1-16-2022 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

“What wonders to know that Our Lord here below Is with us to bestow grace on our good doings and cause them to glow.”

Yes, that’s my verse above as I reflect on Cana.  It’s that famous wedding reception held in that tiny town with reverberations far beyond.  Two distinct facts emerged from it. Note this fact for sure:  the Son of God actually went to a wedding reception! Bear in mind what this means:  the Lord and Master of the universe, creator not only of faraway galaxies that our human eyes can barely see without machinery, and also of creatures so deep in the ocean that only our cameras let us glance them; He who is and will be, our sole and supreme Judge actually walked into a party meeting and greeting, only to toast the newly weds; dine on the food and dance to the music.

To all those sour types who believe that God wants nothing to do with us in the little happenings of our ordinary lives, and dwell aloof from us here is proof of the opposite. How wonderful that is! Cana lives forever in our minds.

Here is the second fact: There is such a unique relationship between Jesus and Mary, that not many words need be spoken.  A bond begun from the minute of the Angel Gabriel’s visit to her which was all about Him. All that needed to be said was “Do whatever He tells you.”  As Our Lady’s valedictory message, the last words of her in the Bible, it could not have been better for us to hear.

It is important for us to realize that no human agency, not even that of His own Mother, could dictate what Jesus would do. God the Father’s will was Jesus’ sole mandate. But somehow, I believe the power of the love between Himself and His Mother, persuades Our Lord to change His schedule. Oh what a certain young couple had to remember for family storytelling! Cana is forever.

So how are we to react to all this?  I believe first of all that we must update our trust in Our Lord’s loving awareness of us as individuals. He knows us by name.  Taking our cue from St. Paul’s Letter to Corinth, we can believe that each of our unique talents marks our place in God’s creation. He knows us and loves us.  Pure and simple. Marvelously comforting.

Secondly, Cana makes us aware that often the best approach we can make to Our Lord is through His holy Mother.  She has such vital knowledge of Him that she knows just what to say and how to say it to her Son.  This is not to deny direct prayerful address to Jesus. I speculate that the widespread discomfort of our non-Catholic sisters and brothers with Mary at least in part springs from our own misguided ways.  I’ve not forgotten the shock I experienced as a boy when I witnessed an otherwise pious woman rush right past the tabernacle with no mark of respect shown the Real Presence in her haste to kneel at a shrine to Mary.

Meanwhile we can experience a touch of the joy of Cana in our hearts as the Sacred Host and Chalice are raised above our heads at Mass.  It lets us join in spirit with St. Richard of Chichester, who once prayed thus: “O most merciful Friend, Brother and Redeemer, may I see You more clearly, love You more dearly, and follow You more nearly, day by day.”

1-9-2022 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

I recently enjoyed reading TV newsman Chris Wallace’s book 1945, which chronicles the events marking the creation and use of the first atomic bomb.  Along the way, the author gives us insights into the ways of the various characters involved. Singular attention is given to the controversial decision of President Harry S. Truman to use the awful weapon against Japan, which was at the time our sworn enemy. How different today with our roads traversed by Honda, Toyota and Nissan cars.

As we know, the president’s decision changed history, and its propriety is still the subject of debate. But we learn as well of Truman’s troubling internal quandary beforehand and the various positions of his trusted advisers. Yours truly was only three years of age at the time, so the book shed light on what went on then.

At this early day in a brand new year, most of us already know that we will be making all kinds of decisions in the months ahead.  Some will be delightful; others daunting. May I propose what Jesus did before every major decision in His life as our model? It was prayer. Our Lord prayed at the moment of His baptism, when God the Father and the Holy Spirit manifested their approval of Him as He began His public ministry. A few short years later Jesus would pray as He begins to close His ministry in the garden of Gethsemane.

Prayer before decision-making.  It makes perfect sense on one level. It demonstrates faith on another.  Why then is it so often neglected even by believers?  I put the blame squarely on that pragmatism embedded in our American psyche.  It’s the same notion that promotes rugged individualism as the ideal way to live.  So, it is better to be known as an independent than a
dependent. Leave religion and God out of it.

That’s sad not only for relegating God to the sidelines, but also for denying the way we are “hard wired” as creatures for God. You could not ask for a more independent-minded person than Jesus.  Note how little He cared for the opinions of others.  But oh!  Did He ever pray!

