Wednesday, December 14, 2016

All I Want For Christmas ...

The Gospel today has John the Baptist’s disciples asking Jesus:  “Are you the one who is to come (the Messiah)?”  In response Jesus performs the miracles described by Isaiah as being the works of the Messiah, and through them “the Good News is proclaimed to the poor.”
You say you long to see the Messiah, Jesus is saying to John’s disciples, then open your eyes, and see.
The book The Better Part explains how WE keep our eyes closed to this truth (Meditation 174):
The lesson is clear, but so frightening that we can easily miss it:  it is possible for a human person – for me – to thwart God’s purpose for my life.  We can, by abusing our freedom through self-indulgence and arrogance, shut out God’s grace from our lives.  When we live focused on our feelings, our petty desires, and our whims, we blind ourselves to God’s will (which always demands self-mastery and self-sacrifice), and we frustrate his glorious plan and beautiful hopes for us.  The scariest part of this lesson, however, isn’t merely the fact of this possibility; it’s the fact that the Pharisees, who had fallen into just such a state, truly thought they were doing the right thing by rejecting John and Jesus.  They were so full of self-importance that they were literally blinded to the truth.  May God save us from such a tragedy!
“May God save us.”  This is the season of Advent, but most people don’t stop to consider:  the advent of what?  Like for John’s disciples, it is the advent of the coming of the Messiah, but they, the Pharisees and we ourselves often don’t see it.  We see this time as a time of fulfillment of our feelings, of getting all we want for Christmas.  We blind ourselves to God’s will, why He came.  Christmas is His birthday, but we focus on presents for ourselves.
It’s funny to watch the target of Christmas advertisements by merchants; almost all focus on telling you how wonderful their product is for YOU, and why YOU should want it.
“They were so full of self-importance,” says The Better Part, and so easily we are tempted to think the same way.  “The Pharisees … truly thought they were doing the right thing by rejecting John and Jesus;” we think we are doing the right thing by celebrating Christmas with a party for ourselves.
It is not our birth day.
Jesus’ celebration of His gift of birth was to live His life in giving and loving others, especially the poor.  That is what we too should want for Christmas.
It is Advent.  It is still not too late to prepare a gift for the One Whose birthday it is.
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A Santa Story
On the radio this morning I heard a Santa story I guess I had forgotten.  Glenn Beck told how many early paintings of St. Nick had him holding three bags.  The story behind the paintings was a true one.  St. Nicholas was a rich man, and during the time he lived it was expected that women would be given into marriage with a dowry by their fathers.  If a potential bride had no dowry, she remained husbandless, and to survive often turned to prostitution.  The story goes that there was a poor man with three daughters.  The week before the first came of an age to be married, St. Nick tossed a bag of gold into her window, so she had money for a dowry.  He did the same for the second.  And when he was later doing the same for the third he was caught in the act by the father.  St. Nick told the father: “This is not my doing; I’m just the messenger.” 
From this story came the paintings of St. Nick with the three bags, and also probably the concept of the “Secret Santa.”  Regardless of how the story came about, it is a good one, and yet another example of what we should be DOING for Christmas.    


  1. Hi Tom. Hope all is well with you.

    Many, many years ago when I was a "revert" (I'd been fallen away for about 5 or 6 years) in my late 20's, I celebrated Christmas as the birthday of Jesus. I made banners I hung outside (Happy Birthday, Jesus!) and I even made a birthday cake for Him.

    But the idea of it being His birthday was for me somewhat hollow, and a bit superficial. It didn't seem to have any "meat" to it. The next year during the Advent season the phrase, "and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us..." caught my attention and stayed with me, and I realized Christmas is about the Incarnation.

    Perhaps it was the superficial concept of a birthday that needed correction in me, but ever since that year, my reflection and my joy at Christmas comes from the fact that God became man, and dwelt among us. It inspires me and I am awestruck whenever my mind thinks of it.

    The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us...(and we have seen His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father, filled with grace and truth.)

    God bless, Tom.

    Merry Christmas! Fran

  2. This has been a most joyous Christmas preparation time for me; my spiritual director said he sat back and relished in how God had blessed me. And it continues. I have so many wonderful people in my life, and more seem to appear every day.

    I pray you and yours have a most blessed Christmas, Fran.

  3. I am so happy for you Tom! As a very far removed sort of spectator of your spiritual journey (only knowing you through your writings on this blog) I am often struck by how God has moved over the years in your life after you decided to act for the sake of your mom - meaning, after you made the decision to take care of her at home. (Well, perhaps you began even before this. By the time I began reading your blog, your mom had already passed.)

    When I come here to read (although I know what you write here is only a fragment of the fullness of your experience) I find you are like a man mountain climbing, describing some of the various sights and sounds of the adventure. Like a fellow mountain climber, I enjoy hearing what happened to you, and like climbers gathering at a camp, and swapping stories. No two paths up the mountain are the same, yet there are many passages and challenges in a climb that a fellow climber will nod in agreement with when hearing. Or listen to absorbing the lesson of something they have not yet experienced. Most times that's how I react to what you write.

    I enjoy reading your blog because I find so many touchstones to my own spiritual journey to God. So many things are different too. Most of all, though, when I "see" how God is operating in your life, I nod in agreement thinking something like that happened to me too.

    Sometimes when you describe something happening, I think, "Oh, God's got Tom firmly by the hand and is showing him everything." and yet you maybe describe feeling perplexed or uncertain. At those times I understand better my own sense of not knowing where I'm going or what to do, and through your relating your experience of that, I realize this feeling is normal on the walk of Faith, and it is not necessarily an indication of being on the wrong path.

    I appreciate your blog because with it you share some of your journey, and I learn more about how God does these things. Does that make sense?

    God bless you Tom. God is using you in many ways, even in people's lives who you do not know (like mine). That is wonderful, and the reward for that will be given to you in heaven.

    May you have the most Blessed, Holy and Merry Christmas.

    ~ Fran