This Week in Prayer
The readings for Christmas and for the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God (aka “New Year’s”) encourage us to hear our Lord telling us “My favor rests on YOU.” Sometimes that truth is easy to believe. Sometimes, especially when we have the spiritual blues, that claim seems like a goofy bromide.
This week’s readings subtly remind us what to do and what not to do when the spiritual blues get us down, when we feel as if God’s favor does NOT rest on us. One way to phrase it – “When you have the spiritual blues, change nothing.” We frequently make misguided choices when we choose during the blues.
The first reading for the Epiphany comes from Isaiah’s 60th chapter. Much of that book is intended to coax the Jewish exiles in Babylon to return to Jerusalem. Life in exile produced severe spiritual blues, a pervasive questioning about God’s love. Stuck in that sorry state, the people wondered if the lousy life they’d come to know in Babylon would be better than the dangerous return to pulverized Jerusalem. The passage’s mention of darkness and people living under thick clouds refers to the Gentiles but it also refers to the very downtrodden people who nearly decided to give up on the return home. Isaiah’s picture of the revitalized Jerusalem begs the exiles not to cave in, not to make a big choice when stuck in the blues.
Sunday’s gospel makes four mentions of King Herod. He built the magnificent temple and improved much of Israel’s infrastructure, and he was a beast. His obsession with gaining Rome’s favor prompted him to mistreat the people in unimaginable ways. King Herod gave the nation a case of the blues that few could rival – even before he ordered the murder of dozens of babies in Bethlehem. Herod also encouraged people to dilute their religion. The golden eagle he placed in front of the temple spoke volumes about his true intentions. It would have been understandable if the people had caved into him, given their blues and his power. But, in the description of the Magi’s deception, we find an image of greater resistance to Herod. The people who were mired in the spiritual blues did not make a major choice – at least in that regard.
What about you? Are there people in your life who are stuck in the spiritual blues and are contemplating a major move? Might they be poised to make a major change at a time when they are not trusting in or truly consulting God’s favor? It could be about relationships, about careers, about schools, about commitments of any sort, and it is just flat out the wrong time to make a choice? Might you be a channel of peace in speaking the cautious word to postpone the decision – if possible – until peace returns?
- Listen to this week’s readings and homily
- Read this week’s readings
- Read next week’s readings
- Gentlemen – Once again, stay tuned for information about a prayer group for men. As the women have benefited so much from the “Walking with Purpose” program, the “Cornerstone” program might be excellent for the men. Tell a friend.
- A bit of praise for all who have been requesting the Sacrament of the Sick at the first indication of serious illness or injury. The early approach makes it even more prayerful.
This week in service:
- Attention all ministry heads – If you haven’t already done so, please let Suzanne Kral know what you need in terms of communications and tables in the Gathering Space for ministry recruiting in February.
- Thanks to the eighth-grade CCD students in Mr. Hampton’s and Mrs. Griggs’ CCD class for organizing the successful diaper drive for the newborns in low-income families.
This week in community:
- Not even mother nature could thwart the flow of grace on Saturday night as the Christian rock group 150 Central led us all in energized, musical prayer in their “Radiate Love” concert. The weather kept some away and those who could make it left feeling a renewed connection to Christ. How can we thank Rea Larangeira and the entire band for the remarkable evening?
- Speaking of the 150 Central concert - how about the high school youth group’s work to make everyone in attendance feel welcome and well fed!
- Stay tuned for the finalized version of the Spring calendar of fellowship activities. At least one fun event per month is already schedule for January through July. Final touches are being made to the schedule that will be published quite soon.
- Calling all teenagers! You still have time to sign up for the seminar “Generation Change” – you will be glad you did. The program, part of “Financial Peace University” has much Christian financial wisdom to share. Check it out! Contact Rich R. for more information.
- One more round of thanks to our Knights of Columbus for all they do. Their pancake breakfast was a smash hit and is enabling them to make a sizeable contribution to the Youth Ministry trip to Tennessee. Men interested in joining the Knights – especially you guys in your twenties and thirties – let me know and I will put you in touch. It’s a great way to become a part of a wonderful group of dedicated Christian parish-mates who also know how to have a good time.
- On your way out of church this weekend take a poinsettia plant -- and train it to bloom for next Christmas.
Hoping you are enjoying the dose of spring before the sleet returns. Love and blessings.
Fr Hank, SJ