"You will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12).
At family gatherings this time of year, nothing gives more joy than the smallest baby in the family being passed around, held, and cuddled. This tiny bundle of life delights old and young alike. New parents understand the Christmas story in a way that no one else can. It's easy to see God in the face of a newborn. Again and again Pope Francis returns to the simplicity and the vulnerability of baby Jesus: "This is the enduring sign for all who would find Jesus. Not just then, but also today. If we want to celebrate Christmas authentically, we need to contemplate this sign: the frail simplicity of a tiny newborn child, the meekness with which he is placed in a manger, the tender affection with which he is wrapped in his swaddling clothes. That is where God is."
We know how fragile newborn life can be. And we know that these tiny lives can still be lost, even with all the technological advances of our own century. But we also believe that God holds these little ones in his hands, even when we can't. Our children's lives are incredibly precious to us, no matter how old we are or how long or short a time they live. I recently watched a ninety-eight-year-old woman mourn the death of her son with as much grief as the mother of a newborn or the mother of a young adult. Our children are always our children. And all of them are God's children and fiercely loved by their divine parent. If you have infants or small children in your family or among your friends, take time to delight in them in a special way during this Christmas season. And hold in prayer all those who have lost children and all those whose children suffer in dire circumstances.
—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek
†Saint Quote "God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family. And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him." — Pope Benedict XVI
†MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"What worthy return can we make for so great a condescension? The One Only-begotten God, ineffably born of God, entered the Virgin's womb and grew and took the frame of poor humanity. He who upholds the universe, within whom and through whom are all things, was brought forth by common childbirth. He at whose voice archangels and angels tremble, and heaven and earth and all the elements of this world are melted, was heard in childish wailing. The Invisible and Incomprehensible, whom sight and feeling and touch cannot measure, was wrapped in a cradle."
— St. Hilary of Poitiers, p. 364
AN EXCERPT FROM
A Year with the Church Fathers
†VERSE OF THE DAY
"I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."
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SAINTS ADAM & EVE
Adam and Eve, the first man and woman created by God as recounted in the Old Testament book of Genesis, are the father and mother of all humanity. Through their willful disobedience to the command of God, sin came into the world. To redeem mankind which was thereby separated from the perfect communion with the Holy Trinity for which they were created, God became man, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and died on a Cross. Jesus is the New Adam, and Mary is the New Eve. Christian tradition recognizes that Adam and Eve were rescued by Christ in virtue of His death, burial, and resurrection, and are with God and the saints in heaven. Their feast day is celebrated together on December 24th.
The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) - At the Vigil Mass
Lectionary: 13 Reading 1
For Zion's sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.
Nations shall behold your vindication, and all the kings your glory; you shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the LORD. You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem held by your God. No more shall people call you "Forsaken," or your land "Desolate," but you shall be called "My Delight," and your land "Espoused." For the LORD delights in you and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.
Ps 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29
R. (2a) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant: Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations. R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk. At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted. R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. He shall say of me, "You are my father,
my God, the rock, my savior." Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm. R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Acts 13:16-17, 22-25
When Paul reached Antioch in Pisidia and entered the synagogue, he stood up, motioned with his hand, and said, "Fellow Israelites and you others who are God-fearing, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and exalted the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt. With uplifted arm he led them out of it. Then he removed Saul and raised up David as king; of him he testified, 'I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.' From this man's descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus. John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, 'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.'"
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. Tomorrow the wickedness of the earth will be destroyed: the Savior of the world will reign over us. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means "God is with us." When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
Daily Meditation: Luke 1:67-79
In the tender compassion of our God . . . (Luke 1:78)
Have you ever experienced a rush of emotion when you see or hold a newborn child? Infants are so tiny, helpless, and innocent. Our hearts can't help but swell with love and compassion for them.
That passionate, visceral emotion is the meaning of the Greek word St. Luke uses as he recounts Zechariah's praise for the "tender compassion" of our God (1:78). The word, splanchna, literally refers to the internal organs, but it is used in various places in Scripture to convey the idea of something deeply felt, something we sense in our gut. For example, Luke uses a variation of the word to describe how the father in Jesus' parable felt when he caught sight of his prodigal son returning home: he was "filled with compassion" (15:20).
On Christmas Eve, we usually focus on the Christ child and the wonder of the Incarnation. Thinking of the Savior of the world lying sleepily in the arms of Mary can give us the same rush of emotion that we feel when we have the opportunity to see or hold a newborn baby.
But today, let's also reflect on Zechariah's prayer. It shows us how God the Father feels about each of us. In his tender compassion, in his great mercy, he sent his Son to earth. He knew what this would mean for Jesus: born in a stable, he would be violently opposed by many of the religious leaders and die an agonizing death on a cross. Yet God also knew that Jesus was the only One who could save us, the only One who could "shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death" (Luke 1:79).
When you see the baby Jesus tonight or tomorrow in the crèche at Mass, let it remind you of how much your Father loves you. His is a visceral love that knows no bounds, one that was willing to go to any lengths to redeem you. This is the love that we celebrate each day but especially on Christmas. Today may we all thank our heavenly Father for the greatest gift the world will ever know: his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
"Jesus, thank you for your tender compassion. I believe that you are the light of the world!"
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29
Notice, too, that at the crib, only two classes of people found their way to Christ when he came to this earth: the very simple, and the very learned—the shepherds who knew that they knew nothing, and the wise men who knew that they did not know everything; never the man who thought that he knew. — Ven. Fulton J. Sheen from Through the Year with Fulton Sheen
my2cents: "For the LORD delights in you and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you." Today's Saints are our first parents, Adam and Eve. One marries the other. How? The covenant and the covenant act, called the "marital embrace". What is this? The act of love. And in this manner our Lord introduces Himself. He will marry in the act of Love, your Builder will marry you, and this has everything to do with the covenant when He says " I love you, and I take you into my home " and there is a temple to contemplate now. Can you fathom the thought? Can you take Him in? He desires an everlasting pact of true love.
We pray today: "He shall say of me, "You are my father, my God, the rock, my savior." Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him, and my covenant with him stands firm. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord." What will it take for you to sing forever? It begins now, and in the next moment of now, and this is called "being". Consider this for it goes on forever.
We heard in the Holy Gospel today: "When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home." He took her in. He embraced the message and therefore embraced Mary, mother of God. Keep in mind, Joseph is a "righteous" man, a man of great integrity and holiness. He knew the charge of being the earthly father of Christ. He knew He would now have to live life at a whole new level of holiness in worthiness. He would take in grace, the mother of God. He would now be their protector and provider.
He did as he was commanded, we heard. He took his wife and decided...to not divorce. He decided not to expose her to shame and leave her out on the street. He decided to believe her. He decided to sacrifice himself. He decided to never be known. He is in a sense the hidden God in the Gospels. God Himself would raise Christ through a willing soul. He embraced Mary and in doing the righteous thing, protected her virginity forever, because it is said she was a consecrated child to God from an early age, a temple virgin, meaning, saved, meaning pure, meaning, offered to God. And so you have two parents offered to God, and the fruit...the ultimate sacrifice to God...Jesus, the Christ.
Much has been said and much is being asked and only one thing left to do...be as Joseph and Mary for Christ, for the love of God.
Lord, we joyfully anticipate Your coming into this very world you created. You call us each by name. The marriage vows go deep inside the soul, and You wait with an eternal embrace...we run to You fleeing from disgrace...
Random online bible verse:
Proverbs 13:20 20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm.
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