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Lead Me Lord

Readings

Malachi 3:1-4; 23-24
Psalm 25: Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.
Luke 1:57-66

Reflection

Surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The hand of the Lord is with
you who fear the Lord. Many do not wish to fear the Lord. Many like to
love “to choose and see my path,” until, as St. John Henry Cardinal
Newman wrote after a life-changing experience, “...now Lead Thou me on!”

Fear not the Lord, listen not to the messenger of the Lord at your peril
and doom. Those who do listen will find themselves “In the calm light of
everlasting life,” as Newman closed his poem “Lead Kindly Light.” The
original title was “Pillar of Cloud” as he was seriously ill and in a
dense fog out at sea in a ship that had no wind to push it forward.
Deeply depressing.

Seeing a young mother, with two born children, pregnant with a third,
totally abandoned, far from home with little prospects of any family
support, having trust that the Lord has a plan for her is amazing and
hope-filled. She had childlike faith and a mother’s strong will.

“Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith / Home to my God. /
To rest forever after earthly strife / In the calm light of everlasting
life.” How I’ve seen some people, like Newman himself must have, live
in that “calm of light” even in this troubled world.

Newman’s poem was set to music and sung, as the prayer it is, by people
on one of the Titanic's lifeboats. Also by soldiers in the trenches in
World War I. Also courageously by women who were being herded by Nazi
S.S. troops into a concentration camp.

As I draw near to the overwhelming joy and challenge of Christ’s birth,
do I choose to take the hand of the Lord, or do I try to lead by my own
hand?

Prayer

Lord, whatever situation I find myself in today, help me to take Your
hand, let You choose my path, let me be abandoned to You as a child.
I trust in You. Lead me on. Amen.

Monday, December 23
“‘Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way
before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple;
and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is
coming,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:1

As you await the birth of Christ, take time to renew your faith. Jesus
prepares the way for us, removing all obstacles on the road to holiness
and redemption.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

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Sunday, December 22

“The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: ‘Ask for a sign from the Lord,
your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!’
But Ahaz answered, ‘I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!’”
Isaiah 7:10-12

Look for signs of God's presence in your life. Though you may not
see Him, trust that He is always near, especially when you need
Him most.

The Time Is Nigh, Are You?
Readings

Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24: Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18 - 24

Reflection

The time is nigh for the baby to be born. Fear, anxiety, wonder,
amazement. Mothers nest. Some, I have seen, become incredibly
active, even to the point of rearranging whole rooms, cleaning
out basements, attics, or closets. Others become sedate, quiet,
contemplative, reflective. Fathers have their steady reaction:
work, work, work. Of course, inside it may be a jumble of emotions
or an incredible, thoughtful anticipation. Of course, a baby can
be a surprise, in that, birth can happen like a thief in the night,
on a day unexpected.

During this Advent, have you been preparing prayerfully, frenetically,
thoughtfully, emotionally? Have you allowed yourself the time to think
or felt there’s no time to think or pray? No matter how many challenges,
the Lord is coming. The Lord is calling you. The Lord who entered this
world through conception and birth is still here with you. Are you here
with Him?

Do not be afraid, the Angel tells Joseph in a dream no less. Let the Lord
enter. To all the beloved you are called to be holy, too. Do not be afraid.
Let the Lord enter. You are called to be holy.

Prayer

Angel of the Lord who spoke to Joseph, speak to me, too. Help me to not be
afraid. Help me to welcome Mary and Jesus into my house. Help me to grow in
the vocation God has given me. Help me to know Emmanuel, that God is with us.
Amen.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Love and Joy Come to You

Readings

Song of Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18A
Psalm 33: Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Luke 1:39-45

Reflection

On this last Saturday before Christmas, before the culmination of
our Journey Toward Light, there is a current of joy running through
all of our readings, a current of love and joy. In the Gospel, we
read of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard
Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth,
filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said,
"... At the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the
infant in my womb leaped for joy.”

Read through the Scripture readings. Be conscious of love and joy.
God is love. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.
Our whole journey, our whole life, it’s always been about love. And
with the love of God, joy comes to us as well. Sometimes we think we
are coming to God, to the baby in the manger. But it’s even truer
that God is coming to us. The baby comes to us. We are on a journey,
yes, but it is God coming to us. He first loved us. He is seeking
what is lost.

Hark! my lover–here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping
across the hills.

The lover of our soul comes, then he calls us to come! Listen to God
tenderly calling us in the imagery of a lover calling his beloved:
"Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come! … O my dove
in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff, Let
me see you, let me hear your voice, For your voice is sweet, and you
are lovely." God created us in his image. He loves us. Jesus desires
our love. He rejoices in our love. He will rejoice over you with
gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of
you, as one sings at festivals.

He rejoices over us. We also can rejoice in him. Exult, you just, in
the Lord! Sing to him a new song. Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing
joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter
Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned
away your enemies; The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you
have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to
Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God,
is in your midst, a mighty savior!

God rejoices over us. We rejoice in the birth of the Son of God. The
birth of a child is meant to bring joy. Our moms, amidst the struggles
of life, rejoice in the birth of their children. Our plans may come to
naught. We may not understand God’s plans. But the plan of the LORD
stands forever. Get ready to rejoice in the birth of Christ! Love and
joy come to you!

Prayer

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!
We desperately need saving. We desperately need your love. Thank you
for coming to me. Thank you for calling me. Thank you for loving me.
I rejoice in your love. I trust in your plans. I love you. No matter
what struggles I face, help me to live in your love and in your joy.
Please help all those in need, especially our moms and babies. May
they also live in your love and joy. Love and joy, come to us all.
Amen!

Saturday, December 21
“...rejoice and exult with all your heart...the Lord has taken away
His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King
of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst...” Zephaniah 3:14-15

Think about your relationships with family and friends; are you holding
any grudges? Work on letting them go and try to forgive someone who has
wronged you or made a mistake.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

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Enlarge Your Hearts and Say Yes

Readings

Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24: Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.
Luke 1:26-38

Reflection

Do you ever feel like you weary God? This was the rebuke King Ahaz
received in today’s first reading from Isaiah: Listen, O house of
David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary
my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the
virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.

I am sure I weary God many times with many things: unbelief, sin,
being slow to obedience, doubt, fear, selfishness. You name it.
But even in the rebuke of King Ahaz, we have the greatest of
promises: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name
him Emmanuel.


Rest assured, God is greater than any weariness we cause. But we
also experience weariness. Sometimes our weariness is the result
of the darkness of this world. We feel worn down by another
circumstance to overcome, another battle to fight. We do walk in
dark times, but we have seen a great light. The people who sit in
darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land
overshadowed by death light has arisen. (Matthew 4 fulfilling
Isaiah 9)

This is what Advent is all about. This is what Advent prepares us
for. Death and darkness are about to be overcome in the joy and
light of Christmas. We are getting close!

How can we prepare ourselves today? How can we overcome any
weariness or darkness in our lives?

First, give God more room in your heart and in your life. In today’s
psalm, the response is “Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.”
Psalm 24 also says: Lift up your heads, O gates; be lifted, you
ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter. Our God, the king
of glory is bigger and more powerful than we can ever imagine. The
gates to your heart need to be larger. Enlarge your hearts that the
King of Glory can enter in today in a greater and more profound way.
Make room for God. Think practically. If you want to bring more of
God into your house, get rid of the junk lying around.

Second, give God your “yes” like Mary. Mary said, "Behold, I am the
handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
Say yes to God. In big ways and in small ways. Think practically.
Who is going to come into your home, if you are always saying no?

