This past week I stumbled upon an internet meme that held some truth for me this Advent Season. For those of you who are fortunate enough to spend less time on the internet than I do, a meme is a humorous image, video, or text that is passed around the internet. It typically depicts a cultural truism or commonly held belief in such a way that the viewer is inspired to laugh and say, “boy, aint that the truth.”
For me, this week, the particular meme that caused me to respond with a chuckle was a picture of a comparison list. One side of the list was titled, “Presents Mom Needs to Buy”. Underneath that list there was a long list of names which included; parents, in-laws, cousin Betty, uncle Tim, the nephews, the nieces, and so on, and so on, and so on. The other side of the column was titled, “Presents Dad Needs to Buy” and under that heading the only name listed was, “mom.”
Notwithstanding the truth of this meme, I want to share with you the experience I had while fulfilling my present buying obligation.
I had purchased an item and the nice and competent salesclerk asked if I would like her to wrap the present. Without even asking if it cost extra, I responded, “Yes! I do.” She selected a very nice wrapping paper which contained the brand name of the item with I had just purchased. I thought that was a bit ostentatious, but I said nothing. Then, after professionally wrapping the present she then wrapped the gift in a very bright red ribbon, which also displayed the name brand of the item in bright gold letters. Finally, she placed this handsomely wrapped present, with its expertly tied ribbon, into an appropriately sized gift bag… with the logo prominently displayed on both sides of the bag. As she handed me the gift bag I looked at her and said, “sort of the takes the surprise out of what’s inside…doesn’t it.”
She wished me a merry Christmas, and I took the gift and left the store.
Today’s Gospel sort of lends itself to the same type of scenario.
The Scripture is quite clear that immediately following Mary’s profession of faith, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” that she went with “haste” to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Where, immediately upon entering the door, Elizabeth greets her with these words, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me.”
Imagine, if you will, the nervousness, the apprehension, and the worry that Mary must have felt about having to share the reality and circumstance of her pregnancy. It might have been very possible that as Mary was traveling to the home of Elizabeth, she would have been very troubled as to what she was going to say. Yet, whatever Mary may have or may not have prepared along the way was unnecessary because of the mysterious and mighty hand of God.
Elizabeth’s words to Mary were both a greeting and a prophecy. Her words wondrously and purposefully associated Mary with two of the great women of the Old Testament, Jael and Judith. Women who were blessed for their heroic faith and courage. Elizabeth’s words revealed the love of God and his desire for the salvation for his people when she proclaimed, “the mother of my Lord.” Elizabeth’s words, though they “ruined” the surprise of Mary’s miraculous pregnancy, only served to immortalize the beauty and mystery of God’s plan for salvation for all of mankind.
Today, this 4th Sunday of Advent, as we eagerly await the celebration, tradition, and joy of Christmas let us take time to day to reflect upon the mystery…the beautiful mystery of God’s love for us.
Science, nor apologetics, no magic can explain God’s mysterious plan for salvation. We, as followers of Christ, can only accept by faith that God does indeed so love us that he gave us his only son; born of a virgin that he might live, suffer, die, and rise so that we may be called Children of God.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as we prepare ourselves to receive the wondrous mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ, may we reflect upon the wondrous mystery of his first coming. May our joyous anticipation of the celebration of his first coming inspire us to receive him today in joyous anticipation of his second coming. May we celebrate today, as Elizabeth celebrated that glorious day in that hill town in Judah; and may we continue to celebrate each day, knowing that our Lord is here with us, and will soon come again in glory and in power.
- Retreat starts @ 7:00pm Friday December 7.
- Meals are provided by the Monastery and all meals will be served in the dining area.
- The bringing of snacks to share is highly encouraged.
- Participation in Morning, Midday, and Evening Prayers, and Mass is not required. However, it is highly encouraged and will benefit your overall retreat experience.
- Self-care– includes anything necessary to enhance your retreat experience, i.e.; walks on the grounds, naps, reading/study, dialogue with other participants, etc.
- Gathering– all retreat participants will come together to prepare for the Retreat Talks.
- Retreat Talk– presented by Clergy on the topic of Advent and preparing ourselves for Christ’s coming.
- Individual Reflection– allows participants time for reading, study, personal prayer, confession, or spiritual direction. Please observe Rule of Silence when indicated
- Group Activity– is designed for all participants. They are designed to create, strengthen, and encourage relationships within the group and too assist in group dynamics and enhancing the overall retreat experience.
COST OF RETREAT
|Item||Cost||Cost for Individual||Cost for Couple|
|Rooms (Double Occupancy)||$50 /night||$50 (sharing a room)||$100|
|Meals (breakfast, lunch dinner)||$7/breakfast x2, $8/Lunch, $10/Dinner||$32||$64|
Please contact Deacon Jason to make your reservation or with questions.
