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2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C – 2021

It happens to most of us: we sometimes feel we have too much to do, too many things to see to.
The commitments we have taken on are just too many.
The people relying on us for help, or advice, are too many, and their demand on our time is more than we can afford to give.
We may sit down one night and say: « I can’t go on like this, I must make some choices, take some decisions.”

We see it: in such a situation, what is needed is to set some priorities.
What is the most important, to what should I first give my attention, my time, my energy?
In fact, what we need to do is… to discern.

This is exactly what the apostle Paul tells the Philippians to do.
In the 2nd reading of this Sunday, we hear his words (Ph.1:4-6,8-11):

“This is my prayer: (…) that you may be able to discern what is best.”
 
In this period of Advent, this may be what we, too, are called to do: see what is best.
Find out what is really important in life, what we should invest ourselves in.

  • Which are the commitments we can take on at the moment?
  • What are the causes that are worth giving our time and efforts to?
  • Who are the people really in need of assistance?
  • What are the values that should prompt us to act, or withdraw?

And… would God approve of my selection?
Is he the one inspiring me to move in this or that direction?

Discerning what is best… is all about that, and Advent is a good period to reflect on this.

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/2e-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-c-2021/

And in a short video, also in French, Ghislaine Deslières offers us another reflection on this 2nd Sunday of Advent at: https://youtu.be/jN7uIU0V9-E

 

Source: Images: Dreamstime.com

1st Sunday of Advent, Year C – 2021

There is no doubt about it: this 1st Sunday of Advent invites us to look to the future.
A promise is essentially doing this and it is a promise that we are given in the 1st reading (Jr.33:14-16).
The text of the prophet Jeremiah gives us God’s words in a clear language:

“The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfil the gracious promise I made…
In those days, I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.”
 
We often speak of God’s grace, yes, our God is a gracious God.
He delights in showering on us his blessings of all kinds.
The promise he makes is that the Gracious One – the Righteous One – will do what is good for us.

Another translation of the text uses the words “honesty and integrity”
And the one who is coming to us in God’s name – God himself – is called:
“The Lord-our-integrity.”
 
We all want to receive good things from God, but how can we be sure that his blessings will be ours?
I would venture to say that the best way is to… ad-just ourselves to God’s ways –
that is to become just ourselves –

just in our ways of thinking
just in our ways of judging situations
just in our choices and decisions
just in the plans we make and the options we choose
just in our relations with people…

In other words: behaving with honesty and integrity.

This could be the first step in this Advent period as we set on the path to welcome anew God’s coming to us.

 

Note: Another text is available on a different theme, in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/1er-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-c-2021/

And in a short video, also in French, Ghislaine Deslières offers us another reflection on this 1st Sunday of Advent at: https://youtu.be/lpkMLsxne3s

 

Source: Image: slideplayer.com

4th Sunday of Advent, Year B – 2020

We get used to things that we do often; used also to the words we repeat day after day.
The words we speak during our liturgical celebrations are no exception and…
sad to say, all too often we repeat them with our minds busy with all kinds of other thoughts.

During the Eucharistic celebration (the Mass) more than once, the priest tells us:
“The Lord be with you.”
We respond immediately – or at least, most of us do –
“And also with you.”
 
These 5 words addressed to us by the celebrant sound somehow like a wish,
a prayerful one but still a wish.
I know a few priests who rather say: “The Lord IS with you.”
 
These are the very words with which the angel Gabriel greeted Mary.
We hear them again in today’s gospel text (Luke 1:26-38).
I wonder if Mary was surprised?… Amazed?… Delighted?…
Wondering what would follow this greeting?…
Did she truly believe the message these words expressed?
 
The first time I heard the words repeated during Mass, I was suddenly made aware of what was said… to ME!
And, for some time after, I kept repeating silently to myself: The Lord is with me…
 
Perhaps this is the purpose of the period of Advent: to realize that God is with us –
yes, already with us!
We need not wait for the Nativity scene to make us believe it.

The reproduction of the Holy Family in a stable, or a cave, or any kind of shelter, will not make this more real.
It will only be a reminder of who God is now and for ever: EMMANUEL – GOD-WITH-US.

