There is no need to look further! Jesus has come to bring joy to all people for all time. It is not just a hopeful joy or a joy postponed until paradise: as if here on earth we are sad but in paradise we will be filled with joy. No! It is not that, but a joy already real and tangible now, because Jesus himself is our joy, and with Jesus joy finds its home.
-from The Joy of Advent
†"Advent's intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope." — Pope Benedict XVI
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "The most important and most fruitful acts of our freedom are not those by which we transform the outside world as those by which we change our inner attitude in light of the faith that God can bring good out of everything without exception. He is a never-failing source of unlimited riches. Our lives no longer have in them anything negative, ordinary, or indifferent. Positive things become a reason for gratitude and joy, negative things an opportunity for abandonment, faith, and offering: everything becomes a grace." — Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 58 AN EXCERPT FROM Interior Freedom, p58
Saint of the Day for December 13 (283 – 304)
Saint Lucy's Story
Every little girl named Lucy must bite her tongue in disappointment when she first tries to find out what there is to know about her patron saint. The older books will have a lengthy paragraph detailing a small number of traditions. Newer books will have a lengthy paragraph showing that there is little basis in history for these traditions. The single fact survives that a disappointed suitor accused Lucy of being a Christian and she was executed in Syracuse (Sicily) in the year 304. But it is also true that her name is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer, geographical places are named after her, a popular song has her name as its title, and down through the centuries many thousands of little girls have been proud of the name Lucy.
One can easily imagine what a young Christian woman had to contend with in pagan Sicily in the year 300. If you have trouble imagining, just glance at today's pleasure-at-all-costs world and the barriers it presents against leading a good Christian life.
Her friends must have wondered aloud about this hero of Lucy's, an obscure itinerant preacher in a far-off captive nation that had been destroyed more than 200 years before. Once a carpenter, he had been crucified by the Roman soldiers after his own people turned him over to the Roman authorities. Lucy believed with her whole soul that this man had risen from the dead. Heaven had put a stamp on all he said and did. To give witness to her faith she had made a vow of virginity.
What a hubbub this caused among her pagan friends! The kindlier ones just thought her a little strange. To be pure before marriage was an ancient Roman ideal, rarely found but not to be condemned. To exclude marriage altogether, however, was too much. She must have something sinister to hide, the tongues wagged.
Lucy knew of the heroism of earlier virgin martyrs. She remained faithful to their example and to the example of the carpenter, whom she knew to be the Son of God. She is the patroness of eyesight. Reflection
If you are a little girl named Lucy, you need not bite your tongue in disappointment. Your patron is a genuine, authentic heroine, first class, an abiding inspiration for you and for all Christians. The moral courage of the young Sicilian martyr shines forth as a guiding light, just as bright for today's youth as it was in A.D. 304. Saint Lucy is the Patron Saint of:
I remind myself that, as I sit here now, God is gazing on me with love and holding me in being. I pause for a moment and think of this.
Fill me with Your Holy Spirit Lord, so that I may have inner freedom. Let your Spirit instil in my heart a desire to know and love you more each day.
To be conscious about something is to be aware of it. Dear Lord help me to remember that You gave me life. Thank you for the gift of life. Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me. To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me. The marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal. I need to remember that all these things come from you.
The Word of God
Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr audio link
Reading 1 Zep 3:1-2, 9-13
Thus says the LORD: Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted, to the tyrannical city! She hears no voice, accepts no correction; In the LORD she has not trusted, to her God she has not drawn near.
For then I will change and purify the lips of the peoples, That they all may call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one accord; From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia and as far as the recesses of the North, they shall bring me offerings.
On that day You need not be ashamed of all your deeds, your rebellious actions against me; For then will I remove from your midst the proud braggarts, And you shall no longer exalt yourself on my holy mountain. But I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly, Who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD: the remnant of Israel. They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; Nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue; They shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 34:2-3, 6-7, 17-18, 19 and 23 R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor. I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame. When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. The LORD confronts the evildoers, to destroy remembrance of them from the earth. When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. The LORD redeems the lives of his servants; no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. Come, O Lord, do not delay; forgive the sins of your people. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 21:28-32
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: "What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' The son said in reply, 'I will not,' but afterwards he changed his mind and went. The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, 'Yes, sir,' but did not go. Which of the two did his father's will?" They answered, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ The Lord has always prepared great things for the people that he chose as his own. But when the actual offer of these gifts came to be made through God's envoys, the prophets, the people turned it all down. The preaching of John the Baptist is only the latest example - his appeal for belief was rejected by his own people, but accepted by the prostitutes and the collectors of the pagan taxes.
