Today, December 26, is the second day of Christmas, the first day of Kwanzaa (African American). May we learn about our own and each others’ celebrations. It’s easy, just Google the word Kwanzaa.
For us Christians the mystery of Incarnation (God-becoming-human in the person of Jesus Christ) needs more than one day to celebrate. Here is Day Two: The Catholic liturgy centuries ago placed the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr, the day after Jesus’ glorious feast to show that our faith is not sentimental but requires of us heroic, sacrificial love. Stephen fearlessly witnessed in court (the word martyr means witness) to his conviction that Jesus is the Messiah, knowing that his testimony was his death sentence.
Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.
When they heard this, they were infuriated,
and they ground their teeth at him.
But he, filled with the Holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven
and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and he said,
“Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God.”
But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears,
and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.
The witnesses laid down their cloaks
at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out
“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59
How heroic is our love, Lord?
Do we abandon people — our friends, our lovers, our spouses, our children when the going gets tough?
And I ask you please to be with those who have been abandoned by loved ones, Lord, such as children of alcoholic parents or kids who have gone through the foster care system and may never feel Your Love, as a result or those who have to prostitute themselves in order to survive.
Are we only concerned about our own survival? What’s best for Number One — Me?
Are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of a friend in need — for You, Lord?
Allow me the grace to witness to your love for me, Lord, to share it when I can.
My life has meaning only when I share the love and kindness you have shown to me. Allow me the grace to do that this day, St. Stephen’s Day and every day.
Stephen, a young man, has always been one of my heroes, Lord.
We need such heroic love in our time, Lord, such heroic young people.
Inspire young women and men to break through the wall of their isolation and be there for their friends in the hard times ahead.
Teach us to never abandon a friend, Lord.
And let my readers know that you love them, Lord, and will never abandon them either ~ no matter what.
Now, before you go, here is Joan Baez’ Forever Young that I referred to a young man that I wished to aspire to heroic love. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen for a beautiful slide show accompanying the song. Click here.
The Birthday of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
(Check this video out first!) (Then click on the << arrow on the top left corner of your computer to return to this page.)
While all things were
in quiet silence,
And that night was
in the midst of
her swift course,
Thine Almighty Word,
Leaped down out
of thy royal throne,
~ And the Word became flesh and lived among us. John 1:14
WE Christians tend to sentimentalize the Christmas story.
And yet the whole message is there beneath the charming Christmas pageants with the cute little girls holding baby dolls and boys dressed up in bathrobes as St. Joseph. Yes, it’s all there. Now let’s think about what it means.
John sums the whole story in one sentence(!) saying “the Word became flesh and lived (dwelt) among us” or as the Greek word actually translates as “pitched his tent among us.” Thus, he intended to move with us and stay with us a while!
He is Emmanuel ~ God with us!
Now there are two words here that Christians generally don’t like. One is “flesh” as in “the world, the flesh and the devil.” And the other is in the middle of the Christmas part of our faith story in theology. That theologica word is “Incarnation. The “carn” part is carnal. We don’t like that word, do we? We think it (um) refers to sin!
But there you are, folks “flesh” and “carnal” referring to what our God has taken upon himself.
Let’s look at what this charming Christmas story means ~ what its implications mean for your life today:
If God accepted our “fleshiness” (by becoming flesh, by taking on a human body) – then so should (must) we accept our own bodies and, yes, our sexuality, our “fleshiness.” This was the reason he became Man: to throw his lot with the human race and show us how to become fully human, fully alive!
Our waiting is over.
Christmas is here.
I have the peace and satisfaction that I have poured my love into my writings
I am at peace. My heart is ready to receive the special gift Jesus wants to give me this Christmas.
And I pray so very earnestly that you receive the special gift God wishes to give you.
Cleanse your heart of resentments / of preoccupations with unnecessary things.
Ask yourself what really is the meaning of life ~ your life.
For me the answer is to love as best I can.
I have a lot of love in my heart to share with whomever would like to receive.
I also have some wisdom to share that arises out of my own crosses I’ver carries over the years.
But it’s all gift!
So, I hope you have received something nourishing and sweet in the 24 posts I have been able to create this Advent.
They are my gift to you.
Have a wonderful Christmas with your family.
And if your Christmas is lonely with no one really special to share it with,
know that you have someone here who understands and who reaches out to you from my heart to yours.
