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DAY 9

Ever heard of the line, “If you want God to laugh, tell Him your plans”?

Today in the First Reading, we see King David settled securely in the magnificence of his royal palace. Suddenly he had an attack of conscience, saying, “Here I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God remains in a tent.” So he went to Nathan the prophet and consulted him about his plan to build for God a more worthy dwelling place. But the Lord spoke to Nathan that night and asked him to say, “Go tell my servant David . . . ‘should you build me a house to dwell in . . . ?’”

God was “laughing” at David’s plan. It was like God telling David, “Hello! It was I who made you great, I who created the universe, and you’re concerned that I do not have a house to stay in?

What God wanted was for David to once more welcome Him in his heart, not in an obscure room. God was beginning to see David being consumed by the power and prestige of kingship.

It’s the last day before Christmas. Tonight at Christmas Eve Mass, we will hear once more that line in the Gospel, “And there was no room for them in the inn.” Let us rewrite that line. Let us clean up, clear up, and spruce up the inn of our hearts that Jesus may find in it a warm and welcome lodging. Have a blessed Christmas in your heart!

REFLECTION QUESTION
Have you done your “personal” general cleaning yet?

PRAYER
Jesus, thank You for coming down to Earth to save me. I pray that I may follow You all the days of my life and live according to Your will. I love You and I praise You, my Savior. Amen.

Taken from Sabbath 2020 Scripture Reflection by Fr. Joel Jason

DAY 8

Today, we read about the birth of John the Baptist. Everyone present knew the extraordinary circumstances surrounding his birth: Zechariah was already too old, Elizabeth was not only old as well but was barren at that. Everyone felt something special was happening right before their eyes. Luke narrates that “fear descended on all the neighborhood . . . they treasured the events in their hearts . . . they wondered what would become of the child.” They felt underdressed before the mystery that unfolded before their very eyes.

The late Bishop Fulton Sheen once said that the water at Cana turned into wine because the water blushed when it saw the face of Jesus. He is right. Blushing in awe and worship is the only appropriate stance before God.

Why don’t we blush anymore today? How come we take Communion like we’re just receiving a wafer? How come we approach Christmas, the awesome mystery of the God who became Man, as just one among the many holidays in the calendar?

Admit it, we have become so cavalier before God and His mysteries. It’s not that God needs our attention. He does not. We are the ones who benefit from every encounter with God. It makes us grow in grace and genuine worship.

The next time you go to Mass or the adoration chapel, remind your heart who you are facing. You will surely blush in awe.

REFLECTION QUESTION
Do you prepare for Christmas as an encounter with God?

PRAYER
Lord Jesus, never let me take You for granted. Ingrain in my consciousness a deep awareness of Your real presence in the Eucharist and in my prayers. Not for Your sake but for mine. Amen.

Taken from Sabbath 2020 Scripture Reflection by Fr. Joel Jason

DAY 7

Today in the readings, we see two women with their sons. In the First Reading, Hannah brings the young Samuel to the temple. In the Gospel, Mary speaks of the Child in her womb. What is common in both mothers is that they kept their sons attached to the Vine of God. Both mothers realized that their sons are not their own. They are bound for great things and, thus, need to be attached to the Vine of God. Hannah consecrates Samuel in the temple, Mary prophesies the marvels that Jesus will accomplish as Messiah.

A confident parent once wrote, “Give me a child until he is seven and I don’t care who gets him after that.” So self-assured, but if your child is strongly attached to the Vine, you will have the same confidence.

REFLECTION QUESTION
Where are you attached to?

PRAYER
Lord Jesus, You are the Vine, we are the branches. Draw us and keep us close to You. Amen.

Taken from Sabbath 2020 Scripture Reflection by Fr. Joel Jason

DAY 6

In the Gospel today, the angel Gabriel has just announced to Mary that she was to bear the Son of God. She also learned that her cousin was also pregnant, also of divine origin, and now on her sixth month. Mary understood Elizabeth. She, too, was still trying to make sense of her own pregnancy—excited, frightened, and confused, all at the same time. Mary rushed to Elizabeth’s side to share with her the great news she has just been given. It was an unplanned visit, an unplanned encounter. And it brought great joy to Elizabeth who was then in hiding as she was still “processing” the astonishing event that was unfolding in her own life. “The moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leapt for joy,” Elizabeth exclaimed.

Today, do any of these things: Be a Mary today. Share your joy. Share your blessings. Or just share your person. Make that phone call, that e-mail or text message. Go on a journey and make an unplanned visit and make someone feel loved and accompanied. Find your Elizabeth and gift her with joy. Or maybe seek out an “enemy” and initiate the first steps to reconciliation

REFLECTION QUESTION
Shared joy is double the joy; shared sorrow is half the sorrow. What can you share today?

PRAYER
Grant me the generosity to be a Mary today. And the humility to be an Elizabeth. Amen.

Taken from Sabbath 2020 Scripture Reflection by Fr. Joel Jason

DAY 5

In today’s Gospel, Mary is visited by the angel Gabriel. Although Mary has a name, the angel addressed her with a strange greeting: “Hail, ‘Full of Grace,’ the Lord is with you!” “Full of Grace.” In Greek, it is kecharitomene. In Latin, it is gratia plena.

While there are many theories as to the exact translation of the word kecharitomene, there is considerable agreement among scholars that it can be translated as “you who have been blessed.” Truly, Mary has been blessed. As a response to the announcement of the angel, Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord, may it be done unto me as you say.”

