Monthly Archives: December 2015

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.”
(Luke 1:63-64)

Lord, open our mouths and free our tongues. How can I bless you today? Let me take time amid my preparations to offer prayers for my neighbors and request prayers from them. I am thinking, especially, of those who will spend their first Christmas without a loved one whom you called home. Please comfort them.

Bless those who are alone, ill, imprisoned, hungry or homeless this winter. Let me reach out to those who are lonely right here in this building. Keep reminding me that we are all one in you.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
(Luke 1:49)

Holy, holy, holy Lord! How can we begin to grasp that you who encompass all of creation accepted confinement in Mary’s womb? How can the Almighty be a helpless child?

Twenty six years ago today, I witnessed the birth of my grandson. There is no way to describe that experience to someone who hasn’t seen it, and no need to describe it to someone who has. At no time in my life have I felt so caught up in your miracle. Now, as I prepare to celebrate the miracle of miracles, I echo Mary’s “Magnificat.”
You have done great things for all of us. You give us your very Self. I give myself to you. I have nothing else. Helpless and dependent, swaddled in your love, I rest.

Today, I will relinquish my struggle against the limits of time, of my own frailty, of doubt and anxiety. I will go wherever you carry me. I trust in you as you trusted from your mother’s womb and in her arms.

O Rising Sun, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.
(O Antiphons)

On this shortest day, Lord, I thank you for the dawn and look forward to increasing light. In just four days, we commemorate your birth, Jesus, our Light. These last days of Advent can be frantic with worldly preparations. Please help me to contemplate peacefully the love you manifest.

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
(Luke 1:45)

Mary believed, Lord. She did not ask for a sign, but the angel gave her one. On hearing that Elizabeth was expecting a son, she set out to the hill country to visit her.

John recognized you, my Jesus, in his mother’s womb, and Elizabeth understood, too. What do we do when you reveal your will? We act. We know that the favors you grant us are meant for others. Please help me today to share your Presence with all I meet.

Then Zachariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years.”
(Luke 1:18)

Zachariah wanted proof. He did not ask, “How can this be?” but “How can I know this?” If an angel stood before me, Lord, would I believe he was your messenger?

I pray for discernment of your will. I do not know what impulses and ideas come from you. I doubt myself. Yet, if I keep asking, you will show me.

Please help me today to make a decision after praying about it and then to act with confidence. You who write straight with crooked lines will use my efforts for your good. My Jesus, I trust in you.

She will bear a son and you shall name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
(Matthew 1:21)

Jesus, our Savior, we remember your birth, life, death and resurrection through which you redeemed us. We ask you to come into our hearts now and to prepare us of that day when you will come to claim those of good will.

My will is to do your will, to open myself to you as Mary did, and by your grace and her example to do whatever you tell me. Please show me how to serve you.

What can I do, here and now, to receive you? This weekend, I will worship you with my congregation. We will light the final candle on the Advent wreath. Our songs will express the urgency of our expectation. Together, we will see the Host transformed into your Body, which we will share. I want to shut out the cares and distractions that try to interrupt. Please remind me.

Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.
(Matthew 1:16)

Lord, your ancestry is traced through Joseph, your adoptive father. Yet it is you who have adopted us. We are children of the created Adam and of the Creator. It was not enough for you to give us life; you chose to dwell among us, to unite us with you, to live and die among us and for us. Father and brother, not created and yet born, how can we thank you?

Let me praise you even out of the depths. When I am embarrassed and frustrated by my human frailty, let me remember that there is nothing I experience that you did not feel. You were scourged, humiliated, and spat upon.

Adam and Eve thought they could hide their shame and nakedness. I know that you see me as I am, but also that you understand. Praise be in my heart and on my lips.

Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard, the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”
(Luke 7:22)

When John asked if you were the Messiah, my Jesus, you pointed not to royal blood nor spectacular revelations, but to your works. You are not a political king, but a savior. John will surely understand that these healings were predicted by Isaiah.

John already knew that you were the Beloved Son and that he was unworthy to unlace your sandals. He wanted confirmation that you were the expected one. How could your answer not reassure him?

Since your Resurrection, we are privileged with knowledge of you that John did not possess, though he was greater than the prophets. You ordained for me to be born in this “end time,” when you have revealed yourself and your divine plan. I would be blind and deaf without your word. I could not walk without your grace. My soul was dead until you redeemed me. Please help me to be your witness.

This week, I will pay attention to my own healing and that of my neighbors, giving you thanks and praise.

