Glimpse of God for the week of July 7, 2024

Christmas in July….

Christmas in July. Considering all that is going on in our communities, society, and world, you might be asking how I can even think about Christmas in July. With Covid19, somewhat in the rear view mirror, I believe that as we continue to walk on the path of healing and wholeness, we will emerge as a physically, emotionally, and healthier people.  This is a reason to proclaim Joy to the World.

Since Covid 19 started over four and a half years ago, I believe that we have learned and accepted our new normal, as well as recognized that we have been profoundly affected by it. Hope springs eternal in that we are choosing to live with a sense of caution and trust, and not so much fear and anxiety. The rays of the shining star touch all of us, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, the ill and the healthy, the abandoned and the embraced, the child and the tween, the terminally ill and the forgotten elderly, we are God’s beloved children and are given His grace to come to know Him as our Savior and Lord, to enlighten us as to where God is in our daily life, as we carry our heavy crosses and persevere through the daily family, financial and personal stresses, to see the good that comes out of the tomb so that we can emerge from them and to see how they have changed and transformed us.

This is not a glimpse encouraging you to begin your Christmas shopping or to write out your Christmas cards, so please put the keys down, the lists away and keep the stamps and address books in the drawer. What is Christmas in July?  In our commercial and consumer world, it is where retailers have Christmas decorations and all the necessary items out for sale so that the consumer can get a jump start and shop ahead.  July is in the middle of summer where it can also be the hottest time of the year, so that when we talk about Christmas, there can be a sudden feeling of refreshment and cooling off.

But on a deeper and a more spiritual level, why is or should July be different than any other month? Why don’t we celebrate Christmas every day and not just the one day a year? On December 25th, we as Catholic Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, where God chose Mary, a young virgin to be the Mother of God and Joseph to be His foster father here on earth. Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, we know that it is the Christmas season because it is officially Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. How do you know it is Christmas? You can’t miss the various and many clues; decorations  and advertisements abound everywhere; in the malls, on houses, in stores and on televisions, Christmas cards are sent out,  Santa Claus appears everywhere either in his PJ’s or in his full red suit, people celebrate with parties, the poor, hungry and homeless are remembered through various food collections, special dinners, coat and clothes drives, the sick children are thought of in a special way, people are kinder, gifts are exchanged and children send their Christmas lists to Santa at the North pole early so that they can get everything they want.

Christmas is not just about the bright and positive, it is also about the cross of Christ experienced first by Mary and Joseph. Christmas is also a time where many people grieve the loss of their loved one and would rather cry than celebrate or smile, families are broken, wounds are renewed, lives are lost through war, homicide, suicide, and addictions and all of these lives are gifts that have been taken away, the poor are still poor, many of the homeless are still without a home, the hungry are still hungry and peace on earth is still our hope and our prayer. There is still more darkness than daylight and the weather can lead to cabin fever.

My Glimpse of God for this week is not to eliminate Christmas in July, but rather that we make the meaning of Christmas our daily mindset; a mindset focused on a greater and deeper sense of faith, hope, love, compassion, service, mercy, peace, joy, authenticity, presence, and trust.

As we begin a new week during this month of July, let us focus on some of the aspects of our faith and discipleship and seek to live it out as if it were Christmas every day.

 

SUNDAY – Spirit of Christmas

The spirit and gift of Christmas is a state of mind and one that we are blessed with every day. We are called to be a selfless, and not a selfish, people. We are all God’s beloved sons and daughters, and when we share the gift of our love and beloved-ness with others, it helps them recognize with greater clarity how unconditionally loved they are by God and others.  The Spirit of Christmas is a spirit of self-emptying love, surrender, trust, hope, and joy that permeates and penetrates our very being and dwells within our hearts if we are open to God’s Holy Spirit and His plan for us. We are and can always try to give of our self. 

If someone is grieving and needs comfort, be God’s instrument of consolation and support. If someone is ill and needs a good listener, be the ears of Christ and listen in silence. If someone is alone and in need of a visitor, be the visitor of compassion, support, and empathy. If someone has hurt you, be merciful, listen and forgive as God has forgiven you. If someone is joyful, be joyful with them and do not let your life crosses, struggles and challenges overshadow their joy. God loves a cheerful giver.

