Be the Voice of Peace

By Fr. Angelo Anthony, C.PP.S.

When we were children, waiting for Christmas was marked with hope and great anticipation for Santa’s arrival and the gifts he would bring. As adults our waiting for Christmas takes on a different meaning.

Like our ancestors of old we experience a longing and a desire in our hearts for the coming of our Savior in glory. Realizing our need for a Savior is key to celebrating the mystery of the incarnation at Christmas. If we don’t see the need for a Savior, then Christmas becomes just one more secular holiday to observe.

As Christians we believe that the mystery of the incarnation continues to unfold as we encounter Jesus in our daily lives and continue the work of building God’s Kingdom on Earth. Each day we live in hope as we enjoy already on Earth a foretaste of the glory to be revealed in heaven. This encounter with the living Lord stirs within us a greater desire to work for peace in imitation of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

With so many obstacles to peace present in our lives we may be tempted to let cynicism creep into our Advent journey. If you feel this temptation, ponder the message found in this parable by Joseph Jaworsky.

“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” the sparrow asked the wild dove.

“Why, it weighs nothing more than nothing” replied

the dove.

“In that case,” the sparrow said, “let me tell you a story. I sat on a branch of a fir tree close to its trunk. It began to snow . . . not heavily, not like a blizzard—no, just like a dream, delicately and peacefully.

“Since I didn’t have anything better to do, I decided to count the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. The number was exactly 3,741,952. Then suddenly, as the next snowflake landed, weighing ‘nothing more than nothing’ as you say, the branch broke off.” With that, the sparrow flew away.

The wild dove thought to herself and said, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come about in the world.”

Could it be that your voice is the one missing for peace to come about in the world? With so many conflicts present in our world, communities and families, there is no doubt that we need a Savior. Christ is counting on us to be authentic witnesses of his peace in the world.

This Advent, monitor your conversations both internally and externally. Do they reflect your need for a savior and your desire for peace? Watch for people who are instruments of peace around you and share their stories with others. Let these stories stir within your heart a greater desire to be a peacemaker in your own life and let this be your gift to the Christ child this Christmas season.

 

Victory for our God

By Fr. Dennis Chriszt, C.PP.S.

This is the feast of victory for our God!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

Today, the Church throughout the world

celebrates the great feast of Christ the King.

We rejoice that the promise made

by the prophet Ezekiel

has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ,

who came as the Good Shepherd,

who rescues us and tends us,

who give us rest

and who seeks for us when we are lost

and brings us back when we have strayed.

 

This is the feast of victory for our God!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

Today we rejoice that the Lord is our shepherd,

who leads us and refreshes our souls

who guides us in right paths,

who spreads a table before us,

anoints us,

and blesses us with overflowing grace.

 

This is the feast of victory for our God!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

Today we rejoice that the Lord has been raised from the dead,

and that through him all of us will be brought to life.

We rejoice that Christ will hand over his kingdom to the Father,

will destroy every sovereignty, authority and power,

will destroy even death,

so that God may be all in all.

 

This is the feast of victory for our God!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

Today we rejoice with the Son of Man,

who will come and sit on his glorious throne,

and all the nations will be summoned before him.

We rejoice with those who will be placed on his right,

those who have fed hungry,

gave a drink to those who were thirsty,

those who welcomed the stranger

and clothed the naked,

those who cared for the ill

and visited the prisoners,

those who did things for the least of their brothers and sisters,

and in so doing, did them for Christ.

 

This is the feast of victory for our God!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

When I was a seminarian

and was home for Thanksgiving,

I heard the shortest homily ever.

It was only one sentence long.

It was the Feast of Christ the King,

and after reading the Gospel,

the preacher waited for everyone to sit down.

He looked around the church

and simply said,

“If Christ is your King, prove it!”

Then he sat down in the silence that followed.

 

Today’s Gospel tells us how to prove it.

Today’s Gospel tells us what the Kingdom looks like.

Today’s Gospel impels us to witness to our faith
by what we say and do.

 

This is the feast of victory for our God!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

In baptism,

our King has anointed us

priests, prophets and royalty,

that we might worship and praise our God,

that we might proclaim God’s message

by our words and our actions,

and that we, like the King of Kings,

might care for those most in need

throughout our lives

 

This is the feast of victory for our God!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

However, we don’t do it alone.
Christ the King does not sit back and wait for us to act.

Christ our King helps us to do what we calls us to do.

Christ our King is more than the judge
who separates the sheep from the goats,
the good from the evil,

those invited to inherit the kingdom prepared for us

from the foundation of the world.

 

No, our King does not live in some far away palace,

protected from people he was called to serve.

Our King walks among us,

nourishes us with his own body and blood,

does for us what he asks us to do for others.

Our King never leaves alone,

never hides behind castle walls,

but is right here with us

at every moment of our lives.

 

This is the feast of victory for our God!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

Christ is our King!

Now let us prove it!

 

This is the feast of victory for our God!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

 

Note: This is the last scripture reflection in this series. Fr. Dennis, who is the director of advanced formation for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, will continue to post homilies from time to time at https://www.dennis-chriszt-cpps.org/.

Thankful for the Micro and the Macro

A Thanksgiving message from our
Provincial Director Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S.

