Regnum Christi | Legionaries of Christ

Weekly Digest of the Regnum Christi Daily Meditations: December 5-12, 2021

Sunday, December 5, 2021 – Prepare the Way of the Lord!

Monday, December 6, 2021 – The Paralytic Versus the Pharisees

Tuesday, December 7, 2021 – There’s No Shepherd Like the Good Shepherd

Wednesday, December 8, 2021 – Holiness Is Just One “Yes” Away!

Thursday, December 9, 2021 – A Kingdom for the Violent?

Friday, December 10, 2021 – A Lesson About the Heart

Saturday, December 11, 2021 – Bethlehem and the Cross

Sunday, December 12, 2021 – Charity for All

 


December 5, 2021 – Second Sunday of Advent

Prepare the Way of the Lord!

Father Steven Reilly, LC

Luke 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know the sincerity of my desire to spend this time with you. As I begin this meditation, I believe that you are here with me, that you never abandon me. Because I love you, my one wish is to please and console you in your solitude in the tabernacle. I hope in the boundless mercy that motivated your incarnation. May we one day meet again in your heavenly kingdom.

Petition: Give me the grace to renew my Advent preparation.

  1. The Concrete History: Today’s Gospel contains a veritable roster of First Century Palestinian big-names, both religious and political. Why? St. Luke wants to emphasize that God’s marvelous deeds do not happen in a vacuum, but in the concrete reality of history. The greatest of God’s interventions, the Incarnation—when the Word became flesh—happened at a concrete time and place. This should have great impact on our spiritual lives. Jesus’ coming among us cannot be just an abstract idea that I learned in CCD. Jesus came to this world for ME! This overwhelming love calls forth a grateful response, unless I try to keep it at a safe distance. Jesus came to our world. Will I let him into mine?
  2. A Voice Crying Out in the Desert: The ministry of John the Baptist was an important part of God’s plan to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah. He was very successful and opened many hearts to repentance and eventual faith in Jesus. So, it is somewhat ironic that the phrase “crying out in the desert” usually refers to a noble but futile effort. That, unfortunately, could be the case now, if I am allowing the Holy Spirit’s inspirations to die in the “desert” of my self-absorption. Am I so wrapped up in the material side of Christmas preparation that I am forgetting the spiritual preparation?
  3. “Prepare the Way of the Lord!” The memory of the Incarnation and the continuous prompting of the Holy Spirit in our hearts add up to the great program of Advent, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” We are called as Christians to do precisely this. Society is starving for the message of Christ. All of our prayers and work should be done with the spirit of faith, so that we are indeed preparing the way of the Lord.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, you came into our world, taking on our human condition. For too long, this has been just an idea for me. Let it sink into my heart and stir my will to action. You have loved me so much. I must return my love with concrete deeds. I recommit myself to fight for your Kingdom.

Resolution: I will offer up three simple invocations spread throughout today, telling Jesus I love him and wish to prepare my heart to welcome him this Christmas.


December 6, 2021 – Monday of the Second Week of Advent

The Paralytic Versus the Pharisees

 

Monday of the Second Week of Advent

Father Frank Formolo, LC

Luke 5:17-26

One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of all things and you have power to forgive sins. Though my faith is still weak, I do believe in you. And I also trust in your goodness and mercy. Here I am before you in prayer, longing once more to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.

Petition: Lord, help me to seek you in my life above all else.

