Friday, December 31, 2021

The Word Became Flesh

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us...” John 1:14

What gave the apostle John this amazing insight? In the very last chapter of John’s gospel, he writes, “This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things...” In chapter 19, where John writes about the crucifixion, he says, “He who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may also believe.” 

John the apostle walked with Jesus, spoke with Him, listened, even argued with Him. John alone of all the disciples remained near Jesus along with the women at Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus asked John to take care of His beloved mother and he took her home with him. What stories would he hear from Mary? Did he ask the questions the well loved song asks? “Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.” 

John wrote in 21:25, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.” That only means John knew there was so much more to write about! 

John knew Jesus from being with Him, from His mother’s stories, from witnessing the crucifixion, and seeing Jesus after His resurrection from the dead. That is why John remained faithful and steadfast even in the midst of Nero’s persecution of Christians in A.D. 54 through 68, and then Domitian’s in A.D. 81-96. He was banished to Patmos by the Roman authorities, still considered a threat in his old age, and there he wrote the Book of Revelation. 

How about us? We may not have walked with Jesus or talked with Him, but we can read the words of one who did. As John wrote: “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed Him.”

 (John 1:18)

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Waiting on God

“Anna, the prophetess, never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:37-38

There was always a lot of activity in the Temple in Jerusalem, a lot of coming and going all around. On the day Mary and Joseph brought the 40 day old baby Jesus to present Him to the Lord, only an old man and an old woman witnessed it. Simeon was righteous and devout, and had been waiting to see the Christ. Then there is the 84 year old prophetess Anna, who never left the Temple, but worshiped there night and day. Out of all the people who visited the Temple that day, only these two were blessed. 

“My eyes have seen Your salvation!” Simeon cried out in joy. Anna gave thanks to God and thereafter spoke about the child to all who would listen. What was special about Simeon and Anna? They were waiting. They had eager hearts and minds, thirsting for God. They listened to the Spirit. 

Perhaps there were many in the Temple that day who were praying and seeking God just as there are many people who pray each day, and some even go to church every day. But if our prayers are always about asking God for this and that, we seldom have time to listen. The Holy Spirit will not have opportunity and space to speak to us. Our hearts will not have “fertile ground” to receive what God has to tell us. 

Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Jesus does not barge in, demanding we listen to Him. We have to invite Him in. If we open the door, we will marvel like Simeon and Anna, at what God will do in our lives.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

I Have Seen Your Promise

"My eyes have seen your saving deed..."

 Luke 2:30

What an amazing man Simeon is! He had been waiting a long time for the promised Messiah, the consolation of Israel, a land battered and torn by many upheavals and foreign domination. What did Simeon see when he went to the temple, inspired by the same Spirit who revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's anointed? He saw a mere baby, 40 days old, carried by His mother. Simeon got excited nonetheless! "I can die now! I have seen Your promise with my eyes!" He was content. 

Simeon had been studying God's Word, and was a just and pious man. His faith did not waver in the many, long years he had to wait. Sometimes we too have to wait many, long years for God's answer. What is the longing in our hearts? Sometimes we get too impatient and do not wait for Him. It is said that God works slowly but surely. After all, a thousand years in our reckoning is just like a day passing to God (Psalm 90:4). In these days of fast foods and even quicker answers on Google, it will profit us much to take time, slow down, and see God's saving deed as Simeon did. 

Lord, may I quiet my heart and mind, and hear Your still, small voice. You cannot wait to speak to me. You always make time for me. Help me every day to make time for You. May I be as excited as Simeon to see You! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Feast of the Holy Innocents

“Herod ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.” Matthew 2:16

It was St. John's feast day yesterday. He wrote in his gospel, “We are writing this so our joy may be complete." When JOY is shared, it is completed. When Joy is kept to ourselves, something is lacking! Take time to share JOY  this Christmas season! And who better to share it with than children!

Today, December 28, is the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents. King Herod had hundreds of innocent children massacred ostensibly to save his throne.

Macrobius (ca. AD 400), one of the last pagan writers in Rome, in his book Saturnalia, wrote: ‘When it was heard that, as part of the slaughter of boys up to two years old, Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered his own son to be killed, the Emperor Augustus remarked, “It is better to be Herod's pig than his son."’