▪ We could remember in this connection the prophets' warnings against pride, for example Zephaniah. The Lord could easily transfer the privileges of the Chosen People to a foreign race – meanwhile teaching Israel a lesson through a cull of its own boastful elements.
▪ It is only through the medium of a humble heart that we will be led to appreciate all the benefits which the coming of Jesus brings. We ask him to make us receptive.
What is stirring in me as I pray? Am I consoled, troubled, left cold? I imagine Jesus himself standing or sitting at my side and share my feelings with him.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Who doesn't like to give their opinion? Whether it's by taking online surveys or joining a heated discussion, we all feel energized when we are able to express ourselves. In today's Gospel reading, we see Jesus asking some of the chief priests and elders their opinion about a story he wanted to tell.
This wasn't just a rhetorical technique Jesus was using to embarrass them. He was sincerely inviting them to engage with him. He wanted them to feel free to say what they were thinking. As he did with everyone else, he wanted them to know that he respected them and longed for them to open themselves to him.
Jesus wants to do the same with you. If you have a strong reaction to an event in the news, he asks, "What is your opinion?" If you are in the midst of a long-standing conflict with someone at work, he invites you to tell him honestly what's on your heart.
So go ahead and tell him. You may be surprised at what happens next. Rather than correcting you or lecturing you, Jesus will just listen to you—carefully, closely, respectfully. You'll also feel encouraged to keep on going, opening more and more of your heart to him.
As you share your opinion, you may learn a little bit more about yourself. You may begin to see what you're really struggling with, and it may link only partially to the subject you first brought up. For instance, that co-worker or family member you dislike may begin to appear to you as someone needing your compassion. A troubling point in Scripture could start an examination of your conscience. Or that grudge you've been holding onto so tightly may start to melt. All because Jesus has invited you to speak freely.
Remember, Jesus came to save us, not to condemn us. He won't punish you for speaking your mind freely. Rather, he enjoys it when you bring your heart out into the open. It gives him the chance to show you the real you—the good as well as the not-so-good. It also gives him the chance to work more deeply in your life!
"Jesus, help me to be open and honest with you. I trust that you will listen carefully and never condemn."
The Word of the Lord said today "They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; Nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue". The other morning, it was pretty cold. As I hopped in the vehicle to get to work, I could see my breath vapors, my warm body was letting out heat through my mouth, and as I saw the vapors leave my body, I was reminded of the incense used in Holy Mass. They are visual signs of our prayers being lifted to Heaven, every word we utter is being lifted up, the good and the bad as offerings, our bodies are producing fruits. Every offering then should not be deceitful, and shall not defraud thy neighbor, our brethren, and in doing so...our Lord.
We prayed today "The Lord hears the cry of the poor." and "I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth." This is a confirmation, because God said "SHALL", His praise Shall always be in my mouth, and He comes as praise in my mouth, but the patina, that what Holds the Sacred shall be of gold, purified gold, and that gold is our bodies, purified, respect our bodies, respect the unborn, and thus...purify the soul, as in Confession and Purgatory, a purification of the patina, the tongue that holds the Lord always.
In comes the Lord today and relays the story of two asked to go to work, one says yes, the other says no. The one that says no, ultimately says yes with his actions, his life, his testimony....his...REPENTANCE, his acceptance. Many do not go to Church. They say no. Many go to Church; they say yes. I want you to be careful with those that say no, for they may prove to be more formidable and acceptable than those who say yes.
They say in the exorcist world, that some of the hardest evils to cast out are those persons, those souls who at one time had said yes, and then fallen away. Whereas those who had never said yes were easier to cast out. If you have said yes to God, let your yes be a yes. No lies to GOD. No turning back. In the Catholic world, if you've received the Eucharist, you become hardened in what you receive, whether sinfulness or holiness. You must be purified gold before receiving the Lord, and this will never mean perfection, but to strive to the most perfect Holiness each and every time you are to receive the Lord, and He will help with the rest. It is the same with any offering. You get out what you put in, effort counts, words...not AS MUCH. For anyone can say "LORD LORD" but not everyone enters Heaven.
If you've ever told God you love Him, that's nice.
But the testimony, the witness means more, because it is an actual offering. People see right through you. Let them see what is inside: CHRIST!