Persian Jesus (Isa) miniature of Sermon on the Mount
If you choose you can keep the commandments,
they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Today I will choose the qualities of God: patience, kindness, civility, respect, compassion, delight, and love.
I will choose self-responsibility and forgiveness.
Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13
No matter our situation, we can add flavor to life by sharing kindness with those who are hungry for attention. We can offer the shelter of our compassion to those who are suffering. We can wrap the lonely in the caring warmth of our companionship.
Today I will seek quiet moments to pray and meditate so that I may not lose my taste for loving and serving my neighbor.
Rembrandt (1606-1669) Hannah and Simeon in the Temple oil on panel, 1627-1628 Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. Luke 2:36-37
Good things happen even when we are old. We still welcome delightful surprises and the kind attention of others. We have the time to reflect on all we have experienced and to trace out the patterns in our lives. We know how to comfort the young, thanks to our history of overcoming challenges, disappointments, and hurts. We have the wisdom to recognize the good and the godly in others — and in ourselves.
attributed to Payag (Indian) The Magi Follow the Star, from a Mirror of Holiness (Mir’at al-quds) of Father Jerome Xavier, SJ (1549–1617) Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper, between 1602 and 1604 Cleveland Museum of Art
And behold, the star that [the magi] had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b
Would I have seen the star that would lead me to find Jesus? Or would I have been like King Herod, unable to see and follow, afraid and troubled?
Today I will look for and pay homage to the light of God’s self-revelation in nature, in the people I encounter, in prayer and meditation. I will not be afraid to welcome God’s presence.
Flight into Egypt France, 17th century polychromed oakwood collection of the Musée L, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. Matthew 2:14
Imagine how frightened Joseph and Mary were — and how courageous — to leave their homeland in the face of danger and persecution, and to make a new life in a strange country.
My ancestors came to America from Ireland, most of them so poor they traveled in steerage. One side of the family was illiterate. On the other side, my great-great grandmother died soon after arriving in New York and so did the baby twins to whom she had just given birth. Men on both sides of the family took work as laborers and mill workers. They saved what they could from their tiny salaries, bought houses, turned their yards into vegetable gardens, and made sure their children got a good education. Today I live very comfortably, thanks to the courage of my ancestors.
May I always extend a welcome to newcomers. May I be grateful for their example of courage and their reminder of my own family story. May I remember Jesus, too, was a refugee.