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Thursday, December 4, 1997

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St. John Damascene

Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalm 118
Matthew 7:21, 24-27

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up the down staircase

"It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor." —Isaiah 26:6

Before Jesus' birth, Mary praised and prophesied: "He (God) has deposed the mighty from their thrones and raised the lowly to high places. The hungry He has given every good thing, while the rich He has sent empty away" (Lk 1:52-53). Before this year's Christmas celebration of Jesus' birth, Mary's prophecy will again be fulfilled. God "chose the world's lowborn and despised, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who were something" (1 Cor 1:28). "He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city He brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with the dust" (Is 26:5).

Therefore, humble yourself and the Lord will exalt you this Christmas (Mt 23:12). Choose to be poor, and the kingdom of Christ and Christmas will already belong to you (Mt 5:3). In this age, you will receive a hundred times more than you gave up (Mk 10:30). Otherwise, you will be humbled, tumbled, leveled, trampled (Is 26:5-6), deposed, and sent away empty (Lk 1:52-53).

Will you and your Christmas collapse and be completely ruined? (Mt 7:27) Or are you solidly built on the rock of obedience to God's words, especially His callings to humility and Gospel poverty? (Mt 7:24) This Christmas, may you have the humility and poverty of Jesus at the first Christmas.

Prayer:  Father, this Advent give me humility and Gospel poverty, no matter what it takes.

Promise:  "None of those who cry out, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven." —Mt 7:21

Praise:  As punishment for opposing heresy, John lost his hand. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, his hand was miraculously restored.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, June 1, 1997

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 9, 1997