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Archive for December, 2009

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Monserrat of the Santo Nino Project

Yesterday we finished the Christmas card from our Santo Nino project.  It is a wreath that is decorated with the faces of several of the children with special needs who are our own “holy innocents”.   The wreath itself is a good symbol for them because in so many ways they are on the periphery of things.  Except at Santo Nino where they are the center of attention.

Today we are invited to remember all whose lives are counted as less.  Who are the victims of our indifference?  They are the ones who have God’s ear.  They are the “least ones” in whom the Christ hides.

Can we, as simple as shepherds and as wise as Magi, seek out this God today?

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O Emmanuel!

The O Antiphons reach their climax tonight: O Come, O Come Emmanuel!  “A name which means God-with-us”.  Where and when has God been with me today?  When have I felt an absence of that Presence for which my heart longs?  Sometimes I look to when I’ve tried to fill a void: with activity, with chatter, with food, with shopping.  God is always “God-with-us” but we are not always with God.

Today I went out to pick up some pecans from the trees in our yard to make into sweet rolls for Christmas morning.  It is a windy day which has helped to tumble many of the nuts to the ground.  I stood under one tree, bent down, and lo and behold!  There were at least twenty pecans on the ground within arms reach.  What have I done for this harvest?  Once or twice I cut some weeds around the trees this summer.  That’s about it.  The trees were even planted before we built our house.  I picked up the nuts conscious of God’s providence, even in this little thing.  Just as I was thinking I had enough, the wind blew and whappp!  a nice big pecan hit me on the back!  God is always about more.

It’s a little thing- picking pecans from trees that God has grown and being grateful.  But when I become sensitized to those little break-throughs of God then maybe I won’t miss the more important ones.  “God-with-us”, come and in the last day of Advent preparations teach me to be aware that you are everywhere reaching out to give me a little sign of your love.

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O King of the Nations

Today the title “King of the Nations” doesn’t carry many positive connotations.  I find it is helpful to think of the Ruler whom Mary invokes in the Magnificat which is today’s Gospel:  The “Mighty One” who has done great things for me…the Just One who casts down the proud from their thrones and lifts up the lowly…who fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty…the One who remembers the promises made.  This is the One for whom we long today.

Come, O Come and draw all nations into one family.

Come, O Come and judge with justice tempered by compassion.

Come, O Come and restore right relationships among us.

Break down all borders and barriers and walls that divide us.  Let all divisions cease, in families, between nations, among people of every race and creed.

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O Radiant Dawn

O come, O come, O Radiant Dawn!  We could surely use some light on this shortest day of the year.  It is tempting to give all our attention and energies to the darkness rather than focus on the lights around us each day.  Where has God’s love dawned on me?  What other bright insights and hopeful inspirations have dawned on me?

Things hidden from the learned and the clever are revealed to those who see with childlike simplicity.  I want to learn to see the light, to search for it, to seek out the best in people and situations rather than allow the shadows and darkness to shroud my attitude.

There are many people waiting in darkness.  How can God’s radiance dawn through us?  Can we be people of hope who prism God’s presence into our places of work, our homes, our communities?  Only if we allow the light to penetrate our hearts. 

The sun has set on the darkest day of the year.  Now each sunrise will mark a few moments more of light- until next June.  May we add our own spark of light to that Radiant Dawn.

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O Key of David

The key to this O Antiphon, for me, is to ask myself what “opens the door” to the kingdom or realm of God?  Yesterday we had our Christmas celebration at the Santo Nino center in Anapra, Mexico.  Our children with special needs had front row seats, surrounded by their families and our team of mother-therapists.  We started with a simple posada, two of our children carrying tiny nativity figures of Mary and Joseph to beg entrance at the door of our lunch room.  The singing was enthusiastic if more-than-a-little off key!  Then we heard the Christmas story from Luke’s Gospel.

One key to the kingdom came for me during the anointing of our children along with their mothers, sisters and brothers.  Father Denny O’Mara leaned close to hear every name.  The blessing was absolutely personal and reverenced the life of each one.  The holy chrism oil touched the forehead, the crown, the ear…whatever could be accessed on our often squirming or spasming children.  “Jesus te ama.”  Yes, Jesus loves each of us and draws near even as we sometimes are moving targets.

The second key was at the sharing of the meal.  Our team of mothers dished up plates of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn—and salsa!  Although I have seen the miracle of the loaves so many times, I couldn’t help but peek over their shoulders to see if we had enough.  “Have we had the multiplication of the mashed potatoes?” I asked Luci.  “Si, madre!”  As always. God provides.

A third key was during the wait on the international bridge coming back into the U.S.  As we inched along I watched the people selling everything from Christmas tablecloths to windshield wipers.  I heard one man playing a saxophone, another a clarinet, and a duo playing guitars and singing norteno music for tips on the pedestrian walkway.  I saw a mother with two small children wearing flip-flops, knocking at car windows to beg.  I saw an emaciated young man with many body piercings and a midriff bared to show a dirty colostomy bag.  He was begging too.  This last key is still in the hand of my heart.  I’m afraid to use it.  What will it open for me, require of me, in this last week of Advent?  If all of these people are bearing Christ to the world then what is my response?

O Key of David, unlock the door to understand the mystery of the One who comes to each of us so personally, so abundantly, so persistently…

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O Root of Jesse

Just a quick question…in what am I rooted?  what is my lineage?  Lots to ponder there.  Am I rooted in God?  Do I trace my lineage to the Source of All Being?  What happens if I do?  What does our common family tree look like?  Help me to find my root in You, O Root of Jesse!

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O Come, Adonai

The second O Antiphon: Adonai

This name for God translates “Lord” but signifies the One who takes the side of the most forgotten, the most marginalized, the weak, those who have no one else to defend them.  When I encounter those who are truly God’s chosen people, sometimes I am inclined to turn my head, to close my eyes.  I get annoyed.  I think about the last person I saw begging at the street corner.  What thoughts ran through my mind as recently as last night on the way home?  Are they an addict?  Are they mentally ill?  Are they con artists?  Even if I gave away everything I have there would be an endless supply of need…

Adonai…God of the underdog.  “Come, stretch out your mighty hand to save.”  Take up their cause.  Be their defense.  Speak up for the ones nobody wants.

The trick is on us.  Because Adonai does come.  We just don’t care to see.  And this God invites us to those marginal places.  “O come, O come,” God sings to us.  I’m here.  Find me.    Stretch out your hand to save.

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