Somewhere in the course of a childhood or a lifetime, we learn to balance expectations and reality. It has much to do with learning the difference between wants and needs. We rarely do this perfectly in our everyday lives. It's even more difficult in the heightened atmosphere of Christmas, whether it's visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads or the bells and whistles of this year's electronics. Sometimes what we imagine as the perfect Christmas present fails to live up to its hype, and we're disappointed. Sometimes something that seems mundane proves to be valuable in ways that go far beyond the glitz and sparkle of Christmas morning.
—from the book The Peace of Christmas: Quiet Reflections with Pope Francis by Diane M. Houdek
†Saint Quote "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 [Christmas] 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
†VERSE OF THE DAY "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8
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St. Victoria (d. 250 A.D.) was a Christian noblewoman from Rome. She, together with her sister, St. Anatolia, were forced into arranged marriages with two pagan noblemen. Both Victoria and Anatolia desired to devote themselves entirely to God rather than marry. Upon this refusal, their suitors denounced the sisters as Christians to the authorities under the persecution of Roman Emperor Decius. The sisters were seized and put under house arrest in order to break their faith and convince them to marry. Instead of weakening, their faith in Christ became more resolute. While under house arrest they sold all of their belongings, gave their money to the poor, and converted the servants and guards who attended them to Christianity. Both St. Victoria and her sister were eventually killed for their faith; first Anatolia, and later Victoria. St. Victoria was stabbed through the heart at the request of her rejected suitor, Eugenius. Her feast day is December 23rd.
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
Lectionary: 199 Reading 1
MAL 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.
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.
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.
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.
Daily Meditation: Luke 1:57-66
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. (Luke 1:64)
Do you ever feel like a "DIY Fail"? A DIY (or Do-It-Yourself) Fail is a popular term that describes what happens when you work really hard on a project that you have seen on the internet or TV—but you just can't make it work. The finished product often looks like a messed-up imitation of the original version you were aiming for.
As a Christian, we may sometimes look at ourselves as DIY Fails. We look at the "perfect" Christians around us and wonder why we make so many mistakes or fall prey to so many temptations.
Don't be too hard on yourself. You aren't the first person to feel this way, especially during the rush of the Christmas season! Do you remember when Peter denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed? Or when Thomas doubted that his friends had truly seen Jesus?
Today, we read about another "DIY Fail." Zechariah was "righteous in the eyes of God" (Luke 1:6). When an angel came to tell him that his prayers had been answered and that his elderly wife would have a child, he doubted. And for his lack of faith, Zechariah lost his ability to speak until the angel's promise came true—the story we hear in today's Gospel.
Isn't it appropriate that God sent Zechariah's son, John the Baptist, to convince us that no matter how bad of a "DIY Fail" we become, God will always take us back? God knew that we needed to hear that Christ loves us so much that he will always have mercy on us when we return to him.
With only two days until Christmas, try to break free from whatever failures may be burdening you and keeping you trapped in silence. It's only natural to have occasions when you fail at trusting or obeying the Lord—as long as you use it as an opportunity to grow closer to him.
When he was freed from the burden of his doubts and unbelief, Zechariah broke into a song of praise. That can happen to you! So place your trust in the coming of Christ. Ask him for forgiveness. Then you'll be free to praise God for his love and faithfulness.
"Thank you, Lord, for always taking me back, no matter how many times I fail!"
Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24 Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14
The journey of the wise men took them from the east to the west... and that's the journey that Christianity took. It started in Israel and it moves to Rome, the capital of the world. — Dr. Edmund Mazza from Rediscovering Christmas
my2cents: "Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me..." Elijah would come down again? Wasn't he carried away in a chariot of fire up to Heaven in a whirlwind of fire? Our Lord said that Saint John the Baptist was Elijah. The promised Elijah. In the Spirit of Elijah. A messenger. The one who would taunt the gods, the false idols, the one who would be ousted in the desert, the one who people would flock to eventually, and the one who would usher in Christ. I spoke in the Posadas last night, and I said that we are all charged with God's message. Woe to us if we do not share the message.
We pray today: "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." Looking back over the last couple of decades, much has changed right? In our families? In our world. In technologies. Time flies they say. How can you catch it and make it stop? Only leaving this world does time slow and eventually slows to a stop. The message means be ready, and ask the others to be ready.
"He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed." What kind of tablet was it? Android? Ipad? Am I joking? One of the prayers that we prayed in Posadas was about "those in communications and social media, that they may communicate the truth". And here we are speaking about the Holy Gospel. Communicate the truth. Everything you do should be about the Message. God speaks to people through Angels. He spoke to Mary through an Angel. I told the people that we are living among angels too. We are not to be afraid, for one angel can outdo many dark spirits. We are in good company. Be not afraid. One day too, we will lose our fear of death. And what is this death? The first death is to self. Our Lord gave Himself up in the Garden of Gethsemane, that was the first death. We are asked to sacrifice and surrender our will to God in Heaven our Father. Trust.
"Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God." The promise of the angel's words were fulfilled. If Zechariah had doubted the Angel, now he would live for the message forever. And John was realized for God. There was no more doubt in Zechariah's mind and heart and soul. Zechariah spoke and we heard "Then fear came upon all their neighbors...". What happens in a true miracle? Fear enters, amazement, and fear of the Lord, already John was Elijah. Already the miracle worker was working miracles. Elijah is said to mean My God is My Power, or ""My authority is the one who has breath". And John would say that Jesus was the one who would have the ultimate authority. Always pointing to Christ. Always giving credit. Ego maniacs do not give credit to others, much less to God our Father. They may speak it, but they do not mean it. That's something I've been realizing much lately. I pray much, and it happens, and then I look back and realize, I had very little to do with what happened. 90% Heavenly realizations, 10% my doing. It is a tithe. Very few tithe with the heart, and I'm speaking about the possibility of faith. Our Lord said we could move mountains, and uproot trees and fling them into the ocean if we simply had faith. What happens with John is an ushering in of preparation and groundwork, legwork for our Father to usher in Christ our Lord, our King and Savior. What kind of King is this that the world fails to see? Humility is hard to see. Compassion like His is unheard of. We have then, fake humility and fake compassion until we see the real Christ, torn to pieces, devoured by savages, twisted souls in dire need of food to satiate the quarrelsome hearts. And so Christ is the antidote to the poison of sin. Everything is right. God's message is right, always has been, always will be. And He asks us for righteousness, holiness, a real will given to Him.
Lord, we want to be Your willing body. Lord, we want to prepare Your Holy way. Lord, may I please have the antidote to my sinful ways and life? I'm tired of living any other way.
Random online bible verse: 2 Cor 4:16 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self1 is wasting a
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