Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Daily Meditation 01/01/08 Feast of the Holy Name/Circumcision


A Prayer:
For the Birth of a New Year

God of winter morning,
Of new day born from the waters of night;
A feeble cry from Mother Earth's horizon,
A murmured moan from lingering stars;
Infant soft, blue-veined is your child, Dawn.
Into the waiting arms of Your people
You gift this newness to us...

O God, help us to look with awe-laden eyes,
Let us hear with soft-edged hearts the first cries
of the New Year, of a new day,
that we may come running as if life,
fragile and tear-stained,
awaits us.

O Creator, lover of life,
What child has been born as Day this hour?
Stretched across heaven and earth,
Arms wide open
Waiting for us to return the embrace --
To count fingers and toes of light and rivers,
bird and flower,
woman, man, and child.
Straining to hear a whispered word --
A song of peace,
A hymn of promise,
A lullaby of justice.

God who was, now is, and will still be,
Show us the way of newness --
conceived by Your desire,
born of Your Love's labor,
made visible,

O Lord,
In this now toddling year,
we move, outstretched in hope, toward You.


Pamela Hawkins is serves as Managing Editor of Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life. An Elder in the United Methodist Church, she lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband Ray. Pamela is the author of the recent Upper Room book, Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent .

O sweet Child of Bethlehem,
grant that we may share with all our hearts
in this profound mystery of Christmas.
Put into the hearts of men and women this peace
for which they sometimes seek so desperately
and which you alone can give to them.
Help them to know one another better,
and to live as brothers and sisters,
children of the same Father.
Reveal to them also your beauty, holiness and purity.
Awaken in their hearts
love and gratitude for your infinite goodness.
Join them all together in your love.
And give us your heavenly peace. Amen.

Pope John XXIII


Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Today's Scripture

AM Psalm 103; PM Psalm 148
Isa. 62:1-5,10-12; Rev. 19:11-16; Matt. 1:18-25

From Forward Day by Day:

Luke 2:15-21. He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

My grandmother was born on this day. She came into this world in northern Mexico. Throughout history Christians have given their children the name of the saint whose feast day is celebrated on the child's birthday. My grandmother was named after the Mother of our Lord and Christ himself. Her name was Maria de Jesus and she was known as Jesucita.

In the early twentieth century, young Jesucita and her new groom escaped the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution and came to this country. Their legal fee was ten cents. Both of them crossed the border in the same town of my first parish. Seventy-five years after their quest, I served as deacon and was ordained to the priesthood. Maria de Jesus. What a blessed name. What a Redeemer and Lord we have in Christ. What a Savior we have in Jesus.

Jesus! the Name that charms our fears
and bids our sorrows cease;
'tis music in the sinner's ears,
'tis life and health and peace.
-Charles Wesley (d. 1788)

Today we remember: The Holy Name

Today in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

From: Christmas CLARESHARE December 2006
Ty Mam Duw Poor Clare Colettine Community

1st January
Mary Mother of God
World day of prayer for peace.

Make peace. Send a New Year's peace card to someone who has disrupted your
life - and /or draw a heart on your fridge door with their initials.

Twelve Days of Christmas

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Day 8, January 1
Eight Maids A-milking
The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)

2 Corinth. 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

It's a brand new year! And with each new year comes new plans, new goals, new resolutions. It is natural for people to want something new in their lives. It is common for us to want to become something we are not. So, we break out the weights, we try on a new diet, we go back to college, or we might even try lessons on that instrument we have always wanted to play.

For a while we are gung ho- full of energy and vitality. We just can't wait to show off the 'new me'. While all those plans and wishes are admirable, most of the time we get bored with the 'new plan' and soon we are right back to where we were at the beginning of the year.

Change. Real change that makes a difference comes only when an individual comes to grips with his or her self. Real change comes only when we realize that, on our own, we are nothing. On our own, we can do nothing. On our own, we never see real success. On our own, we are only failures.

Enter our Scripture. If you are looking for real change, if you are searching for a brand new start that will stick, if you really want to become a successful individual, then great news is found in our Scripture reading.

If anyone is in Christ (that includes even you, my friend) he or she is a new person (NEW - not the person you used to be. Not the person you are tired of.) Old things (the past, the old habits, the way you used to be) are passed away and ALL things become new! Yes, this is the change we all long for!

