This Christmas, step outside your four walls. Take a walk in the snow, have a romp with a puppy, feed the birds, or marvel at the stars. Remember that the world God created for you is quite a bit nicer than the one you've created for yourself.
-from A Franciscan Christmas
†"Every pious desire, every good thought, every charitable work inspired by the love of Jesus, contributes to the perfection of the whole body of the faithful. A person who does nothing more than lovingly pray to God for his brethren, participates in the great work of saving souls." — Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "Learn to be humble by doing all the humble work and doing it for Jesus. You cannot learn humility from books; you learn it by accepting humiliations. Humiliations are not meant to torture us; they are gifts from God. These little humiliations—if we accept them with joy—will help us to be holy, to have a meek and humble heart like Jesus." — Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, p.43 AN EXCERPT FROM Thirsting for God: Mother Teresa
Blessed Mary Frances Schervier
Saint of the Day for December 15 (January 3,1819 – December 14, 1876)
Blessed Mary Frances Schervier's Story
This woman who once wanted to become a Trappistine nun was instead led by God to establish a community of sisters who care for the sick and aged in the United States and throughout the world.
Born into a distinguished family in Aachen (then ruled by Prussia but formerly Aix-la-Chapelle, France), Frances ran the household after her mother's death and established a reputation for generosity to the poor. In 1844 she became a Secular Franciscan. The next year she and four companions established a religious community devoted to caring for the poor. In 1851 the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis were approved by the local bishop; the community soon spread. The first U.S. foundation was made in 1858.
Mother Frances visited the United States in 1863 and helped her sisters nurse soldiers wounded in the Civil War. She visited the United States again in 1868. When Philip Hoever was establishing the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis, she encouraged him.
When Mother Frances died, there were 2,500 members of her community worldwide. They are still engaged in operating hospitals and homes for the aged. Mother Mary Frances was beatified in 1974. Reflection
The sick, the poor, and the aged are constantly in danger of being considered "useless" members of society and therefore ignored—or worse. Women and men motivated by the ideals of Mother Frances are needed if the God-given dignity and destiny of all people are to be respected.
Dear Jesus, I come to you today longing for your presence. I desire to love you as You love me. May nothing ever separate me from You.
A thick and shapeless tree-trunk would never believe that it could become a statue, admired as a miracle of sculpture, and would never submit itself to the chisel of the sculptor, who sees by his genius what he can make of it (Saint Ignatius). I ask for the grace to let myself be shaped by my loving Creator.
In God's loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.
Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear, Break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor, For more numerous are the children of the deserted wife than the children of her who has a husband, says the LORD. Enlarge the space for your tent, spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes. For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left; your descendants shall dispossess the nations and shall people the desolate cities.
Fear not, you shall not be put to shame; you need not blush, for you shall not be disgraced. The shame of your youth you shall forget, the reproach of your widowhood no longer remember. For he who has become your husband is your Maker; his name is the LORD of hosts; Your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, called God of all the earth. The LORD calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, A wife married in youth and then cast off, says your God. For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back. In an outburst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; But with enduring love I take pity on you, says the LORD, your redeemer.
This is for me like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah should never again deluge the earth; So I have sworn not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you. Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 30:2 and 4, 5-6, 11-12a and 13b R. (2a) I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me. I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear and did not let my enemies rejoice over me. O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world; you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me. Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, his good will. At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.
R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me. "Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me; O LORD, be my helper." You changed my mourning into dancing; O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
*R. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Alleluia Lk 3:4, 6 R. Alleluia, alleluia. Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: All flesh shall see the salvation of God. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 7:24-30
When the messengers of John the Baptist had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. "What did you go out to the desert to see B a reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom Scripture says:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you.
I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he." (All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.)
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ The people are warned not to discount John the Baptist as 'just part of the scenery' in a remote place where one might go to pray, or as a 'hanger on' of the powers that be in their palaces.
▪ Jesus has such praise for John, that we can regard him as offering a summing-up in his preaching mission of everything that the Lord had been trying to communicate through the prophets in previous ages.
▪ John's preaching represents an eleventh hour, last-chance opportunity, for the people to make themselves fit for the Lord's coming.
▪ The Pharisees and the lawyers were too wedded to their own ideas to give John a hearing – and so put themselves outside the future that God was offering them.
▪ As we ourselves prepare to welcome Jesus at Christmas, we try to realise that our preparation has also to involve a welcome for any plan that the Lord may have in store for us.
Begin to talk to Jesus about the piece of scripture you have just read. What part of it strikes a chord in you? Perhaps the words of a friend - or some story you have heard recently - will slowly rise to the surface of your consciousness. If so, does the story throw light on what the scripture passage may be trying to say to you? Conclusion
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.
