At Christmas we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, the Light that has come into the Darkness; we celebrated liberation from our oppressors; that the burdens we carry have been lifted and that God has blessed us with joy. We celebrated the fact that God is establishing a kingdom of justice and peace and that He calls us and blesses us with a mission - to be a Light in the Darkness; to be Faith, Hope and Love for a world that struggles. We celebrated our call to be still and to listen to a God who reminds us that we are precious, that we are not alone and that what we do matters to him. We celebrated the fact that God walks among us and that we are living proof that God is here and has a never-ending love for our world.
Today, in our first reading from the Book of Genesis, we are told that Abram and his wife have no heir except a son born from a slave. God makes a promise to Abram – they will have a child and Abram’s descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abram believes the Lord. Abram is given a reward for his trust in God. God changes his name to Abraham which suggests that there is a new relationship between Abraham and God. Sarai’s name is also changed, she becomes Sarah, and she bears a son. They delight in the unexpected gift of life.
The story reminds us that Abraham and Sarah are well beyond child-bearing years and so the birth of their child is considered a miracle. The birth of their child changes how they see life and it changes how they live, and it changes their relationship with God. It is God who is the author of this change.
In the Gospel reading from St. Luke, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus encounter two Jewish elders in the Synagogue – Simeon and Anna. Simeon is advanced in age and he is viewed as a faithful and righteous man. As a faith filled person, he is attentive to the promptings of the Spirit. We are told God promised Simeon that he would see the savior of the world before his death. When Simeon encounters the family, the Spirit moves him, and he recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. He tells Joseph and Mary about the future of their child.
Anna is like Simeon. A faithful and righteous person, Anna is a woman of prayer and she too recognizes that Jesus is special. While Simeon has a message for Mary and Joseph, Anna has a message for anyone who will listen to her. She tells everyone about the child and his role in the redemption of Israel.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us of the journey of Abraham and the power of faith. We are told that Abraham’s faith in God set in motion the formation of a people intent on serving God. Abraham’s faith spread and inspired others and led them to God. Abraham’s faith led him to believe that God could do the impossible – even raise someone from the dead. The author suggests that faith changes how we see, think and act.
Today the Church invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. When we think of this Feast we often think of Joseph, Jesus, and Mary. When I prayed with the scriptures, I was touched by how God has been creating a family that spans generations and includes everyone.
Abraham’s faith resulted in a family as numerous as the stars in the sky. Simeon reminded Joseph and Mary that their child would touch the whole people of Israel. Anna was telling all people that God was alive and at work in their midst.
These readings remind us that our faith in God creates life. Faith creates a sense of family that moves beyond the bond that is created by marriage or blood. When we think of family, we think of people who are related to us – people who are connected to us by blood or marriage or adoption. These readings urge us to see family in a much bigger sense.
God has taken the long view. Starting so many years ago, God began to create a family – the family is shaped by faith and trust in God (Abraham and Sarah believe that God can do the impossible and he does); the family is shaped by commitment (Joseph and Mary do what is asked of them by their religion); the family is shaped by listening to the Spirit of God (Simeon pays attention to the promptings of the Holy Spirit); family is shaped by our sharing of the Good News – Jesus Christ is alive in our world (Anna speaks of Jesus and his work of redemption to anyone who listens).
This vision that God has for family, challenges the way we function today. Today many of us are concerned about our family. We work hard and anything we achieve is directed towards helping us to enjoy the good things – toys, adult toys, holidays, luxury items and such. When we have what we want and think we need we share with others from our leftovers.
When I was young, my mom and dad did not have a lot of money, but there was always lots of food on the table. Whatever was on the table was to be shared equally – in other words everyone got something of what was offered. That principle kept our family together and nurtured within us the idea that we are family, that we are responsible for each other. When visitors came, we made sacrifices, so that they got the best of what was on the table. They never got the leftovers!
Perhaps our world would look different if, like Abraham and Sarah, I trusted in the power of God to transform my life.
Perhaps our world would look different if, like Joseph and Mary, I faithfully practiced my faith.
