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JUST THE POINTS.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15TH Mt.
17: 9a, 10-13 “I tell you that Elijah has already come, and
they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their
In the Old Testament, Malachi speaks of the coming of
Elijah the prophet before “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” The second coming of Christ and final
When Jesus says that Elijah has already come, he is
referring to John the Baptist who prepared the way for the first coming of the
Lord, the same as Elijah will do prior to Jesus’ second and final coming.
“A servant is not greater than his
master. If they persecuted me, they will
15:20) Like Jesus and St. John the
Baptist, true followers of Christ will also
their hands.” This is an Ignatian
meditation on The Two Standards! We are in spiritual warfare. Are we under the Standard of Jesus
Christ? Or under the Standard of
Satan? We should recall before we
answer that Jesus Christ and His Church are one!
The persecution has already begun – with
the HHS Mandate. This is what the US
Conference of Catholic Bishops have to say about the Mandate:
20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed a rule
that virtually all private health care plans must cover sterilization,
abortifacients, and contraception. The
exemption provided for ‘religious employers’ was so narrow that it failed to
cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations – including Catholic
hospitals, universities, and charities – that help millions every year. Ironically,
not even Jesus and his disciples would have qualified for the exemption,
because it excludes those who mainly serve people of another faith.” In addition, “There is no exemption for
objecting insurers, secular employers, for-profit religious employers, or
Contraception, far from preventing abortions, leads to
abortion… 1) When contraception fails abortion eliminates the unwanted pregnancy
by killing the child; 2) The pill and other contraceptive drugs and devices are
abortifacients – they allow conception, but prevent implantation in the womb
destroying the life of a human being in the earliest stages of development – a
Contraception, abortion and sterilization are woven of
the same cloth – a belief that a child is a burden not a blessing. Nowhere in Scripture is a child referred to
as anything but a blessing! And the
Church of Jesus Christ affirms that pro-life mentality.
This contraceptive mentality kills not only the child,
but sacrificial loving between husband and wife - married love becomes selfish
love. It also promotes promiscuity. It makes lust appear glamorous and the
virtues of chastity and purity old fashioned.
Natural Family Planning (NFP) allows a husband and
wife to delay pregnancy for a serious reason using the natural rhythms of the
woman’s body – infertile periods designed by God. It involves sacrificial loving between
spouses and an ongoing decision as to whether God is calling them to have
another child at this time. NFP is so
successful that couples having trouble getting pregnant use it to enhance their
chances of having a child!
It is negligence for a married couple of child-bearing
age not to learn and use NFP. And it is
sinful not to throw out their contraceptive mentality with their contraceptive
This country was founded by people seeking religious
freedom. Today religious freedom is
being challenged as never before over the Church’s teaching on the evils of
sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception.
Each of needs to examine our conscience – do we think
with the mind of the Church on
these issues? No matter what any politician says, we cannot
disagree with the Church’s teachings and think that we are still Catholic.
We need to beg for the gift of faith to believe in ALL that God has revealed through Christ
and His Church, on the authority of Him revealing it, He who can neither
deceive nor be deceived!
Jesus Christ will come again in His second and final
coming. He will separate the sheep from
the goats, putting the sheep on His right for eternal life and the goats on His
left for eternal punishment. “For
whatever you did to the least of these you did to me.” Who is least than the tiniest baby in the
womb? Which side will we be on?
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 16TH Lk. 3: 10-18 Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday
the people were filled with expectation…”
- John preached the good news to the people and their hearts were filled with
expectation. Our hearts too lift in
expectation of Jesus coming to us this Christmas in a deeper, more
- The spirit of Advent largely consists in living
close to Our Lady during this time when she is carrying Jesus in her womb.
- By living this coming of Christ beside Our Lady each day we may be certain of
attaining the one thing in the whole of our existence that is really
important – finding Christ in our life and being with Him for all
- Mary gives us hope… Mary calms our fears… Mary shares her peace and her joy with
us… Mary lights the path to her Son…
- In a few days we will see Jesus in the crib – a
proof of God’s mercy and love for us poor sinners.
