Jesus begins his ministry with these words: “This is the time of fulfilment. The reign of God draws near. Change your attitude and believe in the Gospel.” Jesus serves as the ultimate role model in how we should treat ourselves and each other; he challenges unjust laws and perspectives; he teaches us the importance of forgiveness and mercy. Just as Jesus leads by example, Bea Miller’s song “Brand New Eyes” is about waking up to the truth of our purpose, regardless of the challenges that may come our way.
Key lines:I’m wide awake now, I’m free of the doubt / Don’t wanna look down / And if I fall out, I lay on the ground / And look to the clouds / It’s like I got brand new eyes, and I can finally see / What has always been right there in front of me / And with these brand new eyes I’ll take in everything / And I will finally see me
Questions: Who serves as a role model for you? What have you learned from your role models? How have you applied what you learned to your own life? How has Jesus influenced your ideas and actions? What challenges have you overcome because you’ve followed Jesus’ example?
Heifer International is an organization that makes its mission to eradicate poverty and hunger in the world, a mission like Jesus’ own. It is featured in Spirit this week. Heifer educates people about the lives of people who need help with the basics to thrive. The learning center invites young people to experience a “day in the life” of families from different countries where poverty is more common.
The song “Tapestry” is about taking stock of the world around us and opening our minds to people we don’t know, who live differently than we do, who get by with less. Real world situations open our eyes to people’s needs in ways that can become part of our tapestry. We can learn to approach social issues with compassion and work together on creative solutions that help raise people up.
Key lines:Have you felt a revolution? / Do you ever sit to stop and pause / Just to take a little moment / To see what’s mine and yours? / And all the things that I’ve seen / You will always be part of my tapestry / And all the places I’ve been / You will always be part of my tapestry
Questions: How hard is finding God in the world today? When have you experienced God? What in the natural world inspires you? Who in the human community inspires you? Who helps you step beyond yourself in your concerns?
Merry Christmas to all our friends, customers, and website visitors. Jesus makes incarnate the heart of God, full of creative and merciful love that never stops calling us into the communions of friends, family, and church. We make an early gift to you of A Christmas Story by Rose Tillemans, CSJ. Share this story with family and friends. Many blessings during this holy season.
We sometimes feel God’s presence in our life in surprising ways. Sometimes we can find God by taking a simple walk and connecting with the world around us. Other times, God’s presence arises in times of personal pain and darkness, times when we wonder “why me?” This week’s SPIRIT makes us aware that taking a risk (like Mary) and setting off on a journey can bring us closer to who we are meant to be. Brittany Howard’s cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” reminds us that through all our questions, fears, and pains, God is always by our side.
Key lines: Walk on through the wind / Walk on through the rain / Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown / Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
Questions: When have you felt challenged in your faith? What sustained you? What did your journey teach you? Like Mary, what risks do you take to participate in God’s vision for peace on earth and good will to all?
“Find your people, do your thing, and be true to yourself in the world — these are the best things. It is worth being lonely while you are searching.” The song “Free” by Sault challenges us to see more in ourselves and our lives than we recognize in our day to day actions. When we recognize and cultivate our talents, we can find ways to lead and work for good. In doing this, we follow John the Baptist, who “gave witness to the light.” When we share our true selves, we share our gifts with the world.
Key lines:Free, don’t give up for no one / Cos God’s love is free / The silver lining fall / What will be will be / And we may feel alone / Free
Questions: How do you share your gifts with the world? How do you cultivate these gifts? When has being your true self challenged your friendships? Who do you consider to be a leader in your community or and school?
Family traditions and rituals give us strength, teach us the meanings behind the things we celebrate, and connect us with our extended family and others around us. The song “That’s Christmas to Me” is not just a list of the things we value about the feast day but a reminder of the traditions we love and the closeness those traditions create between ourselves and those around us all year round.
Key lines:The fireplace is burning bright, shining along me / I see the presents underneath the good old Christmas tree / …I see the children play outside, like angels in the snow / While mom and daddy share a kiss under the mistletoe / And we’ll cherish all these simple things wherever we may be / Oh, why? ‘Cause that’s Christmas to me
Questions: What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? What have you learned from the tradition about what Christmas celebrates? When have you experienced the traditions of a different culture? What new traditions would you like to create with your family and friends?
The last Sunday of the liturgical year celebrates Jesus as Christ the King. In the gospel Jesus tells a parable about final judgment that challenges us to live the works of mercy — to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless. Catholic social teaching challenges us to these same actions — to treat the least among us as brothers and sisters. Young people can raise money, help make meals at a shelter, stock a food kitchen. When Imaginary Future sings out that “we are the love we give,” they are calling to us to look beyond ourselves and at our neighbors who may need greater support.
Key lines:This is not some one-way mirror / Looking out at the world we’re in / We are the love, we are the love we give / I’m starting to see it clearer / We belong to those who live / We are the love, we are the love we give / We are the love, we are the love we give
Questions: What economic and social issues do you recognize in your community and school? How can you help to raise awareness of these issues? When have you needed a helping hand?
Sunday’s gospel is about investing in our talents. SPIRIT encourages us to look at our talents and gifts and to use them. Who benefits from our gifts, who beside ourselves? Do we use our gifts to enrich our spirit, team, and community? The song “Lemonade” is about how we often push ourselves down a path that no longer works for us, either because of the expectations of others or our own. It’s okay to be brave, admit that something isn’t working out, and move in a new direction.
Lyrics:Sign up for you, sign up for me / Sign up for a talent show were talent dies each week / You’re braver than you think / Sign up for peace, to rent or buy / Just sign the dotted line, it’s easy if you try / Oh the rich ones love to lie / And we’re all, drinking lemonade / We thought we’d be doing, something great / By now
Questions: What skills or talents have you worked at improving? What are the benefits and sacrifices you’ve made to develop these talents? When have you had to quit something you loved? How do you encourage other people to use their talents?
SPIRIT asks us, “When do you pray?” Even during a pandemic, our lives are still busy with school, work, family, and friends. On top of that, we have the added pressures of trying to maintain these relationships while also social distancing. We are constantly in motion, even if we seem to be sitting still. It’s easy to forget to slow down and snatch a moment of reflection. Slowing down (even a 15-minute walk or a short nap) can often be prayerful, centering, and creative. It helps us to clear our heads and open our hearts to all that is around us. The song “The Great Divide” by The Shins invites us to take a breath, take in the world and see the beauty that is all around us.
Lyrics:Your hand in mine (Your hand in mine, oh, oh-oh) / The great divide / A stitch in time / Then we recombine / The way it was / Well, dust to dust / Has led us here to collide / …. (Ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh) / You trace the lines / Through space and time / Until you find / They all align / You give to me /A memory /Just a melody / I have to sing /
Questions: When have you been so busy that you missed out on something? What helps you slow down, clear your head and open your eyes and heart? What is prayerful about this? How often do you pray? Who do you consider to be wise? What makes them wise?