In the readings for this Sunday, Feb. 4, we see a very busy Jesus. He moves quickly from healing Peter’s mother-in-law, to healing the sick and people with demons, to going around the countryside to preach the good news. Following in his footsteps, Paul talks to us about becoming “all things to all.” That means that we need to make ourselves relatable to everyone we meet. We’re never too smart, too cultured, to popular, to busy; too anything to make time and make ourselves available to anyone who needs us. Job reminds us to be mindful of those who are experiencing emotional unhealth, too — depression, grief, burnout, or even a sense of being overwhelmed — the Jobs of our world need our help, too.
This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day—a major conflict of interest for kids and couples alike. You could put off your celebration of Valentine’s Day until the weekend…or you could celebrate the two days together. Here are ten ideas for how to do it.
In the readings for this Sunday, Jan. 28, from Moses to Jesus, we find out what happens when a person accepts the vocation of prophet for God. Moses was a member of the Hebrew community chosen by God to bring his fellow people God’s message. Paul warns us to not get caught up in the normalcy of life: the distractions, the busyness, and anything else that makes us forget to listen to and speak for God. When Jesus began to teach people who longed to know God better, they experienced teaching from someone who knew God firsthand, and therefore, spoke with true authority. His teaching was so effective that the devil wanted to stop him, because if people knew the truth about God’s love and what God knows we can do, we would live such radical lives of love that we would change the world.
In the readings for this Sunday, Jan. 21, we get a small preview of Lent. “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed,” says God. Jonah is charged to bring that message to his enemies helping them (reluctantly) to come to God, all the while moving away from God himself in his unwillingness to forgive. He’s not keen on extending the forgiveness that he had received from God to others. Paul urges us to stop whatever we’re doing and check our relationship with God. It’s also a call to make sure that we have given everyone in our lives an opportunity to hear the Gospel — that’s our mission. To live an authentic relationship with God means to extend that relationship to others — especially our enemies. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that this is the time of fulfillment. It’s the time for God’s purpose to be fulfilled in the world and in each of us.
In the readings for this Sunday, Jan. 14, God continues the theme of invitation that was begun in the readings from last week’s Epiphany readings. Our first reading shows how God calls even the young, like Samuel, and how important it is to have good mentors like Eli to help discern what is being asked of us. Our second reading is a wonderful reminder that our bodies are good and holy, and made for God’s glory. God chooses to live in us, making us temples of God’s Holy Spirit. This means that we have a great responsibility to care for ourselves and to use our lives in God’s service. The Gospel recalls the falling back of John the Baptist, and the coming forward of Jesus’ ministry. Andrew recognized Jesus’ specialness right away, and responded immediately to his invitation to “come and see.” After spending just a little time with Jesus, Andrew began to gather others to share in what he had found — the Messiah — the hope of Israel. Every time we hear God’s invitation and answer it, we are drawn deeper into greatness and become more fully human, and more fully alive.
The readings for this Sunday, Dec. 24, prepare us for what we celebrate later in the evening, or the next morning —that God pitched his tent and dwelt among us. The Scriptures offer us a view of God’s unfolding promise to come and save his people — from the promise made to King David that the Messiah would come from his line, to the prophets and wisdom literature reassuring God’s people that God was coming and to hold tight, to Mary and Elizabeth experiencing God’s coming to them specially in the babies that they would bear — the promise of fruitfulness to Elizabeth in her old age, and the promise of salvation for all people through Mary. Each carried God’s promise more fully to the present moment, and each of us are invited to be Temple’s of God’s presence in our lives.
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.