This is what we desire - a real change from being a failure. A brand new start to being what we were created to be - a vibrant, exciting person with a reason to live! Is this what you are looking for? Great! Then begin the new year with all your sins forgiven (through a true repentance of your sins) and start real living as the brand new you! The you that is forgiven and filled with the Spirit! The you that has changed!

Joe Talhelm
Crowley, Louisiana, USA

Dear Lord,

This is the day You have made. Let me rejoice, and be glad in it. There will be 364 more of these in the year to come. Help me Father, to make them all count for you. Let the change that You have brought keep me inspired, challenged, motivated. Let Your newness stay ever fresh. Let me know You, and Your glory, with unfaded awareness of the most precious presence ever. I need You, Lord. I love You, Lord. Let Your newness become mine.


Speaking to the Soul:

Becoming persons

Daily Reading for January 1 • The Feast of the Holy Name

Back in the 1950s you opened up the newspaper on the first January certain to find the cartoonists trotting out the images of the little baby in diapers imprinted with the new year’s numbers, and old Father Time with his hourglass and scythe. These secular symbols are already so threadbare that in comparison the scriptural image of today’s liturgy, the Feast of the Holy Name, seems quite dramatic and still replete with meaning. Here the child held up before us is a real infant, and the figure with the sharp blade a real elder who cuts the flesh of the boy as the sign of the covenant with Abraham, while his parents give him his name. We are present at a fateful event: the newborn is becoming a person. And we are also persons, are becoming persons. This feast has to do with us. This becoming a person is what we would know the meaning of.

Seven full days have passed since the birth of Jesus. A week of namelessness, a symbolic hiatus. The infant is only a newborn. Only on the eighth day does the trajectory of the child’s human identity begin; he is acknowledged as a member of the community. He is inserted into its history, claimed by its tradition, and given a destiny within its future by naming. This name that bears his future is one that gathers up into a single sound the whole past experience and hope of his forebears and parents. Yahweh Saves. It is the name of the leader who took the desert wanderers into the promised land.

The feast is no longer called by its old name, the Feast of the Circumcision. Perhaps we are appalled to think about the radical givenness of identity that the irrevocable surgery on a helpless infant expresses so sharply—literally as a matter of flesh and blood. Before there is an I to choose, others choose and must mold and make me and do what calls me into life as a person in a particular community. Each of us is marked for life by the scandal of initial absolute dependence and vulnerability to the cutting edge of our situation. The persons we become can never dissolve or undo this givenness, though some of the wounds may heal and some of the blessings be lost.

From “Seek My Face” in Nativities and Passions: Words for Transformation by Martin L. Smith (Cowley Publications, 1995).

Spiritual Practice of the Day

Remember how we'd talk every night at bedtime? I miss that. — God
— billboard ad campaign quoted in God Speaks edited by Charles Robb

To Practice This Thought: Have an evening chat with God.
++++++++++ Reflections

In the evening of this life you will be examined in love. Learn then to love as God desires to be loved and abandon your own ways of acting.
St John of the Cross
Sayings of Light and Love, 60.

Reading from the Desert Christians


The Holy Eucharist is the first, most important, and greatest
miracle of Christ. All the other Gospel miracles are secondary.
How could we not call the greatest miracle the fact that simple
bread and wine were once transformed by the Lord into His very
Body and His very Blood, and then have continued to be transformed
for nearly two thousand years by the prayers of priests, who are
but simple human beings? And what is more, this mystery has
continued to effect a miraculous change in those people who
communicate of the Divine Mysteries with faith and humility.

Daily Meditation (Henri Nouwen)

Expecting a Surprise

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let's not be afraid to receive each day's surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.

From the Principles of the Third Society of St. Francis:

Day One - The Object

Jesus said, "Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor." (John 12:24-26)

Upper Room Daily Reflection

Take Me into a New Year
January 1st, 2008
Tuesday’s Reflection

TAKE ME INTO A NEW YEAR, Gracious God. Help me to continue looking for meaning, seeking peace, praying for light, dancing for joy, working for justice, and singing your praise. I go into the new year filled with expectations, a touch of worry, and a bundle of hope. I do not journey into the new year alone but with you as my guide, with a commitment to my disciplines, with a community of family, friends, and faith. Take me into the new year, Creator of beauty and wonder. Bless me with the companionship of Jesus, and gift me with the guidance and power of the Spirit. Amen.