Prayer

O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom: come
and free the prisoners of darkness! Jesus, take your key, free me
from darkness and open the gates to your eternal Kingdom. Thank you
for inviting me in. I also give you the key to my heart. I invite
you to enter. Help me to enlarge the gates to my heart. Help me to
give you more room. Help me to clear out the junk. I want to say yes
like Mary. Please give me the grace to do so. Yes, Lord. May you do
with me as you will. Amen!

Friday, December 20
“And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with
you.’ But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what
sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be
afraid, Mary...’” Luke 1:28-30

God is always with us, especially in our deepest moments of anxiety,
doubt, loss and fear. If you are feeling any of these emotions right
now, offer them to God.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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A Page Out of Joseph’s Book

Readings

Jeremiah 23:5-8
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of
peace for ever.
Matthew 1:18-25

Reflection

At the first coming of Jesus as a baby, we see the beginning of
the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah 11: But a shoot shall
sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall
blossom.

We also await the second coming of Jesus, to bring to fulfillment
the prophecy of Jeremiah from our first reading: Behold, the days
are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot
to David; As king, he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do
what is just and right in the land. We have also heard multiple
times during this Advent season the Responsorial Psalm: Justice
shall flourish in his time and fullness of peace for ever.

We long for Jesus to come again. We long for the complete
fulfillment of the Kingdom of God when all will be made right.
These are promises to hold onto. In today’s Gospel, we hear two
more great promises that were given to Joseph in a dream:

[Mary] will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means "God is with us."

Jesus saves us from our sins and is with us. Great promises to
hold onto, to be sure.

Now, let’s learn something about Joseph from today’s Gospel.
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded
him and took his wife into his home. In fact, every time the angel
of the Lord comes to Joseph in his dreams, the next thing you read
is Joseph taking action and obeying. Take Mary into your home to
be your wife. Name the child Jesus. Flee to Egypt. Take Mary and
Jesus back to Israel. Go to the region of Galilee.

We have powerful promises to hold onto. let’s thank the Lord. We
want the Kingdom of God to come, let’s pray for it. We want to do
God’s will, let’s take a page out of Joseph’s book. We have the
word of God and the catechism of the church, let’s be obedient.
We have the teachings on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy,
let’s put them into action. Let’s each of us do our part to bring
God’s kingdom to them.


Prayer

O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power. You have given us great
and precious promises, bring them to fulfillment. Speak to us
through your word, through Mass, through the teachings of the church.
Give us the desire and will to obey like Joseph. Meet the needs of
moms, babies and families everywhere. Help me to take action and do m
my part to bring your kingdom to earth. Amen!

Wednesday, December 18

“...an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph,
son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child
who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son;
and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their
sins.’” Matthew 1:20-21

God gave us the greatest gift, offering His only Son for us. What can you
do today to honor His loving sacrifice? During this gift-giving season, p
erhaps you can provide a Christmas miracle for a deserving family within
your community or parish.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

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The Big Picture

Readings

Genesis 49:2, 8-10
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of
peace for ever.

Matthew 1:1-17

Reflection

Jacob called his sons and said to them: "Assemble and listen,
sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your father… The scepter shall
never depart from Judah.”

We hear from our first reading in Genesis, a prophetic utterance
from Jacob regarding his son Judah. Kings will come from Judah.
The Gospel reading today is the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus,
the King of kings.

The interesting thing about the genealogy of Jesus, besides tracing
the line of Jesus through the kings of Judah, is the amount of
scandal you find. Jacob himself had a colorful life, deceiving his
brother out of his inheritance, and being deceived by his father-in-law
into marrying the wrong daughter. Judah’s son came through his
daughter-in-law, Tamar, who deceived Judah by disguising herself as a
prostitute. David had one of his mighty warriors killed to cover up
the affair he had with his wife, Bathsheba. Solomon had 300 wives and
700 concubines. A number of the ancestor kings of Jesus are described
as doing “evil in the sight of the Lord.” Eventually, the Jews go into
exile in Babylon.

How bleak things would have looked for the Jews in exile and at many
points before and after. Would you have kept the faith? Would you have
looked at the circumstances and said the prophecies of a Messiah are
hopeless? Would you have stayed on the path?

Let’s shift now to the present day. A well-known media personality,
Sean Hannity, recently announced he was leaving the Catholic church because
of “institutionalized corruption.” We’ve all heard the different scandals
in the church. Might you feel like one of the ancient Jews living during
one of the dark days of exile? The genealogy of Jesus gives us the big
picture. In retrospect, we can see that Jacob’s prophecy is fulfilled in
Jesus. But it’s an incomplete prophecy, isn’t it? Even in Jesus’ life,
we don’t have the final fulfillment yet.

There’s light at Jesus’ birth, but what would you have done after his
crucifixion? What would you have done when Judas, one of the twelve
apostles, betrayed Jesus? Would you have left the path when the apostle
Peter, the one on whom Jesus said he would build the church, denied knowing
Jesus? Scandals were there at the beginning. And they are not going away
any time soon. Are you thinking of leaving the path? Sometimes we journey
in darkness. Times are confusing. Remember the big picture, though we cannot
see the complete path before us. Remember that Jesus himself said the gates
of hell shall not prevail against the church. Stay on the path! Stay in the
church! Have faith! Stay with Jesus!

Prayer

O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to
teach us the path of knowledge! Today, help me stay on the path. Help me to
keep my eyes on my destination. No matter the darkness, no matter the
circumstances, help me to stay the course. Jesus, I believe in you. Jesus,
I trust in you. Help me to remember the big picture. Amen!

Tuesday, December 17
“The mountains shall yield peace for the people, and the hills
justice. He shall defend the afflicted among the people, save
the children of the poor...” Psalm 72:3-4

There are so many people living in despair, loneliness and poverty
around the world. Consider making a sacrifice—even just a small
one—to help someone less fortunate. This can be as simple as
spending some time with a person living alone, praying for someone
in need or if you have the means, sending a donation to your favorite
charity.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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Fences

Readings

Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17A
Psalm 25: Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Matthew 21:23-27

Reflection

Fences. They might make for good neighbors, but they are not good
for our faith.

The first reading today gives us two of the oracles of Balaam, son
of Beor. His utterances contain prophetic blessings regarding the
people of Israel, concluding in our reading from Numbers with a
prophecy pertaining to the coming of Jesus: A star shall advance
from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.

The background of Balaam, not found in today’s reading, is also
interesting. He could be called a religious compromiser. He wanted
to straddle the fence. In terms of our Journey Toward Light, he
tried to walk two paths. His oracles declared truth, yet he was
hired by an enemy king to curse Israel.

On his way to the enemy, Balaam is famous for his donkey talking
to him, saving him from “the angel of the LORD standing in the
road with sword drawn.” We read elsewhere in Numbers that Balaam’s
advice led the Israelites to unfaithfulness. In the end, Balaam was
killed in Israel’s battle against the Midianites. Not a great legacy.

The chief priests and the elders of Israel in today’s Gospel also
straddle the fence, but they are more calculating. Jesus asks them
a simple question: “Where was John's baptism from? Was it of heavenly
or of human origin?” They don’t give an answer. They won’t make a
commitment. What do the polls say? What is the popular opinion? It
doesn’t matter what I believe, which answer brings a better result
for me?

Whether we straddle the religious fence because we want the “benefits”
of both sides, or we won’t commit because we can’t decide what’s going
to play out the best for us in the end, we need to come to terms with
Jesus. Are we on his path or not?

