Wednesday, December 25, 2013

And the greatest of these is Love...

It seems so simple. 

Christ was born in a humble stable to show us what kind of love we are called to share
We are not invited to only love those close to us or only the loveable. This is not Love that requires reciprocity, or a gift that is given with obligation. 

This is the Love that calls some people to leave their homes – their extended families – the financial security of a medical practice in the US, to provide care for people who can never give back to them in equal measure.  

This is the Love that makes sacrifice, takes risks, reaches out, and can see Christ in others.
Pope Francis has said “This Christmas may we be consistent in living the Gospel, welcoming Jesus into the centre of our lives.”

For me it can be challenging among the work, the baking, and even the modest shopping, to remember that welcoming Jesus, inviting the Love, just as Mary and Joseph did, is what I am called to do at Christmas and every day.  

Perhaps it is really that simple after all.  Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas, and opportunities to welcome this Love in the center of our lives.

Monday, December 16, 2013

We wait in joyful hope…

As Catholics in the US it can be quite a contrast between being in Church on Sundays and the rest of our lives at this time of year.

In Mass we are making our way to Christmas - through the path of Advent - Sunday being reminded that we must repent of our sin - not a popular topic at any time of year.

Yet everywhere else, everyone is playing Christmas music; the decorations went up right after Thanksgiving; the focus is quite commercialized; buy, buy, buy.

One great advantage to being in the missions is the complete lack of this phenomenon.  Advent is  Advent / Christmas is Christmas.   I am grateful for the three Advents and Christmas we enjoyed in Udon Thani, Thailand.   We missed our family at this time of year more deeply, yet this experience now over 30 years ago, remains with me and calls me to celebrate both Advent and Christmas for their unique roll in our lives.

When we are preparing missionaries to serve long-term I find myself feeling like those on the hill in Thornton Wilder's play Our Town.   If they are able to make a trip home during their three years, I always recommend doing it at some regular time of year, not at a holiday - just a regular day.    Grover’s Corners, or any home town, our families and friends, can be appreciated anew when we have been away - yet coming home during a holiday may be overwhelming for some.  Please keep all our Mission Doctors in your prayers as they miss their families – and remember also the families here, missing them.

Matthew’s Gospel (4: 16) that  “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

As each candle is lit- they  draw us closer to the celebration of the humble Incarnation of our God, - may we pause, and wait in joyful hope!