Wednesday, December 6, 2017

He Ordered the crowd

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Advent with Saint Nicholas

It's well known that Saint Nicholas, a sixth-century bishop, is behind our use of the secular "icon" of Christmas, Santa Claus. The legends of Nicholas involve his generosity to those in need.
The details of Nicholas' life are few; but legends often have a kernel of truth, and if so, he forms a worthy basis for reflection during this season of preparation for Christmas. Advent is a time to expect God's intervention in our lives. It may be dramatic, or—more typically—quiet and perhaps not immediately evident. God may even use a bit of stealth, as the legendary Nicholas did, to gift us. May we keep the windows of our heart open!
—from the book Advent with the Saints: Daily Meditations by Greg Friedman, OFM


✞"To use this life well is the pathway through death to everlasting life."
— St. John Almond

"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
A Year with Church Fathers

"Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints."
Ephesians 6:18


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Saint Nicholas

Saint of the Day for December 6

(March 15, 270 – December 6, 343)

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.


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:



Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Reading 1 Is 25:6-10a

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.

On that day it will be said:
"Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!"
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 15:29-37

At that time:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
went up on the mountain, and sat down there.
Great crowds came to him,
having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute,
and many others.
They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.
The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking,
the deformed made whole,
the lame walking,
and the blind able to see,
and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
"My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way."
The disciples said to him,
"Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?"
Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?"
"Seven," they replied, "and a few fish."
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.


Meditation: Matthew 15:29-37

Saint Nicholas, Bishop (Optional Memorial)

How many loaves do you have? (Matthew 15:34)

While it tells the story of a wondrous miracle—the multiplication of the loaves and fishes—today's Gospel reading also shows that we are not passive recipients at the banquet of life. Yes, Jesus performed the miracle. Yes, he fed a large crowd with very little food; no one else could have done that. But everyone there that day had a role to play.

The people in the crowd did their part. They actively sought Jesus, bringing their sick friends and relatives to him. Then, when they saw him heal, they "glorified" God (Matthew 15:31). When they grew hungry, rather than rushing off to find food or turning into a restless mob, they listened to the disciples and sat down quietly, waiting to see what Jesus would do. They were amazed at the miracle he performed and ate their fill.

The Twelve also played a vital part in this miracle. First, Jesus shared his concern with them: "My heart is moved with pity for the crowd" (Matthew 15:32). Then they gathered their resources and brought them to him. After Jesus gave thanks for these gifts and the food was multiplied, it was the disciples who passed it around to all the people sitting in amazement.

Just as the people in today's Gospel were not spectators, God doesn't want us to be spectators either—especially not at Mass! Just as the people did in his time, we can come to Mass hungry for his word and thirsty for his touch. We can participate actively in the worship and bring our gifts and our needs to him during the offertory. Then, after Jesus has transformed the gifts, we can come to the altar and receive more than enough to satisfy us.

Our God is a generous God. He gives us much more than we ask for. He asks us how many "loaves" we have, even though he knows the answer. Then he takes the little that we offer him and multiplies it a hundredfold so that we are filled up to overflowing with his grace. He never stops giving, over and over again, every time we celebrate Mass!

"Jesus, I offer you my heart, my mind, my will. Take all my desires. Bless them and multiply them for the good of your kingdom."

Isaiah 25:6-10
Psalm 23:1-6



The 1st Holy Word ended with: "On that day it will be said: "Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!" For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain. And Jesus sits/rests on the mountain with His flock in the Holy Gospel. And saves them from starvation...moreover, spiritually, but feeding physically to feed the spirit...think, Eucharist.

We pray today "I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul." His sheep they say, were commanded to rest on pastures, as He fed them the Word from His mouth, and then fed them with bread, and fish, with fish He had the first fisher of men. Salvation comes.

In comes our Lord, our King, our Savior: "My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat." He said these eternal words after having healed the ones brought to Him and giving them words of eternal life. What did it mean "my heart is moved with pity". For sure, mercy is speaking, divine mercy. And for 3 days? Think Jesus having given His life on the cross. He was already crucified in His heart for them. He knew for 3 days He'd be gone and these, His flock, you and me, He'd be so moved by mercy. How could He send them off without something to eat, something for them to live off of? When He ascends to Heaven. He takes what we offer and gives thanks to Our Father. And they say you can not out-give God, He will never be outdone in generosity. So 7 loaves feeds about 7,000, just a figure because several thousand more were fed. What happens next we do not read today, but because He gives them bread, they wish to make Him their king. But Jesus hides. That's not the kind of king He desires to be. Not the kind you make Him out to be, but the KING He IS and desires to be. What is it? What kind of KING?

The King of hearts and souls. Not the king or ruler in the world, no, we already have all sorts of those, even the devil is one of those princes. No. The King says "You Will Do as I Say without your input". You have no say so other than your willingness to respond to His grace.
There is a fall from grace, it is disgrace. It is sin. I wonder, why aren't we willing to give our sins to our Father? The number one reason is, because you don't believe. You don't believe you really sin, you forgive yourself, and so you live in sin. NO. When will we experience a true sorrow for sin? For me, this year, experiencing a painful hip fracture brought me crippled, lame, and deformed to the feet of our Lord. Jesus visited me in the hospital, He would never leave me. Loved ones were at my feet, God bless them all. A minister of the Eucharist came in and tore my heart open and tears flowed there in the dark ICU room, a dungeon of my spiritual life. Nothing else mattered but Jesus. And I was fed bread that was consecrated by laying of hands of thousands of years since Jesus, until today. Until doesn't mean tomorrow will not be. The Virgin was a virgin until Jesus was born. Always is, til today consecrated to God. So, I faced sins in another way....I desired nothing more than to be thankful to God, the very meaning of Eucharist...and the more sincere, the better.
These are the offerings that fan the flames in Heaven, love offerings. That was the design of the song I wrote to the orphans in Chihuahua, Adrenalina. By the way, they said they'd listen to that song as part of their Sunday Worship, so be praying for them to feel the love and closeness of the heart of our Lord, and thank you.
I'm in an ever ongoing conversion to holiness and we are travelling together. The state of the world does not concern me as much as the state of the souls, yours, mine, everyone I encounter. Salvation is being fed.

Experience salvation.
Come to the feet of Jesus.
Be healed.
Be fed.
Leave prepared for a new life



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