St Stephen’s Tomb, Vienna
Reading: You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead and guide me. Free me from the net they have set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God. (Psalm 31:4-6)
Observation: If you look back on the 24th of December, I journaled on the horn of salvation and the picture that I found to post was taken from later in the 2nd book of Samuel and it related the message of this Psalm again. I think this Psalm was chosen for the church today to join the words from the first reading and the Gospel today because of the way the words that Jesus spoke as he surrendered his spirit on the cross were from the 6th verse, “Into your hands I commend my spirit”, and the Apostle Stephen, who we celebrate his feast day today on the day after Christmas, uttered similar words but directed them specifically to our Lord. He said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Personally, I can think of no better way for us to honor the first Apostle that followed in the footsteps of Jesus and was received into the heavenly kingdom, than to celebrate his feast day on the day after the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Personification: Faith/Fidelity The faith that Stephen has to be able to look into the face of death and ask the Lord to receive his spirit. I want to be able to surrender the way that Jesus did and Stephen. I would imagine that both of them knew that they could have chosen an easier path to spread the good news, but they both surrendered their will completely to the will of the Father. Since Jesus was God, I imagine the surrender to his will was a little easier than Stephen’s, but it doesn’t say that Stephen hesitated and doubted whether or not he should enter the debate with these officials from the Jewish church. I want to be more like Stephen and show the fruit of faith and fidelity in the face of what ever adversity may befall me.
Prayer: St Stephen, pray for me to be filled with the faith and fidelity to walk in the light of truth like you did when questioned by the authority in the church. Please ask God to send down the Holy Spirit to walk with me in the face of whatever adversity that may befall me. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The text from the picture is from the same book of Samuel that gave us the first reading today, and I found it when I searched for an image from the text from the Gospel reading today…(horn of salvation…hmmm…)
Reading: He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant, even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old: (Luke 1:68-69)
And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, (Luke 1:76-77)
Observation: We didn’t have Mass this morning at Saint Alice, because we will actually have three Masses this evening for Christmas Eve. However, I think the readings this morning are very important for me to hear, in that they specifically speak to the fact that the redeemer is prophesied by Nathan as coming from the house of David in the first reading from the 2nd book of Samuel and his way is going to be prepared by his cousin is prophesied by Zachariah, John’s Father, in the Gospel reading from the book of Luke.
Personification: Humility (Gentleness) Today, I feel called to remember the words of the priest at the Mass that I attended yesterday at St Mary’s church. He said that we should look to John the Baptist to see how we should act with humility. John the Baptist words during his ministry that, “He must increase and I must decrease” is a phrase that I would love to be able to pattern my own ministry after, in both my home and my church.
Prayer: Lord, I am thankful to you for coming to us in the form of a baby to remind us of the fact that it is in our humility that we can share the message of salvation with others. Please help me to stay focused on your message always and never get too caught up in what I am trying to say. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reading: Good and upright is the LORD, who shows sinners the way,
Guides the humble rightly, and teaches the humble the way. (Psalm 25:8-9)
Observation: Ok, I know that I am a sinner, but the humble part I struggle with. The LORD is good and upright, I am a sinner…I got that part down. The LORD is working on me to make me humble. We still have a lot of earthly riches in my family, and it is hard to be humble about them when you were not raised with them. As always, I will be relying on the grace of God to teach me how to be humble when we have been blessed with so much.
Personification: Modesty It is pretty obvious that the fruit that I feel called to display is the fruit of modesty. I know that I have the ability to be prideful about the accomplishments of my past, I will need God’s grace to be modest about where it all comes from. I find myself, at times, acting as if I have done something to deserve the wonderful things that we possess. The truth is that it is by the grace of God that we have anything…A house, car and all the gifts that we have to give to others for Christmas.
Prayer: Lord, help me to display the fruit of modesty as it relates to every gift that I have been given, both physically and spiritually. Keep me focused on using the things of this world to bring greater glory to you, my Almighty Father. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reading: 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 him there; (1Samuel 1:27-28)
Observation: Today, I led the communion service this morning and I missed the two verses above because I was so focused on the fact that Hannah’s proclamation in honor of the Lord that follows these verses was so similar to the Canticle of Mary that makes up the main part of the Gospel reading from the book of Luke today. I wonder, now, how different our church would be if we truly saw all of our children as gifts from God and offered them first to the Lord and only after discerning whether they had a calling to the religious life, then they would seek some other vocation after they had determined that they did not have a calling to the priesthood or religious life. How many prophets, like Samuel, have we not seen because of our selfishness with our children?
Personification: Joy I want to focus today and for the rest of my life on being filled with the fruit of joy. As a well known pastor on the radio said this morning, I will not let those thoughts and discussions that are not focused on his Word to enter into my heart. I will attempt to close the lid on my heart concerning all these temporal things and focus only on the eternal.
Prayer: Lord, please supply me with the grace necessary to cut off all pathways to my heart from being accessible to disheartening talk or things of this world. Please help me to focus on the miracle of Jesus’ birth at Christmas and help me to bring real joy to my family and friends. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Scripture reference for the video: (The words on the video are not perfect, but I think the video is awesome)
Reading: Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.” (Luke 23-25)
Observation: I included the fact that Zachariah returned home at the beginning of the reflection today because of the fact that it is at home that I have the biggest chance for anxiety in my life. This morning, I am reminded of the healing and redemptive power of God from the words from Elizabeth here in these verses. She does not say that she is so glad that God recognized her piety and observance of the commandments and honored her with a child. Rather, she said that God saw fit to do it of his own volition, so that she no longer was disgraced before others.
Personification: Humility (Gentleness) I am feeling the special call to display the fruit of humility with everyone around me. I will need his grace to be able to be like Elizabeth in recognizing that it is not because of anything that I have done that deserves the saving power of God to redeem my life in what ever way he decides to, or even if he decides to redeem my life.
Prayer: Lord, help me to keep your faith in the forefront of my mind. I wish to be ever focused on your will, so that my will is not in the way. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Scripture: But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. (John 2:24-25)
Observation: Later in the fourth chapter, Jesus says that unless the people see signs and wonders they will not believe. Even though he was speaking to a different group in the verses above from the 2nd chapter of John, I think the allusion to the faulty human nature is the same. I was struck this morning by the fact that Jesus knows us even now, after over 2000 years of performing miracles in people lives, we are still waiting for a sign or a wonder to prove somehow that he is the Christ and that he is coming back.
Application: I have been told that I have a faith that abandons this earthly life and focuses only on the spiritual. Even if this is true, I want to be able to do this more in my life. I want to lose track of where I want to go and lose myself completely in God’s will.
Prayer: Lord, please supply me with the grace necessary to bring joy to others by living out your will for me in my life today, and for the rest of my life. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. (Really?) This is the response from the Responsorial Psalm today…
Reading: That he may defend the oppressed among the people, save the poor (Psalm 73:4ab)
Observation: In the readings from Mass today, there was only this section of the verse from the Responsorial Psalm that was speaking to me today. Even though this was talking about Solomon, I believe that he could be speaking about all of us today who have the ability to defend the oppressed in our society and to save the poor.
Personification: Kindness and Patience I am hearing the call to display the fruits of kindness and patience today and for the rest of my life. I will make a special effort to be kind to the oppressed people of our society and to be patient when waiting on the Lord to reveal to me the different ways in which I can give back to the poor.
Prayer: Lord, help me to patiently wait on you Lord with the knowledge and wisdom that comes from only you. Please send down your spirit to move me to kindness for all of the poor people in our world. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.