If I say,“Teach me your ways, O Lord,” the response of today’s psalm,
it presumes that I both desire his ways and will follow what I am
taught. Why do I want to learn from Jesus, if I will not follow what
I learn. It is a time for action. It is time for me to do the word,
not only hear it. It’s time to go all in. It’s time to live what I
say I believe. It’s time to commit. It’s time for me to get off the
fence. What about you?

Prayer

Jesus, as I continue to prepare in Advent for your birth at Christmas,
help me to recognize the fences I straddle. My desire is to be completely
on your path, to be completely yours. Please give me the strength of
will to commit every part of my life to you. Teach me your ways! Give me
the grace to live what I learn from you. I know I’m not the only one on
your path. Help all those who travel your path. In Jesus’ name, amen!

Monday, December 16
“Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me Your paths, guide me in
Your truth and teach me, for You are my God my Savior...” Psalm 25:4-5

Has there been something troubling you lately that you cannot resolve?
Examine your conscience and ask God to guide your heart.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

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Without a Doubt

Readings

Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10
Psalm 146: Lord, come and save us.
James 5:7-10
Matthew 11:2-11

Reflection

Without a doubt, there will be times of bad weather on our path. It is
inevitable. And without a doubt, you are likely to experience doubt on
your journey.

Consider John the Baptist. At the beginning of Jesus' public ministry,
John baptizes Jesus. In John chapter 1, John the Baptist gives great
testimony of Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin
of the world.” “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky
and remain upon him.” “Now I have seen and testified that he is the
Son of God.”

In today’s Gospel reading, John is in prison. He hears about the great
works of Christ, but he doubts. Jesus gives John great praise: “Amen, I
say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than
John the Baptist.” Yet John sits in prison and doubts. He questions
himself. He questions what he has proclaimed about Jesus. He questions
Jesus. But what reply does he get from Jesus? "Go and tell John what
you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers
are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have
the good news proclaimed to them.”

It’s not uncommon to doubt you are on the right path. This is a faith
journey. We believe without seeing. Do you think that a pregnant mom
in difficult circumstances doesn’t have doubts? Without a doubt, she
does. Do you think a parent who has a sick child doesn’t have doubts?
Without a doubt, they do. Do you think we will never have doubts in
the storms of life? Without a doubt, we will. So what can we do?

Don’t let your doubts turn you from the path. In the letter to James,
we are exhorted to be patient until the coming of the Lord. We are
exhorted to make our hearts firm. Why? Because Jesus is coming. He is
coming to us at Christmas. He is coming to us at the end of the ages.
He is coming to us in the storms of life. The Lord comes to save us!

Rejoice! Gaudete Sunday reminds us that Jesus is near: that His light
will soon pierce the darkness of those cold winter days. As you read
this week's passages, let your heart be filled with anticipation of
what is to come.

Sunday, December 15

“Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See
how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient
with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be
patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at
hand.” James 5:7-8

Patience is a virtue that sometimes, maybe even oftentimes, is hard to
come by—especially in this fast-paced world we live in. Open your mind
to taking a step back when you feel yourself losing control; you will
be better equipped to handle that tough situation.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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Prophets & Persecution

Readings

Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11
Psalm 80: Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we
shall be saved.
Matthew 17:9A, 10-13

Reflection

Three people join our journey today. In Sirach, we read about the
fiery prophet Elijah. He called down fire from heaven and was taken
up into heaven in a fiery chariot. He boldly confronted the evils
of Ahab, King of Israel, but he also fled into the desert when Jezebel
the queen sought to kill him.

The Gospel reading begins right after the transfiguration, as Jesus and
his disciples are coming down the mountain. They have questions about
Elijah, but Jesus alludes to John the Baptist who “will go before him
in the spirit and power of Elijah.” John is also a fiery prophet persecuted
by King Herod and his wife, eventually executed by Herod through the
machinations of Herodias.

Lastly, today is the memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor
of the Church. He sought to reform his Carmelite order. Though his reforms
were approved, he was cast into prison by the elders of his own order, only
escaping after nine months at the risk of his own life. Though persecuted,
he became a great mystic and doctor of the church.

Two basic themes emerge in these three men: They spoke up and were persecuted
for doing so; They did what was right and suffered for it.

As we travel this path, we also can expect resistance, even persecution.
As practical examples, think of the courage of our mothers to have their
babies in very difficult circumstances. Some moms have to leave their
families because they are pressured to abort to receive their help. Many
worry how they will provide for themselves and a new baby. Others have
been counseled it is easier to just make the “problem” go away.

Take courage today, by the example of moms who choose life. Let your light
shine before the world, come what may. Take heart in our examples of faith
who have walked this journey before us.

Prayer

Oh God, please give me courage today to walk this journey, to live my faith
and to let my light shine. When resistance or persecution comes, be with me
and help me to be strong. Help all the moms who are bravely choosing life.
Provide for their needs. Bless their children. Help the many organizations
that give assistance to moms in need. Fill me with the fire of your Holy
Spirit, that I may bravely walk the path chosen for me. Amen. St. John of
the Cross, pray for us!

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

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Silence

Readings

Zechariah 2:14-17 or Revelation 11:19A; 12:1-6A; 10AB
Judith 13: You are the highest honor of our race.
Luke 1:26-38 or Luke 1:39-47

Reflection

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the patroness
of the Americas and the pro-life movement. What an important feast
day as we travel the road to Bethlehem!

We know things are not right in this world. As they say, it’s not
rocket science to see and understand this. When Our Lady appeared
to the Indian convert Juan Diego in 1531, things were not right
then either. An estimated 20,000 people were sacrificed a year
in the Aztec Empire. These numbers include children.

Child sacrifice was not exclusive to the Aztecs, but other South
American cultures as well. Within 10 years of Our Lady’s appearance,
ten million natives were converted and baptized into the Catholic
church and human sacrifice ended in Mexico.

The great battle still rages between Our Lady’s children and the devil:

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with
the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to
devour her child when she gave birth.

The first reading from Zechariah says: Silence, all mankind, in the
presence of the LORD! For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.

Perhaps today is a day to share few words, to spend some extra
time in silence recognizing the power of God that came through
Our Lady of Guadalupe and meditating on the following Scriptures
from Zechariah and Revelation:

See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and
the authority of his Anointed.”

Prayer

Lord, we know you desire conversion. We know you care about all of us,
especially the weak and vulnerable among us. Through the intercession
of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we pray for the conversion of hearts and the
end of abortion. We pray that you would protect all life, from the womb
to natural death. Protect us from the enemy. Help us to care for our own
families with great compassion and love, entrusting them to Our Lady.
Protect and provide for mothers everywhere, those with children and
those waiting for their birth. Amen!

Thursday, December 12
“The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor
with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name Him Jesus.’” Luke 1:30-31

Mary trusted in God’s plan for her, even though she did not fully understand
it. What is God asking of you? Will you respond with ‘...let it be done to
me according to your word...’? (Luke 1:38)

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

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Learn From Jesus

Readings

Isaiah 40:25-31
Psalm 103: O bless the Lord, my soul!
Matthew 11:28-30

Reflection

Yoke: a wooden cross piece that is fastened over the necks of two
animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.

Yoke
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.

“Emmanuel,” “God is with us,” takes on new meaning with today’s
Gospel reading: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”

What I simply want to say to you today is Learn from Jesus.
Picture what a yoke is. Reflect on being yoked to Jesus.
Meditate on the words of Jesus, “learn from me.”