It was better to be a pig than Herod's son because Herod was a Jew and killing a pig was not kosher! Ironically today, countless, innocent unborn children are being slaughtered legally. It is better to be an endangered animal than a fetus in the womb.  Endangered animals are more protected, aren't they? Let us take time to pray for these innocent ones today. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Yes Lord, I Believe!

 "... he saw and believed.” John 20:8

Would we be like the disciple Jesus loved, whose Feast Day we celebrate today, who saw the burial cloths in the empty tomb, and believed? Or would we be like some of the disciples in Mark 16:11, upon hearing Mary Magdalene’s testimony, “…they refused to believe it”?

The writer of the Gospel of Mark is John Mark, who traveled with the apostle Paul. When he settled in Rome, he wrote down Peter's recollections of Jesus' life. The last chapter of his writings are a short summary of what happens after Jesus' death,  starting from when the women discover the empty tomb. The disciples did not believe Mary Magdalene when she delivered the news that Jesus was alive. Neither did they believe Cleopas and his companion when they reported seeing Jesus on the way to Emmaus.

Jesus then appeared to them and rebuked them for their disbelief- “their stubborn refusal to believe". Do you think Jesus is frustrated with the disciples here? Disappointed? Is He thinking they are hopeless? That He can't depend on them? That they can't be trusted with the mission He wants to give them? On the contrary, right after rebuking them, He says, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to everyone, everywhere." 

I can imagine Jesus being frustrated with the lot of us! We are being given so much! We are entrusted with so much treasure in His Word. What do we do with it? But then I know, because I see it in my own life, that no matter how much I fail, Jesus never gives up on me. He still gives and gives and gives! Every day, He opens up His treasure chest. And every day, I just want to shout, "Yes, God is good!" And yes, Lord, I believe!

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Let God Be Our Strength

“Happy the men whose strength you are! ​Their hearts are set upon the pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5

It seems to me that we should live our life so we make some difference in the world, and perhaps the only way to do that is to know what God’s purpose for us is and to live that purpose. It does not matter how young we are, how old, whether we are a President, or a janitor in a small school in the province. We have work to do that can give meaning to our life. I always think of life as a pilgrimage. We are all pilgrims on a journey and we have to follow the road God has set for us so we don’t get lost. 

John Bechtel was a missionary in Hong Kong and he had a dream to have a camp for the teenagers he saw loitering in the streets. He found a closed hotel and conference center that would be a perfect place but the only problem was it was being sold for $250,000.00. This was in 1971. 

His friend, Walter Meloon, an influential businessman, believed in his vision and promised to raise all the money he needed. 3 months later, Walter sent a note: “Dear John, I’m sorry. I tried my best. I couldn’t raise the funds. Only one person responded. I enclose it.” It was a note from a 14 year old girl named Belinda Holmes. “Dear Mr. Bechtel, I heard about your plan. I’ve been praying about it. I’d like to give you my pocket money. Here is $1. Please use it to buy the camp.”

John was really disappointed but his wife said, “Follow what she says. Go buy the camp for $1.” So he goes off and shows the letter to the caretaker who laughed but reluctantly gave the offer to the Board. The Board prayed about it and agreed to sell the whole place to John for $1.00. Today Suen Douh Camp still exists. There have been over 2,895,750 camper days and 156,552 young people have accepted Christ.

20 years later after he started the camp, John was speaking in a church in the States, and a woman approached him after his talk. “Mr. Bechtel, I am Belinda Holmes.” That was the first time she heard what happened to her $1.00! 

When we pray each day about what we are to do, when we partner with God, we will never know what He can do with our smallness and our willingness to give what He wants us to give. We just need to let God be our strength and set our hearts on the Lord. 

The Word was Made Flesh

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." John 1:14

Can our minds wrap around this truth? The One who made the earth, the universe, who put the stars and the planets in their place, became a man and walked with us for 33 years!

He was born of a peasant woman, but He was a King! Heaven came to that little town, Bethlehem, and the angels were His army. The powerful rulers of His time

tried to destroy Him. But they were the ones who were destroyed, because the Kingdom that He came to build on earth, His Church, is still alive and flourishing! 