Email- firstname.lastname@example.org Phone- 208-221-5730
Check out the Monastery’s website for directions and facilities: www.idahomonks.org
Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching
Hosted by Catholic Charities of Idaho
Saturday, November 17, 2018, 10:00-11:30am
Deacon Jason and Kristina Batalden will be presenting an introduction course to this central and essential element of our faith. We will be meeting at the Idaho Falls Humanitarian Center located at 1415 Northgate Mile (next to Fred Meyer). PLEASE RSVP. Contact Deacon Jason to reserve your place at the table by emailing him; email@example.com or call the CCI Idaho Falls office; 208-881-0740
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel of St. Mark 7: 31-37
As some of you may have already heard me say, almost every Sunday since the beginning of this liturgical year, the Gospel of St. Mark is my favorite Gospel. St. Mark’s use of direct language, the attention given to minute detail, and the intentional and deliberate revelation of Jesus as the Son of God resonate and connect with me in a unique and personal way. Today’s Gospel is the perfect example of these three characteristics, and once again, you, my brothers and sisters, get to listen to me blather on about my affection for this particular Gospel.
We heard in today’s Gospel the clear and concise description of Jesus’ journey from one location to another. We also learn that Jesus’ fame precedes him from region to region as he is immediately greeted by people who bringing him a deaf man to be healed. Mark describes the method by which Jesus healed the afflicted man and then Jesus cautioned those who witnessed this healing to share with no one what they have observed. All of this could be used as a summary and example of the writing style and intent and purpose of St. Mark’s Gospel.
However, as much as I do enjoy a good literary analysis of the Gospel, it does me little good if I ignore the truth, and the relevance, and the message. It is easy for me, and even perhaps all of you, my fellow pilgrims on this journey of salvation, to consume ourselves with the process only to lose ourselves by forgetting the purpose. The Gospel message for us today is exactly that reminder; we, as the Mystical Body of Christ, must never get so caught up in the methods of our faith and forget the purpose and reason for our faith.
Today’s Gospel of Mark describes what happens as soon as Jesus enters a new place, “And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him.” I draw your attention to the fact that Mark describes them as “people” and not followers of Jesus. Those who brought the deaf man, a man with need, were not part of the inner circle. Throughout the Gospel, Mark is deliberate in identifying the “followers of Jesus”, meaning those who traveled with him, and those who were not part of the inner circle.
When Jesus entered the district of Decapolis his name and his reputation were already known. The people had heard of Jesus but had not yet seen Jesus. They possessed a hope. A hope that came from hearing, a hope that came through the witness and testimony of others, a hope that was the result of someone telling them about Jesus.
At risk of offending, I dare say that we, modern-day followers of Jesus, have, at times, been at best lackadaisical and at worst derelict, in our responsibility of telling others about the Jesus. It is not uncommon to hear, when gathered together in and amongst our circles of influence, such things as, “If only the priest would go visit so and so”, or “If Deacon would just stop by”, or “If only the church offered this program or that event then they would come to know Jesus.”
If we, as the Mystical Body of Christ, have learned nothing but one thing from the revelations of abuse and the subsequent cover-ups, let it be this; we can no longer afford to vacate, ignore, or diminish our responsibility to be holy men and women of God who proclaim by our words and our deeds that Jesus Christ is the cure to a hurting, lost, and needy world. May we no longer find excuse or reason to abandon our calling to bring others to Jesus. From the onset the mission of the Church is to be a witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Savior of Humankind. That mission has not been revoked nor has it been removed.
The final point today is found in Jesus himself. Notice that Mark is very specific and very deliberate in his description of the healing Jesus performed on the deaf man. Jesus first brought the man apart from the crowd. He then placed his fingers in his ears, spit, and touched the deaf man’s tongue. His groan was audible, and he spoke words of healing. I ask you, did Jesus perform these actions because they were necessary for him to heal? No. Jesus performed these actions because it was what was necessary for the man to believe.
Let us never forget that Jesus Christ wants to have a real and tangible relationship with each and every one of us. He wants us to know him personally, vividly, and intimately. Our faith is not a faith rooted in ritual, rite, or recitation. It is a faith rooted in the very person of Jesus Christ. Jesus knows us intimately and he desires us to know him intimately.
As we come before this altar today, I ask you to examine yourself in the light of today’s Gospel and recall the faces and the names of the individuals who the Holy Spirit has brought to your attention. Individuals who need you to be a witness of the healing power of Jesus. Individuals who need you, not priests, deacons, nor programs, but need you to show them Jesus.
In addition, I ask you to examine your own relationship with Jesus. Is he as real and as tangible as he was when you first met him? Or, has time, pressure, discouragement, and sin caused you to confuse him with your own expectations and conditions.
Finally, my brothers and sisters in Christ, I say this to you as a fellow pilgrim needing your encouragement as desperately as I desire to encourage you. We shall, together, one with another, reach the prize which awaits us all as we endeavor to be live out our mission and our calling.