The Psalms of Scripture are unique because Jesus prayed them. You could say they were His prayer book of David’s poems. Other poets over time have extolled prayer as well.  I have always liked this one from George Herbert, the 17th century Anglican priest, who gives us images that make us pause:

“Prayer the church’s banquet, angel’s age,
God’s breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth
Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tow’r,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,
The land of spices; something understood.”

God love you and give you His peace.

1-2-2022 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

“They returned to their country by another way.” What a near fairy tale ending to this lovely but significant episode in the Christmas story.  Whether they were the traditional three figures (based on the number of gifts) or of an unknown head count; whether they were astrologers, or kings, they represent us, the Gentile world, coming to pay homage to the newborn Messiah.  As happened before in those days of wonder, the wise men received a warning in a dream and escaped the clutches of the malignant monarch Herod. Instead they mounted their humped “desert ships” and headed East, never to be seen again.

But here may I interject a question, “home to do what?“  Adhere to studying the stars?  Perhaps. But we know that no one who comes to Jesus goes away the same.

My imagination supplies one possible answer: In their newfound lives they became evangelizers, eager to tell the world about Him whom they had seen lying in the manger. The same One whom they had gifted with items not found in stables. They now had a new purpose in life.

That leads into the subject of our individual purpose in the grand scheme of things. What is it?  What specifically are we called to do for God here below in order to live with Him forever above in heaven? Will we tackle it a bit better now that a brand new year has arrived?

Prayer, for believers at least, is the main component of the search.
Allow me now to bring to your attention the most helpful words of St. John Henry Cardinal Newman. He presents his thought with his characteristic
eloquence and that pertinent wisdom displayed every time he put pen to paper.  I have carried the following with me for years.

“God has created me to do Him some definite service.  He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.  I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught.  I shall do good.  I shall do His work.  I shall be an angel of peace; a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I but keep His commandments. Therefore I shall trust Him.

Whatever I am, I can never be thrown away.  If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him. In perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him.  If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.  He does nothing in vain.  He knows what He is about.

He may take away my friends; He may throw me among strangers.  He may make me feel desolate; make my spirits sink; hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”

God love you and give you His peace in this New Year!

Reading I:  Isaiah 60: 1-6: A wonderful introduction leads into a description of a procession of all the world coming to Mt. Zion to rebuild Jerusalem.

Reading II:  Ephesians 3: 2-3a, 5-6: Paul interprets the revealed mystery of Christ, namely that Gentiles are full participants in the Church.

The Gospel:  Matthew 2: 1-12: The wise men represent the Gentile world in all its racial diversity coming to worship Christ.  “The East” in this case could be Persia, Syria, or Arabia.  They acknowledge Jesus as a royal Messiah.

12-26 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

They can be ridiculously laughable or memorably lovely, or even eerily scary but always touched with a tinge of the mysterious.  I speak of our dreams, those concoctions derived from our varied experiences and mixed into a kind of stew by our brains making mini-movies often fit for recall.  In his narrative highlighted today, Luke the physician has no interest in a medical analysis of dreams, because he has a story to tell that cannot wait.  He does want us to know that dreams can be the instruments of God’s communications with us. His agents are usually angels. One or more of them came to St. Joseph, and he, “that just man”, was attuned to accept them as coming from God. So he obeyed.

Coming so quickly after Christmas Day for this Liturgical calendar year compels us to lift up our eyes momentarily from the Child in the manger to take some precious time looking also at His parents.  In this case of Joseph the foster father of Jesus.   We are reminded once again of his strength of character; his obvious humility; and his exemplary obedience.  All told, St. Joseph is a marvelous model of masculine virtue honed into sanctity. The Holy Spirit, speaking through St. Luke, sees Joseph as the head of the Holy Family, not lording it over them but serving as their caregiver.  He protects Mother and Child.

Our complementary Readings today expand on the virtues needed for a healthy Christian family to flourish and grow in love for God, each other, and everyone else.

The cultural context in which this Feast arrives is certainly toxic to good family life.  The family as it was known in biblical times has been shifted off its traditional base by forces we know full well.  There is no need to be explicit here.  All one need do is watch, look and listen.  But this feast day, like all others in the Church, is not meant to focus on the negative.  Nor is it meant to foster cynical criticism of our own families.