That same Word who became flesh, who is outside of time and place, entered time and stepped into His own creation, to become the Immanuel, “God with us”. That same God wants to dwell in our hearts. May we make a place for Him by “cleaning up the cobwebs” of festering disappointments, envy, shame, guilt, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness, whatever keeps us from having a good relationship with the God who loves us best. 

Let us rejoice because He came to free us from the poisons the enemy wants us to imbibe every day. If we follow the way of the Lord, we will reap a harvest of blessing! 

Friday, December 24, 2021

May Our Heart Be His Manger

“He will establish a house for you." 

2 Samuel 7:11

These words were said to King David by the Prophet Nathan. “I have been with you wherever you went. I will establish a house for you. Your house and your kingdom

shall endure forever..."

When we give our Yes to God, we are part of the kingdom that endures forever!

This Christmas, we are all innkeepers. We can say yes or no to Jesus staying in our heart. Do we say, "Yes, Lord Jesus, come in!”?  May we offer our hearts to be His manger! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Power of Prayer

Hannah, Samuel’s mother, approached the priest Eli and said: “Pardon, my lord! …I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.” She left Samuel there. (1 Samuel 1:24-28)

Have we seen the power of prayer in our life?  Hannah has. Hannah was a barren woman and she was getting a lot of insults because of it, and she became desperate. She prayed and prayed and prayed. She prayed with perseverance and dedication and much effort. But she did not pray just for any child, she prayed for a male, and she promised God that if He gave her a son, he would serve the Lord all his life, he shall not drink wine or liquor, and his hair shall never be cut. In other words, he shall become a Nazarite, "separated", specially dedicated to God. Well, a woman can promise God that her son will become a priest, or pastor or even a saint, but how can she keep her promise if her son does not wish to be either of those things?

Prayer can change the destiny of our life and of our children.  We need to pray for our children just as Hannah prayed for Samuel. Samuel became a great prophet. Saint Monica prayed for her profligate son, Augustine, who left the Church, had concubines and bore a son out of marriage. But she did not give up praying. Augustine converted to Christianity, became a great writer, a priest, then a Bishop, and then a Saint! 

I was listening to the testimony of John Hagee, a fiery preacher. He is the second son of a preacher and heard 10,000 sermons growing up but he had no desire to be a Christian. One day, coming home late and tiptoeing past the bedroom of his mother, he heard her sobbing out to the Lord like Hannah, “Lord God in heaven, save my son, John!!! If he leaves this house without knowing Jesus Christ, he'll be lost forever!" John Hagee went to bed with his mother's prayer thundering in his ear. In the days and nights following, he could still hear his mother's voice. Two months after, he surrendered his life to Christ Jesus “crushed by the power of his mother's prayer".  He said his mother went to war with the devil for his soul in her prayer room. Indeed, our prayer room is our war room! Like Hannah, Saint Monica, and John Hagee's mother, let us never give up praying for our children! 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Grace Filled

“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Luke 1:45

This is taken from The Word Among Us, and I wanted to share it because it spoke so deeply to me: “Face-to-face with the mighty angel Gabriel, Mary was “greatly troubled” (Luke 1:29). Gabriel announced God’s plan for her to conceive through the Holy Spirit and bear a son who would inherit the throne of David and rule forever. And Mary, despite not having all the answers, was able to say:

 “May it be done to me 

according to your word” (1:38).

“The words are so simple, so faith-filled, that we might miss out on what was behind them. By saying “yes” to the angel, Mary also said “no” to many things. She closed the door on an alternative life that had its own attractions: a life of quiet contemplation, out of the limelight, surrounded only by friends and fam­ily; a life of simple joys and everyday challenges. And yet with just a few words, she put aside all her dreams to embrace God’s dreams instead.

“We can read this passage and marvel at Mary’s faith—and lament our lack of faith 

in comparison. But it’s important to see that when he greeted her, Gabriel called Mary full of grace, not full of faith. Mary’s “yes” to God was the result of the grace God had given her, not the result of her own willpower and forceful personality.

