Stay Awake! Be Prepared!

IMG_0057The First Sunday of Advent / November 27, 2022

Dear Friends,

Sunday, November 27th, begins the Advent season for the liturgical Christian churches.  Funny enough, we begin at the end — thinking about THE END – the end of the world.  The early Christians believed Jesus was coming “soon and very soon.” The early generation of Christians thought the end would come soon.  Jerusalem fell in 70 CE but Jesus didn’t come.

Paul admonishes us in Romans today:

“Now is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

And Jesus also admonishes us in today’s gospel (Mt. 24:37-44).

” Stay awake !

For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. . . . .

You must be prepared,

for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  

Our Scripture scholar-friend William Barclay tells us that no one knows the timing of the Second Coming, not the angels or even Jesus himself, but only God, and will come upon humankind with the suddenness of a rainstorm out of a blue sky.  Thus, speculation regarding the time  of the Second Coming, Barclay suggests, “is nothing short of blasphemy, for the man who so speculates is seeking to wrest from God which belong to God alone.  

He tells us these verses are a warning never to become so immersed in time or worldly affairs, however necessary, to completely distract us from God, and our life should be in his hands, and whenever his call comes, at morning, noon or night, it will find us ready.  

And these verses tell us that the coming of Christ will be a time of judgment, when he will gather to himself those who are his own.  ~ Barclay: The Gospel of Matthew ~ Volume 2, pp. 315-6.

Now here’s my reflection:

Jesus wants us to be prepared ~ watchful ~ alert ~ aware ~ awake

knowing what’s happening

. . .  but so many of us are asleep, Lord.

We tend to not recognize the signs of the times.

We often dull our senses ~ stay in our own little worlds.

Choosing not to care.   We become complacent.

Many of us don’t want to be bothered thinking about or praying about the real issues

And thus, we go like lemmings over the cliff.

So tribulations loom. We become fearful. Threats . . .

. . . of losing our job ~ having a lump in our breast

losing health insurance because we lost our job

global warming

corruption on Wall Street and government

a new Congress

uncertainty

Stand erect!   Face your fears with courage.

Be strong!

Do not fear the terror of the night! (Psalm 91.)

This is what Advent faith is all about . . .

Being vigilant.  Being prepared for anything life throws at us.

Standing proudly humble or humbly proud no matter what.

That’s the kind of faith in life — in You, my God that I seek.

I want it. I ask you for it.

Today I consent to it.  May we all consent to it too, as Mary did.

Amen.  So be it.

Now here’s a song to get you in an Advent mood ~ an interesting take on the old hymn Soon and Very Soon             by a young lady by the name of Brooke Fraser.  Click here. Turn up your speakers since she has a soft voice.

Here are all of today’s Mass readings. https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112722.cfm

As I do every Advent – Christmas, I will be publishing a new blog almost every day.  So be sure to look for them and make a retreat for yourself to counter the commercialism of this hectic season.

+ + + + 

Have a wonderful Advent!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

William Barclay / The Daily Study Bible Series / the Gospel of Matthew, Volume 2 ~ Revised Edition                                                 The Westminster Press, Philadelphia 1975

Stay Awake! Be Prepared!

IMG_0057

The First Sunday of Advent / November 27, 2022

Dear Friends,

On Sunday, December 1st we begin the Advent season for the liturgical Christian churches. Interestingly enough, we begin at the end — thinking about THE END – the end of the world.  The early Christians believed Jesus was coming “soon and very soon.” The early generation of Christians thought the end would come soon.  Jerusalem fell in 70 CE but Jesus didn’t come.

Paul admonishes us in Romans today:

“Now is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

And Jesus also admonishes us in today’s gospel (Mt. 24:37-44).

” Stay awake !

For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. . . . .

You must be prepared,

for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  

Our Scripture scholar-friend William Barclay lays it out for us: No one knows the timing of the Second Coming, not the angels or even Jesus himself, but only God; it will come upon humankind with the suddenness of a rainstorm out of a blue sky.  Thus, speculation regarding the time  of the Second Coming, Barclay suggests, “is nothing short of blasphemy, for the man who so speculates is seeking to wrest from God that which belong to God alone.  

He tells us these verses are a warning that we must never become so immersed in time that we forget about eternity or worldly affairs, however necessary, as to completely distract us from God. If our life is in his hands, whenever his call comes, at morning, noon or night, it will find us ready.  

And these verses tell us that the coming of Christ will be a time of judgment, when he will gather to himself those who are his own.  ~ Barclay:                                                                                                                     The Gospel of Matthew ~ Volume 2, pp. 315-6.

