Advent Reflections

The daily Advent reflections below are written by members of the parish Worship Commission.   We thank you for taking time during this busy season to join us in prayer and reflection.  May your season of preparation for Christmas be filled with the peace and light of Christ.

Saturday Dec 1
Tomorrow we begin the season of Advent. To prepare yourself for this holy time, check out this quick guide to Advent: https://bustedhalo.com/video/watch-advent-two-minutes

Sunday Dec 2
First Sunday of Advent
The readings today, for the First Sunday of Advent, foretell the coming of Jesus. “I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land.” Jesus also tells his disciples. “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” As we begin the Advent season we are called to look at our lives and reflect on if we are ready for the arrival of Jesus. Have we sought to “strengthen our hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus.”?

Monday Dec 3
Today we hear about coming to the Lord’s Mountain and the people who will climb the mountain to meet God so that he may instruct us in his ways. We also hear the story of the centurion who approaches Jesus asking to him to heal his paralyzed and servant: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus’s reply: “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Both readings focus on our faith to reach out to God for wisdom and blessings. As we continue through Advent we are called to look at our personal faith and find the strength to seek God and to open to his wisdom and love for us.

Tuesday Dec 4
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!” (Luke 10:23)
Seeing Jesus is not just something with which only the disciples were blessed. Jesus is still present among us, inviting us to see and respond to him. Can I see Jesus today, especially in those who are poor or forgotten?

Wednesday Dec 5
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines.” (Isaiah 25:6)
In the fullness of the Reign of God, we will sit down at the great feast. God will provide in abundance for our needs and longings. The Eucharist we celebrate today is a taste of the great banquet. Give thanks for God’s providence and concern for you.

Thursday Dec 6
No one would build a house on a faulty foundation knowing it would not stand after the first big storm but what are you built upon?  What gives you strength at your very core? Is it your faith? Your Community? Your family and friends? In today’s gospel from Matthew, Jesus said to his disciples:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

God wants us to help each other, live in his name and demonstrate our faith by not only our words but actions. Regular maintenance is required, especially during the busy holidays, pressing work deadlines and social commitments. God knows each of us face challenges and difficult decisions every day. Start with a small decision today to do the right thing–to stand up for someone in need, to be someone’s advocate, to act kind. Like the house in the gospel built on sand, if we don’t have a foundation with God we too will collapse like the house. And as the picture illustrates, give yourself time—sometimes it may feel like you’re not getting anywhere when in reality you’re still in the process of building/growing/learning!

Friday Dec 7
Jesus ran across two blind men in today’s gospel from Matthew. The men followed him and cried out for his healing touch. Jesus asked them if they believed he could heal them and they believed. Due to their faith Jesus opened their eyes and granted them the gift of sight but sternly asked them not to tell anyone. Maybe overcome by joy or their inability to keep a secret, the men spread news of the miracle by Jesus throughout the land.  

What is this gospel telling us?  Let’ review the facts:
 – Jesus has mercy and rewards those with faith
 – Jesus can perform extraordinary things (aka miracles)
 – Jesus is not ostentatious

Okay, now what can I do?
JESUS: Jesus has mercy and rewards those with faith
YOU: Even though you may not be blind physically, allow God to open your eyes to what you may be missing around you. Quiet yourself and try to speak less and listen more.

JESUS:
Jesus can perform extraordinary things (aka miracles)
YOU: Although you may not be able to perform miracles there are acts of kindness and support you can do for others that may feel like a miracle to them. Do you remember a time when someone was your life safer?

JESUS: Jesus is not ostentatious
YOU: Don’t do things just to be seen. For example, when you come to church, come with your whole heart and mind and disconnect from the stresses of the “outside”. Don’t think of it as a weekly ‘To Do’. Try not to get distracted for God welcomes you to lay down your worries and connect. Try to be present.

Go spread the good word of the Lord and acts of kindness this season!


Saturday Dec 8
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. One of those holy days of the Church that is complicated and, in all honesty, requires more faith than logic. But some truly beautiful gifts lie in all of its messiness. Today we celebrate and honor the identity of Mary. Who she was, and who she chose to be. We celebrate her strength and her faith in order to say yes and trust God.

Predominantly portrayed as the virgin, the loyal mother, and the wife, it can be difficult to see Mary as a relatable figure. But have you ever thought of Mary as fierce? Or sassy? As a strong mother and strong woman who knew what she wanted? She didn’t have to say yes when the Angel Gabriel arrived, and she could have very easily said “no thank you.” But she was strong, and she had trust in God— a trust which we are all called to match.

I invite you this Advent to spend some time with our Mother Mary. Imagine her beyond the common images. See her traits in the women around you. See her traits in yourself. She is our guide and inspiration to say yes to God’s call in our lives.

Let us pray that we can be strong like Mary. Let us work to say yes to God and Christ wherever we see them. Let us pray for the grace to know when they are near. 

Sunday Dec 9
Second Sunday of Advent

 “And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more, and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value…” (Phillipians 1:9-10)

 This phrase from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians stood out among today’s readings.  It feels as though Paul is directly talking to and challenging us in this modern holiday time. He challenges us to refocus ourselves among the many commitments and the glitter, and calls us to remember all of the ways we are called to truly celebrate the season. Paul asks us to remember that we are called to radical love and to continue to grow in that love. To love radically is a challenge and often involves stepping out of our comfort zones. It is not about the giving of gifts, but is often about embracing the gifts of those around us, and of caring for those who are on the margins. 