“This is a key point for all of us. For in the final analysis, faith is not some­thing we drum up on our own. It’s a gift given to us by a gracious, gen­erous God. It’s a grace that he pours into us, a potent seed that is wait­ing to be plunged into the soil of our hearts. We may think we have weak faith, but the truth is God has given us all the faith we will ever need. We just have to learn how to yield to this great gift. So what do you think? Can you say “yes” to God today? 

Yes, you can. God’s gift of grace guarantees it! “Father, thank you for the gift of faith. 

Knowing you is the greatest joy of my life.”

To embrace all that God wants to give us, that is saying "yes!" It is an adventure, a journey, and we will never know where God will take us! It is not only Mary that God wants to use, that God has a wonderful plan for. He wants to use each of us. We all have apart to play in God's great plan to bring His Kingdom 

here on earth.

Monday, December 20, 2021

God’s Awesome Love

“How can this be?" Luke 1: 34

Sometimes a passage jumps out at you. you've read it many times before, but this time, it strikes a chord. In the first chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke, I found this verse interesting, "I investigated accurately everything from the beginning..." (Luke 1:1-4)

I can imagine this writer amazed at what had occurred and desiring to come to the truth. He interviewed many of the disciples and people involved in this out-of-the-ordinary series of events. If Mary was still alive, St. Luke would have interviewed her to verify her story. What would he have found?

 A woman still amazed, still in awe at God's goodness? In spite of all she had gone through? The stigma of her virgin pregnancy, the flight to Egypt, knowing hundreds of babies were being slaughtered because of the search for her Son, and ultimately the horror of seeing her Son hanging on the cross, mutilated, seemingly defeated.

"How can this be?" she asked. How can this be that God chose me? How can this be that God would want to make me part of His plan to save humanity? How can this be that I would carry the mysteries of the universe in my womb? 

If we think about and realize God’s love for us, we will ask the same. How can this be that God loves us so much to make a plan so inconceivable as to give prophets a glimpse of it thousands of years before its fulfillment? How can this be that God sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross so if we believe in Him we can live forever with Him? It’s like if we gave our life for an insignificant paramecium but even more absurd because God is all powerful, and the idea is light years away from anything we could ever understand with our brains. 

Greg Boyle in his book, “Tattoos on the Heart”, wrote, “The desire of God’s heart is immeasurably larger than our imaginations can conjure.”

Sunday, December 19, 2021

All Immortals

"Most blessed are you among women..." 

Luke 1:42

From “The Word Among Us” some years ago- “While this meeting between Mary and Elizabeth is unique, there is something here that we can all experience.”

As baptized believers, each one of us is capable of bearing Christ to the world. If our eyes were opened to the glory of this truth, we too would rejoice and be humbled in the presence of so holy a vessel as a sister or brother in Christ. Lord Jesus, just as You opened Elizabeth's eyes in the presence of Mary, please open my eyes to those who also bear Christ. Help me to honor the potential of each person to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors, wrote in his book, “The Weight of Glory”, that we’ve never talked to mere mortals. Everyone we know, our parents, our spouses, our sisters and brothers, our children, our office mates and classmates, the street sweeper, the troll online, etc., they are not ordinary people. We talk to and deal with immortals every day of our life. 

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.....But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors,” C.S. Lewis wrote. 

How daunting to consider how flippant we are with our lives sometimes. We can waste so many precious minutes on worthless activities or conversations, throw careless hurting words at people, without thought of the impact on our immortal souls. Let us be more heedful of the choices we make each day! 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

God With Us

‘The Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, ​and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us”.’ 

Matthew 1:22-23

“Can it indeed be that God dwells among men on earth?" This was King Solomon’s question in the book of 1 Kings 8:27. “If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built!" he continued in awe.  

Are we in awe when we pray to God? Are we amazed that God came down to our level to be with us, the Emmanuel? Do we marvel that the creator of Super novas, the majestic mountains, terrible typhoons, allows us to visit Him in churches built by human hands? And not only that, He wants, desires, longs, that we invite Him into the temple of our own feeble hearts.  He actually prefers to dwell in our hearts rather than the grand Cologne Cathedral, the historic Notre Dame in Paris, the awesome Sagrada Familia, no matter how beautiful they are. Do we welcome this season of Advent as a pilgrimage to walk more closely with the God who loves us so inconceivably?

