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BELLS4The church is a sign of community, of worship, of celebration and mourning. We are the body of the church with Christ as its head.

“In Christian symbolism, the church has several meanings.  In its basic sense, it means the House of God.  It may also be used to signify the Body of Christ.  Sometimes, the church is alluded to as the Ark, and in this sense means the salvation of all its members.”

  Inspirational words about Church:

The actual inner unity of redeemed humanity united with Christ.

Karl Adam

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 18:20 Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. 

The Body of Christian believers and transmitters of Christ’s mind and spirit through the centuries.

Rufus M. Jones

The Church should have a tapering spire, To point to realms where sin’ is forgiven, And lead men’s thoughts from earth to heaven.

John E. Woodrow

 

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If there is anyone out there who would like to continue until January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, please send me a comment.    Otherwise, let me hope and pray that you had a good Advent season that found you ready for Christmas and the Epiphany!

 

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                  Merry Christmas!

Argentinia     Felices Pasquas y  Felices Año Nuevo

Baltic    Lettish Priecigus Ziemassvetkus

Bulgaria     Chestita Koleda

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ImageTo receive greetings from around the world each day of December, check out our Advent mailbox.

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1012booksigning

 

In reading Catie the Copycat the first time, I thought a sequel was necessary.  The author Juliana Howard, with the help of illustrations by Sophia Heymans, portrays a young girl who always decides what to do by watching others.   ‘She couldn’t hear the voice that said “Be what YOU want to be!” ‘

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Gospel, Matthew 3:1-12   “Phylactery” is a Greek word meaning “amulet”.  It translates the Jewish word “tefillin”, the two leather capsules, one fastened to the forearm by a leather strap and the other suspended from a headband, which contained small parchments on which are written Exodus 13:1-10, Exodus 13:11-16, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and Deuteronomy 11:13-21.  They are similar to amulets worn by people of other cultures in the ancient world, the difference being that the tefillin are signs of committing one’s deeds and heart to God as compared to amulets which contain magical inscriptions and are intended to protect the wearer from evil.  Although worn only during morning prayer since the Middle Ages, they were commonly worn throughout the day in previous ages of Jewish history.  From Jewish sources I read, it is believed that, during the time of Jesus, some people wore them or at least the head one almost all the time (the Pharisees are in this group), some just part of the time, and some never (the Sadducees are in this group).  The difference was not one of acceptance of the command to “bind them on your forehead…” but whether that command was to be taken literally or metaphorically to keep God constantly in mind. 

Tassels were attached to the hem or edge of the cloak which served as a prayer shawl for many Jews.  The tassels, called “tzitzit”, were more than decorative.  They were mandated by God (Numbers 15:37-41) as a reminder “to keep all the commandments of the Lord without going wantonly astray after the desires of your heart and eyes”.  In ancient times in the Near East the distinctive hem of an outer garment, of which the tassels were a part, represented the person and his/her rank or importance in society.  In 1 Samuel 24 David and his men, being pursued by Saul in the desert, hide in a cave into which Saul comes to relieve himself.  David cuts off the hem of Saul’s mantle but spares Saul’s life.  David later regrets having cut the hem for, according to Jewish commentary I read on the passage, it was a sign that he was taking away the authority of Saul who, for his part, becomes remorseful for pursuing David since this event was a sign to him that his God-given authority was being cut off to be given to David. 

The more important the individual, the wider and more elaborate the hem.  Along with widening the headband of their tefillin, the Pharisees were converting these signs of religious commitment into signs of their feeling superior to others for whom they prided themselves as models to be emulated and copied in following God’s law. 

The prescription against calling someone “rabbi”, “father” or “master” is not a linguistic lesson on acceptable and unacceptable titles.  If that were the case, the words we really shouldn’t use would be the original Aramaic terminology spoken by Jesus or the Greek words from the original Gospel account.  We all have teachers and fathers, after all, and we need some titles for them.  Jesus’ words are, instead, a call to humility in areas of responsibility, contrary to the pride of the Pharisees in seeking honor and admiration for themselves.  Whatever honor, authority or position we have is to be exercised as stewards of God who is forever our teacher, Father, and master.

Reading 1, Malachi 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10  The name Malachi is a Hebrew word meaning “my messenger” as found in the book of Malachi in 1:1 and 3:1.  It is believed to be a pseudonym rather than the author’s proper name.  The work was composed as a reproach against the priests and rulers of the Jewish people for their poor leadership around 445 BC during the period of restoration following the Babylonian captivity.  Given the charges he levels, he understandably preferred to remain anonymous. 

The specific breaking of the covenant referred to here was the law from Deuteronomy 7:1-4 against marrying people from other religions, something which was to be more strictly enforced after the Exile.

Reading II, 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13  In last week’s commentary I gave some background on the geography of Thessalonica.  Paul had visited the city on his second missionary journey but left when his ministry caused considerable disturbance among the Jewish population of the city.  He later sent Timothy to visit the community of Christians there and, after receiving Timothy’s report on the visit, wrote this letter around 52 AD.  Paul begins his letter by affirming them as a model for other Christian communities.  Here he reminds them of his personal dedication to serving them, not for any personal gain, but out of a desire to share the gospel with them.

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St. Dominic’s supports the Crisis Pregnancy Center through its volunteer help and through its Mother’s Day collection.  Last year our October 10 Rally for Life ended up afterwards at their new location. 

They are having a fundrasier banquest November 3rd at Buntrock Commons that promises to be a pleasant evening with good food and entertainment.   (If you have ever eaten there, you know the food is fabulous!) Here is an invitation from Liz Blanchard, the director of CPC of Northfield, on behalf of all of their clients – the young mothers and their babies and their families during or following a crisis pregnancy to join the gathering. If you have any questions, feel free to call the center at 507-645-7638.

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