Second Tuesday of Advent

Posted on December 6, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 40:1-11, Psalm 96, MT 18:12-14

Daily Advent Challenge 12-06In today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the joy of the shepherd that leaves his ninety-nine sheep to find the one that had strayed. God rejoices more for the one that is lost and then found than all those who have remained faithful. This theme is found several more times in Sacred Scripture, most prominently in the Parable of the Two Sons (also known as the Prodigal Son.)

At some time in our life, we are the one and not the ninety-nine. During this season, I guarantee there are people you know or come into contact with that are not in the ninety-nine. We become the hands, eyes, ears, and heart of Jesus when we seek to live this stewardship way of life. Perhaps, God is working through you to bring that one back to the fold. Maybe the witness of your generosity is what it will take. Maybe holding them in the intentions of your daily prayers will help to move them. An invitation to an Advent event or service at your church or another area church might remind them of to whom they belong. What a great gift to give Jesus the Christmas: a soul.

Daily Advent Challenge

Try to identify one person you know that needs help finding their way back to God. Make a decision to help God lead them home.

Second Monday of Advent

Posted on December 5, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 35:1-10, Psalm 85, LK 5:17-26

Daily Advent Challenge 12-05Today’s reading from Isaiah is so rich with the imagery of what God can and will do in the world. Deserts bloom with flowers, beasts of prey are led away, and people are healed. I like to think of this reading when the news of the world seems to paint a picture of darkness and despair. The reality is that God’s world is never so dark that the Light of Christ cannot pierce it.

The more grateful we are for all God has given us, the less likely we are to fall into a state of sadness or despair. At times it will seem like life deals us a body blow every few days. Perhaps, what we sought from God did not come: a healing, a relationship, or a concrete answer. But our blessings are always greater than our lacking.

Being grateful, a characteristic of an Everyday Steward, is something we need to work on for it does not come naturally. If you find yourself in the desert this Advent, it is time to reflect on the simple blessings of life, and eventually, a spring of water will burst forth and water the land.

Daily Advent Challenge

Make a list of three things for which you are grateful. Spend a few minutes reflecting on each and the role each can play in bringing you joy when you are feeling down.

Second Sunday of Advent

Posted on December 2, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 11:1-10, Psalm 72, ROM 15:4-9, MT 3:1-12

Daily Advent Challenge 12-04The first week of Advent has come and gone! How was it for you? Did you use this booklet each day and take seriously the daily challenges? Did you spend more time in prayer than usual? Have you put out an Advent wreath or a Jesse tree? Have you attended any seasonal devotions or events at church or in the community?

Well, here is the good news! There are still 3 weeks left! But 3 weeks isn’t long. Just don’t panic. Your Advent devotion is supposed to help you focus on what is the main thing: Jesus. Everything about this season is supposed to point to Him: all the shopping, all the presents, and all the decorating. When we started this devotional booklet, you made a promise to make Advent this year about the main thing and work on strengthening your stewardship way of life. If you have had trouble fulfilling that promise, or you failed to even make the promise, then today is the day to begin again. If you have been doing well so far, today is your day of recommitment. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist is calling all of us to, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Use your time and treasure wisely in these coming days. Regardless of all the secular signs around you in the world, it truly is all about Jesus.

Daily Advent Challenge

Place on your calendar a date to go to confession before Christmas. A person can be a much better steward of God’s gifts if the burden of sin is lifted through the sacramental life of the Church.

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

Posted on December 2, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 30:19-21, 23-26, Psalm 147, MT 9:35b-10:1, 5a, 6-8

Daily Advent Challenge 12-03Today is the feast of Saint Francis Xavier, the patron saint of missionaries and co-founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) with Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Not since Saint Paul had a person brought that many people to Jesus Christ. In hospitals he would preach and minster to the sick, ring a bell in the streets as an invitation to the poor to come and study catechism, and he established many churches, including 40 along the coast of India. His ministry would take him all over Asia.

We are called to be missionaries also. We may not be called to travel to Asia or some other far off land, but there are always those in our midst that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Being a good steward means using our gifts and talents to lead others to Christ. Perhaps our gifts are more typical like singing or speaking. We may need more reflection and the help of others to uncover more subtle gifts like empathy, leadership, and relationship building. But we all are created with unique gifts that can be used to lead others to Jesus Christ. Remember, sometimes it is how we act and what we do that speaks more profoundly than what we say.

Daily Advent Challenge

Who do you know that needs to feel the love of God through your actions? Identify that person and make a plan to show them the power of God’s love by the end of this week. It doesn’t have to be overly complex or profound. A little love can make a big difference.

First Friday of Advent

Posted on December 2, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 29:17-24, Psalm 27, MT 9:27-31

Daily Advent Challenge 12-02Everybody has a little blindness that needs to be healed. Jesus gave sight to two blind men in today’s Gospel reading, but their blindness was only physical. They were not blind to the fact that Jesus had the power to heal them. You and I may be able to see with our own eyes, but sometimes we can suffer with a greater blindness than those in the Gospel story, due primarily to the distractions of daily life. Daily preoccupations can block our sight to the call of Jesus that is taking place right under our noses.

Being mindful, a characteristic of an Everyday Steward, allows us to see more clearly the world around us. We become less likely to miss the times when Jesus crosses our path disguised as others in need. Being mindful means we focus on the present and take in all that is around us. It is easy to become preoccupied with thoughts of the past or worries about the future. But with practice and commitment, we can become more fully aware of all that God has given us and has in store for us each day.

