Archive for December, 2021

Family – God the Holy is there! 12-26-2021

Sunday, December 26th, 2021

At the end of one year and the beginning of another, it is
appropriate to step back and take a hard look at certain areas of our lives.
I would like to encourage us to focus for a few minutes on our families –
the ones we grew up in – the ones we may be in today. An important
point to remember here is families today come in all sizes, shapes and
From being in a family myself and listening to the stories of many
families, I would like to share with you three brief thoughts to consider:
First, it is very easy to criticize the families we are part of as not
being all we would like them to be – it is easy to notice our family
weaknesses. We all have them. When was the last time we took a little
time to genuinely appreciate and affirm the good and positive things
about our families? If we are struggling in our families right now, this
may require a special effort. But, I believe it is worth it. I really noticed
that when I did it for myself that I had forgotten a lot of the good things
that I had received from my family – things that money couldn’t buy – special time spent together, unconditional love and the many sacrifices
they made for me. You might be surprised at what you would find! A
friend of mine made a list of all the good positive things in his life and
kept them in his wallet. Whenever family problems came up he would
read them and they would help keep things in perspective.
Second point, I notice people who constantly blame their families
for all that has gone wrong in their lives. It is so easy to point the finger
of blame and fault at the parents, at the kids, at social or economic
status. Granted that our families have affected us – some for the good,
some for the bad and unfortunately some for the very bad. I believe a
real growth question to ask ourselves as we begin a new year is, “When
do I stop using my family’s weaknesses as an excuse in my life? When
do I take personal responsibility for my life?”
I close with a third and final point, in the midst of all the wild and
weird conflicts we may face in our families, God wants to be part of
them. In the midst of the shouting matches, doors being slammed,
people pouting and not speaking to each other, holding grudges, and in alcoholic or abusive situations GOD THE HOLY IS THERE! God is
not embarrassed to be there and God wants to help.
As we begin the year of 2022, I pray that as we face conflicts in
our families, when we feel overwhelmed and everything seems
impossible and we try to resolve our differences – that we will be
humble and wise enough to seek help for ourselves. Especially, the
comfort, the grace and the peace that God alone can offer our families.

Christmas 2021 12-25-2021

Saturday, December 25th, 2021

A. I remember my first Christmas as a priest – over 40 years ago –
a small country chapel in the Santa Cruz Mountains (150 people). It
was great.
B. I can still picture it – the church was dark – people walked in
with candles in their hands. Everyone wanted to light their
candles from a special Christmas candle near the altar.
C. As the people came forward they sang familiar carols.
I knew these people – Some had tears in their eyes –
Some of these people had a very hard year… some of you may
have had this year.
1. a young family who lost a child at birth
2. several families who had gone through a painful divorce
3. a teenage boy who had been battling his drug addition
4. 3 or 4 people who had lost their job
5. a new widow after 50 years of marriage
6. 2 or 3 people diagnosed with cancer
7. on and on – they and many others came…singing, and
seeking, the LIGHT of CHRIST II. As I watched this Christmas procession – I experienced a very holy
and powerful moment. These people – regular people like you and me –
in that small remote chapel – some way connected with the ENDURING
A. Emmanuel – God with us – and the entire world – in the
person and spirit of JESUS – especially where it is darkest in
our lives – that amid the human condition – stresses –
tragedies – problems – we all face at different times – there
is HOPE – no matter how many September 11’s we
experience – there is PEACE. There is a LIGHT to lead us to
a new day. Our scripture says it best – “the people who
walked in darkness have seen a great light”………THE
III. In this group of people was a wonderful teenager – Tom was a
special kid.
Tom was fourteen years old and big for his age – physically. But
mentally he was about four-educationally impaired. Nevertheless
he had faithfully attended religious education classes for years and
knew that Jesus was his Savior and friend.
In the Christmas pageant Tom had only one line. He was the innkeeper, and all he had to say was “There is no room” when Mary
and Joseph came to the inn looking for a place to stay. Tom practiced his line for weeks, until he could open the door,
listen to Joseph’s request, and then in a strong voice proclaim
“There is no room.”
The night of the pageant came. Everyone was dressed in their
authentic costumes. One young girl played the pregnant Mary. Her
face was glowing with joy. A lad dressed as Joseph tried to look
mature and responsible.
The two came down the aisle of the church and knocked at
the door of the “inn.” Tom swung the door open, and on cue
responded, “There is no room.”
But at that point Tom didn’t understand that it was a play. As
Mary and Joseph turned to walk away, tears ran down his face.
Suddenly he called out to them – “Wait! Don’t go! You can have my
room!”…….“Wait! Don’t go! You can have my room!”
-God with us in the person of JESUS ……
-God with us in the person of TOM the teenager’s welcoming……
-God with us in the person to your right and left on Christmas
-God with us in the people of your FAMILY- look at them often and appreciate them. Accept the JESUS in them…Embrace them with
Love – Each in your own way – Don’t take them for granted. IV. Let me close with a beautiful poem because to me it lays out the
real challenge of Christmas.
“When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
“to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among brothers and sister and family,
to make music with the heart.”
I pray we take this challenge to heart. I pray we live it – each in our own
way. Merry Christmas 2021!

Fourteen 12-19-2021

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

Mom picks up her 14-year-old daughter at school after soccer
Fourteen – that turbulent threshold between childhood and young
adult. It’s a tough age – for everyone. The once always happy child
often disappears in a state of isolated sullenness – and snaps at any
attempt to bring her back.
“Mom and Dad, you just don’t understand!”
So, Mom, being a wise Mom, keeps it light: How was your day?
“OK.” How did the math test go? “I think I did all right”. When’s
your next game? “Friday.”
Things are quiet for a while on the ride home. At one point, she
turns up the volume on the car stereo, “I like this song” she says, and
starts to sing along.
Mom knows that the next four years will go by in an instant: Next
year, high school. The year after that, she’ll get her license. In three
years, she’ll be looking at colleges. And then there will be a boyfriend
or three along the way If she’s scared, she’ll never let on. If she needs help, she’ll never
come right out and ask. Mom understands that. It would shock her
daughter to realize that her Mom was once 14 herself – and still
remembers what it was like.
So, Mom patiently is there for her 14-year-old, waiting to catch her
when she falls, to nudge her forward when she hesitates, to help pick up
the pieces when things fall apart. Mom answers any question with
gentleness but honesty, patiently but firmly explains the boundaries and
why they are there, affirms her daughter’s good decisions and has her re-
consider her bad ones.
And Mom takes satisfaction in knowing that there will come a time
when her daughter will do the same when her own daughter is
In Mary and Elizabeth’s meeting in today’s Gospel, in the car rides
Mom and her 14-year-old travel together, in our own interactions with
others, the Spirit of God is present in the healing, comfort and support
we can extend to one another in such moments. Some of our “visitations” can be wonderful, affirming moments of grace – and some
can be difficult and challenging struggles to find acceptance and understanding. In the light and hope of this holy season, may we “make
haste” to bring reconciling peace and healing justice in our meetings
with one another, in which the grace of God enables us to see one
another with the eyes of God.