Pause and Watch
Today we hear the Gospel message to wake up and tune in. This first week of Advent is the time to stop our normal routine and listen for the signs around and within us. The Sunday readings proclaim that the Day of the Lord is coming. How will we prepare ourselves?
Lord, help me carve out time to spend in silence with you.

Monday (Is 4:2-6, Mt 8:5-11)
Stop yourself from judging. A Roman centurion cared so much for his lowly servant that he went out of his way to seek Jesus. He risked being ridiculed by his peers. He was an "outsider", yet our Lord praised him extravagantly. When was the last time you went out of your way to seek Jesus in prayer and solitude?
Free me, Lord, from thinking I have all the answers.

Tuesday (Is 11:1-10, Lk 10:21-24)
Rest. "Blest are the eyes that see what you see."  Are you taking time to appreciate the wonders that surround you? Have you read something that needs more reflection? Find an extra few minutes today for a quiet walk or a look at the stars or simply thinking about the gifts God has lavished on you.
Father, slow me down so I won't miss what's important.

Wednesday (Is 25: 6-10, Mt 15:29-37)
Don't worry. The disciples grumbled to Jesus, "It's hopeless!  How could we ever get enough bread?" Seven loaves later, their worries were history. Your problems are not bigger than those of the disciples. Do what you can, then be at peace. Especially pray at bedtime so you can let go of today and begin tomorrow anew.
In you, O Lord, I place all my trust.

Thursday  (Is 26:1-6, Mt 7:21, 24-27)
Turn off the TV. Or at least tell the kids all those commercials are designed to make people greedy. Find a way to teach about the real St. Nicholas and his spirit of giving. As a generous Bishop he loved children and gave dowries to poor girls. You have at least three things in your house you can do without. Give them to someone who can use them.
Empty me of greed, Lord Jesus. 

Friday (Is 29:17-24, Mt 9:27-31)
Slow down. Jesus waited until two blind men caught up with him. He'll wait for you too. He doesn't wear a wristwatch, and there are days when you should take yours off too. Say yes to Jesus when he asks if you want him to heal your spiritual blindness.
Deliver me, Jesus, from the idolatry of the clock.

Saturday  (Gn 3:9-15,20; Eph1:3-12; Lk 1:26-38)
Learn how to wait. The Jews waited impatiently for a Messiah because they thought they knew how he would save them. Mary's only desire was to serve. Her yes was followed by years of patience as she waited without understanding how the divine plan was unfolding. Can you let go of the need to know everything ahead of time?
Give me patience, O God; teach me to wait.

Listen and Prepare
The promise of the Lord's goodness is all around usCwe have only to listen. Prepare the Lord's way, we have John the Baptist proclaim in the Gospel. We prepare by repenting, turning towards God. One way to turn is to listen to God's word, to listen to our neighbor, to listen to the world around us. Listening is an important part of preparing the Lord's way.
Teach me, Lord, to be a better listener. 

Monday, (Is 35:1-10, Lk 5:17-26)
Keep your ears open. If you're not attentive you'll miss the tone of voice as Jesus says, "Friend", to the paralytic lowered on a mat. Jesus combines healing with forgiveness of sins. You too can hear Jesus call you "Friend" with the warmth we all feel after receiving the forgiveness of our sins. Your parish has a communal penance service during Advent. Be alert for the times.
Help me forgive others the way you forgive me, Lord. 

Tuesday  (Is 40:1-11, Mt 18:12-24)
Apply the parables. The Good Shepherd leaves 99 sheep and looks for one that's lost. Advent is the season to shepherd your relationships. Is there one relative or friend you've lost touch with because of the 99 things you're caught up in? Can you give that person a phone call today while you're thinking about it?  Lord, help me reach out to others with special care.

 Wednesday  (Is 40:25-31; Mt 11:28-30)
Learn. "Learn from me", says Jesus, "for I am gentle and humble of heart". There are people in your life who are gentle and humble of heart too, but they're drowned out by noisier types. Maybe they're in your own family. They're worth listening to. Take time to draw them out, away from all the racket.
Remind me to listen to your quiet ones, Lord.

 Thursday  (Is 41:13-20; Mt 11:11-15)
Consider John the Baptist. A fiery preacher. Not exactly Brooks Brothers clothing. But oh, what a message! Would he have turned you off because of the externals? What would the nutrition police have thought?
Lord, free me from being influenced by appearances.