  1. The Pharisees’ Faith: The Pharisees sat in front of Christ watching him cure the sick. Earlier they had seen many other miracles, but despite what they saw they could not bring themselves to believe in Christ. Miracle after miracle couldn’t change their mind. Jesus decides to give them a decisive miracle so that they will believe. He decides to cure the paralytic to show his power to forgive sins. Since disease for the Pharisees was a sign of sin, they should have been ready to accept Jesus’ message of healing and forgiveness. But they were too wrapped up in seeking their own plans and protecting their own honor to discern God’s loving mercy behind what they witnessed. How often do we want God to give us a sign so we can follow his plan? And how often are we not open to what he tells us, simply and directly because we’re too focused on achieving our own plans?
  2. The Paralytic’s Faith: The paralytic needed no signs. He believed Jesus could help him. His faith was so strong he would not let the difficulties overcome him. He couldn’t walk so he found someone to carry him. When he arrived, he couldn’t get to Christ, so his men brought him in through the roof. He was determined to see Christ because he knew what Christ could do for him. His faith was so strong it moved him to action. He had a living faith, which goes far beyond mere ideas. His faith moved him to find our Lord no matter the difficulties. What have I done to seek Christ, to meet him face to face? What have I been prepared to do in order to receive his grace? Do I give up my prayer or my apostolate at the first difficulty?
  3. For God’s Glory: Jesus didn’t perform this miracle for himself or his own glory. He sought only God’s glory. We see how everyone glorifies God after the miracle. It’s almost as if Christ is forgotten. Christ sought only to do what would glorify the Father. How often do we seek our own glory when we work on the apostolate or perform an act of charity? How often do we hope someone will remember us and say, “Thank you,” although we are here to build Christ’s Kingdom for God’s glory alone? We need to constantly renew our purity of intention.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, how great was the faith of the paralytic! He was humble enough to find you and strong enough in his faith that nothing could keep him from you. Grant me the gift of a humble heart and a strong faith so I can be constant and dedicated in seeking to encounter you in my life and in fulfilling your will for your glory and the good of others alone.

Resolution: Today I will look for solutions to the problems that come my way, and I will renew my intention to perform my duties for God’s glory throughout the day.


December 7, 2021 – Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

There’s No Shepherd Like the Good Shepherd

Matthew 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciples: “What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, my Lord and God, I open my heart to your infinite love. I wish to listen and respond to the inspirations that you wish to give me this morning. I believe in you. I hope in you. I love you. Lord, you are my shepherd and the true meaning of my life.

Petition: Jesus, Good Shepherd, give me the grace to open my heart to your mercy.

  1. Not All Shepherds Are the Same: In today’s society, the image of the shepherd doesn’t say as much as it did in Jesus’ time. Psalm 23 was probably one of Christ’s favorite psalms, for he uses the image of the shepherd frequently: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” Sheep have a trusting relationship with their shepherd. Instinctively they know that the shepherd will care for them. Christ is our shepherd who loves us. In our lives, other people or material possessions can seem to promise to bring us happiness, causing us to follow after them as if they were our shepherd. But when the real trial comes, they abandon us just as a hired hand leaves the sheep when the wolf appears. Let us renew our commitment to Christ, the Good Shepherd, since he is the true shepherd of our souls.
  2. Searching Out the Lost Sheep: In every group of animals there is at least one that seems to get distracted and eventually lost. In our lives, we too can get distracted and stray from the security of Christ and his way. Sin is what separates us from Christ. If we are not careful, we can be easily seduced by the world, by the fascination of material goods or pleasures, and then mistakenly place our security in them. Then, when we experience the emptiness and spiritual hunger that comes from wandering from the Good Shepherd, we need only to recall that he is waiting for us, his wayward sheep, to carry us back into the safety of his fold. It is comforting and heartening to know that he longs for us to be reconciled with him, just as a shepherd goes out in search of the lost sheep.
  3. Let the Celebration Begin! Anyone who has children and has temporarily “lost” one of them can empathize with the joy God experiences when one of us is found once again and reunited with him. We may try to outdo him in love and generosity, but that cannot happen. His love surpasses all our imagining. Today, let us take a moment to talk to God about our state in life and resolve to let him be actively present in our everyday living. Could there be any better way to prepare for Christmas than to open the doors of our hearts? Christ is there, knocking, asking to be allowed inside so he can heal us and make us whole again. It’s almost shocking to discover that we can please him simply by turning to him and letting him pick us up from where we’ve fallen and restore us to full friendship with him. Shouldn’t we permit Our Lord that pleasure, especially when the only cost is admitting our tremendous need for him, confessing our sins and inviting him back into our hearts, where he belongs?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know my countless falls provide me countless occasions to encounter you as the Good Shepherd, since without fail you come to pick me up again. Instead of wallowing in a sterile self-pity at the misery of my sinfulness, I intend to delight more in your tender mercy. I know this trusting attitude will please you.