Now here’s my reflection:

Jesus wants us to be prepared ~ to be watchful ~ alert ~ aware ~ awake

He wants us to know what’s happening

. . .  but so many of us are asleep, Lord

We tend to not recognize the signs of the times.

We often dull our senses ~ stay in our own little worlds,

choosing not to care.   We become complacent.

Many of us don’t want to be bothered thinking about or praying about the real issues swirling around us.

And thus, we go like lemmings over a cliff.

So tribulations loom: Fear.

Threats . . . of losing our job ~ having a lump in our breast

losing health insurance because we lost our job

global warming

corruption on Wall Street and government

Fears about the upcoming election or the possible impeachment ot the president

uncertainties of all kinds.

Stand erect!   Face your fears with courage.

Be strong!

Do not fear the terror of the night (Psalm 91.)

This is what Advent faith is all about . . .

Being vigilant.  Being prepared for anything life throws at us.

Standing proudly humble or humbly proud no matter what.

That’s the kind of faith in life — in You, my God that I seek.

I want it. I ask you for it.

Today I consent to it.

Amen.  So be it.

Now here’s a song to get you in an Advent mood  “Come. Lord, Maranatha.” Click here.

For all of today’s Mass readings. Click here.

As I do every Advent – Christmas, I will be publishing a new blog almost every day.  So be sure to look for them and make a retreat for yourself to counter the commercialism of this hectic season.

+ + + + +

Have a wonderful Advent!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

William Barclay / The Daily Study Bible Series / the Gospel of Matthew, Volume 2 ~ Revised Edition                                                 The Westminster Press, Philadelphia 1975

Giving Thanks in trying times ~ How will you give thanks this year?

New blog post for Thanksgiving Day 2022

Will we take time out on Thanksgiving Day to make it truly a day of Thanksgiving this year? What do you have to be thankful for?

Let’s start with this: President James Madison in 1815 was the one who created the tradition of setting aside a day for the people of the United States to Give Thanks to the Creator for the goodness of our land. It would be good for us to reflect on what the original intent this day was to be as, with so many things in our country we have forgotten who and what we are.

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States have by a joint resolution signified their desire that a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.

No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events and of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States. His kind providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allotted for the great family of the human race. He protected and cherished them under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days. Under His fostering care their habits, their sentiments, and their pursuits prepared them for a transition in due time to a state of independence and self-government. [ . . . ] And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.

It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that the second Thursday in April next be set apart as a day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assemblies unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.

Given at the city of Washington on the 4th day of March, A. D. 1815, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-ninth.

JAMES MADISON.

Two items come to mind as I approach this Thanksgiving Day. First, how did we get so far from a President encouraging us to go to our churches to pray on Thanksgiving Day to our secular society declaring it anathema for any kind of mention of God in public speech at all.

Then there’s this: How many families turn off the football games for a moment and actually pause at the Thanksgiving table to have family members reflect on what they’re thankful for and to offer thanks for them?

How ‘bout your family? What are your traditions around the Thanksgiving table? Do you pray? (If you don’t have a ritual of sorts, perhaps you can start one. Take a few minutes and ask folks to write one thing they’re thankful for; then mix them up and have others share them before your apple pie and ice cream. (At the bottom of this post I’ve added an article by a guest columnist in the New York Times entitled “Five ways to exercise your thankfulness muscles.”)

How many of us are really thoughtful about what we have to be thankful for this year as we approach the day. Especially about where our country is this year. We’ve all been through several years of suffering and worry and–near hell actually–dealing with the Pandemic and its continued variants, Some of us have been very sick. Some of us have watched a loved one die of Covid. Yet still others have been in denial and and have refused to take the vaccine and have protested others taking it.

As I look over the past year, I see suffering across our country and throughout the world. I have a sensitive heart, I’m thinking of all those folks particularly.

We’ve been through major hurricanes, as well as, winter storms, and devastating wild fires in the California. And on top of that, we’re dealing with climate deniers who are making it more difficult for those particularly for us to do what must be done to prepare for the future. As Pope Francis has pointed out, the poor are the ones who are hurt the most by Climate Change. And we’ve seen that dramatically in the sufferings of the poor in these natural disasters.

And my heart aches for so many migrants and refugees throughout the world—some of whom are stateless. Then there’s the senseless and insane issue of gun violence.

Are we at prayer as we approach Thanksgiving Day?

Are we truly thankful for what we have in this country?

+ Freedom of Speech. Some don’t want others to have that these days.

