The Word of God

Daily Reflections

  • Nicholas Lives And Gives In Us

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 6, 2021

    Theme for December: “Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless child should be celebrated in every home.” G. K. Chesterton

    Today is the time-honored, child-revered, legend-laden Feast of St. Nicholas. Let us celebrate as co-travelers through what is left of mystery and grace left in our world! Something is certainly different about today, and perhaps this is why.

    The one everyone knows as Santa Claus has a remarkable history all his own, reaching back to the 3rd century to a monk named Nicholas. Most historians place his birth around 280 A.D. in modern-day Turkey and describe him as someone admired for his beautiful generosity and kindness. Many sources reveal that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside, helping the poor and sick, including three poor sisters, from being sold into slavery or prostitution by their father by providing them with a dowry so that they could be married. For the next 17 centuries, Santa Claus has evolved and become the virtual symbol of happy, childlike, innocent fun with an almost magical sense of giving and receiving and spreading goodness throughout the entire year.

    It is the kind of existence that is painted by our First Reading today: “Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you.” Without drifting needlessly into cynicism, let us state that St. Nicholas is still alive and well in the hearts of those who love Christmas and who never forget the true source and power of the season, Jesus Christ. If we accept the Lord Jesus into our everyday thinking and acting, St. Nick is alive THROUGH us because Jesus is alive IN us. In this second week of Advent waiting and watching for the Birth of Jesus, consider how Christmas both amazes and mystifies our families and friends, especially children. Let us be the miracle people seek, the hope they look for, and the true spirit of love and peace that we all need to experience. It is straight from the mind and heart of Christ: “We have seen incredible things today.”

    O good St. Nicholas, you who are the joy of the children, put in my heart the spirit of childhood, which the Gospel speaks, and teach me to seed happiness around me. You, whose feast prepares us for Christmas, open my faith to the mystery of God made man. You good bishop and shepherd, help me to find my place in the Church and inspire the Church to be faithful to the Gospel. O good Saint Nicholas, patron of children, sailors and the helpless, watch over those who pray to Jesus, your Lord and theirs, as well as over those who humble themselves before you. Bring us all in reverence to the Holy Child of Bethlehem, when true joy and peace are found. Amen.

  • Christmas Healing Of Our Deepest Wounds

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 5, 2021

    Theme for December: “Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless child should be celebrated in every home.” G. K. Chesterton

    As we prepare this month of December for the Great Feast of Christmas, it becomes more and more necessary to introduce a little more realism into the mystery of what we are celebrating, what it means to us now and for the rest of our lives. The message here is quite simple and should explain much in terms of how most of us experienced this wonderful time of the year as children. Life will always involve suffering, and true happiness will depend not on the absence of pain but on the effective and positive ways we deal with it.

    “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths: All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Thus the way we prepare for Christmas, the First Coming of Christ, will form and standardize the way we live all of the rest of the year, and for that matter, for the rest of our lives, that is to say, the Second Coming. This is why many of us believe that the “magic” and splendor of Christmas that we remember from childhood were placed there precisely because our parents and extended family knew what was waiting for us ahead.

    “I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now.” It would just take a few minutes to realize something that we all tend to overlook every Christmas about the first Christmas: The Baby Jesus was born most cruelly and inefficiently with a price tag on his head and filth all around him, not to mention the fear and trepidation surrounding his first few minutes alive on our planet. Yet, there is so much joy and relief that is to be shared universally that it tends to overshadow the meanness of the world into which the Author of Love was born. Take some time today and let these messages sink in and make a difference in how we approach Christmas Eve and the rest of life that is waiting. It will be festive as it will be glorious.

