Advent Day 15 – Good News for December 12

12 12 2010

Matthew 11:2-11

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:

Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.

Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

The Daily Path: I credit Our Lady of Guadalupe for the miracle that led me back to her son. Mary is the ultimate intervenor on our behalf. What son can refuse his mother? If you are in doubt, troubled, or in pain, seek her out. She may ask something of you, but I know from my own experience that the Lady keeps her word.

Early on the morning of December 9, 1531, (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception), near Mexico City, a peasant Juan Diego saw a vision of a young girl of fifteen or sixteen, surrounded by light, on the slopes of the Hill of Tepeyac. Speaking in the local language, Nahuatl, the Lady asked for a church to be built at that site in her honor, and from her words Juan Diego recognized her as the Virgin Mary. Diego told his story to the Spanish bishop, Fray Juan de Zumarraga, who instructed him to return and ask the Lady for a miraculous sign to prove her claim. The Virgin told Juan Diego to gather some flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill. It was winter and no flowers bloomed, but on the hilltop Diego found flowers of every sort, and the Virgin herself arranged them in his peasant cloak. When Juan Diego opened the cloak before Zumárraga on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and in their place was the Virgin of Guadalupe, miraculously imprinted on the fabric.

The words spoken by Our Lady to Juan Diego on this day in 1531: Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?

Finding Rest – Good News for December 9

9 12 2009

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said to the crowds: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

The Daily Path: If you look around it’s easy to see how the Christmas season can become a labor for some. The day before Thanksgiving starts a madness I call “The Thirty Days of Macy’s.” We start rushing here. Consuming there. Go! Go! Go! Spend! Spend! Spend! Then on December 26 you collapse from exhaustion, start crying over the expenditures you couldn’t afford, and drag yourself to work. As John Lennon once wrote in a song “And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?”

Have we spent the season laboring of love or just laboring? Are we using Advent to prepare for the birth of the Savior, or working to keep R.H. Macy in business?

I had two wonderful experiences last night. The first was attending the children’s mass at our parish celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Our pastor took special care to set the mood and engage the kids in recognition of this important event. The church was simply decorated with striking symbolism. Two large manzanita cuttings adorned either side of the altar. The cuttings were barren of any foliage, and one third of each bore tiny white lights leaving the rest stark and barren. I don’t know if Fr. Wayne intended this symbolism, but I saw how Christ can enter our lives with His light, gradually overcoming the darkness, branch by branch, if we allow Him to do so. Mary accepted the light of God to grow within her so that the entire world would one day bask in its glow.

The second event has become a tradition in our household. We all sit down to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. I can still vividly recall it’s premier on CBS back in 1965. Of all the holiday shows on television, Charles Schultz’ masterpiece is the one that should be required viewing for every Christian during this time of year. In it, poor Charlie Brown is trying to find the true meaning of Christmas amid all the commercialism the season can bring. In the midst of Charlie’s struggle, it’s his little friend Linus who, in his usual wisdom, provides the true meaning of Christmas as he takes center stage and quotes the Gospel of Luke (2:8-14). “And there were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks…”

Christmas shouldn’t become a false labor for us. Jesus offers to give us rest from our burdens. Look to the Child for the true meaning of Christmas. Find respite in the true labors of love.