One of my favorite songs is "More than Wonderful", best sang by Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris. It goes, "I stand amazed when I think the King of Glory would come to live within me; I marvel just to know He really loves me, when I think of who He is and who I am. For He's more wonderful 

than my mind can conceive, 

He's more wonderful than 

my heart can believe; 

He goes beyond my highest hopes and fondest dreams; 

He's everything that my soul ever longed for, 

Everything He promised and so much more; 

More than amazing, More than marvelous, 

More than miraculous could ever be; 

He's more than wonderful; 

That's what Jesus is to me!"

Friday, December 17, 2021

Jesus is a Real Person

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Matthew 1:1

After this passage, we have a list of names that comprise the genealogy of Jesus Christ. For Jews, genealogy was very important. It shows what tribe you are from, which land belonged to you. It was a significant part of your identity.

RC Sproul, the American theologian tells a fascinating story of a Wycliffe Bible translator, who worked on translating the book of Matthew for an obscure tribe for 10 years. To expedite the process, she skipped the genealogy and had the Book of Matthew printed. The tribe was not interested. She noted that they were even more interested in the truck that brought the book. She persevered and came out with a second edition that included the genealogy. As she was explaining the genealogy to the tribal chief, he exclaimed, "You mean to tell me this Jesus you have been telling us about is a real person?" She replied, "Of course!"

He said, "I thought he was some mythical character!" Soon after he realized Jesus was a historical person, that he had walked on the earth, he accepted Jesus, and the whole tribe followed him. The genealogy of Jesus is also very important because it showed he was a descendant of David, and showed that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. We believe in a real person, not some fictional character. And it is Jesus, the real man, who wants to have a real relationship with us.

Lord, during this season of Advent, may my heart be Your manger. May I really know You more and more each day. Open my eyes to the reality of Your love for me, and 

Your perfect plan!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Make Room for God!

“Enlarge the space for your tent, ​spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; ​lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes…” Isaiah 54:2

When I read scripture, I usually ask questions, and reading this passage in Isaiah, I asked, “What does this mean?” And I was happy to read the answer in Anawim, 

a daily meditation book: 

“We must make room for God in our lives! This is always a challenge for us. It involves not only ridding ourselves of what gets in the way of God’s coming, but also an expansion of our hearts in love. God calls us to open our hearts to him and to all the people whom he sends us in our daily lives. Of course, he is looking for more than our own human capacity of love; he is looking for a ‘space’ within us into which his own love can be poured, and from which it can overflow to others.”

In our every day life, God always, always, gives us opportunities to show love, to speak love, to be love. The challenge is to catch it, to see it, to take advantage of the chance to be a blessing to others. My brother told me recently that he uses Facebook to encourage, to inspire, to be a help to others. What is the use if not for that? he asked. 

Reading about tents made me remember the first time we went camping as a family. My son was still a toddler, and it was quite hot inside the tent even if we were at the beach. My husband stayed up almost all night fanning Josh and myself to keep the air circulating while we slept. That was a long time ago, but my husband has never wavered in his loving service for me, and Josh, our bigger family, brothers and sisters in our community, etc. I am surrounded by people who are an inspiration and example to me of how to love. 💕💕💕

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

God With Us

"Are you the Messiah we've been expecting..." Luke 7:20

Didn't John the Baptist know who Jesus Christ was? Why did he send two of his disciples to Jesus to ask, 'Are you "He who is to come" or do we look for someone else?' Like John, many of us have questions from time to time. Being a committed Christian is not always a straight road. In the 1st chapter of Luke, verse 41, John leaped for joy in his mother Elizabeth's womb, when Mary came to visit, in recognition of who the baby in Mary's womb was. You would think that he of all people would be sure of who the Messiah was. After all, he was called to prepare the way of the Lord. In Luke 1:80, we read that John grew up and became strong in spirit, and lived out in the wilderness until he began his public ministry.

