Christmastide, December and January 2017–18

Reflecting on our Christmas Journey
with Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the Magi

As I prepare to welcome Jesus once again this Christmas, I reflect for a few moments on my own journey as I wait for the coming of my Lord.  It may be that life has been so frantic recently that my progress on the way has been halted by matters too urgent to leave. Or perhaps my road has felt calm and steady … or in contrast, lonely, slow and arduous. However I have travelled, I try to put aside the hustle and bustle of the world around just for now, and ‘come home’ to myself … and to God.

As I reflect on  the journeys of Mary and Joseph, I follow them to Bethlehem … and then back to Nazareth with their precious new baby, the One whom other travellers came to worship.

I spend time with them whenever I can, both in the words of Scripture, and if I so choose, through the evocative lens of three Christian poets.

CLICK HERE FOR THE CHRISTMASTIDE PREGO (booklet form to print)

CHRISTMASTIDE PREGO (single pages to view online)

St Beuno’s Outreach wishes you and all your family peace and joy this Christmas, and many blessings in the New Year.

The next Prego will be for the Baptism of the Lord (7 January 2018)

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Third Sunday of Advent, Year B, 17th December 2017

Rejoice in the Lord always!

This Sunday’s readings are full of joy and hope – we have a glimpse of the joy of our approaching redemption.

Isaiah, in the First Reading, announces the redemption of Jerusalem, clothed in the bridal robes of justice and integrity. Jesus quoted this text to describe his mission, and it also prefigured Mary’s role in our salvation.

The Responsorial Psalm is the song of Mary’s Magnificat. It is a joyful hymn of praise to God for his holiness, his mercy and his faithfulness in bringing the salvation promised to his people.

St Paul’s sentiments in the Second Reading echo this. In his letter he encourages the Thessalonians – and us – to be happy, to pray constantly, to give thanks to God and to be open to the Spirit as we wait for the coming of the Lord. God has called us and he will not fail us.

This Sunday, we again meet John the Baptist in the Gospel. John the Evangelist insists on the Baptist’s role as witness to the light. He is a witness, a voice, but not the Messiah. The Messiah is here, amongst us, but we do not know him.

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Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Year A, 26th November 2017

‘But Lord, when did we see you in need?’

This Sunday brings the Church’s liturgical year to a wonderful conclusion. Christ Jesus, King of the Universe, has conquered death and reigns in eternal glory as our Judge. Those now called to share in his Kingdom are the ones who have tried to reach out in love and care to others – for whatever we do for any one in need, we do as for Christ himself.

In the First Reading, the people of Israel have been failed by their own self-serving leaders. But the Lord himself now promises to come as the Shepherd-leader who truly cares for his flock, seeking out the lost, the injured and the weak. He will also sit in judgement when needed.

The familiar Psalm is full of strength and consolation. Our Shepherd-Lord walks with us continually, supporting us no matter where life takes us.

The Second Reading tells us that the resurrection of Christ is the starting point for all to share in eternal life. At the end of time, all things will be subjected to Christ, and he will surrender the kingdom to the Father. This power of the risen Christ is the power to give life to every one of us.

At the Last Judgement, Christ the King will divide his flock like a shepherd (Gospel), separating us in accordance with how we have treated others, especially those in need. All who have tried to act with the very same care that God shows us, will take their place in his kingdom.

This week, I might ask the Lord to show me his own face more clearly in each person that I see, and to help me remember that whatever I do for another, I do it for my Lord too.

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 19th November 2017

The Lord gives us talents and asks us to use them in his service

Today’s readings are for us – we who live in the ‘in-between times’ between the Lord’s Resurrection and his Second Coming.

Convinced that the Last Day would occur within their own lifetime, the first Christians are counselled by St Paul (Second Reading) always to be prepared, since they cannot know the hour.

Similarly, St Matthew (Gospel) encourages those same early Christians, who wondered how best to live in the days before Jesus’s return in glory. Both writers urge them simply to wait, confidently, in the light, while being faithful to their daily responsibilities.

Today’s Psalm reminds us of the joys that come from such faithful service, while the author of the First Reading, using the analogy of a good wife, shows that the book of Proverbs is the best place to look for advice on using one’s talents in a fruitful, practical way.

Let us pray, this week, for greater devotion to the Lord, and the awareness that, already, we have a share in the Master’s happiness.

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 12th November 2017

Stay awake! Be ready!

As we draw near to the end of the liturgical year, the readings are concerned with the end of time when Christ Jesus will return again and God’s kingdom will reign. We are reminded to stay awake, to be ready to notice when and where God is present among us now.

The First Reading describes the beauty of Wisdom who seeks to comfort, strengthen and console those who look for her help in troubles and anxiety.

When God may seem distant, we cry out to the Lord with the Psalmist. We recall with praise the glory and strength that has helped us, and rejoice in the shelter of his loving presence.

The Second Reading tells us we can be quite sure that those who have died are risen with Jesus, so that we can be comforted by this hope, for them and for ourselves. At the end, we will all be with the Lord forever.

The Lord Jesus will come again but we must be patient, keeping the flame of our love and faith alive in our hearts. We may tire of waiting for him, but must be ready to wake up quickly to answer his call. We do not know the day or hour of his coming (Gospel).

This week I pray to stay awake, ready to notice the presence of the Lord. In keeping close to him, I may lead others to a sense of the hope and faith we have, both in joy and when our lives are difficult.

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 5th November 2017

Keep my soul in peace before you, O Lord

Our readings this week are both a harsh criticism of how some aspects of established religion can lead us to pride, and also a gentle teaching on simplicity and humility.

In the First Reading, Malachi has hard words for the priests who have strayed and led others to stumble.

Jesus, too, in the Gospel criticizes the leaders who lay heavy burdens on the people – those who only think of their own importance, rather than of teaching God’s word and care for others.

However, the words of St Paul to the Thessalonians in the Second Reading are in great contrast. He reveals a maternal affection for his people, and is willing to give up everything for them so as to spread the Good News. He is full of thanksgiving for God’s work in them.

The Psalm is a beautiful prayer of humble trust in the Lord, with the image of a child resting in his mother’s arms. We are encouraged to hope in God whatever comes.

Perhaps this week, awareness of our closeness to God will lead us to humble prayer rather than empty practice.

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Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 29th October 2017

‘Open our heart, O Lord, to accept the words of your Son’

Let the Gospel acclamation above be our invitation to prayer this week.

The true meaning of God’s Law proclaimed by Moses and the prophets is revealed to us in this Sunday’s readings.

The First Reading from Exodus describes how God’s law of love is to be applied in daily life. God wants his people, who were liberated from slavery in Egypt, to be people of justice, kindness and compassion; both to strangers and to their neighbour.

The Psalm is a litany of love for God … our strength, shield, saviour, and the very rock of our existence. Surely it is from this refuge of compassion and help that we are given strength to come to the aid of others.

Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (Second Reading) describes how their faith has changed the communities where they live. Their life lived in the Holy Spirit has encouraged others to believe in the Gospel message.

In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. We are commanded to put God’s law of love into practice by loving our neighbour as ourselves.

Let us pray for each other throughout this week that we will have the grace to want and to choose only that which will deepen our love of God. With God at the centre of our lives, we will have strength to love others. May our hearts be open to respond actively to the need of our neighbour.

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