Holy Family

Lincoln’s Log 12-30-12
“When his parents saw him, they were astonished…”
Lk. 2:48
A family is an astonishing thing. We live together with an individual or group of people and we start to think we know them. We “have them all figured out.”
Then, they do something to shock us. “I never would have suspected that?” we say to ourselves. Maybe we didn’t know them as well as we thought we did.
It goes without saying that Mary and Joseph knew that Jesus was special. His birth had been announced by angels! But living as a family has a way of dulling our sensitivities. Familiarity breeds contempt. Perhaps they thought they had Jesus figured out.
In today’s Gospel Jesus astonished them. He did something that gave them a glimpse of His unique mission. He revealed that He was more than they thought.
Over the holidays many of us spend time with family. Sometimes we spend the time rehearsing old arguments or revisiting past hurts. Sometimes we think we have our relatives “all figured out” and can predict what they are going to say on any topic so we don’t even try.
Yet a family is an astonishing thing. If we are open to new possibilities we may be surprised at the grace present in the people we thought we knew.
As we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, may God give us the grace of wonder. May our families surprise us with their goodness.
Lincoln A. Wood

Christmas Hospitality

Lincoln’s Log 12-23-12
You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.
(Mi. 5:1)
Like Bethlehem at the time of the census, our community will have many guests joining us to celebrate Christmas. What a gift! It is an opportunity for us to live our mission to be a welcoming community.
Here are a few tips to help us be as welcoming as possible:
  • Arrive early. Take your coat off in the cloak room and be prepared to stay. There is no rush. Christmas Mass is the reason for the season so make yourself and others comfortable.
  • Make room for people to sit next to you. If you arrive early, choose seats near the middle of the pew so newcomers don’t have to crawl over you or ask you to move.
  • Introduce yourself to people sitting nearby. Be prepared to move outside of your comfort zone and meet someone new. Let them know a little about yourself and our community. There is plenty to be proud of. Be sure to invite them back for a weekend liturgy sometime.
  • Children are a part of our community. Welcome them with a smile. Parents who have not been to Mass for a while are often nervous and sensitive about their child’s behavior. Help to make them feel at ease and welcome. At Christmas kids don’t always show their best behavior. It is important for us to welcome them as Christ welcomed the children.
  • If someone looks lost, ask them if you can help. You can help direct them to the bathrooms or the cloakroom. They may also need help finding the songs or the responses in the songbooks or on the response card.
When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room for them in the inn. It was a failure of hospitality. Let’s be sure to welcome the guests in our midst as we celebrate the birth of the Messiah.
Lincoln A. Wood

Institutionalism in the Church

“There are real reasons for fearing that the Church might take on too many institutions of human law and then become like Saul’s armor which prevented young David from walking.  It is always necessary to study whether institutions that were useful in the past are still useful today.  The only institutional element the Church needs is the one the Lord gave her; the sacramental structure of the people of God, centered on the Eucharist.”

Pope Benedict XVI

Advent 3: "What should we do?"

Lincoln’s Log 12-16-12
The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?”
(Lk. 3:10)
In the Gospel this week we find people asking John the Baptizer a very basic question. “What should we do?” The people asking are common folks. They are not political or religious leaders. They are not powerful men and women. They are not the wealthy. They are the common folks…. like you and I.
It is a common question. “What should we do?” It is a question we each ask daily. “What should I do?” As Christmas approaches and the demands on our time increase, “What should we do?” As our families gather to celebrate, “What should we do?” As we remember past Christmas celebrations, “What should we do?” Every morning, as we get out of bed, “What should I do?”
John gives a very simple answer. It is not filled with esoteric wisdom. It is simple. He says, “Be satisfied with what you have. Take your fair share and no more. Share whatever you have. If you have more than you need, give it away.”
This is not rocket science. Our faith, at its core, is simple. Being a disciple means living a simple life and sharing what we have.
But immediately our minds try to complicate things with rationalizations and excuses. It couldn’t be that simple, could it? We think to ourselves, “Of course, my case is different. My life is more complicated than that.”
But today’s Gospel puts the answer to the questions, “”What should we do?” in its simplest form. Live simply and share. Advent is a time for stripping away the extra things as we wait in expectant hope. May we allow the simplicity of this answer to challenge us as we wait for the coming of Jesus.
Lincoln A. Wood

Advent 2: Prepare the Way

Lincoln’s Log 12-9-12
“Prepare the way of the Lord.”
(Lk. 3:6)
“Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” This was a phrase one of my former pastors used all the time. He had served in the United States Marine Corps before being called to the priesthood and I think he learned that phrase there. He called it the 5 P’s and tried to live his life as an individual who was prepared for anything.
Today we are reminded by John the Baptist of the importance of preparation. John, who could have been a Marine himself, is a voice crying out in the desert. He is a challenging figure who calls us to prepare.
And how does John call us to prepare. We are to prepare through repentance. We are to change our hearts. We are to change our minds. And we are to change our lives. We are to prepare by turning away from all that hinders love in our lives. We are to let go of our addictions and destructive habits. We are to move beyond selfishness. We are to change our lives. Repent!
It is through repentance that miracles can happen. In repenting, “every valley shall be filled in and every mountain and hill shall be made low.” We are made to love. Repentance is allowing love to flow through our lives, like a river in the desert.
When we properly prepare this Advent our lives are changed. Love flows. If our love has been experiencing “poor performance” in our lives due to sin, advent is just what we need to straighten ourselves out. John’s voice calls us to prepare the way of love. “Make the path straight.”
Together, we respond to John’s voice in the desert and pray that “all flesh shall see the salvation of our God.”
Lincoln A. Wood