Perhaps our world would look different if, like Simeon, I listened to the prompting of the Spirit.
Perhaps our world would look different if, like Anna, I gave thanks and praise to God and through my words and actions, told people about Jesus.
Perhaps our world would look different if I saw you as my brother/sister, if I believed that we were all member of God’s Holy Family.
What happens within you when you hear the stories of Abraham and Sarah, of Joseph and Mary, and of Simeon and Anna? What is God asking of you?
Last night we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, the fact that Light has come into the Darkness, that we have been liberated from our oppressors, that the burdens we carry have been lifted and God has blessed us with joy. We celebrated the fact that God is establishing a kingdom of justice and peace – it is not temporary – it is permanent and God calls us and blesses us with a mission. God asks us to be a Light in the Darkness; to be Faith, Hope and Love for a world that struggles.
In our first reading today, we hear Isaiah proclaim that the feet of those who bring good news are beautiful. The Lord has come and is walking among us. He has redeemed and he has comforted his People. His presence and his power are seen by everyone. Isaiah tell us that our proper response is to sing songs of praise and thanksgiving.
In the Gospel reading from John, we are reminded that Jesus comes from God. Jesus was with God and was sent into the world as a light to overcome the darkness. John reminds us that sometimes we don’t recognize Christ or his message despite being his people, his disciples. John reaffirms that Christ has come into our midst, he has taken on flesh like us, and he walks among us. John reminds us that there is more to Christ than his life and death. He is resurrected, he is transformed and we have already seen his glory.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the Son of God and that God is revealed in Christ. The author says, “Christ is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being and he sustains all things by his powerful word.”
It is our custom at Christmas to travel, to gather with friends and family, to visit and socialize with people in our communities. There is something comforting about many of our Christmas traditions and rituals. Even if we don’t go to Church much during the year, many of us make our way to the Church for Christmas. This year, because of the virus we have had to stop doing what is ‘normal’ for us. This pause gives us the opportunity to look deeper, to ask ourselves why we do what we do. I am not suggesting the virus is a blessing. I am simply saying that the presence of the virus is giving us an opportunity to look deeper at our lives.
We can look deeper at what is happening to our earth – to our land, to our water and to the air we breathe.
We can look deeper at what is happening to the people around us – the people we love and care about, the people who are special to us, the people we waste time with, the people for whom we make sacrifices. We can look deeper at the people we hate, the people we ignore and exclude, the people who are different from us and those we have decided don’t matter to us.
We can look deeper at what is happening within our own hearts – the way we see ourselves, the things we are proud of and the things that we are ashamed of, the things we focus on and the things we ignore, the things we are afraid of and the things we value and hold dear!
When we look deeper at our world, the people around us and at our own selves we discover we are small, vulnerable, broken, incomplete and sinful; we also discover that we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are wonderful, gifted, brilliant, funny, delightful, playful and beautiful. When we look deeper at our world, the people around us and at our own selves we discover that there is a God who created us and a God who sustains us.
When we look deeper, we discover that what we do and how we do it matters to us and it matters to God. News that we matter to God is welcome news. News that God sent his Son to us – to walk among us is welcome news. News that in Christ Jesus we can see and know our God is welcome news.
We know well our limitations. This spring when our rivers flooded and our roads were washed out, this summer when storms lashed our land and wind and hail damaged our crops and our property, this year when glaciers melted, crumbled and broke off, this year when earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes happened and this year when heat waves rolled across our planet we recognized how vulnerable and helpless we are.
In and through Christ, God knows our brilliance and our vulnerability. When God sees us God says, “I love you, I delight in you and I will be light in your darkness.”
On the one hand, the world reminds us of how small we are and on the other hand it reminds us of how important we are. We carry this news in our bodies, in our hearts and in our minds. We can choose to be a source of life and of hope for one another or we can choose to frighten, intimidate and harm each other. It really is our choice what we want to do.