What can you do today to learn from Jesus?

Spend time with Jesus today. There are many options. Read today’s
readings. Go to Mass. Pray from your heart. Go to confession.
Receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Spend time in prayer before the
tabernacle. Adore Jesus in Eucharistic adoration. Pray a litany.
Help someone in need. See Jesus in the poor. Do something to help
our mothers and babies.

Take another step in your faith journey and spend more time learning
from Jesus today. More than that, stay yoked with Jesus. He is with us!

Prayer

Jesus, I want to be yoked with you today. I want to learn from you. Help
me to stay in step with you. Have mercy on me and teach me. Teach me to
not run ahead of you. Help me to learn not to fall behind. Step by step,
help me stay with you today.

Wednesday, December 11
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

It’s so easy to lose our way these days: so many distractions, worries
and temptations to knock us off life’s path. When that happens, make time
to read your favorite passage from the Bible.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Driven by Faith - Leader


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Do Not Fear

Readings

Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Psalm 98: Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Luke 1:26-38

Reflection

Since yesterday was the Second Sunday of Advent, the Solemnity
of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is
transferred to today.

We begin today’s journey in the garden of Eden, with the aftermath
of the first sin. God called to Adam after the fall. Adam answered,
“I heard you in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”

Though we have repented, this is just the beginning of the journey.
We must recognize that we are fallen. We have discarded clothes of
self-righteousness, so we may feel a bit naked. We can experience
fear, even when God is calling to us. We need continual conversion
to stay on the right path.

As always, this time of the year brings us not only to the babe in
the manger, but also to his mother, Mary. And that’s where we find
help today, in the Blessed Virgin Mary. A journey is always easier
if we have someone with us on the journey. We can make our journey
with Mary.

Think about this...

Mary is on her way to Bethlehem. And though she will see Jesus in
a more profound way, he is already with her on the journey. Mary is
also our Mother. As the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of the
Most High overshadowed Mary, the Holy Spirit overshadows us. As the
body of Jesus was formed in Mary’s womb, so Mary helps to form Jesus
within us as we make our journey. We are going to Jesus, but he’s
with us already! As fear attempts to turn us back, we also take heed
to the angel’s words to Mary. “Do not be afraid.” Why? ”For nothing
will be impossible for God."

If we all stay with the Blessed Mother and journey with her, we will
be sure to arrive at the manger where the Light of the world is to be
found. Mary always brings us to Jesus. If the road is hard, take
comfort. She always brings Jesus to us on the journey.

Prayer

Blessed Mother, help me on my journey today. Continue to form Jesus
within me. At times, I am afraid when I see the dangers on the road.
But I know you will protect me. I know my Guardian Angel is with me,
telling me not to be afraid. I remember the moms and babies, and all
those with me on this journey. Bring us all to Jesus. More than that,
bring Jesus to us as we travel this road together. I ask all of this
in the name of Christ Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem. Amen!


Monday, December 9

“The Lord has made His salvation known; in the sight of the nations
He has revealed His justice. He has remembered His kindness and His
faithfulness toward the house of Israel…” Psalm 98:2-3

Do you know someone who is in need of a kind gesture? Perhaps they’ve
recently lost a loved one, are experiencing depression, or simply
can’t seem to catch a break in life. Writing an encouraging note or
offering a willing ear can help restore their hope.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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Sunday, December 8

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in
harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with
one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, then, as Christ
welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:5-7

Jesus wants us to live in harmony with one another and in doing so,
we can glorify God. If you find yourself on the verge of a
disagreement this week, take a deep breath, remain calm and respond
from a place of love.

Oh, But For The Grace of God

Readings

Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace
forever.
Romans 15:4-9
Matthew 3:1-12

Reflection

Today in the Gospel, we hear the story of John the Baptist.

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying,
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! I am baptizing you with
water, for repentance.”

Take a moment, and let’s place ourselves there on the banks of the
Jordan River. There’s a rough man, clothed in camel’s hair with a
leather belt around his waist. Can you see him standing there in the
water? He’s crying out. Can you hear him? “Repent!”

If you look around, there are two groups of people. There appear to
be many common, everyday people – poor and humble – standing in groups
near the water, humbly acknowledging their mistakes, their failures,
their sins, heads downcast, waiting to stand before the Baptist, to
have the cleansing waters of the Jordan, of repentance, pour over them,
washing them clean. Lots of tears mixed in with the water, but lots of
relief, joy, even laughter, as they glimpse a light in the darkness,
hope in the valley of the shadow of death.

But there’s another group. They are standing apart. Do you see them?
Aloof. Looking down on the foolishness of the crowds, the mobs. They a
re dressed in fine clothes. Can you see their haughty expressions, their
disdain? If you listen, can you hear their comments? “I’m glad I’m not
like them.” Untouched. “Thank you, God, that I’ve got everything together.”
Not much joy. They look well respected, there in the light of day, but
they don’t seem particularly happy.

Now, I realize I’m standing there in my fine clothes. I’ve got my arms
folded on my chest. I’m actually rubbing shoulders with the second group,
not really that close to the edge of the water. There is that thought,
buried deep, that not everything is right with my life. But what will
my colleagues think? They don’t seem to need change. But with a desperation
I didn’t know I had, I run towards the light reflecting on the water,
towards the Baptist. “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I don’t care who’s
looking. I just need help, I need hope, I need light in my life. I need God!
I fall in the sand, tears streaming down my cheeks, not worrying about my fine
robes. I get up. Now my clothes are in the river, soaking the water in,
feeling heavy. The clothes are dragging, a pull that still wants to hold me
back. But no, I don’t care anymore. I let go of everything holding me back.
I need to change. I push through to John. The only words that I can find,
as I feel the water flow over my bowed head, quite a spectacle in all my
fine clothes, “I repent!”

Prayer

Jesus, I need you today. There are so many things that drag on my soul,
that seem to hold me back from you, from your grace, from your mercy. But
I repent. I set aside all the “things” that make me look right. I let go
of my pride, my self-righteousness. I need you. Make my path straight. Help
me make this journey to the light. Lead me to yourself, the lowly, poor babe
in the manger. Amen!





Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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The Harvest is Abundant but the Laborers are Few

Readings

Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26
Psalm 147: Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.
Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5A, 6-8

Reflection

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and
gave them authority over unclean spirits to
drive them out and to cure every disease
and every illness.

This is a sure reflection of the crisis in our Church today:
The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.

This helps us to reflect back on our tradition, on our heritage
and history as Catholics – where our church started, with Jesus
and the Twelve disciples. The authority they have was given to
them by Jesus, and the authority the Church has was given to her
by Jesus.

Man cannot change that. We are not the authors or the Creator.

It is in this time of turmoil and in this culture of
self-gratification that we are called to be laborers. To follow
and share the Church’s teaching on human dignity, from conception
to natural death and to never compromise.

Prayer

Lord God, help us always to uphold your law and to never give in to
the pressures of society. Today let us especially pray for our good
and faithful priests, bishops and cardinals, that they may be
steadfast and courageous in their faith. And we pray for the Holy
Father, that he may lead us in orthodoxy and tradition, as the seat of
St. Peter. All for Jesus, all through Mary. Amen. St Ambrose, Bishop
and Doctor of the Church, pray for us!


Saturday, December 7
“Praise the Lord, for He is good; sing praise to our God, for He is
gracious; it is fitting to praise Him.” Psalm 147:1

What are some of your favorite Christmas carols? Today is a perfect
day to play them as you contemplate the imminent arrival of Jesus.
Go ahead—indulge in a little loud singing, too!


