by Sr. Margaret Hickey, ND
Today, the first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new year—so “Happy New Year” to all. It is time given to us to begin afresh with new energy and resolution on our journey to fullness in the life of our God. This Advent we are called to “be awake,” to be open to God’s words and instructions, to check-out our perspective on life and to prepare our hearts, minds and bodies for the ultimate, everlasting union with our God.
The imagery in today’s readings is rich.
Climb God’s mountain established for all people and learn to walk in God’s footsteps so that all instruments of war (swords, spears, tanks and nuclear armaments) will be turned into instruments of life and growth (plowshares, pruning hooks, dialogues, collaboration, respect).
Change behaviors that radiate darkness into those that produce light; change behaviors that are for evil into those that are good. Be aware of how God is working in our lives and in the lives of others each day.
Be prepared—not just for Christmas, and relatives and social gatherings—but for the coming of our God deeper into our lives.
Advent calls us to the quiet, to discerning of our behaviors, to reaching out in service to others, especially the poor and marginalized, to slow down and live each moment fully in light of the wonderful gift God has in store for us. Many graces are in store for us this Advent season.
By Sr. Dorothy Rolf, ND
Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, our King who was given the title as He was nailed to the cross. Can we claim the Crucified One as our King? Most kings or leaders seem to be robed in colorful, jeweled garments with a royal crown. Our Crucified King is stripped, wearing a crown of thorns, suffering, but very aware of those around who are also suffering in silence.
What is Jesus asking of me and his followers today? As we end the Year of Mercy, I believe we are called to continue to live and witness Mercy as Jesus did. Mercy is offered in so many ways: sometimes very challenging as we respond to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and as we show mercy and forgiveness to those with whom we live or work.
Recently Pope Francis asked that we dialogue with others - which is an expression of mercy, respect and love. He states, “We don’t dialogue when we do not listen enough or when we interrupt the other to prove that we are right.” Dialogue and listening to others are an expression of Mercy and Love, our love and God’s love.
Sit with and look at your Crucified King today. Listen to his invitation to HOW to follow.
By Sr. Margaret Proskovec, ND
Scriptures: Malachi 3:19-20a; Ps. 98: 5-6, 7-8, 9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19
Reflection: As I write this reflection, our nation is electing new leadership amid dire warnings much like those offered by the reading for our Sunday liturgies at this time of the Church year. The structures of our society, ancient nations, values of compassion and generosity, skills of negotiation, and the discipline of seeking deep understanding seem to be crumbling around us.
But in today’s liturgy, the prophet Malachi sets the tone of God’s word to us:
For you who fear my Name, there will arise
The sun of justice with its healing rays. [Mal. 3:20a]
Psalm 98 assures us that God comes “to rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity.”
Paul encourages the Thessalonians, and us, to stay true to the work entrusted to us and not be lured into the disorderly and harmful behaviors so popular with others.
In fact, Jesus says in Luke that we are to “stand erect and raise our heads” because we stand on the solid rock of God’s loving justice for the poor and oppressed. Even if we are criticized and even persecuted for standing with the neglected, abused, and outcasts of our time, ours will be a wisdom and strength that our Lord personally gives us. Our faith in the message of Jesus, our trust that God’s words are true, our commitment to love—like Jesus, no matter what—are our source of hope.
Sr. Pat Farrell, OSF, has said that “Our hope is in the absolutely uncontrollable power of God.”
The former Czech president, Vaclav Havel, who endured opposition, imprisonment, and persecution, remained a man of hope. He wrote: “Hope is not the expectation that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something is worth doing, no matter how it turns out.”
Today’s readings call us to this kind of hope.
Prayer: Blessed Creator, we pray for the power to be gentle, the strength to be forgiving, the patience to be understanding, and the endurance to accept the consequences of holding to what we believe to be right. We pray for your grace to put our trust in the power of goodness to overcome evil and the power of love to overcome hatred. We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe in a world freed from violence, where fear shall no longer lead people to commit injustice or selfishness make them bring suffering to others. Amen. [Week of Prayer for World Peace, 1978]