    “In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human success, but rather on much we have loved. In the inner stillness where mediation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds.” St. John of the Cross

  • A Shepherd’s Christmas

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 4, 2021

    Theme for December: “Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless child should be celebrated in every home.” G. K. Chesterton

    Some of our readers, perhaps, have already placed that familiar collection of famous Christmas figures amidst a little hay, lights, and maybe even some photos of Christmas past. Among those figures are the Holy Family, Angels, Magi, and a couple of shepherds. While the image of a shepherd may not resound with many people in this day and age, the essential nature and quality of the person who takes care of sheep should never be forgotten or overlooked. A shepherd in the modern sense could easily apply to anyone who actively takes care of another, looking out for their needs and communicating to those they serve with the greatest amount of respect, devotion, and commitment. We could say that among the more recognizable modern shepherds among us are parents, godparents, teachers, coaches, and mentors. Furthermore, we could also assert that these shepherds are Christ-figures for the world today, acting in such a way that those receiving these acts of love and care will, with their own volition and freedom, pass the blessings forward to their children and or those in need in their future.

    “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Here is the central issue and main concern of the meaning of the Scriptures today. Be like Christ! Whenever possible, find someone to save and save them. Pass on to them what you have received and ask for nothing in return but the knowledge and satisfaction that you are doing the work of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. What a profound idea to consider when we realize how much the Good Shepherd has blessed us. With all those in the world who truly need guidance and vision, now is the time to shepherd those God has given us to love. Imagine being one of those shepherds who witnessed the First Christmas. How about being a shepherd who witnesses this Christmas?

    “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” St. Teresa d’Avila

  • Christmas Sight For The Blind

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 3, 2021

    Theme for December: “Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless child should be celebrated in every home.” G. K. Chesterton

    One morning, I stopped on my way to work at a local gas station: a 1. convenience store, 2. vegetable market, 3. breakfast, and lunch counter, and 4. a stage of ongoing human drama. Of course, I arrived when a long line had already formed for everything from unleaded gas to lottery tickets, so I purchased a cup of coffee and some other items and placed them on a small table toward the back. At the same time, I realized that I had left my wallet in my car. As I returned, I witnessed a man of about 25 years of age stumble by the table, sit down, and spill over the coffee onto the fruit and the newspaper which I was about to purchase. “Breathe, breathe…” I continued to think to myself. I began to walk over to the table and once again, “breathe again, it’s the beginning of your day….please God help me right now….” Slowing down, I was glad the hot coffee had not spilled over his clothes, and with no one else was around, I guess I could’ve just left everything as it was, but that’s not my way of doing things. I saw a mop in the nearby closet and just accepted the fact that this nice, freshly ironed, and dry cleaned yellow shirt of mine would be less than crisp and ready for my desk work today. When I turned around, I was so thankful for God’s grace and mercy. That young man was blind.

    As I neared the table with the mop, I began to say as gently and as slowly as I could, “I’m sorry about all this. It’s my coffee. Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up. No worries.” He tried to apologize as well, and before you know it, it was all better and all cleaned. I suggested that we thank God that no one was burned or hurt and that we were both able to walk and still make this day good no matter what. “Jesus defeated death,” I said, “and he can surely take care of little spilled coffee.” One of the attendants, who had been up all night on the graveyard shift, suddenly appeared and barked at both of us, “who’s going to pay for the coffee and all this other stuff?” I looked up and surveyed the man who was easily half a foot taller than me and who played football in high school: “I guess I will, sir.”

    “NO, YOU WON’T!” came a fierce response from the refrigerated coolers around the corner. It came from an older woman, dressed for work and apparently for action, who continued, “I saw the whole thing. Get away from there! I’ll take care of it!” And with that, she not only paid for my items but yet another set for my blind friend and me and a coffee for herself, and all three of us sat for about 10 minutes just talking about nothing….”

    Today we are celebrating the first Friday of this great season of Advent, a time of transformation and growth when there will undoubtedly be many opportunities to learn something new and find new fellow Christians struggling as much as we are. What could we learn from what God has exposed us to open our hearts and minds? Let’s take a look:

    “And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.” Let us not rush to judgment and quickly rely on the appearances of things. Treasures are lurking. “Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction.” When we trust in Jesus, even though the toughest of moments, the light will shine. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?” We can never be lost if we follow close by the Light of the World because that is precisely why he came to us: “And their eyes were opened.”

