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.