Monday, December 31, 2007
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Prayer and Devotions
Appreciating the Christmas Gift
by Father Matthew Green, LC
Resolution: Today, share the light of Christ by bringing a Christian dimension to your New Year’s Eve social activities.
December 31, 2007
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. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. 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. John testified to him and cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.'" From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for becoming man for my salvation. Thank you for the gift of faith in this great mystery of your love and humility, which give joy and meaning to my life.
Petition: Father in heaven, help me to appreciate all that you have given us at Christmas. Help me to live all year long in the light of these events!
1. Light in the Darkness . This profoundly theological text holds striking images and powerful messages. The first four sentences speak strongly to us today: They tell us that God, the Creator of all things, came into the darkness of the world to be our light, an inextinguishable source of hope. When they were written, as today, there was much suffering, injustice, corruption, and rejection of truth. The spiritual and moral darkness of the world is dark indeed! But Jesus, God made man, was born totally innocent and pure in order to bring a message of love, hope and redemption. The more the world rejects him, the more his goodness and hope shines through, because God the Son willingly chose to endure suffering and indignities out of love for us. When there is darkness in our lives, we have to remember that Jesus is suffering with us and in us! We should never close our eyes to the light of his love and his promise of redemption — that light that first shone in our world on Christmas two millennia ago.
2. The Greatest Christmas Gift. On that first Christmas, God the Father gave us the gift of God the Son. As if that were not enough, through the Son he wanted to give us the gift of becoming children of God too. Children partake of the nature of their parents; through baptism, we begin to partake of the Divine nature — a new life through sanctifying grace. Although this gift will not be sealed and delivered until the act of redemption on Calvary, it is present here as a promise: a seed destined to bear fruit on the tree of the Cross. In order to lift us up to himself, God, first revealed to our sight as a babe in the manger. God lowered himself to become one of us because he loves us so much. This is the source of our hope! As long as we walk on earth in this light, we will find entrance into the full light of God in eternity.
3. Testifying to the Light. These gifts exceed anything we could expect or imagine on our own. God has come to us, is among us, and is in us. What more could we possibly ask? Like anyone who has found a great gift, we must share it. If we walk in the light, we will necessarily spread it to those around us. We ought to become like John the Baptist and proclaim this hope and joy not just with our lips, but with our lives. We need to live like people who believe in the incarnation and its consequences. We cannot remain attached to the things of this world; we cannot lose hope even in the face of the greatest difficulties. Christmas is not a legend we celebrate once a year; it is an event that touches our lives. It has to be light that illuminates our actions every day!
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, my Savior and friend, I’m sorry for all the times I lose sight of your light and let the darkness of rationalism and relativism close around me and lead me astray. Help me keep my eyes on the light of your incarnation and on your example of humility and love throughout the coming year!
Resolution: Today I will share the light of Christ by bringing a Christian dimension to my New Year’s Eve social activities.
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