+ Freedom of the Press. + Freedom of Assembly. For the right to protest / the right to organize / the right for unions to meet. And some governors are trying to make it a crime to protest.

+ The possibility of work. But not all have it or enough of it or at a living wage.

+ The possibility of a decent education. But again, not all are able to afford it.

+ The possibility of decent health care. Again, who can get it and who cannot?

Is America the bright beacon of a hill it once was? Do other countries look up to us as they once did? As I think about these questions a day before Thanksgiving 2022, I wonder if I feel as proud to be an American as I used to be. I want to be, but it’s hard. I know I have to do my part as a citizen and I try. I feel rather embarrassed for us at times.

These days seem to me more like ancient Israel when they had lost their way and were unfaithful to God.  But we have much for which to be thankful this November after the midterm elections. For example . . . .

  • We can be grateful to voters, who for the third consecutive election, showed there is a majority — even if a narrow one — that rejects authoritarianism, crude appeals to racism and xenophobia, and downright nutty and mean candidates.

  • We can be grateful younger voters are developing a habit of voting in midterms.

  • We can be grateful to the thousands of election officials, workers and volunteers who pulled off another exceptionally efficient and peaceful exercise in democracy.

  • We can be grateful to the lawyers who litigated in defense of voting access and impartial election administration.

  • We can be grateful voters are becoming accustomed to early voting and voting by mail.

  • We can be grateful covid-19 is far less of a threat to people’s lives these days, and that it is no longer a barrier to gathering with friends and family for Thanksgiving.

  •  We can be grateful our sober commander in chief has not escalated tensions with Russia, vastly reducing the chances of a hot war between Russia and NATO.

  • We can be grateful for heroic Ukrainians who remind us of the price of freedom and the need to resist authoritarianism.

  • We can be grateful juries continue to convict and judges continue to sentence participants in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

  • We can be grateful federal, district and circuit courts have generally upheld the rule of law, preventing election subversion.

  • We can be grateful for a phalanx of lawyers, former prosecutors and legal scholars have helped provide the public with lively and profoundly helpful education in constitutional law.

  • We can be grateful to all the candidates who challenged election deniers and MAGA extremists in primaries and general election races, whether they won or lost.

  • We can be grateful Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is on the Supreme Court and that she has held tutorials on honest originalism.

  • We can be grateful to the men and women in the armed services and national security agencies, without whom our democracy would not survive.

  • And we can be grateful that the weary diplomats at COP27 who signed the final documents and will offer some relief to poorer countries suffering the most from Climate Change.

  • And we can be grateful that President Biden met with Xi Jinping to lower the temperature between China and the United States.

(This is an adaptation  of Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin Nov. 20, 2022)

All through my own life’s struggles, I’ve learned to continue to pick myself up and sing: “I’ll go on and praise Him; I’ll go on . . . “

And so, dear friends, so will we! If. . . If we thank God for the gifts He gives us day in and day out, day in and day out. And Praise Him—No. . . Matter . . .  What!

Dear God,

We are living in difficult times.

We do not know what lies ahead of us.

Some of us look forward with confidence;

others are fraught with fear.

But let us remember that if we look to you, O God,

You will be our Strength and even our Joy.

Please be with us in our land today

and bless us.

Bless our President and elected officials

that they would serve all of the people of this land. 

And so, we give you thanks this day for all of the blessings

You have showered upon our country and each of us.

Please bless us most of all with peace among nations

and peace here at home.b To You be all Glory and Honor and Thanksgiving. Amen!  

And now, before you go, here’s the great hymn “Now thank we all our God,” Click here. It’ll give you goosebumps.  Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers. And please pray along with the lyrics as you listen! 

And here’s the link to the New York Times article, “Five ways to exercise your thankfulness muscles.” Click here.”


The Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe

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                The Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ-King of the Universe                                                         Sunday November 20, 2022

Today’s feast is Good News for most of us who are weary (and fed up?) with all that’s gone down with the election and it’s aftermath and the Pandemic too.   I just did a bit of research in the liturgical archives: this feast has gotten an upgrade! Before it was just “The Feast of Christ the King.” Now it’s the Feast (we give it the fancy name of Solemnity) of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe.  That offers us a lot more richness for our spirituality and even our politics as you’ll see in a few moment.

*  *  *  *

Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

And as we look forward to Thanksgiving and Advent and Christmas—the New Year this feast brings us, not just a sigh of relief from all we’ve been through this past year, for me at least, but an explosion of new hope and wonder as we realize the implications of living in Jesus’ kin-dom here and now!

I was blown away by the insights of famed Franciscan author Father Richard Rohr’s recent book The Universal Christ from which I unabashedly quote extensively here.