- Larry James Peacock
Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Psalms, and Prayer

From p. 398 of Openings: A Daybook of Saints, Psalms, and Prayer by Larry James Peacock. Copyright © 2003 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

Richard Rohr's Daily Reflection

Mary, Mother of God
Mary symbolizes the people of God, the Church, the symbol of humanity in need of God. The medievals had a great sense of this. They used to picture Mary in their art as the woman with a giant cape. Beneath the cape were all the people of God. She summed up the meaning of their Christianity in her person, in her "yes."

She is the symbol of God's final victory in humanity. In her bodily Assumption, we know that all of our humanity is free, redeemable and of immeasurable dignity. It happened in her in accelerated and perfect fashion so we could look at her and say, "Yes." She is one of us and she is what we will be. We now know that the resurrection Jesus has promised will also be given to us in spirit and in body.

We are redeemed totally. We are not just set free in our spirits; in our bodies, too, we share in the redemption and freedom of the Lord. That is what Marian celebrations are all about.

from from The Great Themes of Scripture

From John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., Tradition Day by Day: Readings from Church Writers. Augustinian Press. Villanova, PA, 1994.

The Mother of God

Gary, Mother of God, we salute you. Precious vessel, worthy of the whole world's reverence, you are an ever-shining light, the crown of virginity, the symbol of orthodoxy, an indestructible temple, the place that held him whom no place can contain, mother and virgin. Because of you the holy gospels could say: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

We salute you, for in your holy womb he, who is beyond all limitation, was confined. Because of you the holy Trinity is glorified and adored; the cross is called precious and is venerated throughout the world; the heavens exult; the angels and archangels make merry; demons are put to flight; the devil, that tempter, is thrust down from heaven; the fallen race of man is taken up on high; all creatures possessed by the madness of idolatry have attained knowledge of the truth; believers receive holy baptism; the oil of gladness is poured out; the Church is established throughout the world; pagans are brought to repentance.

What more is there to say? Because of you the light of the only begotten Son of God has shone upon those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death; prophets pronounced the word of God; the apostles preached salvation to the Gentiles; the dead are raised to life, and kings rule by the power of the holy Trinity.

Cyril of Alexandria

Daily Readings From "My Utmost for His Highest", Oswald Chambers


"My eager desire and hope being that I may never feel ashamed, but that now as ever I may do honour to Christ in my own person by fearless courage." Philippians 1:20 (MOFFATT)

My Utmost for His Highest. "My eager desire and hope being that I may never feel ashamed." We shall all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus on the point He has asked us to yield to Him. Paul says - "My determination is to be my utmost for His Highest." To get there is a question of will, not of debate nor of reasoning, but a surrender of will, an absolute and irrevocable surrender on that point. An overweening consideration for ourselves is the thing that keeps us from that decision, though we put it that we are considering others. When we consider what it will cost others if we obey the call of Jesus, we tell God He does not know what our obedience will mean. Keep to the point; He does know. Shut out every other consideration and keep yourself before God for this one thing only - My Utmost for His Highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and for Him alone.

My Undeterredness for His Holiness. "Whether that means life or death, no matter!" (v.21.) Paul is determined that nothing shall deter him from doing exactly what God wants. God's order has to work up to a crisis in our lives because we will not heed the gentler way. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him, and we begin to debate; then He produces a providential crisis where we have to decide - for or against, and from that point the "Great Divide" begins.

If the crisis has come to you on any line, surrender your will to Him absolutely and irrevocably.

Today's reading from the Rule of St. Benedict

January 1, May 2, September 1

L I S T E N carefully, my child,
to your master's precepts,
and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20).
Receive willingly and carry out effectively
your loving father's advice,
that by the labor of obedience
you may return to Him
from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.

