Reflection for Monday, December 13, 2010: 3rd week in Advent.

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Lanahan, Joan
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'TIS THE SEASON FOR LOVE|Christmas time is here again. Black Friday and Cyber Monday were successful retail days. I wonder what Jesus would do or say watching lots of us scurry around the Malls. It is a loving act to give gifts. The Wise Men gave Jesus gifts.||The chief priests and scribes, in Matthew, couldn't understand Jesus' words and acts of love. They were so used to their laws and customs, the loving kindness of Jesus was foreign to them. They were simply afraid and threatened by Jesus' way of life.|Balaam, in Numbers, sees the effects of God's love on the people. They have come through the desert and are on the plains. He knows they have received God's love and are persevering in their faith in the One True God. Balaam's authority comes from God as he says,| "the utterance of one who hears what God says, |And knows what the Most High knows,| Of one who sees what the Almighty sees, Enraptured and with eyes unveiled"| Balaam speaks of the effects of God's love on the community of Israel: |"they are like gardens beside a stream, Like cedars planted by the Lord..."| He knows the trials and tribulations the people have suffered. They have turned their backs on God and been transformed several times during their desert sojourn. Isn't this a lot like us? Don't we have times when we turn away from God? Don't we hear the Spirit speak in our lives and we deeply desire to return to God?|I am reading, “Tattoos on the Heart” by Greg Boyle, S.J., founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Greg tells stories of God’s transformative love with gang members in L.A. One fellow, Scrappy, a leader of a gang for 20 years, walked into Greg’s office one day and said:|"I have spent the last 20 years building a reputation for myself and| Now...I regret ...that I even have one."| With that, Scrappy cries his heart out. God has touched him and now Scrappy wants to change his life. Scrappy discovered a big hole of missing someone, something (we call God) in his life. Love turned him around.|We can tell the effects of God's love by the fruits of one's life. Scrappy was invited to work at Homeboy Industries. There he would receive the support necessary to turn his life around.|Changing one's life to becoming more caring, kind, peace-filled, working for peace and justice, patience, etc. are all fruits of the Spirit. These are the real signs of love.|God invites each of us in this season, no matter which religious group we belong to, to hear God's invitation to reach out and touch someone with love and kindness. Just as Balaam looked across the desert at the Israeli encampment and saw their community of God's love, look around you. See God's love at work. Be a part of God's love as you care for one another.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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