Bethlehem and the Cross

Matthew 17: 9a, 10-13 Saturday of the Second Week of Advent I will seek to recognize Godís presence in my day by patiently welcoming the suffering and trials he permits, so he can bring about a greater good.
by Father Walter Schu, LC | Source: Catholic.net
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Matthew 17:9a, 10-13


Introductory Prayer:
Lord, your disciples sincerely tried to comprehend your identity and believe in you. I come before you today with my doubts and problems, hoping to find in this prayer an answer to my deepest aspirations. I want to believe with unwavering faith, and I want to love you with a devout heart. I offer you this time of prayer as my token of gratitude for all I have received from you.

Petition:
Mary, help me to embrace Godís will in my life, just as Christ embraced the Fatherís plan for our salvation.

1. John the Baptist as Elijah:
Once again the Gospel refers to John the Baptist as the one whose role is to prepare us for the One who is to come. Through the prophet Malachi, the Jews expectation of the return of Elijah, who will prepare the way for the promised Messiah, has grown. But they have come to view him as a figure of great power, someone who will sweep men away. So they fail to recognize Elijahís presence in the person of John the Baptist, whose only power is that of the Spirit of God, calling all people to conversion of heart in order to receive the Christ. How many times in my life do I fail to recognize the presence of Christ in my life because Iím seeking something other than Christís promises to his followers? Christ doesnít offer an easy path of comfort and consolations.

2. Bethlehem and the Cross:
Why did Christ become a helpless baby at Bethlehem? Why did he take on a fragile human body? Precisely so he could suffer for us in order to redeem us. What does that mean for our lives as Christians? It means nothing less than the fact that suffering is a gift from God. It is the Fatherís gentle caress, molding us into the image of his Son. The cross is the source of our fruitfulness, not only in our personal spiritual growth, but also in the mission to win graces for others, for all of the souls God has mysteriously entrusted to our care.

3. Obedience unto Death:
Christís desire to embrace suffering rose from his loving obedience to his Fatherís plan, without condition or limit. This loving obedience is what gives suffering its redemptive value. From the moment of his birth at Bethlehem, Christ shows us what it means to obey with love. Bethlehem is a school of obedience. In Bethlehem, Christ teaches us that only a loving obedience frees, only loving obedience redeems and sanctifies, only loving obedience enriches. Loving obedience alone saves, loving obedience alone frees us from sin and loving obedience alone pleases God. Let us embrace the cross of obedience in the challenging circumstances of our daily lives, in the trials brought by the passing of years, in the sorrow that afflicts us when God calls our loved ones back to him. Loving obedience is the path to holiness, the way to the Fatherís house.

Conversation with Christ:
Thank you, Lord, for giving us a school of loving obedience at
Bethlehem, throughout your life and in your death on the cross.
Help me to embrace suffering like you did and to be confident
in its power to make me holy and win graces for souls.

Resolution:
I will seek to recognize Godís presence in my day by patiently welcoming the suffering and trials he permits, so he can bring about a greater good.



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