To you, therefore, my words are now addressed,
whoever you may be,
who are renouncing your own will
to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King,
and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

And first of all,
whatever good work you begin to do,
beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it,
that He who has now deigned to count us among His children
may not at any time be grieved by our evil deeds.
For we must always so serve Him
with the good things He has given us,
that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children,
nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions,
deliver us to everlasting punishment
as wicked servants who would not follow Him to glory.

Insight for the Ages: A Commentary by Sr Joan Chittister

Life is a teacher of universal truths. That may be the reason why the religious readings of so many nations speak of the same situations and fasten on the same insights. The Rule of Benedict, too, is a wisdom literature that sounds life's themes. It deals with answers to the great questions of the human condition: the presence of God, the foundation of relationships, the nature of self-development, the place of purpose. To the wise, it seems, life is not a series of events to be controlled. Life is a way of walking through the universe whole and holy.

This first paragraph of the Rule of Benedict brings into instant focus the basis for being able to do that.

Benedict says, "Listen." Pay attention to the instructions in this Rule and attend to the important things in life. Let nothing go by without being open to being nourished by the inner meaning of that event in life. There is an Oriental proverb that teaches: "Take from death before it takes from thee." If we do not live life consciously, in other words, we may not be living at all.

The Prologue is asking us to do the same thing. If we want to have a spiritual life, we will have to concentrate on doing so. Spirituality does not come by breathing. It comes by listening to this Rule and to its insights into life "with the ear of the heart," with feeling, with more than an academic interest.

One part of spirituality, then, is learning to be aware of what is going on around us and allowing ourselves to feel its effects. If we live in an environment of corporate greed or personal violence, we can't grow from it spiritually until we allow ourselves to recognize it. The other part of spirituality, the Prologue makes quite clear, is learning to hear what God wants in any given situation and being quick to respond to that, to "welcome it and faithfully put it into practice." To see the greed or sense the violence without asking what the Gospel expects in such a situation, is not spirituality. It is piety at best.

Most important of all, perhaps, is the Prologue's insistence that this Rule is not being written by a spiritual taskmaster who will bully us or beat us down in a counterfeit claim to growing us up but by someone who loves us and will, if we allow it, carry us along to fullness of life. It is an announcement of profound importance. No one grows simply by doing what someone else forces us to do. We begin to grow when we finally want to grow. All the rigid fathers and demanding mothers and disapproving teachers in the world can not make up for our own decision to become what we can by doing what we must.

In this very first paragraph of the Rule Benedict is setting out the importance of not allowing ourselves to become our own guides, our own god. Obedience, Benedict says--the willingness to listen for the voice of God in life--is what will wrench us out of the limitations of our own landscape. We are being called to something outside of ourselves, something greater than ourselves, something beyond ourselves. We will need someone to show us the way: the Christ, a loving spiritual model, this Rule.

First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to God most earnestly to bring it to perfection. In God's goodness, we are already counted as God's own, and therefore we should never grieve the Holy One by our evil actions. With the good gifts which are in us, we must obey God at all times that God may never become the angry parent who disinherits us, nor the dreaded one, enraged by our sins, who punishes us forever as worthless servants for refusing to follow the way to glory.

The person who prays for the presence of God is, ironically, already in the presence of God. The person who seeks God has already found God to some extent. "We are already counted as God's own," the Rule reminds us. Benedict knows this and clearly wants us to know it, as well. A dull, mundane life stays a dull, mundane life, no matter how intent we become on developing spiritually. No amount of church-going will change that. What attention to the spiritual life does change is our appreciation for the presence of God in our dull, mundane lives. We come to realize that we did not find God; God finally got our attention. The spiritual life is a grace with which we must cooperate, not a prize to be captured or a trophy to be won.

But, the Rule implies, we have been given a grace that is volatile. To feel it and ignore it, to receive it but reject it, the paragraph suggests, is to be in a worse situation than if we had never paid any attention to the spiritual life at all. For disregard of God's good gifts, Benedict says, for refusing to use the resources we have for the upbuilding of the reign of God, for beginning what we do not intend to complete, the price is high. We are disinherited. We lose what is ours for the taking. We miss out on the life we are meant to have . We are dealt with, not as children of the owner who know instinctively that they are meant to grow into new and deeper levels of relationship here, but as hired help in the house, as people who look like they are part of the family but who never reap its real benefits or know its real nature. In failing to respond to God everywhere God is around us, we may lose the power of God that is in us.

