Let us give thanks and praise

The birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a time for rejoicing. We see his birth as a time of joy and we thank God for His wondrous love for all His creation. God is truly a loving God.

For the Jews God was not a loving God, rather He was a God to be feared. The Torah speaks of His anger, His wrath, His condemnation of His people when they failed to follow His commands. The Jewish people were locked into a rigid, unforgiving sense of obedience to God’s law, a law that demanded strict adherence to its covenants. They, quite simply, were afraid of God’s retribution, and thus were unable to visualize a loving, caring God.

Jesus, quite literally, turned the Jewish people’s belief system on its head. He spoke of a loving God, a God who cared for all His creation, a God who asked that we love Him and love one another as we love ourselves. Jesus taught us that it was not only right to love our self but that God required us to do so. For if we do not love our selves then how can we love one another? And if we cannot love one another — God’s creation — then how can we love Him.

For the Jews, this was such a radically new way of viewing God that it was virtually impossible for them to understand or accept it. Their entire lives, the very core of their faith, were constructed from a fear of the Lord; remember, they were not allowed to even speak the name of God! But despite, or perhaps because of their fear of God, the Jewish people were very faith-filled and deeply devoted to their God.

Quite the contrast with many people today. God loves us but does anybody really care? Churches are rarely filled and when they are, it appears to be out of obligation rather than from an abiding desire to give thanks and praise to God, our loving Father and Creator of us all. All too many of us find it inconvenient to spend any time with God. We are too busy or it simply isn’t high on our to do list. We have no fear of God, therefore we have no time for God.

As we begin this New Year I believe that we should make a resolution to return to God, to make Him an essential presence in our daily lives, to put God first and foremost in our thoughts and prayers. Let us offer prayer to God for all that He has given us and ask that He speak to those who have hardened their hearts to His presence. Let us ask God to open all hearts and minds to His love and urge all to give praise and glory to His name.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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