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December 25, 2016 – Christmas Day

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

“A kid in a candy store.”  That’s how people of all ages are sometimes described when they are fortunate enough to have a panoply of good options before them.  When I was a boy, living in the city, a real candy store was just down the block and around the corner, quite walkable for young legs. No need to be driven to one from a suburban cul de sac.  I can still picture all the goodies on display behind the beveled glass doors of the counter, where I could use my residual allowance, a net sum post filling a percentage in my the little Church envelope. (Remember those?)

At the risk of being disrespectful, that is analogous to the situation of a writer faced with reflecting on the Mass Readings for Christmas.  Which ones? There are four settings for Masses, each with their own Readings, beginning with the Vigil, followed by the Mass at Midnight, then the Mass at Dawn, and finally the Mass during the Day.

For my Reflections, I chose the Readings for the Mass at Midnight.  Luke’s beautiful gospel, coupled with Isaiah’s prophecy, which centuries later gave Handel some of the lyrics for his “Messiah” oratorio.  To those, St. Paul’s excerpt offers guidelines for living a post-Christmas lifestyle. But it is the Lucan gospel that most appeals to me.

December 18, 2016 – Fourth Sunday of Advent

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

On an unusually warm mid-October day, I was wandering among the Christmas displays, running full tilt  in one of those big box stores. I had come in just to buy a mundane garden weed killer, but the colors and lights drew me to look at merchandise two months early.  The artificial trees blinked; snow-covered miniature scenes twirled and played carols; and boxes of ornaments were already on sale.  Nearby were make-believe electric fireplaces that would render earlier generations dumbstruck.

But amid all this winking and blinking stood a beautifully rendered foot high statue or the Holy Family.  Yes, it was made in China, as my inspection proved. But the resin work was nicely tinted.  I almost bought it, perhaps in a way to “rescue” it from its glitzy surroundings. But my guardian angel whispered “You already have enough pious Christmas decorations.”

December 11, 2016 – Third Sunday of Advent

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

Twice in one week, I encountered people wanting my assessment of their work through online surveys.  One came from a busy supermarket checkout person and the other from a staff member at the auto repair service.  Both people tried to impress upon me the importance of my answers, to the point where I started to think their jobs depended on how I rated their work. On that last point, I felt obligated to take the surveys. I guess I’ll never know the effect on them of my ratings.

We humans are naturally curious about how we’re doing in the ratings game of our lives, particularly in the matter of our relationships, both with people and with God.  We yearn to learn how we come across in that all-important court of public opinion.  Naturally, such a “court” would have its judge and jury.  Whole books have been devoted to the study of what we do to sway their opinions.  Sometimes our own instincts tell us that we have either been working too hard on our score, or not hard enough.  If we ever doubted that surveys matter in the business world, all we have to do is ask a company like Samsung about their exploding cell phones.

December 4, 2016 – Second Sunday of Advent

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

Two of the obvious distinctions between the younger and older generations of our times are clothes and hairdos.  The elders don’t understand and don’t approve.  The younger people don’t want them to do so anyway.  Thus it probably has always been.  Only hair stylists and clothing retailers have to pay attention in order to stay current.

Bishop Fulton Sheen once keenly observed that the young will go to extremes if they have to in order to differentiate themselves from the generation ahead of them.  And if the elders, perhaps jealous of youth’s vitality and freedom from responsibility, start to imitate them in a silly effort to fit in, the young will still win the contest by going farther out.

November 27, 2016 – First Sunday of Advent

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

One of the disturbing aspects of life in our time is widespread in driver inattention.  Because of it, vehicles weighing in the tons suddenly become more dangerous than guns.  They become killing machines all because of the people controlling them.  We’ve all heard the problems: drivers who really become non-drivers because they were intoxicated, or sleep-deprived, or using their cell phones.  You may have seen that news photo of a female driver caught on camera steering her car with her feet so that her hands could be free! Thus, everybody else on the road becomes a potential victim. And a road trip, even around the corner to the drugstore, becomes more hazardous than ever.

All this talk of inattentiveness parallels another type. It has the potential for wrecking our eternal future. It’s about paying attention and being prepared for what we hope will be our joy-filled lives in heaven. Last week I spoke about the lack of guarantees in many aspects of human living. There are two famous ones, however. You know them: death and taxes.

November 20, 2016 – Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

“Good Housekeeping” magazine once had a unique “lock” on the idea of guarantees. But nowadays, there are many consumer watchdogs out there, in print or on the web, that offer guarantees that the products they endorse are worthy of our purchase.

How we wish there were such for all the other aspects of human life not found in shops and stores. Take friendship for example. What a mysterious reality! One we can’t live without. How they begin; how they develop; how they last, often for many years and perhaps a lifetime. All of it marvelous and life-giving, even though it can be tested and fail.

November 13, 2016 – Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

Fans of war stories can easily conjure up the images of onscreen destruction, and its effects on people.  Buildings topple, roads cave in, and bridges blow up amid roaring noise. The truth of war gets driven home and it is always ugly.

With ongoing wars in our present day, from those faraway to those on the streets of our own country which have become sadly repetitious, it is tempting to read such events into the Sacred Scriptures.  Not a healthy thing to do.

November 6, 2016 – Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

We love our Christmas movies.  Soon we will bring them out of storage once again for our seasonal enjoyment, perhaps mixing in some nostalgia for Christmases past.  One of the perennial favorites is Dickens’ “Christmas Carol.”  Critics have opined about the old 1951 black and white version as the best of the many filmed adaptations and I agree.

But whatever version you watch, there is a heavy presence of life after death in the tale. “Old Marley” makes his appearance from the hereafter early on to set the plot in motion. Then Scooge’s third visiting spirit is a scary guy who never speaks but points inevitably to Scrooge’s headstone in a possible future.