…excerpt, Light unto my path
With the birth of Christ, God spoke to us in the best language possible. St. John of the Cross says “in giving us his Son, … (God)spoke everything to us at once in this sole word – and he has no more to say….because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts he has now spoken all at once by giving us the ALL who is his son.” No wonder human history takes its dating from his birth and is re-oriented by it. Now God’s dwelling is among men, we are no longer alone. God in Christ is with us to face life’s challenges and to journey with us. There is no need to live in fear for God is Immanuel!
In Christ we are put in direct touch with our God. The story of Christmas was at last understood by that woman who was seated by a fireplace, wondering why God ever decided to come in the flesh. The whole thing seemed so absurd. Why would God take flesh and live among us? Then she heard a noise outdoors. She saw a dozen geese groping about in the snow, cold and confused. She went outside and tried to herd them into her warm garage. But the more she tried to help them, the more they scattered across the lawn. Finally she gave up. Then an odd thought came to her: if just for a minute I could become a goose and talk to them in their language, I could explain that what I was trying to do was for their happiness. Then it struck her. That’s what Christmas is all about! It’s about God becoming a human to teach us what is necessary for our happiness and to lead the way!
Merry Christmas to us all!
 St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel 2,22,3-5 in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC:Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979).
excerpts from Light unto My Path p, 112.
“The Church can forgive nothing without Christ, and it is Christ’s will to forgive nothing except with the Church”
-From a sermon by Blessed Isaac of Stella, abbot
There are two things that are God’s and God’s alone: the honour of receiving confession and the power of granting forgiveness. Confession is what we must make to him, and forgiveness is what we must hope to receive from him. The power to forgive sins belongs only to God, and this is why we must confess them to him.
But God has taken a bride. The Almighty has taken the feeble one, the Most High has taken the lowly one – out of a servant he has made a queen. She was behind and beneath him and he raised her to be at his side. From out of his wounded side she came, and he took her to be his bride.
Just as all that the Father has is the Son’s, so too what the Son has is the Father’s, since they share the same undivided nature. In just the same way the bridegroom gave all that was his to the bride and shared all that she had, making her one with himself and the Father. Hear the Son making his plea to the Father for his bride: I desire that just as you and I are one, so these should be one with us.
The bridegroom is one with the Father and one with his bride. Whatever in her was foreign to her nature he took away from her and nailed to the cross. He carried her sins with him onto the tree and by the tree he took them away from her. Whatever was natural and proper to her he took on and clothed himself in it. Whatever was divine and proper to him, he bestowed on her. He took away what was diabolical, took on what was human, conferred what was divine, so that all that the bride possessed should be the bridegroom’s also. Thus it is that he who has committed no sin, on whose lips is no deceit, can say Take pity on me, Lord, for I am weak – for he who shares in his bride’s weakness must share in her lament, and thus all that is the bridegroom’s is the bride’s also. Here is where the honour of confession comes from, and the power of forgiveness, so that it can truly be said: Go and show yourself to the priest!
The Church can forgive nothing without Christ, and it is Christ’s will to forgive nothing except with the Church. The Church can forgive no-one except the penitent – that is, one who has been touched by Christ – and Christ does not wish to forgive anyone who does not value the Church. What God has united, man must not divide,says Christ, and Paul adds, I am saying that this great mystery applies to Christ and the Church.
Do not sever the head from the body so that Christ is whole no longer. For Christ is not whole without the Church, nor is the Church whole without Christ. This is why he says No-one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man who is in heaven. He is the only man who can forgive sins.
Friday, Week 23, Office of Readings.
“You provide silver chains for the lamps, but you cannot bear even to look at him as he lies chained in prison… Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.” -John Chrysostom
With these words of John Chrysostom, popularly known as John of the golden mouth, we launch “Words of the Fathers”, a series of profound and illumining thoughts of the Fathers and early saints under Rooting for Change. May their words shed even more light on our contemplation of the eternal Word.
Do you want to honour Christ’s body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honour him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked. For he who said: This is my body, and made it so by his words, also said: You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me. What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments; what we do outside requires great dedication.
Let us learn, therefore, to be men of wisdom and to honour Christ as he desires. For a person being honoured finds greatest pleasure in the honour he desires, not in the honour we think best. Peter thought he was honouring Christ when he refused to let him wash his feet; but what Peter wanted was not truly an honour, quite the opposite! Give him the honour prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.
Now, in saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts; I am only demanding that along with such gifts and before them you give alms. He accepts the former, but he is much more pleased with the latter. In the former, only the giver profits; in the latter, the recipient does too. A gift to the church may be taken as a form of ostentation, but an alms is pure kindness. Of what use is it to weigh down Christ’s table with golden cups, when he himself is dying of hunger? First, fill him when he is hungry; then use the means you have left to adorn his table. Will you have a golden cup made but not give a cup of water? What is the use of providing the table with cloths woven of gold thread, and not providing Christ himself with the clothes he needs? What profit is there in that? Tell me: If you were to see him lacking the necessary food but were to leave him in that state and merely surround his table with gold would he be grateful to you or rather would he not be angry? What if you were to see him clad in worn-out rags and stiff from the cold, and were to forget about clothing him and instead were to set up golden columns for him, saying that you were doing it in his honour? Would he not think he was being mocked and greatly insulted?
Apply this also to Christ when he comes along the roads as a pilgrim, looking for shelter. You do not take him in as your guest, but you decorate floor and walls and the capitals of the pillars. You provide silver chains for the lamps, but you cannot bear even to look at him as he lies chained in prison. Once again, I am not forbidding you to supply these adornments; I am urging you to provide these other things as well, and indeed to provide them first. No one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments, but for those who neglect their neighbour a hell awaits with an inextinguishable fire and torment in the company of the demons. Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.
Saturday Week 21, Office of Readings.
Dedicated to you all as Rooting For A Change celebrates its 1st year anniversary online. May His light continually illumine our path in life now and always.
Christians are a people who listen and hear the Word of God. God speaks primarily and conclusively in Jesus Christ. The witness of the person and mission of Jesus is found in the gospels and letters of the New Testament.
God’s word is unpredictable in its power. Beyond our own prayerful reading of the Sacred Scriptures, we all benefit from reflections on themes of the Bible to focus our understanding and to enhance the meaning, beauty and attractiveness of the message. Fr Victor Amole has offered to us a wonderful set of reflections on the Word of God which is often described as a seed which, once sown, grows to produce fruit of grace in the hearts of men and women. This book is meant to assist the fruitful reading and reflection on the Good News.
In offering clear and engaging ways of relating to what is at the very heart of the Gospel, Father Victor is providing a real service to us who listen and hear the Word of God. His manner of writing is both pastoral and missionary in style and in purpose. The message is made accessible, while losing none of its depth and truth, and thus becomes all the more forceful and convincing.
I hope that the readers will benefit from the reflections, even as a daily meditation, to enhance their faith. I thank Father Victor for the time, energy and trust that he has invested to produce this book.
Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto