Monday, December 30, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for Sunday, December 29, 2019 - Presiders: Debra Trees, ARCWP, and Julie Corron, ARCWP

Debra Trees, ARCWP and Julie Corron, ARCWP, led the Upper Room Liturgy for the Feast of the Holy Family. Julie's homily reflection is printed below the readings.

Opening Song; Song of God Among Us
Sung by St. Petronille Contemporary Choir

Lest the word be far from us. 
God prepared for coming.
One who longed to share our fate. 
 Made with us a dwelling.
In the midst of you is one you do not know.

Who is everywhere at hand. 
 Who is wholly human.
One who goes unrecognized. 
 Silent never spoken.
In the midst of you is one you do not know.

God from God and Light from Light.
Hope of Earth's sad crying.
Face to face with humankind, 
Speaks of love and dying.
Then let patience be our guide. 
Walk in ways of justice.
Show each other at all time, 
Every kind of goodness.
In the midst of you is one you do not know.

Now be carefree full of joy. 
God alone who calls us,
Touches All who live on Earth. 
 Makes a home among us.
First Reading 2COL 3:12-21

Because you are God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,
clothe yourselves with heartfelt compassion, with kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Bear with one another; forgive whatever grievances you have against one another—
forgive in the same way God has forgiven you.
Above all else, put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect.
Let Christ’s peace reign in your hearts since,
as members of one body, you have been called to that peace.

Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness.
Let the Word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you.
Instruct and admonish one another wisely.
Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit.
And whatever you do, whether in speech or in action,
do it in the name of the Jesus our Savior,
giving thanks to God through Christ.

These are the inspired words from the works attributed to Paul, the Apostle, and the community affirms them by saying: AMEN.

AlleluiaCOL 3:15A, 16A
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Let the peace of Christ control your hearts;
let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. 

Gospel MT 2:13-15, 19-23

After the astrologers had left,
the angel of God suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph with the command,
"Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt.
Stay there until I tell you otherwise. Herod is searching for the child to destroy him."
Joseph got up, awakened Jesus and Mary, and they left that night for Egypt.
They stayed there until the death of Herod,
to fulfill what God had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I have called my Own.”

After Herod’s death, the angel of God appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt with the command,
"Get up, take the child and his mother, and set out for the land of Israel.
Those who had designs on the life of the child are dead."
Joseph got up, awakened Jesus and Mary, and they returned to the land of Israel.
Joseph heard, however, that Archelaus had succeeded Herod as ruler over Judea,
and Joseph was afraid to go back there.
Instead, because of a warning received by Joseph in a dream,
the family went to the region of Galilee.
There they settled in a town called Nazareth.
In this way, what was said through the prophets
was fulfilled: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

These are the inspired words from Matthew, and the community affirms them by saying, Amen.

Julie's homily starter:

Once upon a time there was a monastery that had fallen on hard times. Its many buildings had been filled with young monks, but it was now nearly deserted. People no longer came to be nourished by the prayers and presence of the monks. Only a handful of old, old monks shuffled through the cloisters and praised God with heavy hearts.

Nearby, on the edge of the monastery woods, an old rabbi built a little hut and came occasionally to walk in the woods. One day, his heart heavy with the burden of the monastery and the failing of the faith, the abbot decided to visit the rabbi.

As he approached the hut, the rabbi greeted the abbot warmly. Across their differences, there were similarities. Both knew God; both knew the difficulties of keeping alive the faith in their communities.

The rabbi’s words were cryptic, 'The Messiah is among you' and an instruction, 'you must only repeat this once. After that no one must ever say it aloud again.'

Finally, the abbot and the rabbi exchanged an embrace and the abbot returned to the monastery, pondering the words of the rabbi, 'The Messiah is among you.' Whatever could the rabbi mean? Could Christ be cantankerous Brother William? Could Christ be mean and spiteful Brother Stephen? Who could Christ be?

The next morning, the abbot called the few monks together and shared the teaching from the rabbi. 'You can never repeat this,' he said. 'The rabbi who walks in the woods says, "The Messiah is amongst us."'

The monks were startled by this revelation. 'What could it mean?' each asked himself. 'Is dirty and sloppy Brother John the Messiah?' 'Is moody Father Matthew or crotchety Brother Thomas the Messiah?' They were deeply puzzled by the rabbi's teaching. But according to the instruction, no one ever mentioned it again.

Time passed. The monks began to treat one another with special reverence and respect. There was a gentle, wholehearted, human, yet divine, quality about them that was hard to describe but easy to see. They lived with one another as men who had found something special. They prayed and read Scripture as men who were always looking for something. The occasional visitors found themselves deeply moved by the life of these monks. Before long, people were coming from far and wide to be nourished by the prayer life of the monks and young men began asking to become part of the now thriving community.

When I first heard this story, I knew in my bones that it was what we are all called to do. I also knew it would not be easy. Whether it’s our not so holy families or refugees fleeing persecution, think how different our interactions with each other would be if each of us believed that, in the words of our opening song, God lived among us. What if we clothed ourselves with heartfelt compassion, kindness, and patience as suggested in the first reading? And not just with the easy people, the ones who look and think like us, but with the challenging people too? Love, respect, and tender care—for God among us, for each other, and for ourselves.

We will pass the microphone around now so that you can briefly share your reflections on these readings. What did you hear? What will you do? What will it cost you?

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