There is so much that we cannot do right now and that gives us the opportunity to do something important. This Christmas let us take the opportunity to sit still and to listen to God. We can listen and let God tell us that we are precious to him. We can listen and let God tell us that we are never alone. We can listen and let God tell us that who we are and what we do matters to him. When this knowledge settles within us, we can go and share this news with others. We will become Good News on the mountain tops, on the prairies, on the coastlands and in the valleys, forests and deserts.
With the pandemic all around us it may seem as if God has abandoned us, God has not. We are living proof of God’s love for the world and of God’s presence in it! Let us be Good News! God is counting us! The world needs us!
Last Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Advent we heard the story of Mary giving her ‘yes’ to God. Mary was confused, perplexed, afraid and yet she was in touch with grace – with her own inner goodness – a goodness that each person gathered here, physically or virtually possesses – Mary got in touch with that goodness and from that goodness she said, “Yes!”
In our first reading from Isaiah, words of comfort ring out! Light has come to the darkness. Joy has come to the people. The People of Israel experience liberation from their oppressors and freedom from the burdens they carry. The promised child has been born. This child will be so much for the People, will do so much for the People. This child will become Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. This child will use his power and authority to build a kingdom of peace and justice, which will last forever. This is God’s promise!
In the Gospel we hear again the story of the birth of Jesus. The Word of God has come to earth – fully human, born just like us: frail, tiny, helpless and yet filled with so much promise. The angel announces his coming to the poor and frightened shepherds, the least among the People of Israel. By the time the angels are finished their songs of praise, the curiosity of the shepherds leads them to abandon their flocks and seek out this child who will bring peace to the world.
St. Paul, in his letter to Titus says clearly, the grace of God has appeared in the person of Jesus Christ. In him we will be forgiven and saved. He has taught us how to live. He is building up a people who will walk in his footsteps – they will be focused on doing good things – rejecting sin and choosing God.
These readings remind us of who we are. They remind us of who our God is.
At times when I have my hat of judgement firmly in place and I have my dark glasses filtering out the light, I think about how messy, broken, incomplete and hateful our world is. I see only the bad and the ugly. When things are really bad, I wonder if Jesus really is the Son of God and if he really is the Savior of the World. When I am trapped in my own way of seeing, I am unable to recognize the presence of God.
Christmas is a really important feast because we are given the opportunity to connect with one another and to hear again our sacred stories. Our connections and our sacred stories help us to look and to see beyond the coldness, the brokenness, the incompleteness and the sin that surrounds us. The scriptures remind us of what God promised. The scriptures remind us that God fulfilled that promise and continues to fulfill it in you and me. The scriptures tell us that the Promise is renewed and experienced from now until the end of time.
Today we get to choose between darkness and light, between freedom and oppression, between joy and despair, between goodness and hatred. We can choose to ignore the goodness present in the Christ child – we can choose to ignore the goodness that is present within us. When we ignore goodness and focus on evil we become small and angry, we become resentful and bitter and there is less light in the world.
Tonight, we celebrate a God who is committed to bringing light into darkness, who is committed to liberating us from our oppressors and our burdens. Tonight, we celebrate a God who walks among us, as one like us, seemingly helpless in the face of evil. We know however, that despite his death on the Cross, he was raised from the dead, he ascended into heaven and has given us the Holy Spirit.
Robert Fulgham has a wonderful story in his book, “It was on Fire when I lay Down on It”; the story is about a Greek professor who said that his mission in life was to bring light into the dark corners of the world. This was a challenge for him and it is his mission.
This pandemic has tipped our lives upside down. It has caused suffering around the world. The suffering has touched every corner of our lives. It has touched our family, our work, our recreation, our learning, and it has touched the celebration of our faith. We can hunker down and be angry or we can tap into the goodness that is within us. From where we are we can choose to love, we can choose to be a source of life and of joy.
As we celebrate the great feast of Christmas let us look for ways to carry on God’s dream, the mission of Jesus. Using the words of St. Francis:
Where there is hatred let us bring love, where there is injury let us bring pardon, where there is doubt and fear let us bring faith, where there is despair let us bring hope, where there is sadness joy, and where there is darkness let us bring light.
