January 5, 2020
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

The Second Sunday of Christmas

First Reading: Sirach 24:1-4, 8-12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18
Gospel: John 1:1-18 or 1:1-5, 9-14

Celebrating Christmas home page

For those celebrating the Epiphany today.

Christmas Daily Prayer

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
- Ephesians 1:3

In the beginning was the Word,
    and the Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
- John 1:1

On this Second Sunday of Christmas, sitting right before Epiphay this year, the Church gives us Sirach's praise of Wisdom, the powerful blessing at the beginning of Paul's letter to the Ephesians and the beginning of John's gospel.

It is so fitting to bless, that is thank and praise, our God - the Father of our Lord Jesus the Christ - for blessing us, in Christ Jesus, with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. That is worth chewing a bit. We have been so blessed, gifted, with so much. Our Christmas celebrations and reflections can go a bit deeper this more quiet weekend and move in the direction of giving thanks and by counting our blessings. Many of us will be grateful for family and friends. Many will find ourselves still hurting over the sadness that sometimes comes with celebrating Christmas alone, or after some of the family bruising the too often can happy. We can be grateful for the comforting message of the coming of the little baby in a manger. God comes to the lowest of places, for us to know that we are fully accompanied in everything - even the lowest of human experiences. That's the spiritual blessing which has been offered us. And, we can deepen our realization and gratitude for this gift, this weekend.

Paul goes further. The Father has chosen us, in Jesus, from the beginning of time, "to be holy and without blemish before him." I think this means that the Creator who imagined us from the beginning, created us for holiness. We were created for communion with our God, in and through Jesus. It's our purpose. It is what we are "for." To the extent we move in the direction of communion - and therefore holiness - to that extent we are fulfilling our purpose. Our life is in balance and harmony with our design. And, we are happy. To the extent that we are out of harmony - not in communion - we tend to be out of focus. There's imbalance and disorder and we end up being very unhappy, even if we think we are pursuing what we think will make us happy. It is so wonderful to reflection on our having a purpose, a meaning to our life. Even when we feel habitually caught up in even small things that put us out of harmony with Jesus - impatience, judgemennts, resentments, ordinary selfishness and ways of putting myself and my needs before others - we can have hope that the one who created us with this loving plan of communion with us is full of mercy and a deep desire and plan for offering us healing. And, even when we can get discouraged and find it difficult to imagine real change in my life, let alone a path of continuing communion with Jesus and harmony with others, we can keep inviting his grace into our hearts, asking, "Lord, please heal me. Please give me the courage and free me to make changes that place me with you and free me to love others as you have loved me."

As we prepare to celebrate the Epiphany tomorrow - Light in the darkness, for all the world to see! - let us open our hearts today to the fullness of grace offered us. When our desires approach the desires our God has for us, real healing begins to happen. Real communion becomes possible. Let us fan into a flame the desires being offered us today to be truly renewed and truly be brought closer to the person we are chosen to be, in Jesus. It is a great grace to ask for, and to long for.

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