Epiphany Gifts

The Nazareth Page - A weekly gospel meditation for the home Depositphotos_14869839_m-2015.jpg

January 7th, 2018 The Epiphany of the Lord, Matthew 2:1-12

 Every year I wonder what’s happening to the religious meaning of Christmas. Certainly, most Christians recall the birth of Jesus Christ, especially as it is described in Luke’s gospel. In our home, my wife has collected many diverse cultural expressions of the stable scene at Bethlehem. Thus, we have many reminders that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus.

But then, like a gigantic cloud that blocks out the light of the sun, another meaning of Christmas overshadows us. Its basic message is about gift-buying. Christmas becomes the time when we give or exchange gifts with others. It can become mostly a commercial event. A materialistic feast that could result in nothing more than giving and getting stuff. Not that this is all bad. Gift-giving and the celebration of Christmas go way back. We are reminded of this connection in today’s feast.

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Christmas Isn't Over Yet

Epiphany means the revelation of God. During Jesus’ life, there are many other “epiphany” moments: The Baptism of the LordDepositphotos_52700959_m-2015.jpg (which marks the end of the Christmas season), the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Transfiguration, the Resurrection appearances. Epiphanies prompt God’s people to say in astonishment: “We saw the Lord!”

With the Wise Men, we proclaim: “We have seen his star at its rising!” The Epiphany is the climax of all gift-giving, because it was on this day the three kings or Wise Men brought their gifts to the Christ-Child in Bethlehem. We bring our gifts of beauty to share with one another and to honor our Lord, the King of all Kings.

Celebrate the Epiphany at Home: 

Gather your family or your CFM group to celebrate the Revelation of the Lord. Here are some ideas for your party:

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Cultivate a Sense of Gratitude

   Family feet by the fire                         

Keep the year holy at home. Spirituality is a journey taken one step at a time.  You never know--some of these ideas may become habits you’ll carry into the next year, and many more to come.  As the year begins, CFM offers some suggestions for growing in holiness throughout the year.

  • Cultivate a sense of gratitude. Greet each child with a smile in the morning, thanking God aloud for the gift that a child is. Summer offers innumerable examples of the glory and abundance of God’s creative genius.  Recognize the wonder of a sprouting seed and the beauty of full bloom. Model for your children an appreciation of God’s gifts.
  • Rededicate yourselves to mealtime prayer. Whether it’s a picnic at the park or hotdogs on the run, begin with bowed heads and thanksgiving. Light a candle. Your prayer can be a simple ritual like holding hands, saying “Thank you, God” together and blowing out the candle can be a graced moment for your family.
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Take Courage

Reflections of the Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Advent -- Luke 1: 26-38 Depositphotos_9219833_m-2015.jpg

God is a god of surprises! Our Gospel this Sunday reminds us that God works in mysterious ways and chooses unlikely people to do his will. A young girl receives a startling visit from an angel. Gabriel salutes her with a title of honor, Full of Grace, and declares that God has chosen her to be the mother of a son. If that news was not astonishing enough, considering her virginity, this is to be the Son of the Most High God. He will rule over the people in an eternal kingdom. Like every child in Israel, Mary would have about this promise of a messiah that would save God’s people. The angel repeats the promises first made King David, that his house and kingdom will endure forever. God’s people clung to this promise over many centuries, through dark days. They expected a powerful warrior that would put their enemies to flight and restore political glory.

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Who Are You To Say?

Reflections on the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent -- John 1:68-19-28 family sunset field

When he appeared in the desert, drawing enthusiastic crowds and preaching about repentance and forgiveness, John the Baptist’s questioners demanded to know the source of his authority: “What do you have to say for yourself?” If we profess to be Christians, people who know us may rightly ask us the same questions. “Where do you get off claiming that God loves you and faithfully cares for you and your family?”

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Here's Jesus

Reflections on the Gospel Reading for the Second Sunday of Advent -- Mark believe word art1: 1-8

Like John the Baptist, each Christian has been appointed to be a herald of the Lord. John testifies that he has been sent to prepare the way of the Lord by crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight his paths!” His appearance was strange, but he attracted quite an audience with his message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. We can feel confident to take up the evangelizing mission of John if we remember an important fact: “One mightier than I is coming after me.” We are messengers and workers, not the Messiah.

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Heads Up!

Reflections on the Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent -- Mark 13: 33-37 Christmas star

Advent blesses us with the reminder that we must be always watching out for God’s saving activity in the world. With all the negative events we see or experience every day, we need to stay on our toes if we are to stay hopeful. Jesus told his disciples “You do not know when the time will come,” when God will do a great work in the world—and a great work in each of us. Jesus helps us understand what he means by telling the parable of the servants left in charge during their master’s absence.

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Here Come the Judge

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home Jesus Prepares to Wash Feet
November 26th, 2017 – Jesus Christ, King of the Universe 
Matthew 25:31-46

One of our sons recently told me that he was interested in becoming a football referee. He was disgusted with what he called “terrible officiating” that he witnessed as a fan. As he saw it, the players and the fans deserved better. Accurate judgment on the part of umpires and referees is an important part of the world of sports. Nothing angers a fan more than “a bad call.”

In today’s gospel we are given the rules that will be applied to what we might call “the final game!” It’s also called “the Last Judgment.” It’s worth our close attention because we will be among those judged.

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Serve Everyone in Humility

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home Soup kitchen
November 19th, 2017 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 25:14-30

“Use it or lose it!” I am not sure where this saying originated but it could have been drawn from today’s gospel. It’s one that is familiar to most of us. Mention “the parable of the talents” and many will recall it. It is especially popular with accountants and financial managers. It touches on the world of investments and taking risks. It may even appeal to gamblers, now that I think of it.

It’s a story of success and failure. To those who used the talents given to them by God, especially “for others,” their goodness (and reward) doubled. To those who buried their talent and failed to use it for others, they lost it all. 

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Be Prepared

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home Hikers
November 12th, 2017 – 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 25:1-13

The Boy Scouts of America were recently in the news because they are soon to allow girls into their organization. But that’s not what we are going to discuss here. Rather, we are going to discuss what may be the most remembered motto of the boy scouts. “Be prepared.” That’s at the heart of the parable Jesus taught about the Wise Virgins.

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