- “On this Christmas night everything inside me
stops. I am face to face with Him;
there is nothing but this Child in the whole of this huge white
expanse. He does not say anything,
but He is here… He is God loving me.” (J. LeCercq) If
God becomes man and loves me, how am I going to refuse to seek Him?!
- Neither external difficulties nor our own
sinfulness can do anything to quell the Joy of
Christmas which is approaching. From the stable at Bethlehem to each
elevation of the most Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ Himself is our hope!
- He takes our eyes off earthly things which “moth
and rust consume, and which thieves can break in and steal” and turns our
hearts and our minds to heavenly things for which we were created – above
all, the supreme happiness of the eternal possession of God!
- “He has made his salvation known” and the means
of that salvation are readily available to us in the teachings of His
Church, in prayer, in the Sacraments, in penance and good works. Even the good things of this earth are a
means insofar as God orders them for our salvation.
- Let us struggle every day against discouragement
which saps our strength, and urge ourselves to do the good God wills us to
do. Let us give ourselves wholly to
hope and trust in God that leads us to abandon ourselves totally to Him in
all that He desires for us.
- Pope Benedict XVI has these words of
encouragement for us: “True joy is
not merely a passing state of mind or something that can be achieved with
the person’s own effort. Rather, it
is a gift, born from the encounter with the living Person of Jesus and
making room within ourselves for welcoming the Holy Spirit who guides our
lives. It is the invitation of the
Apostle Paul who says: ‘May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly;
and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes 5:23).’”
- “Saint Augustine understood this very well. In his quest for truth, peace, and joy,
after seeking them in vain in many things he concluded with his famous
words: ‘and our heart is restless until it rests in God (cf.
- “In this season of Advent let us reinforce our
conviction that the Lord has come among us and ceaselessly renews His
comforting, loving, and joyful presence.
We should trust in Him. As
Saint Augustine says further, in the light of his own experience, the Lord
is closer to us than we are to ourselves: ‘interior intimo meo et superior summo meo’ – higher than my
highest and more inward than my innermost self (Confessions,).’”
- “Let us entrust our journey to the Immaculate
Virgin whose spirit is exulted in God our Savior. May she guide our hearts in joyful
expectation of the coming of Jesus, an expectation full of prayer and good
DECEMBER 17TH Mt. 1: 1-17 “The
Book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham….”
- The promises God made to Abraham for the
salvation of mankind… Nathan’s prophecy to King David of an everlasting
kingdom… These are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
- The genealogy presented here by St. Matthew shows
Jesus’ human ancestry. While Jewish
genealogies followed the male line, Mary also belonged to the house of
David. The genealogy indicates that
salvation history has reached its climax with the birth of the Son of God
through the working of the Holy Spirit – Jesus Christ, true God and true
man, the long expected Messiah.
- Who could imagine that out of this centuries-long
conglomeration of saints and sinners “Jesus who is called the Christ”
would be born?! The Holy Spirit
shows us that God’s ways are different than ours. God saves us, sanctifies us, and chooses
us to do good despite our sins and infidelities!
- Let us reflect on these words of
the Prophet Isaiah and take encouragement from them: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher
than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’
- ‘As the rain and the snow come
down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making
it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for
the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but
will accomplish what I desire and achieve the
purpose for which I sent it.’”
- And what is the purpose for which God sent His
Word – Jesus Christ into the world?
He came to give us life and life more abundantly, now and for all eternity! ‘You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace; the
mountains and hills will burst into song before
you and all the trees of the field will clap their
hands. This will be for the Lord’s
renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.’” (Is 55: 8-13)
- This is the Good News of the coming of Christ. Elizabeth said to Mary, “Blessed is she
who believed the word the Lord spoke to her would be fulfilled.” And blessed are we her children who also
believe! We believe, Lord, but
increase our faith! May we believe
only in you and not in ourselves!
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 18TH Mt. 1: 18-25 Saint
Joseph, Our Model…
was betrothed to Joseph…” Joseph was obedient to the civil and religious
laws of his time. He did things in the
right way – he was well ordered.
