king’s life. Gold offered to a king, frankincense offered to the divine, and myrrh, a burial spice foreshadowing Jesus’ death. This year we are able to actually celebrate it on January 6th, the traditional date of the solemnity, but in recent decades moved to the second Sunday after Christmas.
Today at 8:30 a.m. Mass our parish first graders help us continue reflecting on the Christmas story by depicting angels and shepherds, the Holy Family and the Magi. It is inspiring to see them portraying the Christmas story in real life. Many parents and students in the parish’s long history of experiencing this annual reflection are likely able to sing along at the end even though it has been years since they had a first grader or walked up the aisle themselves. Thank you first grade Faith Formation classes for helping many of us renew our understanding and appreciation of Jesus’ birth anew in our hearts and lives.
I hope these beginning days of 2019 are blessing you and your families with much health and happiness. I know one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get to the pool more, those Christmas goodies stick around longer than they used to! I pray the time visiting with family and friends during these holy days has renewed your joy and hope for a future year filled with many blessings amid challenges as well. I look forward to walking with you into the days ahead, confident like the Magi, that God is directing our steps along the way. Let us continue enjoying this Christmas season until it liturgically comes to a close next weekend with the Baptism of the Lord. Have a great week .
December 30, 2018
Happy Feast of the Holy Family and very soon Happy New Year 2019! It is so wonderful to see college students home and back in the pews along with other visiting family members and friends of Holy Cross Parish. These Christmas days are truly filled with a deep and abiding holy joy. I also realize this might be a tough time of year for those in our parish whose family could not make it into town or have experienced the loss of loved ones in various ways. Nevertheless, God has a way of breaking into our lives in mysterious and miraculous ways because of the incarnation of God’s love we celebrate in Jesus’ birth. May our hearts be open to the new born king’s hidden grace and inspiring presence anew in our lives during these days of Christmas and year ahead.
It is good to read in today’s Gospel from Luke that Mary and Joseph weren’t perfect parents and Jesus was a curious and complicated twelve year old. It must have been heart wrenching for Mary and Joseph to not know where Jesus after not seeing him for a whole day, and then not finding him until two days after that! They must have had sleepless nights those days. It is curious however that it was three days, a possible foreshadowing of not finding him once again until after three days of seemingly being lost to death? Life is complicated sometimes.
It is the unwavering faith of these three central figures in our Christian faith that inspires us during these holy days and in fact throughout the year. Mary’s faith of keeping all of the unique experiences before, during and after Jesus’ birth in her heart. A heart full of grace, full of future sorrow, but eventually full of new and everlasting life in heaven with her son. Joseph’s steadfast faith of trusting God amid all of the twists and turns of a bizarre engagement, unusual birth, interesting visitors from the East, fleeing to Egypt, and finally a somewhat normal life in Nazareth is inspiring. Joseph traditionally didn’t live long enough to know how Jesus’ life ultimately would turn out. Nonetheless, St. Joseph is known by future generations as the faithful foster-father of Jesus, patron of the Church and of a peaceful death because of his undying faith in God. From a very early age, Jesus’ faith in his Father in heaven and obedience to Joseph on earth depicts a faithful servant whose very name defines his ultimate mission, to save God’s people from our sins. May the faith of this holy family be a model of faith to all who believe that trusting in God isn’t always easy but is worth more than life itself.
May these holy Christmas days continue bringing you closer to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and deepening your faith of God’s presence in you and your families’ lives. Let us pray for peace in our families, healing of hurts, and deepened love for each other. May we all know and experience God’s faithful presence during each day of the New Year ahead.
December 23, 2018
If you are reading this Saturday evening, Sunday morning or evening – Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent!
If you are reading this Monday evening or Tuesday morning – Merry Christmas!
This is another interesting year when the fourth week of Advent is just under twenty-four hours long with our Sunday and Christmas Mass schedules.
I pray these beautiful days of the Christmas Season from December 24th through January 13th bring much peace, joy, love and new life to you and your family. I am grateful my Mom is able to celebrate with me here this year. My sister and her family will be traveling to her in-laws near Erie, Pennsylvania. I recently egged my sister on about spending another eight and a half hours in the car to visit Easton after thirteen and a half hours from Minnesota to Pennsylvania. She simply chuckled and said nice thought, with then an almost twenty-four hour drive back. I sure hope my oldest nephew does better flying in the years to come.
Christmas is all about family, from the Holy Family to each our own families. Christmas is filled with traditions and treats, heartfelt greetings and happy meetings, nostalgic memories and new experiences. Celebrating Christmas in my family has definitely changed in the past ten years with older generations needing to give newer generations the opportunity to host. What I knew growing up as the family gathering at our house Christmas day, has now expanded across the miles with younger first cousins with their own children hosting their parents, my aunts and uncles. It is interesting working with couples preparing for marriage when we talk about family of origin and extended family. One of the first things a young couple needs to navigate are the holidays. They definitely often feel pressure from parents and/or siblings, especially when the first grandchildren are born into the family. I do not envy them deciding where to go or when to stay home and shift the family dynamic to a new way of celebrating. I pray for peace in families at Christmas when emotions and expectations are often the highest of the year. Let us remember the first Christmas was not exactly what Mary and Joseph hoped for, but in the end it all worked out in ways they never could have planned.
May the angels’ voices to the shepherds in the field ring in our hearts as we sing Angles We Have Heard on High, or Hark the Herald Angels Sing, or the return of the Gloria at Mass, singing from scripture what the angles’ message was that holy night. May we have the faith of the shepherds to follow God’s call and journey where we need to go in order to find Jesus’ presence in our lives. May Mary and Joseph’s trust in God from each of their own unique experiences with God, help us to trust God more deeply in our lives, especially in times and in circumstances we don’t expect or understand. May the peace, joy, love, and new life of this holy season bless you as we celebrate and we believe.