Pop into a large bookstore around this time of year, and you'll see plenty of people hunting for Christmas presents. But return in a couple of weeks, and one section will be particularly busy: the self-help section. Millions of people will be looking for guidance in the new year as they seek to make it their best year yet.
Had the woman described in today's first reading been reading self-help literature, she would have struggled to apply its advice. She had been deserted by her husband, and her hopes for children seemed lost. What could she possibly do to get out of this situation?
The answer is that it's not about what she can't do, but what God can do. Not only is God going to give her a child, but he is going to give her such a big family that she'll need to extend her tent! Her family will become a mighty nation, and her sorrow will be healed.
For the prophet, this "woman" is Jerusalem, a symbol of the chosen people. And as far as we're concerned, the way that God blessed his people back then sheds light on how he wants to bless us today. Enlarge your tent, he urges his people. Change your expectations. David wants to build a temple, but God says no, I'll build you a dynasty (2 Samuel 7). A Samaritan woman thinks Jesus is offering her a drink, but he offers her a river of living water (John 4). Peter sees a career as a fisherman, and Jesus makes him the pope (Luke 5:1-11).
"The love of God is broader than the measure of our mind." So goes a line from an old hymn. His plans are bigger than our plans, and the gifts he wants to give us are greater than what we would even think of asking for!
So as you head into 2017, prepare for blessing. What are your wildest dreams? Call them to mind, and then imagine something even greater—that is the extent of blessing that God has for you. It may look completely different than what you expect, but it will be exactly what you need. And when you notice self-help books on the best seller lists, smile. You are going to be helped by God in ways you can't even begin planning for!
"Lord, I thank you in advance for your generosity to me!"
The Lord said hundreds of years before Christ entered: "This is for me like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah should never again deluge the earth; So I have sworn not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you. Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you." LOL., we did a survey in our Church recently and some complained about our priest re-reading the scriptures taking up a lot of Homily time. Some said he should never be going over 12 minutes. And complains go on and on, some want pure spanish, the english think it is boring, the english and spanish bilinguals are not good. It is a case of never making everyone happy. I feel like saying "STOP IT". We are missing the point. You get too caught up in your own logic and we fail to see the logic of God. If you just look at the priest, his body language, like any other human gives off about 75% of the message. What's more, if you let the Holy Spirit work, what he says makes messages of the Holy Spirit inspire you in ways that are not even associated with words coming out of his mouth. I say this because it happens to me, even in reading tons of reflections, I read some and these images and heart messages start coming in. Reading between the lines is much more, it means to see Christ in that space, to realize the message of what God wants...not what I want.
We prayed "I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me." and "Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me; O LORD, be my helper." LOL, sometimes we sing "Open my Eyes Lord" after Holy Communion. I kind of laugh to myself, because, I imagine asking God to come, walk over to me and start trying to pry my eyes open while I hold them shut, tight. The way to open is triggered inside of me, by me desiring for them to be open, right? That's the only reason they are shut! And the eyes are the windows of the soul. Open wide, make room for Christ! That is what Isaiah prophesied today, widen the tent, stretch the ropes out, let's make this place bigger because it must hold the greatness that is coming, open it up! And He relays the message of the bride that was abandoned. Not because He wanted to, but because....she was unfaithful...and the only reason He returns is...because He is merciful. My oh my, my sins are looking pretty horrible now. Good thing we got Penance today (Holy Confession) a Sacrament from God, where reconciling takes place, His Body being healed....man! This is amazing.
In the Gospel today the Lord cries out from the desert, the place where God is found...desolate, isolated, apart, Ka'dosh meaning set apart-For God. The voice crying out in the desert? Saint John the Baptist, but it is God working through the prophet, it is God's voice ultimately. It is Him reaching to you right now, in these readings. "I want you, for Me" cries the Lord. MAN. How can someONE love that much and in that way? The way of mercy, the way like no one else.
""What did you go out to the desert to see?" asks the Lord. Here, in the desert...can you not see? The baptized saw, the unbaptized could not see Heaven standing before them. The baptized with water, would soon be baptized with fire, the Holy Spirit, even MORE would be granted to them, but there weren't that many...at first.
Last night I heard a story of how a family was painting their house in "fire-proof" paint I think in California. The neighbors scoffed, mocked, and laughed at them. They were simply playing it safe, perhaps, the Holy Spirit guided them. The fires came and consumed all the neighborhood except their house. It is the story of Noah. Don't be quick to dismiss the safety...the salvation that is being handed to us as we live. Jesus is right here, just like in front of the Pharisees asking "what did you come to see?" It's not what you thought it'd be, all pretty and fancy and glorious as you thought. That's not how God operates. He operates subtly, hidden to the unfaithful, and fully visible to the lowly, the humble. So the opportunity is there. The opportunity to make room in your life for God. Make time. Make a place of worship in your home. Physically, make a room for Him. Spiritually, make more room for Him, and for Him to stay and reside forEVER