At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of every word, gesture, and action of the prophets. We celebrate the path to solace and relief. The child born of the house of David has come to save us from our enemies and free us from the hands of all who hate us. Oh, come, let us adore him!
-from The Little Way of Advent
†"Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you - for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart." — St. Therese of Lisieux
✞MEDITATION OF THE DAY✞ "In that blessed night also Joseph became the patron, the vicar, and the patriarch of the whole Catholic Church. It is certain, St. Athanasius tells us, that the stable where Jesus was born is 'a figure of the Church, whose altar is the manger, whose vicar is Joseph, whose ministers are the shepherds, whose priests are the angels, whose great High-Priest is Jesus Christ, and whose throne is the Blessed Virgin.'" — Edward Healy Thompson, p. 233 AN EXCERPT FROM The Life and Glories of St. Joseph
Saint John Kanty
Saint of the Day for December 23 (June 24, 1390 – December 24, 1473)
Saint John of Kanty's Story
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, 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. Reflection
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.
What is present to me is what has a hold on my becoming. I reflect on the Presence of God always there in love, amidst the many things that have a hold on me. I pause and pray that I may let God affect my becoming in this precise moment.
What most often stops me achieving freedom is my tendency to be caught up in fears and expectations about what I 'ought' or 'should' be. My usual automatic responses tie me down and inhibit me from exploring new areas of growth. I ask and pray for a greater sense of inner freedom and that I might reach the fresh and challenging possibilities that God wishes me to realise.
There is a time and place for everything, as the saying goes. Lord, grant that I may always desire to spend time in your presence. To hear your call.
The Word of God
Friday of the Fourth Week in Advent
Reading 1 Ml 3:1-4, 23-24
Thus says the Lord GOD: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner's fire, or like the fuller's lye. He will sit refining and purifying silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, Refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD. Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem will please the LORD, as in the days of old, as in years gone by.
Lo, I will send you Elijah, the prophet, 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, Lest I come and strike the land with doom.
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. Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior.
R. Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand. Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way.
R. Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand. All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees. The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him, and his covenant, for their instruction.
R. Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust! R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 1:57-66
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John." But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ The name ('John') of this child to come tells us, in its original meaning, that God has shown special favour. The Lord is shaping a new future for humanity and the new-born's call will be to announce to all, that this is just what is happening.
▪ Zechariah and Elizabeth have been blessed with this new life in their declining years. And through the miracle of the unexpected birth, and of the binding and loosing of Zechariah's tongue, the people realise that here God is taking a very direct hand in events - they know that they are on the threshold of mystery.
▪ Each and every new life arriving is a reason for rejoicing - any new life (including one's own) is sent on earth by God for some purpose unique to itself – and always merits deep thankfulness and celebration.
Dear Lord, help me each day to seek your presence more and more. Fill my heart with love for you.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Luke 1:57-66
4th Week of Advent
They rejoiced with her. (Luke 1:58)
Who are the "Elizabeths" in your life? Who do you know that is hurting right now? Or feeling lonely or forgotten? There are so many in the world. It could even be a member of your family or an old friend.
In today's Gospel, we hear about a hard-won, jubilant moment in Elizabeth's life: the birth of her son, John. She and Zechariah had been looking forward to this momentous event for years. Elizabeth, advanced in age, had been barren, which many people back then took as a sign of God's displeasure.
Try to imagine the anticipation that spread in Elizabeth's village once the news of her pregnancy broke—coupled with Zechariah's story of an angelic messenger and his mysterious muteness. Then imagine how great the celebration must have been when she had a safe delivery. Finally, God had shown "great mercy" toward her and her husband (Luke 1:58)!
We are two days away from Christmas, and as joyful as this is, there are surely people around you in difficult situations, "Elizabeths" who are still waiting for God's mercy. Maybe there's someone whom the Lord would like you to "watch and wait" with—or, as Pope Francis would say, "accompany."
Does someone come to mind? A friend? A family member? A neighbor? Or how about the homeless man you pass on your daily commute or the co-worker who suddenly seems withdrawn? Then there are the millions of refugees who will be away from their families and homes this Christmas, the victims of war and famine, even the people in your own town who are living without adequate food, clothing, or shelter.
