The Word of God

Peace on Earth, Peace in Me


nativity scene of baby Jesus in stable

There is something quite marvelous that has happened every Christmas Eve in Finland since the early 14th Century: it is simply known as the Declaration of Peace. It is accompanied by all kinds of musical instruments including drums, choral singing and even symphonic strings. What is it? It is basically a highly anticipated announcement made in the old capital that attests and demands everyone to act with peace and love during the Christmas Season. Here is the actual text:

“Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior; and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all, by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully, because he who breaks this peace and violates the peace of Christmas by any illegal or improper behavior shall under aggravating circumstances be guilty and punished according to what the law and statutes prescribe for each and every offense separately. Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city.”

At Christmas, we are called to be people of peace and comfort for each other. We are to be people of faith and hope that call upon the name of Christ in every situation. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Let us, you and I, declare peace tonight as we enjoy beautiful Christmas music. The time is right. How do we accomplish this? Here is one way…

Many years ago, a young innocent child whom today we call Aaron,  virtually fell in love with Christmas and wanted nothing more than anything in his life than to play the pivotal role of St. Joseph in the huge Christmas play in his local small town at a time when the real meaning of Christmas was not an issue. However, this year would turn out to be something marvelous for him, his family, classmates, and everyone involved for years to come.

This particular year, little Aaron, all grown up and in the third grade came home as excited as ever announcing to his parents that auditions were about to begin for the town’s annual Christmas Play and he of course already had lines from the role of his Holy Patron and needed his parents’ help to practice. This went on for days and when the day arrived for the auditions, his parents were just a little worried and with reason. Aaron returned very sad and disappointed because some Senior in High School  received the role over him. All was not totally lost for Aaron did get a part,  but even that did not comfort him. It was the simple role of the Innkeeper in Bethlehem whose only line would be uttered after high school students playing Mary and Joseph would ask if there was any room in the Inn: “NO!! THERE IS NO ROOM HERE!” and then he would slam the door shut very loudly in the face of the Holy Family. Clearly, he was not impressed!

But his parents had a great love for their son and enough sense that they needed to act and act quickly here in this situation otherwise this young child would lose the excitement and reverence for the most wonderful time of the year. His father immediately began: “Well, if you are going to be the innkeeper in this play, you are going to have the best and most elegant Inn in all the land!” (You see, Aaron’s dad was an experienced carpenter)  Aaron’s Mom was not too far behind: “And on top of that, you are going to be the best-dressed innkeeper in all of Christmas Play history!” (You see, Aaron’s mom was an experienced seamstress) The next two months of rehearsals were just wonderful! While Dad was carefully constructing an amazing background set with an elaborate inn with lights and mechanical details, Aaron’s costume was prize-worthy. And all the while, that little boy was getting more and more and more excited!

Finally, the day arrived and it seemed the entire town was ready for it. The auditorium at City Hall was packed to the brim and the choirs and music and decorations were all to the max. Aaron peeked through the curtain and saw not only all his relatives, including grandparents, but all his friends and their families from the neighborhood. Then the lights dimmed and the music began. There was Mary and Joseph entering the stage accompanied by a real donkey! You could see our little innkeeper all dressed up looking more like Aladdin than a precious third-grader beaming through the actual window of the Inn. Mary and Joseph slowly made their way to the door while their special song began and the stars started to blink in the background.

Then it happened. Becoming completely lost in the moment, Aaron could hear nothing else except his little heart beating. He had been transported to Bethlehem, and as Mary and Joseph neared the door, his eyes became large with wonder and love. Then Joseph stopped, turned to the audience and called out, “Please, please Mr. Innkeeper! Is there any room for me and my wife so she can give birth to Jesus?” At that moment, Aaron could no longer contain himself. He burst through the door of the Inn and shouted with all his might: “Of course there’s plenty of room! Come on in! There’s plenty of room!”

Well, the audience started to engage in a tender laugh for a while and that little special boy caught himself and his innocent error. The stage director approached him from a safe distance to whisper emphatically, “NO! NO! You’re supposed to say ‘there’s no room!'” Stunned and embarrassed, Aaron  turned to Mary and Joseph and shouted out his original lines with all he had left, “NO!! There is no room here!” then he slammed the door and fell to the ground crying almost uncontrollably.

