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St. John Kanty
John was a country lad who made good in the big city and the big university of Kraków, Poland. After brilliant studies he was ordained a priest and became a professor of theology. The inevitable opposition which saints encounter led to his being ousted by rivals and sent to be a parish priest at Olkusz. An extremely humble man, he did his best, but his best was not to the liking of his parishioners. Besides, he was afraid of the responsibilities of his position. But in the end he won his people's hearts. After some time he returned to Kraków and taught Scripture for the remainder of his life.
He was a serious man, and humble, but known to all the poor of Kraków for his kindness. His goods and his money were always at their disposal, and time and again they took advantage of him. He kept only the money and clothes absolutely needed to support himself. He slept little, and then on the floor, ate sparingly, and took no meat. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, hoping to be martyred by the Turks. He made four pilgrimages to Rome, carrying his luggage on his back. When he was warned to look after his health, he was quick to point out that, for all their austerity, the fathers of the desert lived remarkably long lives.
John of Kanty is a typical saint: He was kind, humble and generous, he suffered opposition and led an austere, penitential life. Most Christians in an affluent society can understand all the ingredients except the last: Anything more than mild self-discipline seems reserved for athletes and ballet dancers. Christmas is a good time at least to reject self-indulgence.
Daily Prayer - 2015-12-23
The world is charged with the grandeur of God. (Gerard Manley Hopkins)
Thank you for the gift of freedom, Lord.
How do I find myself today?
The Word of God
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Reading 1 Mal 3:1-4, 23-24
Thus says the Lord GOD:
Responsorial Psalm PS 25:4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14
R. (see Luke 21:28) Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:57-66
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Meditation: Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24
4th Week of Advent
He will purify. (Malachi 3:3)
As the old man sat looking out the window, the children ran laughing and squealing through the house in anticipation of Christmas Day. Recalling past celebrations, he was filled with painful memories of his impatience and failures. If only he could go back in time and erase all the hurts he had caused. If only he could be sure that God really had forgiven him ...
Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever wanted to wipe the past clean so that you can enjoy the present more fully? If so, today's readings are for you.
Malachi prophesied that a "messenger of the covenant" would purify all the "descendants of Levi" (Malachi 3:1, 3). He promised that God would cleanse his people of all impurities so that they could draw near to him again. As Christians, we know that this prophecy pointed to the blood that Jesus would shed on the cross, divine blood that has the power not only to forgive our sins but to cleanse our consciences as well and bring us right into the presence of God.
Psalm 25 tells us that God "guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way" (25:9). This is the best way to prepare for Christmas. Rather than running around trying to do everything right, we would do better simply to take on a disposition of quiet humility and openness to Jesus.
Try an experiment in your prayer today. In your mind, step away from all the demands of Christmas preparations, and sit quietly in Jesus' presence. Picture his love raining down upon you, soaking through your body and into your heart. Imagine this rain washing you clean. See the dust and dirt of life in this world washing off of you and disappearing. Once you are clean, draw near to God—again, not by trying to make yourself lovable, but just by resting in his presence.
Next, look up at the sun. See how its rays warm you and give you light. With this in mind, let Jesus warm your heart and give light to your path today. Just stay with him. Just be humble. L et Jesus draw close to you.
"Lord Jesus, thank you for setting me free. I rejoice in you. I ask you to draw near to me."
Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14
Took Them To Heart
So check this out, like 450 years B.C., before Christ, comes a prophet Malachi announcing that Elijah would come again. " Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet", and today we read about the birth of a tremendous saint, the greatest on earth, yet the least in Heaven...John the Baptist. And the Holy Scripture continues today "Before the day of the LORD comes, the great and terrible day,
To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" and St. John did just that, something tremendous and terrible, which in this terrifying feat would consist of beating down doors of hardened hearts especially of the ones straying truly from being people of God, and all to pave the way for the coming of the Lord, the Messiah! And the last words are "Lest I come and strike the land with doom." Because had he not been sent, salvation, then there would be no hope, no light in the world as there is today. I told the packed house last night in posadas "all these messages are from messengers living among you...it's not a story of long ago, but is happening right now, are you listening and what will your answer be to the Lord whom sends the messengers to your life every day? Are you listening to other things? Seeing other things?" It is a day of reckoning and reconciliation, making up. Because you and I are the Church, the desire of God, the spouse of the groom. I know of several men right now asking for prayer, because their spouse has left them...what a cold Christmas without your spouse, the love you've been with for decades. Perhaps now with that emptiness, there will be more time for God, more room for the groom that has been chasing you for decades, and you were there but not really. You see, suffering is a gift, a terrible gift, like that of St. John the baptist among the people of God of the time. And this serves for one purpose...joining with our groom, our Lord, our Master in a tighter much more efficacious way to a bond that serves to strengthen the grip on salvation. Then rightly so, this is an act of love. This is why John was named John, because he was not to be named like his earthly father, but like his heavenly Father, and in Hebrew, John (Yohanan) means "Yahweh is Gracious!". Take note right now, because we could have a name in Heaven to reveal our true identity, when it is fully revealed...the truth of who we are.
We prayed today "The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him, and his covenant, for their instruction." Yesterday, I went to look at a little shuttle bus to buy with the help of some brothers from our parish, and it would be given away to an orphanage I've been in contact for years now. Turns out, the man I was dealing with is a missionary and helps youth in Africa get a vocation. He said how it came to be. They asked him at his church if he would go and help them. He said "but what can I do? I'm just a mechanic and body repair man?" and they answered "teach them that". And he flew off. Now years later the vocational school he started is still helping people get on their feet in the 3rd world country. That was nice, but what caught me off guard was the children he has adopted. He has biological children, 5, (oh, by the way his name is Jeff), but through time adopted 4 more. I asked him what would be the best advice for people wanting to adopt and he said "Just go in head first". St. John the baptist went head first, and brought souls to salvation...Jesus. Keep this in mind because the friendship of the Lord is with those who fear him. Jeff obeyed the message of the messenger to help God's children. You see how the story applies to us nowadays? He said a truth he lives by that I live by now, (because I didn't use to be this way). JUST GIVE. You can not outgive the Lord. We are afraid to give and that begins a black hole that sucks up all the light around it. When I ask questions after scriptures in Posada nights, there is a deep silence, people are afraid to say anything. Funny thing is, there is no wrong answer! We just live locked up in fear. So let this serve as a primer for your faith. You can do amazing things in the situation you are in now, because the pains Mary went through were only beginning for the greatest heartache of all...bearing the Son of God...and the heart aches of so much love, because it gives and gives and gives and there is just no end...and this is good news for you and me.
In comes the Lord our God in our lives in the Holy Gospel. "John will be his name" said the parents of St. John. God is GRACIOUS. For the barren old woman gave birth to a miracle child and the child grew up like Samson but named Elijah by the Lord. And why? Because, the message is for you, to turn from your ways. Christmas is like Lent. A time to give. Almsgiving, helping the less fortunate, and repentance, confession, penitence. I've let my beard grow for these last nearly 40 days in anticipation for the Lord's birth. But the anticipation has revealed the coming every day. When it arrives, it would've been an accumulation of all things done. You see, the key components in the Gospels lately were of God's people obeying. Today, Zechariah obeyed, he named the baby boy what the angels told him to name him. Mary obeys the angels, to have the baby and name Him THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!
We prayed today "Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand."
and then we read ""What, then, will this child be?"
and the context clue from the messenger throughout history is given to you and take it for what your heart will allow:
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
"All who heard these things took them to heart"