Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Advent 11

Psalm 77
Matthew 1:18-25

     Christmas can be a depressing time for some.  Reflections on those who have passed, relationships lost or broken, friends and family absent from the festivities for any number of reasons, regrets, even misunderstandings as to what our Christmas "celebrations" should entail can create anxiety and depression. 

     In this morning's psalm, David cries out to the Lord, confident that he will hear. He recalls happier days, when he remembers the Lord's favor being upon him. And he asks "Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?"

     Even Joseph seems to lament his situation with Mary.  They are engaged and she is pregnant.  They had not been intimate and he decides to break off the engagement...until the Lord intervenes.

     A wealthy, heroic man names Charles de Foucauld, Viscount of Foucauld, born in 1858, descended from nobility, a calvary officer by training, eventually rejected his faith and lived a life of debauchery, made possible by an inheritance from his grandfather who had raised him.  An exceptionally bright young man, he took to exploration and writing, becoming one of the great culture explorers of northern Africa. Although he was well-respected by the scientific community, his life was empty and at the age 28 he returned to Paris to live with his family.  On January 15 1890, he took a decisive step of faith and joined  the Trappists, eventually becoming one of the great, but perhaps lesser known Hermits. 

     In "Meditations of a Hermit" de Foucauld writes:

Let us thank God a thousand times if in the sadness which invades us it seems as we are rejected by the world.  The depression and suffering, the bitterness with which we seem sometimes to be soaked, were the lot of Our Lord on earth.  Are we not fortunate to share them?  We should pity the happy people. Pity those whose happiness, even though it be quite legitimate and innocent, keeps them attached to the world. God is good that he has so despoiled us of everything, that we can draw breath only by turning our heads towards him.  How great is his mercy, how divine his goodness, for he has torn everything from us in order that we may be more completely his.  So the sufferers are the happy ones though the goodness of God.  In suffering I give thanks.  May these days of Christmas festival bring you, in your suffering, I do not say consolation, but the blessing God intends for you.  The Child Jesus will perhaps not give you any sweetness, - reserves that for the weak ones, - but his hands will none the less be spread to bless you in these days of Christmastide, and whether you feel it or no, he will pour abundant grace into your soul.

    This  Christ child whose birth we celebrate would make the following statement which flow down through the years reminded us again of the value of true faith:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

     If in this season of Advent and Christmastide you find yourself feeling low, depressed, forsaken, neglected, and or forgotten, challenge yourself to remember the words of the saints who have gone before us, even those in Holy Scripture.  We are blessed.  The greatest gift ever was given to us and will be fufilled when He comes again in the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!

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Questions: 1. What does my level of theological knowledge say about my priorities in my own faith development? By God's grace...