FROM OUR EDITORS —January 21, 2018 – 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ January 9, 2018

174

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus calls his first Apostles. I think there must be something meaningful in the fact that they were fishermen. These men didn’t simply enjoy fishing as a hobby. They made their livelihoods from the fish they caught in the Sea of Galilee.

What little I know for certain about fishing is that it requires patience. Jesus told these first followers, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). Their mission of being “fishers of men” is also our mission as followers of Christ today. Just what does this involve?

I think being a “fisher of men” may look a bit different in each of our lives, but I’m certain that it requires patience from all of us. Consider your patient witness…to a spouse or friend who may not share your passion for your faith; to children—your own or those in your classroom—who often try your patience; to the people in your workplace, on the highway, in the grocery store, or in your parish whose values are so clearly of this world and not of the kingdom Jesus came to proclaim. And then there’s the toughest challenge of all—being patient with ourselves.

We’ve long heard that “faith is caught, not taught.” May your witness—however flawed—catch those God is trying to reach through you. Be patient with yourself and others and keep walking the path of faith. Ultimately, the task of catechesis is God’s work to accomplish. Do your part and trust God to do the rest.

 

Image credit: Laurent LARCHER/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS —January 14, 2018 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ January 9, 2018

162o

A lot happens in the eight verses of Sunday’s Gospel: John the Baptist points out Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” two of John’s disciples follow Jesus and spend time with him, Andrew tells his brother Simon that Jesus is the Messiah and then introduces Simon to Jesus, Jesus gives Simon the new name of Peter.

Sometimes it works that way in our lives too—one significant event leads to another and another. Yet more often, we encounter Christ and his invitation in the everyday events of life. As we muddle through an ordinary day, we hear Jesus say, “Come, and you will see,” through common people or events.

Through big events and seemingly small ones, we can expect to encounter Christ if we seek him. In our busy lives and world, there are many distractions. We pray that you’re able to focus on the things that matter most and find Christ whenever and wherever you seek him.

 

Image credit: PLRANG ART/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS —January 14, 2018 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ January 2, 2018

A lot happens in the eight verses of Sunday’s Gospel: John the Baptist points out Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” two of John’s disciples follow Jesus and spend time with him, Andrew tells his brother Simon that Jesus is the Messiah and then introduces Simon to Jesus, Jesus gives Simon the new name of Peter.

Sometimes it works that way in our lives too—one significant event leads to another and another. Yet more often, we encounter Christ and his invitation in the everyday events of life. As we muddle through an ordinary day, we hear Jesus say, “Come, and you will see,” through common people or events.

Through big events and seemingly small ones, we can expect to encounter Christ if we seek him. In our busy lives and world, there are many distractions. We pray that you’re able to focus on the things that matter most and find Christ whenever and wherever you seek him.

FROM OUR EDITORS — December 25, 2017 & January 7, 2018 – Christmas & Epiphany

Author: Joan McKamey ~ December 19, 2017

165

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

This ending to the poem, “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Victorian poet Christina Rosetti (1830–1894), is one of my favorites. Although we don’t know the exact timing of Jesus’ birth and have reason to believe it was in the spring rather than “bleak midwinter,” the poet’s humble realization that the best she can offer Jesus is her heart rings with resounding—and challenging—truth.

What does Jesus most want from us? Our hearts! If we adopt the Beatitude humility of the “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3), we will acknowledge our dependence on God for everything and offer him our hearts as our best gift. Much like the little drummer boy, our lives will then “play our best” for him.

We pray you all have a blessed Christmas season, one that’s rich with the realization of God’s abundant love and blessings in your lives.

 

Image credit: Alessia GIULIANI/CPP/CIRIC

FROM OUR EDITORS — Sunday, December 24 – 4th Sunday of Advent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ December 11, 2017

162

Advent is winding down very quickly this year. The 4th Sunday of Advent is the only day in this final week of Advent. It could easily be eclipsed by the celebration of Christmas Eve later that day.

From Sunday morning to Sunday evening, we’ll fast-forward nine months—from conception to birth. The Sunday Gospel is the story of the Annunciation, proclaimed recently on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The key message of this Gospel for me is that Mary said yes—to being the mother of God’s Son and to surrendering to God’s will for her life. We, like Mary, are called to be Christ-bearers in the world. We, too, are called to surrender our lives to God’s will.

Don’t lose the message of this 4th Sunday of Advent or skip over this opportunity to consider the ways God calls you to say yes with your life. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas with an even greater sense of its meaning.

 

Image credit: Romolo Tavani/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS — Sunday, December 17 – 3rd Sunday of Advent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ December 4, 2017

156

Pointing the way to Jesus. That was John the Baptist’s role. He answered clearly and humbly that he was not the Christ and that he was not even worthy to untie Jesus’ sandal strap. John’s clarity about his role can help us reflect on our own.

How do we point the way to Jesus? Is the larger part of our motivation for doing good works the positive attention it brings us? Are our lives truly pointing the way to Jesus? Do others recognize us as Christians by our words and actions? Will they “know we are Christians by our love”?