And be sure to open yourself to the holiness / the wholeness / the peace of Christmas.
It is there beneath all the craziness and hype. It is yours if you seek it and ask for it.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!
Glory to God in the highest and peace to people of good will! If you would like the Scripture readings for the Scripture readings for any of the several Masses for Christmas Click here.
Here is a YouTube video of Handel’s glorious GLORY TO GOD ~ PEACE ON EARTH ~ GOOD WILL TOWARD MEN!
Our Lady breast feeding Jesus — Shrine of our Lady of La Leche
— St. Augustine, Florida
THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT
(YOU CAN FIND THE MASS READINGS FOR TODAY AT A LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE.)
LUKE TELLS US THE CHARMING STORY THAT GOD BECAME INCARNATE — ENFLESHED — AS A LITTLE VULNERABLE BABY BOY.
IT’S AMAZING TO REALLY THINK ABOUT THAT.
EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT READY TO ACCEPT THE STORY AS TRUE, THE MEANING OF THAT STORY CAN REALLY GRAB YOU IF YOU LET IT.
BUT, SADLY, SO MANY OF US CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS ALL OUR LIVES WITHOUT REALLY REFLECTING ON THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE STORY FOR OUR LIVES.
JESUS WAS NOT ONLY VULNERABLE IN HIS BIRTH, BUT ALSO IN HIS DEATH.
HE CHOSE TO STAND BEFORE PILATE, BOUND, SCOURGED AND SILENT.
HE CHOSE TO SAY NOTHING OR DO ANYTHING IN HIS DEFENSE.
WHAT’S THE MESSAGE HERE?
ST. PAUL GIVES US A CLUE:
“WHEN I AM POWERLESS THEN I AM STRONG” ~ (2 COR 12:9-10.)
HOW CAN THAT BE?
I THINK ABOUT THAT A LOT BECAUSE I AM POWERLESS A LOT WHEN I’VE HAD TO DEAL WITH DEPRESSION.
THERE WERE DAYS I COULD NOT GET OUT OF MY CHAIR. I SPENT OVER A YEAR INSTITUTIONALIZED BECAUSE OF MY BIPOLAR ILLNESS OVER THE YEARS.
YES, I LEARNED THE MEANING OF PAUL’S WORDS, “WHEN I AM POWERLESS, THEN I AM STRONG.” I HAD TO. FOR MY SURVIVAL’S SAKE.
AND AS A RESULT, I BEGAN TO THRIVE. HOW? BECAUSE I FOUND THE SECRET. I FOUND THE SOURCE OF POWER IN CENTERING PRAYER IN THE CORE OF MY BEING ~ EMMANUEL: GOD~WITHIN~US!
JESUS IS SHOWING US HIS OWN VULNERABILITY AS A BABY AND IN HIS DEATH:
“HE EMPTIED HIMSELF” (PHIL 2:1-11)
AND IN OUR WEAKNESSES,
IN OUR POVERTY OF SPIRIT,
IN THE BROKENNESS OF OUR LIVES
WE WILL FIND GOD.
YOU CAME INTO THIS WORLD AS A LITTLE CHILD,
AS NEEDY AS ANY OTHER BABY.
YOU SUCKLED AT MARY’S BREAST
AND RECEIVED YOUR NOURISHMENT AS GOD FROM A HUMAN MOTHER.
YOU BECAME ONE OF US AND WITH US.
YOU ACCEPTED OUR FLESHINESS,
~ OUR MISERY, OUR JOYS AND SORROWS.
YOU CAME DOWN TO OUR LEVEL TO RAISE US UP TO THE DIGNITY OF GOD.
THANK YOU, JESUS!
COME INTO OUR WORLD THIS DAY.
TEACH US TO ACCEPT OUR OWN VULNERABILITY AS SOMETHING POSITIVE.
TEACH US TO RECOGNIZE YOUR FACE IN THE MOST VULNERABLE AMONG US
FOR THEY CAN BE OUR MOST RADICAL SPIRITUAL TEACHERS.
THEY KNOW. THEY UNDERSTAND.
HELP US UNDERSTAND TOO, LORD. HELP US TO TRULY UNDERSTAND
~ THAT VULNERABILITY AND POWERLESSNESS ARE VERY GOOD TEACHERS.