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

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Driven by Faith - Leader


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Readings

Isaiah 26
Psalm 118: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Matthew 7:21,24-27

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus say to his disciples, "Not everyone who says
to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who
does the will of my Father in heaven”.

Jesus continues...

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like
a wise man who built his house on rock. And everyone who listens to these
words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his
house on sand.”

Faith alone is not enough; we need faith and works.

We need to put into place what God has asked of us. Yes, we are Pro-Life,
but not just because we say we are; we work to put our beliefs into action
through the all weserve.

Let us build our house on rock, not sand. We must know our faith and
understand it. We must own our faith and put it into action.

Prayer

Lord God, thank you for the gift of our faith. Help us to be courageous in
putting our faith into action. Give us the perseverance to serve you joyfully
all of the days of our lives. Amen.

St Damien of Molokai, pray for us!

Thursday, December 5
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house
of the Lord. The Lord is God, and He has given us light...” Psalm 118:26-27

Let His light shine upon you for all the world to see and let nothing extinguish
it. Today, make it a goal to say a prayer for each person you love and care about
as the days approach Christmas.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Trust in the Lord

Readings

Isaiah 25:6-10A
Psalm 23: I shall live in the house of the Lord all of the days of my life.
Matthew 15:29-37

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, we hear of the miracle of the loaves and fishes. As we reflect on
this gospel passage, let us also reflect on the miracles God has provided in our own
lives.

Some have claimed that the real ‘miracle’ in this story is that everyone shared the
food and there was enough to go around. That is not a miracle. Let us never deny God’s
greatness. Let us ask for the eyes to see those miracles and to have the faith to know
that the Lord will provide what is needed for us.

Let us take a moment today to reflect on the miracle of life. What a profound, amazing
miracle life is. Let us share this message with those we encounter, so they too will be
reminded of the beauty and gift that the miracle of life is.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank you for all of the miracles you have given us, especially the
beautiful miracle of life. We ask for the grace to see and recognize those miracles –
the big ones as well as the everyday miracles. We ask, Lord, that you use us to share
this message with those mothers who may be contemplating abortion, that they are able
to see what a blessing and miracle God has worked in their lives. We ask this in Jesus’
name. Amen.

Wednesday, December 4

“On that day it will be said: ‘Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is
the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!’”
Isaiah 25:9

We have so much to be thankful for. Light a candle in gratitude for all that God has given us.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Justice Shall Flourish

Readings

Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.
Luke 10:21-24

Reflection

Today, the first reading is where we get our ‘Jesse tree’. This reading is
essential in understanding who Jesus is and the importance of His victory.
He brings both judgment and hope:

But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land's afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

And in the Gospel we see Jesus giving praise to God for giving the gift of
faith to the childlike. It is a reminder to us that our very faith is a gift
from God.

Jesus says to his disciples:

Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

When we are able to see the fruits of our labors, that is a gift from God,
though that is not always the case. However, we can rest assured that on the
day of our judgement all will be revealed.


Prayer

Lord, help us to persevere in Your work, whether we see the fruits of our labor
or not; give us the strength to continue in this fight. Amen.

St. Francis Xavier, pray for us!

Tuesday, December 3
“Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I give You praise, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, for although You have hidden these things from
the wise and the learned, You have revealed them to the childlike. Yes,
Father, such has been Your gracious will.” Luke 10:21

Do you remember the unbridled excitement you felt as a child, waiting for
Christmas morning, when you and your family all gathered lovingly around
the twinkling tree? Take a moment to recapture that feeling and hold it
in your heart for the next four weeks—with a conscious effort to remember
the reason for the season.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Week 1, Day 2

Lord, I am not worthy
Readings

Isaiah 4:2-6
Psalm 122: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord
Matthew 8:5-11

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is the story of the centurion who asks Jesus to heal his servant. It is a story of the centurion’s faith and his humility. We are reminded of our own unworthiness everytime we prepare to receive Our Lord in the sacrament of Holy Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Prayer

Lord God, we ask for the grace of increased faith. We ask to have faith as the centurion had faith, and we ask for increased humility. We ask for a servant’s heart. All for Jesus, all through Mary, Amen.

Monday, December 2

“Come and save us, Lord our God; let Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” Psalm 80:3

In order for God to save us, we have to open our hearts to His forgiveness. Today, make it a point to confess your sins and vow to do better next time.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Stay Awake
Readings

Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:37-44

Reflection

What powerful readings we have to reflect on today!

In the second reading from Romans, we are reminded to resist the temptations of the flesh and to prepare for the coming of Our Lord. It is a great start as we enter this penitential season of Advent.

In the Gospel, we are reminded that our days are numbered. Every moment of every day is a gift from God, and we will decide how we will use it. We cannot go back in the past and make up for lost time, but we can choose at this moment to live an intentional life.

St. Alphonsus Liguori says, “There are two ways you can lose your soul: mortal sin and voluntary distraction.” If Satan cannot get us to sin, he certainly can distract us from God. Now more than ever we are surrounded by constant distraction.

Let us take this season of Advent to reflect and prioritize our lives back to the One who created us. Let us remember we are not promised tomorrow, today is all we have. So let us not miss an opportunity to fight for the weakest and vulnerable among us – TODAY!

Prayer

Lord God, we ask for the grace to stay focused on you. Help us to be good stewards of our time and to not waste a moment given to us on frivolous things. Give us the strength to resist the pleasures of the world and to stay focused on building Your Kingdom. We ask this through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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New Season of Advent is upon us. I will post a daily short reflection with the hopes that you can spend 10 minutes in reflection to prepare us for the birth of our Savior.


Sunday, December 1

“And do this, understanding the present time: the hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:11-12

Identify something that’s preventing you from fully living the life God intends and picture yourself putting on an armor of light against it. Allow this warm, positive energy to repel the behavior or feeling you’d like to eliminate. As you light the first candle on your Advent wreath, remember that “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others...”
(Matthew 5:14,16)

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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This verse about the feet was used in a message at a funeral for a missionary friend of ours.

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4/14/19 3:18 P

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AMEN

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12/25/18 8:39 P

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How Beautiful are the Feet That Bring Good News

Today's Readings

Isaiah: 52:7-10
Responsorial Psalm: All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Hebrews 1:1-6
John 1:1-18

Reflection for Today

Alleluia! The Word became flesh. God lived on the earth with us. What a great joy!

Maybe today isn’t that joyful. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one. Maybe you’re in the midst of suffering personal, family or work-related stress. If not you, then someone dear to you might be suffering unimaginably.

Yet today is Christmas. Our God calls upon us to go beyond ourselves and give. Gifts are that token sign. What gift might the Lord be asking: Give of your heart, your time, your compassion to those who have no one else’s heart or time or concern. Give of yourself most to those who cannot pay you back. Most especially to those who dislike you.

Let us pray for our enemies to learn the joy to know that Our God, Our Creator has become just like you, just like me.

Prayer for Today

Let us pray to see beyond ourselves and reach out to our neighbor in need and even to our enemy.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/24/18 5:24 P

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Blessed Be the Lord Who Has Come to His People

Today's Readings

2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8-12. 14. 16
Responsorial Psalm: For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Luke 1:67-79

Reflection for Today

Prayers and Mass this special, usually busy, hectic, incredibly anticipatory morning are about the cusp of the coming of the Lord. John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, whose name means “The Lord has remembered” sings out the goodness of the Lord, who has remembered His holy covenant. Zechariah’s child shall be the prophet of the Most High.