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/4e-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-b-2020/

 

Source: Image: YouTube

3rd Sunday of Advent, Year B – 2020

“You did not see this!” or “Did you not hear that?”
“You have not done this?” or “You have not been there!”

Whether in the form of a question, or an exclamation, many people do not like to be addressed in this way.
Somehow, they perceive such words as an accusation, an indication that they have missed something.
And… perhaps they have indeed missed something…
They may have missed out on something they would have greatly benefitted from!

In today’s gospel (Jn.1:6-8,19-28), we meet John the Baptist with the people sent to question him on his true identity.
Having denied that he is any of the prophets or God’s special messenger, he tells them:

“There stands One among you whom you do not know.”

Enigmatic? Perhaps.
Prophetic? Certainly
It is an invitation to become aware of a presence – the presence of one as yet unrecognized.

This is the very invitation addressed to us in this period of Advent.
No matter how long we have been Christians, there is a permanent need to become more aware of this presence.
A permanent need to discover anew who is this God who constantly comes to us… at times, in some unlikely disguises!
A need, an invitation to know him more deeply from day to day… among us…
 
Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/3e-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-b-2020/

Source: Images: BibleAsk    Free Bible Images

2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B – 2020

 We know well about spring cleaning, or autumn cleaning – a time when we clear and clean many things around our houses.

The city council also knows much about road repair – it must be done again and again at the end of a season.

In both cases there is a need for change and improvement.
These two pictures came to my mind as I read the 1st reading and the gospel of this Sunday (Is.40:1-5,9-11; Mk.1:1-8).

We might not get involved in house cleaning or road repair but it may be that… some areas of our lives need change and improvement of some kind for us to welcome the Lord…Our values may need to be upgraded…

  • Our choices may benefit from being more other-centered…
  • Our decisions may gain from being more inspired by lasting concerns…
  • Our attitude to other people may be improved with respect and acceptance…
  • Our commitments may need an increase of generosity…
  • Our faith may want to be deepened…

During this period of Advent, this could be OUR straightening of paths and lowering of mountains.
It may look, at first, as a formidable task but we are not expected to do it on our own.
The Holy Spirit within us is always willing to enable us to do what is asked of us.

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/?p=16658&preview=true

 

Source: Images: Space-O Technologies   Be HBG!

1st Sunday of Advent, Year B – 2020

All kinds of things and situations can keep us awake.
For some people, caffeine will do this.
Other substances with some stimulant will do the same.

But anxiety, fear and worry, will have the same effect: prevent us from sleeping.
On the other hand, a phone call announcing some unexpected good news or the anticipation of a pleasant event will probably keep sleep away.

The gospel text of this 1st Sunday of Advent (Year B: Mark 13:33-37) is short
and yet we are told four times to keep awake, to stay awake!

Stay awake not to watch a good movie on the screen, or play a video game.
Not to work on the computer, or read a novel.
But then, to do what?

Stay awake to wait for the Lord.
For many people, these words evoke the end of the world, or perhaps the moment of death.
This understanding is correct but, to my mind, incomplete.

Personally, I am convinced that the Lord can come at any moment, in every situation –
Not necessarily at the end of time, or the end of our lives.

His coming is discreet, gentle… it come under the form of

  • a word of praise from a colleague
  • a new idea for a project
  • an additional supply of patience in a trying situation
  • some encouragement from a friend who sees I am at my wit’s end
  • an increase of strength when I just can’t go on
  • the sudden understanding of the puzzling reaction of a loved one…

His presence can become close and very real in whatever happens if only we are alert,
AWAKE to his being there with us.
If only…

The period of Advent starting today is a good time to do this from day to day.

Note: Another reflection on a different theme is available in French at: https://image-i-nations.com/1er-dimanche-de-lavent-annee-b-2020/

 

Source: Images: human life   AppleGate Recovery   Stockfreeimages   SoundCloud

2nd Sunday of Advent, A

pinterest-winnowingThe Bible speaks of God in so many ways. It describes his qualities and relates his actions. It also tells of his wishes for us, human beings. Often too, it speaks of his future interventions. All this in a language which is not abstract but quite vivid, one could almost say picturesque.