Instead, we have an annual call to put aside for a time the Toy-land reveries that emerge at Christmas and consider the beauty of God’s design for families as seen in this most blest circle of three.  The Book of Sirach and Paul’s letter to the Colossians offer specific ways for us to follow God’s blueprint that, while often difficult to live day in and day out, is the best.  The need is there from time to time to observe what good or its opposite the man or woman in the mirror brings to family life.

Returning to St. Luke’s “man of the hour,” St. Joseph, here is a touching story offering advice to any and all Catholic parents:

A little boy, frightened by a thunderous lightning storm, called out one dark night, “Daddy, come.  I’m scared.”  “Son,” the father said, “God loves you and He’ll take care of you.  “I know God loves me,” the boy replied, “but right now I want somebody who has skin on.”

It seems to me that the role of the father (and the mother) is to be and demonstrate God, with skin on.  God love you and give you and your family His peace.

Reading I:  Sirach 3: 2-6, 12-14 – True religion involves duties to others, first of all to parents.  Honoring them brings several blessings.

Reading II:  Colossians 3: 12-21- Paul describes how practice of the Christian family life encompasses many virtues, especially kindness, compassion, and patience.

The Gospel:  Luke 2: 41-52 – Luke tells us of the Holy Family’s cautious return to Israel, and how they had to avoid Judea because Herod’s son ruled there.  They settled in Galilee.  All of this done by Joseph as head of the family at the directions given him in his dreams.

12-19 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

Often enough the definitive biographies of great people offer an air of “little did we know” about them as they start to recount their story.  It’s natural in many ways, because only God knows for sure how an infant or toddler will turn out as a mature adult.  From the benefit of his or her historical hindsight, the reader already knows what’s going to happen.  The biographer can only provide intriguing details, or researched tidbits, to add to the story of what eventually unfolds.

In the case of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we really don’t have a biography in the modern sense of the word.  Evidently the Holy Spirit was not interested in such.  Nor did the evangelists who gave us a four-part accounting of Jesus’ words and deeds have a biographical intent.  The closest we can come to filling in the blanks is to appreciate what the producers of the online series “The Chosen” have created for us.

St. Luke brings his readers a well-designed literary piece about a visit of the Blessed Mother to her cousin Elizabeth.  Respected biblical scholars explain.  Here is Professor Father Robert J.
Karris, O.F.M. : “Luke’s intent in these verses is missed if one accentuates Mary’s charity and social concern in visiting her aged, pregnant relative Elizabeth.  Note that if he were intent on presenting Mary as a model of charity he would not have written of Mary departing from Elizabeth at the time of her greatest need.  It also strains credulity to imagine a fourteen-year-old Jewish virgin making a four-day journey by herself.  Luke’s intent is literary and theological.  He brings together the two mothers-to-be so that both may praise God active in their lives and that Elizabeth’s child might be presented as the ‘precursor’ of Mary’s child.”

We believers know John the Baptist’s role in the story of our salvation.  We know also how much he was held in esteem by Jesus.  Our only task in Advent is to remember how God the Father prepared the world for His Son’s arrival and what that means for us now and for our future life.  We continue to watch how His Mother Mary lived in perfect accord with the Father’s will and how love of Him permeated her sinless life.  We also learn so much from her.

As our own biography is being written each and every day, including Christmas Day and beyond, we can only hope that a copy of it will be available in heaven.

God love you and give you His Christmas peace!

Reading I:  Micah 5: 1-4a
The announcement of a new David coming out of Bethlehem to restore his kingship is indeed a great joy.  The “Little Town” will suddenly become big in the history of Israel and of the world in general.

Reading II:  Hebrews 10: 5-10
The author quotes Psalm 40, which enunciates the fact that God prefers our obedience to ritual sacrifices.  Christ’s obedience is the perennial model.

The Gospel:  Luke 1: 39-45
The physician-evangelist continues his narration of the dawning of the great fulfillment of God’s promise.  This visit of Mary is not to be taken literally, since it strains credulity that a 14 year old pregnant girl would undertake a 4 day journey alone over mountainous territory.  Instead it brings Luke the opportunity to bring the two mothers-to-be together to praise God and to show how Elizabeth’s son is the precursor of Mary’s Son.

 

12-12 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

Often enough the definitive biographies of great people offer an air of “little did we know” about them as they start to recount their story.  It’s natural in many ways, because only God knows for sure how an infant or toddler will turn out as a mature adult.  From the benefit of his or her historical hindsight, the reader already knows what’s going to happen.  The biographer can only provide intriguing details, or researched tidbits, to add to the story of what eventually unfolds.

