Category Archives: Advent Reflection

Second Sunday of Advent

Second Sunday of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 3: 1-6

How dark these nights we find forlorn
How sad the dwindling light we mourn
Among the shadow-filled hours our hope is torn
Like lambs before the slaughter, bodies shorn

Where in this may love be found?
Where in this destitute can faith abound?

People, look east to the rising sun
See your joy embodied – His arms out-flung
All is not lost – the journey has just begun

Many of us by now have heard that there have been more mass shootings than calendar days this year in 2015. By now many of us have heard of the Syrian refugee crisis where nearly 9 million people have been displaced by civil war. This week Pope Francis told world leaders at the French summit on climate change that the world itself is reaching its breaking point. This year we have seen communities erupt in righteous protests over the treatment of its minority members. Terrorism in cities like Beirut and Paris, speak to only a percentage of the continued attacks across the Middle East. Blog posts, op-eds, newscasters, et al. have had no shortage of tragedy on which to write. Not to mention: could you tell that it’s an election year?

We seem to be in a moment of history beset with an insidious violence – where politicians and friends alike seem more inclined to fight with people than their ideas. With our opinions well-made up, we swing at each others bodies – rather than one another’s minds – and rarely consider one another’s hearts. We fight as though we were in the dark, which our world most assuredly seems to be. We fight in utter despair because nuance is a hopeful thing only capable when there is light enough to perceive others with total clarity. Some assume desperation is characterized by sadness, but anger finds an equal home within the desperate soul.

The Prophet Baruch depicts Jerusalem is in the midst of misery, her children led away by the enemy. The Psalmist tells of a people weeping and sowing tears. Paul writes his letter to the Philippians while in prison. Though it’s easy to miss, John himself is alone in the desert (for who knows how long) before the word of God comes to him at all. On this second Sunday of Advent, this may be an important image to hang onto: we are all desperate people in need of God.

And God is ready to respond.

We are told today to climb upon the heights that we might see our world more like God does – to see it in the light of the Lord’s glory. We are invited to remember the great things, indeed, God has done for us. It is by love and knowledge of all perspectives we are called to see the world. Among the tragedies, let us not be blind to the light of God by which we are to see them – and the actions to which it may call us. Let us not be blind to one another’s hearts when discussing these heart-aching times. Though life may seem desperate, we are called to have hope. We are called to keep faith. We are called be love. We are called to make ready for Christ’s coming so that he may continue the good work he has begun in us.


Copyright Kyle T. Smith

Kyle Smith is a happy husband, proud Notre Dame alum, former Catholic high school theology teacher, and current graduate student at Yale University.

 

Saturday of the First Week of Advent

Saturday of the First Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 9:35–10:1, 5A, 6-8

Have you ever looked at a group of people and felt your heart moved? Perhaps this is a shadow of what Jesus felt when he looked out at the crowds in today’s Gospel.

You have a choice when your heart’s moved like that: you can have a moment and move on, or you can take action. Jesus advocates action. He sends out the Twelve and gives them the authority over unclean spirits and to cure every disease and illness.

And then we read this, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

My heart is moved by that because I have received so very much without cost. I’ve experienced the love and seen the action of others on my behalf—for no reason except…well, I don’t really know. I can only conclude that these people must somehow know Jesus, must have been responding to that call.

Would that I have the courage to respond to that call, too.

Ponder:

Sometimes, in the daily grind, it’s easy to think that what I do isn’t important and that it doesn’t matter. Today, how can you carve some moments to spend with God in a special way? How can you open your heart to his call to you?

Pray:

Lord, my heart is often moved, but it’s hard to take action. I have so much else to do! Grant me the grace to know when you would have me act and what you would have me do. Amen.


Copyright 2015 Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard writes at SnoringScholar.com in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is the editor of the best-selling devotional Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary, as well as the author of a number of books including A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism, the first in the CatholicMom.com books, and Catholic Family Fun: A Guide for the Adventurous, Overwhelmed, Creative, or Clueless.

CatholicMom.com provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit www.CatholicMom.com for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.

Friday of the First Week of Advent

Friday of the First Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31

Optional Memorial of Saint John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church

In the crowd that followed Jesus were two blind men. They couldn’t see Jesus, but somehow they must have heard of His healing power. They were screaming into the dark, in the middle of the crowd of followers, not even sure where Jesus was, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” This title, “Son of David,” is a title of the Messiah. So, by calling Jesus the “Son of David” meant that these blind men knew Jesus was the Son of God. They were begging for mercy and compassion because of this belief.

Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” because He was interested in healing their souls and spirits before He healed their physical blindness. The blind men answer without hesitation, “Yes Lord.” They made their public profession of faith in Jesus as the Son of God. So Jesus reached out His hands and said, “According to your faith it will be to you.” He “touched their eyes.” Instantly, these blind eyes were able to see for the first time.

