Looking for Christ in Christmas

Gospel St. Matthew 11:2-11 ~ When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.

What are you looking for this Christmas?

Where are you looking?

Have you ever considered looking Christmas in Easter?

In both celebrations we are looking for something special below a tree, one an evergreen and one a cross. Below both trees the mother holds her child. Below both trees… the light shines out through the darkness.

John the Baptist was looking for the Messiah all his life. John and his disciples were looking for God in all the right places, but did not find him. It reminds me of the movie, “Finding Nemo”. The little fish was attempting to find the ocean when he was swimming in it.

Jesus began his ministry as an adult. He entered the synagogue that he grew up in. He was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah that he had practically memorized. The people looked for the Messiah but did not see him before their very eyes. Jesus told us his mission statement:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me                                                                                                                   because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

God sent me to proclaim liberty to captives,                                                                                             recovery of sight to the blind,                                                                                                                                    to let the oppressed go free                                                                                                                                     and to proclaim a year acceptable to God.”

I have been on over 12 missions to poor places like Haiti, Honduras and Africa. I was looking for Jesus in the poorest of the poor. I don’t speak the language of the peoples, but I can hear and see what Jesus is doing through wonderful and dedicated people. A Frisbee or soccer ball brings about unimaginable healing in the people I come to serve and especially in myself. The blind see the poor as equal to us. Queen of Peace missions have literally done what Jesus begs us to do. They have helped people walk again, waters to be cleansed, surgeries to give new life, devastations to restore, an attitude of gratitude, and the materially poor and spiritually poor have the good news proclaimed to them. So much more to do.dscf9317

Christmas is about receiving gifts from God, nurturing them responsibly, sharing them lovingly in justice with others. This is the gift we return with increase to God. We receive the baby at Christmas, but we return the Body of Christ in our bodies at the foot of the genuine Christmas tree. We offer our tears and our brokenness. We also return our fruit from the gifts God planted in our souls. The more we share the Gift of the Holy Spirit and our fire with others in justice; the more fruit God channels through us; fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, self-control and faithfulness. This is the best Christmas gift we could ever imagine giving to God. We give the gift every Christ Mass wrapped in our Mission Statement.

As Christians we receive God’s gifts gratefully,

cultivate them responsibly,

share them lovingly in justice with others,

and return them with increase to the Lord.

Jesus could say to them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see in my followers:

They were blind but now they see, they were paralyzed in fear but now they walk in truth, they were impure with sin, but now forgiven, love has broken through their deafness, and they now breath in… hungering and thirsting for more.”


My gift to Jesus this year is an instrument… an instrument of peace.

What is your Good News? What is your Gift? You still have time.



Pope Francis reminded me that we should expect heavier crosses as we transfigure more into the image of Christ. The more I love and walk as Jesus walked, the more I will be rejected, insulted and humiliated. Just like Jesus was, is and will be.

When Saint Ignatius asks us to meditate upon the “three grades of humility,” his aim is to lead us to this anointing in its utmost radicality; the culmination of wisdom–the Cross of Christ (Sp. Ex., 165-168).

The field of combat, so to speak, where the election of a state of life takes place, is in reality a dramatic battle-ground of desire: it is where we desire insults and contempt, or are disposed to accept them, all for the love of Christ. this is the Glory, this is the Wisdom, and this is the anointing that teaches us the way to go without fail.”

God so loved the world that He GAVE his only Son, so that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have life in abundance. This Christmas, I am really excited to receive a Christmas Gift from Jesus…

My gift from Jesus is a Cross fitted perfectly for me. At first I will be disappointed. Jesus will PRESENT me with this gift.

I love Jesus so much that I want to be just like him. That means I must have courage to get on the gift of my Cross beside him with my Mother looking on.

In my dream last night I met a man who was insignificant, wounded, and disabled. I was so caught up in my own ministry that I believed it was not for me to do. I didn’t have enough time to do what I needed to. I was being practical and looking at the bigger picture. But somehow I began to clean up the man’s vomit and tended to his needs. I glanced at his eyes… it was Jesus in this ordinary differently-abled man.

I am reminded that if the paraplegic was not suffering, he would never have met Jesus.

Have you accepted the gift of your sufferings today?

Accept the beautiful nail!

Accept the beautiful nail!

The best Gift ever!

