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Spiritual Reflections

A season for seeking

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If someone were to ask you, "When is your favorite time of the year?" how would you respond? For some among us, the holiday season including Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year holds a special charm. It is a time of holy happenings when families and friends can celebrate God and one another, a cherished season that calls upon those who have to share generously with those who have less.

Salt and light

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What do this Sunday's readings say to us today? Where are we to look for the light of our world?

In our first reading, Isaiah's solution to superficial religiosity that does not illuminate has nothing to do with more prayers or pious self-mortification; he beckons us to venture beyond our comfortable home territory into the foreign lands of the less fortunate. Isaiah teaches that our light will shine when it has been kindled by the experience of sharing with those who know needs we have not experienced and that we can't even imagine without listening to their story.

A light for all peoples

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More than 16 centuries ago, a woman from Galicia in northwest Spain set out on a journey to the Holy Land, hoping to experience for herself the places where important biblical events had occurred. Her name was Egeria (sometimes known as Etheria or Sylvia), and her travels were made all the more memorable because she kept a journal of her three years on the road (381-384). Wishing to share her faith and experiences with her "sisters" back home, Egeria wrote in descriptive detail.

Spreading Christ's light

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At first glance, our reading from Isaiah seems to come about a month late. Weren't we just singing with Handel about the people in darkness being caught up in light? Hearing that prophecy during today's liturgy reminds us that that the light, as John says, shone in the darkness that vainly tried to overcome it. Today we remember both the light and the cost and joys of sharing it. Isaiah addressed people forced from their homeland, people whose shared suffering created shared hopelessness, who were figuratively or literally blinded to the possibility of a better future.

Strength from weakness

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It's difficult to understand the original meaning of today's Deutero-Isaiah passage unless we restore the first six verses to the Lectionary selection. Isaiah 49:1-6 is generally referred to as the Second Song of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. The disciples of the anonymous prophet (Deutero-Isaiah) responsible for Chapters 40-55 of Isaiah not only passed on his powerful oracles, they also included four reflections on what it meant for him to be Yahweh's mouthpiece. The first three are autobiographical; the last, biographical -- composed by his followers after his martyrdom.

Remembering whose we are

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Most of us celebrate our birthdays. Some among us also celebrate their feast day or patron saint day, but how many of us celebrate the day of our baptism? In his book Christianity: The Making of Christians (Kevin Mayhew Ltd., 1979), Mark Searle reminds readers that for many centuries it was the custom in the church to celebrate the pascha annotinum or the anniversary of baptism. It was a sort of class reunion for the baptized, their sponsors and the bishop, at which they celebrated the Eucharist together.

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In This Issue

July 18-31, 2014

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