Have you ever wondered why it is that so many good folk in our parishes are suspicious (afraid?) of a priest, deacon, bishop (even a Pope!) who is sensed not...
Longing for light
WEEK TWO: PEACE
Sunday 08 December
Scripture Matthew 3: 1 – 12
The great stage musicals such as The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story (currently at the Playhouse) and many others all begin with an Overture which sets the scene and creates the mood for what is to follow when the curtain goes up on the performance. In years past, a hush would descend upon the crowd as the orchestra struck up the Overture. Not any more, sadly. Today people continue their conversations seemingly oblivious to the Overture.
Its much the same with John the Baptist. He is like an Overture, setting the scene for the coming of Jesus who will take centre-stage. Few however are willing to listen. Once again he is like a voice crying in the wilderness – this time the wilderness of the ‘festive season’; the frenetic shopping, numerous parties, heavy traffic and crowded shopping centres.
For us who are Longing for Light, the call of John the Baptist is a welcome and happy sound. He reminds us that the Lord is very near to us and that we should hasten our preparation. For many there is much to be done in preparation for the festival of Christmas; for us, its about what we need to do in preparation for the coming of the Saviour.
What do you need to do to prepare yourself (and your family) for the Saviour’s coming? Here are some suggestions: daily prayer, weekday Mass, a good examination of conscience and confession.
Come Lord Jesus, come into my heart,
Come Lord Jesus, come into my life,
Come Lord Jesus, come and be born again within me. Amen.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be …
Monday 09 December
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady
Scripture Luke 1 : 38
Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.
Do we really let his Word be done in our lives ? Am I a servant of God just as Mary agreed to be? Mary was called to be a mother, I wonder how many of our mothers see their motherhood as one of the greatest vocations in the world. Being a father has the exact same vocational status. As we prepare for the Year of the Family I hope and pray we will explore our concept of family to such an extent that our family lives take precedent over work, social standing, degrees, careers, cars, cellphones… The world is producing children who know very little of the family values Jesus knew and promoted. What are we going to do in the year ahead? Just praying will not be enough!
A Good mother and father knows what it is to be a handmaid like Mary, – the many needs: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual are all primarily dependent on them. Sleepless nights, planning and praying for the child to be the best it can be can only be realised if the parents are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the child.
Is this our attitude towards God – being a servant out of love or are we more of the “what am I to get out of this” kind of Christian? One way to help us discern is to look at our prayers – are they more about asking or about seeking how to serve better?
If I want a better world it must begin with me. Mary wanted something better so she opened herself to let the change begin with her. Will I be the change I want to see?
Do I live the change I want to see in this world? Do I show joy, forgiveness and consideration or do I wait for others to take the initiative in these areas? Let us look at what we pray for and see if it has a real servant quality to it.
Heavenly Father you believed we were worth saving and chose Mary to be the handmaid to bring Jesus into our world. May we be servants ready to let your will be done unto us. Amen.
Tuesday 10 December
Scripture: Matthew 18: 12 – 14
To be alone, lost, disoriented, either physically or emotionally, without a sense of direction is one of the worst fears we can encounter. What wouldn’t we give to have a guide who would show us the way to safety and security, the way to home and family.
Scripture comforts us with assurance that God will not rest until we find our way home to him. The scriptures use the image of a shepherd who cares for his sheep to describe what God is like. He promised that he would personally shepherd his people and lead them to safety. That is why God sent his only begotten Son as the Messiah King who would not only restore peace and righteousness, but also shepherd and care for his people with love and compassion.
The parable of the lost sheep gives us a glimpse of the heart of a good shepherd, and the joy of a community reunited with its lost members.
The shepherd’s grief and anxiety is turned to joy when he finds the lost sheep and restores it to the fold. The shepherd searches until what he has lost is found. His persistence pays off.
Scripture also gives a warning to the lost sheep. The Apostle Peter reminds us that the “devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” God does not rejoice in the loss of anyone, but desires that we be saved and restored to friendship with him. God is on a rescue mission today to save us from the destructive forces of sin and evil. Do we listen to his voice and accept his wise council?
If you know of someone who is ‘lost’ spiritually, invite them to attend a Mass with you. Give them copies of these Advent reflections.
Lord Jesus, nothing escapes your watchful gaze and care. May I always walk in the light of your truth and never stray from your loving presence. Amen.
Today, Father Des, our good shepherd, celebrates his 31st anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood. Remember him in your prayers and thank God for the gift of Father’s shepherding.
Wednesday 11 December
Scripture: Matthew 11: 28 – 30
Right in the middle of this Advent Season of preparation for the coming of the Saviour we hear today the Saviour’s call to us “Come to me”! He came among us not to be worshipped or adored but to call us to him. In responding to his call he offers to take upon himself our hardships, burdens and difficulties.
Such is the wonder of Emmanuel – God with us! Is there any other God such as our God? He empties himself, takes on human form, comes among us and offers to take our burdens upon himself?! This is the very reason for his coming. When we welcome his presence and embrace him in faith, then we are able to take him at his word, and place ourselves in complete hope and trust in his hands.