In these Advent days of preparing for Christmas, we must also consider how we are preparing to greet Jesus at his Second Coming. How well are you doing at following John’s lead and pointing the way to Christ?

Image credit: Mathias Grünewald [Public domain in USA], via Wikimedia Commons

FROM OUR EDITORS — Sunday, December 10 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ November 27, 2017

150

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” This line from the prophet Isaiah is echoed by John the Baptist in Sunday’s Gospel. It also sums up our task for Advent and gives us pause to consider: How do we prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming? What paths do we need to straighten for him?

We encourage you to use these weeks of Advent to help the children in your classroom and home to prepare their hearts through prayer and their actions through loving service. Lead them in preparing their thoughts by encouraging care and compassion. Lead them in straightening Christ’s path through an examination of conscience and celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation or a forgiveness prayer service. Help them channel their excited energy into activities that reflect our Advent task of preparing our hearts for Jesus’ coming—as a babe at Christmas and again at the end of time.

 

Image credit: CIRIC International

FROM OUR EDITORS — Sunday, December 3 – 1st Sunday of Advent

Author: Joan McKamey ~ November 21, 2017

145

There are many times in our lives as Christians that we’re called to be countercultural. One of those times occurs as the season of Advent begins. Our countercultural challenge is to keep Advent as a season of preparation for Christmas. Advent is a time of joyful anticipation of the celebration of our Savior’s birth. It is also a time to consider how prepared we are for Christ’s Second Coming. Yes, we make Christmas preparations during this season, but we can benefit from holding off on celebrating Christmas until Christmas!

We encourage you to incorporate some traditions of Advent—Jesse Tree, Advent calendars, Advent chains, Advent wreaths, adding straw to the Baby Jesus’ manger for good deeds performed—in your classroom and home. If you’re looking to try something new, check out The Manger on the Mantel, a book and activity offered by our sister company, Creative Communications for the Parish. We wish you all a very blessed Advent season!

 

Image credit: Creative Communications for the Parish, Bayard, Inc.

FROM OUR EDITORS — Sunday, November 26 – Feast of Christ the King

Author: Joan McKamey ~ November 14, 2017

141

Are you a sheep or a goat? Let me rephrase that: Is Christ really your King? That’s a question we should ask ourselves with regularity. The Church honors Christ as King this Sunday on what’s officially called the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This Sunday’s Gospel has Jesus separating the sheep—his true followers—from the goats—those that fail to follow him—at the Final Judgment. While we acknowledge Christ as King of the Universe, we each must make sure that Christ is King of our universe—that we put him and his will for us high on our list of priorities.

As we are deluged with Christmas ads and our calendars fill with Christmas preparations, it’s an appropriate time to pause in our busyness and consider how much we allow the pull of our world to shift our focus from God’s kingdom and what is valued there. We don’t want to be goats in sheep’s clothing. Learn more about this feast here.

 

Image credit: aaltair/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR EDITORS—Sunday, November 19 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Author: Joan McKamey ~ November 7, 2017

137

I have just returned from a wonderful pilgrimage in Ireland. While traveling, our group visited Northern Ireland as well as sites in the Republic of Ireland. We learned a lot about the “The Troubles” of 1968–1998 and the history of tensions between Catholics and Protestants from our tour guide, a Catholic historian from the Republic, and our coach driver, a Belfast-born Protestant.

We quickly learned, however, that “The Troubles” and ongoing tensions aren’t really about religion. It happens that the unionists, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, are overwhelmingly Protestant and the republican or nationalist minority, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the Republic of Ireland, are almost exclusively Catholic. Discrimination, tension, and violence between the two groups became headline news for three decades. Extremists from both sides continue attacks of various kinds still today.

I’ve simplified a complex political situation in order to borrow The Troubles as a way we may be thinking of recent months in North America. Wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, a terrorist attack, and two mass shootings—one in a church—have devastated many lives and much property. The effects on our psyches are less tangible but no less real.

How do we make sense of so much tragedy? What answers can we give a child—or even ourselves—about how our all-loving and all-powerful God can allow such terrible things to happen? Fred Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister and beloved creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” said his mother always told him to “look for the helpers” in times of tragedy. He summarizes, “If you look for the helpers, you’ll know that there’s hope.”

As Christians, we are people of hope. We know that Easter Sunday follows Good Friday. We know that Jesus’ Death led to the promise of eternal life for all who follow him. In times of trouble, we’re inspired by the heroic acts of those who step in to help. We find comfort in knowing that even though God allows bad things to happen, he is our constant hope and help in times of trouble. And we can be confident that the good we do each day as servants of God’s kingdom has a ripple effect in our world. God is calling each of us to be a helper and a sign of hope in our troubled world.

 

Find a Blessing in Times of Trouble here.

Be sure to check Lesson Updates regularly.

 

Image credit: Jon McKamey

VIDEOS OF THE WEEK

RECENT POSTS

Teaching the Hail Mary

Thankful for Winter?

Celebrating Catholic Schools

SUNDAY’S GOSPEL —January 28, 2018 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time