I THANK YOU, LORD.
COME, LORD JESUS! COME INTO OUR HEARTS THIS DAY.
NOW, BEFORE YOU GO, HERE’S ANOTHER YOUTUBE VIDEO FROM HANDEL’S MESSIAH ~ UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN, PERFORMED BY THE MIGHTY MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR. BE PREPARED TO BE INSPIRED.
CLICK HERE BE SURE TO TURN UP YOUR SPEAKERS AND ENTER FULL SCREEN.
HERE ARE THE MASS READINGS. CLICK HERE.
FRIDAY OF THE THIRD WEEK OF ADVENT
O COME, O COME EMMANUEL,
AND RANSOM CAPTIVE ISRAEL,
THAT MOURNS IN LONELY EXILE HERE,
UNTIL THE SON OF GOD APPEAR,
REJOICE! REJOICE! EMMANUEL
SHALL COME TO THEE, O ISRAEL!
EMMANUEL, THEY TELL US YOU ARE “GOD-WITH-US.”
WHERE ARE YOU, EMMANUEL?
ARE YOU HERE?
ARE YOU HERE IN THE MESSINESS OF OUR LIVES?
CAN YOU REALLY RANSOM US FROM OUR CAPTIVITIES,
OUR SLAVERIES TO ADDICTIONS, OUR HATREDS AND GRUDGES AND JEALOUSIES
THAT EAT US UP AND SPIT US OUT?
OUR GUILTS, OUR “COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDAS — OUR DRUTHERS AND REGRETS?
OUR LETHARGY, OUR HOPELESSNESS, OUR SLUMBER, OUR RAGE?
O ISRAEL! O AMERICA!
DO YOU WANT EMMANUEL TO COME?
DO WE WANT YOU TO? (DO I?)
MANY LANGUISH IN MOURNING, EMMANUEL
IN EXILES MADE BY WALL STREET OR HOMELESSNESS OR SICKNESS.
LONELINESS AND SELFISHNESS.
MANY A YOUNG HEART MOURNS / ACHES FOR DIRECTION AND MEANING ~ AND LOVE.
PRISONERS WASTE AWAY; SUCH A WASTE OF YOUNG LIVES!
WILL YOU RANSOM THEIR HEARTS, AND SOULS, EMMANUEL?
– OUR HEARTS AND SOULS?
WILL YOU TRULY RAIN DOWN JUSTICE AS THE PSALMIST SAYS?
WILL YOU ENABLE US TO CHANGE OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM TO BE TRULY JUST?
YES, O COME, EMMANUEL!
EVEN THOUGH WE CAN SOMETIMES HARDLY BE WITH OURSELVES, LORD,
CAPTIVATE US, INHALE US WITH YOUR LOVE.
DAZZLE US WITH HOPE AND NEW LIFE AND POSSIBILITY.
YES, EMMANUEL! WE BELIEVE YOU WILL COME.
MAYBE NOT TODAY OR TOMORROW.
YOU WILL TRANSFORM THE SECRET MOURNINGS OF OUR SOULS.
WE WILL DANCE AND SING AND EMBRACE YOU AND EACH OTHER
BECAUSE YOU CAME AMONG US, EMMANUEL.
YOU ARE WITH US, EMMANUEL.
YOU ARE LOVE ITSELF!
IF ONLY WE COULD — WOULD — SEE YOU, RIGHT IN FRONT OF US — WITH US.
THEN, WOULD WE — COULD WE — EMBRACE YOU / OPEN OUR HEARTS TO YOU!
BECAUSE OF YOU, OUR BEING BECOMES “BEING-IN-LOVE!”
WE REJOICE! WE GIVE THANKS! WE BELIEVE!
COME, LORD JESUS! YES, LORD JESUS, COME.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS, THIS CHRISTMAS LET EACH ONE OF US GIVE THANKS
– AND RECEIVE AGAIN IN A NEW WAY FOR SUCH A PRECIOUS, WONDROUS LOVE,
SUCH A WONDERFUL GIFT.
HERE IS A YOUTUBE PRESENTATION OF THE POWERFUL HYMN SUNG BY STEVE GREEN “WHAT WONDROUS LOVE IS THIS? BE SURE TO TURN UP YOUR SPEAKERS AND ENTER FULL SCREEN.
ENJOY AND HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!