We don’t need permission from anyone to do these things – we don’t have to leave our house to do these things, these actions do not cost money.
These actions do have the capacity to change the world.
Two thousand years ago God had a dream to change the world – to let us know that we are not alone. We share that dream. Today we are not alone. Our gathering here reminds us that we are not alone. The presence of so many people who are praying with us reminds us that we are not alone.
Today, let us be a light in the darkness. Let us be the faith, the hope and the love that our world needs!
Last week we were invited to be Good News to the world, to facilitate healing and liberation and new life! This week our first reading from Samuel tells the story of King David and his desire to build a dwelling place for God. David’s intentions seem to be good but God quickly informs David that, he, God is in charge. God has been providing for David his whole life long, he took him from the pastures, from being a sheep herder, he has protected him from his enemies, and is making his name great. God says I will be the one doing the building. God will provide for David and for his offspring forever.
In the Gospel, Luke tells the story of Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel, how God has chosen her to be the Mother of Jesus. Luke tells us of Mary’s doubts and confusion on the one hand and her generous response - I will do what God wants of me, on the other.
Paul invites the Romans to live their lives in praise of God, the God who has been revealed to them, the God who strengthens them, and the God who has been with them their whole life long.
As we approach the great celebration of the birth of Jesus and look closely at our world we notice several things. The most obvious is the pandemic, the presence of the Covid-19 virus. Most of us now know someone who has had the virus or someone who has recovered from the virus, someone who is experiencing the after effects of the virus or we know someone who has died as a result of the virus. Someone I know and worked with has recently died from Covid-19. The virus has created a worldwide crisis.
Worldwide we are polluting the land, our air and our water. As a result, we are experiencing the impact of our behavior; we lack clean water, our air is polluted and our lands are compromised and contaminated. Our temperatures are warming on the earth, in large part due to our activity, and our reluctance to make choices that will heal the earth. This is not a theory it is a scientific fact.
Worldwide we are experiencing the migration of millions of people – because of wars, violence and oppression, weather events and earthquakes/volcanoes or a desire for a better life. Countries are struggling – should we welcome these refugees or not? What would God want us to do?
Worldwide we are experiencing unprecedented racism. We see also the harsh reality of hatred and exclusion. It is evident here in our area.
Worldwide we are experiencing the increasing gap between those who have money and resources and those who do not. The number of people who work hard and cannot provide for their families is growing. A small number of people possess and control most of the world’s money and resources.
Worldwide we are experiencing a crisis of leadership – a growing number of leaders are more interested in growing their bank account and maintaining their power and the power and wealth of their friends, than in lifting up the people they serve; the poor and the marginalized. Our Churches are experiencing the same thing.
While we may not experience all of this personally or directly here in Northern Saskatchewan – these things and much more are happening in our world. A world in which we have a voice; a voice given to us by God!
As we near the end of Advent and as the great feast of Christmas approaches, the sacred scriptures speak of a God who is vitally interested in the suffering of his people. God is so interested in the cries of his people that he sends his Son, Jesus Christ into the world. God enlists the help of Prophets and Kings. God calls upon ordinary people like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, and the Apostles, to help him establish the Kingdom of God and to spread the Good News, to bring healing and new life.
As Catholics we are not bystanders, we are not on the sidelines of life watching things from a distance! We are in the game! The Spirit of God invites us to be involved in all that happens.
This year most of us will spend Christmas alone, with the people of our household. Most of us will celebrate our Christmas liturgies, virtually, in front of a Television or Computer Screen or a smart phone. Many of us will be anxious about our work and how long our job will last. Many of us will be hungry and thirsty. Many of us will be sad and discouraged.
We are all in need of hope!
On this last Sunday of Advent, let us cry out to God in our need.
On this last Sunday of Advent, let us pay attention to the voices of those who cry out.
On this last Sunday of Advent, may God strengthen us!
Like Mary, may we give our best self to the work of God! Let us, you and me, be a sign of HOPE for all peoples!