In the case of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we really don’t have a biography in the modern sense of the word.  Evidently the Holy Spirit was not interested in such.  Nor did the evangelists who gave us a four-part accounting of Jesus’ words and deeds have a biographical intent.  The closest we can come to filling in the blanks is to appreciate what the producers of the online series “The Chosen” have created for us.

St. Luke brings his readers a well-designed literary piece about a visit of the Blessed Mother to her cousin Elizabeth.  Respected biblical scholars explain.  Here is Professor Father Robert J.
Karris, O.F.M. : “Luke’s intent in these verses is missed if one accentuates Mary’s charity and social concern in visiting her aged, pregnant relative Elizabeth.  Note that if he were intent on presenting Mary as a model of charity he would not have written of Mary departing from Elizabeth at the time of her greatest need.  It also strains credulity to imagine a fourteen-year-old Jewish virgin making a four-day journey by herself.  Luke’s intent is literary and theological.  He brings together the two mothers-to-be so that both may praise God active in their lives and that Elizabeth’s child might be presented as the ‘precursor’ of Mary’s child.”

We believers know John the Baptist’s role in the story of our salvation.  We know also how much he was held in esteem by Jesus.  Our only task in Advent is to remember how God the Father prepared the world for His Son’s arrival and what that means for us now and for our future life.  We continue to watch how His Mother Mary lived in perfect accord with the Father’s will and how love of Him permeated her sinless life.  We also learn so much from her.

As our own biography is being written each and every day, including Christmas Day and beyond, we can only hope that a copy of it will be available in heaven.

God love you and give you His Christmas peace!

Reading I:  Micah 5: 1-4a
The announcement of a new David coming out of Bethlehem to restore his kingship is indeed a great joy.  The “Little Town” will suddenly become big in the history of Israel and of the world in general.

Reading II:  Hebrews 10: 5-10
The author quotes Psalm 40, which enunciates the fact that God prefers our obedience to ritual sacrifices.  Christ’s obedience is the perennial model.

The Gospel:  Luke 1: 39-45
The physician-evangelist continues his narration of the dawning of the great fulfillment of God’s promise.  This visit of Mary is not to be taken literally, since it strains credulity that a 14 year old pregnant girl would undertake a 4 day journey alone over mountainous territory.  Instead it brings Luke the opportunity to bring the two mothers-to-be together to praise God and to show how Elizabeth’s son is the precursor of Mary’s Son.

 

12-5 Reflection

I imagine him to be a perfectionist.  His Greek is the most refined of all four Evangelists.  He notices small details about matters, such as Jesus’ sweat in Gethsemane becoming “like drops of blood.” Then there is the testimony of St. Paul that he was a doctor (Col. 4:14). Some commentators hold that he was Our Lady’s doctor, based on information he gives us that only she would know. Author Taylor Caldwell calls him a “Dear and Glorious Physician” in her novel of that title. I refer to St. Luke.  His gospel is my favorite, and that ranks him high on my list of people I hope to meet in heaven, presuming I get there.

In today’s excerpt from Luke, Chapter three, I always conjure up the feel of a drum roll as I read his precise list of “who was who” in the list of rulers active at the time that the Word of God comes to John the Baptist. Thus began the quiet revolution that ultimately changed the world.  Up until then, the world was controlled by the forces of the evil one, imprisoned in a dungeon of despair. Heaven’s gates were locked shut due to sin.

The proclamation of John was about to set the world spinning in a different direction.  God’s plan is to be set in motion. His divine Son is about to exit His three decades of voluntary seclusion.

John, the last prophet of the Old Testament and the first of the New, reaches back to claim Isaiah’s words as his own description as “a voice crying out in the desert.”  His preaching urges anyone who hears him to “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”  What a confident announcement!  People could only wonder “Is this the end of our long wait for redemption and relief?”

All of this brings you and me to Advent 2021. It is the season for us to recall those four centuries Israel waited for her Redeemer.  An opportunity to fast before the feast. To do a little penance as our prep for the Feast of Christmas as we do it more intensely during Lent as prep for Easter.