Are we not all called to sing out, “The Lord has remembered” and to be witnesses to the Most High?

May our words be kinder, gentler, uplifting today and every day.

Prayer for Today

Oh Holy Zechariah, father of the Baptist, help me to remember the Lord at all times. Help me to speak words of Light and Life to all around me.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/23/18 3:49 P

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Lord, Make Us Turn to You

Today's Readings

Micah: 5:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Hebrews: 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-45

Reflection for Today

The short Fouth Week of Advent begins today and ends tomorrow morning. Turn to the Lord even more with your heart, not just your sacrifices. Last minute shopping – is that a sacrifice, a duty, an obligation? Final Christmas preparations – madness or a joy? Traveling or getting the home ready. Never enough time. Offer it all to the Lord.

The Blessed Mother visited Elizabeth to be of help. Elizabeth is overcome with humility that she, the “Mother of my Lord” visits her. Her own baby leaps for joy. Can you imagine such a scene! In this beauty, painted on myriad canvases, these women transcended the moment and entered into Eternity. They brought us into Eternity. Can I embrace such a moment with those around me, those I know and love, even the stranger, the widow and orphan?

Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. O shepherd of Israel shine forth around me, in me, through me.

Prayer for Today

Oh Blessed Mother of Jesus, help me to see as you did, that my soul may magnify the Lord and my spirit may rejoice in God my Savior. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/19/18 6:04 P

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Always Have Faith

Today's Readings

Judges: 13:2-7, 24-25A
Responsorial Psalm: My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!.
Luke 1:5-25

Reflection for Today

In both the first reading and the Gospel, we see two examples of barren women, who conceived through a miracle. In the Gospel, Zechariah became mute because he had doubt and was hesitant to believe the angel Gabriel. God sends a clear message here, to always have faith, even when things seem hopeless and unlikely.

We are fortunate to be serving a mission that welcomes life. We see a lot of beautiful babies born and it is clear that they are pure gifts from God.

Prayer for Today

Today let us pray for all married couples who are struggling to conceive, that they may find consolation and hope in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/18/18 8:53 A

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Saint Joseph, Pray for Us

Today's Readings

Jeremiah: 23:5-8
Responsorial Psalm: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Matthew 1:18-25

Reflection for Today

In today’s Gospel we see how obedient and courageous Joseph is; a man of integrity and kindness.

Often times, the babies born in Good Counsel homes are lacking a father figure in their lives. The love of a thousand women cannot make up for the lack of love from a man. Men, especially fathers, play a special and vital role in a child’s life: to love, protect and encourage. Even though we may not all be blessed with wonderful fathers that have strong traits like St Joseph, we are blessed with God the Father, who gave His only begotten Son, that we may be redeemed.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, help us to live a life of gratitude. Help us to always strive to be good stewards of the gifts we have been given. And Lord we ask You to heal any brokenness in our family tree, past and present. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/17/18 9:13 A

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A God Who Humbly Comes to Us

Today's Readings

Genesis: 49:1-2, 8-10
Responsorial Psalm: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Matthew 1:1-17

Reflection for Today

In today’s Gospel we are looking at the genealogy of Jesus Christ. This is the God of the universe, and He has decided to humble Himself, to be more relatable for us. He has made the choice to come from humble beginnings, to work most of His life doing manual labor and making a humble and honest living. Our family background and our family tree are very important. Many things are handed down from generation to generation, some good, some not so good.

We see this with quite a few of the people we meet on the streets; they have grown up dependent on government assistance, or maybe their parents are in a homeless shelter. We should provide the homeless and poor with the opportunity to change the course of their lives and therefore, the lives of their children, by breaking the cycle of homelessness. We do this by providing the homeless with the tools and resources they need to become self-sufficient.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, help us to live a life of gratitude. Help us to always strive to be good stewards of the gifts we have been given. And Lord we ask You to heal any brokenness in our family tree, past and present. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/16/18 9:38 P

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Rejoice in the Lord Always!

Today's Readings

Zephaniah: 3:14-18A
Responsorial Psalm: Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:10-18

Reflection for Today

Rejoice in the Lord always! It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day struggles and frustrations of life. The second reading is a good reminder to us to have faith that God hears and answers us. He does not abandon us, and to always, in everything, give thanks and praise.

In today’s Gospel “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” We are called to serve. God has so richly blessed us, and we are to take our blessings and share them with those who have less.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, give me a servant’s heart and a missionary’s spirit so I may seek to fulfill Your will for me by serving my brothers and sisters in need, with joy and thanksgiving. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/15/18 2:49 P

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How am I Helping to Prepare the Way for Jesus?

Today's Readings

Sirach: 48:1-4, 9-11
Responsorial Psalm: Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Matthew 17:9A, 10-13

Reflection for Today

We see in the Gospel today that the three disciples are asking Jesus why the scribes say Elijah must come first. He replied, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”

Elijah’s second coming was to pave the way for the Messiah, much like John the Baptist’s role, and much like our role. Today’s Gospel is a call to action. How is God calling me to pave the way for the second coming? How am I helping to prepare the way for Jesus? Am I prepared to face the challenges?

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, I ask that You give me the grace and strength to follow the examples of Elijah and John the Baptist, to pave the way for You to come again in Your glory. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/14/18 8:09 A

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Lord, Help Me to See You in Others

Today's Readings

Isaiah 48:17-19
Responsorial Psalm: Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Matthew 11:16-19

Reflection for Today

In the first reading God gives us encouragement to cling to His Truth and He will not forsake us. Our God is a good God. He does not try to trick us or deceive us. He has given us instructions, and He has given us the grace to follow through. It is up to us whether or not we choose Him. He loves us so much that He gives us the free will to make that choice, to choose Him out of love.

In the Gospel, Jesus is asking us to go further, to look deeper. We cannot always go by our first assumption. John the Baptist and Jesus were often at times misunderstood and accused. How often do we do this to others? Next time we feel the temptation to judge someone, let us pause and first look for Christ in that person and ask to see that person through Christ’s eyes.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, help me to have the courage to follow You. Give me Your heart and Your eyes that I may see things through You. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/13/18 9:47 P

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Whoever Has Ears, Let Them Hear

Today's Readings

Isaiah 41:13-20
Responsorial Psalm: The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Matthew 11:11-15

Reflection for Today

What we see in the Gospel today is very important. Jesus is speaking very highly of John the Baptist. It is important for us to pay attention to what He is saying, John the Baptist had a great responsibility to pave the way for the Messiah. The Jewish people believed that Elijah would return and immediately after that the Messiah would arrive. Jesus says, “And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Jesus is making it clear that He is the Messiah. Do I recognize Jesus in His glory? Or am I busy waiting for Elijah? So often Jesus is revealing Himself to us, revealing His will to us, yet we are so focused on ourselves or our own will that we don’t even see Him.

We are so focused on the material things that are lacking, that we want them to know that they are safe now and God has not forsaken us. It is our prayer to change our perspective enough for us to see God working in our lives.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, help me to always seek Your will for my life. I want less of me and more of You. Help me to seek to hear Your word clearly. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/11/18 8:32 A

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God Pursues Us to the Very End

Today's Readings

Isaiah 40:1–11
Psalm 96: The Lord our God comes with power
Matthew 18:12–14

Reflection for Today

In the Gospel today we still have the same theme – hope – and God’s faithful devotion to us. This is a wonderful Gospel reading because it is so easy for us to feel insignificant in this world. Maybe we feel like no one cares or no one understands us or what we are going through.

