Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sunday, January 6, 2008 ~ The Epiphany of the Lord

Matthew 2: 1-12

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: `And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'" Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.


I have previously reflected on the humility the Lord demands of us. In this Gospel, He is again demonstrating the high ideal of lowliness we should all strive to achieve. These three kings, wise men, magi, revered in their fields, travel miles and miles to follow a star and seek a new king. Unlike Herod, they are not concerned their kingdoms or wisdom will be usurped by a tiny baby. They only want to worship Him and pay Him homage.

How humble am I? In this new year, in what ways is Christ calling me to humble myself before His presence? Do I shudder at the thought of seeing my control over my life slip through my fingers or do I embrace each moment as God's gift, seeking God's will only? Have I surrendered my everything to Him?

In college a friend of mine wrote a song that touched me deeply. It was about the Gospel passage where the woman breaks her alabaster jar and anoints the Lord's head and dries her tears from his feet with her hair. The picture is breathtaking, as I imagine it. The chorus of her song is my biggest New Year's resolution, and I hope she won't mind if I share it with you, as well.

*from "Alabaster Jar" by Kristy Cranley & Rita Patino

Take my heart, O Lord, and break me.
Break my heart, Lord Jesus, and take me.
Open my arms and my eyes to Your will.
Here is my alabaster jar.

Sunday, December 30, 2007 ~ The Holy Family

***New Year's Resolution - update blog every week, preferably on Wednesdays :-)

Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son." But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."


Again, we have an amazing account of Joseph's faithfulness. According to this account, he received these messages in his dreams and the next morning, upon awaking, obeyed. When I was in college, discerning my vocation, one of our priests was known to tell young men discerning the priesthood that if they have a vocation, do not delay! I believe Pope John Paul the Great also exhorted young men this way.

How often do I delay in fulfilling God's will? Remembering the times I have felt complete peace about some decision or plan of action, have I acted immediately? Or do I wait? Do I begin to doubt if it was really from God or if I heard Him correctly? Do I begin to wonder if my own weakness will prevent His will from being accomplished? Do I believe the course is too drastic or sudden of a change for me and/or my family?

Joseph gets up after a dream and leaves one country for another. He subsequently gets up after a dream and changes his ultimate destination. Can you imagine traveling with a woman and young child, knowing He is Jesus the Lord and making such decisions? If you are a man and you can, then you are a worthy head of your family. If you are a woman, would you trust your husband if he came to you saying he saw an angel in his dream?

God speaks to us all in a multitude of mysterious ways, but most of us know the peace we feel when we hear Him speak. With the new year approaching, let us pray longingly for that peace, for that momentary encounter with the Divine, when we hear Him speak to us personally. And, let us pray for the faith and courage to obey His will without delay, turning over our human weakness to His almighty power.