“Come to me.” What an invitation! Take full advantage.
Sit quietly for a few minutes, think about what troubles or burdens you right now. Are you willing to take Jesus at his word and place these burdens in his hands? Do that – in faith, hope and trust. Leave your burdens with him – don’t take them back, just leave them with him!
Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to lift us from the darkness or our hardships, troubles, difficulties, failures and sins. Fill us and our world with the light of your presence. Amen.
Mass tomorrow at 6.00pm. Go and receive Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist.
Thursday 12 December
Scripture Isaiah 41: 13 – 20 Matthew 11: 11 – 15
“For I, Yahweh your God, am holding you by the right hand; I tell you, ‘Do not be afraid, I will help you’”
Fear is a very common emotion in most people’s lives. We may not be conscious of it, but it lurks there in the background. We live in a very violent society and that in itself causes fear – we fear being hijacked, robbed or physically harmed. In this time of recession and financial insecurity, there are other fears – fear of being made redundant, fear of being unable to provide for ourselves and those we love. Add to that fear of some dreaded disease or death itself, and we are, as frail human beings, quite bound up with fear. So many of the causes of such fears are beyond our ability to control, and that makes us feel insecure.
Yet here is our God telling us “not to be afraid” and that He is “holding us by the right hand”. I am tempted sometimes, when at some ungodly hour of the morning fear is taking hold of me, to say to God, “It’s all very well for you to say “Don’t be afraid” – you’re not in this situation!” And then I think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, facing death, facing ridicule, rejection and cruelty of the worst kind, and I realize that He has been in infinitely worse situations, and that he understands our human fears. He too was afraid, but He put His hand in the hand of the Father and walked on to face what awaited Him.
Our relationship with God needs to be a really close one if we are going to be able to do what Jesus did. I need to feel that He is right there with me, “holding my hand”, and strengthening me to face whatever lies ahead. It will not necessarily mean that the fear will disappear like magic, but that I will feel able to go on – that I am not alone – that His strength is there for me to draw on, and that as He says through Isaiah, “I will not abandon you”.
Reflect on how you view life and the road ahead. Are you fearful and afraid of what might lie in front of you? Think of someone you know who does not seem to be afraid. Talk to that person, share what troubles you, and ask how he/she deals with such things.
Then take time just to be with God – to dwell on His words, “Do not be afraid. I will help you”. Ask that these words might become real for you, with His help.
God our Father, help me to have a real understanding and experience of Your presence in my life. Let me truly feel Your closeness and the assurance that You are walking with me. Take away any fears that I may have and help me to strengthen my faith and trust in You. Amen.
Friday 13 December
(St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr)
Living as God wills
Scripture: Psalm 1
Blessed indeed is the man…whose delight is the law of the Lord.
Jesus leaves us with little doubt that the way he lived is the way we should live too: “The disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master.” (Matthew 10:24). And so, the disciple is the one who follows Jesus, cross and all! Only by following and living by God’s law will we find Eternal Life.
We know that success, fame, power and money do not give us this gift. Neither do these give us inner joy and peace. And they certainly do not give us a relationship with Jesus!
The great mystery of our faith depends upon the truth that Jesus, who is in no way like us, who cannot be compared with us, has come among us and taken on our mortal flesh. He gave up everything to be with us. Only when we give up the mad pursuit of the things of the world; the things we think valuable, necessary and important, will we be with God.
As Julian of Norwich writes: “It is God’s will that we have true delight with him in our salvation. For we are his bliss, because he endlessly delights in us.”
I will try not to waste any opportunities to do the will of God today.
Lord Jesus, what a lot you do for me! When I look at what I have done for you, I realise that I may, I must surrender my all to you today and allow you to work in and through me. May I do your will now and always.
Saturday 14 December
Scripture: Matthew 17: 10-13
John the Baptist was given the assignment by God to prepare the Jewish people for the coming of the Messiah. Unfortunately, they did not recognise him as the one who would, “Go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah.” (Luke 1:17). Therefore, they rejected his message and he was imprisoned and killed by Herod.
Every year, we are given the season of Advent, a time of grace, to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. (To celebrate the birth of Jesus and look forward to his second coming). Sadly, in many cases, we have let this opportunity slip by because we were too preoccupied with other things – spring cleaning, Christmas shopping, parties and the like. “There was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7)
It is time to change; time to break the cycle. We must examine ourselves, repent of our sins and show the “fruit” of repentance in our lives. The Lord gives this warning to the Church at Ephesus, “You have forsaken your first love. Remember the heights from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place.” (Revelation 2:4-5.)
Christmas is not about “presents.” It is about the “presence” of Christ. John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” Will you receive God’s gift of Jesus this Christmas?
Attend the Penitential Service at your parish and experience the mercy and forgiveness of Christ.
Heavenly Father, give us the grace to open our hearts and receive Jesus, your Son, as our Lord to guide us; as our Saviour to redeem us and as our friend to be with us. Amen