Take a few minutes, and make a list of these "Elizabeths." Watch and wait with them. If you can't be physically present to them, accompany them by asking God to show them his mercy. Then, when you see their prayers being answered, celebrate—just as Zechariah and Elizabeth's neighbors did.
"Holy Spirit, show me who could use a little extra prayer and attention. Come and pour your mercy on every 'Elizabeth' this Christmas!"
"Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me;" we heard in the Word of God today. "To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the land with doom." It is by the grace of God that we live another day. It is truly a gift...the present. Cherish the Word of God. Look to the Word for Consolation, the Holy Spirit. Desire nothing else, because all else faints and fails. And so the messengers are sent, and in the style of John the Baptist, the saint, the greatest of men, but least in Heaven. He was not rich, but highly favored, blessed that is, anointed with fire to purify hearts, the way, before the Lord. This is why we must come to receive the Lord with the purest of hearts, ready the way. And we purify by coming to the Lord, listening to the message of messengers, and let the faith be formed by Him. And so it is appropriate...this great gift, to be given and to be received with special honor and homage.
We pray today "Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand." and "Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior." I asked the people in the Posadas last night, to seek the truth. We must ask God to let us see the truth. My ways are cluttered, messy, upside down even. His ways are straight, and lead straight to Jerusalem, where He died for Love, born in Bethlehem, the house of bread, and died about 7Km away in Jerusalem, what is known as Shalem or peace. The King of Peace died in the city of Peace, where there was unrest...to this day.
The Holy Gospel has Saint John the Baptist's family up in arms, and all because of the name of the baby boy to be born, the blessing of God. What shall we name him? God already named him. John, meaning God is Gracious, would be his name. And John was in the desert graciouisly giving mercy, forgiveness, all things that the temple priests would not do because they were so caught up in politics and drama, all up in themselves, all wound up by the devil itself. And speaking of which, while we are proclaiming peace in these times, the evil one desires no such thing. Be on guard of the unrest of the unkind, of darkness. There are two seas where Jesus went, one of life, and one of death, meaning, He would bring life to death, because God can do anything that is good. Yours now, is the goodness if you desire. The only reason people are not forgiven is because they do not seek. Forgiveness is already there. Those wound up in their own worlds do not seek forgiveness...God.
I'm afraid, I am not a shining star for God, just a dim glimpse. I want to shine, but darkness seems to try to make it opaque. The devil really tries to make you feel bad for your mistakes, to get under your skin, so there will be no peace, no forgiveness, so the Holydays will be fake. This is no different than lent. I have been fasting for 40 days, and it ends tomorrow night, on Christmas Eve. With a co-worker working his way under my skin, I was distracted while driving, moved on a red light, got honked at, given obscene gestures with yelling and then they pulled over as if threatening to come after me. The devil is indeed trying to come after me. But for the grace of God, I moved through, as I was threatened to be thrown off a cliff. Terrorists were caught trying to kill people for the Holydays. The devil will not rest. So, I have found myself churning against the tide, doing what I do not desire...trying to pray for our enemies...trying to die for our enemies. The 7 kilometers to Jerusalem, to peace are not easy, it is indeed a precious fight, for the light. And so there is much to be thankful for....Jesus. That peaceful baby, sleeping on a stack of hay, to feed the animals, in the middle of the bitter cold night, cold because no one made room for Him when He came by, hidden, in the womb. No one would simply give up their bed, their life for this poor man and wife that were bringing forth life. I told the crowd last night "every second an unborn child dies in this world...and it is not because they died, but because they were killed". No room in this world, this dark bitter and cold world of selfishness. Giving is good. To the enemies, better. It does not feel normal to give to the hater, but God gave His life...His heart, and it was brutally tortured and pierced. Doesn't sound normal. But John The Baptist was not normal, much less the Lord. They stood out, and that is how light is in the dark. Reclaim Jerusalem, Reclaim peace in your world. This is what Jesus did and shows us the way....