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Shattered Lives and Clinging to the Christ Child

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross

First Reading: Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17A

When Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel encamped, tribe by tribe,
the spirit of God came upon him,
and he gave voice to his oracle:

The utterance of Balaam, son of Beor,
the utterance of a man whose eye is true,
The utterance of one who hears what God says,
and knows what the Most High knows,
Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
enraptured, and with eyes unveiled:
How goodly are your tents, O Jacob;
your encampments, O Israel!
They are like gardens beside a stream,
like the cedars planted by the LORD.
His wells shall yield free-flowing waters,
he shall have the sea within reach;
His king shall rise higher,
and his royalty shall be exalted.

Then Balaam gave voice to his oracle:

The utterance of Balaam, son of Beor,
the utterance of the man whose eye is true,
The utterance of one who hears what God says,
and knows what the Most High knows,
Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
enraptured, and with eyes unveiled.
I see him, though not now;
I behold him, though not near:
A star shall advance from Jacob,
and a staff shall rise from Israel.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25:4-5AB, 6 AND 7BC, 8-9

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.
R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 21:23-27

When Jesus had come into the temple area,
the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him
as he was teaching and said,
“By what authority are you doing these things?
And who gave you this authority?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me,
then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things.
Where was John’s baptism from?
Was it of heavenly or of human origin?”
They discussed this among themselves and said,
“If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us,
‘Then why did you not believe him?’
But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd,
for they all regard John as a prophet.”
So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”
He himself said to them,
“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

NAB

dec 14

Sometimes I feel like I need to stop watching the news. It’s been one of those days, one of those weeks, where everything is painful—there just seems to be too much pain and suffering in the world, not enough goodness, not joy. I see pictures of little boys and girls—brown hair and big brown eyes, just like my little son—but their lives are shattered, their families destroyed; and thus not much like my little son at all.

And I wonder about them and their mothers. Did they have favorite books and toys like we do? Do they still have little jokes and traditions throughout the day? Do they worry about saying I love you enough or getting one last kiss? How many mothers and little children with big brown eyes never got that last kiss?

It is in times like these that I sometimes feel so far from God, but so close to his Mother. In those pictures, I see myself and my son and I see Mary and her son. The truth is that Mary and Jesus would have probably felt more alike to the people in these pictures than me in my comfortable, warm little home.  t is Mary who could actually sympathize with them as the rock their babies to sleep out in the open, running for their lives. It is Mary who could actually sympathize with the fear and the sadness, the hunger and the pain.

In them I see my life as it could be and I see her life as we know she and Saint Joseph fled to Egypt from King Herod—alone and all the while, literally, clinging to God as she prayed for food, shelter, and solace.

And it’s in those moments that I know it’d be wrong to turn off the news or shut the computer down for the night, because I need those big brown eyes to remind me of the parts of the Christmas story that I’d rather forget, the parts that aren’t very similar to my own life at all. I need those images to remind me what it means to sacrifice. I need those images to remind me that in these dark nights of the world that we need to cling to the Christ Child even more.

We need to cling to God and love, protect and cherish Him just like that young mother did so many hundreds of years ago. We need to remember the solace and healing we can find in that embrace. We need to remember the little things that make that relationship so good and wonderful, we need to remember to tell Him we love Him just one more time as we walk out the door.

photo by Edenn Yorks

Molly Walter is a wife, mother and homemaker (with a pesky job outside the home).  She shares about making the life she wants with the life she’s been given over here.

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