“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1)
During this season of giving, let us remember a beautiful gift that we have received being children of God! As God’s children, it’s in our DNA that we share and express our love for others as well. Tell your spouse, children other family members & friends that you love them, every day! Also, pray for those people that are different than you, those that you may not like or those that go out of their way to annoy you. Your prayers may be the start of a new friendship.
“For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.” – Luke 1:44
When you hear the scripture readings and Gospel reading at Mass, do you “leap for joy?” If not, don’t blame the lecturer or priest, rather look inside yourself. What are you doing to grow in friendship with Jesus? How do you prepare for Mass each week? Or, do you just show up and expect to be entertained? As the Body of Christ, we are called to be active participants, not just passive observers
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make our requests known to God”– Philippians 4:6
St. Paul reminds us that God is an abundant God. He is the ultimate giver of gifts. He promises to give us all that we need. Remember, that we are created in God’s image and likeness. We, too are made to be generous with all of our gifts as well. Placing our trust in God frees us from being a slave to possessions. It allows us to gratefully and generously share ourselves and our goods with others.
"And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value..." (Philippians 1:9-10)
During the Christmas shopping season it is easy to get caught up in the frenzy of buying gifts. But, is that “gift” truly an expression of your love for the other person. Or, are you just fulfilling your "obligation" to give them something? To grow in friendship with someone, you need to spend time with them, learn what is of value to them. Maybe this year, buy less "stuff" and spend more time those you love.
“But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21:28)
We celebrate Advent each year in preparation for the birth of Jesus, His first coming, as we await His second coming. What will you do differently this Advent season to grow in friendship and love with Jesus? How will you inspire others to do the same? Start by sharing your God story with others, especially those closest to you. Invite and accompany them on their faith journey this Advent.
"Jesus answered, My kingdom does not belong to this world." – John 18:36
Life is short. How much time, energy and money do you put into building “your” kingdom here on earth? We all know we can’t take it with us. The real kingdom is in the next life. Yet, how much time, energy and money do you invest in working for that eternal kingdom? Ask God for His guidance. Detach from earthly possessions. Generously share your material goods with others for the greater glory of God.
“And then they will see ‘the son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory.” – Mark 13:26
We will all have that day when we are standing before God and our life is played out like a movie. When this happens and God asks each of us, “What have you done with the gifts that I have given you?” How will you respond? The good news it’s never too late to live and grateful and generous lifestyle.
“I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.” (Mark 12:43-44)
Jesus gets right to the point we are all called to give money to support the mission of the church, regardless of our circumstance. No gift is too small or insignificant! Giving money to support the mission of our local parish is a matter of our faith, just like praying and participating in parish ministries. When you make a financial offering, is it from “first fruits” or from what is “left over”?
“And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is with more than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:33)
Of all the gifts that Gods us, the one He wants the most is our heart. He wants us to share out of our love for Him, not out of obligation. Using our talent in parish ministry and contributing money to support our parish mission is important, but it’s more important to spend me in prayer with God daily and discern how He is calling us to be generous with all of our gifts. Not just the visible ones, but the invisible ones like love, mercy and forgiveness.
“And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way” (Mark 10:52)
Faith is believing in something even though you may not be able to physically see it. Many people think that miracles don’t happen anymore. This is hard, but try to focus on the positive and not the negative things in your life. When you focus on your blessings instead of your hardships, miracles will seem common. You will see God’s active presence in your daily life. You will begin to develop an attitude of gratitude.
“For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
If you held a mirror up to your life, would it reflect God’s love and mercy? If you are struggling with this, try changing your attitude from “I want more” to "thank you God for everything you have given me, I have enough to share.” This change in perspective will bring you joy through service to others. Pray daily to become less self-centered and to become more God-centered.
“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” – Mark 10:25
Jesus uses tough language that we may not want to hear. But, we are all called to be generous with all of our gifts. Not just the ones we pick and choose, but all our gifts, and especially the one that means the most to us! That includes our time in prayer to God, our talent in participating in parish ministries and our treasure supporting our local parish and other charities.
“So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2:19)
The creation story reminds us of two important points. First, since the start, God has put the entire world into our care. Second, stewardship has been around since the beginning of mankind, it isn’t something recently invented by the Church. Just as past generations built our Church, it is now our responsibility to continue to nurture and develop gifts for future generations.