by Sr. Dorothy Rolf, ND
Christmas Day liturgies give us much to reflect upon regarding God’s great love shown in human virtues. During Advent we reflected on many of these virtues, namely; patience, hope, peace, love and joy.
Patience gives insight into the experience of waiting without complaining or losing hope.
Hope gives strength to keep trusting God’s ways for us.
Peace gives a gentle spirit in accepting what is—in our daily life.
Love gives desire and the reason for living in patience, hope, and peace.
Joy reflects the beauty in our hearts that shines through our eyes.
On this Christmas Day, let us take time to reflect on JOY. (Luke 2:10-13) “”An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds. “Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great JOY to all the people...for today in the city of David your Savior was born—Christ the Lord! They hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger.”
Joy is such a beautiful gift. It reflects what is in our hearts, namely the awareness of God who speaks to our hearts. Working as a chaplain in the hospital, I am always touched to tears when I see Joy in the eyes of many patients. No matter the pain, the diagnosis, or the not knowing, in many there is a sign of JOY. In visiting about Joy they are able to articulate their awareness of God in their lives, speaking to their hearts of love and comfort and “to not be afraid.” Joy speaks of God’s presence within them.
In the hospital we often hear, throughout the day, lullaby music proclaiming the birth of a baby. What Joy in the eyes of all who hear it. Similar to the shepherds announcing good news of great Joy.
During this Christmas season: Take some time to be quiet, look at the manager and with Mary ponder on the gift of Joy. What does it say to you about the Joy in your heart? Pray about Joy. As you go about your daily life look for Joy it in the eyes of those around you. And share your Joy too.
Joy to the World, the Lord has come…and comes daily in surprising ways.
by Sr. Joy Connealy, ND
The Advent readings are filled with signs and images that point to God’s great love for us. As believers we seek for some reassurance of that love and how we are being called to respond. Jesus’ whole life was filled with signs that show us that our world’s way of doing things isn’t always the path we are called to take. In fact, Jesus often turned life upside down and inside out! A star that led foreigners to a stable to worship a king; shepherds from the hillside were the first called to give honor to God’s Son; the Mother of God giving birth before she was married to Joseph; sinners were welcomed and became honored guests; healing and forgiveness were given without cost and the cross becomes the instrument of our salvation.
No doubt Joseph was grateful for the dream that assured him of God’s plan for his life with Mary and all that would entail. That sign allowed him to welcome Mary and her child into his home where they could build a life together and nurture this wonderful gift from God.
We, too, have signs that point the way to God’s loving plan for us. At times we need to look past the current reality of our world - past the violence, prejudice and seeking for revenge, to the truth that God is present in all of creation and God’s desire is loving unity. He sent his Son to show us the way and God lives within us empowering us to create a world of justice and peace for all. There are many obvious signs at Christmas time – family get-togethers, beautiful worship times, lights and decorations that delight and a giving spirit that brings out the best in us. But even more powerful are the signs that come in the quiet moments: taking time to connect with the God within; reflecting on God’s plan to send a little child to save us; a shared word or glance that confirms how loved you are or the realization that all is gift and the only sign you will ever need is God becoming human.
by Sr. Rosalee Burke, ND
As I read the readings for this Sunday “do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged” struck me. It is so easy for me to comment about others without even giving it any thought. I have been trained to judge, evaluate, compete, compare and grade. It comes naturally. So now I am being reminded that it is not a good thing to judge others and voice what I dislike.
As I age I become more and more aware of my own limitations and my great need for a Merciful God. So if I want God to be merciful to me, I need to practice being merciful to others and give them the benefit of the doubt by not complaining.
What a great practice for me this week of Advent -- do not complain about others. And stop judging others as I do not know the full picture of anyone’s actions. It is really living the prayer, the Our Father – “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
May it be a quiet week as we all try to not complain about others!
by Sr. Barbara Markey, ND
The readings for this week are all about having hope. They are about believing that God is in our lives and in all places. They are about looking forward to tomorrow and believing that everything can start new because Christ gave us the Holy Spirit and the lasting sign of the Resurrection.
Hopelessness about the world or with ourselves or others can’t be the lasting response of Christian persons. If we were Old Testament people we might have some reason to say, “So, Lord, when are you coming to make a difference? What sign will you give us so that we can be hopeful?”
As Christians, we are called to remember, to experience and to expect the resurrection of new life every morning that we wake up. Jesus promised that we would be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. He didn’t promise that we would always have signs or feelings that knocked us over the head with certainty about that.
He did promise us that the Spirit would always be with us. Isaiah maybe said it best when he told us that through Jesus, “the shoot from the stump of Jesse,” we would receive “wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and awe in the presence of God.”
Maybe we just need to be open to believe, to hope, and act as if we were certain those promises were true.