Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November 27, 2016 - Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

First Sunday of Advent - Year A

Reading 1: Isaiah 2: 1-5
Response:  Psalm 122
Reading 2: Rom.13:11-14
Gospel: Matt. 24:37-44

“Advent” means “coming.”  For that reason we call the time before Christmas the Season of Advent. The emphasis on beautiful lighting during the Christmas season reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World. His coming made the world a better place because of the love He gave and that He asks His followers to share.

How can we  prepare for the coming of Jesus?

There are many ways Christians choose to prepare His way. In spite of the commercialism which has sometimes distracted us from the real meaning of Christmas, we still see some aspects of the spirit of Christ in the outreach to those in need and taking time to be with family and friends, and the effort to go to Church on the holy day.

St. John the Baptist’s admonition to prepare the way of the Lord makes me question whether there is something more to be done as we await the coming of the Lord. Is there a deeper way of preparing for his coming in the midst of the busyness of this time?

Do we need to be reminded that Christ comes to us daily in the form of brothers and sisters who need our love? Besides the material needs, there are so many who are lonely, who are grieving, who are not understood, who need forgiveness, who need faith, who need encouragement, who need purpose, who need to know of God’s love and presence. How can we attempt to fulfill those needs? Let us ask the Lord to open our eyes and hearts to recognize the coming of Jesus in these people.

Another way I find helpful to keep Christ in Christmas is to focus on one of the Names of Jesus during the day. In the official prayers of the Church, we find this practice in the O Antiphons from December 20-25.  However, there are many more names of Jesus besides those seven: Wisdom, Lord, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King of nations, Emmanuel, God with Us. 
Some names which might keep us focused earlier in Advent are the following: Everlasting Light,  Redeemer, Glory of  Israel, Anointed One, Beloved Son, Gift of God, etc. All these and many more can be found in the Bible.

Let us keep our eyes on the Lord by simply recalling one of his names as we go about our busy days.

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

Prepara el Camino del Señor

“Adviento” significa “venir”. Por eso llamamos la época antes de Navidad la Temporada de Adviento. El énfasis en la iluminación hermosa durante la estación de la Navidad nos recuerda que Jesús es la luz del mundo. Su venida hizo al mundo un lugar mejor debido al amor que Él dio y que Él pide a Sus seguidores compartir.

¿Cómo podemos prepararnos para la venida de Jesús?

Hay muchas maneras en que los cristianos eligen preparar Su camino. A pesar del mercantilismo que a veces nos ha distraído del verdadero significado de la Navidad, todavía podemos ver algunos aspectos del espíritu de Cristo en el acercamiento a los necesitados y tomar tiempo para estar con la familia y los amigos y el esfuerzo de ir a la Iglesia en el día santo.

La advertencia de San Juan Bautista para preparar el camino del Señor me hace cuestionar si hay algo más que hacer mientras esperamos la venida del Señor. ¿Existe una manera más profunda de prepararse para su venida en medio de la ocupación de este tiempo?

¿Necesitamos recordar que Cristo viene a nosotros diariamente en forma de hermanos y hermanas que necesitan nuestro amor? Además de las necesidades materiales, hay tantos que están solos, que están afligidos, que no son entendidos, que necesitan perdón, que necesitan fe, que necesitan aliento, que necesitan propósito, que necesitan conocer el amor y la presencia de Dios. ¿Cómo podemos intentar satisfacer esas necesidades? Pidamos al Señor que abra nuestros ojos y corazones para reconocer la venida de Jesús en estas personas.

Otra manera que encuentro útil para mantener a Cristo en Navidad es centrarse en uno de los Nombres de Jesús durante el día. En las oraciones oficiales de la Iglesia, encontramos esta práctica en las O Antífonas del 20 al 25 de diciembre. Sin embargo, hay muchos más nombres de Jesús además de los siete: Sabiduría, Señor, Raíz de Isaí, Llave de David, Princesa, Rey de las naciones, Emmanuel, Dios con Nosotros. Algunos nombres que nos podrían mantener enfocados antes en Adviento son los siguientes: Luz eterna, Redentor, Gloria de Israel, Ungido, Hijo Amado, Regalo de Dios, etc. Todos estos y muchos más se pueden encontrar en la Biblia.