In the first reading, we have a powerful text from Isaiah, we hear the words of God’s chosen one, the one who proclaims that he has received the Spirit of God. The Spirit has given him a mission:
1. He has been sent to bring good news to the oppressed,
2. To bind up those with broken hearts,
3. To release those who are imprisoned and
4. To proclaim a year of God’s favor to all people.
The chosen one of God rejoices in God and acknowledges that God has done amazing things for him, clothing him with the garments of salvation and with the robe of righteousness. The chosen one also acknowledges that God will do amazing things throughout the earth.
In John’s Gospel, we hear a conversation between John and the religious leaders of Israel. They want to know who he is. Who does he claim to be? John admits he is not the Messiah nor Elijah nor the prophet. He says, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘make straight the way of the Lord.’”
John sees himself as one who goes before the Lord – preparing the way for the Messiah. John acknowledges that someone will come after him – in fact, he is among the people already and they cannot see him. John admits that this someone is important – so important that he is unworthy to untie the thong of his sandal.
St. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians invites, the people to be filled with gratitude. He encourages them to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit. He encourages them to abstain from every form of evil. He concludes by blessing them, asking God to keep them safe and sound, blameless! He reminds them that
God is faithful, God does things like this.
So how do these readings impact our daily life?
When I prayed with the scriptures this week, I was struck by the behavior of John the Baptist. John had been chosen by God as the one to prepare the way for the Messiah, the Son of God. It was an important mission that he had been given. Most of us, when we are asked to do something important – we strut, and we brag, we act as if we are the important one, and sometimes we exaggerate our importance. Sometimes when our work is done, we continue to behave as if we are still in a position of influence, as if we are important. Often, we will do anything to maintain our level of influence, our status, our power even at the expense of truth, our family, and our own health.
John did not do that. In fact, when the religious leaders of Israel come along and want information about him, his role, his importance etc. he quickly points out who he is and who is not. In fact, he has the courage to tell them that the Messiah walks among them and that he, John, is of little importance in comparison.
John incarnates the virtue of humility. St. Vincent de Paul apparently once said, “Humility is nothing but the truth, and pride is nothing but lying.”
How do we nurture the virtue of humility? It is quite simple really; we look around and we notice the wonder and beauty of creation and of the people around us and we celebrate. We celebrate the beauty and wonder, we celebrate the people and their accomplishments, we acknowledge our own gifts. We all have a purpose; we are all important; there is no need for me to look at myself and rank myself better or worse than you. We simply are! God does not expect me to better or worse than you. We are unique and we, all of us, are gifted by God.
The opposite of humility is pride. I look at myself and I compare myself to others – I compare my abilities, my good looks, my bank account, my accomplishments, my skills, my property, my job, and I rank myself. This is an exercise in futility for always there will be people who are more than or less than me. When directly asked, John reveals who he is and his mission. When that does not satisfy, John says clearly that there is one among them that is much more important for the story of our salvation. He urges them to open their eyes and look!
We are living in a time when roles and jobs and power are important to so many people. This year shows us that the virus does not care who we are. This year also shows us that if we are rich, we can access health resources that others cannot. As Catholics it is important for us to remember the dignity and value of each human life – from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. There should not be a double standard. God values the most vulnerable and throughout sacred scripture; God chooses to care for the poor and the marginalized. In her great hymn of praise which we pray every day, Mary expresses her gratitude that God throws down the princes and the rich and lifts up the poor and the lowly. Mary highlights and rejoices at God’s behavior!
As we continue our preparations for the great feast of the Nativity of Jesus, let us think about our response to the gifts and blessings of others. Do we assume the role of God and try to knock people down or do we try to lift them up? Do we seek people out or do we avoid and ignore people? Do we celebrate people and their gifts or do we long to have what they have? Do I recognize and celebrate who I am, my uniqueness, or do I see myself as less than?
In baptism and confirmation, we celebrate the fact that we are God’s anointed ones – gifted by the Spirit. We are called and we are sent to be good news to all people. We are called and sent to rejoice in the Lord. In us the righteousness and praise of God find expression. This week let our thoughts, our words, and our actions be Good News to everyone we meet! Let us bring joy to the world!
