God chose us in Christ Jesus before the world began and mercifully destined us to be his sons and daughters. This is why Christ’s coming at Christmas is the great reason for joy. His coming made us who we are.
Saint Paul put it very well.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.
If it is “daily bread,” why do you take it once a year? . . . Take daily what is to profit you daily. Live in such a way that you may deserve to receive it daily. He who does not deserve to receive it daily, does not deserve to receive it once a year.
True repentance is to cease from sin.
Except a man fear the Lord, he is unable to renounce sin.
Prayer is the wing wherewith the soul flies to heaven,
and meditation the eye wherewith we see God.
St. Nicholas was a Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was a very rich man because his parents died when he was young and left him a lot of money. He was also a very kind man and had a reputation for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it. There are several legends about St. Nicholas, although we don’t know if any of them are true!
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This year we are going to emphasize that our “Christmas Confession” begins with a meditation on God’s love revealed in his sending of his Son into this world.
1) We will do this first of on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (this Friday) with the Gospel of Luke relating the Annunciation scene prior to Jesus’s birth. This is really the point of when the Incarnation occurs — the Incarnation of the Son of God made man — as the high point and goal of God’s merciful and loving plan of salvation for weak mankind.
2) The following week on Thursday, December 14th we shall return to this same Gospel as our scripture reading in the Parish Communal Sacrament of Penance. At that time we shall give thanks to the Lord for such a deed, glorify him for it in word and song, and honor him by coming to him to find mercy and forgiveness so we can thank him by the way of holiness we are resolved to live in the future with the help of his continuing mercy.
3) We shall return to the Gospel a third time on December 20th just days before Christmas as a sign that through the grace of God we live in the time of Emmanuel — the time when God is with us.
It is right to speak of Christmas as a Feast of God’s mercy.
Do not be fooled to think that the joy of Christmas precludes awareness of sin.
But that awareness comes in a way we never thought of. Our examination of conscience in association with the Sacrament of Penance does not primarily come from checking our selves against a list of sins or even asking ourselves how we match up in keeping the Ten Commandments. Rather the more we realize how much God loves us the easier it is to recognize our need for his mercy and forgiveness. So the starting point will be the sacred scriptures which tell us of God’s love and the greatness he reveals in sending us his Son, born of Mary. That Son will mature and join us to himself in obedience to the Father’s will. Our desire to be in harmony with the Christ will spur us on to respond in obedience to the merciful love being offered to us. That is what Christmas is for.
What about the Church’s heritage of the Sacrament of Penance leading up to Christmas?
What about Christmas and the mercy of God which calls us to celebrate that mercy more than ever at the Birth of the Savior?
The greatest act of God’s mercy is his sending of Jesus his Son to us. In this “sending” we must include: 1) Jesus’ birth of Mary and ministering in our midst; 2) Jesus’ handing over his life on the cross in obedience to the Father’s will; 3) the Father’s raising Jesus to heavenly glory. So Christmas is a manifestation of God’s merciful steadfast covenant love. Therefore not to proclaim in the assembly that faithfulness of God’s covenant of mercy would be a sin itself. It must be a part of our Christmas celebration. The Sacrament of Penance is a Christmas gift from above. Without it our Christmas would be incomplete.
This being the Feast of Christ the King let us look at the source of the acclamation For yours is the kingdom, power and glory:
Book of Daniel 7:13-14
As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven
One like a son of man.
When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him,
He received dominion, splendor, and kingship;
all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away,
his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed.
Earlier in Daniel 2:37-38 there is something similar:
This was the dream; the interpretation we shall also give in the king’s presence.
You, O king, are the king of kings; to you the God of heaven has given dominion and strength, power and glory.
We are proud of our American heritage of Thanksgiving Day.
It is a day to remember the pilgrims and where our celebration comes from.
It is also a day to praise God for the roots of our faith in giving him thanks —
which can be traced to Old Testament times. Jesus himself gave thanks on several occasions,
keeping in mind especially the Last Supper.
The heritage of our Thanksgiving Day and our heritage of faith go together.
Our thanksgiving to God
follows a loving action on his part
toward his people.