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Sunset over the Selçuk Fortress, Selçuk, Turkey.

#Advent16 — It is Christ

A reading from the Psalms.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The LORD reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the LORD.

Psalm 146:5-10 (NIV)

This is the Word of the Lord.

God made everything. Therefore, everything belongs to God. And, God takes care of His creation.

The great philosopher/theologian Dallas Willard once said:

“God, who created the universe, has no problem invading it.”

God invades His creation to bring restoration to His creation.

God isn’t interested in destroying that which He lovingly created. God is interested in caring for it and restoring it back to it’s original design.

God cares for the oppressed. He feed the hungry. He frees the prisoner. He makes the blind to see. He lifts up those who are pressed down. He loves the righteous. He watches over the immigrant. He is the Father to the fatherless. He is the spouse to the widow. He frustrates those who are wicked.

And, He invaded His creation. In the form of a baby. In a manger. In a stable. In a backwater town.

Immanuel.

God. In the middle. Of everything.

A God who is so loving that He’s not willing for any to perish. Yet, yearns for all to come to know Him.

Personally and intimately.

Yet, with fear and trembling.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once wrote:

“The history of salvation is not a small event, on a poor planet, in the immensity of the universe. It is not a minimal thing which happens by chance on a lost planet. It is the motive for everything, the motive for creation. Everything is created so that this story can exist, the encounter between God and his creature.”

All exists so that God through Christ and through His creation might be glorified.

And, so, into the mess of the world the Christ child was born. And, lived. And, taught. And, died. And, rose again.

And it is He who heals the brokenness of the world around us.

“It is Christ who remakes all things more marvelously than creation, this is the reason for hope.” — Pope Francis

Sunset over the Selçuk Fortress, Selçuk, Turkey.

Sunset over the Selçuk Fortress, Selçuk, Turkey.

Book Review: Encountering Truth by Pope Francis

Encountering Truth by Pope FrancisIt’s easy to forget that long before Pope Francis was the Pope, he was a Parish Priest. As a Parish Priest, he delivered messages on a daily basis. Yet, as Pope, we only know about he big messages he delivers: Easter, Christmas, World Youth Day, etc.

The new volume from Pope Francis, Encountering Truth, is a collection of 186 homilies delivered by Pope Francis at the morning Mass held in the chapel at Saint Martha’s in the Vatican. These homilies draw from the daily Scriptures, and are a wealth of wisdom from the Holy Father.

Each homily was transcribed by Radio Vatican and are presented as summations with direct quotes.

These messages run the gamut of Christian life. He discusses topics that range from love, to forgiveness, to prayer, and to work. They are messages that give hope and life for the day ahead (remember these are homilies from morning mass). And, they are messages that disciple and encourage and strengthen and spur us to walking out the life of Christ in the day-to-day.

For instance, in Number 28, Pope Francis delivers a message about how just societies do not exploit workers, and ensures that all have access to work. “Work gives us dignity,” the Pope says. He continues, “Not to pay what is right, not to give work, because I am looking only at the bottom line, at the company bottom line; I’m looking only at what I can gain. That goes against God!”

This volume is an excellent read. It can be read straight through as a normal book. It can be used for day-to-day devotions (one homily each morning or evening). It can also be a great resource or commentary on specific passages. (Although, it does lack an index of Scripture References.)

The real beauty of this volume is that it gives a great insight into the heart of Pope Francis. It strips away the media bias, and just goes to his words. What does the text say to him. What is God saying to him in his meditation on the Scriptures. As you read through this volume, you feel the heart and soul of Pope Francis, and he shifts from a larger-than-life leader of the Catholic Church to a Parish Priest.

There is a great responsibility for us, the baptized: to proclaim Christ, to carry the Church forward, this fruitful maternity of the Church. Being Christian does not mean making a career in an office, to become a Christian lawyer or doctor. No. Being Christian is a gift that moves us forward with the power of the Spirit in the proclamation of Jesus Christ.

— Pope Francis, Homily dated 17 April 2013.

If you’d like to read the first chapter, you can do so by clicking here.


903018: Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Every Day Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Every Day
By Pope Francis / ImageEncountering Truth is a collection of highlights from homilies given by Pope Francis in the little Vatican chapel of Saint Martha from March 2013 to May 2014. Along with summaries by Radio Vaticana (who recorded and transcribed the homilies) and commentary by Father Antonio Spadaro, SJ, these reflections provide moments of inspiration, simplicity, and a glimpse into the papal world very few ever get to experience.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis

Book Review: The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis

The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis

The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis

In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis plots a course for the church as it navigates the changing culture brought on by urbanization and globalization. As these forces have grown in strength, the church has been faced with challenges of evangelization in these new paradigms. Pope Francis lays out a fresh plan for the work of the people to bring the Gospel to the whole world.

Pope Francis urges his readers—and the church at large—to walk out their faith in divine love. Allowing the love of God to guide and direct them to transform the world around them. He urges all of us to live as if heaven is both a now and a not yet place.

We are reminded in this volume that “missions” is a task assigned to all believers. No one is exempt from the Great Commission. We all have a part to play in bringing the gospel to every corner of the world. Everyone who calls themselves “Christian” has been commissioned by Christ to “go” and “make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) No one has been excluded from the going or the making.

Pope Francis also gives us a new way to think about evangelization. He begins Chapter Four by defining “to evangelize.” He defines it as making “the Kingdom of God present in our world.” He goes on to discuss practical ways how we are to be bringing the Kingdom into each corner of the world wherein we live and work. Later in Chapter Four, he reminds us that the Kingdom is “already present and growing in our midst” and that it “engages us at every level of our being.”

The Joy of the Gospel is a great read for persons of any faith tradition. All will benefit from the truths presented by Pope Francis. This volume will provide fresh ways of viewing the task of the Great Commission to which all Christ-Followers are called.

Page 128 of The Joy of the Gospel

Page 128 of The Joy of the Gospel

You can read the first chapter of The Joy of the Gospel by clicking here.

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FTC (16 CFR, Part 255) Disclaimer: I received my copy of The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis from Blogging for Books for this review.

419537: The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii GaudiumBy Pope Francis / ImageThis special edition of Pope Francis’s popular message of hope explores themes that are important for believers in the twenty-first century. Examining the many obstacles to faith and what can be done to overcome those hurdles, he emphasizes the importance of service to God and all his creation. Profound in its insight, The Joy of the Gospel is a call to action to live a life motivated by divine love and, in turn, to experience heaven on earth. Foreword by Robert Barron; Afterword by James Martin, SJ.