Today we have one of the most beautiful, hope-filled, comfort producing readings in the Book of the prophet Isaiah. Through the voice of Isaiah, God offers words of consolation and comfort to the People of Israel. The text begins with God announcing that the time of punishment is over and that the time for comfort has come. God begins the transformation of his relationship with the People by leveling the land so that it is easier for the People of Israel to find their way. The highways and pathways will be evened out and this act alone will signal God’s presence. Good news is to be announced from the mountain tops – so that everyone can hear. God, the all-powerful arm of God, has come to liberate the People of Israel, to feed the People of Israel, to comfort and to lead the People of Israel to a place of safety.
In the Gospel of Mark, we hear how John is coming to prepare the way for Jesus. John invites the people of Israel to repentance. In John’s mind, repentance is not about punishment rather repentance makes room for forgiveness and enables people to hear God speak. People were impressed with John’s message and his ministry but John, in response to their praise says, “Whoa! It is not about me. It is about the Messiah. Someone is coming after me, and in comparison, I am nothing! I baptize with water, he will give you the Holy Spirit!” For the People of Israel, only God can give the Holy Spirit! Receiving the Spirit of God was a sign that God had chosen you for a special mission!
In Peter’s letter to the early Christian community, Peter reminds his people that God’s ways are different than their ways. He reminds them that they need to prepare themselves for their life with God. Peter suggests that as they wait for Christ’s return they need to make choices about how they act, what they say and what they do. He reminds them that this world is temporary. Something new is coming and they need to make room for it in their lives.
As I prayed with these texts I was struck by Peter’s desire to help the people realize that how they lived their lives speaks volumes about their understanding of God.
From early on in life we figure out that if we say one thing we get rewarded and if we say another we get punished. We learn rather quickly what to do to please people. We often use that insight in our relationship with God. I see it often when I ask people to describe God, who God is and what God does, when I ask them to describe their faith. When they examine their words about their faith and their life choices they find a gap. We all do. There is a gap between what we say we believe and what we do to manifest our faith. The God we actually believe in is revealed in our actions – what we are willing to do for God and for others and for ourselves. Our daily life choices and our religious practices ought to challenge us to do something about the gap that is present in our lives.
Isaiah reminds us that God does not want to make life difficult for us. God wants to make our pathways smooth – God does not want us to suffer, to experience pain, sadness and sorrow. God wants to comfort us, to take care of us, to heal us.
The way to experience the comfort of God is for us to align our life choices with our God. In simple terms we are to turn away from our sin and to do good things. John the Baptist called the People of Israel to repentance. We too are called to repentance – that means turning away from sin and doing good. That means we have to pay attention to how we interact with creation, how we interact with our sisters and brothers, how we manage our personal life and how we manage our relationship with God.
Advent is a time of preparation. Sacred Scripture calls us to take a look into the future – what are we preparing for? On the one hand we are living here and now – 80-90 years here on earth, but as Peter reminds us, that is nothing compared to our life in God. This is a wonderful life but it is not our destination. This life is passing away and we ought to be preparing for eternal life with God. To prepare for our life with God involves developing our relationship with God, turning away from what I want and considering who God is and what God wants.
Healthy relationships happen when we understand each other. If I make life all about me then I am missing out on the other. John tells us, turn away from yourself, recognize God – make room for God. Making room for God takes work and it takes deliberate choices. We make room for God by making room for other people – practicing patience, kindness, generosity, hospitality, forgiveness, and concern for others.
As Catholics we are often very respectful of our Church Building, of rosaries and crosses and bibles and the Body and Blood of Jesus. That is good/great and to be encouraged. Today, Isaiah, John and Peter invite us to take that reverence and respect and direct towards the world around us – the world we live in, the people we live with and meet every day! Today we are invited to see ourselves as precious to God. We are so precious in fact that God is sending his Son into the world to comfort us, to smooth our pathways, to heal us and to lead us home. We are so precious that God sent John to prepare the way so that we have every opportunity to see, welcome and receive Jesus. We are so precious to God that Peter spends his life reminding us of what is expected of us.
