The Star Wars franchise has had plenty of ups and downs, but The Last Jedi was a two-hour-and-forty-minute expression of those ups and downs all in one shot. There were cheerful moments (moments when everyone cheered) and “Seriously?” moments. The movie was too ambitious and accomplished less by doing too much. There was a very interesting commentary on the role of religion in society as we see Luke’s struggle with the use of the Jedi and his desire to end the religion. It’s a good watch and a great movie for family discussion.
We call today Gaudete Sunday because “gaudete” means rejoice. In the readings for this Sunday, Dec. 17, we’re given a reason to rejoice — because God’s justice is at hand. He has come to save us, and we receive this in our baptism. The readings make a strong connection with the readings we hear during Lent. What Jesus began at Christmas is completed at Easter, and we’re encouraged to think about our baptism as a reminder of this. We hear the reading from Isaiah that Jesus chose as an introduction to himself in the beginning of his public ministry, and we hear John introduce Jesus as the one who would come after him, and make baptism more than a symbol. The forgiveness of our sins in baptism is our reason to rejoice, because when we’re forgiven, we experience all of the gifts that we hear in the jubilee text of the first reading.
The readings for this Sunday, Dec. 10, keep us focused on the second coming, as the first two weeks of Advent do. We hear God’s original promise to come to earth to save God’s people, and we hear God’s continued promise to come and finish what he started in Jesus’ establishing the reign of God on earth. Our funky, three week Advent is a keeper of time as we draw closer to Christmas, and a reminder that we work within God’s timing, not our own. Peter reinforces this in the second reading, where he speaks of a day being like a thousand years to God and vice versa. The Gospel recalls our baptism as a sign of our identity as children of God, inheritors of God’s promise of salvation, and our need to pay attention to the prophetic voice of the John the Baptists in our lives.
The readings for this Sunday, Dec. 3, are a little bridge between our experience of God as King of the Universe and our experience of God as a tiny, innocent, helpless baby. The baby is going to be our focus soon, but we know that Jesus isn’t helpless. Our God has always come to us in ways that we can understand, this first week of Advent, we’re encouraged to pay attention to the many ways that Jesus reveals himself to us, to look for him everywhere in our lives, and to make our hearts ready to see him when he’s with us.
Grief can be paralyzing. It makes us stop, take notice of the pain, and sit with it. When dealt with healthily, it can move us into a new depth of human experience, making us stronger, more empathetic, and ready to reach out and help others. Or, it can hold us in place and prevent us from acting, stopping us from living fully. In the Justice League movie, each member experiences a form of grief that keeps them stuck in place until they find community, a common mission, and healing.
The readings for this Sunday, Nov. 26, tell us that on the day we celebrate most particularly the Kingship of Jesus, we focus on him as being a shepherd—one of the dirtiest, least desirable jobs of the ancient world. This is our King—our God—the one who loves us so much that he uses his authority to become the lowest of the low in order to save us. And our salvation, we’re told, is dependent on our willingness to do the same.
The DC movies have been considered by most to be falling short of their competitor, Marvel, but Justice League, more than any of their most recent movies, in my opinion, holds up. It’s not a movie for all kids, but I highly recommend it for families with pre-teens and teens.
The readings for this Sunday, Nov. 19, are a reminder of God’s protective, fulfilling love. Recalling the image from the Jewish Scriptures of our relationship with God being like a marriage, our readings invite us further up and farther in to our experience of God’s care. They also help us to understand how we can respond to that love in our every day lives, taking the resources that God has given us, and using them for the benefit of others. We’re reminded to be courageous and trusting that God will help us accomplish whatever God calls us to.
The readings for this Sunday, Nov. 12, are all about God’s Wisdom and how it relates to our lives. God’s Wisdom makes lives better, and prepares us to meet Jesus. Wisdom seeks us out, wants to draw us in. It helps us to see things as they are, and to act in ways that are right and good. It helps us to see the truth about our situations, and to not get caught up in fear or anxiety. How does being prepared help to reduce anxiety in our lives? How does it make us more fit for meeting Jesus in the Incarnation and in the Second Coming?