The son said in reply, “I will not,” but afterwards he changed his mind and went.
(Matthew 11:29)

How many times, Lord, I have bristled against authority. I want to help people, but in my own way and on my own time. Who am I to resent orders? Forgive me, Lord, for my resistance, and help me to think better of it, as did the son in the parable.

Today, I will counter against my reluctance by expecting distractions and interruptions. With your grace, I will greet as an opportunity the ringing of the phone or knocking at my door. Help me to say and mean, “How can I serve you?” Thy will be done.

I see, though not now
I behold him, though not near.

(Numbers 24:17)

Like Balaam, Lord, let me speak only what you tell me. Let me see you even though you are beyond my sight. Let me consult you on every mountain and in every valley. Let me bless and not curse.

You have shown me so much in these 77 fleeting years. I thank you for every adventure and every companion along the way.

Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.
(Luke 3:11)

The people came to John the Baptist and asked, “What can we do?” Through his preaching and baptizing, they realized that they needed to dedicate themselves to you, Lord. John’s answer is concrete and practical. We all have more possessions than we can use at one time. By disposing of excesses, we not only contribute to others, but we also unburden ourselves of clutter that distracts and impedes us.

John offered specific instructions to specific groups. To the tax collectors, he said, “Don’t cheat,” and to the soldiers, “Don’t intimidate.” What would he say to me in my role?

What is my role, Lord? I profess to be Christian. If I do not rejoice in you, I am a fraud. Today, on Gaudete Sunday, let me celebrate you in whatever and whomever you send.

Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done unto me according to your word.”
(Luke 1:38)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God, my savior.
(Luke 1:46-47)

Your mother, Lord, chosen to bear you for us, empties herself to receive you. Once she responds, her spirit rejoices.

We are all chosen to give ourselves to you, and if we respond as Mary did, you will use us to show you to others. Our spirits, too, will rejoice.

Help me, Lord, to discern my role in your plan. Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared as the pregnant Virgin in this new world, show me what your Son is asking of me. I will not be afraid, for you are my mother, too, and you will guide me.

Today, Lord, let me rejoice in everything and everyone that you send into my life.

To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in the marketplaces and call to one another, “We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge for you but you did not mourn.
(Matthew 11:16)

How stubborn we are, Lord. Nothing ever suits us. Like the generation you addressed, we criticize everyone and everything. People are too fat, too thin, too liberal, too conservative, too loud, too quiet, etc. They are not brave enough, not careful enough, not sociable enough, not private enough, or just plain not good enough. Perhaps if we could eliminate the terms “too” and “not enough” from our conversations, we could focus on truth.

Why do we compare? I suppose that judgment about whether something is like or unlike us is a basic survival instinct. We have extended it so far beyond that. You have told us to stop judging. You entertained sinners, and we are all sinners. If you do not exclude us, how dare we exclude anyone else?

Tomorrow, as I keep striving to pay no attention to what does not concern me, I will remember some of the things that fall into that category. What someone is wearing does not concern me. Whether or not my fellow parishioners shake my hand for the sign of peace or hold it during your prayer does not concern me. Even how cute a baby is does not concern me. The prayer of the faithful concerns me. Your Body and Blood concern me.

Call to me, Lord. I will answer.

I will open up rivers on the bare heights and fountains in the broad valleys. I will turn the desert into a marshland and the dry ground into springs of water.
(Isaiah 41:18)

Water! Without it, nothing can live. We would die of thirst long before we died of starvation. We live in fluid in our mothers’ wombs. We are washed as soon as we are born. We are baptized with water and born into you, Lord.

“I thirst,” you said from the cross. Despite the excruciating pain and imminent suffocation, your body craved water more than comfort.

Early this morning, before they started my IV, when I couldn’t eat or drink anything, I was not hungry but terribly thirsty. My lips were dry and crusted. Even my veins were difficult to find. How grateful I was once I was hydrated. I responded like a wilting plant that springs back with just a few drops. Later, when I was allowed liquids, swallowing them was a celebration.

On the cross, Lord, you did not accept the wine that was offered, but your thirst was not merely physical. You thirsted for all of us, for our salvation, for our response to your love. Because of your Sacrifice, death is not our destiny. You will give us life, just as you bring to life the desert.

“O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in you.” (Divine Mercy.)

Come to me, all you who labor and are sorely burdened, and I will give you rest … for my yoke is easy and my burden light.
(Matthew 11:28, 30)

Dear Spirit, Infinite Wisdom, you choose to remind me of these words today. Indeed, you have brought me comfort and rest. How could I thank you for your providence? I can only love your will and trust in your mercy. Do not let go of me, Lord. Let me rejoice in this tiny share of the suffering through which you purify and redeem us.