As this week unfolds I pray that we will wake up every day, look in the mirror and see how precious we are and then as our day unfolds we will look at the people we live with and work with and recognize how precious they are. I pray that the things we say, but more importantly the things we do, will give witness to our dignity as sons and daughters of God.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent and our first reading from the Book of the prophet Isaiah is a conversation between the People of Israel and God. This week we hear only the voice of the People of Israel. In some ways you could say the voice of God is not heard and yet we do know something of the mind of God because of what the People say! The conversation begins with the People addressing God as ‘Father’, and ‘Redeemer from of old’. The People wonder why God has ‘made them to stray’ from the ways of God, why has he hardened their hearts, why are they are wandering without fear. The People beg God to tear open the heavens and join them on earth so that the mountains quake as they once did when he walked among them. The People speak of God’s anger and their own sinfulness, their weakness when it comes to following God. The People recognize that they are like ‘clay in the hands of the Potter’ who is God, that they are the work of God! God is the author of their life. The People recognize their need for God in their daily life.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells the story of a man who has gone on a journey. His servants have been entrusted with various tasks and they are invited to stay awake because they do not know at what time the Master will return. The Doorkeeper must be especially vigilant! We are like the doorkeeper – we are keeping watch for the return of the Master!
In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul begins his letter by acknowledging that God is at work in the Christians at Corinth. God has entrusted them with grace from Jesus Christ. Paul acknowledges that these Christians lack nothing. Christ is faithful and he will provide for them, strengthening them so that they have all they need to live as disciples of Jesus.
Each year as we begin the season of Advent we begin a new liturgical year – we hear once again how God has chosen a people for his very own, how he prepared the earth for the coming of his Son, Jesus. We listen as the sacred authors tell the story of Jesus, his birth, his life, death, resurrection and ascension, the impact of his saving deeds, and his interactions with his people. We are invited to consider our response to his life. We hear once again about the invitation the Spirit gives to us to proclaim to all the promise of God’s unconditional love.
Today, as we begin this season of Advent, we remember that we are preparing ourselves to celebrate the historical birth of Jesus and his final coming. We remember our need for God’s presence among us and we remember God’s promise to his People from of old. We remember the faithfulness of God and that in the Spirit we are full of grace.
As I prayed with the texts, I asked myself the question, what impact does Jesus coming to earth have on me.
In the text from Isaiah the people of Israel acknowledge their sinfulness, their need for God. What if this week we took some time to examine our lives – our sinfulness, our shortcomings? What if we spent some time acknowledging to God and to one another our sinfulness?
The Gospel reminds us that Jesus has come into the world and now we are to wait for his return. Our waiting is characterized by us paying attention – not letting our minds wander – focusing on the return of Jesus – making sure we are prepared for his return. This is one of our tasks.
What if this week, we spent some time thinking about the impact of Jesus‘ presence in our world? Jesus came to earth; what does that mean to us? How does his presence change our lives?
Our daily life should reflect the fact that we are waiting for Jesus. If people watch us, would they know that we are waiting for Jesus? If people watch us would they know that we are paying attention to God or would they be confused about how we spend our time, the things we say and the things we do? What does someone who is waiting for Jesus look like and what do they do?
St. Paul reminds us that we have everything we need to be faithful and to be prepared for his return. Christ has given us graces – all the graces that we need. What if this week we took some to identify the graces we have received? What would they be? Is the grace I receive easily shared with others or do I use the graces God has given me for my good only?
So often I find people say things to me and I listen but I don’t hear because my mind is moving from one idea to another. How do I learn to pay attention, first of all to my own heart, to my family and friends and then to God? Perhaps this week we could practice being present to the people who are in our life and to those whom we encounter in our daily life.
As we continue our prayer let us consider what we can do to show God that we are sons and daughters, fully awake, waiting for his return.
Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI