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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Year's Blessing

 Dear People of God,
My New Year's Blessing for you is a continuation of our meditation upon the Infancy Narratives.  I was going to write this and send this on New Year's Eve. However, today is the feast of the Holy Innocents and I sense that the coming year will be difficult for all of us but especially for those unable to protect themselves. God will bless you with the graces you need for your journey into your personal holiness. Journey well.
Why Those Shepherds?
            Matthew and Luke were mindful of the fact that Veronica, a woman, approached Jesus on the Via Dolorosa; and a few women of Jerusalem did not hold back expressing their sorrows publicly for Christ there too. The evangelists were struck with how His mother and the other women stood there at the foot of the cross. The only male there was John. Why was John the only man there?
            The evangelists found the answer and revealed it to us with the story of the shepherds at the crib scene.  What is required to find Christ is a developed feminine, whether it is within men or women. We are not talking about sexuality. What we mean is how the shepherds stood watch in the cold winds and elements to protect their flocks.  We are referring to how the shepherds provided food and drink for their herds, and protected them.  They were themselves enjoying their lives and grateful for being alive.  They were devoted to God's creation.
            This is how they brought joy to the earth. That is why the angels found them to be God's choices to represent us before the Christ Child.  Let's be sure we find the right shepherds for us today, who can lead us to Jesus with happiness and hope in serving and protecting life on earth.
Sing to the Lord a New Song.  (Ps. 96)
            Correctly, we stand in awe when the brass and the woodwinds rival each other in Tchaikovsky's symphonies. How about the duets between Mozart's Clarinets and Oboes in his concertos?  Brace yourself for Beethoven's strings and the wonders from a guitar. However, nothing can compare to a human being who becomes His or her song – when their voices send their souls in flight!
            Christmas carols can illustrate this to us. During this time, song and human beings become instruments of God's angel's. They hark the possibilities of the joy and beauty, which rests within our souls when we finally find the meaning of Christ for ourselves and the world.
            We have all heard, "Christmas is for the children."  Or "Christmas is just another day with better food and time off."  "American businesses make fifty percent of their yearly incomes at Christmas time." This makes the American dream appear rather delicate and vulnerable. If there was any time to protect ourselves from materialism, it is NOW.  
            Too often our religious practice is the same-old, same-old boring stuff. It is time for a different song: A vibrant way to worship and be together. I do not know whether you have noticed it or not, but the 'same-old' has driven more people away from the manger than have heard people say, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to me." The proper way to greet our King is have transformed our lives into instruments singing a new creative song.
Filling the World Up with What is Lacking in the Body of Christ
            Matthew and Luke had been watching Christians fill the world with love and loving service as they wrote their Gospels. Are we sure we know how Jesus saves the world? Indeed, He does. But how does God do it?
            Matthew and Luke returned to the cave, and to the Child lying in the manger. Never has human beings ever conceived of a God - before the birth of Christ, during Christ's life and right up to our days – as being so dependent, helpless, vulnerable, and needing protection. He needs others to feed Him, cloth Him, give Him simulation and entertainment.  He can do nothing for Himself.
            Joseph and Mary poured their life's dreams and love into Him. The shepherds did too. The Magi symbolized the world doing the same.  Paul told us (I guess we never believed him) that we make up what is lacking in the Body of Christ. Can we imagine how Joseph and Mary's love was of such a magnitude and quality that it became a part in how Jesus loves, serves, teaches and provides for us?  How sacred is our parental love and sacrifices!! How significant and redeeming is our loving service to others.  I ask you a question. How much did the love and support of Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary and John make a difference in how Jesus endured His crucifixion?
What does that little God baby do with all the love lavished upon Him? He takes our love and shares it with various parts of the hurting world to heal them. The more and deeper the love we share with Christ Jesus, Our Lord, the more He uses our love for Him to share with the world; and the healthier and happier the world will be.  Happy New Year.
Very sincerely yours in Christ,
+ Peter Orlando

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