    “The only thing worse than being blind is having no vision.” Helen Keller

  • Storm Warnings In Advent

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 2, 2021

    Theme for December: “Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless child should be celebrated in every home.” G. K. Chesterton

    “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” Everyone creates their VERY EXISTENCE (home) on something. You could say that every person we meet already has a foundation underneath everything they do and say. The one true revelation as to that base of life is what happens to a person when a storm or severe crisis hits. What do they do? Who do they turn to? What is their strategy? Rock (Jesus) or Sand (the world)?

    Here is what St. John Chrysostom has to say about it: “By ‘rain’ here, and ‘floods,’ and ‘winds,’ He is expressing metaphorically the calamities and afflictions that befall everyone; such as false accusations, plots, bereavements, deaths, loss of friends, vexations from strangers, all the ills in our life that any one could mention. ‘But to none of these,’ says He, ‘does such a soul give way; and the cause is, it is founded on the rock.'”

    The real mystery of Christmas is quite dramatic. Imagine the plight of Mary and Joseph, the Holy Innocents, the Magi, and the countless unsung people who helped make the birth of Christ the magnificent event it was. What it can truly teach you and me, right here, right now, is simple:

    “Sometimes, you just have to bow your head, say a prayer, and weather the storm.” – Unknown

  • House of Bread

    Reflection on Mass Reading for December 1, 2021

    Theme for December: “Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless child should be celebrated in every home.” G. K. Chesterton

    A very interesting bit of Christmas trivia should be part of our collected batch of important points of reference as we move closer and closer to this Christmas and beyond. It has to do with the name of the ever-so-famous little town where our Savior was born: Bethlehem. The actual name in Hebrew sounds more like Betel-lehem, which are two different words combined to make the phrase, “House of Bread.”

    “Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied.” This Christmas morsel is quite significant because of the nature of Jesus Himself, the Bread of Life for the world. Christmas can be a time where we could look to experience not only healing but also a moment of nourishment for our tired souls and the remedy for which problems we might be experiencing here and now. Do you realize that God wants all of us to be happy? This is one of the season’s deepest, most wonderful goals to make things bright, both internally and externally. Open your heart to accepting this wonderful invitation to receive the Body of Christ and be filled with a divine love that knows no end. This is precisely why Christmas is merry.

    “Christ knew that by bread alone you cannot reanimate man. If there were no spiritual life, no ideal of Beauty, man would pine away, die, go mad, kill himself or give himself to pagan fantasies. And as Christ, the ideal of Beauty in Himself and his Word, he decided it was better to implant the ideal of Beauty in the soul. If it exists in the soul, each would be the brother of everyone else and then, of course, working for each other, all would also be rich.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

  • Advent Fishing With St. Andrew

    Reflection on Mass Reading for November 30, 2021

    Theme for November: “When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.” Kristin Armstrong

    “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Apart from being so close to the water and thus positioned by the Sea of Galilee, there must be other more powerful reasons why Jesus called Fishermen to follow Him and why fishing has become a very important image for all of us in discipleship. What do fishing and living a Christian life have in common? Here are some possibilities:

    You’ve got to be prepared. “For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.” (First Reading)

    You’ve got to get up early. “At once they left their nets and followed him.” (Gospel)

    You’ve got to be quiet. “The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul.” (Psalm)

    You’ve got to wait. “Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard
    comes through the word of Christ.”
    (First Reading)

    You’ve got to be persistent and determined. “The command of the LORD is
    clear enlightening the eye.”

    You’ve got to practice and enjoy the process. “How beautiful are the feet of
    those who bring the good news!”
    (First Reading)

    Let us conclude our Reflection today with the brilliant prayer of St. Andrew, whose feast is today:

    “O glorious St. Andrew, you were the first to recognize and follow the Lamb of God. With your friend, St. John, you remained with Jesus for that first day, for your entire life, and now throughout eternity. As you led your brother, St. Peter, to Christ and many others after him, draw us also to Him. Teach us to lead others to Christ solely out of love for Him and dedication in His service. Help us to learn the lesson of the Cross and to carry our daily crosses without complaint so that they may carry us to Jesus.” Amen.