Archive for November, 2011

Daily Advent Reflections

November 30th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” —Luke 12: 48

Growing up, being an Armenian-American was something I always felt burdened by. Explaining to my friends what being Armenian meant and where the country was always frustrated me; no one knew about Armenia. However, over time, I began to see the “burden” of my Armenian heritage as a gift. Attending an Armenian church and interacting with other young Armenians, made me realize that the heritage my mother had given me came with responsibilities. I could not just sit back and simply exist; I needed to keep the culture alive. Whether it was through educating others or strengthening my own connection with who I am, I feel I had been given so much by being an Armenian that I, in turn, had to act.

In anything that we are given or may be entrusted with, God does not want to see us brushing off a responsibility, or a natural gift, or an obligation. And the more we are blessed we, the more we are asked to “give back.”

Do you feel the same way about your Armenian heritage?

Activity: Take the time to call up some of your older relatives, and talk with them about the past. Sometimes the stories they tell can help you build a stronger connection with your family and heritage.

Daily Advent Reflections

November 29th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” —Luke 6: 13-16

The word “apostle” comes from the Greek word “apostolos,” which means “one sent forth.”  The twelve apostles were Jesus’ core group of followers, sent out into the world and instructed by him to spread the Word of God. With the exception of Judas, each apostle was loyal to Jesus and devoted to all he taught them. After Jesus’ resurrection, they did their best to educate others about Our Lord and the salvation possible through him.

Although the apostles lived long ago, we, too, can be apostles of Jesus. In the world today, many lose sight of their belief in our Lord, but by sharing our faith with others and spreading the Word of God, we can breathe faith, hope, and love into the world. Anyone can be a present-day apostle!

Can you think of a time when you shared your faith?

Activity: Bible study is a great way to educate people about Jesus. Gather a group of your friends, and read the Bible together one night this week.

Daily Advent Reflections

November 28th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” —2 Corinthians 6:18

The family unit can be a powerful source of stability. Although many people are blessed with strong family relationships, others lack those tight bonds or may have even experienced abuse or neglect. Regardless of our situation, however, we are always part of God’s family. If we live in his household, according to his ways, he welcomes us as sons and daughters. As the Father, he will provide us with strength, stability, comfort, guidance, and whatever we need to be truly happy.

Even for those who are without the company of a physical family, there is a powerful spiritual one in the Holy Church where, through baptism, we become part of a family that extends backwards and forwards in time.

Does a strong bond exist between you and the Lord?

Activity: Tonight, put some time aside to connect with God. Before you go to bed, pray to God about anything you may want to share with him. He is always there to listen.

Daily Advent Reflections

November 27th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”                                    Luke 12: 15

As a result of living in a consumer society, greed often finds its way into the mindset of individuals. Defined as “excessive or rapacious desire, especially of wealth or possessions,” greed is one of the seven deadly sins and something that is hard to avoid in the world we live in today. Every day we are constantly bombarded with advertisements convincing us to want more and more, making it hard to turn our backs on our “excessive desires.”

In 2009, a man by the name of Bernard Madoff was unable to turn his back on greed. With a career in the stock exchange industry, over the course of many years Madoff stole billions of dollars from investors. His desire to accumulate more and more money took over and Madoff did not care about the consequences. Striving to possess more wealth was all he was concerned about. It was hardly worth it: in the end, he was imprisoned for life, his wife was estranged, and his son committed suicide.

Life is not about how much money you have or how many cars you own; it is much more than that. Greed is a poison. Instead of wanting to increase our possessions, we should be thankful for what we do have, and give to others instead of constantly taking.

Can you think of a time in your life when greed played a role?

Activity: Find a local charity that is in need of your help, and donate at least $50 of your own money to help their cause.

Daily Advent Reflections

November 26th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  —John 10: 14-15.

Jesus taught his followers that he would be their loving protector by referring to himself as the good shepherd. Jesus is the good shepherd. He will take care of and guide us. When we are in the presence of danger, he will not flee like the hired hand, but will stand firmly by our sides. Under his watchful eye, no harm will be done to his flock because we who follow him are his.