Well now, that young man playing Joseph, a senior in high school and clearly raised with a lot of little brothers and sisters, had the right sense to go back in that Inn, pick up the Innkeeper and hug him assuring him that everything would be okay. And then, for the first time in Christmas Play history, that Innkeeper joined the Holy Family to kneel at the manger to welcome the birth of Jesus the Christ and our Messiah!

Wherever you are right now, we invite you to open your heart amidst the songs and readings and make a place for Jesus this Christmas. Perhaps you could shout to God that there’s plenty of room in your heart while making sure that you invite others to join you as well. You see, “It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.”

We welcome you to another Christmas Season and thank you for sharing this memory with us. God bless you and Merry Christmas!

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February 8, 2020 – Memorial of Saint Jerome Emiliani, priest


For the readings of the Optional Memorial of Saint Jerome Emiliani, please go here.

Optional Memorial of Saint Jerome Emiliani, priest
Lectionary: 529

Reading 1 – TB 12:6-13

The angel Raphael said to Tobit and his son:
“Thank God! Give him the praise and the glory.
Before all the living,
acknowledge the many good things he has done for you,
by blessing and extolling his name in song.
Honor and proclaim God’s deeds,
and do not be slack in praising him.
A king’s secret it is prudent to keep,
but the works of God are to be declared and made known.
Praise them with due honor.
Do good, and evil will not find its way to you.
Prayer and fasting are good,
but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness.
A little with righteousness is better than abundance with wickedness.
It is better to give alms than to store up gold;
for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin.
Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life;
but those habitually guilty of sin are their own worst enemies.

“I will now tell you the whole truth;
I will conceal nothing at all from you.
I have already said to you,
‘A king’s secret it is prudent to keep,
but the works of God are to be made known with due honor.’
I can now tell you that when you, Tobit, and Sarah prayed,
it was I who presented and read the record of your prayer
before the Glory of the Lord;
and I did the same thing when you used to bury the dead.
When you did not hesitate to get up
and leave your dinner in order to go and bury the dead,
I was sent to put you to the test.”

Responsorial Psalm – PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11

R.    (2)  I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R.    (9)  Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear and be glad.
R.     I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R.    Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R.     I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R.    Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R.     I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R.    Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R.     I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R.    Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
for nought is lacking to those who fear him.
The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing.
R.    I will bless the Lord at all times.
or:
R.    Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Alleluia – MT 5:3

R.    Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R.    Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 10:17-30

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;

honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him,  loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”
Peter began to say to him,
“We have given up everything and followed you.”
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”

 OrMK 10:17-27

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother.”
He replied and said to him,
“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
“You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
“How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the Kingdom of God!”
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
“Then who can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said,
“For men it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God.”

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February 6, 2020


For the readings of the Memorial of Saints Paul Miki and Companions, please go here.

Memorial of Saint Paul Miki and Companions, martyrs
Lectionary: 326

Reading 1 – 1 KGS 2:1-4, 10-1

When the time of David’s death drew near,
he gave these instructions to his son Solomon:
“I am going the way of all flesh.
Take courage and be a man.
Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, following his ways
and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees
as they are written in the law of Moses,
that you may succeed in whatever you do,
wherever you turn, and the Lord may fulfill
the promise he made on my behalf when he said,
‘If your sons so conduct themselves
that they remain faithful to me with their whole heart
and with their whole soul,
you shall always have someone of your line
on the throne of Israel.’”

David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David.
The length of David’s reign over Israel was forty years:
he reigned seven years in Hebron
and thirty-three years in Jerusalem.

Solomon was seated on the throne of his father David,
with his sovereignty firmly established. 

Responsorial Psalm – 1 CHRONICLES 29:10, 11AB, 11D-12A, 12BCD

R. (12b)  Lord, you are exalted over all.
“Blessed may you be, O LORD,
God of Israel our father,
from eternity to eternity.”
R. Lord, you are exalted over all.
“Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.”
R. Lord, you are exalted over all.
“LORD, you are exalted over all.
Yours, O Lord, is the sovereignty;
you are exalted as head over all.
Riches and honor are from you.”
R. Lord, you are exalted over all.
“In your hand are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.”
R. Lord, you are exalted over all.

Alleluia – MK 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel – MK 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick
–no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Read Today’s Reflection

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