Resolution: Each time I fall today, I will get back up again immediately, because I will have confidence in my Good Shepherd’s loving mercy.


December 8, 2021  – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Holiness Is Just One “Yes” Away!

 

Luke 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and of love. You wish to draw me closer to you, and yet I seem to find so many ways to escape from you. Forgive my dullness and coldness of heart. At least here I am now, hungry to know you and love you more and more.

Petition: Heavenly Father, help me to decide once and for all to strive for holiness.

  1. God Makes the First Choice: When we read the Old Testament, we marvel at the many accounts of people chosen by God to fulfill a certain mission. We are familiar with the calling of the prophets Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 6), Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 1), Moses (cf. Exodus 3), and so on. Mary is the New Testament prototype of God’s calling. In all cases, God is the one who takes the initiative; he sends his messenger to communicate his choice. For Mary, the humble girl of Nazareth, this calling comes unexpectedly and is beyond purely human possibilities. For this reason, she is troubled by the words of the angel Gabriel and wonders about the greeting he gives. Do I keep in mind that God’s plan for my life comes of his own initiative? Have I given my answer yet? Lord, help me to cooperate with you fully in putting into action your ‘golden’ blueprint for my life.
  2. A Case Presented to Confirm Freedom: God doesn’t want Mary to act blindly; he wants a response that involves her whole heart, mind and soul. For this reason, the angel Gabriel answers Mary’s questions and concerns, which do not manifest doubt but, rather, humility in seeking to understand God’s will. God created Mary free of sin and filled her with grace and goodness. Yet he respects her freedom to choose to do his will. What a mystery that the all-powerful God who created all things and who lovingly cares for us should be so generous in respecting our freedom! Lord, keep me from abusing my freedom in willfully subjecting myself to the slavery of my passions: pride, vanity, sensuality.
  3. Holiness Is Just a “Yes” Away: After hearing God’s messenger, Mary must give her answer. She does so with flying colors. Her generosity perfectly echoes God’s. Every moment of the day is a new opportunity for us to imitate Mary’s excellent example. She dedicated her life to saying “yes” to everything God asked of her, no matter what it was. She was rewarded with the grace of the Assumption. Only saints get into heaven, so we need to dedicate ourselves to following the path of holiness, too. That means giving a simple, humble “yes” to every opportunity provided by God to become more Christ-like. Lord, give me the courage to offer you my life as a blank sheet of paper, so you can write whatever you wish upon it.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, I know that you are calling me to be more like you today! I know this is not an easy task, but you will give me the grace to achieve such a high ideal. I need to trust you and to see everything as something you send my way to help me achieve my goal of holiness. Grant me the grace, motivation, and continued good examples of others to be generous like Mary, your Mother.

Resolution: I will take a moment to encourage another person to strive for holiness, too. In a special way, I will be mindful to encourage young people to be open to the consecrated vocation, should the Lord be calling them.


 

December 9, 2021 – Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

A Kingdom for the Violent?

 

Father Walter Schu, LC

Matthew 11:11-15

Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your presence here with me as I humbly kneel before you to do you homage and praise you. I long for the reward you have promised to those who love you with undivided hearts. My heart is not at peace until it rests in you.

Petition: Lord, help me to long for and strive for the inexpressible joy of heaven.