Betrothal before marriage… He paid attention to the details. Do we sometimes let the details slide saying,
“Well that’s not really important, I’ll do it my way.” That was not the way of St. Joseph.
they lived together…” First the
marriage then the goods of marriage… God’s
law is important… Do we always practice
chastity (purity) in our state of life? Do
we help others live a chaste life? Do we
encourage young people to guard their purity?
Do we vocally support the Church’s teaching on priestly celibacy? Or do we undercut this holy practice by our
words and our attitudes?
righteous man…” Joseph was a man dedicated to God – a man of
prayer and holiness. His holiness and
devotion to God shone through his actions.
Do people know we are growing in holiness by our words and our actions?
to expose her to shame…” Joseph
protected Mary even though perhaps he was wounded by her unexplained
pregnancy. His actions towards her were
full of charity, forgiveness, mercy. His
concern was for her, not for himself. There was no bitterness… no anger… no desire
for revenge in his heart. His only thought
was to shield her from public ridicule. Is
this how we act when we are offended, wounded or betrayed?
was his intention…” He did not act in a quick, thoughtless manner.
He discerned. He prayed. He asked for God’s help. He didn’t make a decision in desolation! He waited until he had clarity… in the
consolation of God’s presence.
it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her…” The angel gives Joseph a view of the
awesome miracle that God has wrought! This
is the action of the Holy Spirit… this baby will be the Messiah and He will
save people from their sins! Joseph must
have had the quality of deep prayer… here is a revelation beyond belief and he
accepts it instantly, without question!
Only someone accustomed to hearing God’s word in prayer and acting on it
could act as he did in this situation! He
is our model in mental prayer…
did as the angel commanded him” Joseph obeys. His will is set. He never wavers in the trials to come. He has heard the word of God and he follows
it with his whole heart, mind, being and strength! To be selected as the spouse of the sinless
and beloved daughter of God takes some special qualities… Obedience… holiness… purity… charity…mercy…
contemplative life… discernment… docility… and faithfulness.
Let us beg
Saint Joseph to take us under his patronage, so that he may be our model as we
strive to grow in holiness and welcome Jesus into our hearts this Christmas.
DECEMBER 19TH Lk.
1: 5-25 St. John the Baptist’s Qualities…
- Here is the message Zechariah receives from the
Do not be afraid, your
prayer has been heard.
Your wife will bear you a son…
You will have joy and gladness…
Your son will be great in the sight of
He will drink neither wine nor strong
drink – that
to say, he will lead a holy life…
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit…
He will turn many of the children of
Israel to the
He will go
before Him (Jesus) to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children – that
is to say, he will lead people to the Messiah who will be a beacon of mercy for
He will turn the disobedient to the
will prepare a people fit for the Lord.
- What a set of promises!!! Zechariah is in the temple… He’s offering incense before the altar
of God… He is “righteous in the
eyes of God”… He is at his priestly
work… He is prayerful. In this context he has an apparition, and
the angel of the apparition gives him these promises!
There are two possibilities… It is either the evil spirit speaking to him
or the good spirit… If it was the evil
spirit he would banish it and not engage in this conversation. So Zachariah
must think this is an angel of the Lord.
And this messenger from God is
making a lot of grand promises!
What should he answer?
How about: “Sounds great to me! Bring
it on!” Instead he argues with the
Angel… and pays the price!
How could he do that! It is so clear who is speaking here… Wake up Mr. Z and smell the coffee!
We would never be that obtuse… would we??????
Really? God has
not only made even grander promises to us, He has already delivered miracles to
us, not just the promise of future ones!
He has revealed Himself intimately in Holy Scripture –
He has shown us His merciful
Heart… we have seen the suffering He
endured for us… He comes to us in the Eucharist!
He has given us His Church… the Sacraments… His
Mother… the Saints… He has made His salvation known in a million ways!
Yet sometimes we are no different than Zachariah…
God’s path is clear… direct… revealed! And yet we choose our own path… we sin… we
fail to respond to the abundant graces He pours out on us. We choose our way instead of His way!
Proverbs 3:6 says: “In all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will make straight your paths.”