Advent and Christmas will find us this year still suffering from the effects of the gray ghost of Covid hovering over us. Yes, we still live in a politically divided country. We are members of a weakened Church from various scandals. Obviously we need this Advent season to uplift us.  To regain a Faith perspective that reminds us that “this too shall pass.”

May I humbly suggest that we take new notice during the next few weeks of little details in life that St. Luke the doctor and evangelist did?  The gifts of family and friends that are with us all year?   The anticipation of children counting off the days before Christmas? The smile on the face of a supermarket cashier? The frost on the pumpkin?  The satisfaction of a good football win?  The unexpected Christmas card?  The making of a conscience-clearing confession?

Here’s one more detail that rings true for many of us that I found: “One of the nice things about Christmas is that you can make people forget the past with a present.” God love you and give you His Advent peace.

11-28 Reflection

Volcanoes, even when they are dormant, mark the places where the possibility of violent destruction always looms over the landscape.  History provides the record. East of Naples, Italy, stands the imposing cone of Mt. Vesuvius. It had an explosive eruption in 79 A.D., which buried Pompeii and Herculaneum.  Our only record of that is the site of petrified bodies of those people caught by the surprise of it.

Closer to our time, who among those of us living can forget the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helen.  We saw the videos that showed us the most significant eruption to occur in the contiguous United States since the much smaller 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak, California.

But while God seems to permit the earthly forces He created to be capable of violence, as when a volcano has one of these “coughing fits”, so to speak, He prefers calm and silence as the backdrop for His special works.  Consider the Annunciation and the very private encounter of Archangel Gabriel and the subsequent Nativity on a silent night when “all was calm and bright.”

In like manner comes the lovely little season of Advent that begins this weekend.  In our country, it seems to arrive so suddenly but quietly, like cat’s paws on carpet, so soon after the happy but noisy family gatherings only last Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.  The joyful white vestments have suddenly transformed into the much more solemn purple of penance. Penance has been the long standing Christian preparation for a major feast.

One could call Advent “a little Lent” or even “Lent light” because it features elements of fasting and repentance.  But the accent is more on that of hope and anticipation, first by recalling that this world as we know it has a final destination, known only by its Creator, and then by the encouragement of a bright future brought about by our Savior’s entry into our history.

I think we can all acknowledge the added difficulty for prayer and silent reflection brought on by how the outside world approaches these weeks before Christmas.  Having all but eliminated any serious contemplation of the world’s future, except under the heading of climate change, it hardly acknowledges the birth of Jesus as the central focus. Look at the pitched battles every year on where and whether to set up the creche scene. Therefore the onus is ours as believing Christians to strike a balance.  No need to be volcanic.

One of the most famous books of all time is Edward Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” in which Gibbon traces what happened to that mighty empire and how it disintegrated from within.  He says this concerning the Church within the empire:  “While the great body (the Roman Empire) was invaded by open violence or undermined by slow decay, a pure and humble religion gently insinuated itself into the minds of men, grew up in silence and obscurity, derived new vigor from opposition, and finally erected the triumphant banner of the cross on the ruins of the Capitol.”

Reading I:  Jeremiah 33: 14-16
One of the prophet’s oracles on the future king.  Jerusalem will replace Israel and will be known by this king’s name.

Reading II:  I Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
First comes an invocation.  Then Paul recalls his past instructions to the community.

The Gospel:  Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36
The evangelist tells of mental upset that will follow upon dramatic cosmic upheavals.  But after those, the full achievement of Jesus’ work, His mission of the salvation of the world will be near at hand.

 

11-21 Reflection

Vanilla has chocolate.  Ups have downs.  And kings have jesters.  Jesus had Pilate.  When kings ruled, most of them had a jester, who was a man whose sole job in life was to make the king laugh, and consequently the people in the king’s court.  The latter were mostly ambitious sycophants who took their cue from the king’s reactions to the show.

Christ our King, void of a throne or a court, had no joker either. But history presented him with this pitiable Roman local official, the very exemplar of a soul trapped by peer pressure.  Pilate was never a laugh-getter as far as we know.  Perhaps he drew a chuckle or two from underlings at a wine party.  But this weekend we see him again in that eternally dramatic scene drawn by John’s gospel that we read each Good Friday, standing right in front of Truth itself.  All that Pilate can muster in response to Jesus is his hollow query “What is truth?”  That sad day the procurator unintentionally links himself with the Jews he obviously despises. Both could not really hear Jesus’ voice. So Pilate becomes his own jester.

