Monday, December 4, 2017

Dec. 10, 2017 - Preparing the Way of the Lord

The Second Sunday of Advent - Year B

Reading I:   Is. 40:1-5, 9-11

Psalm:  85   

Reading II:  2 Peter 3:8-14

Gospel:  Mark 1:1-8

I have always had a special place in my heart for
St. John the Baptist. I so admire his selfless dedication to preparing the way of the Lord. Knowing that he and Jesus were cousins, made me wonder why we do not hear about connections between them until they are in their thirties and Jesus is about to begin his public life.

Some of that puzzlement was clarified when in 1982 I had the blessing of being able to make a pilgrimage/retreat in the Holy Land. During our July travels, we were in an air-conditioned bus.  Looking out the window, I noted how hilly the travel was between Nazareth and Hebron. It gave me a greater appreciation of the heroic effort put forth by Jesus’ mother Mary, herself pregnant, to go to help her older cousin Elizabeth who was with child. Traveling those hills on foot or by donkey certainly would not have been easy. Also, the heat could weary one and make one weak.

Later, in Arizona, when I was teaching for Dine College in a similar semi-desert area of the Navajo Nation,  my understanding became greater. Since I taught in villages of St. Michaels, Ganado, and Chinle, I became more aware of the distances between the villages. Also, I realized the serious challenges the people often faced in that beautiful land. Therefore, visiting relatives at a distance was probably not frequent.

Nonetheless, Elizabeth must have told her son about Jesus and how he would be the Savior for the people. How John must have admired and respected his younger cousin! In today’s Gospel, Mark quotes John as saying: “The man who will come after me is much greater than I am. I am not good enough to even bend down and untie his sandals....”(Mark 1:7)

Later when he is preaching and calling others to be baptized and to repent, again he points to Jesus, rather than himself. We hear him proclaiming: “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)

John the Baptist is a wonderful example for us at all times, but especially
during the Christmas Season when commercialism attempts to overshadow the celebration of God’s special gift of His son. Like John the Baptist, we are also called to point to Jesus who is the “Reason for the Season.”

Advent is a time to remember that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

What an awesome God we have!!! He is crazy about us!!! Let us at least try to love Him back as He deserves!!!

 Reflection Question:   What are some practical ways that I can I point to Jesus in the midst of all the busyness and commercialism of the Christmas Season?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

Preparando el Camino del Señor

Siempre he tenido un lugar especial en mi corazón para San Juan Bautista. Admiro su dedicación desinteresada para preparar el camino del Señor. Saber que él y Jesús eran primos, me hizo preguntarme por qué no escuchamos sobre las conexiones entre ellos hasta que están en la treintena y Jesús está por comenzar su vida pública.

Parte de ese desconcierto se aclaró cuando en 1982 tuve la bendición de poder hacer una peregrinación / retiro en Tierra Santa. Durante nuestros viajes de julio, estábamos en un autobús con aire acondicionado. Mirando por la ventana, noté cuán montañoso era el viaje entre Nazaret y Hebrón. Me dio una mayor apreciación del esfuerzo heroico presentado por la madre de Jesús, María, que estaba embarazada, para ir a ayudar a su prima mayor, Elizabeth, que estaba encinta. Viajar por esas colinas a pie o en burro ciertamente no habría sido fácil. Además, el calor puede cansar a uno y debilitarlo.

Más tarde, en Arizona, cuando enseñaba para el Dine College en un área semidesértica similar de la Nación Navajo, mi comprensión se hizo mayor. Como enseñé en pueblos de St. Michaels, Ganado, and Chinle,  fui más consciente de las distancias entre las aldeas. Además, me di cuenta de los serios desafíos que la gente enfrenta a menudo en esa hermosa tierra. Por lo tanto, visitar a familiares a distancia probablemente no era frecuente.

Sin embargo, Elizabeth debe haberle contado a su hijo sobre Jesús y cómo él sería el Salvador de la gente. ¡Cómo debe haber admirado y respetado a su primo más joven! En el Evangelio de hoy, Marcos cita a Juan diciendo: “El hombre que vendrá después de mí es mucho más grande que yo. yo soy no lo suficientemente bueno como para inclinarse y desatar sus sandalias ... ”(Marcos 1: 7)

Más tarde, cuando está predicando y llamando a otros para que se bauticen y se arrepientan, nuevamente señala a Jesús, en lugar de a sí mismo. Lo escuchamos proclamar: “Yo los bautizo con agua, pero Él los bautizará con el Espíritu Santo”. (Marcos 1: 8).

Juan el Bautista es un maravilloso ejemplo para nosotros en todo momento, pero especialmente durante la temporada de Navidad, cuando el comercialismo intenta eclipsar la celebración del regalo especial de Dios para su hijo. Al igual que Juan el Bautista, también estamos llamados a señalar a Jesús, que es la “Razón de la temporada”.

