Our readings this Sunday lead us to focus on what Jesus considers to be the qualities of his disciples. In following his teaching, we can become silent witnesses to his kingdom in our world.
Isaiah, in the First Reading, tells the returned exiles that their prayer and observance are not just for themselves, but for action –and for sharing with their neighbour. They, in turn, will be healed by the way they live.
The Psalm is a prayer of praise for the ‘good man’, who acts with generosity, mercy and justice. The good person reveals something of God to others. Their good deeds will be rewarded with glory.
St Paul, in the Second Reading, tells how he went about humbly to preach a crucified Christ, so that his hearers should build their faith not on human philosophy, but on the power of God.
In the Gospel Jesus tells us that we are to be salt of the earth and light of the world. This is how we give the Father praise.
Let us strive this week to remember that in the darkness of today’s world, we are called to be Christ-like in everything that we do, and in the way we live.
How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven!
Today’s readings tell us what we need to follow Christ and become more like him. Getting our priorities right in God’s eyes may not be easy, nor is it always the way of the world, but it will bring happiness in God’s kingdom.
At the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount (Gospel), Jesus teaches the Beatitudes, which focus on the qualities he expects his disciples to have. They are not ‘rules’ like the commandments, more a road map for discipleship, laying out the way to follow him. Jesus is calling us to learn what it really means to be ‘glad and rejoice’ – in him alone.
The Beatitudes are a restatement of the values mentioned in the First Reading. The Lord will protect those living honest and just lives: people of integrity and humility.
The Psalmist sings of the Lord’s faithfulness and kindness, praising God for his care of ‘those who are oppressed’: the hungry, the imprisoned, the blind and the stranger.
St Paul reminds the Corinthians (Second Reading) why they have been chosen by God. Their gift of faith is entirely due to God’s generosity: in God they have found wisdom, holiness and freedom.
This week, we may pray to recognise all the blessings the Lord has given us, so that we might walk more closely with Jesus in his work, just as he walks with us in our lives. We continue to remember those suffering in war and conflict in Ukraine and beyond.
Today’s readings on this Sunday of the Word of God proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, the light of the world: a beacon who draws all peoples to himself.
When the old tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali were being deported to Assyria, Isaiah promised that their land, then deeply overshadowed by turmoil and war, would one day witness a great light in their midst (First Reading).
In the Gospel, St Matthew sees the fulfilment of this prophecy. Jesus was, and is, that light. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus settles in Galilee, a region that corresponds to the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali. After proclaiming the kingdom of heaven, it is striking that his first action is to call his first disciples. The task of witnessing to the kingdom is not something to be done by Jesus alone. Rather he calls followers to share in and continue this work.
If we are to walk in the light of Jesus, Paul warns against tribalism, differences and division. Jesus alone is our light, not any of his followers. Paul’s own role is to be a preacher to the humble and to proclaim the counter-cultural message of the cross (Second Reading).
The Psalm is an eloquent prayer of trust, where the psalmist calls on the Lord as his light and his help.
This week, we may like to ask the Lord for that light and help in our own lives, and in the lives of all humanity. We pray that we might find ways of sharing his light and compassion with all whom we meet in our suffering world.
‘Yes, I have seen, and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God!’
With today’s Gospel from St John, Christmastide flows almost seamlessly into Ordinary Time. Christmas ends with the ‘revelation’ of the Son of God, and Ordinary Time begins with the Baptist recognising Jesus as the Lamb of God.
If we, also, recognise Jesus as the Chosen One of God, what does that mean? What does it ask of us?
A way forward can be readily found in the three other texts of today’s liturgy: doing God’s will and delighting in God’s law in the depth of our heart (Psalm); taking our place among all the saints, the holy people of Jesus Christ (Second Reading); and being a light for the nations so that God’s salvation may reach all people (First Reading).
Let us pray, this week, that by ‘seeing’ God, both at work in the world and present to us in our lives, we might bear witness to the Chosen One by the daily choices we make.
As Christmastide draws to a close, we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which marks the start of Jesus’s adult ministry.
The First Reading from Isaiah tells of the qualities of justice and compassion that God’s chosen one will bring to the earth. He will come to us as a servant leader endowed with the spirit of God.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter teaches the early church that the Good News proclaimed by Jesus is not just for the chosen few, but for all people who love God (Second Reading).
The Psalm proclaims the glory of God in creation and tells us the Lord will bless his people with peace.
