St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

What kinds of thoughts go through your mind when you see recently born children?
 
Most of us wonder what their lives will be like. We pray they will be happy and healthy.  We may wish for success, security.  We hope they will not have to face war or violence of any sort.  We desire that love be present in their lives.
 
Matthew and Luke who have given us the Christmas story present us with the thoughts  and reactions of a great number of people to Jesus' birth.  Writing with the advantage of knowing how this life will go, they prepare us for what is to come with subtle and not so subtle hints and details.

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We've all been to concerts, shows or theaters where there are warm-up acts or trailers of upcoming movies. Sometimes I think that they are really good or exciting, and I wonder why I bought a ticket to see the show or movie I am waiting for.
 
Today we meet the warm-up act for the Messiah who prepares the audience to welcome him, not with songs or jokes or special effects, but with a call to a baptism of repentance: John the Baptist. Mark introduces John's role by quoting three texts from the Hebrew Scriptures which in their respective contexts referred to the exodus, the exile and the return from exile. (Ex. 23:20, Mal. 3:1, Is. 40:3)  By including all three key moments in Jewish history, Mark is proclaiming Jesus as the fulfillment of all their hopes.

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"Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"

You don't have to be psychic or have divine knowledge to suspect that the disciples of the Pharisees along with the Herodians were up to no good. They attempt to butter up Jesus by claiming he teaches the way of God truthfully and puts no trust in people's opinion of him. Then they spring a trap—or so they thought. If Jesus answered yes, he was against the nationalistic dreams of the Jewish people. If he answered no, he would be in trouble with the Roman authorities.

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"Garbage in, garbage out."
 
We all know that this saying applies to the direct relationship between data put into a computer and that which is produced from it. If the data contains errors, so does the ensuing report; if it is accurate, the resulting report is too.
 
Can we apply this saying to life as well?  There are many studies and anecdotal evidence to suggest so. If our senses are bombarded with violent images, we have a tendency to  have angry or even violent reactions to the smallest things; for example, road rage. If we listen to music which spews hate, disrespect, and sexism, we will tend to be hateful, disrespectful, and sexist ourselves. If we watch TV or movies with loose standards of morality, we are much more accepting of those standards ourselves.

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There is a story from several decades ago about a star baseball player who was offered a 30 percent raise by management after the season ended. To his way of thinking, he had a sub-par year and instead offered to take a 30 percent cut in pay! Can you even imagine that in these days when .240 hitters expect a raise? I bring this up because I think it speaks to today's Gospel.

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Have you ever been seduced? No, seriously.  Have you ever been seduced?  Given the fact that the word is defined as the act of enticing, beguiling, or winning another over to a desired state or position, it seems safe to assume that every one of us has been seduced at least once in the course of our lives.

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