Faith and Family is a weekly column by Lani Bogart, in which she provides practical ways to connect the Sunday readings, especially the Gospel, to the lives of families. Lani oversees all things catechetical at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and co-leads the Committee to Serve Wives and Widows of Deacons for the Diocese of Phoenix.
The Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. Wow! Does this strike anyone else as an amazing title for a Sunday celebration?
Today we celebrate the truth that the same Lord Jesus Christ we receive in Holy Communion every Sunday is also the KING OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE! Think about this. Let it sink in until your heart is filled with awe and wonder for God! I found the following facts on a website for kids by typing into my browser "What is included in the universe?":READ MORE
This month as we remember family members who have died and gather with family members to celebrate Thanksgiving, make a long list of all the things you are grateful for AND be a family who serves others!
Small gestures can mean a lot for families who are struggling to pay rent and buy food. Take joy in giving a family a gift card to the grocery store, making and delivering a hot meal, or paying for electricity for a needy family.READ MORE
It has been my experience that God takes delight in replenishing goods that are running out, especially for when we put our trust in him.
The widow trusted Elijah as a "man of God." She put her faith into action by sharing what little she had with the prophet and God blessed her faith by providing oil and meal for her and her son. The key seems to be complete confidence; a willingness to give everything and trust God with the results. But sometimes God's generosity surprises us. The wine Jesus provided at the wedding at Cana was not a matter of life or death. It wasn't necessary for the survival of the newlyweds. Yet, he provided in great abundance for them.READ MORE
What lasting gift can we give the children in our lives? If we must live through poverty, war, famine, natural disaster, immigration trouble, what can we give our children that can help them most? If, God forbid, our children were separated from their families what would they have to help them live? If, on the other hand, they grow and prosper only to be tempted by the false values of this world: chasing pleasure, wealth, power, or fame, what can keep them from destruction? There is only one answer. We must give them the gifts that "remain; Faith, hope, and love." (I Cor. 13:13) These gifts can only be guaranteed to be found in Christ and his Church.READ MORE
I love the way Jesus stops and listens to the forgotten, powerless or "unimportant" ones. Time and again Jesus shows us that the things we dread so much, like sickness, demons, or disabilities are not obstacles; instead they draw his merciful heart to us.
Maybe our eyes can see perfectly, but what about our hearts? Are we blind to Jesus and his promise of new life?
Have you welcomed "outsiders" to our Parish lately? Have you brought Jesus' mercy to the forgotten ones?READ MORE
Now is the time for lay people to redirect our sight away from the treasures of this world and toward Jesus. The psalmist reminds us that when our hearts are filled with God's love we are joy filled! But, we too often live as if we don't believe this. The man in today's Gospel went away sad because he had many riches. He missed out on the joy that could have been his if he had only received the loving gaze of Jesus. The Gospel writer says, "Jesus looked at him with love." But rather than receiving the spiritual riches Jesus wanted to give him, he walked away. His many riches made him sad!READ MORE
Immediately after the discussion about divorce in today's Gospel, Jesus takes a strong stand for children with these words, "Let the children come to me..."READ MORE
What is it about human beings that makes us suspicious of those who are not "one of us"? In today's Gospel, the Apostles want to stop a man who is driving out demons using Jesus' name.
But, Jesus did not see this man as a threat to His mission. Jesus was thankful that because the man drove out demons in His Name, he would not, at the same time, speak ill of Him. God alone sees the secret intention of the heart; no act of charity goes unnoticed. And God, alone, decides who is a recipient of His Spirit and His gifts.READ MORE
Jesus delights in lifting up the lowly. When he took a child into His arms, He completely identified himself with the lowest member of society. Children are totally dependent on others for everything. Even in our day "important people" do not often ask small children for their opinions or preferences. Yet, there is something in us that knows it is good and right for a strong, influential person to stoop down and interact with a small child. The powerful and mighty decide what will happen, often imposing their wills on others.READ MORE
Our Religious Education students return to their Sunday morning classes this week. Please pray for catechists and families to grow closer to Christ by learning to know and love God's ways.
Parents and children love to learn about Jesus as the miracle worker, the healer, the One whom even the wind and seas obeyed. But it is also necessary to learn that Jesus was the Suffering Servant prophesied by Isaiah, the One who would be like a sheep led to the slaughter. Are we ready to follow Jesus wherever He leads?READ MORE
St. James, in today's readings tells us to imitate Christ who cares for the lost, the outcast, the sick, the weak, and the poor. When we were missionaries in Guatemala visiting an impoverished rural area, I got word that a young couple wanted prayers for their dying child. I wasn't sure what to expect. The mother was maybe 16 years old; the father not much older. She held their firstborn son in her arms. The father stroked the child's damp hair. The baby looked to be about fifteen months old, listless, his neck arched and unnaturally stiff. They asked me to please pray, so I began. "Oremos." - Let us pray. The instant I spoke, they dropped to their knees on the bare floor and I began to pray aloud in Spanish. I don't remember what I prayed, only how helpless I felt. When I finished, they stood, crying and thanking me again and again and again for my prayers.READ MORE
Each time we listen to God's Word, especially the Gospels, we can be certain that Jesus is speaking directly to us. Since we know this is true, our part is to bring open, docile hearts, ready to hear and to do whatever he says. Our prayer should be, "Help me hear, understand, and obey."READ MORE