Each day brings us both a broad and a close-up view of life. We are usually struggling to understand some big issue (the conflict in the Middle East comes to mind) and also dealing with some smaller details specific to our own life, good or bad. Maybe your car is overdue for an oil change, or the postal carrier just delivered a book that you cannot wait to read.

This Thanksgiving, we are grateful for it all, macro and micro, for miracles large and small, for broad horizons as well as the little pinpricks that God puts into our lives to remind us to pay attention to the details.

Most of all, we are grateful for the people the God puts into our lives. He not only knit each of us when we were in the womb, he knits us together out in the world, into a human family so that we can be a comfort and help to each other. Whether in one-on-one relationships, or our lifelong attempt to love the whole human family, human love is born from the love God gives us.

Today we say thank you, God, for the little gifts and the big picture, for the people we have known forever and those we are yet to meet. We cannot understand all the connections that God is making for us, large and small, but if we are wise, we see them all with a grateful heart.

Do We Bury Our Wounded?

By Fr. Tim Knepper, C.PP.S.

A while back, I went to my local barber for a haircut. He knew I was a Catholic priest, and so religious and theological topics came up all the time. He attended a non-denominational Protestant church, and so this was my small part in ecumenical dialogue.

One day, the subject that came up during the haircut was forgiveness. In the midst of the conversation, we arrived at a disagreement on my choice of shampoo, but more importantly, we disagreed on reconciliation. The way he described reconciliation still sticks with me. He said that God does reconcile the sinner, but we as Christians “bury our wounded.”

There is a type of burying in the Gospel this weekend. One of the workers in the parable, the third one who receives only one talent, buries the talent the master gives him. From the perspective of the master who beats him and takes the buried talent away from him, he was supposed to have made money off of the talent according to the master upon his return home.

There is something in the affirmation from the master to the first two servants, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” that shapes our reading of the third servant as bad for having buried the talent he received. Why did he bury it? One possibility is that he wanted to avoid taking a risk, as the first two servants did.

It is not just money or the dead that get buried in our Christian lives. My barber was right, both about the shampoo and “burying our wounded.” It’s sometimes easier to bury more than just money or the dead to give off a sanitized version of our lives and our faith. It’s easier to try to show a life or faith devoid of any messiness or wounded-ness that is a part of real life. The stories of the saints sometimes have buried facts about them, because the authors thought that if people knew those “buried” facts about their lives, we might not call them saints anymore. God’s grace turns sinners into saints, no matter what we try to bury or keep buried.

Precious Blood spirituality leans into our wounded-ness and our wounds. “Burying our wounded” isn’t in line with who God calls us to be or how God calls us to treat one another or ourselves. To echo today’s reading from Proverbs, the wounds of Christ are precious, beyond the worth of pearls, and the importance of Christ’s wounds brings importance to our wounds too.

Our wounds are important enough to not be buried. Our wounded are important enough to not be buried. Through our wounds, we come closer to Christ, and we are strengthened by our God. Today, God calls us to remember the value of our wounds and our wounded and to unbury anything and anyone we would bury.

To view the full scripture reading, click here.

 

 

Fr. Tim Knepper, C.PP.S., is the parochial vicar of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Palm Bay, Fla. He is also a spiritual director.

Mother and Child Reunion

By Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S.

Praying with the scriptures today has missionary images dancing and intermingling in my heart and mind.

The first image St Paul gives us: A missionary is a mother who gives life to another and nurtures that life. The mother nursing her child at her breast, the child’s eyes locked on the face of the mother. The nurturing of child with milk, and more so, with a totally selfless love for the child. A missionary/mother giving of herself with an undeniable and never-failing love. Such sweet tenderness!

The dance partner is one of my favorite Precious Blood images, the Unity or Schoenstatt crucifix. Again, this is image of a mother and child and the self-giving of a life through divine love, but here it is the child who allows his life to be poured out for another in a sacrifice of love. The ever-faithful mother at his side, at one with him in the sacrifice, receiving the Precious Blood in a chalice so that it can be shared. It is offered to me and you, so that we are brought into that same communion of salvific love. Such sweet communion!

As these images dance and intermingle they question my missionary heart and mind.

  • How does the love of a mother-God nurture my life and form me to be missionary in all that is to come?
  • How in my missionary life am I to be like St Paul, a self-less loving mother who tenderly creates and nurtures the life of others?
  • How am I to love in a profound and sacrificial way, like the child on the cross?
  • And how am I to be the vessel, the participant who shares in the sacrifice and whose life is an offering of communion?

It is the interplay of those two mother and child images that expresses the challenging Gospel message. Jesus speaks of priests and church leaders. The command to us is to ensure that our missionary preaching is authenticated by our way of life. No cheap talk is permitted. He urges us to embrace a place of humble service and avoid places and positions of privilege and honor. It is as if he says to us:

  • Be like me―Drink deeply of the love of God because it will strengthen you and give you life.
  • Be like my mother―give lovingly of yourself to nurture the life of the helpless and those in need.
  • Be like me―willing to pour out your life as a sacrifice for the life of others.
  • And be like my mother―the vessel who carries my Precious Blood into the world.

A former moderator general of the worldwide congregation, Fr. Bill Nordenbrock, C.PP.S., resides in Chicago. He serves as the provincial secretary and treasurer of the United States Province.