In the lead-up to Christmas, the liturgy reminds us repeatedly of the important role of St John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus in preparing the people to receive him. In this meditation we consider:
The similarities between the annunciations by the archangel Gabriel to Zechariah and Mary of the birth of a child
The importance of John’s role as the last and greatest prophet to announce the way of the Lord
John’s virtues of detachment from comforts and humility that make him so efficacious in carrying out his role
John’s efficacy in announcing Christ to two of his own disciples: John the Evangelist and Andrew
Our own mission of making Christ known to the people of our day
Christ chose his apostles and gave them the mission to go out and bear fruit, fruit that would abide. He warned them that they would be persecuted as he was. After his ascension into heaven they went to the upper room to pray. We too have been sent out, into a very damaged world, and we too need to be very united to the vine of Christ if we are to hold on to our faith and share it with others. In this meditation we consider how:
We are united to the vine of Christ through our life of prayer and penance
We need a daily plan for our spiritual life just as we do for our bodily life
Having a plan gives us order and peace
Our plan might include such activities as mental prayer, Holy Mass, spiritual reading, the rosary, reading of Scripture, and a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.
When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in the Annunciation, he invited her to welcome the Son of God into her womb and into the world. She said yes and our redemption was at hand. In this meditation we ponder this great event as related by St Luke and consider that:
Because of the original sin of our first parents, mankind was in need of redemption and only God could bring it about.
God asked Mary ‘s consent so that our Redeemer could take flesh in her womb
Because Mary was a virgin her son would be truly the Son of God
Everyone loves Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. In this meditation we use the Catechism of the Catholic Churchand texts of St Josemaria to pray about why God became man and the consequences this has for us. According to the Catechism, God became man for four reasons:
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments abound in references to God as “ever rich in mercy.” It is good to remember this, especially when we are discouraged by our sinfulness or tempted to despair of our eternal salvation. In this meditation we consider:
Our Lord’s incarnation and his suffering and death for our redemption
His will “that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth”
His forgiving of the sins of many
His teaching on the mercy of God
Pope Francis’ reminder that God will always forgive us and his exhortation to ask God for forgiveness
In the ups and downs of life there are many events which are not in our control, where we can only put our hope in God. In this meditation we use texts of Scripture and Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Saved by hope to put our life on a sure foundation. We consider that:
The foundation of our hope is God, who is always with us.
Our hope in God enables us to find peace and joy even amidst the uncertainties and sufferings of life.
The ultimate object of our hope is eternal life with God in heaven.
We can grow in hope through prayer in its various forms.
Mary, our Mother, is our hope: she brings us hope in the person of Jesus, she lives hope herself in many moments, and she intercedes powerfully for us in heaven.
Jesus walked with two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. The latter did not recognise him until later when he sat with them and broke bread.
On the first Easter Sunday, two disciples left Jerusalem discouraged because the one they hoped would redeem Israel had died. On their way to Emmaus, Jesus walked beside them and explained the Scriptures to them. These two in some way represent all of us. We too have our times of trial, of worry, of discouragement, and Jesus seeks us out, even though we do not recognise him. In this meditation we consider how:
We all have our crosses, our difficulties in life, which can make us discouraged or worried
Jesus does not leave us alone but seeks us out and walks beside us
We find Jesus in our prayer and in others who are there to help us
We too can be there for others who are going through difficult times
Jesus enters Jerusalem and is well received, a feast we celebrate on Palm Sunday–the start of Holy Week.
In Holy Week we follow Christ from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through his institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood on Holy Thursday, to his passion and death on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. If we follow him closely throughout our life we will not abandon him as did the apostles and we will rise to eternal life with him when we die. In this meditation we consider how we should:
acknowledge our weakness and our possibility of denying Our Lord as did Peter
attend Mass often and receive Holy Communion well in order to strengthen our love for Jesus
stay awake in our prayer in order to draw ever closer to Christ
follow Christ closely, not at a distance, avoiding lukewarmness
avoid attachment to creature comforts and things in order to have our heart free to love God
take up our cross daily and follow our Lord in his passion
follow Christ closely throughout our life in order to rise with him to eternal life