“God has seen our unloveliness – the deep brokenness and rebellion in our hearts – and instead of withdrawing, He pursues us to the very end.” –Matt Chandler

Maybe you feel unimportant sometimes, but the truth is the God of the universe pursues you. Picture this: Jesus looks at the cross and then at you – “You’re worth it,” He says.

Prayer for Today

Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice, thank you for loving me so much that You pursue me to the end. Thank you for Your mercy, which I do not deserve. Help me to show Your love and mercy to all of those who I encounter. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/10/18 8:43 A

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Lord, Open My Eyes to See You

Today's Readings
Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 85: Our God will come to save us!
Luke 5:17-26


Reflection for Today

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus shows us that He is God.

Jesus wants us to have faith in Him, as the men did who hoisted up the paralyzed man. They did not need to see to believe. They had ‘blind’ faith in Jesus, and He blessed them for that and healed the paralyzed man.

But Jesus knows our hearts and He knows that some people are of little faith and need to see to believe. So He reveals His healing power to the scribes and Pharisees so they ‘may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’

We all would like to think that we have that ‘blind’ faith in God, but let us take some time today to really reflect on our own faith and the way that we pray. Do I constantly ask God for signs and ignore them? Are my eyes truly open to seeing God’s glory around me?

Prayer for Today
Lord Jesus, open my eyes to see You in the small and simple things in life. Jesus, I believe, help my unbelief. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/9/18 8:55 P

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Second Sunday of Advent

Today's Readings
Baruch 5:1 – 9
Psalm 126: The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Philippians: 1:4 – 6, 8 – 11
Luke 3:1 – 6


Reflection for Today

In the readings today we see a common theme. HOPE.

It is clear through these readings that God will not forsake us. When we are feeling low and hopeless, we can always turn to scripture, to these readings in particular and remember God’s promises. God cannot tell a lie; therefore, we know this is the truth. We hope it brings you peace as you reflect on God’s faithfulness and love for you today.

In the second reading, Paul says to the Philippians, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” It is not over until it is over. There is always hope for renewal. This is the message we try to share with our mothers that come to Good Counsel; God will not forsake you.

Prayer for Today
Holy Spirit, increase my hope in you. Give me the courage to trust in You, even when I am feeling vulnerable. Thank you Lord for Your love and faithfulness to me, a lowly creature. Give me courage to spread the good news to others. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/8/18 9:53 A

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Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today's Readings
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Psalm 98: Sing to the Lord a new song for He has done marvelous deeds
Luke 1:26-38


Reflection for Today

Where are you?

That’s God’s first question to Adam and Eve.

Where are you?

How would you respond to God today?

After Adam and Eve fell from Grace, it was in pain she would bear children. It is through sweat that he would work for food.

A priest who visited Good Counsel once said that it is through the pain of childbirth mothers may expiate many sins.

For sure, many mothers forget all their pain after labor when they hug their child the first time.

Full of Grace is what Mary was told. She is a superior example of what it means to be human. She is forever our mother and our guide. Let us ask her for strength, guidance and wisdom each day of our lives.

Prayer for Today
Lord Jesus, help me to always be willing to see my faults and learn from them. Help me to strive to become the best version of myself. Give me the courage that Mary had, to accept Your will for my life. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/7/18 9:34 A

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If Jesus Told You to Keep a Secret, Would You?

Today's Readings
Isaiah 26:17-24
Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Matthew 9:27-31


Reflection for Today

If Jesus told you to keep a secret, would you?

Do you keep secrets of your friends or associates now?

Jesus sternly told two blind men whom he healed, “See that no one knows about this.” What a challenging command. Now you have sight and you are not supposed to tell anyone.

Did Jesus not know they would tell? A perplexing Gospel message.

They were healed because of faith. Jesus commanded His disciples to proclaim their faith to the ends of the earth.

In the Diary of St. Faustina Jesus tells her to ask her superior for a special favor. When the favor is denied, St. Faustina asks the Lord why He wanted her to do something He knew would be refused. The Lord explained it was for her to be obedient.

Prayer for Today
Lord God, I believe in Your healing power. I ask that you heal all of those who suffer with addiction, mental or physical disabilities. I pray especially for the healing of the family; for healing of all brokenness that has entered the family. You are the divine physician and I trust in You. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/6/18 9:26 A

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Remain in the Comfort of God’s Company

Today's Readings
Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalm 118: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Matthew 7:21, 24-27


Reflection for Today

In the first Reading today we learn that being in God’s favor brings us safety and love. Living a good and holy life will keep us in the comfort of God’s company. For those who lose faith and trust in God, they will fall weak to their ego and sense of superiority. They will suffer for their false sense of dominance and perfection. Their lives will be left to unhappiness and a world of ruins.

The Responsorial Psalm tells us to believe in God because his mercy endures forever. His love and trust is more worthy than another human being’s. How often do we find ourselves taking the word or assurance of another, rather than relying upon Jesus’ proven history? Through prayer and good works a Good Counsel mom will always find success. Resist the temptation to rely upon another person whose faith is lacking, offering false evidence will leave you further from the Lord. First finding out “I’m pregnant” a single mom may think, “I can’t ever be a success.” But through prayer and seeking God’s path many have already prevailed.

In today’s Gospel, we are urged to listen to the word of God. Good fortune will belong to those who follow the word of God. Those who do not listen will suffer a life of hardship. It may not be the easiest advice to take. For those who listen in spite of the challenge, great joy will follow.

Prayer for Today
Lord I have heard Your word, give me the strength and courage to follow You. When I am tempted to take the easy route, give me the strength I need to fight temptation and to hold fast to Your teachings. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/5/18 8:03 A

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They All Ate and Were Satisfied

Today's Readings
Isaiah 25:6-10A
Psalm 23: I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Matthew 15:29-37


Reflection for Today

They all ate and were satisfied after Jesus multiplied seven loaves and a few fish. Though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil for the Lord is at my side. Let us rejoice and be glad that the Lord saved us!

All this speaks of Trust. Trust in the Lord at all times for all things. Trust when you can’t see where that food will come from. Trust when you feel surrounded by enemies or problems or troubles with no one to turn to. Trust.

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life when faced with doubt or sorrow. Good Counsel moms are often faced with disbelief when told to believe in God and the spirit of a positive future. Belief in the works of Jesus should also be in times when we least expect good may come.

Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee and saw many people stricken with disease and hardship. He looked over this crowd and healed them all. Then seeing that their human needs required attention, He fed them from a meager supply of food.

Prayer for Today
Lord God, we thank You for the miracles that You perform in our lives daily, the big miracles such as curing someone with a terminal illness, and the ‘smaller’ miracles such as the sunrise or sunset. Lord help us to see You in all things, in all areas of our lives. Help us to give You thanks always! That we may recognize that every morning that we wake up, that in itself is a miracle. We praise You and thank You always! Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/4/18 9:25 A

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God Reveals Wisdom to the Childlike

Today's Readings
Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Luke 10:21-24


Reflection for Today

If I’ve gone to school, gotten degrees, certificates, even years of experience at work and in life, still God reveals wisdom to the childlike. Have I done it all wrong? No.

Childlike is the innocence of accepting, of seeing and believing how God’s Grace works in every one around me, and even in me. What is this grace? It is the grace to see good in others, to find a deep sense of peace in the midst of turmoil, to know that the Lord brings good even out of evil.

“All things work out for the best,” mother used to say. Sometimes very hard to believe. Have faith, trust, pray.

