Christmas at Greccio
What better way to prepare for the arrival of the Christ Child than to take a brief journey to Greccio, the spot in central Italy where St. Francis of Assisi created the first Christmas crib in the year 1223.
Francis, recalling a visit he had made years before to Bethlehem, resolved to create the manger he had seen there. The ideal spot was a cave in nearby Greccio. He would find a baby (we're not sure if it was a live infant or the carved image of a baby), hay upon which to lay him, an ox and an ass to stand beside the manger. Word went out to the people of the town. At the appointed time they arrived carrying torches and candles.
One of the friars began celebrating Mass. Francis himself gave the sermon. His biographer, Thomas of Celano, recalls that Francis "stood before the manger...overcome with love and filled with a wonderful happiness.../" For Francis, the simple celebration was meant to recall the hardships Jesus suffered even as an infant, a savior who chose to become poor for our sake, a truly human Jesus.
Tonight, as we pray around the Christmas cribs in our homes, we welcome into our hearts that same Savior.
God's choice to give human beings free will was, from the beginning, a decision to be helpless in human hands. With the birth of Jesus, God made the divine helplessness very clear to us, for a human infant is totally dependent on the loving response of other people. Our natural response to a baby is to open our arms, as Francis did, to the infant of Bethlehem and to the God who made us all.
Daily Prayer - 2015-12-24
I pause for a moment, aware that God is here.
It is so easy to get caught up
Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life?
The Word of God
Reading 1 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
When King David was settled in his palace,
Responsorial Psalm PS 89:2-3, 4-5, 27 and 29
R. (2) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:67-79
Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Conversation requires talking and listening.
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: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16
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4th Week of Advent (Mass in the Morning)
Should you build me a house to dwell in? (2 Samuel 7:5)
What's your highest aspiration in life? What would you like to leave as your legacy? Forget personal ambition or financial goals; what would you like to accomplish for the sake of other people, perhaps even for God?
David knew the answer to that question. He wanted to build a temple for the Lord. This seemed like a great idea to everybody, even Nathan, the court prophet. But God said no. He wasn't interested in David trying to repay him for all that he had done. Instead, he talked about the even bigger things he was going to do for David. Rather than having David build him a house, God promised to build a house for David in the form of a kingdom that would last forever. David must have thought he had already arrived, but God turned around and said, "Not at all. I'm just getting started!"
On the eve of this great feast of Christmas, we are caught up in God's long-ago promises to David—promises that find their fulfillment in the birth of Christ. Making David king of Israel was just the beginning of what God would do through him and his descendants. David didn't see it coming because he wasn't thinking and dreaming big enough.
Millions of people will be celebrating Midnight Mass tonight. They will gather in churches all around the world—houses of worship built by God as part of David's legacy—and they will join with the angels singing, "Glory to God in the highest!" More people come to church on this day than any other day of the year. And do you know why they come? Because God is drawing them. No matter what their background, no matter how weak or strong their faith is, God has brought them to his house, and he is building their faith.
So dream big tonight. Think about your brothers and sisters who will be worshipping in India, Korea, Nigeria, Slovakia, Uruguay, Samoa, and every other country. Along with all of them, you too are loved and sought after by the eternal God. He is not done working in you and through you. He is still building his house in your heart!
"All glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ! You are the master builder of my life and the whole Church. Lord, I worship you!"
Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29
You, my child
ne Day, The Lord came, and He spoke. The earth turned on, and the water poured forth.
One day, the Lord came, and the couple He chose walked in His Holy Presence.
One day, the Lord said "I want an Ark of salvation" and it was done, and His were saved.
One day, the Lord came, and chose a man to leave his land to seek His chosen promised land.
One day, the Lord came and said through a burning bush that didn't burn "...you are standing on Holy Ground!"
One day, that man would lead His people from slavery to a new life, through waters parted ways.
One day, a prophet cried out "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."
One day, our Lord was conceived when the virgin believed, and from that moment forth, our Lord touched the earth through her holy feet, a divine feat, something we can't imagine, and that some day we would be given to eat.
One day, that day came to be, and the Virgin, mother of our God, gave birth to our God, in a place among the animals, just like the ark. And that new ark of the new promise was now Mary. And the baby is the promise, the one she had to carry.
One day, that baby God, He grew. From the wooden trough that fed the animals, to the wood of the cross that would feed His people, His children.
One day, He came by your home. He knocked on the door. And you looked through the peeping hole, and the light radiating from outside wouldn't let you see clearly who was at the door....