  1. None Greater Than John: In a phrase tinged with admiration, Christ pays St. John the Baptist the highest of compliments: “Among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist.” And Christ reveals why: He is the last of the prophets, the one who brings the age of the law and the prophets to a close. But he is even more. He is Elijah, the one sent before the promised Messiah to prepare the way for him. Then comes an unexpected reversal: “Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Do not Christ’s words awaken in our hearts an ardent longing for heaven? What else could matter in life but to arrive there, where the least of us will be greater than the greatest one on this earth?
  2. Longing for Heaven: How much do we really desire to reach our final goal? Does our attitude sometimes reflect St. Augustine’s during the process of his conversion, before he received the final, definitive grace of entrusting his life entirely to God? Do we not have to confess that we often say to God, “Lord, please bring me to heaven—but not yet!”? St. Cyprian reflects on this phenomenon in one of his homilies: “How unreasonable it is to pray that God’s will be done, and then not promptly obey it when he calls us from this world! Instead we struggle and resist like self-willed slaves and are brought into the Lord’s presence with sorrow and lamentation, not freely consenting to our departure, but constrained by necessity. And yet we expect to be rewarded with heavenly honors by him to whom we come against our will!”
  3. The Kingdom of Heaven Suffers Violence: A true longing for heaven is necessary, because it is not easy to arrive there. Christ assures us, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence.” What does Our Lord mean by this enigmatic affirmation? Surely he does not intend to contradict his own new commandment of love? The “violence” Christ speaks of must be done exclusively to ourselves. In order to ascend the heights of holiness we need to follow in the footsteps of St. John the Baptist, dying to our earthly tendencies. Am I prepared to renounce what often seems most intimately a part of me? Can I beg the Lord for humility? “That others may be more loved than I. That others may be called to occupy posts and I may be forgotten. That others may be preferred to me in everything. Lord Jesus, make this my prayer” (from the Litany of Humility, traditional prayer).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you are showing me that heaven is not for the weak and the soft, but for those who are strong in dying to themselves and living for you and for souls. Help me to grow in fortitude in order to win heaven.

Resolution: Today, when I experience something painful or difficult, I will offer up the unpleasantness to God, knowing it is nothing in comparison to the reward of heaven that awaits me.


December 10, 2021 – Friday of the Second Week of Advent 

A Lesson About the Heart

Matthew 11:16-19

Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this new day and all the graces you will bless me with. I believe in you and your love for me. I wish to show my love for you by staying focused on what is most important during this time of prayer: you and your most holy will.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to see your actions and the actions of others with the eyes of faith.

  1. Eyes of Faith: God comes to us in many and various ways each day. Sometimes he reveals his goodness to us when he allows us to succeed in life. Other times he permits trials in our life so that we can cling more surely to him. The proper response to God’s constant action in our lives will only be possible if we are able to discern that it is indeed God who is acting—that it is God who is “playing the flute for us” or “singing a dirge for us.” We need the eyes of faith. A habitual interior attitude of faith and trust in God allows us to live with great peace and purpose.
  2. Worldly Standards of Judgment: Jesus complains when the crowds use worldly standards to size him up. They are caught up in their opinions and all too easily pass judgment on him. They accuse Jesus of being possessed by a demon, a drunkard, and so on. How easy is it for me to judge others by accepting or rejecting them for mere external things? What are my internal attitudes towards others? Lord, help me to be detached from all worldly standards of judging and to embrace each soul, loving them as you do, and to leave the judging to you.
  3. But Wisdom Is Vindicated by Her Works: Despite the rejection and harsh judgments of many, Jesus went about doing good. This is what he meant by saying that “wisdom is vindicated by her works.” In the same vein, he also taught that you can recognize a tree by its fruits. Knowing how easy it is to misjudge others, I cannot permit myself to worry about what others may say or think of me. Rather, I need to be busy like Jesus, going about doing good. Good actions speak for themselves, even if it may take a while for others to perceive or appreciate them. When we trustfully follow along to the flute or the dirge Our Lord is playing for us, and we do so for his sake and for the sake of spreading his message, we can rest in the certainty that God is blessing us and will bring his good works to fruition through us.

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity to spend time with you in prayer. Let it be my motivation for the day and bring me to live a greater spirit of faith in you and the mission you have entrusted me. How much it would help me to consider my actions, the actions of others and your actions under the light of your love and good will. I do believe that you permit everything that happens in my life for the sake of bringing about a greater good, but Lord, increase my faith.

Resolution: I will strive to interpret the actions of others in a positive way, excusing any defects I may perceive.


 

 

December 11, 2021 – Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Bethlehem and the Cross

 

Father Walter Schu, LC

Matthew 17:9a, 10-13

As they were coming down from the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, your disciples sincerely tried to comprehend your identity and believe in you. I come before you today with my doubts and problems, hoping to find in this prayer an answer to my deepest aspirations. I want to believe with unwavering faith, and I want to love you with a devout heart. I offer you this time of prayer as my token of gratitude for all I have received from you.

Petition: Mary, help me to embrace God’s will in my life, just as Christ embraced the Father’s plan for our salvation.