The words were not idle metaphors in sixth century Italy.

To be a member of a Roman family, the family whose structures Benedict understood, was to be under the religious, financial and disciplinary power of the father until the father died, whatever the age of the children. To be disinherited by the father was to be stranded in a culture in which paid employment was looked down upon. To be punished by him was to lose the security of family, outside of which there was no security at all. To lose relationship with the father was then, literally, to lose one's life.

And who has not known the truth of it? Who of us has not been failed by all the other things beside God--money, status, security, work, people--that we have clung to and been disappointed by in our cleaving. Whose life has not been warped by a series of twisted hopes, the roots of which were sunk in the shale of false promises and empty treasures that could not satisfy? Benedict is begging us here to realize that God is the only life-line that life guarantees us. We have been loved to life by God and now we must love God back with our whole lives or forever live a living death.


Dynamis is a daily Bible meditation based upon the lectionary of the Holy Orthodox Church.

St. Mark 12:18-27 (1/1) For Tuesday of the 31st Week after Pentecost
(Tues. of P & P)

Death and Resurrection: St. Mark 12:18-27, especially vs. 27: “He is not
the God of the dead, but the God of the living....” In today’s Gospel,
the Lord Jesus addresses not only the reality of death, but also the
greater coming reality, the defeat of death in the resurrection promised
for our mortal bodies. Undeniably, it is the common lot of mankind that
all die, that everybody shall fall in time, that every single body to
whom God gives life also shall languish and go down into the grave. Yet,
straight in the teeth of universal death, the Lord Jesus draws our
attention to the witness of Holy Scripture in opposition to the
“...Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection...” (vs. 18). Centuries
before Christ, the Prophet Isaiah, moved by the Holy Spirit, confessed
to God: “The dead shall rise, and they that are in the tombs shall be
raised, and they that are in the earth shall rejoice: for the dew from
Thee is healing to them...” (Is. 26:19 LXX).

In refuting the Sadducees and their fanciful tale of a woman married in
serial fashion to seven brothers, the Lord Jesus teaches three truths
about resurrection of the body: 1) that the promise of resurrection for
our bodies arises from the nature of God as Life and Life-Giver, 2) that
resurrection shall occur in the general resurrection, sometime after
each of us dies, and 3) that each of our mortal bodies shall be raised
as the Apostle says, to “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4), in a “spiritual
body” (1 Cor. 15:44), which Christ Jesus already has manifested.
Anciently, the People of God already had learned to look to God as the
Source of life, a truth we ourselves hear regularly in the Vesperal
Psalm: “Thou wilt take their spirit, and they shall cease; and unto
their dust they shall return. Thou wilt send forth Thy Spirit, and they
shall be created; and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth” (Ps.
103:31,32 LXX). Thus the Lord has ordained life and death for all flesh.
He gives life and takes away our breath. We live and die - the great
mystery of life and death. However, the dramatic announcement of the
Lord Jesus in this passage “concerning the dead [is] that they rise”
again (vs. 26).

The Lord Jesus reminds us of what He had said to Moses from the burning
bush: “I Am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob” (Ex. 3:6). The Lord Jesus’ point clearly is that God speaks in
present tense. “Now, in the present, I Am the God of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob.” He does not say, “Centuries ago I was the God of the
Patriarchs.” God the Lord is He Who renews the face of the earth and
restores the dead to life. Of course, for God is the Life-Giver! He is
Life and the One from Whom all life derives and exists. As St. Cyril of
Alexandria adds, “God created all things for incorruption, as it is
written...‘He hath swallowed up death, having waxed mighty, and God
shall again take away all weeping from every countenance; He shall
remove the reproach of the people from the whole earth’” (see Is. 25:8).

One of the reasons the Sadducees denied the reality of resurrection -
just as do our modern-day secularists - is because they could only see
and touch death. Hence, men do not accept the Apostolic witness that
Christ is risen, “and has become the firstfruits of those who have
fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). Resurrection for mankind is a future gift
that God has for those who unite themselves now to Christ and partake
now of His Resurrection power for new life. “For as in Adam all die,
even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own
order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His
coming” (1 Cor. 15:22,23).

