And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Luke 2:19
May I follow the example of the shepherds. May I hasten to seek God’s Word. May I pay reverence to the most vulnerable of our human family.
When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. Luke 2:15-16
[The angel of the Lord said, “Mary] will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:21-23
As my paycheck seems to leave less and less for extras, my belongings are becoming more and more shabby. I fantasize about the shame of having my baggy, well-worn wool sweater chosen as the ugliest in a competition.
Jesus reminds me that fine clothing doesn’t make a prophet. Nor do power, riches, and fame. A prophet is shaped by hearing the Word of God and practicing the Way of love, peace, nonviolence, forgiveness, compassion, acceptance, and respect. A prophet stands firmly grounded in the truth of God’s love for all of humankind.
Today I will look for opportunities to love my neighbor. I will do my best to be a prophet by sharing God’s gifts of joy and kindness.
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.”
Imagine the knowledge of God’s love, compassion, and forgiveness filling and covering the whole earth. How reverently we would step. How respectfully we would treat each other. How quickly we would help anyone in need. How peaceful our homes, communities, and countries would be.
Am I willing to participate in the kingdom of God—here and now?
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea. Isaiah 11:9
[Jesus said to his disciples,] “So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Matthew 24:44
Take responsibility, be accountable, remember the Lord, love your neighbor. All is forgiven.
The other [criminal], however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:40-43
Right here among the living is where I am called to love my neighbor, forgive my enemies, return hatred with kindness, be the peacemaker, feed the poor, and welcome those who are strangers to me. I cannot serve the dead, only the living.
[Jesus said to them,] “That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘Lord,’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Luke 20:37-38
Today I have a short list of people I want to pray for, people who have hurt me in some way and against whom I am holding a grudge. Resentment is a form of bondage and I wish to live in freedom.
Lord, teach me to forgive others as you forgive me for being less than perfect. Help me to see all members of the human family with your eyes. Show me your way of mercy.
But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.
For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
Humility allows me to see the truth of my talents, blessings, and strengths as well as my failings, shortcomings, and weaknesses. I will never be perfect, but the all of me—without pretense or justification, shame or pride—is my gift to God. I know God always welcomes me and my humble gift with love, forgiveness, and compassion.
“‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’” Luke 18:13b