But she was blessed not for her own sake. Mary herself understood this. She called herself a servant. A servant is one with a mission to fulfill, a task to accomplish. What is that mission? To give to the world the blessing that was given to her—her Son, Emmanuel.

This is a very good spirituality to live by. If you have been blessed by God, you are to be a blessing for others. What God gives to you, He wants to give through you!

That is what Mary did. That is what I propose we can also do.

REFLECTION QUESTION
No one is so rich as to have nothing to receive. No one is so poor as to have nothing to give. What can you bless the world with?

PRAYER
Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous, to give and not to count the cost. Amen.

Taken from Sabbath 2020 Scripture Reflection by Fr. Joel Jason

DAY 4

A Nazirite vow is a practice of self-discipline that Jewish males undergo as a form of consecration to God or to a higher and noble purpose. The vow is a commitment to a divine consecration. The object of the vow is to train one’s willpower in order to fulfill a higher goal or purpose in life. It helps train the individual to recognize a hierarchy of values in life, to differentiate between pleasure and purpose.

Every good thing has two elements of goodness in them: pleasure and purpose. Pleasure brings delight in our pursuit of purposeful things. Purpose gives direction and ethical value in our enjoyment of pleasure. Since pleasure is in the realm of the senses, it’s easy to pursue it independent of purpose. People eat to live and not live to eat. Pursue the pleasure alone and you fall into eating disorders. Purpose is in the realm of the will and this is what the Nazirite vow strengthens.

Christmas time can easily be a time of excess and reckless abandon. Testament to this are the complaints of empty wallets and full waistlines come January. More than ever, we need to practice self-discipline as a form of devotion to the purpose of the season.

Discipline have always been the character of great men and women. It defined Samson, John the Baptist, and Paul. It should define us as well.

REFLECTION QUESTION

Make a self-evaluation and ask yourself: Are you pleasure-driven or purpose-driven?

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, grant me the prudence and willpower to live a purpose-driven life. Amen.

Taken from Sabbath 2020 Scripture Reflection by Fr. Joel Jason

DAY 3

Today in the Gospel, we read that Joseph had already learned of Mary’s pregnancy. While they were already betrothed to one another, they did not live together yet. The law then prescribed that women who get pregnant out of wedlock are to be stoned to death for breaking the law of God. Now, while Joseph was deeply hurt by what he thought to be Mary’s infidelity, he loved her so much that he was unwilling to expose her to the law. This set up the visit of the angel who announced to Joseph—in a dream—the divine origin of the Child in Mary’s womb. His mission was to be the foster father of Jesus and Joseph bravely accepted it.

Imagine the great humility required to be the foster father of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Can you imagine being husband to a woman who immaculately conceived? Or being the father of the Holy Son of God? In a very real sense, God asked Joseph to be a “stand-in” father to Jesus. As a “stand-in” father, you cannot be one who always wishes to “stand out.”

Joseph was always one who put himself last. Though he had the law in his favor, he put his legal rights aside and thought first of Mary’s welfare and of the Child in her womb. He loved in silence and served in anonymity. Though he was used less, he knew he was not useless. He offered the best of what he had for the family entrusted to his fatherly care.

REFLECTION QUESTION

Are you obsessed with always standing out? Love in silence, serve in anonymity.

PRAYER O Joseph the just one, protect our families with your intercession. Amen.

Taken from Sabbath 2020 Scripture Reflection by Fr. Joel Jason

DAY 2

Today we read of Jesus’ genealogy or family tree. Scripture scholars educate us that men and women of ill repute are included in that list. It also included some adulterers, prostitutes, and even scheming murderers. And yet, that is the undeniable truth: The Messiah, the Son of God, did originate from that line of people.

The Genealogy of Jesus can teach us something about how we can look at the past and the future. First, the past does not necessarily determine the future. Freedom to correct and learn from the past is always the gift of the present moment. We are not creatures of chance. We are creatures of choice.

Second, one does not tell the future. We make our future. It will do us well to remember what the sage says: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

REFLECTION QUESTION

What is your attitude toward your past? Are you resigned and passive about what the future holds for you?

PRAYER

Jesus, in Your Name, I declare freedom from whatever enslaves me in the past, and courage toward what frightens me in the future. Amen. Taken from Sabbath 2020 Scripture Reflection by Fr. Joel Jason

DAY 1

Gospel Reading: Luke 7:18-23

In our Gospel reading today, we see people being curious regarding the person of Jesus. News about Him have been brewing in the Galilean countryside and the people were excited about Jesus and His connection with the prophesy of old. John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask Him, “Are You the one who is to come or do we look for another?” “Do we look for another?”

The Christmas season is an exciting and busy season, and we can easily be distracted. In this season, the question of the disciples is actually our question too: “Are You ‘He who is to come’ or do we look for another?” We know Jesus is the One, but it’s easy for us to get excited and look forward to another. A sage once reminded, “When someone points at the moon, only a fool looks at the finger.” As we plunge into these exciting days of the Christmas season, make your own Sabbath days for “He who is to come.” Let us avoid the foolish temptation of looking for another—and at our finger.

REFLECTION QUESTION:

What Sabbath preparations are you willing to do to dispose yourself for “He who is to come”?

PRAYER:

“O come, Emmanuel, come. Maranatha! Lord Jesus.” Taken from Sabbath 2020 Reflection by Fr. Joel Jason