Today: If you are carrying a heavy cross, do not try to carry it alone, remember Jesus accepted help, so let others help. If you find that you are not your best self, remember that what you see is only a partial view where God sees the whole picture. That picture is one of love, compassion, healing, and wholeness, so rejoice that your better self is emerging, just move out of your way so that you can see it more clearly. If you find that you are being tough on yourself because of mistakes, weaknesses, or sins, remember that God knows what is in your heart and that you are sorry, in humility admit your wrongs and seek His mercy so that He can take action to heal, forgive and make you whole again.  

 

MONDAY – The Senses of Prayer for you today

May Jesus open your eyes so that you can see the wonderful gift of His presence in those that surround you: your family, your friends, your community, your neighbors, your coworkers and yes even the stranger.

May Jesus open your ears so that you can hear the laughter and listen to the stories of those around you and respond with the empathy, compassion, joy, mercy, and love of Jesus. May you hear and listen as you open your heart to His message. May Jesus touch your nose so that you can smell the various aromas of the foods that are being prepared for your table, the breakfast table, the fast-food table, the dinner table, the snack table. As you enjoy the aromas, may that prompt a prayer of thanksgiving for those who are preparing your meal. Remember each meal, beginning with Holy Eucharist, is a gift given by God to nurture and sustain you spiritually and physically, so that you can be a stronger witness as a Member of the Body of Christ to all. May Jesus touch your sense of taste and allow you to enjoy all that you partake of weather at the table, or on the run. Taste and see the Goodness of the Lord.

Today: May Jesus touch your mind, body, spirit, and soul with His grace. May you reach out and touch someone today that needs comfort, consolation, healing, empathy, compassion, peace, joy, love, and laughter. 

 

TUESDAY – The Greetings of Christ

When we greet each other with a smile, kind words or a friendly gesture, it is the recognition of the presence of another that spreads love, mutual respect, understanding, peace, mercy, compassion and builds up the Kingdom of God here on earth. When the Christmas season approaches, respectful of the other holidays that are also being celebrated in and around the same time, you often hear various greetings from Merry Christmas, happy holidays to Happy Hanukah. 

I believe that these greeting are one’s attempt to be respectful of the many religious holidays and to acknowledge a person’s celebration. 
Why wait till the season to greet others? Normally a smile, handshake or a simple hello are ways to acknowledge another’s presence without causing any political or religious debate or offense. 

How do we greet others as Christ’s followers as builders of the Kingdom here on earth? We encourage each other, support each other, and call each other to be their best self despite what contradicts that goal.

Christ did not preach just at Passover. He did not perform miracles just at parties, He glorified the Father all the time without fear or hesitation. We are asked to do the same.  Sometimes it is easier to give praise and thanks to God when things are going well, but when things are difficult, it is a special gift and grace form God to be able to offer Him thanks and praise.  

Today: When you want to greet another but hesitate because of fear or the uncertainty of their response, offer a nod and say a prayer for them.  When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples, the first words from His mouth were Peace Be with You!! Let these words echo in your heart as He speaks them to you, and as He wishes them for all His children through you. 

 

WEDNESDAY – The Presence/Presents of Christmas

Christ comes to us and gives us the greatest gift that we could ever ask for or imagine receiving, the gift of His real presence in the Holy Eucharist, and His healing presence in the Sacraments of the Reconciliation and Anointing. His gift of Self to us was a selfless, unconditional self-emptying gift that we could never earn or deserve. Knowing that, He came to earth as an infant through the virgin Mary, suffered His passion, died on the cross and rose from the dead, to show us, not only how unconditionally loved we are, but that there is no sin that could ever diminish or take that love from us. Do we believe that, and can we live in and with faith that empowers us to rise above our weakness and trust in His mercy?

We are the Body of Christ, and we are called to be the Body of Christ to others. Being present to others and giving of our self is not always easy, but like Mary and Joseph, if we trust in God and follow the star of His grace that guides us, we know that He will always protect us, guide us, and lead us to those who need to experience His gifts of love, mercy, and peace through us. There are so many ways that Christ is calling us to be His beacon of light, love, and compassion, we just need to listen, look, and respond the best way we can.

Today: Merry Christmas today. Enjoy the presence and gift of Jesus in those that surround you. Keep the spirit and meaning Christmas alive by your words, deeds, attitudes, and prayers and do not give the secular world the credit for your witness and love for God through Jesus.