This tells me that it is all right to be on a constant exploration, to be unceasingly in search of God, to never give up. Even if we have doubts, even if we have questions. Even if we take a wrong turn. God is discoverable. After all, Jeremiah 29:13 promises, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." And in Matthew 7:7, Jesus himself says: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." This Advent is the perfect time to ask God questions and expect Him to give assurance that He is Emmanuel, 

God with us. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Broken Hearted

“The Lord is close to the broken hearted...” Psalm 34:18

“...those who are crushed in spirit He saves.” Now and again I see posts on Facebook from moms asking intercession for their teenagers who are wayward, taking drugs or too much alcohol. My sisters and I have been praying for a lawyer who has been missing for over a year. His bag was found a long way away from where he was last seen. Maria Ressa in her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize cited how many journalists have been killed in our country and other countries for “holding the line”. How many missing people are there in the world? How many children were killed in schools in the past year? How many kidnapped women and children are sold into sexual slavery? How many deal with recurring depression or debilitating disease? There is so much heartache in our world, so much sadness and pain. 

What can we do about it? Saint Teresa of Avila wrote this poignant poem: “Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body... Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

We have to look around with Christ’s eyes and love with His love so we can see the broken people around us. We need not be pessimistic or hopeless because God will always make a way where there is no way. God never wastes anything, much less pain. Let us always pray with hope, and do good, remembering that what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). 

Monday, December 13, 2021

Light in the Darkness

“Of one who sees what the Almighty sees, ​enraptured, and with eyes unveiled.” 

Numbers 24:16

Today is the feast day of Saint Lucy, a virgin and a martyr. She was martyred for following God! So many legends have grown about her that it is difficult to tell what is true and what isn't! She came from a rich Sicilian family and her mother wanted her to marry a pagan suitor but Lucy wanted to remain a virgin serving the Lord.

When she gave away her dowry, the slighted suitor reported her to the Roman authorities and she was sentenced to be brought to a brothel and forced into prostitution. When they came to get her, Lucy was sooo heavy, they could not bring her anywhere! They even tried to hitch her to a team of oxen to no avail! Then she was condemned to be burned but the flames did not harm her. 

The strange part of her story is about her eyes, which is why she's usually depicted as holding a pair of eyes. One story says that when her suitor became enamored of her eyes, she gouged them out herself to give to her suitor so he would not think her beautiful anymore. The other story (equally implausible!) is that the authorities took them out with a fork when they could not move or carry her!

Whatever the truth is, Saint Lucy lived in bravery and fortitude at a time when it was terribly difficult to be a Christian! During the reign of Emperor Diocletian in the early 4th century, Christians were persecuted and tortured. After she was killed by the sword, legend has it that her eyes were restored. We may not be tortured for our faith the way Christians were in pagan times, but we are called to be a light during these dark and confusing times. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Elusive Peace

“Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

Peace can be very elusive if we allow the anxieties and worries of the world to reign in our hearts and minds. But we are called to peace, it says in Colossians 3:15, which says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Instead of anxiety, we should let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. Easier said than done? 

When my mom was diagnosed with tongue cancer, she would sometimes be very restless and anxious. But I noticed that when I read to her from the Bible, or she would listen to preachers on YouTube, she would calm down and God’s peace would strengthen her. All her life, she turned to God and His Word. She read through the Bible from Genesis to the Book of Revelation many, many times. I can say my mom was a strong woman who found her strength in the Lord. 

I think many of us today have feelings of uneasiness and foreboding about the future. We have concerns about our children. We have apprehensions about the leadership of our country and the coming elections. If it is not that, then we stress about our work, conflicts in relationships, finances or health concerns. But we are instructed to cast our cares, all our anxieties, on God for He cares for us in a very real way. (1 Peter 5:7)

My particular favorite promise is found in Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Today, the third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “rejoice.” And what is the promise connected to rejoicing? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

May we imitate Saint Teresa of Jesus, who wrote, “Nada te turbe”, “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, everything passes, God does not change, He who has God lacks  nothing.” 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

You are My Friend

“Blessed is he who shall have seen you ​and who falls asleep in your friendship.” Sirach 48:11

When Moses was doing something ordinary, tending the flock of his father-in-law, a task he did every day, something extraordinary caught his attention. There was a bush engulfed in flames but it was not consumed. When he went closer, God spoke to him. "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob." 

God introduced Himself to Moses. He wants to do the same for each of us, for all of us. In the midst of our ordinary, every day chores, God is there. He may not show Himself in a burning bush, but He is there in the kindness of strangers, the bonds of love we have with our family, the Eucharist, the times we use the gifts and talents He gave us, in every ordinary day. 

Lord, just as You called Moses and had a purpose for Him, so You call us. May we know what You want us to do with the gifts and talents, all the resources You blessed us with. One day, may we hear you say as You said to Moses, "You have found favor with me, and you are my friend." (Exodus 33:17)

Friday, December 10, 2021

Dancing with the Lord

"I the Lord your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should GO." Isaiah 48:17

Our life is like a DANCE with God. Do we follow where He leads, or do we want to go our own way? I think life would be more beautiful if we followed our partner!!

Some of the best known and most loved dance partnerships include Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland. But there are more contemporary couples on Dancing with the Stars and other dancing competitions who take our breath away when they do their entrancing moves. Even as each individual dancer is super talented, when they dance in harmony, magic happens at a higher level. 

Some may not agree, but one dancer said she needed an extremely strong partner to carry her. She explained that her partner was “more the creator and the source of the work” and she followed his lead. With couple Lorna Feijóo and Nelson Madrigal, Feijóo says there has to be a lot of trust and she loved dancing with Madrigal because he knows her very well. And Madrigal said, “It’s all about relationships.” During dance duets, couples agree there’s a continuing conversation. 

We can compare this with our relationship with God. He is obviously the creator and the source of our life. He is the stronger partner and we should follow His lead, His vision, if we want something beautiful to happen with our life. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses. He knows what we need to learn and how fast or slow He needs to go to bring out the best in us. And yes, if we keep talking and listening to the Lord, we will enjoy dancing in step with Him! 


Thursday, December 09, 2021

God’s Plan

Today is the feast day of St. Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. This is his story and the story of how people who are enslaved can find freedom in God’s plan for their lives. 

In the 1400s, Mexico was under Aztec oppression. In every town, there was a temple pyramid, where Aztec priests would offer human sacrifices to their god Huitzilopochtli. This god was the "Lover of Hearts and Drinker of Blood," and the priests would cut out the beating hearts of victims, usually adult men but very often children. Over 50,000 human beings were sacrificed each year. Then in 1523, Franciscan missionaries came and evangelized the Indian people. 

On December 9, 1531, Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared to a 57-year old simple peasant man, an Aztec convert, who was on his way to mass. Mary asked Juan Diego to request Bishop Zumarraga that a shrine be built in her honor on the site where she appeared. When Juan presented this request to the Bishop, the Bishop naturally asked for a sign. After several encounters with Mary, Juan brought the Bishop what he asked for. When Juan opened his tilma, his peasant cloak, beautiful Castillan roses, foreign to Mexico, fell out, but more than that, the Bishop saw an extraordinary image of Our Lady on the tilma. The Bishop wept at the sight. That tilma still survives today and thousands go to see it in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

We may be skeptical about apparitions and images appearing on tilmas or anywhere else. However, because Mary spoke to Juan Diego in his native language, and because she was wearing the Aztec dress for pregnant women in the image, this provoked millions of conversions to the Catholic faith in just under seven years. 

Today, we may not have human sacrifices to gods, but 24.9 million people are being sacrificed at the altar of human trafficking. It is the fastest growing crime and generates an estimated $99 billion dollars each year. 

One woman’s story is particularly poignant. Irene gave money to some people who were going to help her get to another country where she would study nursing. Instead, she was forced to have sex with about 40 men a day. When she got pregnant and gave birth, they took her baby and sold the baby to pedophiles. Irene couldn’t take it anymore and leapt from the 4th floor of the apartment where she was held hostage. She was found, brought to A21, a foundation that fights sexual trafficking, and today, she is pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse. 

There is too much evil in the world. But the vision in the Book of Revelation chapter 12 gives us hope. Because of Mary’s yes, because she gave birth to Jesus, and because Jesus gave His life for us on the cross, “Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of God and the authority of His anointed.” (Rev. 12:10) God’s magnificent plan is always the best. 

We need only to trust in Him.