Christmas can be a very anxious time because people that love us give us gifts. Whenever we receive a gift, it comes with a burden. Think of the last gift that you received. Did you feel like you owed something back to the person?

Sometimes, a simple “thank you” is just not enough. We sometimes try to be prepared if someone gives us a gift. We don’t want to feel cheap or inconsiderate if we don’t reciprocate with a gift that is even more thoughtful. We clamor to figure out if we have paid our debt for this generous and kind gift.

Now think of God, who gave us His beloved Son as a gift. Do we sometimes attempt to outdo God? Ouch! Even though our parents aren’t perfect, we are still so filled with gratitude for the life they sacrifice to give us. Sometimes we try to repay our parents by spoiling our children or grandchildren. We never feel satisfied in our giving.

Christmas is definitely about giving gifts. But it is so important for us to realize that the best gift ever has already been given; Jesus the Christ. We can’t reciprocate or come close to matching this gift. We receive the most awesome and amazing gift ever given or that will ever be given.

This doesn’t mean that we come to the Midnight Mass empty handed. But we do need to bring an empty heart. God cannot fill us with intimate and compassionate love unless we have the room. “Mary wrapped the infant in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.” We must bring our emptiness and longing for a love that will help us survive our death and the death of those we love.

Advent is a time to prepare our gift for our One and Only Love. We bring the only gift that God desires. What is the gift that you can bring to God for giving us Jesus? Each of us is capable of playing our drum for the babe in the stinking manger. God desires each of us, more than we desire God. We must recognize this and respond in kind. We can bring our charity and love for the poor. We can bring our studies of sacred Scripture. We can bring our contemplation. A great gift would be to simply come home to the Sacred Heart and family of the church, warts and all!

In my 52 years of life on this earth, I have celebrated Christmas (Christ Mass) in many different places and countries. Whether it was in Korea, Okinawa, Puerto Rico, or in Fallujah, Iraq during a war, I always felt I was at home at the Mass. It reminds me of when Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus for three days when he was twelve, and Jesus simply said, “Why did you search for me, didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” I am always at home at Midnight Christmas Mass.

When I returned home from my first year in college, my parents had sold and moved out of our house (a mom and pop motel in Daytona Beach), and forgot to let my brother Rick and me know where they were staying. We felt so homeless. We eventually found them and celebrated Christmas as a family of eight in a small motel inn…and at St. Brendan’s Catholic Church where I would eventually celebrate my First Mass as a priest twelve years later!

Although it is awkward and difficult for me to celebrate the revised Mass, there is one clear translation that is a tremendous help. “Pray my brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” Our sacrifice is our gift for Christmas, Easter and every Sunday Mass of the year. We offer the gift of plain unleavened bread, wine and water. These simple gifts that were given to us by our gracious God will be transformed into the Lamb of God who suffers and dies. This brings up the second part of our gift to God: suffering.

St. Augustine, our patron saint, is quite clear:
“Whenever we suffer affliction, we should regard it both as a punishment and as a correction. Our holy Scriptures themselves do not promise us peace, security and rest. On the contrary, the Gospel makes no secret of the troubles and temptations that await us, but it also says that he who perseveres to the end will be saved.”

Another word for “saved” is “Christ”. The more accurate word for “Mass” is “Eucharist”. Therefore, the Mass is really about “the giving thanks for being saved”.

John the Baptist, Our Blessed Mother and all the apostles and saints suffered greatly. If we truly follow Jesus, we must expect suffering. And we must give thanks for our sufferings! Give thanks for your sufferings, cancers, homelessness, struggles, disappointments, broken relationships and persecutions. They all make the best Christmas gift ever if you give them to Our Father. He loves the gift of your sufferings.

And God will top that gift when you hear the priest invite us to the best Supper ever and proclaim as he holds up the Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ:

“Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb!”

Love, joy, peace,

Father Ron Moses +


In the last meditations of Father Anthony De Mello in The Way of Love, he begins one of his mediations:

“Think of a flabby person covered with layers of fat. That is what your mind can become—flabby, covered with layers of fat till it becomes too dull and lazy to think, to observe, to explore, to discover. It loses its alertness, its aliveness, its flexibility and goes to sleep. Look around you and you will see almost everyone with minds like that: dull, asleep, protected by layers of fat, not wanting to be disturbed or questioned into wakefulness.”