Physically, in the resurrection, men’s bodies shall be like the body of
the risen Lord, as St. John of Damascus says, “such that it entered
through the closed doors without difficulty and needed neither food, nor
sleep, nor drink,” for they shall be “like angels in heaven” (Mk. 12:25).

Thy cross do we adore, O Christ, and Thy holy Resurrection we praise and

St. Luke 2:20-21, 40-52 (1/1) The Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ;
St. Basil the Great

Jesus Is Savior: St. Luke 2:20-21, 40-52, especially vs. 21: "His Name
was called Jesus, the Name given by the angel before He was conceived in
the womb." Shepherds tending their flocks near Bethlehem were told by
an angel, "there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior"
(Lk. 2:11), and their hearts opened at the stunning news. They heard
and saw the hosts of heaven praising God Who extends His peace to all
mankind. Quickly, the shepherds went into Bethlehem to see the wonder.
Each detail they beheld was an echo of the angels' hymn. Yes, a
Savior! A Savior is born to us, among us, and for us. A Savior is born
in the royal city. Joyous, they returned to their flocks in the
pastures on the hills beyond Bethlehem.

Are we surprised that as they went they also glorified and praised God?
"All the things that they had heard and seen [in Bethlehem, were] as it
was told them" (Lk. 2:20). The Child was in a manger. He was wrapped
in swaddling cloths. Further, when they shared what was told them, His
mother, Mary, and Joseph indicated that an Angel told them to give Him
the Name Jesus,'Savior,' which was given at His Circumcision (cf. Lk.
1:31 and Mt. 1:25).

Beloved, let us not miss the Evangelist's point, for next he reports
that on the eighth day, the Child was given the Hebrew name that means
"Savior." He was called "Yeshua," or in Greek, "Iesus." What led the
Evangelist to fix our attention on this Child as Savior?

The Apostles want the world to know what they learned as Jesus'
disciples: His birth was no random event, but a great step in the
fulfillment of God's high purpose from all Eternity. The Bethlehem
shepherds learned this at the time of His birth (Lk. 2:11). The
Evangelist wants us to understand the same truth now - God the Lord came
Himself to save His creation gone astray, to salvage the unique race
that He had formed in His Own image. This is saving message St. Luke
weaves throughout his Gospel.

God often intervenes for the poor, corrupt human race. Anciently, He
chose a People to announce His salvation to all nations, and repeatedly
He saved them. He freed them "from the hand of the Egyptians" when they
were slaves (Ex. 14:30). The Prophet Moses told them that God advances
with you "to fight with you against your enemies, and to save you"
(Deut. 20:4). Their neighbors learned the truth behind their claim:
"Our God is the God of salvation, and the pathways leading forth from
death are those of the Lord's Lord" (Ps. 67:21 LXX). "He saved them for
His Name's sake, that He might make known His mighty power" (Ps. 105:9

God, you see, had a greater plan. He was preparing salvation for all
nations, a plan to take away the reproach of death from all the earth
(cf.: Is. 25:7,8). First, therefore, He made Israel alert to His coming
salvation. They learned to say, "A horse is prepared for the day of
battle: but help is of the Lord" (Prov. 21:31). God revealed that, in
days to come, "I will raise up to David a righteous...King [Who] shall
reign and understand, and shall execute judgment and righteousness on
the earth" (Jer. 23:5), a King for all nations, born in David's
lineage. This is the expectation that caught the shepherds' hearts in
Bethlehem (Lk. 2:15).

"And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom..."
(Lk. 2:40), for the grace of God was upon Him. Joseph, His Mother, and
the teachers in the Temple were amazed at His wisdom. His understanding
and knowledge of spiritual truth astonish all, even when He was a young
boy (Lk. 2:46,47). The Seed of salvation Who came forth from the
Virgin's womb is the Savior of the world. As Jesus matured He fulfilled
the Name given Him before His conception (Lk. 2:21). "Glory to Thine
ineffable condescension, O Word!"

Eternal God, as Thou didst give Thine Incarnate Son the holy Name of
Jesus to be the sign of our salvation, implant also in our hearts the
love of Him Who is the Savior of the World.

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