Now Jesus did something puzzling. He “warned them sternly” that no one was to know of this. “But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.” Most scholars believe that the reason Jesus didn’t want the news of this incident spread was because at this point in His ministry, Jesus didn’t want the fact of His Messiahship to be proclaimed. Yet who can blame these men; they must have been bursting with joy.

Ponder:

Do I truly understand that Jesus is the Lord today, in this present moment, fully capable of healing me emotionally, spiritually, as well as physically?

Pray:

Lord I believe, help my unbelief.


Copyright 2015 Melanie Jean Juneau

Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, a columnist at CatholicLaneCatholicStandCatholic365 , CAPC & author of Echoes of the Divine.

CatholicMom.com provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit www.CatholicMom.com for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 7:21, 24-27

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

At first those seem like harsh words from Jesus. Am I not a good Catholic if I can recite Bible verses, go to church every Sunday, write Gospel reflections? While all those things are good, they are not enough. I have to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. I have to practice what I preach.

To enter the kingdom of Heaven, I have to live a virtuous life, not just speak about the virtues. I have to be consistent in my words and in my actions, no matter how difficult the circumstances and no matter how great the condemnation from the secular world.

“Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)

Ponder:

When you say you are a follower of Christ, will those who see your actions believe you?

Pray:

Lord, make me a doer of Your word and not just a hearer. Make me faithful and true in good times and in bad.


Copyright 2015 Terry McDermott

Terry McDermott is very happily married and is the proud mom of 6 handsome young men and 2 beautiful young women, ranging in age from mid-20s to pre-teens.  She enjoys being her parish’s First Communion catechist.  A Registered Nurse, Terry is the owner of a nursing related business.  In her precious little spare time, she reads, hikes and enjoys family and friends.  St. Joseph, St. Therese, St. Gianna, St. Monica and St. Camillus de Lellis are her go-to saints, along with Our Blessed Mother. While striving to live a life centered on the Gospel through prayer and service, she reminds herself daily that “everything is grace” (St.Therese). Terry also blogs at Catholic Insight Magazine and her own blog at http://8kidsandabusiness.wordpress.com

CatholicMom.com provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit www.CatholicMom.com for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 15:29-37

Jesus constantly surrounded himself with the kind of people I go out of my way to avoid: the sick, contagious, strange, possessed, those out of their mind. It never fails that every time he tries to escape for some alone time a crowd follows him. And they do not just follow him, but they seek him out, they find him, they drop themselves at his feet, they wait for the miracle.

The Gospel of the multiplication of the fishes and loaves is my absolute favorite. I have always been drawn to the idea of how no offering is too small for God; how small seeds, tiny acts of kindness, can grow and spread and make huge differences. The way that God can multiply anything we bring to him is amazing! In fact, every morning, I begin my prayer by asking God to multiply the hours in my day!

But today, this Gospel speaks of something different to me. Today, I am not as focused on the multiplication of the bread and fish as I am on the scene of that crowd; they are quite an interesting group. They are the blind and the mute, the deaf and the ill; they are the lost and insane, and I am guessing that if I saw such a crowd chasing after me, or even waiting across the street at the bus stop, I would do my very best to get away, not make eye contact, cross to the other side, lose them fast. But not Jesus. He draws them near. And when I think about it, this crowd, I have to wonder…what moves them? What is it that they have that stirs up such determination to track Jesus down, to reach out to touch his cloak, to literally drop themselves at his feet? What do they know about Jesus that has them being carried on stretchers, lowered through roofs, climbing up mountains, jumping in boats, dropping their nets, climbing up trees, going without food for three days? What is the force that has them desiring to be near him, knowing for certain, that he is the one, the only one, who can save them?

My guess? Faith. Faith is what drives them, and faith is what heals them. Faith is what assures them that when they drop everything and follow Jesus, they will be fed until they are filled. Faith assures them that every hunger, physical and emotional, will be satisfied. And how beautiful and simple is this example for each of us? We should all be as sick as this crowd. We should all be so trapped in our illness, so desperate for a cure, so incredibly hungry, that we have no choice but to run after Jesus, bring him our afflictions, lay them down at his feet, and wait for the miracle.

Ponder:

What part of you needs healing, and is your faith strong enough to run after Jesus and lay it down at his feet? Do you have faith in the miracle?

Pray:

Jesus, thank you for being the food that fills and sustains me. I pray that my faith stays strong and never wavers, and that it is you that I seek when I am hungry and in need of healing.


Reflection used with permission of CatholicMom.com. CatholicMom.com provides faith-filled daily resources for today’s families around the world. Visit www.CatholicMom.com for faith tools and activities, family life articles, book and movie reviews, and much more to serve your family in their spiritual journey.

