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Watches of the Night
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"Watches of the Night"

"A New Season"

          Each year on December 21st in the United States and the rest of the northern hemisphere the winter solstice occurs. It is the shortest day of the year with the least amount of daylight and the greatest amount of darkness. In the U.S., there are only about 9 ½ hours of daylight on this day. It is the first day of winter. In the Church on this same day each year, December 21st,, late in the liturgical season of Advent, the mass readings are always from either the Song of Songs (Songs. 2:8-14) or the Prophet Zephaniah (Zeph. 3:14-18), and the gospel is from  St. Luke (Luke. 1:39-45). Yet, these readings speak of a new season of fragrance, beauty, sound and fruitfulness: The fragrant freshness of a new springtime.

          In the passage from the Song of Songs, the lover proclaims to his beloved, " For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth…"(Songs 2:11-12). On the very day when winter begins in nature, the word of God announces that winter is past. The Church speaks these words intentionally. On the day of the winter solstice, the word of God announces a "season  of saving grace", a season of  new creation. This is a  perpetual season of the springtime of God's Presence among us. For, "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever"(Heb. 13:8 ). This is the "season of the soul" that intercessors must strive to live in at all times. It is an inner springtime of resurrection, hope, vitality, and victory. It is as if on this day each year, through the readings at mass, the Church proclaims with bold truth, " The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it"(John.1:5). How important it is to believe the truth contained in even this one verse of scripture. The "Luminous" Lamb has conquered the power of darkness.

           One may recall that the first words spoken by God in the bible are found in Genesis 1:3 : "Let there be light". In 2 Cor. 4:6 St. Paul takes up these first words spoken by God to speak of the Crucified, Resurrected Jesus who dwells within us: "For God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts…" How imperative it is to have the grace of faith to believe these words especially at the present time in which we live that shows clear signs of an ever growing moral darkness. Lord, strengthen our faith. Jesus tells the crowd in John's Gospel, " Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you…While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light"(John. 12:35,36).

           Am I standing on the solid and certain truth of God's word every day? Do I believe that Jesus Christ, The Light of the world, has conquered the darkness? Am I standing in victory right now or limping in defeat? Am I allowing fear, negativity, doubt and unbelief to have access to my life when they have no right to? Am I being too influenced by the national and world news to the point that my attitude is becoming more negative, critical, sarcastic or cynical? Is it impacting my faith? If so, it may be time for a "Fox detox": A time to step away from the news of the world for a few days. Is the Spirit calling me to be immersed in more prayer and immersed in God's word in stillness and quiet?

Questions:

1)    Where is my faith weak right now?

     2) Am I allowing the "winter chill" of national and world news to erode my faith in Jesus Christ?

Scriptures:

Any scripture from the text; 1 John. 5:4-5; Is. 7:9b; John. 6:63;      1 Thes. 1:5; Eph. 3:12; Heb. 10: 35-36  

"TWO-ZERO-ONE-SEVEN, TIME TO STORM HEAVEN"

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