Spiritual Reflections

The signs of salvation

We tend to think that the trial of Jesus happened only at the end of his life, before the rulers of the people, Pilate and Herod. In reality, Jesus was on trial for the entirety of his earthly mission. Every time he did or said something, it raised implicit questions, like, "Who does he think he is?" and "Is this the one to come?" Response to those questions depended on two basic sources for discernment: the religious tradition of Israel and the openness of each individual to accept or reject the challenge of Jesus' person and message.

Announcing the coming

Look at your Advent calendar. Can you spot John the Baptist with his 100 percent organic outfit and odd, non-vegetarian diet? Although he hardly fits the cute calendar images, he's a key character of the Advent season. His warning that it's time to change our behavior may sound a bit like "You'd better watch out ... you'd better not pout ..." but the reward he promises for conversion is not at all like a tinseled tree surrounded by toys and electronics.

The rest of the story

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At the peak of his 40-year career, radio broadcaster Paul Harvey (1918-2009) was heard on 1,600 radio stations by 24 million people weekly. He was best-known for what he called "The Rest of the Story." In that segment, he'd feature some well-known person or event and then supply his listeners with some added and perhaps previously unknown information that completed the story and made it all the more fascinating. Hence, the rest of the story.

Beyond 'us and them'

Humans have a penchant for cultivating an "us and them" mentality. In the ancient world, some among Jesus' contemporaries had grown up with such a mentality, and it was difficult to overcome. For centuries, the Jews had been accustomed to their special role as God's chosen people. They were to be uniquely instrumental in God's plan of salvation for all people.

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In This Issue

December 2-15, 2016

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