The Greatest Gift Money Can't Buy A pilgrim from India holds her baby in front of a painting of the Mary and the Christ Child Dec. 17 in the grotto o
The Greatest Gift Money Can't Buy
A pilgrim from India holds her baby in front of a painting of the Mary and the Christ Child Dec. 17 in the grotto of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill)
God chose to become one of us, letting his human life be shaped by the time and place in which he was born. In the same way our lives are shaped by the world around us. But because of the incarnation, the changes are wrapped in an awareness of eternity, of something beyond us and greater than us, but still intimately part of us. In the midst of all the stress and busyness of the season, this truth reminds us that the true gift of Christmas is something money can't buy.
—from The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections from Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek
✞ "There are two ways of knowing how good God is: one is never to lose Him, and the other is to lose Him and then to find Him." — Archbishop Fulton Sheen
✞ MEDITATION OF THE DAY "It is, then, in following the will of God, in spite of all the difficulties that may arise both from within and from without, in the constant offering of ourselves to God as the creatures of His hand to do and to be what He would have us, in the surrender of one thing after another that comes between us and Him and holds us back—it is in such acts that we unite ourselves with those glorious beings who cast their crowns before the throne and with those unfallen creatures who have never known what it is to have a wish or thought apart from the will of God. Amongst those glorified saints there are, indeed, many whose wills were for a long time in revolt against God's will and who brought themselves at last into subjection, many to whom the will of God here on earth meant the sacrifice of everything the heart most loved, many to whom it meant the sacrifice of life itself. But all that is past and over, and its fruits remain—the eternal life of oblation and union with God, where one will rules those countless multitudes and binds them together and to God, where each one of those countless millions lives his own complete and perfect life yet never jars on any other, where each is perfect in itself and all together compose one perfect whole—the Body of Christ." — Fr. Basil Maturin, p. 47 AN EXCERPT FROM Spiritual Guidelines for Souls Seeking God
✞ VERSE OF THE DAY "But no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so." James 3:8-10
click to read more
Blessed Anthony Grassi
Saint of the Day for December 18 (November 13, 1592 – December 13, 1671)
Anthony's father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father's devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy, he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
Already a fine student, Anthony soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary," who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When Anthony recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
More importantly, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, Anthony listened carefully to penitents, said a few words, and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
In 1635, Anthony was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As Anthony grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
But age brought its challenges as well. Anthony suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally after a fall, Anthony was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him Holy Communion. One of his final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.
Reflection Nothing provides a better reason for reassessing a life than a brush with death. Anthony's life already seemed to be on track when he was struck by lightning; he was a brilliant priest, blessed at last with serenity. But the experience softened him. Anthony became a loving counselor and a wise mediator. The same might be said of us if we put our hearts to it. We needn't wait to be struck by lightning.
Monday of the Third Week of Advent
Reading 1 Jer 23:5-8
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: "The LORD our justice."
Therefore, the days will come, says the LORD, when they shall no longer say, "As the LORD lives, who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt"; but rather, "As the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of the house of Israel up from the land of the north"– and from all the lands to which I banished them; they shall again live on their own land.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19 R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. O God, with your judgment endow the king, and with your justice, the king's son; He shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous deeds. And blessed forever be his glorious name; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Alleluia R. Alleluia, alleluia. O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power! R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 1:18-25
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 be with child 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.
Meditation: Matthew 1:18-25
3rd Week of Advent
Joseph . . . did as the angel of the Lord had commanded. (Matthew 1:24)
It's worth considering that Joseph could have said no to being Mary's husband. What would have happened then? He wouldn't have had the privilege of raising Jesus and seeing him grow up. He wouldn't have been around to support Mary and to receive her support and love. Once he realized who Mary was carrying, he might have spent a lifetime regretting his decision.
But because Joseph obeyed God, he is forever a part of salvation history. For someone who never says a word in Scripture, his yes was rather important. It made the Holy Family complete, and it gave us a moving portrait of what trust, surrender, and faith really look like.
It's doubtful that any of our decisions will be as consequential as Joseph's was. But they still involve saying yes or no. They still involve embracing one possible future and closing the door to a host of other possibilities. That's the beauty of our free will: every time we say yes to God, even in the smallest things, we take one more step along the path that he has laid out for us—a path that leads us to heaven. Not only that, but every time we say yes to God, he says yes right back to us. He fills us with his grace. He reassures us of his presence. And he makes us a little bit more like his Son, Jesus.
God is always calling us to something. Usually, the calling includes small, everyday decisions. But saying yes to each of these small decisions can help prepare us for those bigger, more consequential decisions God asks of us.
This is similar to what happened with Joseph. A "righteous man," he tried to say yes to the Lord in all aspects of his life: in his carpentry business, at home with his family, in the town square, and in the secret of his own heart (Matthew 1:19). Each of these "little" decisions strengthened him and made it possible for him to say yes to God when he was faced with the biggest decision of his life.
Never forget: every yes to God is filled with power and grace.
"Lord, help me to stay faithful in the small things so that I can follow you wherever you lead me."
Jeremiah 23:5-8 Psalm 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19
The Word said: "This is the name they give him: "The LORD our justice."
We pray today "Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him."
In the Holy Gospel we heard: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means "God is with us."
It seems as though God has many names. So which name is it? Justice? God is with us? He who saves?
God's response: I AM.
I AM Justice. I AM with you. I AM who saves. The great I AM stands forever in majesty and glory. His eye and His way prevails. He carves a way through the mountain, to salvation.
Always remember the shortest and most powerful prayer in the world, are you ready? Here it is: Jesus. This name is a power name, because there is power in the name. Recognize this in your life. When I had my accident, a horrible memory this year, I remember a pain that would not let me move, I was so afraid as I lay on the arena with thousands watching my accident. I screamed out knowing I couldn't move one leg below the waist "JESUS!" and that's all I could yell. It brings tears to my eyes. But Jesus entered. Justice was served. He was with me. He saved me.
No I wasn't immediately and miraculously saved and healed, but paramedics came. They lifted my trembling body and I watched as my kids and wife held each other crying watching me get put into the ambulance. I didn't know what was about to happen, but now, all I had was faith. Joseph had this happen to him. He had no idea what was about to happen, but he heard the name of Jesus from the lips of the angel, and he knew faith would now take over his life like never before.
You see, once Jesus comes into your life, things happen. They say Muslims have been converting now for years all because Jesus has entered their dreams. They see love, a radical love that changes their lives to give Glory to God.
And you? What are your dreams made of? What would fulfill your dreams? Who dreams of Jesus?
He visits dreams of and for His children. Once I dreamed of His lovely countenance. His face and hair were as I zoomed in, made of billions upon billions of beautiful lights coursing as if blood through His countenance and being. Ahh, it is an eternal memory, that oozes light of peace and joy of being inside of Him.... Faith my child. FAITH! And say yes, and move forward to His life....