Mantengamos nuestros ojos en el Señor simplemente recordando uno de sus nombres a medida que avanzamos en nuestros días ocupados.


  1. On Thanksgiving eve I needed to buy a few items from the supermarket for finishing touches on dishes I was preparing for our Thanksgiving meal. The store is only down the street from my house so I chose to walk. The parking lot was filled beyond capacity – cars were parked in places that were not designated for parking which made navigating very tight and challenging. I had made the right decision to walk. Upon exiting the store I heard loud yelling and several threatening words being exchanged between two women drivers caught up in the gridlock. My blissful feelings quickly turned to dread at the thought that this was only the beginning of a season that tends to bring out nastiness in people…
    Then I read your blog and I was reminded that I need to make a conscience decision to stay centered in Christ during these weeks leading up to Christmas. I certainly can’t control the behaviors of others, but I can be in control of my responses. Choosing love and grace will help prepare my heart for the coming of Christ.
    Prior to leaving work for the holiday weekend, two of my co-workers and I agreed that instead of exchanging gifts amongst ourselves we would use the money to make gift bags for elderly shut-ins. Along with teabags and treats we will include a handwritten note in each gift bag reminding the person that they are remembered and loved. You question if we need to be reminded that Christ comes to us daily in the form of brothers and sisters who need our love. The answer for me is, “yes.” I hope that through this small act the elderly recipients of these gift bags will feel Christ’s love in their heart this Christmas. I believe that this activity will enhance the relationship I have with my co-workers as well as remind each of us that the true joy of Christmas is experienced when we honor Christ in one another.
    I really like your idea of calling upon a Name of the Lord to keep us attentive. I’m particularly drawn to “Gift of God”. By breathing in this endearing term I hope to keep myself focused on the sacredness of the moment when I find myself caught in the midst of long checkout lines, agitated shoppers, tired children, overwhelmed cashiers, and other such situational dramas.
    Shauna Niequest, in her book, Savor, offers a beautiful insight to guide us through the frantic days leading up to Christmas: “ Let’s honor the story – the silent night, the angels, the miracle child, the simple birth, with each choice we make…that we’ll find ourselves drawn closer and closer to the heart of the story, the beautiful, beating heart of it all, that the chaos around us and within us will recede, and the most important things will be clear and lovely at every turn.”

  2. Yes! That suggestion about keeping our eyes on the Lord by simply recalling one of his names seems excellent. Thank you, Sister.

    The Responsorial Psalm for this Sunday, Psalm 122, suggests a joyful meeting with God as we "go up to the house of the Lord."
    How appropriate this is for the first Sunday in Advent, when the church prepares in delighted anticipation for his coming! The following excerpts are from a commentary by Pope Benedict XVI:

    "We have just heard and enjoyed as a prayer one of the most beautiful and fervent Songs of Ascents. It is Psalm 122, a living, shared celebration of Jerusalem, the holy city to which the pilgrims climb. ...

    'The psalm traced an ideal portrait of the city with her religious and social function, showing that biblical religion is neither abstract nor intimistic, but a leaven of justice and solidarity. Communion with God is necessarily followed by communion of brothers and sisters with one another. ...

    'The final injunction (cf V6-9) is marked throughout by the Jewish word "shalom", "peace" - traditionally considered to be the etymological root of "Jerushalajim", the holy city itself, interpreted as "city of peace." ...

    'It is well known that "shalom" alludes to the messianic peace, that in itself brings joy, prosperity, goodness and abundance. ...
    This anticipates the Franciscan greeting: "Peace and good". ...

    'Pope St. Gregory tells us what the psalm means for our lives in practice. He tells us that we must be a true Jerusalem in the Church today, that is, a place of peace "supporting one another" as we are - "supporting one another together in the joyful certainty that the Lord supports us all." In this way, the Church will grow like a true Jerusalem, a place of peace."

    1. Sr. Therese Mary, Thank you for your beautiful sharing. We certainly need to communicate Pope St. Gregory's message that we are be a true Jerusalem in the Church today. We need to take responsibility for being that instrument of peace and reaching out to one another offering support along the path on which we journey together.