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 10:21-24 (see the READINGS button in the app)

We have just begun our new liturgical year in the season of Advent. Advent has a twofold preparation. We are preparing for the Solemnities of Christmas which remember the first coming of Christ. We also are preparing our hearts as we look forward to the second coming of Christ.

During this season there likely is much going on in your lives with much preparation as we look forward to Christmas. It is important to take time during this season to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. Every parish has different opportunities to prepare for the coming of Christ. I encourage you to take part in these events as you reflect on how you want to prepare for Christmas. It can be very easy to get caught up in the preparation for Christmas. I encourage you to take some time with your family to share the importance that Christ means to you in this holy season.

In the readings today we are reminded of the necessity of always drawing towards what is most important; to be childlike. So many things are likely happening in your life these days and yet we have one focus and that is Christ. Look to a child in this time and what will they be anticipating? They will be looking towards Christmas which seems so far away to them. But as adults we know that it will be here sooner than we think. So let us prepare well and look towards the coming of Christ.

So, as we journey into this Christmas season for this most sacred day when Christ was born in Bethlehem, let us take time to welcome Him in our daily preparation. Here is a prayer that is traditionally prayed in preparation for Christmas.

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayers and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.


Copyright Fr. James VanderLaan

Fr. James is currently serving as Parochial Vicar (Associate Pastor) of Parish of the Holy Spirit in Grand Rapids, MI.

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 4:18-22 (see the READINGS button in the app)

He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. St. Andrew, along with his brother Peter, followed Jesus at once. At once. The Apostle Andrew responded immediately to the invitation of Jesus Christ, and in so doing he teaches us to follow Jesus with promptness. He didn’t wait, he didn’t put the nets away, he didn’t take time to say goodbye to his family, he just followed Jesus.

In his promptness in following Jesus, St. Andrew shows us plainly that the Christian life is about a personal encounter with the one who loves us more than life itself. This encounter is meant to transform us, to change us , to make us into people in love with Jesus Christ. Advent is a time to follow our beloved Jesus with a readiness born of faith, a readiness born of watching and waiting for the coming of the Lord.


Copyright Fr. Scott Nolan

Fr. Scott Nolan is a priest of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI. He currently serves in the city of Grand Rapids as the Associate Pastor of the Basilica of St. Adalbert, St. James Church, and St. Mary parish. He is also the chaplain of West Catholic High School.

First Sunday of Advent

First Sunday of Advent

Today’s Gospel: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36 (see the READINGS button in the app)

Dismay, confusion, fear – these are emotions we know well. Perhaps Jesus’ words to his disciples strike an eerily fitting/relevant/pertinent chord in light of recent events in Paris, Syria, and even the United States. All over the world nations seem to be in “dismay,” even perplexed by what so often seem to be such hopeless and senseless situations. It is difficult to imagine in the face of such violence and chaos that we will see the Son of Man coming in “power and great glory.”

But today’s readings remind us that it is precisely in these “signs” of hopelessness and fear that we must be most prepared for the coming of our savior. They remind us that even now, amidst present fears and turmoil, the Son of Man is coming – indeed he has come. And we need to hear this, do we not? The “anxieties of daily life” can cause our hearts to become drowsy, less than sensitive to the truths and mysteries proclaimed by the Gospel through the Church day in and day out. Let us hear them well, that we may be “vigilant at all times,” and let us pray that we have the strength to stand before the Son of Man with the chaos swirling harmlessly around us. Only in Christ will we find our refuge, will we be “safe and dwell secure,” as our First Reading tells us.

In those moments when we feel as though the “powers of the heavens are shaken,” we can stand erect and raise our heads, because our redemption is at hand.


Copyright  Anthony J. Oleck

Anthony Oleck is currently pursuing his Master of Theological Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He is also Assistant Rector of Fisher Hall, and Managing Editor for the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy blog, Oblation.

Advent Reflections 2015

Advent Reflections 2015

Each Advent the Church in her wisdom provides us an opportunity to prepare our lives and our souls for the coming of our savior Jesus Christ in the stable of Bethlehem, at the end of time, and each day in our hearts. The Advent season provides us a wonderful opportunity to reflect on our lives and change as needed, as we wait in anticipation of the coming of Our Lord. Let us not pass up this opportunity to be prepared like the wise virgins with oil for their lamps at the coming of the bridegroom. We know “neither the day nor the hour” of His coming (Matt. 25:1-13).

A special thank you in advance to all those who were most generous to share these reflections with us.

We pray that these daily reflections (over the next four weeks) help bring you to a even richer celebration of Our Savior on Christmas day.

Blessed Advent,
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