It is the case in today’s gospel (2nd Sunday of Advent, A) where we are told that the Lord is coming “with his winnowing fan in his hand” (Mt.3:1-12).

In our modern high-tech world we do not see much winnowing being done as it was in Jesus’ time. Such activity can still be observed in some areas of Africa or Asia but many of us would not have seen this otherwise than on television.

This does not mean that the message of the gospel text is no longer relevant. If we ask ourselves why winnowing is being done, the answer is clear: To separate the good grain from the straw or other unwanted material. This example speaks of sorting out, or getting rid of something to keep the good, the best.

Is Advent not a good period to do exactly this in our lives? We could look at it as a ‘Sorting out season’ – sorting out the different areas of our daily living: our opinions, our judgements, our values, our attitudes, our choices, our decisions, our plans, our habits, our expectations…

John the Baptist is calling people to ‘Repent…’ This involves a change, a ‘straightening up’ – the text says it clearly: “Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.” Perhaps the best way to do this is… to make straight our own paths!

To move away from our crooked ways, our distorted vision of life and people, our narrow-minded opinions, all that is us is a deviation from truth, justice, respect of others. Indeed, winnowing can still be part of a ‘modern’ life-style!

Source: Image: Pinterest

1st Sunday of Advent, A

Some people are… shall we say: ‘bossy’ by nature. It seems that their preferred mode of relationship is ordering others around – telling them to do things, or not to do them. To have their way, they often resort to coercion. Domination is what they know best.

Other people are of a different nature altogether. Theirs is the gentle approach. They will entice you, suggest things to you, invite you, tempt you to join them, encourage you to follow a suggestion. Amazingly, such people seem to achieve much more and in a manner that is so much more pleasant for everyone. The reason may be that those people side with us when they put a request to us. They include themselves in their appeal, saying: “Let us…”

The readings of this 1st Sunday of Advent, Year A, are an excellent example of this gentle coaxing, the kind of inspiring invitation that, somehow, we feel we should listen to. It is best expressed in these very words: “Let us…” The two short words keep coming back from one reading to the next (Is.2:1-5; Rom.13:11-14; Mt.24:37-44).

“Let us go to the Lord.let-us
Let us walk in the light of the Lord…”     (Isaiah)

Let us give up the things we do in the dark;
Let us appear in the light;
Let us live decently.”       (Paul to the Romans)

The gospel while not using the very words is also an invitation to us:
Let us stay awake.
Let us stand ready.

Is this not a good… ‘programme’ as we start this special season of ADVENT?
So, let us indeed open our hearts and let us heed the message addressed to us!…

 Source: Image: Victory Greenhills

 

 

 

                                                                                         

Advent wreath

advent wreath c.

In Catholic churches, the most popular colours for the Advent candles are violet and rose, corresponding with the colors of the liturgical vestments for the Sundays of Advent. In the Western church, Violet is the historic liturgical color for three of the four Sundays of Advent: Violet is the traditional color of penitential seasons. Rose is the color for the Third Sunday of Advent, known as  Gaudete Sunday from the Latin word meaning « to rejoice »—also from the first line of the traditional entrance prayer for the Mass of the third Sunday of Advent.

In Protestant churches it is more common to use four red candles (reflecting their traditional use in Christmas decorations) because rose vestments and decorations are not commonly used in Protestant churches. Blue is also a popular alternative color for both Advent vestments and Advent candles, especially in some Anglican and Lutheran churches. This is in keeping with the liturgical seasons; blue means hope and waiting, which aligns with the seasonal meaning of Advent.

Other variations of the Advent wreath add a white candle in the centre to symbolize Christmas, sometimes known as the « Christ candle. » It can be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. White is the traditional festal colour in the Western church.

In some Protestant churches, the candles represent hope, peace, love and joy. Often the third candle, representing love, is a different color than the other three, representing the importance of love as the greatest of all the qualities that abide eternally. (Wikipedia)