One day we will open wide the doors to Christ, and glory be to the Lord on that glorious day. Because it seems that ever one day matters, and this one day today is the eve of the Christ child born on earth. It seems as though, from the cave that St. Francis moment to today, where we meditate on the birth, and contemplate His presence, something came over people. They wanted to give Jesus presents on His birthday, and not finding Him, they started giving presents to everyone they loved.
This day, we can definitely give Jesus something He's always wanted so much it hurt...your heart.
How about a few pointers from the Holy Spirit? How about some gift ideas? Hmm.
How about, this Christmas, you forgive somebody that has hurt you so much?
How about, hmm, how about this Christmas, you see a complete stranger and approach them and tell them Jesus is so much in love with them, and then as an added bonus, ask if you can give them a hug? LOL, if you're married, then make sure it is someone of your same gender if you're going to go for a hug.
Hmm, how about this Christmas, you give someone thanks? But realize the truth in gratitude, let it be so real your eyes and heart are burning when you realize you've never been grateful. Lord.
How about this Christmas, you give a gift and hope really hard you don't get anything back, because then...it's not really a gift!
How about, hmm, how about you open the door for someone and hope hard they don't say thank you!
How about forgiving someone and hoping they don't say a darn thing back? Because then you gave from the heart.
How about, really serving you're loved ones time and affection?
How about, let's see, how about you look at someone with eyes of Christ's love?
Because all of the above ideas are life-saving. What better gift? What better gift than Christ? That is why the Lord said today to King David through the prophet "how can you, a meager man, give me what I deserve? I made you who you are, I AM the one who will be doing the giving! I AM going to bless you and your son's Kingdom. I AM the one that is going to endure forever! I AM the beginning and the end". You see, giving to God stuff is nice, but putting Him above all? Well, that leads us to love one another like no other.
I wanted today's reflection to not be a reflection. Because we are good mirrors, aren't we? How about we become authentic. How about this Christmas, we go to Christ in Mass, and there worship Him like the shepherds and angels did, with the gift from God...wonder and awe? Maybe you're heart will be touched and you'll cry. Maybe you'll be astounded and leave the scene changed forever. Maybe, just maybe you'll show up with a gift for Him to unwrap on this day we celebrate HIS birth. He gave you a heart, He doesn't ask for it back...we are free to give it. Give it to the one who deserves it more than anybody on earth. You see, maybe, just maybe this One Day He comes, He is standing outside your door, not that you will let Him come in, but...go out with Him.
Go out into a new world
Go out and imagine the possiblities.
Go out and see the vast work fields and the work He has for us.
Go out further and further with Him, to seek the promised land.
Go out with Him and soon realize....we are standing on Holy Ground.
Go out with Him, and cross the sea, to a new life, never to return to the old and to be fed by Him alone bread from Heaven.
Go out with Him, and dance for Him as King David when the ark of the covenant was broought to them.
Go out this day with shepherds and angels seeking for the salvation of souls!
Go out this very day, this One Day, and grasp it and live it for what it is, Joy to the Word, The Savior has come, let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room and Heaven and nature sing! SING to Him a song. Bring Him the love of your heart. Tear down walls you've built, because you can not house the mercy of God. You can not contain it in what you have built, for HIs expands forever. His will reach the ends of the universe. And today, He calls you His baby. "I WANT TO SHOWER YOU WITH GIFTS FROM ABOVE". I told my brothers that helped me buy a bus for an orphanage yesterday, "I prayed a rosary for God to bless you with work...but the Lord said during the rosary "My Blessings are not of this World".
So what we have before us is more than we can imagine. The man we bought the bus from to give to the orphanage happens to have adopted children and helps the poor in Africa personally. I peaked in his backyard and he had a huge old helicopter, scrapped out and turned into a play toy for his biological and adopted chidren,and a school bus turned playground. As I walked around the other side, an old train caboose. I asked him about the graffiti on the outside of the caboose and he went on to explain why he hired a graffiti artist to paint the word IMAGINE on it. It was based on a scripture that said eye has not seen, ear has not heard and St. Paul says to the ephesians "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us", it's like we have lost imagination, to dream bigger than our dreams, to realize just who we are dealing with here.
I took a pic and leave you with it. Tomorrow, the 25th of December is my birthday. I have learned in a unique way that this day is not about me. And to celebrate it is strange. And so I turn the tables. Throughout the year I am the giver. Every single day is the day of the Lord, and this one? Even more. So step out, as my gift for me, step out for me, it will bless my soul to see your faith stronger and seeking God more than ever. As a gift to me who has been reaching out to you constantly, just, taste for once what has been offered. And as my gift for you, I write with only words, I record this so you can hear it, I live it so you can live it, as my gift I offer you what I have seen and has captivated, captured, and saved my heart, my soul,...BEHOLD THE LORD
Remember to Give :)