El Adviento es un momento para recordar que “tanto amó Dios al mundo, que dio a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo el que cree en él no se pierda, sino que tenga vida eterna”. (Juan 3:16).

¡Qué Dios tan maravilloso tenemos! ¡Él está loco por nosotros! ¡¡Al menos intentemos amarlo de nuevo como se merece !!!

 Pregunta de reflexión:   ¿Cuáles son algunas formas prácticas en que puedo señalar a Jesús en medio de todo el ajetreo y el comercialismo de la temporada de Navidad?


  1. Sr. Therese M. Warner, SBSDecember 5, 2017 at 11:04 AM

    St. John the Baptist, who preached so bravely and convincingly, but always remained so humble, certainly deserves a special place in our hearts. Thank you, Sister, for sharing all those inspiring observations about Advent, etc. They are sincerely appreciated.

    The following excerpts are from a homily by Father Charles Irvin:

    "Last Sunday we considered the broad sweep of Advent and reminded ourselves that Advent begins with us looking at the end of the world. It is right that we should be anxious and concerned about the day of judgment; but we should not be held in the grip of fear, because God's judgment is that we are worth saving. God's judgment comes to us in His grace and mercy, His grace and mercy given to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. That theme continues this week. The words in the First Reading come from the prophet Isaiah. God tells Isaiah to comfort His people."

    "Advent is a time of expectancy along with our waiting in hope. Advent is forward looking... During this Advent season we have our own sets of expectations, longing for a better world. While it is true that the reign of God, in Jesus Christ, has been established among us, it is also true that we humans have not responded to God's offer as we should. We long for peace. We cry out for justice. Security remains exclusive. Dishonesty, greed and corruption still beset us. We lament the fact that the world in which we live is in the condition that it is. 'Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God.', Isaiah tells us."

    "The words in today's Gospel account are the very first words in St. Mark's Gospel account of Jesus Christ. They come from St. Mark's First Chapter, verses 1-8. We should note that these words and thoughts are all about change, change that is coming upon us, change that we should face, not in fear and dread, but change that we accept in faith and expectant hope...for Jesus came to empower us with God's holy spirit - an empowerment that should give comfort to us all, a power that God gives us to comfort those around us."

    Father Charles Irvin, Diocese of Lansing

  2. Dear Sr. Annette,
    My answer to your reflection question is that, in the midst of the busyness and consumerism of the season, I am going to attempt to be on “spiritual alert” over my thoughts, words and actions, so that they will reveal the joy, peace and love that Jesus offers. My response is formed by two very different experiences I had while shopping last weekend. While standing in a long line at the Post Office early Saturday morning, a robust argument broke out when one woman accused another woman of cutting in front of her in line. It escalated into a major attack of hurtful words and the anger of the woman who initiated the quarrel was palpable. The Post Master came out of his office to intervene. While I would probably not utter such words out loud, I wondered if I exude negative energy just by thinking similar sentiments. However, the very next day in the grocery store with my mother, the woman in line behind her offered to pay the balance due on mom’s grocery bill when she had insufficient funds on her debit card to cover the total. I paid for the groceries but that woman’s kindness penetrated my heart, my mother’s heart and that of the young cashier. Our spirits were elevated and we truly felt warmed by such an extension of generosity. That wonderful lady possessed the Advent Spirit and that is the choice I want to make during Advent and always because, truth is, “Life is Advent,” as my favorite author, Henri Nouwen has stated. We need to be watchful all the time so that we will be able to recognize Jesus in one another.
    Father Marinucci, a priest from St. Matthew Parish in Philadelphia, wrote in his weekly column, “Advent is not about us waiting for the Baby Jesus to arrive, it is about Jesus waiting for the dormant Christ life in us to finally awaken.” The Advent Spirit points to Jesus within us and seeks to meet Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us, in all those we meet. My daily prayer is that the Christ Child will expand my heart to choose love in all I say and do.
    My pro-life friend, Dr. Pat McEwen, suggests greeting everyone we meet with “Merry Christmas” to remind them of the Real Reason for this glorious season. She is passionate about “taking back” Christmas from the mercenary “heathens” in our country who see it as a “retail gimmick.” We need to “overcome” their ingrained brainwashing because “when the Light leaves darkness fills the void.” Wishing a Merry Christmas to all is an easy way to point to Christ. If we temporary forget why we are heading out early to stand in line for a “must have” item that will be forgotten, lost, broken or outdated in a few weeks –hearing those treasured words may shift our focus to a happier perspective. After all, it is all about Love and the shopping rush can lead us astray.
    I’d like to close with a prayer from Henri Nouwen’s “Reflections on Advent “ series:
    “Good and gracious God, you know how much clutter fills my heart these days. Help me to pay attention to your presence in my life. Help me to look far and find opportunities this Advent to become more aware of how you touch my life each day. May I become ever more a sign of your love in the world. Amen.”

    Pat C., ASBS