After copying this in my journal on November 29, I wrote the following:

Come, Beloved Jesus…

Then on Saturday morning on the memorial of St. Francis Xavier, as I was preparing to hear Confessions at St. John the Evangelist Church in Interlachen, I wrote the following:

Yes, Jesus
You have awoken my Spirit.
Yes, I will follow
and lead the way
through the darkness into your heart
although I am already within, but I didn’t know it!

O Jesus, all alone again
Bob, my brother priest helps me through the bog

You truly have come
to set a fire on the earth
and division.
You baptize me with your blood…so hot at first that I recoil

Patience, kindness, gentleness
Thanks for the fruit and sweetness
Generosity, purity, faithfulness
Thanks for the warm bread
Love, joy, peace,
Thanks for the strength and depth!

How long you must have waited for my soul to awaken
Groggy, whiney complaining

And yet, I feel and experience
how you purify me
spit on my eyes
hold me close to your breasts
like my Italian grandmother, Teresa,
pulled me in with her love and arms
It was so very uncomfortable
to breathe and think
with my face smashed into Grandma’s breasts
And yet, I now long for that uncomfortable love that conquers all

O Beloved God,
smash my face into your breasts
make me uncomfortable
call me to grow up and mature

I am here this morning
with You,
Just like three years ago
after Bishop John encouraged me
that sometimes I have to carry my cross
And then the man who ordained me
laid hands on me again
and forgave me.
As I drove down to Interlachen to hear confessions,
it hit me
the oils of Chrism flooded my eyes,
poured down on my beard (that has been long ago shaved off)
and into my heart and soul

Yes, You, O God, have ordained me
to be Your son
Your brother
and your lover
I am truly Father Ron
and I tremble at the prospect
just as every father does
as his tiny babe drawn from his loins and his beloved’s womb
is placed in his hands for the first time
Love pours like oil—a father forever
even if it costs him his life,
he will defend his wife and children
and then the world.
And now I beg forgiveness
and as I whimper my request
the words pour forth from your heart and soul
as you are tortured on the cross
“Ron, today you will be with me in Paradise!”

Take it in. Savor it.
Be protected by these words.
Rejoice in it.
Celebrate it.
O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining
This is the day and night of Our dear Savior’s, and Our birth.
Long lay my world and our world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared,
my Father and your Father,
my Brother and your Brother,
my Lover and your Lover
and my soul felt its worth
a thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices
for yonder and here breaks
a new and glorious morn—
Fall on my knees
I hear the angel voices
“O night divine when Christ was born,
O night, O night divine”

Breathe on me Jesus
Enflame my soul
Burst my dullness and darkness
Bring Light! Bring Light!
Use me
Your will be done
Shatter my deafness, my loneliness, and my darkness
Devour me so that I might live
Breathe in…
Breathe out…
Proclaim to all the world and universe
God is with us,
Until the end of time…and beyond!!!
o my! o wow! and oooh!!!

And then on Sunday morning as I was sipping my coffee on the back porch and praying the Office of Readings, I read the words of St. John Damascene, priest and doctor, on his feast day:

“O Lord, you led me from my father’s loins and formed me in my mother’s womb. You brought me, a naked babe, into the light of day, for nature’s laws always obey your commands.
By the blessing of the Holy Spirit, you prepared my creation and my existence, not because man willed it or flesh desired it, but by your ineffable grace. The birth you prepared for me was such that it surpassed the laws of our nature. You sent me forth into the light by adopting me as your son and you enrolled me among the children of your holy and spotless Church.
You nursed me with the spiritual milk of your divine utterances. You kept me alive with the solid food of the body of Jesus Christ, your only-begotten Son and our God, and you let me drink from the chalice of his life-giving blood, poured out to save the whole world.
You loved us, O Beloved…”

Beloved, I pray you are having a wonderful Advent. I am. This week I am going to be courageous and offer you a homework assignment. Go ahead and read Psalm 104 out loud. It speaks in very poetic words and imagery of how God creates our world and all who live in it. God is an Awesome God. God is Good…ALL THE TIME!
Yes, Jesus!

Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron Moses +

Advent of Peace

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
(Gospel reading from Saint John (1:1-2) on Christmas Morning)

Beloved, without Advent there is no reality of Christ-Mass. Christmas is celebrated only because the LAMB of GOD was slaughtered on Good Friday after the Passover which commemorates how the Hebrew people escaped the horrible conditions of slavery in Egypt four hundred years after they were in harmony with the Pharaoh and the Egyptian people.

