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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

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St. Nicholas

Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 96:1-3, 10-13
Matthew 18:12-14

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"Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her slavery is at an end." —Isaiah 40:2, our transl.

St. Nicholas is famous not just for giving gifts, but for gift-giving that set people free. His gifts freed three young women from beginning lives of prostitution. What about the gifts you will give this Christmas? Will these gifts set people free, merely distract them from their slavery, or even be one more enslaving factor in their lives? Jesus came and will come this Christmas to "proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord" (Lk 4:18-19). Christ's Christmas coming this year is yet another proclamation of a year of total liberation.

Our Christmas gifts will free people if they lead others to Christ, Who is the Truth that sets us free (Jn 14:6; Jn 8:32, 36). For instance, giving people a Bible, a cross, or prayer can free them. Giving something that you made yourself (e.g. cookies, crafts, poems, or even songs) usually has more power to lead others to freedom in Christ than store-bought items. Giving your time and service to others can be acts of Christian love which free people from depression, fear, confusion, and self-hatred.

This type of gift-giving is not popular in our materialistic world. We may even be ridiculed for such "old-fashioned," "religious" gift-giving. If so, we will then be able to give even greater gifts such as forgiveness, mercy, and unconditional love. These gifts have the greatest power to free people and lead them to Christ.

Prayer:  Father, in Jesus, free me from sin and for evangelization.

Promise:  "It is no part of your heavenly Father's plan that a single one of these little ones shall ever come to grief." —Mt 18:14

Praise:  St. Nicholas was a saintly monk before God raised him to abbot, archbishop, and saint. He set a standard for giving gifts of generosity and freedom.

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 27, 2011

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