Friday (Is 48:17-19; Mt 11:16-19)
Accept rejection. People took offense at the strictness of John the Baptist as well as the sociability of Jesus. If you're doing what you're called to do, someone will surely be miffed. This happens frequently with people of conscience in the Church. Be gentle with those who are offended, but not unduly surprised.
Whether dancing or dirging, Lord, let me be doing your will.

Saturday  (Sir 48: 1-4, 9-11; Mt 17:10-13)
Pay attention. "Elijah has already come", said Jesus, "but they don't recognize him". How alert we need to be so we don't miss what God's doing in our lives!  Do you have a spiritual friend you can share with? Sometimes two pairs of eyes are better than one.
Give me companions on the journey, Lord.

Seek Christ in our Midst 
We are moving ever closer to our heart's desire, the presence of the Lord Jesus. Yet there already are signs of Christ in our midst.  Today's Gospel tells us of some of those signs that point to the One who is coming. Where is healing in our lives? Where are signs of charity and justice? John the Baptist pointed out the signs of God's reign - each of us is challenged to do the same.
Open my eyes to see you in all things, Lord. 

Monday (Gn 49:2, 8-10; Mt 1:1-17)
Visualize the people. All those names in Jesus' genealogy! Each human life, cherished by God, is part of the divine plan. And now look at the names on your Christmas card list - it's the same song, second verse. Are you every prepared for the very humanity of Christmas? Pray for the people whose names come up in conversation, or on TV or the newspaper.
Come, O Wisdom of our God Most High! 

Tuesday (Jer 23:5-8; Mt 1:18-24)
Sit with the Nativity scene. Joseph needed a dream to tell him not to divorce Mary. Imagine the real-life struggles of the other people involved. What did they think, what did they tell their relatives?  Did the Good News estrange them from anyone right from the start?
Come, O Leader of ancient Israel!

Wednesday  (Jgs 13:2-7, 24-25; Lk 1:5-25)
Reflect on Zechariah. Poor man. God finally answers his prayer and he simply can't believe it. Notice it's right when he's in the middle of his day-to-day routine too. Do you have a similar story of God breaking into your life when you were least looking for it? Compare it to Zechariah's. Include your muteness!
Come, O Flower of Jesse's stem! 

Thursday  (Is 7:10-14; Lk 1:26-38)
Look to Mary. The human details of the Annunciation include "she was deeply troubled" by the angel's words. How young Mary was!  Was all creation in some way holding its breath until she said, "Let it be done to me as you say?"  Only the Key of David fits in our God-shaped hole.
Come, O Key of David! 

Friday  (Sng 2:8-14 or Zep 3:14-18; Lk 1:39-45)
Watch Elizabeth. "Who am I", said Elizabeth, Athat the mother of my Lord should come to me?" It's usually Mary who has our attention, but think of it from Elizabeth's point of view. Face-to-face with your own graces, what astonishes you? Does some recognition "leap" deep inside? How do you acknowledge it?
Come, O Radiant Dawn, O Sun of Justice! 

Saturday  (I Sam 1:24-28; Lk 1:46-56)
Pray the Magnificat.  Mary isn't the only one God has done great things for. This is your opportunity to thank him for what he's done for you personally, in your "lowliness." The Church prays this prayer every evening as a corporate and personal thank-you.
Come, O King of all nations!

Gaze on God's Glory
Put yourself into today's Gospel. It is the day of God's glory becoming manifest. God's messengers, the angels, are breaking into people's everyday lives, bringing the Good News of Christ's arrival. What else could anyone be besides awestruck? God's glory revealed always leaves us in a state of prayer. We realize, in every bone of our being, that God is great and we are small. Let all things be done according to God's will. Rejoice!
Teach me humility, my Lord who modeled it so well. 

Monday(Mal 3:1-4,23-24; Lk 1:57-66)

Envision the wonder. The party at the circumcision of John the Baptist was a preview of our joy at Christmas. The father of "the voice crying in the wilderness" found his own voice. How can you best use your voice this Christmas?

Come, O Emmanuel, God's presence among us!

24  Christmas Eve (2 Sam 7:1-5, 8-11,16; Lk 1:67-69)

Be ready, God never comes into our life twice in the same way. The space we offer him is different each time. This year it's wider than last year. If you're faithful, next year it'll be wider still. And the year after that, and the year after that...

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

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