The gift of Jesus is in all those that surround you. If the eyes of your heart , spirit and mind are open, you will see so many gifts from Jesus, gifts like; the smile of a friend, the words of consolation, the long awaited embrace after covid, the joy in being able to see another’s facial expressions, the jokes that raise our laughter level, the person in line ahead of us that invites us to go ahead of them because they have more, the person who defers to you in traffic, the child that embrace you after a hard day at work, and the opportunity to gather with others. 

THURSDAY – The peace of Christmas

We hear this song throughout the season but not much during the rest of the year. If we prayed for peace more often, but more importantly, if we believed that we are instrumental in bringing about peace in our home, community, church and world, peace would abound in ways that we cannot even imagine. Peace is like the ripple in the ocean, one little prayer, selfless action, random act of kindness, can bring about peace so that it ripples and grows further out from us to those who need it most.

If you are like me, once a little song enters my mind, it stays, so with that, pray these words, sing these words, post them, but always remember YOU are God’s instrument of His Peace here on earth.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth the peace that was meant to be. With God as our Father and family all are we, let us walk with each other, in perfect harmony. Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now, with every step I take, let this be my solemn vow: to take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

 

HOW???? Let us listen to the Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love, injury…. pardon. doubt…faith, despair….hope, darkness…light, sadness…joy, Oh Divine Master, grant that I might not seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

FRIDAY- Serve in the name of the Lord.

As the festive season approaches, we often and always hear of the many organizations and ministries that reach out to the military, the poor, the homeless, the addicted, the sick children and the homebound.  We as a community, neighborhood, city, town, state, and country, amazingly and generously respond to the needs of those less fortunate and need help. When the season is over, the requests for these same people are silent or muted.  We do not hear as much about them.  Yet their situation has not changed, and they still need help. Wouldn’t it be nice if we reached out in the same way all year?

If we truly desire to embrace the spirit of Christmas each and every day, then we are accepting God’s invitation to help others, give of our self instead of being selfish and seek to raise up those who are bowed down because of their crosses. Let us remember that those who were homeless are still homeless, the poor are still among us, the addicted are still suffering and the unemployed are still seeking employment to feed and support their families, there is never a time to stop being or seeing Christ in others who are carrying heavy and burdensome crosses.

Today: If there was a group that you were generous towards for Christmas think about them and pray for them.  With your Christmas heart, reach out to them in whatever way you feel called. You do not need to give them a gift but remember them in a prayerful way throughout the day, the week, the month, and the year. 

 

SATURDAY – Joy to the World

The angel announced with great joy that the Savior was born. As you move through another weekend, another part of the hot, humid, and rainy summer season, find your joy and share it with others.  Is your joy in Christ? Proclaim it by your smile and your love. Is your joy in that you recognize that you are His beloved, as well as those you love? Look in the mirror and say thank you. Pray for your mom who accepted the seed of faith of your presence, and where God formed you in her womb and gave you your name. Pray for your dad who loved you the nine months you remained hidden and loved you to the new physical life that you took on. Is your joy in your vocation: married, single, cleric, religious? God has called you and you have generously responded to His call to be His witness and Kingdom builder to those entrusted to your care, love, and concern. If married to your spouse, children, extended family, and grandchildren. If a religious; to your community, your past and present students, your employees, your elderly religious sisters, your caretakers, your family, your nieces, and nephews. If single; to your friends, family, extended family, and community.

Is your joy in your accomplishments? God has given you the talents and gifts that have allowed you to become accomplished, but your identity does not lie in what you do, but rather in who you are:

His beloved child loved unconditionally and without measure. Look at what you think means a lot: your degree, your job, your successes and seek to see the hand of God and His Holy Spirit in your life.

Today: Seek to recognize in all of those that you have touched, and have touched you, how they have been a source of joy to you and for you. They, as well as you, are a joy to the world and in the world. Our world needs more joy. Can you spread the joy by speaking of those who have given you joy in the past, or give you joy in the present? God is waiting to hear from you. The angels proclaimed it from the roof top, how will you proclaim it?  From your knees, from your lips, in your greeting, in a nod?

 

 

 

The Good News

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© Cookie A Magee