Advent: Remembering what Christmas is about
The morning paper on this second Sunday of Advent overflows with glossy, four-color inserts urging us with almost religious fervor to shop. Christmas ads blanket TV and Internet screens.
Mailboxes burst with catalogues, coupons, and breathless fliers advertising everything from honey hams to diamond rings.
The acquisitive fever for getting the right gifts, and lots of 'em, so characteristic of this time of year, is once again epidemic.
(Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006)
Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
Gospel: Luke 3:1-6
It's hard resisting the culturewide illusion that decisions about Christmas purchases are matters of, if not life and death, at least epic importance on which our happiness and the
happiness of our family and friends (and co-workers, and neighbors, and anybody else who might give us a gift this year) teeters.
The problem is not gift giving itself. It's appropriate to celebrate God's inestimable gift of intimate friendship by the exchange of lesser gifts. Such gestures of generosity and gratitude can be powerful expressions of our mutual affection, our desire for communion of heart and mind.
Difficulties arise when we lose perspective - when our sense of proportion deserts us and we find ourselves elbowing a nine-year-old in the jaw to get the last Tickle-Me-Elmo in the store, or spending the mortgage money on the giant flat panel plasma screen TV, or fuming with rage when our expensive and lovingly chosen contribution to the Christmas gift swap yields us a cheesy gift bag with a half dozen sticks of convenience store jerky.
What simple gift could be an effective display of love for someone in your life?
What is one concrete action to take that might help you keep your shopping in perspective?
At moments like these, Paul's prayer in today's reading from Philippians hits the mark: "that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct, you may learn to value the things that really matter."
May our Advent longing be for the Gift we already have received, whose birth we celebrate and for whose coming again we hope.
This column is presented in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.
This week's readings
Week of December 10 - 16, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Second Sunday of Advent
Reading I: Bar 5:1-9
Reading II: Phil 1:4-6, 8-11
Gospel: Lk 3:1-6
Monday, December 11, 2006
Reading I: Is 35:1-10
Gospel: Lk 5:17-26
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Reading I: Zec 2:14-17 or Rev 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38 or Lk 1:39-47
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Memorial of Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr
Reading I: Is 40:25-31
Gospel: Mt 11:28-30
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church
Reading I: Is 41:13-20
Gospel: Mt 11:11-15
Friday, December 15, 2006
Reading I: Is 48:17-19
Gospel: Mt 11:16-19
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Reading I: Sir 48:1-4, 9-11
Gospel: Mt 17:9a, 10-13
Pope's Prayer Intentions
December General Intention
Wise use of power: That Christ, meek and humble of heart, may inspire leaders of nations to use power wisely and responsibly.
December Mission Intention
Missionaries: That in every part of the world missionaries may live out their vocation with joy and enthusiasm, faithfully following in Christ's footsteps.
Prayer for St. Raphael Cathedral
Whose word is like fire,
who spoke to Your servant Moses in the burning bush;
who led Your people Israel out of bondage
with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night:
hear Your people as we call upon You
in both need and gratitude.
May the Cathedral fire purify Your Church
in the Diocese of Madison
so that our hearts may burn with the knowledge
that Your Church is built upon the bedrock
of Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the intercession of Saint Raphael,
Your messenger of healing,
in union with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI,
and with our Bishop, Robert C. Morlino,
may we find comfort in our affliction
and the courage to proclaim
the Good News of Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
For more prayer resources visit the Office of Worship's Web page at www.straphael.org/~office_of_worship/
(Click on the link on the main page.)