If you take Christmas to heart and get past the anxieties in arranging for gifts and parties, you will rediscover yourself every year at this time and experience a birth in yourself, just like the one so beautifully described in the Gospel stories. It will be a celebration of both the birth of Jesus and the birth of your own soul.
-from The Soul of Christmas
†"To use this life well is the pathway through death to everlasting life." — St. John Almond
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "Even if you do not confess, God is not ignorant of the deed, since he knew it before it was committed. Why then do you not speak of it? Does the transgression become heavier by the confession? No, it becomes lighter and less troublesome. And this is why he wants you to confess: not that you should be punished, but that you should be forgiven; not that he may learn your sin—how could that be, since he has seen it?—but that you may learn what favor he bestows. He wishes you to learn the greatness of his grace, so that you may praise him perfectly, that you may be slower to sin, that you may be quicker to virtue. And if you do not confess the greatness of the need, you will not understand the enormous magnitude of his grace." — St. John Chrysostom, p. 255 AN EXCERPT FROM A Year with Church Fathers
Saint of the Day for December 6 (March 15, 270 – December 6, 343)
Saint Nicholas' Story
The absence of the "hard facts" of history is not necessarily an obstacle to the popularity of saints, as the devotion to Saint Nicholas shows. Both the Eastern and Western Churches honor him, and it is claimed that after the Blessed Virgin, he is the saint most pictured by Christian artists. And yet, historically, we can pinpoint only the fact that Nicholas was the fourth-century bishop of Myra, a city in Lycia, a province of Asia Minor.
As with many of the saints, however, we are able to capture the relationship which Nicholas had with God through the admiration which Christians have had for him—an admiration expressed in the colorful stories which have been told and retold through the centuries.
Perhaps the best-known story about Nicholas concerns his charity toward a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters of marriageable age. Rather than see them forced into prostitution, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold through the poor man's window on three separate occasions, thus enabling the daughters to be married. Over the centuries, this particular legend evolved into the custom of gift-giving on the saint's feast. In the English-speaking countries, Saint Nicholas became, by a twist of the tongue, Santa Claus—further expanding the example of generosity portrayed by this holy bishop. Reflection
The critical eye of modern history makes us take a deeper look at the legends surrounding Saint Nicholas. But perhaps we can utilize the lesson taught by his legendary charity, look deeper at our approach to material goods in the Christmas season and seek ways to extend our sharing to those in real need. Saint Nicholas is the Patron Saint of:
Baker Brides Children Greece Grooms Pawnbrokers Travelers
Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins.
A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
A voice says, "Cry out!" I answer, "What shall I cry out?" "All flesh is grass, and all their glory like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower wilts, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it. So then, the people is the grass. Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the word of our God stands forever."
Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings; Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by his strong arm; Here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, Carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1-2, 3 and 10ac, 11-12, 13 R. (see Isaiah 40:10ab) The Lord our God comes with power. Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all you lands. Sing to the LORD; bless his name; announce his salvation, day after day.
R. The Lord our God comes with power. Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds. Say among the nations: The LORD is king; he governs the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord our God comes with power. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them! Then let all the trees of the forest rejoice.
R. The Lord our God comes with power. They shall exult before the LORD, for he comes; for he comes to rule the earth. He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord our God comes with power.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. The day of the Lord is near: Behold, he comes to save us. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 18:12-14
Jesus said to his disciples: "What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ The saviour/shepherd king, is compassion and mercy itself. No one of the persons in his care is just a statistic – his heart is wrung and totally preoccupied if even one individual goes missing. He is the shepherd who will not rest until he has found the stray.
▪ But he is also a shepherd with resources of strength and power behind him - his arm subdues all things, Isaiah reminds us; and he is ever victorious.
▪ The 'expected of the ages', then, is awaited by us with awareness both of our own weakness and of his great might.
Lord, I know that when I turn to you there is no need for words. You can see into my heart. You know my desires and you know my needs. I place myself into your hands.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Matthew 18:12-14
Saint Nicholas, Bishop (Optional Memorial)
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray . . . (Matthew 18:12)
You've probably heard the parable of the lost sheep dozens of times, and you've probably spent most of the time comparing yourself or a loved one to that poor, lonely sheep. But what about those ninety-nine that the shepherd left behind? What were they feeling? Were they hungry? Were they frightened? How could the shepherd justify leaving them to go after only one? You might think, "That sounds awfully unfair!"