Moses was instructed by God to tell the people that if they wished to survive the death of their first born and enter into freedom (in the perilous desert), they first had to slaughter a lamb and smear the blood on their front doorposts the night of the seventh moon of the Jewish New Year (Yom Kippur). Remember, Jews must drain the blood of animals before eating them. Blood was sacred not only for humans, but animals as well.

The “blood” line of Jesus can be traced all the way back to Adam and Eve. In her book, Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!, Susi Pittman is clear and concise in showing the fall and the ultimate Restoration of the soul of human beings. Our hope is to be in Heaven with our Creator and Beloved for all eternity. Susi raises the question of whether animals are in Heaven also. Advent is Latin for “to come”. Advent is a time for us to hope for the coming of Heaven. Jesus, the Lamb of God, is coming for you, me, and all of His Creation. Susi shares her love of her husband, pets, wild animals and parts of our environment that have died. Her hope is in what the Sacred Scriptures exude of love, joy, peace and hope in Heaven.

In the Song of Songs, chapter 2, written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the prophet cries out with the words of Our Beloved coming for us. Jesus is in love with us and all creation. Allow ourselves to cry out this most beautiful Canticle about how Jesus’ love is stronger than death. Yes! Yes! Advent is about falling in love with our Beloved, Jesus. Christmas is about the formal engagement to our Beloved, Jesus. January 10, 2010 is the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus in which is the last day of Christmas and the first day of Ordinary Time leading up to the Passover and the Wedding Feast of Easter. It is beyond our comprehension that we will be married to God forever.

According to Saint Luke, “After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Let us hope like Noah waiting for the dove to return with an olive branch as a sign that the flood waters have receded. Isaac asked his father, “Father, here is the wood on my back, and you carry the fire and knife. Where is the sacrifice?” Abraham, with tears hidden in his soul, simply said, “My son, God will provide.” God is coming for us as Abraham holds the knife he is about to plunge into his son whom he loves more than himself. “Abraham! Abraham! Don’t kill your beloved son. I know you love me. I will provide for you everything I have. I will promise you my Son, the Lamb. As a sign of this promise, see the ram caught in the bushes. One day, My Son will come to the earth and be caught with a crown of thorns.”

Our hope is that God will fulfill His promise. But that promise means that the Blood of the Lamb will be smeared on our doorposts, our lips. And we will eat the flesh of God in the form of a gentle lamb who says, “Father! I have the wood of the cross on my shoulders and back. The fire of sin is in your beloved people. And the sword of the evil one is in their hands. I have fallen in love with these people even though they insist on slaughtering me and pasting my body on a bloody cross like the Passover almost 2000 years ago. Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing. My birth, life, suffering, death, and resurrection is your one and only Christmas Gift for them. I love them, my chosen spouse, soul mate, and Beloved for all eternity. I can hardly wait to present my beloved people to you. I will even give them my most Blessed Mother Mary to them so that my mother will be their mother and we will be united as ONE for all eternity.”

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid:
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.
Isaiah 11:1-10

This Advent let us hope for peace. Let us hope that the animals in the preceding passage from the prophet Isaiah will indeed be replaced with people of the world. Then sinners shall be a guest of The Lamb. Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and Christian will browse together. Republicans and Democrats shall browse together with a little child to guide them. The people of Iraq and Iran, Afghanistan and the World, The South and The North, China and Russia, Cuba and the United States, Israel and Palestine, North and South Korea, shall all be neighbors. How would you place the Sunni and Shiites in this passage? Where would you put the insurrectionists and religious extremists? And where would you place yourself and your most terrifying enemy?

When we forgive those who have hurt and abused us, then the Beloved will come searching for His Beloved, YOU and ME!

Hark! my lover-here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.
My lover speaks; he says to me,
“Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one,
and come!
For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!
“O my dove in the clefts of the rock,
in the secret recesses of the cliff,
Let me see you,
let me hear your voice,
For your voice is sweet,
and you are lovely.”
Song of Songs 2:8-14

O Holy Night must come! May you find your Beloved, The Best Gift Ever, this Christmas. I pray that you nurture the lamb born among wolves. May we all hope to be the guest of the Lamb. Joy to the World! The Beloved is coming!

Love, joy, peace and hope,
Father Ron Moses +