A mother at Good Counsel gave birth to a baby boy with a serious heart condition. His breathing was labored and his tiny body was very weak. Every moment was painful to watch, and yet she hoped and prayed for the best. But baby Thomas was taken by the Lord. At his grave side burial the pastor said, “Where he has gone he will not return. Where he has gone we someday hope to go. Let us work and pray to join him in the Glory of the Lord.” This gave Thomas’ mom much hope in the midst of such pain. I saw in her a childlike innocence of accepting God’s will for her son.

Prayer for Today
Father God, help us to receive each moment as given by you. Thank You for giving us this time, these joys and sufferings. Help us to have a complete childlike trust in you no matter how long we live, no matter how much we learn. Help us to love as You love and to always have a grateful heart. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/3/18 8:55 A

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Trust in the Lord

Today's Readings
Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Matthew 8:5-11


Reflection for Today

In today's first reading, the message God is telling us is to look to the house of the Lord, which means we must take His direction, live in peace, and avoid false gods.

Today’s Gospel message instructs us to incorporate in our daily lives thanksgiving for God's goodness and love. God blesses those who trust in Him and follow his direction, just as those for whom you are in charge, must follow your instruction. Loving God helps us to achieve a life in grace.

Just as in today’s Gospel, when Jesus entered the town of Capernaum, He praised a centurion for his trust and belief in Him.

Prayer for Today
Jesus, give us faith to know that You are God and You are in control. When we are feeling doubt, give us the grace to focus on Your almighty power. Increase our faith in You Lord. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Reflection for Today

Today's reading begins addressing brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all...

As we begin our Advent journey, the second reading reminds us that at the core of Jesus’ teachings lies the mandate to increase and abound in love for one another and for all. We learn that how we should conduct ourselves to please God is for our own good and for others. Here at Good Counsel we have an opportunity to act as models in doing what is expected of us. Doing so demonstrates to others that our own behavior serves as encouragement for others to follow.

Our Gospel today encourages us to stand strong prepared to face the Son of Man. It is incumbent for each of us to reflect daily asking forgiveness for our sins and resolve to walk closer in God’s path.

Prayer for Today
Lord God, prepare our hearts to receive you. Give us the grace to follow you and to lead by example. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on You as we anticipate Your coming. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/24/16 4:20 P

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There are no great acts of love, only small acts done with great love- Mother Teresa
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Fourth Saturday in Advent

The First Christmas Homily

The first Christmas homily ever given was spoken on the Judean hills surrounding the little town of Bethlehem: the annunciation of the angel to the shepherds on Christmas night.

The first thing the angel said was “Fear not!” How that phrase echoes up and down the Scriptures! When a being from a higher dimension breaks into our world, he typically says, “Do not be afraid.” Paul Tillich, the great Protestant theologian, commented that fear is the fundamental problem, that fear undergirds most forms of human dysfunction. Because we are afraid, we crouch protectively around ourselves; because we’re afraid, we lash out at each other in violence. If Christmas means that God is with us, that God is one of us, that God has come close, then we no longer have to be afraid.

The angel goes on: “For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The angel of Bethlehem is the first great evangelist, for he tells the good news, and it's news for all people. Later on, Jesus will tell his disciples to declare his Lordship to the ends of the earth.

Well, what precisely is the good news? The angel tells us: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Why is David emphasized? Along with Abraham and Moses, David was the most important figure in the history of Israel. He was born, of course, in Bethlehem and thirty years later became king, first in Hebron over the southern tribes, and then in Jerusalem over the whole of the nation. He was the king who united Israel, who defeated the enemies of the people, and who brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem.

Over time, the conviction grew upon Israel that a mysterious descendent of David would be king, not just for a time and not just in an earthly sense, but would rule forever and for all nations.

This definitive king of the Jews would be king of the world: the Savior, who is Christ the Lord.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/23/16 5:50 P

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Fourth Friday in Advent

The Great Lesson of Bethlehem

The prophet Micah says that Bethlehem-Ephratha is “too small to be among the clans of Judah” but “from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2). Micah is himself one of the minor prophets and so it is only appropriate that he speaks of a small city, little Bethlehem, from which the great Messiah would come.

How common this is in the Bible: the reversal of expectations, the little giving rise to the great, wonderful things coming where you least expect them. The stuttering Moses speaks up to mighty Pharaoh, the slaves face down the Egyptian army, tiny David kills the giant Goliath.

And this last connection is the important one here. Bethlehem is the city of David, the city of the shepherd King. When Samuel came to that town to find the new king, he went through all of Jesse’s splendid sons and then was told there was one more, little David out in the fields. And it was this overlooked one whom God anointed.

This just seems to be God’s way, and that's why the Messiah would be born in that tiny town, in an out of the way cave under the earth, because there was no room for him in the inn. Yet, through God’s amazing grace, great things can happen, including the birth of the Messiah.

Looking at the small, insignificant town of Bethlehem teaches us three great messages: greatness comes from smallness, never give up hope, and trust always. With those three convictions in our hearts, we’re almost ready for Christmas.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/22/16 7:33 P

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Fourth Thursday in Advent

The King of a Different Army

Yesterday, we explored St. Luke’s telling of the Christmas story, in which the author compares two different kings: one a destitute infant who comes simply and non-violently, and the other a powerful emperor who reigns with force and oppression.

Lest we have any doubt as to which of these kings is more powerful, Luke tells us, “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in high heaven, peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests.’”

We should not be sentimental in regard to angels, for the typical reaction to one in the Bible is fear. And we are dealing here with a stratia of these fearsome creatures. That Greek word, translated usually as “host,” literally means army. The only reason that Augustus Caesar was able to dominate the world is that he had the biggest army, but Luke is saying that the baby king actually possesses a bigger army, though it is one that fights, not with the weapons (arma) of the world, but with those of heaven.

It is of these arms and of this man that Luke sings. As we near Christmas Eve, Luke's subversive tale poses a question: Which narrative do you accept? Whose army do you join? Which king do you choose, Caesar or Jesus?

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/22/16 8:13 A

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12/21/16 10:29 P

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Fourth Wednesday in Advent

The True King

St. Luke’s telling of the Christmas story, commences by invoking the first-century’s most powerful man: “In those days Caesar Augustus published a decree ordering a census of the whole world.”

Here the emperor is doing a paradigmatically powerful thing. If you can count your people more accurately, you can tax them more efficiently and you can draft them into the military more expeditiously. So far, this story begins like all other ancient epics, by praising the strong and powerful.



But then St. Luke makes a canny move. He shifts his attention away from Augustus Caesar and toward a poor couple of no notoriety whatsoever, making their way to a dusty hamlet on the fringes of the Roman Empire. In the nothing town of Bethlehem, Mary gives birth to a child, who is wrapped up in swaddling clothes and placed in the manger where the animals eat. The baby is visited, not by courtiers, but by shepherds, who had, at that time, something of the status that street people have today.



Then an angel appears and announces that this destitute infant, to whom Caesar Augustus in Rome would pay absolutely no heed, is in fact the true Emperor: “I come to proclaim good news to you—tidings of great joy to be shared by the whole people. This day in David’s city a savior has been born to you, the Messiah and Lord.”

To say “Messiah” and “Lord” was to imply that a new David had arrived, a new King of the Jews. But as any careful reader of the Psalms and Prophets would know, to say King of the Jews was to imply King of the world—which is precisely why the angel said his message was for “the whole people.”

This true king—simple, humble, vulnerable, and non-violent—would establish an order, a kingdom of God, which stands athwart the order of Rome.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

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12/21/16 8:00 A

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