Of course, we know that this parable is a simple way of explaining an unfathomable truth—God's infinite love for each of us. God never really leaves the ninety-nine that haven't strayed. His eyes are "in every place," and there is nowhere we can go that he cannot find us (Proverbs 15:3; Psalm 139:7). He can love all of us—perfectly and personally—at one and the same time. It doesn't matter whether you are that one sheep that has strayed or one of the ninety-nine faithful; you have his full attention and affection!
This is good news for those of us who are part of the ninety-nine. Jesus isn't watching for our every sin or nervously trying to keep us constantly in step. That's not what a shepherd does. He knows that, like any sheep, we sometimes take a misstep and stumble. He sees our mistakes and sins in the context of our efforts to please him. So he is patient with us as he gently nudges us back on the path.
Your shepherd also sees when you take a good step. He notices your small acts of compassion. He doesn't miss when you hold your tongue or when you bless instead of curse. Small acts like this are bigger to him than we often think, for they affect the entire flock, not just us.
So don't worry about where you are on the spiritual journey. Jesus' eyes are always on you, his presence is always with you, and his grace never stops surrounding you. Just try your best to listen for his voice, and he will lead you home.
"Lord, thank you for keeping watch over me! Help me to live in faith and trust, knowing that you are always at my side."
Today's 1st Holy Scripture ends with "Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, Carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care." and before that the Prophet Isaiah had proclaimed a voice crying out in the desert would be calling out, the announcement of the coming of God, and this meant for all to repent, to make straight the crooked way, straighten up, because God is near, very near, more near than most are comfortable with. People are so afraid, living in sin, trembling and shaking, that they spend tons of money on security, instead of spending tons of money in charity. This is why people give so little to Church, we give way too little, so afraid that we will starve, so afraid to reveal our sins to God, so afraid to reach out in prayer, and so we lock ourselves in a dark room...and there is where God wants to be the light.
We prayed today "The Lord our God comes with power." and "Sing to the LORD a new song". This means a metanoia, a complete change of heart, mind, and soul. The beauty is that every day that passes, it can be a new life for and with Him, this is a new song, a new testimony, a new you, and it is waiting to be revealed at the coming of the Lord. Keep your lights lit, and this means remain in Him, awake, and faithful, with oil in your lamps, meaning giving honor and praise always, in everything you do...right where you are!
In comes the Lord of our lives: " ...amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. " The Lord rejoices in the metanoia, in the repentance, in the turning away from the dark and in the turning to Him as if to say "Surprise!" I've been here all along!". And all you had to do was to turn away from darkness, that leap of faith was the turning, the repenting, that what you were afraid to do. 99 sheep did not need repentance, but the black sheep did. Yesterday, we heard of great crowds gathering to see Jesus crammed in a house and they would not budge, the 99 would not budge, they would not let the paralyzed man be healed by simply letting him through. Repentance is charity. Repentance is giving your seat to someone who needs it. Repentance is moving out of the way, to let HIM through. It's funny that the sheep gather in Mass, and they dash out in a rush, as if the clock was counting, and the savage animal was rearing to get out of there to curse and get mad about traffic and family and all for not, nothing was eaten or gained in Mass, the 99 sheep in no need of repentance. My brothers and sisters, why are you looking away? Why are you afraid? Why do you not see you are in the dark? Why are you afraid to be the love of God? You know, there's been in the Catholic world, (the faithful) talking about the "New Evangelization". And it has been a conundrum, a perplexing issue, of how to supposedly bring about a "new" evangelization, but the new is the whole clue...it's YOU. It's you who are to bring Christ to the world like Mary. All she said was YES. She didn't know what to do or say, she just allowed God to be her whole entire life, more of Him and less of me....to the MAX! I am encouraging you to be on fire for the Lord. I am encouraging you to be excited for the coming of the Lord. They say that Mother Angelica, the nun who founded the largest Catholic television network (worldwide) as she was dying, she seemed to be anticipating the moment of death as if in an excitement perhaps....the Lord was coming after her ewe...which sounds like you. The Lord is coming for His YOU! Come on now, let us encourage your world, your people to see this coming and expect one thing...joy. The joy that evil tries to kill out of lives this day. The joy that remains hidden to the world, but is in the world. The joy that is that flickering candle in the night and never goes out. The great joy of knowing I belong to God and Him alone. The joy of being loved. The joy of being found poor and brought to His riches of Love. The joy of being rich and reaching to poverty, the joy of an everlasting life that awaits where this new you is on fire, a light to see. God wants this joy for you, it is His gift to the new ewe....