Happy new year! We just celebrated some awesome days in the Church: The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas), New Year’s Day/Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Listen to Fr. DiTomo’s homily for the Feast of the Epiphany by clicking here: http://tinyurl.com/zuu9tro. Become a follower on Sound Cloud!
It’s officially Ordinary Time, but there is nothing ordinary about it! This is the time of regular watering of our faith as we journey toward Lent and the Resurrection.
Our Faith Formation students have been asked to decide on their faith projects, keep coming to classes, complete their lessons, serve at the Family Mass and Dinner, challenged to pray every day during Advent and now look for the ‘sign’ or ‘Epiphany’ in their lives like the star that the Magi followed to find Jesus. Opening the Word has been about the gifts we bring to Jesus and offer the Church community as well as the ‘ordinary’ gifts we bring to the altar during Mass. I used my Morning Prayer to discuss what my ‘offerings’ are every day regardless of the season. I had a gift bag with ‘signs and sayings’ as props.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and especially those of the Holy Father this month. Amen.
Donna’s Morning Prayer
(adapted from the Daily Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer)
We talked about what we can offer Jesus as a gift even if we don’t have gold (king), frankincense (God) or myrrh (man). We offer our big and little prayers, works, joys and even our sufferings and tears to Jesus. Just like the bread and wine we bring to the altar during Mass, Jesus takes them and transforms them into something good, better, beautiful and extraordinary. We ask the Holy Spirit to transform US. I ask that you remind your children that we come bearing gifts following the Light of the World who came to save us. We find him in the Mass!
We talked about the difference between the baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. How we may have gone swimming and tried to see how long we could hold our breath. The people who came to John the Baptist to be baptized were only baptized with water. They went under and came back up breathing in new life. They made confessions of their sins and shortcomings and committed to do better and be better.
John the Baptist warned them that someone was coming ‘greater than I’. Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. There was a sign of the dove who descended upon Jesus and the words of God, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” And this is echoed during the Transfiguration when God adds, “Listen to Him.”
During the past season and through these Feasts and Solemnities, we ‘see’ there were many signs: Angels, dreams, stars, and then the dove. How does God appear or reveal (epiphany) Himself in our lives? It’s a great discussion and can change the way you see others and the world.
Every week during Opening the Word in Church at the beginning of class they are asked to practice the 4-step prayer. (Say hi, talk about your day, ask for help and say thank you!) Ask them if they remember it! Prayer is a conversation. A student asked why we would tell Jesus about our day or week if he already knows. I said that we often talk to our friends about something that we were both at. Our friends already know what we did and what happened but we talk about it anyway. Reminisce about the meaningful parts, laugh at the silly parts and tear up at the sad ones. Jesus wants us to talk with him and help us carry our burdens. That’s what friends are for. That’s what a Savior is for. Jesus said he would make our burdens light!
Many blessings in the new year, Donna
In the news:
They actually built the boat! It’s a 510 foot-long wooden ark that is in a theme park in Kentucky!
Mosaics depicting prominent Bible scenes were uncovered during annual excavations of an ancient synagogue in Israel’s Lower Galilee.
Check that Bible story out in Genesis Chapters 6-9!
This is the greatest Commandment according to Luke!
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” “But who is my neighbor?” (Lk 10:25-37)
Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan didn’t know the injured man on the road. He wasn’t from the same country or tribe. He wasn’t from the same faith. But he still helped him. So who was a good neighbor? The one who treated the injured man with mercy. He cleaned his wounds, picked him up and took him to a place that would help him. He even paid for his healthcare.
A good parable to talk about during the Year of Mercy!
How will you get your spiritual workout? We all could use a little help and a little mercy! So be a neighbor to everyone around you! Stay strong!
What’s for breakfast?
This week’s Gospel is one of my favorite stories about Jesus in the Bible. One reason is obvious. Jesus rose from the dead and appears to the Apostles and disciples numerous times proving that he definitely has risen.
Talking to kids and teens at classes this week, I talked about what this story says to me about not only Jesus, but myself. What does God want us to know about him?
As I began the story with Peter and the disciples in the boat approaching shore, a couple of things came to mind that I may not have thought about before!
A night of exhaustion and discouragement for disciples that are reeling from the loss of their rabbi leads to an extraordinary event. A man they don’t recognize who seems to taunt them by highlighting their failure to catch any fish asks them if they caught anything to eat. Then he says, “Throw your net over the right side of the boat.”
I asked the kids and teens if they thought fish slept. Have they ever gone fishing? Maybe half had said that they had been fishing. I recalled all of the times that I fished with my Dad and brother who are quite expert and experienced with this pastime. I have eaten all kinds of caught fish that have been cleaned and descaled. Yuck! Many times, I would hear stories of how the fish were congregating in just a few areas on the lake. A good fisherman knows where those prime spots are.
Of course, fish don’t sleep. The kids thought that idea was funny. Peter and his friends had worked all night by the light of the moon. This was their job, their livelihood. How discouraging and exhausting it must have been to arrive at shore with nothing to show for it!
I could identify with the experience of failure. And there was nothing for breakfast. They didn’t catch anything. They would go home hungry.
The man on the shore says to throw your net over the right side. Did they believe him? How many times have I known that God is asking me to keep going and to try again? So they did it. They tried another time. I wondered aloud why Jesus said to put the net over the right side. Had they been fishing on the left side? Why? I asked the teens if they realized that ‘right’ has two meanings. It could mean the direction or correct. Had they been fishing on the wrong side? Was the right side the right way to fish? Was Jesus telling us that we have tried over and over again to do it our way? Maybe we should try it his way now. The Priest at our Family Mass talked about how we need to follow God’s will.
Jesus promises that if we throw out our ‘net’ like he asks, we may find a net that’s overflowing. As the kids guessed at what happens next, they thought the net would break. The net doesn’t tear or break under the weight of 153 large fish. We often think we won’t be able to do it. We think that our net will break or we don’t have the best ‘net’ for the task. God promises to strengthen our net. If we trust him, he will help us.
So Peter and the disciples find out that if they try again, their efforts will pay off. They recognize Jesus in this miracle. He then offers to make them breakfast!
So as I ended our reflection, I asked the kids to give me three things they learned from this story, I explained why I thought the breakfast was the best part.
Jesus is waiting on shore to make you breakfast. I asked about the meal that he wants to give us now. Among their guesses was the revelation of the Eucharist that we receive during the Mass. I pointed to the altar table. We are invited to this table for a meal that Jesus has prepared for us. Are we coming to the table? Jesus gives us himself in this extraordinary bread at every Mass. He’s hoping that after our long journey out in the world doing the things we need to do. that he asks us to do, we will get the nourishment that we need.
Why would we miss it?
Stay tuned for more………
What do you have?
Sometimes God is asking so much of us. It might be like the widow who uses the last of her flour and oil to feed Elijah. Or the widow who puts her last 2 cents in the collection basket. It is really hard to put that much trust in God. We need to trust that God will give us everything we need. That happened for the widow Elijah met. She had enough flour and oil to eat for a year!
Think about the Our Father the next time you say it. Do you trust that you will have daily bread? What can you donate that someone else really needs?
Based on Scriptures for Sunday, November 8, 2015