The Nativity

The third Joyful mystery is the Nativity, the Birth of Jesus. It is found in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 2), now on Christmas they do read from the first chapters of Matthew and John as well, depending on which Mass you attend. The fruit of this mystery is Poverty, Detachment from the things of the world, Contempt of Riches, Love of the Poor. I always have found it ironic that for one of the most commercial of all the religious holidays the focus is poverty, sure I understand why as Christ humbled himself to be born a human and he arrives in the world in the lowliest of places, his parents had traveled from a far, there was no room at the inn and so he was laid in a manger in a stable/cave. As we enter into this third week of Advent we talk about rejoicing, but let us also remember that this season isn’t about what we get but the time we share with family and friends.

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week the reading come from the book of Wisdom 9:13-18b; Psalm 90; Paul’s letter to Philemon 9-10,12-7; and Luke’s Gospel 14:25-33.

The focus this week is the cost of discipleship. We hear in Wisdom that the only wisdom to be found in the world in through knowing the Lord sure there are philosophers in the world but they can only give a fraction of the knowledge that the Lord has. As we turn to the Lord we should remember that we are all brothers and sisters, no one can own someone else for we are all one in the Lord. This is followed by a call in Luke’s Gospel to take up our cross and hate everything, although not technically hate but just have Christ as the supreme portion in our live. We have a wonderful example of this in the newest Saint, Mother Teresa, she gave up everything to serve the poorest of the poor and she has said “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.” This is what we hear from Luke we need to be more devoted to Jesus and less concerned about the trivial things in the world that we make such a big deal about, just look around we hear about this celebrity and that celebrity doing what not and how this politician is going to be so much better and save the world, or Apple will be releasing a new device which is thinner than the last one and a football player isn’t being “patriotic” and\or is getting arrested. We shouldn’t care more about these things compared to our neighbors who are just scraping by, struggling to find work or as the Missionaries of Charity mission sets forth all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared in society, as well as people are a burden to the society.

The Nativity

The Fruit of the Mystery of The Nativity is Poverty (poor in spirit), Detachment from the things of the world, Contempt of Riches, Love of the Poor.

This fruit is sort of crazy to look at as we near Christmas and people are shopping left and right trying to find the perfect gifts for that special someone, our family members and even those office gift swaps. We all tend to go overboard with the gift giving but we should try to remember that when Jesus came into the world he didn’t come as the child of the rich and famous but to a poor family that of a lowly carpenter and a maiden and he was born in a “stable”. There are about 700 million people in the world living in extreme poverty today. This is a huge problem in the world and it doesn’t help with the income disparities in the world. It really doesn’t help that the 1% control about half of the money in the world. Let us be willing to share the treasures that we receive this Christmas with those less well off then us, for as we learn from the great Dr. Seuss where the Grinch comes to realize that “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more.” Saint Francis of Assisi is a wonderful example of living this fruit as are most religious.

Lesser known…

World Food Day: This is one of those UN Days this one is observed on October 16. This year the theme is Social Protection breaking the cycle of rural poverty. This is an important issue that we as the world need to focus on, since food security is a global issue.

Sweetest Day: In the Great Lakes region of the US on the third Saturday of October is Sweetest Day. It’s a made up holiday by the candy industry to increase sales of sweets, it’s basically like Valentine’s Day but in the Fall. So if you have some time grab some candy and give it to someone you care about this upcoming Saturday October 17.

Magdalene of Nagasaki (1611- 16 October 1634)
Magdalene was born to Christian couple who were martyred around 1620. When the Augustinians came to Japan she became a tertiary and served as interpreter and catechist for Fathers Francis of Jesus Terrero and Vincent of Saint Anthony Simoens. In 1632 they were both burned alive after this she attached herself to another pair of Augustinians, they to were both killed.  Magdalene then turned to a Dominican Giordano Ansaloni de San Esteban.  As time passed Magdalene eventually turned herself in, wearing her Augustinian habit, she declared herself a follower of Jesus Christ. At age 23, she died on October 16, 1634 after thirteen days of torture, suffocated to death by Tsurushi.

Blessed Kunjachan (1 April 1891-16 October 1973)
Thevarparampil Kunjachan was born into a Syro-Malabar Catholic family, not much is really known about his early life but in 1921 he was ordained a priest Kunjachan, is a nickname meaning little priest, Augustine just wanted to be a regular priest and was humble, kind, service-minded and charitably disposed to the poor and the downtrodden people. He worked with the Dalits (untouchables) and it is said that he baptized over 5000. Kunjachan preached using his actions rather than words this is something that we all need to do more of today.  For all of the talk about the New Evangelization that needs to happen with the Catholic Church this is the way that it needs to be done not through words but through actions.

Lesser known Saints

This week has a pair of big feasts as well we begin the week with the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation on Monday and on Friday we have the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Aurelius Ambrosius (c. 340 – 4 April 397)
Ambrose was the Bishop of Milan and is one of the original Doctors of the Church. He was born into a Christian Roman family and according to legend while Ambrose was an infant a swam of bees landed on his face while he was in his cradle and they left a drop of honey, his father saw this as a sign of his future eloquence. After his father died Ambrose followed his footsteps and entered into the world of politics where Ambrose eventually became the Governor of Aemilia-Liguria in Northern Italy based in Milan which was the second capital of Italy. In 374 after the Bishop of Milan died the Arians wanted a new Bishop to be  an Arian as well, instead of a Catholic. Ambrose when to prevent any arguments, and during his address people started shouting “Ambrose, bishop!” Ambrose first rejected this as he wasn’t baptized or had any theological training, but he eventually accepted. One of his first acts was to give all his lands and money to the poor, Ambrose felt that the poor were not a group of outsiders but a part of the human family, so giving to the poor was a repayment of resources that God had originally given to us all equally and that the rich had usurped. Ambrose was a big influence on Augustine and appears in Augustine’e Confessions.

Lucia of Syracuse (283–304)
Lucy is a recognizable saint as we hear her name during the Mass, she is one of the 8 female names mentioned during the Eucharist prayer. Many of us know St. Lucy as the girl with the wreath with  candles upon her head.  Not much is really known about Lucy, however according to the popular story she was born in a rich family and her father died when Lucy was five. Later on in life Lucy became a consecrated virgin and hoped to distribute her dowry to the poor. Her mother feared for Lucy’s future as her mother had a bleeding diasese and wanted Lucy to marry and had her betrothed. They both traveled to the Saint Agatha’s shrine and her mother was healed and Lucy could distribute her dowry to the poor. When Lucy’s betrothed heard about what Lucy was doing with the dowry he went to the Govenor and Lucy was sentenced to be burned. When they came to get Lucy they could not move her at all, even when they hitched a team of oxen to her. so they piled wood upon her and set it on fire, but it would not burn eventually they killed her with a sword. Her feast day is celebrated around  the world with great pomp as Lucy is the light during the darkest day of year.

Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474–1548)
Juan Diego is best known in conjunction with Our Lady of Guadalupe. He is the first indigenous American saint. We know his tale, as even the dog Wishbone covered the miracle. Juan Diego was tending to his sick Uncle and on his way home he cross over a hill and Mary appeared to him, Juan Diego went to the Bishop to tell him of the vision and the Bishop didn’t believe him. So eventually Mary makes roses grow on the top of this hill and tells Juan to take them in him tilma to the Bishop, when Juan Diego makes it to the Bishop’s residence he drops the tilma and hope that the Bishop will believe him now he has brought Roses and they are not in season but on the inside of the tilma was an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe  and the Bishop believed finally. A shrine was erected and it has grown into one of the largest churches in the world.