SUNDAY OF ADVENT,
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.
(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
Free me, Lord, from thinking I
have all the answers.
(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.
(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
Empty me of greed, Lord Jesus.
Friday (Is 29:17-24,
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
Deliver me, Jesus, from the idolatry of the clock.
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.
SECOND SUNDAY OF
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
Teach me, Lord, to be a better listener.
Monday, (Is 35:1-10,
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,
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
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.
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;
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,
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.
THIRD SUNDAY OF
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
Come, O Wisdom of our God Most High!
Tuesday (Jer 23:5-8;
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!
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!
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
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
Come, O King of all nations!
FOURTH SUNDAY OF
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.
3:1-4,23-24; Lk 1:57-66)
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?
O Emmanuel, God's presence among
(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...
Come, Lord Jesus!