If we think that God is somehow obligated to bless us, or to give us gifts, then we will likely not be grateful to Him. In truth we are not worthy of anything good from God. We do not deserve any blessings from him. If we are willing to accept this truth, then maybe we will be more thankful when God indeed chooses to bless us. How do we thank God? We come to the Church and we give Him gifts of thanks through our stewardship, olive oil for the lamps, prosforo for Holy Communion.
Every morning we wake up to another day filled with opportunities and choices, opportunities to honor God with our choices. In our morning prayers, we often ask God to bless our day and maybe even ask Him to intercede and help us with a particular struggle, or we may ask Him to help others in their struggles. Suffice it to say, our prayers are more often than not, filled with requests of God.
The first public words of Christ after His Baptism and temptation by the devil were words of inspiration. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4.17) Christ has invited us to change the way we look at life. He has invited us to look at those around us with the Light of Christ, rather than the darkness of the world. In a world filled with darkness, we have seen The Light of God, which will guide our path.
Throughout the Old Testament, we hear stories of God coming ‘just in time’ before it was too late to rescue His people. He was waiting for just the right time to enter into creation and finally defeat death, once and for all. Immediately when the world heard of His glorious birth, the world through King Herod, rejected God and sought to kill Him. If Christ had died then at birth, He still would have defeated death, but nobody would have believed it. It was necessary that He die publicly so when He rose from the dead, everyone would believe Him. God’s Timing is everything.
When the Gospel recalls the ancestors of Christ on the Sunday before Christmas, we are not only hearing of the ancestors of Christ, but our ancestors as well. When we hear the list of names found in beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, we are reminded of how God has fulfilled His promise to save us. In reminding us of this history, we are comforted hearing that even the righteous ancestors of God didn’t always get everything ‘right’ in their decisions.
In the Parable of the Great Banquet found in Luke 14.16-24, Christ describes how entrance into heaven will take place. For many of those who have been invited, heaven will be refused using a variety of excuses. Instead of the banquet being empty, the master Who is God, commands His servants to go and find everyone else in town to fill His House saying, “For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.” (Luke 14.24) Those who will enjoy the banquet didn’t do anything other than accept the invitation from God.
When we receive an invitation to a banquet, the first thing most of us do is to quickly look at who sent the invitation. We do this before we even look to see if we are available at the time for the banquet. We do this because, if we consider the person who has invited us to be important enough, even if we are busy that night, we will likely find a way to attend the banquet. If we don’t like the person, or don’t even know if we know the person, even if we are available, chances are we won’t attend the banquet.
Once on a Sabbath Day, Christ reached out and healed a woman from eighteen years of suffering as He said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” (Luke 13.12) The Jewish leaders were furious that Christ would dare “work” on the Sabbath, a day while work was not allowed by God. As we continue preparing ourselves to receive Christ for Christmas, it is time for us to have compassion and mercy for others as more important than following the exact rules of the Church.
Faith is a free gift from God that we must choose to accept. From the moment we awake until the moment we go to bed, we are faced with constant opportunities to choose faith and live with Christ. Do we choose to pray and give thanks to God for a new day the moment we awake, or do we rush to be ready for work? Do we choose to thank God for our food and pray? Do we choose to prepare to be in Church on Sunday morning, or do we wait to see if we will wake up on time? The crowd of temptations are constantly trying to hush our soul as it cries out for Christ.
You are sitting by the side of the road selling fresh-caught shrimp when suddenly Jesus Christ comes walking by, surrounded by a crowd of followers. Do you…
- Keep selling your shrimp as if nothing special is happening?
- Stop selling your shrimp and sit perfectly still so you don’t disturb Him?
- Try to sell shrimp to the crowd?
- Drop your shrimp, cry out “Lord, Have mercy?” and then follow Him wherever He goes?
Sometimes life is just a simple multiple choice question.