My parents reflect this quality of Jesus because they are my protectors. My mother and father help guide me onto the right path and are always there to comfort and protect me. They act as good shepherds because they would go to great lengths to keep me out of harm’s way. Jesus also watches over my family, because we are a part of his beloved flock.

Would you consider yourself a good shepherd?

Activity: Think of one person in your life that has always been there for you. Let them know you appreciate the good shepherd that they have been for you.

Daily Advent Reflections

November 25th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” Luke 12:3

Jesus’ warning against hypocrisy resonates in every word within this passage. Frustrated by the Pharisees and their hypocrisy, he wants us to be aware of what we should do in order to avoid being hypocrites in this world. Jesus, the messenger and Son of God, tells us our private beliefs should match the beliefs others hear us talk about.

Just the other day, a friend of mine was complaining about how much she hates it when people gossip about one another, but then later that day she was gossiping herself. Her annoyance towards gossip lost credibility when she started taking part in the gossip herself.

When God’s Kingdom is fully realized, we will all be responsible for our private conversations – what comes out of our mouths should match our private beliefs!

Do your private beliefs match the beliefs people hear you talk about?

Activity: When have you displayed hypocrisy? Be more self-aware and try to be privately true to what you publicly value.

Daily Advent Reflections

November 24th, 2011    |    No Comments »

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” —Colossians 3:23-24

Most people think working hard applies to a career or job position, but there are no boundaries; you can work hard in anything that you may do in your life. Whether it is work, a relationship, a hobby you may have, or attending school, pushing yourself to do the best you can possibly do is what God wants us to strive for.

We must also remember that in working to our full potential, we are working with God‘s standards in mind, not the world‘s. When we work with all our heart as if it’s for God, a different set of guidelines is in operation and greed turns to generosity, ambition evolves into charity, and self-interest becomes compassion.

Are you working with all your heart as if God‘s your boss?

Activity: Think of a Godly quality lacking in your work – whether it’s school, home, or job-related. Perhaps you need to be more concerned with your colleagues at work or school. Reflect on what might be missing and work on restoring it.

Daily Advent Reflections

November 23rd, 2011    |    No Comments »

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him.” —Colossians 2:6

Every time I attend church, I am always aware of the kindness and generosity that members of my parish display towards one another. Whether it is helping an elderly person navigate downstairs, holding a door for someone, or helping prepare and clean up after coffee hour, I always witness someone acting in the spirit of God’s Word.

However, we should not just live out the Word of God on Sundays when we are in church, but every day of the week and in all that we do. When attending school, a work meeting, piano lessons, family gatherings, etc, we should constantly be aware of Christ’s presence, modeling our behavior after his wisdom and love.

Be the best you can be each and every day.

Activity: Besides at church, pick a place (school, family event, sporting event, a meeting, etc) and think of ways in which you can reflect the Word of God. The next time you are in that setting, do the things you have brainstormed.

Daily Advent Reflections

November 22nd, 2011    |    No Comments »

“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” —Colossians 1:22

The Bible teaches us many things about Jesus, but the most important story to remember is that God gave his only son in order to save us. Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we could be forgiven and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The Lord loved us so much that he wanted to free us from our wrongs and give each of us a fresh start.

Every day we can appreciate what God has given us by living our lives according to his wise ways. With Christ’s crucifixion, we were given a new life, and it is our responsibility to live one that is “blemish” free.

Have you ever made a sacrifice for anyone?

Activity: Think of specific sacrifices your parents made for you. Share your gratitude with them in words.

Daily Advent Reflections

November 21st, 2011    |    No Comments »

“Good people obtain favor from the LORD, but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.” —Proverbs 12:2

Ten years ago, the world witnessed an especially horrific act of terror. Taking the lives of countless Americans, the destruction of the twin towers on September 11th was an act of terror which many of us had a hard time comprehending. When events like this occur it is hard to understand the evil that prowls this earth, but we must accept that it exists and take a stand against it. The Bible teaches us that the Lord wants us to do “good,” in keeping with the very best way to live. Those who “devise wicked schemes” are straying from what our Lord wants us to do.

We are all God’s creation and must be kind caring to one another. What do people gain from harming others?

In what way do you think good people find favor from the Lord?

Activity: Think of someone who always does things for others. Perform a deed of love or act of kindness for them.