We say we want a straight path… but we choose the crooked path, like
Today, as we prepare for the Birth of Christ less than
a week away… let us reflect on both God’s generous promises to us for our
future… but also the gifts He has given to us already. How well do we use His gifts each day?
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20TH Lk. 1: 26-38 Mary’s
- Mary is alone… Silent… Meditating on Scripture…
Contemplating God’s presence…
Praising Him… Loving Him…
- Because she is absorbed in prayer, Mary is able
to see the Archangel Gabriel, hear his words, hear God’s message for her… Like Mary, silence and reflection lead
us to God’s word and His message for us…
- “Hail full
of grace, the Lord is with you…”
Mary’s response? Silence…
She is troubled by the greeting, but ponders these words in silence… She recognizes the power and grandeur of
Gabriel, but her mind and heart have to wrestle with the message… What is God saying to me? What does this mean? She ponders…
- In our holy hours we receive inspirations of the
Holy Spirit… Do we hear them?
Ignore them? Maybe even reject them? Or do we ponder them in silence, allowing
God to answer our confused or troubled
- “Do not be
afraid, Mary….” God knows our
fears and doubts…
- “You have
found favor with God…” What a
consolation to be assured we have found favor
with God! The inspirations given by the Holy Spirit
are a sign of God’s favor for us! We
receive this assurance in our prayer and
- “How can
this be…” Mary has a colloquy with the angel… Sometimes we enter into conversation
with God… Can I really do what
you’re asking me to do, Lord?
- “Behold I
am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.” These words of Mary’s fiat – her Yes to the Lord’s request – must fill her with light, joy and
confidence! She has always known
that the Lord had some great plan for her… now she knows what it is! God has great plans for each one of
us… In our holy hour He reveals
these plans to us and waits for our answer…
- Mary has prayed… meditated on Holy Scripture… contemplated
God’s presence in her life… heard the word of God and said Yes…
The whole reason for her existence has been made clear to her… She must have burst out with a song of
praise for the God who loves her and whom she loves! When we hear what God is asking of us and
respond with our whole heart… we can know Mary’s joy and sing God’s
praises with her!
- All this happens to Mary, and to us, in the silence of deep prayer… Spending time
adoring, and loving the Lord with our
whole being… in the silence of mental prayer…
DECEMBER 21ST Lk. 1: 39-45 “Mary set out…in haste.”
- Mary sets out in
haste. Our Lady puts all she
has at God’s disposal…
- Her personal plans, no doubt she has many, are
discarded so she can go where God wants her to go.
- She has no excuses…no reservations…no hesitation. She doesn’t say, “I’ll go, Lord, but let
me finish the plans for my wedding and big reception first.” She doesn’t say, “Let me get married and
have my honeymoon in Jerusalem, then I’ll go!”
- She drops everything and is gone for three
- She hears the Word of God in prayer… She receives Him into her heart… and her
heart explodes in magnanimity – great generosity with great courage!
- Mary teaches us that magnanimity is a virtue of
great souls… Souls who express
their love for God and find their reward in the act of giving.
- A generous person knows how to be loving,
understanding and give material help without demanding or expecting love,
understanding or help in return! He
gives and forgets he has given…. He gives and does not count the cost…
- Selfishness impoverishes our heart… narrows and
limits our thinking and our loving.
It is a slow acting poison that acts quietly but with deadly
- Giving enlarges our heart… stretches our soul… so
we can receive more, and then give more!
Let us ask Mary to teach us to be generous! First with God, and then with others.
- When we hesitate… when we refuse… it is often
because we do not trust God to provide.
Mary trusts that the word the Lord
speaks to her is true and will be fulfilled!
- When we give ourselves over to our own plans and
desires, we’re not trusting in God’s plans and desires for us… We die a little at a time in our
selfishness… Generosity causes growth…
Selfishness causes death…
- Let us imitate Mary… Be generous! Be swift!
No hesitation! All out! No
reservations or quibbles!
- Today and every day let us pray this pray of our
father, St. Ignatius:
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.
- Then with God’s grace we will become like Mary,