Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph - Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3; Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19; Lk 2:22-40 or Lk 2:22, 39-40

12-31-2023Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, “If we love, naturally we will try to do something. First in our own home, our next door neighbor, in the country we live, in the whole world.” In this quote we see a shift from the idyllic to a hard dose of reality: love means sacrifice and service. Perhaps it’s worth asking ourselves: Does our family always get our best self? None of us is perfect, so the honest answer is probably no. If it’s tempting to think, “well, the Holy Family was perfect, so what does this feast have to do with our family?” let’s remember we are celebrating the Feast of the HOLY Family, not the feast of the perfect family. Yes, they were holy. They embodied this in their faith and devotion in those expanding circles of which St. Teresa spoke. They gave to God first – in today’s Gospel we see the family travel to Jerusalem to present Jesus in the temple. They then returned to Nazareth where Jesus grew strong and was “filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.”


Fourth Sunday of Advent - 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Rom 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38

12-24-2023Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

GROW: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” The angel Gabriel announces this in the Gospel today, and it is a phrase with which we are all familiar thanks to our recitation of the Hail Mary prayer. Although some may be comforted by such a message and its angelic messenger, it is troubling to Mary because the angel goes on to tell her she will conceive and bear the Son of God. Thinking practically, Mary is being told the impossible will happen – who wouldn’t be troubled? And yet Mary offers herself: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Despite her fear and trepidation, Mary went on to answer God’s call and do his will. Our Blessed Mother became a great example of fortitude at that moment, as she exemplified what it means to step outside of our own uncertainty and trust God completely. Although doing God’s will can be difficult at times, St. Paul reminds us in his Letter to the Romans that we can ask God for the strength to say “yes” in spite of our fears.


Third Sunday of Advent - Is 61:1-2A, 10-11; 1 Thes 5:16-24; Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

12-17-2023Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” Such simple words from today’s second reading. And yet it is not always easy to put them into practice. It is difficult to rejoice if we or people we love are hurting. It can be hard to pray when life is pulling us in a thousand different directions. But on this Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of rejoicing, we are asked to focus on a truth that can make both rejoicing and praying easier: Jesus entered humanity in flesh and blood to save us from our sins. This truth means that even if we don’t feel like there is much gladness or joy in our lives today, we can rejoice in the knowledge that we all have the chance to spend eternity in a place where pain, disappointment and suffering will be no more. With our eyes focused on that prize, praying can become a natural part of our days.


Second Sunday of Advent - Is 40:1-5, 9-11; 2 Pt 3:8-14; Mk 1:1-8

12-10-2023Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

Can you hear it? The voice crying out in the desert? While John the Baptist was the one literally proclaiming, from the desert, the coming of the Lord, we should listen for echoes of his message today. John foretold that Jesus – the Father’s Incarnate Son – was on his way to redeem the world. Through Jesus’ passion and death, the gates of heaven were flung open so all who believe in him would have eternal life. This is the Good News he proclaimed then, and the Church proclaims today: Christ has come! Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. This is what we prepare for in Advent – to celebrate, on Christmas day, Christ’s coming into the world, and that he will one day return in glory. The Lord gives comfort to his people in his words, and in his presence to us in the Eucharist: “According to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” So, trust in the Lord, remain vigilant, and take heed of the voices that remind us to “prepare the way of the Lord.”


First Sunday of Advent - Is 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37

12-03-2023Weekly ReflectionThe Faithful Disciple

In a nineteenth-century sermon, St. John Henry Newman wrote of today’s Gospel: “[Jesus] mercifully whispers into our ears … not to share in the general unbelief [around us], not to be carried away by the world but to ‘beware, keep alert’ and look out for his coming.” I love the thought that Jesus is “mercifully whispering” to us. Welcome to Advent! We know that Advent is a time of anticipation and preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ, but today’s readings also speak to me of training ourselves to be alert for God’s presence in the small, everyday moments of our lives. In his Letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes that “[we] are not lacking in any spiritual gift” as we await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are gifted with his grace. Our loving God bestows countless graces on us each day, and with the help of the Holy Spirit we can seek ways to be more aware of these graces. Yes, we can be more “alert” to them, but can also be thankful for these small moments of God’s presence with us.