  1. John the Baptist as Elijah: Once again the Gospel refers to John the Baptist as the one whose role is to prepare us for the One who is to come. Through the prophet Malachi, the Jews’ expectation of the return of Elijah, who will prepare the way for the promised Messiah, has grown. But they have come to view him as a figure of great power, someone who will sweep men away. So, they fail to recognize Elijah’s presence in the person of John the Baptist, whose only power is that of the Spirit of God, calling all people to conversion of heart in order to receive the Christ. How many times in my life do I fail to recognize the presence of Christ in my life because I’m seeking something other than Christ’s promises to his followers? Christ doesn’t offer an easy path of comfort and consolations.
  2. Bethlehem and the Cross: Why did Christ become a helpless baby at Bethlehem? Why did he take on a fragile human body? Precisely so he could suffer for us in order to redeem us. What does that mean for our lives as Christians? It means nothing less than the fact that suffering is a gift from God. It is the Father’s gentle caress, molding us into the image of his Son. The cross is the source of our fruitfulness, not only in our personal spiritual growth, but also in the mission to win graces for others, for all of the souls God has mysteriously entrusted to our care.
  3. Obedience unto Death: Christ’s desire to embrace suffering rose from his loving obedience to his Father’s plan, without condition or limit. This loving obedience is what gives suffering its redemptive value. From the moment of his birth at Bethlehem, Christ shows us what it means to obey with love. Bethlehem is a school of obedience. In Bethlehem, Christ teaches us that only a loving obedience frees, only loving obedience redeems and sanctifies, only loving obedience enriches. Loving obedience alone saves, loving obedience alone frees us from sin and loving obedience alone pleases God. Let us embrace the cross of obedience in the challenging circumstances of our daily lives, in the trials brought by the passing of years, in the sorrow that afflicts us when God calls our loved ones back to him. Loving obedience is the path to holiness, the way to the Father’s house.

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for giving us a school of loving obedience at Bethlehem, throughout your life and in your death on the cross. Help me to embrace suffering like you did and to be confident in its power to make me holy and win graces for souls.

Resolution: I will seek to recognize God’s presence in my day by patiently welcoming the suffering and trials he permits, so he can bring about a greater good.


 

December 12, 2021 – Third Sunday of Advent

Charity for All

 

Father Edward McIlmail, LC

Luke 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.” Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.

Introductory Prayer: As Christmas draws near, I desire to learn more deeply your example of humility by coming among us as an infant. I pray that this season rekindles my sense of hope in your providence.

Petition: Jesus, grant me the grace to grow in the virtue I need to cultivate most.

  1. Within Reach: Charity demands justice, at the very least. According to the Compendium of the Catechism (n. 381), justice consists in the firm and constant will to give to others their due. In this passage Saint John the Baptist points out two levels of justice toward neighbor. In the first level, he tells the tax collectors and soldiers to be content with the money that comes their way rightfully. The second level goes further. It demands that we share our surplus with those in genuine need. That surplus could be all around us: in our closet, our pantry, our checkbook. What could I share with the poor? A saintly maxim says: Live simply, so that others can simply live.
  2. Open to All: People of all sorts approach John the Baptist for advice. He responds to them all. They hunger for meaning. They want to repent. Those same people are with us today. Maybe they are fallen-away Catholics, or Evangelicals, or Jews, or Muslims, or even atheists. They too seek meaning in their lives. All of them, whether or not they realize it, seek Christ, who “fully reveals man to man himself” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). Have I been willing to share that “secret” with others? Are there areas of my life where I shy away from talking about religion? The office? The mall? The dinner table? John the Baptist wouldn’t exclude anyone. Would I?
  3. Groundwork: By calling for charity and justice John wants to prepare the people for the arrival of the Messiah. Without hearts open to others, they would not be able to accept the robust message of Christ. Charity prepares the heart for the seed of the Gospel. If ever my relationship with Christ grows cold, I should ask, “How is my charity?” The key to finding myself demands that I look first to serve God and others.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, for you, charity is the highest value. You even spoke about it the night before your death. “I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34). Christmas should enkindle charity in my heart. Let me see you in every person I meet today.

Resolution: I will perform a special act of charity today for someone at home, work or school.

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