The Gospel shows how Jesus is baptised by his cousin John in the Jordan. With humility, Jesus shows us the path to truth by entering into the waters of baptism. The Holy Spirit descends on Jesus as God the Father proclaims that Jesus is his beloved Son. Theirs is a dynamic relationship of eternal, creative, self-giving love.
As Christians baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are called to follow Jesus by spreading the Good News to all people. As we pray this week, let us joyfully remember our baptismal promises so that we may follow Jesus more closely.
St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham, UK, wishes you a blessed and holy Christmas, and a Happy New Year
Whether you’ve been rushed off your feet in the run-up to Christmas, or found time to be quietly prayerful and contemplative, our annual St Beuno’s Outreach Christmas leaflet offers an opportunity to ponder the mystery of the God who is ‘with us’, the God who is revealed in us, and the gifts he brings.
Watch the Christmas story unfold through the eyes of those who were there: Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men. The Scriptural texts and images are complemented by a poem entitled ‘The Many disguises of Emmanuel’ by Sr Joyce Rupp OSM. It helps us ponder the varied guises in which Emmanuel, God-with-us, is present among us today in the forgotten, the despised and the rejected.
As you reflect, you may also like to follow this often quoted wise advice:
‘Pray as you can and not as you can’t.’Dom John Chapman OSB
Some days you may feel all you can do is to snatch a quick prayer based on a line or a phrase from the Gospel, or to consider one of the pictures as you go about your daily activities. Other days you may be able to spend quality time meditating on the mystery of the Incarnation, and this ‘leap from heaven’ which changed everything for ever: for you, for us all. Either way, we invite you to celebrate with joy God’s love, peace and hope, which came into the world at the birth of Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Arriving at the climax of Advent, today’s readings show God asking for our love and our trust. They also demonstrate God’s faithfulness to us, sending Jesus to save us.
Isaiah is sent to comfort King Ahaz (First Reading), who has turned away from God. Isaiah sees through the false humility of Ahaz, but still gives him a sign: a maiden will give birth to a son, Emmanuel – ‘God-is-with-us’.
This same prophesy is echoed in the Gospel. Joseph also faces a difficult situation, but God speaks through an angel in Joseph’s dreams, reassuring him that his son is a gift of the Holy Spirit destined to be the Saviour. Joseph follows the angel’s command, placing his whole trust in God.
For us, Jesus is the King of Glory in today’s Psalm. The earth and all within it belong to the Lord, and all who follow God’s ways shall receive a blessing.
St Paul emphasises both the human and divine aspect of Jesus, who is both a descendant of David and the Son of God. It is Jesus alone who can bring us grace and peace. (Second Reading)
As we continue our Christmas preparations and wait in expectant hope for the Lord’s coming, let’s pray for the grace that, like Joseph, we might listen with the ear of faith, and respond obediently to the Lord’s call.
We pray especially for peace throughout the world. Just as we welcome Jesus into our own hearts, we ask the Lord to help us embrace and welcome all those whom we encounter.
Come and join St Beuno’s Outreach as we celebrate ‘Our Christmas Light’ by Zoom on Sunday 11th December at 7 – 8.30 pm(UK time). This will be a chance to reflect and pray together as we patiently watch and wait, preparing for Jesus coming into the world. All are most warmly welcome.
On this ‘Gaudete’ Sunday, the liturgy begins with an invitation to ‘rejoice!’ Just as in the darkness of midwinter we long for light, so in the darkness of a world suffering the consequences of war and human greed, we long for the transforming light of Christ. But all around us are prophetic signs of God’s love at work, bringing us hope in darkness, and reminding us of the joyful life we are called to live. Today the Scripturesencourage us to listen, and to see the prophetic voices and signs of our times.
In the First Reading, Isaiah acclaims a joyful vision of Christ’s coming. Dimmed eyes will be opened; the lame will leap for joy; and we can have courage because the Lord is near.
The Psalmist shares a vision of the Lord overcoming our human hardship, bringing justice and healing to the world.
The Second Reading is a letter of encouragement, counselling us to be watchful and patient. The Lord is close at hand.
The Gospel describes a meeting between Jesus and the followers of the imprisoned John. Jesus answers their questions by referencing both the prophecies of Isaiah and today’s Psalm. John is a prophet of their time, and Jesus encourages John’s disciples not to lose faith. Jesus himself is the one of whom the ancient prophets spoke.
As followers of Christ, let us take courage, and prayerfully support one another to be patient and faithful to the liberating message of the Good News. We belong to a loving community that longs for, and trusts in, the light of Christ, even in the midst of long winter nights and during these challenging times.