I am making the whole of creation new . . .    It will come true . . . It is already done!             I am the Alpha and the Omega, both the Beginning and the End.                                            ~ Revelations 21:5-6

Jesus didn’t normally walk around Judea making “I AM” statements; if he did, he very soon would have ended up being stoned to death. He didn’t normally talk that way. But when we look at the phrase we all love, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” we see a very fair statement that should not offend or threaten anyone. He’s describing the “Way” by which all humans and all religions must allow matter and Spirit to operate as one.

Once we see that the Eternal Christ is the one talking in these passages, Jesus’ words about the nature of God—and those created in the image of God—seem full of deep hope and a broad vision for all of creation.

The leap of faith that the orthodox Christians made from the early period was that the eternal Christ presence was truly speaking through the person of Jesus. Divinity and humanity were somehow able to speak as one, for if the union of God and humankind is “true” in Jesus, there is hope that it might be true in all of us too. That is the big takeaway from having Jesus speak as the Eternal Christ.

He is indeed “the pioneer and perfector of our faith,” as Hebrew puts it (12:2).

As the “Father of Orthodoxy,” St. Athanasius (296—375) wrote when the church had a more social, historical and revolutionary sense of itself: “God was consistent in working through man to reveal himself everywhere, as well as through the other parts of creation, so that nothing was left devoid of his Divinity and self-knowledge . . . so that the whole universe was filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters fill the sea”.

~ Athanasius De Incarnatione Verbe 45           

I have a note in the margin or Rohr’s book at that quote: WOW!!!

Athanasius was writing in the Fourth Century! Think about that when today we’ve seen images of  our blue planet taken from the moon; when scientists are discovering black holes and other solar systems beyond our own.  And mystics like Athanasius are still with us too!   And yet for a Christian—Catholic or otherwise—who clings only to Jesus as their personal savior in a “Jesus and me” kind of faith is much too myopic and narrow-minded, and therefore missing the real depth of their faith.

As a counterpoint, he says, the Eastern church, has a sacred word for this process, which in the West we call “incarnation” or “salvation”.  They call it “divinization (theosis).  If that sounds provocative, Rohr suggests, know that they are building on 2 Peter 1:4 where the author says, “He has given us something very great and wonderful  . . . . you are able to share the divine nature!

Most Catholics and Protestants still think of the incarnation as a one-time and one-person event having to do only with the person of Jesus of Nazareth, instead of a cosmic event that has soaked all of history in the Divine Presence from the very beginning.  Therefore, this implies . . .

+     That God is not an old man on a throne. God is Relationship itself, a dynamism of Infinite Love between Divine Diversity, as the doctrine of the Trinity demonstrates.    

+     That God’s infinite love has always included all that God created from the very beginning (Ephesians 1:3-14). The Torah  (first five books of the Hebrew bible) calls it “covenant love,” an unconditional agreement, both offered and consummated on God’s side (even if we don’t reciprocate)      

+     That the Divine “DNA” of the Creator is therefore held in all creatures.  What we call the “soul” of every creature could easily be seen as the self-knowledge of God in that creature!  It knows who it is and grows into its identity, just like as seed and egg.

Faith at its essential core is accepting that you are accepted! We cannot deeply know ourselves without knowing the One who made us, and cannot fully accept ourselves without accepting God’s radical acceptance of every part of ourselves. And God’s impossible acceptance of ourselves is easier to grasp if we first recognize the perfect unity of the human Jesus with the divine Christ. Start with Jesus, continue with yourself, and finally expand to everything else. As John says, “From the fullness (pleroma) we have all received grace upon grace “(1:16).

And for my concluding prayer this day, I rely on the wisdom of St. Paul who himself realized the awesome dimensions of Jesus’ reign  .   .  . 

Brothers and sisters:
Let us give thanks to the Father,
who has made you fit to share
in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.
He delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

(Colossians 1: 12-20)

I will offer my Mass on Sunday for all of you, my readers—for yours and your families’ needs and intentions, Blessings to you this day!

Now before you go, I’m offering you a choice of music.

The first is “Crown Him with Many Crowns with about 3,000 voices. Click here,

The second is “Worthy is the Lamb” by the Australian young people’s group Hilsong.  Clickhere,

And here are the Mass readings for today’s Feast, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

Acknowledgements  . . . .
Richard Rohr The Universal Christ / Convergent Books New York 2019 /pp. 26-29.

Magnificat / November 2022 edition cover art / Odessa Art Museum / Ukraine 

With love,

Bob Traupman

Contemplative Writer