Where do you see opportunities to grow in radical love this Advent? How can you chose those elements of value in your life and let the other parts go?

 

Monday Dec 10
Between my Confirmation in 7th grade, and my junior year of high school, I chose to leave the Catholic Church. My decision was based on something the Bishop said at my Confirmation, and I know my departure was based on anger, confusion, but mostly on spite. During those four years, I felt sure of my decision, but increasingly felt lost and lonely. I sought out other church communities, often joining friends who had fun young adult programming. One night at my friend’s church, when we were asked about our most recent conversation with Jesus, I broke down crying, sharing that I cut Jesus out of my life, and felt like he wouldn’t want to come back in. My friend simply said, “All he’s been doing is waiting for you to say yes again, and invite Him in.” That night has stuck with me all these years, and reminds me of today’s Gospel. The paralyzed man couldn’t ask for Jesus’ healing love, but his friends could. His friends saw him aching with physical and spiritual pain, and brought him straight to Jesus without a second thought. I am forever grateful for my friend who did the same for me. 

Healing Christ, guide me toward your salvation when I am weak, and teach me to lead others to your forgiving heart. Amen.

 

Tuesday Dec 11
Think about the relationships in your life. The everyday trusty ones you have with certain family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc. You almost expect things to go pretty well day in and day out if you know the person pretty well. Now consider the relationships that are a bit deeper. Maybe it’s a sibling, a childhood best friend, a former roommate. You’ve shared some of life’s biggest ups and downs with them. You’ve seen each other at your best and worst. Now imagine you get into a conflict with that person. You feel that pain in your heart, and your gut. And it’s a long road back to repair. But when it happens, your reunion fills you with a joy stronger than the joy you felt before things fell apart. Today, we continue our theme of forgiveness in the Gospel of Matthew, witnessing the joy the shepherd experiences from finding the one stray sheep among his fold. His trusty flock is well-cared for, but the one that goes astray, means all the much more when it returns home. Just as we feel that joy in mended relationships, God feels that same joy when we seek forgiveness and love.

Good Shepherd of our faith, guide us always to your love, even when we stray from your path. Let us walk with you this Advent season as part of your faithful flock. Amen.

Wednesday Dec 12
Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Blessed Mother appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1530 and she identified herself as the Virgin Mary and asked for a church to be built in her honor at that site. The shrine is the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Tepeyac Hill, Mexico City, Mexico. When St. Juan Diego approached the archbishop of Mexico City about the appearance of the Blessed Virgin and her request for a church to be built, the archbishop asked for a miraculous sign to prove her identity. Lo and behold! St. Juan Diego was able to bring Castilian roses, which were not native to Mexico, and wouldn’t have been growing on the top of Tepeyac Hill in Mexico on a cold December day. St. Juan Diego filled his cloak, and when he opened his cloak before the bishop, the flowers fell out and on the fabric of his cloak was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe. This started the devotion to our Lady of Guadalupe.

In today’s gospel from Luke, the angel Gabriel came to Mary and announced the she will be the mother of Jesus. Mary said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:26-38)

So Mary said “yes” to God – she had the free will to say no, but she said yes and accepted God’s plan for her, different from her plans (to marry without child to Joseph, her betrothed). Mary trusted in God and her entire path in life changed. Can I trust in God like Mary did?

 

Thursday Dec 13
In today’s gospel from Matthew, Jesus says: “Amen I say to you, among those born of woman there has been none greater than John the Baptist. …All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Matthew 11:11-15)

Jesus is telling us that St. John the Baptist is the great prophet, and the last of all prophets, the end of an era. Why? Because we now have Jesus our Savior among us. So, no more need to prophesy about Him coming – Jesus is among us! May I continue to recognize Jesus’ presence in my life on a daily basis.

 

Friday Dec 14
The Gospel today is all about passing judgement and picking sides to a fault. Matthew illustrates a group of children shouting at each other in the marketplace, but laments that the same is true of adults. Instead of the children’s game being about hurling insults at each other when the other group won’t play the game, everyone shouts insults about picking the side of following  Jesus or not. Especially during this Holiday Season, we must remember to keep an open mind, but be wary of the information that you receive. We shouldn’t shut someone else out for having a different opinion, but rather try to talk to those who have different opinions than we do; who knows what would come of a conversation of differing opinions. When is a time recently that your faith in Christ has been tested by naysayers? How did you overcome without closing out others?  

 

Saturday Dec 15
The disciples asked Jesus about Elijah and they were told that Elijah has already come as John the Baptist. Elijah was promised to the disciples from the prophet Malachi, and they have been waiting for him. What strikes me about this reading is that the disciples were waiting for this being that they expected would sweep them away and be incredibly powerful, and so they didn’t realize that the humble John the Baptist was sent to them. Again Christ teaches us that we need to keep our eyes and hearts open to all possibilities. One question I find myself asking is: How many times in my life do I fail to recognize the presence of Christ in my life because I’m seeking something other than Christ’s promises to his followers?