Archive for December, 2010

Last Hour Confessions

December 31, 2010

Today, New Year’s Eve, to me at least, is the most awkward day of the year.

It is a time in which we cannot help but look back at the last 364 days and ask ourselves if we have lived up to our potential.

The Church’s first reading today makes an interesting and almost haunting allusion to this day holding “the last hour.”

It is from the First Book of John, Chapter 2.

1 Jn 2:18-21

Children, it is the last hour;
and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming,
so now many antichrists have appeared.
Thus we know this is the last hour.
They went out from us, but they were not really of our number;
if they had been, they would have remained with us.
Their desertion shows that none of them was of our number.
But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One,
and you all have knowledge.
I write to you not because you do not know the truth
but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.

I am sure that if a survey were taken of the contributors to the New Testament, like the Apostle John, Luke, Peter, or Paul, very few of them would have guessed that the return of Christ would still not have happened after 2010 years.

John’s expose’ of the antichrist mentions that he is coming, but also mentions that he is already here.

There is a fine line between knowing the devil’s work and becoming Bobby Bouchee’s mom from the movie the Water Boy.

She thought everything, including Dick Clark, was the devil.

John, in the scripture above, reminds us that we already know the truth, that which is a lie and that which is not.

It is impossible for me to read this passage on this day, which holds “the last hour,” without reflecting back on what I have done and tremble just a bit.

There is no way that I was perfectly loyal to God in my actions and deeds, or non-deeds.

The idea that I may have been in contact with little antichrists and gone along with them even for a short time, is an eye opener.

Thankfully, our God is all forgiving and he wants us to build upon our faith, using Him as the cornerstone to the foundation of all that is true.

Lord, I confess that my year was not perfect.

Please forgive me.

Through your Grace, I pledge to be more loyal to You and those who need Your help in 2011.

Amen.

One Man, Then God, A Widow’s Dedication

December 30, 2010

In today’s gospel reading The Church asks us to reflect on the prophetess Anna.

The following passage from Luke Chapter 2, though brief, gives us a great deal of information about what type of woman she must have been.

There was a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She 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.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.

As I meditated on this story this morning I could not help but notice that Anna was probably unmarried for the better part of her life.

Although the passage does not mention her age at marriage, we can make the assumption that she very likely did what most young women in their late to mid teens did back then.

Anna was probably married by the age of 17 or so.

If she was married seven years, which we know, then her husband died when she was 24, which means she lived as a widow for 60 more years.

She was hardly what one would call today, the merry widow.

Many of my readers remember my grandmother on my mother’s side, Sittoo Betros.

She came here from Lebanon, from the Nejaime clan, to be introduced to a man in North Adams.

She was just a teenager at the time and in that era, this type of thing was quite common.

When she met this man she was not impressed.

She told the family that she was living with that she did not want to marry him.

As the story goes, he tried to kidnap her, but failed and then finally gave up.

Not much later she met my grandfather, Edward (Abdou) Betros, from Great Barrington.

She liked him a lot more and agreed to marry him.

I remember her telling me that he reminded her of John Wayne.

They had five children, but sadly my grandfather died when the youngest was less than a year old.

My mom was only twelve.

They had a grocery store that was connected to their home and by God’s grace they survived the depression and World War II.

My Sittoo Betros was one of the most prayerful women I had ever met.

She would rotate living with us in her elder years, then she would be off to Orlando and then loop back to Great Barrington, Mass.

My parents gave her a bedroom to stay in and it was filled with beautiful religious articles of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

The thought of my Sittoo ever going on a date with a single man as a widow never ever occurred to me.

She was quite attractive too, always descending from her bedroom in a pretty dress with stockings and heels and her hair and face made up.

Her name was M’sahiah, which was the Lebanese word for Christ, or as she would say, “Christine.”

Just like the prophetess Anna, she lived her widowed years fully dedicated to a higher cause than earthly pleasures.

Although she was a tiny woman, I noticed that every man she ever met, stood up when she entered a room and tipped their hat to her in respect.

I am so grateful for having lived with such a godly woman and I ask my readers, especially those who also knew devout Christian widows to take this day and reflect upon how they influenced your life and personal behavior.

Personal tragedy can do so much to impede our growth, yet if it is accepted as God’s will for our lives, then we have the power to become like the prophetess Anna and do legendary things with our faith.

Thank you Lord for tragedies in our lives, help us not to waste them on self-pity, but to use them to bring you glory, through praise and humility.

Amen.

What Is Really Important?

December 29, 2010

Today the Liturgy from The Church, in her three readings, asks us to meditate on several important Truths.

In the first reading we learn about the New Commandment from 1 John Chapter 2:

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you
but an old commandment that you had from the beginning.
The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
And yet I do write a new commandment to you,
which holds true in him and among you,
for the darkness is passing away,
and the true light is already shining.
Whoever says he is in the light,
yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother remains in the light,
and there is nothing in him to cause a fall.
Whoever hates his brother is in darkness;
he walks in darkness
and does not know where he is going
because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

In today’s Psalms, Chapter 96, we are asked to sing praises to our Lord:

R. (11a) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
The LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty go before him;
praise and grandeur are in his sanctuary.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

(If you are unfamiliar with that format above, it is set up so that a cantor/song leader, can lead a congregation in song.  Just as was the original intent of much of the Book of Psalms.)

Finally, from the Gospel of Luke Chapter 2, we read the very comforting story of the dedication of Jesus at the Temple and the devout old man Simeon, who was waiting for the Good News.

When the days were completed for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice of
a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.
This man was righteous and devout,
awaiting the consolation of Israel,
and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit
that he should not see death
before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
He came in the Spirit into the temple;
and when the parents brought in the child Jesus
to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
(and you yourself a sword will pierce)
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

In the first reading, we are reminded that, although we have been given a promise from God, we cannot fully embrace all of His blessings until we let go of hatred and animosity toward our fellow-man.

This may sound easy on the surface, but, in reality, it is not.

Think of all of the grudges that we hold against former workers or bosses, or in-laws, or past spouses or those who may have hurt us our offended our children.

The list can be very long once we look at it hard.

God wants us to let things go.

The second reading teaches us how.

By singing to the Lord with all our hearts, we are filling ourselves up with praise and pushing out all of the bad memories and hurts.

Sometimes when I make fresh coffee, I simply put the coffee put under the cold water and let the new water flush out the stale old coffee.

If I let it run long enough, I do not need to do anything else and the water in the pot eventually becomes clear and pure.

That is what praising God in song can do for us.

Finally, the last reading, is one that we Catholics often point to when criticized for believing in infant Baptism.

First, one must remember that every Christian family has elderly relatives, much like Simeon.

The Sacrament of Baptism and the way in which we Catholics emphasize and celebrate it, is just as much a blessing for our elderly relatives, parents and grandparents, etc…as it is for the child.

We are letting them know that their faith, instilled in us and passed down to the next generation, has come full circle.

It is one thing to teach our children about God, but until we know they are willing to teach their children, then our parenting is only partially complete.

I do not have grandchildren yet, but I know that a highlight for me will be seeing them Baptized.

For Simeon, the blessing of seeing Jesus at the Temple was so great, that he was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied about His life and the future.

Today and every day Lord, help us to love and forgive and sing and move our faith forward the old-fashioned way.

It is never wrong to pray or sing praise or to teach our children of You.

It is only wrong to hate and to be ashamed of what You and our Church stands for.

A Pro-Life Feast Day

December 28, 2010

This is the saddest feast day that The Church asks us to recognize.

Today we commemorate the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

In case you do not remember exactly what that is, read the passage below, from Matthew Chapter 2, and I am sure it will all come back to you.

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He 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.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

The Church correctly describes these young boys as martyrs.

Only God and the souls of the mothers who suffered, know for sure how many of these infants were killed.

To the chagrin of many Liberals and Progressives, the Pro Life movement has embraced this feast day in honor of the millions of unborn “innocents” who have been killed in America since Roe vs. Wade,  the famous Supreme Court case that refused to determine “when life begins.”

In spite of the efforts of Planned Parenthood, with its attempts to smooth over abortion, as if it were no different from any other type of contraceptive tool, there are hints of Truth in this passage, that they have no power to suppress.

The Spiritual Truth that pro-choice/pro abortionists do not want parents to know, is that “Rachel weeping for her children” is a symbol and inevitable result of any mother (or even consenting father) who succumbs to the rage of a self-centered life.

Herod wanted power only for himself and did not want to give up his throne to a child Who was too weak to defend himself.

In his rage, he destroyed an entire region full of young boys.

In a haunting way, a woman who “chooses” to allow her child to be killed, is first assuming the spirit of Herod, who cannot give up his comfortable life and power, no matter who he hurts; then, without warning, or the ability to overlook the act, her spirit becomes “one” with Rachel of Ramah, as her weeping for who has been destroyed can “never be consoled.”

Surely there are women who may claim to be unaffected by their decision.

That does not mean we have to believe them.

The Scriptures don’t lie; people do.

Now, before you accuse me of sitting myself down as judge and jury of all who have had an abortion, I gladly point to one more passage of Scripture that The Church wisely chose today for part of her Liturgy.

It is from 1 John Chapter 1:

This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ
and proclaim to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are without sin,”
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Jesus was a carpenter, preacher and saviour, while here on earth.

When He arrived first in heaven, He was King.

When the sinners started to arrive at the gates of heaven, He had to put on one more hat, that of Advocate/Attorney, who all of us,  without exception, need to help us through the judgment day of our own sins.

Jesus’ death on the cross and the blood He shed is the only evidence we need to be forgiven.

No matter who we are, or what we have done, by hiring Jesus to be our Attorney, (freely, through putting faith in Him) we have employed an Advocate Who needs no notes on our past, or alibis of any kind, to excuse us.

All He has to do is show up at our court case, i.e. our judgment day, and point to the scars in His hands and feet and side.

“Double Jeopardy;” being tried for the same crime twice, is not permitted in heaven either.

Our Lord chose to die for the most evil of all sinners and pay for our sins in advance.

He already went to trial for us.

His goodness overcame death and those who follow Him reap the benefits.

Even Herod had the right to repent and return to God for forgiveness.

There is hope for all, especially the broken-hearted.

Thank you Lord for all Martyrs who died for You.

May their death always remind us of your Mercy and eternal rewards for those who have, through faith, repented and joined your Mystical Body.

Artistic Spoofs Meant to Redeem Us

December 27, 2010

I am grateful that so few Americans are amused by some of the ridiculous and insulting ways that so-called “artists” try to interpret God.

One such recent sacrilege depicted a crucifix covered with ants. 

Another, from a few years ago, was a display of Christ covered with human waste.

The devil may be snickering at this, but we believers are simply growing stronger in faith because of it.

Instead of garbage like this chipping away at the foundation of what we believe, it shores it up and also provides further proof that man is not evolving, but spiraling backward.

The fact is, expressing one’s baser ideas does not automatically constitute “art.”

I am sure that many modern artists would disagree, but as far as I am concerned, art is as much about touching people with truth, as it is about talent.

Art is meant to cause us to think and reflect and to love.

Art that deliberately causes shame and is meant to insult a certain race or culture is better described as “hate” than art.

But, since only conservative Christians are ever guilty of “hate” speech, modern “artists” escape such characterizations.

It is important that we use our voices to express ourselves if this type of thing ever comes to our communities.

No matter how clever they think they are, they need sponsors and donors.

Today the Church and her Liturgy from John Chapter 20, (the discovery of the empty tomb) make a very interesting artistic point, that alludes back to the birth of Christ.

On the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we do not know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.

The verse begins discussing the first day of the week, yet this is the last week of the calendar year.

The woman pointing to Christ is a harlot, Mary Magdalene, a black hole in society, a polar opposite of the great star in the eastern sky that directed the Magi to the Lord.

Peter and John arrive separately at the tomb.  John, whom the Lord loved,  is a symbol of the weak and poor shepherds; Peter, coming a bit later, already equipped with the keys Christ gave him, is a symbol of the royal kings of the east, who are still on their way.

The burial clothes are the last garments on earth Christ would wear, opposite to that of the swaddling clothes he wore in the manger, his first.

The tomb itself, a symbol of death, is juxtaposed against the manger, the newest Christian symbol of life.

Also, the tomb belonged to a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea; the manger was only rented for one night by a poor man, Joseph of Nazareth.

The apostle John saw the empty tomb and the clothes rolled up and we learn that he saw and believed.  The shepherds saw the Angels and the Christ child, and they saw and believed.

Finally, the prophecy of the virgin birth is only fulfilled and completed by the prophecy of a great redeemer Who would return from death and help a lost and dying world reconnect to its Creator.

So those are just a few examples of how the Church and her Liturgy express themselves artistically.

Truth is always greater than trash, but don’t expect to read my interpretation on the cover of the National Enquirer.

It won’t sell many papers.

The Commandment With a Promise

December 26, 2010

Today is the feast day of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

We Catholics call them the Holy Family.

Our reason for doing so are many, but the most obvious is that not one of these New Testament figures is ever presented in the Bible as having sinned.

If there were a naming contest for my family, based on the behavior of me, the dad, the title “Holy Family” would hardly be a contender.

Just as Mary was chosen as the perfect vessel through which  a sinless Jesus would be born, so too was Joseph chosen to be the perfect foster-father.

In today’s readings, The Church asks us to study the doctrine from the 5’th Commandment, “Honor your Father and Mother.”

This Commandment is also described as the first commandment with a promise.

The Bible has much to say about this doctrine of obedience and reward and the passage below elaborates on it well.

Sir 3:2-6, 12-14

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
—a house raised in justice to you.

Although not much is known about the death of St. Joseph, through reading the Scriptures, one can assume that he raised Jesus under the tutelage of the 10 Commandments.

Since Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it, how fitting that the very first miracle He performs is in obedience to His Mother.

At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary asks Jesus to help the bride and groom, who have run out of wine.

Jesus first acts indifferent to the problem.

Here is the interesting part about Christ’s obedience to her.

It is not always about obedience to avoid sin.

Sometimes our parents ask us to do things that make little sense to us, yet, because of the doctrine of the 5’th Commandment, we are compelled to do it, in order to receive the blessing and promise that is associated with being a good son or daughter.

It is no mistake that God and The Church have set as the foundation for morality, a Holy Family here on earth.

Although we may have let our parents down from time to time, our dedication to The Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, The Word and toward helping the poor, set us apart from a selfish world.

It is our duty as parents to do all that we can to raise children under the same principles that Joseph and Mary raised Jesus.

Though it is impossible for us and our children to live without sin, it is not impossible for us to point to One Who did.

Lord, in this season of Christmas, help us to be thankful for the greatest gift of all, the invitation to be part of Your Holy Family for eternity.

God’s Gift; Never The Wrong Size

December 25, 2010

I would like to wish all my readers a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

This truly is the greatest time of year for believers.

Our tradition of gift giving, song and celebration, is solely to honor the birth of our Lord.

Critics like to say we’ve stolen a pagan holiday.

The fact is, there are no days in the calendar that one can say were not, at one time, a pagan holiday.

Satan hates everything about this day.

Today The Church Liturgy suggests we lift up our voices in song and praise.

Is 52:7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!”

Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
for they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD restoring Zion.
Break out together in song,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the LORD comforts his people,
he redeems Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations;
all the ends of the earth will behold
the salvation of our God.

Sometimes gifts we give are not the right size.

As we go off to worship today, remember the joy God feels when we sing His praises.

All of us, according to the Gospel reading today, are born with a tiny pilot light inside, eager to be lit.

The Lord is the One Who turns that little flicker into an eternal flame.

Jn 1:1-5, 9-14

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

This Christmas allow Christ to ignite your little light.

You will find it’s the perfect gift for yourself and your loved ones.

Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth.

Christmas Eve, Better Than Ever

December 24, 2010

Today is Christmas Eve.

Now that I am the father of three fully grown children, one of whom is already married, the stress level actually has gone way down.

In the old days, when the children were still writing letters to Santa and anxiously waiting for his arrival, it was Christmas Eve that this real Lebanese Elf would stay up until well past midnight assembling things from Little Tikes, Playskool and Fischer Price.

My wife bought them, I dragged them into the house, hid them for three weeks in the cellar and then put them together in the wee hours of Christmas Eve.

There was one good thing about it that made it all worthwhile.

The looks on the faces of the kids when they rocketed down the stairs in the morning.

My video camera would always be rolling and the little screams of glee were priceless.

What else could a parent with young people want on Christmas morning?

In today’s Old Testament reading the Church asks us to reflect a bit on what grown children of the Lord want.

King David is meditating on his many blessings, but comes to the realization that his earthly world is better than God’s.

Check out the interaction between David, the Prophet Nathan and the Lord.

2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
“Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?

“‘It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his Kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.’”

At first, it may seem as though God is fairly demanding here, confirming with David that He deserves a Temple to live in, because of all that He has done.

David does comply and begins to build the Lord a magnificent Temple in Jerusalem, one that all the world honored then and still does today, as one of the Holiest places on the planet, at least what is left of it.

Many times in the New Testament, the disciples and various members of the community in Palestine at large question Jesus about his blood relatives.

Jesus always responds by saying  things like: “You who believe are my brother, my mother and my sister.” etc…

A common misinterpretation is that Jesus is bringing his blood relatives down to the level of the locals.

Not true.

Jesus is bringing the least of the Kingdom up to the level of His blood relatives.

When Mary and Joseph found only one place in Bethlehem to stay, on that glorious night that Jesus was born, God was not bringing His Kingdom down to earth.

He was lifting the lowliest place of all to a higher level.

When we invite Christ into our lives, a prerequisite for all of us who want to be part of His Kingdom, God is saying, I do not care who you are, or how unknown you may be.

You are as great as the Great Temple that King David began and Solomon completed.

I am willing to dwell in you as my Magnificent Temple.

It’s no wonder that we faithful get excited about Christmas Eve.

The gifts that we parents fuss over for our kids are a symbol of the gifts given to the Redeemer Who thought enough of His creation to come among them to dwell as a human.

Thankfully Jesus was not born in Buckingham Palace.

He would have lost all credibility if He was.

So that none could say He had an advantage over the world, He chose the lowliest of places in which to be born and he allows communion with Him to be free of charge for each person on earth without prerequisites or good works.

All we need is an open heart and to have the faith of  a little child.

God wants to record our faith in Him by writing our names in the Book of Life.

He treasures our accepting His greatest gift as a parent treasures the joy of their child on Christmas morning.

Why Christmas Is A Double Blessing

December 23, 2010

In the Christmas season, we Christians never seem to tire of singing of the infant Jesus, the Virgin birth and how the miracles affect us.

The Church, in her Liturgy today, asks us to ponder the last Book of the Old Testament; Malachi 3.

Notice how the Scriptures discuss a future prophet and a blessing and the impact they will have on us as individuals.

Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

Lo, I will send you
Elijah, the prophet,
Before the day of the LORD comes,
the great and terrible day,
To turn the hearts of the fathers to their children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike
the land with doom.

In the Old Covenant, the Promise that God made to Abraham, was fulfilled through the conception of Isaac.

Abraham and Sarah were both well beyond their child-bearing years when their miracle happened.

In the New Covenant, the Promise is doubled, through miraculous interventions involving again, the conception of a child.

First, through Elizabeth, with the miracle of her son John the Baptist (who Malachi refers to as Elijah) and then through the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus, referred to as the LORD.

The Gospel of Luke Chapter 1, more recommended reading by the Church today, helps us see the prophecy of Malachi fulfilled.

Luke 1:57-66

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”

Lord, thank you for reminding us that life is just the beginning of what you have in store for your children.

All of us have the privilege of serving you here on earth, like John the Baptist did, pointing others to You.

Our ministry, if anything other than leading people to you, is then only a shadow of what it could be.

Your promise of eternal life should never be under estimated, under appreciated, or taken for granted.

It is far too great a gift and a double blessing; first life here on earth, with a glimpse of Your glory through Your Word, then a promise for eternity, that no man can describe.

Angels we have heard on high!

My “Coming Out” Confession

December 22, 2010

Now that the most powerful institution on earth, the United States Military, has made it chic to confess ones’ deepest sexual thoughts, I feel it only fair that I confess mine.

It happened in front of the television, in the early 60’s.

I was born this way and anyone who says otherwise would be using hate speech.

There they were, in full Technicolor, on my mom and dad’s RCA.

When I saw them dance, ballet-like, with their huge smiles, giant feathers and kaleidoscope shapes, formed with costumes and leg kicks, revealed by overhead camera angles, I could not deny what I was feeling inside.

Yes, it was the Jackie Gleason show and I fell in love with all (16) of the June Taylor Dancers.

I decided right then and there that I was different.

I desired in my heart to marry all those women at one time.

These same feelings overcame me again a  few years later when introduced to the (24) Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

I could not help myself.

I needed tolerance and understanding for the way I was born.

Yet, I was afraid to tell others I was a poly-hetero-sexual.

I made that word up, but it’s real to me.

As time went on, I began to fight for my rights.

How could seventeen consenting adults love for one another ever hurt anyone?

We deserved equality under the law.

The issue was completely one of civil rights.

In my mind it was only a matter of time before I too would be allowed, just like my newly liberated same-sex brethren, the right to share my social security check with the (16) or (24) people I loved.

I didn’t care about those bigoted extremists who said I was immoral.

I also wanted to force the rest of America to take poly-hetero-sexual sensitivity training.

The public schools, beginning of course with kindergarten, would be the best place to start.

I even wrote a children’s book called Daddy Has Sixteen Rings, Thank God He Has Toes.

Then something happened that turned me around.

I attended a Catholic Mass and heard a Scripture that rocked my world.

“Maybe I’d better rethink this,” I thought.

I don’t want to be banned from heaven!

It sure did hurt at first, but finally, I saw the error of my ways and asked God to help me repent.

Here’s the verse from 1 Corinthians 6 that grabbed me.

9Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality,

10Nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.

It shook me to the core.

(And I was just about to start using a cool PC acronym too…darnit!)

I’ll always be a poly-hetero-sexual (PHS), but thanks to God’s forgiving ways and the power of prayer, (that includes the serenity prayer) I’m sober and happily married to a fine and very tolerant woman.

Every now and then I’m tempted a bit, especially during Patriots or Celtics games on TV, (sideline shots are a real Cross for me) but our love for one another is stronger than ever.

Thank you Lord that your rules for personal behavior are clear.

With your help, all of us with “issues,” can find forgiveness and be cleansed by your blood.

You are great because you want to forgive us, just like it says in 1 John 1:9

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Amen.