Daily Advent Challenge

Reflect on the blind spots of faith in your life: those areas where you have a hard time seeing the presence of God. It can be in a place, person, or situation. Pray for healing so that you may see and be blind no more.

Reminder: This is also the First Friday of the month. Many parishes have Eucharistic Adoration or special devotions on this day. It could be a great addition to your Advent.

First Thursday of Advent

Posted on December 1, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 26:1-6, Psalm 118, MT 7:21, 24-27

Daily Advent Challenge 12-01I remember years ago when the outer edge of a hurricane hit our neighborhood. The next morning my neighbors and I walked the streets looking at the aftermath. Trees were down. Roofs were damaged. House siding was in the street. Even though we saw much damage, all the houses were standing. We could only imagine what it would be like to have your home destroyed by this power of nature.

Our faith is like a house, that unless it is built solidly, the forces of this world can easily destroy it. For some, stewardship consists of parish ministry fairs and commitment cards. It is about the parish getting you and me to give more money and do more stuff. If that is our stewardship house, winds will blow it right down with no problem. But if our stewardship house is built on the foundation of mature discipleship and a deepening relationship with Jesus Christ, that house can withstand just about anything.

Daily Advent Challenge

In your prayer today, offer up as an intention your parish community. Pray that they see stewardship not as a way of just getting more people engaged, but as a pathway for people to grow in their love of Jesus Christ.

Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle

Posted on November 30, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

ROM 10:9-18, Psalm 19, MT 4:18-22

Daily Advent Challenge 11.30On this feast of Saint Andrew, the Gospel recounts Jesus’ call of Andrew to “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Can you imagine being Andrew? You woke up that morning to go fishing as you always did and suddenly Jesus comes along and asks you to leave your profession, your security, and all you know behind. Luckily, Andrew was not alone, for his brother Peter was called, as were James and John. I bet it was easier to say yes to Jesus’ call when others could share in Andrew’s experience.

The stewardship way of life is easier when lived in a community of good stewards. We have each other to lean on, to serve as role models, and to call us to accountability when we falter. God never calls us in isolation. It is the community that helps us to discern God’s call in our life. Imagine what it would have been like for Andrew if Peter, James, and John all responded, “No thanks.” We need each other. We need the Body of Christ.

Daily Advent Challenge

You could be a daily Mass attendee, but if not, try to attend a daily Mass today. If it is too late today, try to attend a daily Mass this week. While there, reflect on what it means to you to be a part of a church community.

First Tuesday of Advent

Posted on November 29, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 11:1-10, Psalm 72, Luke 10:21-24

Daily Advent Challenge: 11-29In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about how the wise and learned have missed the point of His ministry and His identity. He says that it is the childlike that see the Truth. In fact, they have grasped this reality even before prophets and kings.

Study is an important part of any disciple’s faith journey. Through study we learn not only more about Jesus, but also about the relationship humans are called to with Our Lord. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in the study of doctrine and theology, we forget the main thing: Jesus.

I think back to my years in college and divinity school and some of the professors and students I met for whom Jesus had become more of a subject than a person. However, I do remember one great professor that told me that theological debate should never be an activity for it’s own sake. All theological discussion needs to have as its end goal a deeper relationship with Jesus.

During Advent, choose some good resources for study and spend time with your Bible. But remember, at the end of the day, Jesus is real and He desires a relationship with you. He is not just a topic of history.

Daily Advent Challenge

Spend at least 15 minutes today in silence today and invite God to speak to you. You should say nothing. Just listen.

First Monday of Advent

Posted on November 28, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 4:2-6, Psalm 122, MT 8:5-11

Daily Advent Challenge: 11-28In today’s Gospel reading, a centurion approaches Jesus about his servant lying paralyzed at home. The centurion hoped Jesus would be able to heal his servant. However, he felt unworthy of having Jesus enter into his home.

He spoke the words that we now echo at each Mass before receiving Holy Communion, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus was so impressed with the centurion’s faith, Jesus healed the servant just as he had asked.

Too often, we find ourselves paralyzed in our stewardship. Fear, apathy, and procrastination are all obstacles to our living a stewardship way of life. We just cannot seem to move. But through study, prayer, and deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church, we can overcome that paralysis.

This season of Advent is about doing just that. Our goal is to not only overcome spiritual paralysis; it is to be ready so that when Jesus calls, “Do this,” we respond with a firm, “Yes!”

Daily Advent Challenge

Identify one small thing obstacle that keeps you from fully living the stewardship way of life. Name it, reflect on why it is an obstacle, and work on a plan to eliminate or lessen its power in your life.

First Sunday of Advent

Posted on November 23, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 2:1-15, ROM 13:11-14, MT 24:37-44

Advent Challenge 11-27“So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Today we hear that ominous Gospel passage where Jesus tells us about people being taken from where they are and what they are doing when they least expect it, while others remain. This has been distorted by some for support into a spectacular idea of a rapture, leading to many books and movies. A profitable genre has been created that sometimes preys on people’s fears.

But in following Jesus Christ, there is no fear. What we are called to do is live each day as it were our last. Be mindful of all the opportunities around you to share love and the gifts God has given you. We will all be held accountable in the end, but it is not what we have done that will save us. Our salvation lies in intentionally following Jesus, which leads to us giving over ourselves totally to Him.

Daily Advent Challenge

Spend time reflecting on what would you change in your life if you knew your time was close to an end. Resolve to make even a small change or two today!