Of course, we know better. We do hear the prophet Daniel’s voice in that First Reading describing the future Savior’s kingdom as one that is destined to be everlasting.  If only Pilate had read and believed the Old Testament prophets!  We also learn from the Book of Revelation that Jesus is truly the “Alpha and the Omega,” the First and the Last, the Almighty.  If only Pilate could have read this remarkable New Testament dreamer!

Now, if you and I are really honest with ourselves we could draw up a near endless list of realities in our lives that spark our gratitude. On this coming Thursday, we have our annual civic chance to recognize all that we have been given as a nation and as an individual.

But I believe we sell ourselves short if we do not thank God also for the existence of the Bible.  It is our library of God’s word and a true source of connection with Him.  We find within its pages and books of all kinds all we need to know about the truest, kindest and most loving King of them all.

We can add in humble thanks for the very gift of Faith that will not let us become another Pilate before Jesus.  That awakens in us our truest best selves.   And in turn we become something like the little boy I read about whose honesty can make us laugh.

It seems there was a little boy who was asked by his father to say grace at the table.  Now it wasn’t for Thanksgiving Day with all its special goodies you must realize. Just an ordinary day. So, while the rest of the family waited, the little guy eyed every dish of food his mother had prepared.  After the examination, he bowed his head and honestly prayed, ”Lord, I don’t like the looks of it, but I thank you for it, and I’ll eat it anyway.  Amen.”

Reading I:  Daniel 7: 13-14
The one in human form, which is what is meant by the term “son of man,” is not a real person in this context, but a symbol.  His kingdom is to be everlasting.

Reading II:  Revelation 1: 5-8
Jesus, the firstborn of the dead, deserves “glory and praise forever.”

The Gospel:  John 18: 33b-37
Scholars call this section of John “Scene two” of Jesus’ trial before Pilate.  It is high drama, as Jesus not only assures Pilate that His kingdom “does not belong to this world”, but also that He came to testify to the truth.

11-14 Reflection

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

November is certainly a month to remember.  At the highest level, we recall all those who have gone before us “marked with the sign of faith.”  At a lower level, we have the memories of the past summer.

As always, the ongoing battle of the optimists versus the pessimists goes on.  Right away, certain pessimists seem to have an edge.  All he or she has to do is start the complaints about November weather. The earlier sunsets and the dipping temperatures are right up his alley. He finds pal even in the poet Emily Dickinson, who wrote that “November always seems to me the Norway of the year.”

But then the optimist has his scorecard filled with the fact that November is a holiday month, without the hurried rush when you get to spend time with family and friends and celebrate Thanksgiving joyfully. There is at least one poet in their corner by the name of Alexander Louis Fraser: “Fear not November’s challenge bold– We’ve books and friends, and hearths that never can grow cold, these are how we make amends!”

All of this comparison and contrast sets up a reflective look at the Scripture for this weekend. The Gospel features Our Lord giving His predictions about the “end times,” a frightful time ahead. But He does it in the name of full disclosure, lest we doubt God has a plan.

But immediately after that dark note, Jesus follows up with the promise that His angels will gather up “His elect.”  Our task, then, is to be among that number.  Easy enough to decide but hard to meet the requirements.  The excerpt from Daniel hits the optimism button with this promise that we are destined “to live forever shining like the splendor of the firmament.”

All of that is guaranteed by Christ’s offering on the cross, which the Letter to the Hebrews assures us it is true because by that cross He has “made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.”  Since we were consecrated as God’s children at our baptism, the gift is ours to lose.  So optimism takes the prize

It is a good November thing to remember, because just as the year winds down, inevitably so will we.  Take a second look in the mirror. The November scriptures want us to stop pretending to ourselves. Obviously, a lot depends on our faith and its consequent outlook.

Somebody has well said that there are really only two kinds of people in the world:  those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good morning, Lord,” and there are those who wake up in the morning and say, “Good Lord, it’s morning.”  Which are you?

God love you, and give you His peace.

Reading I:  Daniel 12: 1-3
Those whose names are written in the book of life will live forever in light and joy.

Reading II:  Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18
Jesus our great High Priest, sits now in heavenly glory and waits until His enemies are under His feet.

The Gospel:  Mark 13: 24-32
The key event is Jesus’ return, the final proof of God’s victory over evil.  The fig tree’s growth process acts as a warning sign that the event is near.