Week 1 of Advent

Sunday, December 3, First Sunday of Advent

Prayer for the Advent Wreath

Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people.
He is the Wisdom that teaches and guides us.
He is the Savior of us all.
O Lord,
let your blessing come upon us as we light the first (purple) candle of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ's promise of salvation.
May He come quickly and not delay.
We ask this in His holy name. Amen.

Waiting

We light a advent candle today, a small dim light against a world that often seems forbidding and dark. But we light it because we are a people of hope, a people whose faith is marked by an expectation that we should always be ready for the coming of the Master. The joy and anticipation of this season is captured beautifully in the antiphons of hope from the monastic liturgies:

See! The ruler of the earth shall come, the Lord who will take from us the heavy burden of our exile
The Lord will come soon, will not delay.
The Lord will make the darkest places bright.
We must capture that urgency today in the small flame of our candle. We light the candle because we know that the coming of Christ is tied to our building of the kingdom. Lighting the flame, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, reconciling the divided, praying for the repentant, greeting the lonely and forgotten – doing all these works hastens His coming.

December 4 - December 9

Monday, December 4

Many peoples shall come and say: "Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths." For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)

Reflection

Christ is the ultimate center of meaning in the universe. It is through Christ that all people will be led to the Father. How can we hope to achieve a world in which all will seek the path of God? Only when men and women are working to achieve the unity that Christ's redemption promises us.

Advent Action

Perform an act of kindness for someone you do not know.

Prayer

Lord, help me be at home with You, that I may listen to Your word and walk in Your way.

Tuesday, December 5

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. (Isaiah 11:6)

Reflection

The old joke about this passage is that the leopard might light down with the kid, but the kid won't get much sleep. We chuckle at this because Isaiah gives us an image that goes against all our experience and expectations. Take note: the kingdom of God will not be how we expect it! Assumptions about natural friends and enemies are not true in the kingdom of God. What is the modern, urban equivalent of Isaiah's pastoral image of lamb and wolf? Black and white folks breaking bread and worshipping together? A teenage delinquent and an older person sharing a cup of coffee? "The wolf shall be a guest of the lamb…"

Advent Action

Send a card to a friend or loved one who lost a family member during this year. Let them know you are praying from them and thinking of them this Christmas.

Prayer

Lord, help me welcome You once again and make room for You in my daily life, that You may make Your home in my heart.

Wednesday, December 6

Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. (Matthew 14: 19-20)

Reflection

During Advent we always consider the past, present, and future dimensions of Jesus' coming. Jesus came to us at Bethlehem; He is risen and present in the world today; we look forward to His second coming.

In the miracle of the loaves and fishes, all these dimensions of time are also present. Jesus fed the people on the hillside that day, but He also prefigured the Eucharistic banquet, as well as the eternal banquet to which we are all invited. How are we to make this miracle real in the present? Just as Jesus asked the disciples that day in Galilee to distribute the food, it is our duty to act as the hands of Jesus today, bringing His gifts and presence to others.

Advent Action

Multiply your own resources (however great or small) to help the poor. Make a gift of your time or money to a charitable organization that helps the poor.

Prayer

Lord, may I be generous with others from the richness You have shared with me through Your goodness.

Thursday, December 7

A nation of firm purpose You keep in peace; in peace for its trust in You. Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock. (Isaiah 26: 3-4)

Reflection

We cannot eliminate upsets and anxiety from our lives, but Advent is a good time to slow down and remember where we should look for stability and peace. Throughout these weeks of preparation for the celebration of Jesus' birth, the Scriptures for our liturgies tell us again and again to turn to God, to build our house on the rock of Jesus. Only there we will find peace.

Advent Action

Make a phone call. Call someone you have been meaning to speak to, but for some reason you have not done so.

Prayer

Lord, may I truly bring peace to others that I may be at peace with myself and one with You.

Friday, December 8, Immaculate Conception

And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed (Him), crying out, "Son of David, have pity on us!" When He entered the house, the blind men approached Him and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I can do this?" "Yes, Lord," they said to Him. Then He touched their eyes and said, "Let it be done for you according to your faith." And their eyes were opened. (Matthew 9:27-30)

Reflection

Many people scoff at the idea of miracles. Unwilling to believe that Jesus could restore the sight of the blind when He walked on earth, they are unwilling to see the miracles that Jesus continues to work today. If we are open to the guiding touch of God's hand and willing to discover His plan for our lives, miracles will happen. What prevents us from seeing and being a part of God's miracles? Would we rather be blind?

Advent Action

Send a get-well card to someone in the hospital.

Prayer

Lord, clarify my vision that I may see You in others and sense You within my own soul.

Saturday, December 9

The light of the moon will be like that of the sun and the light of the sun will be seven times greater (like the light of seven days). On the day the Lord binds up the wounds of His people, He will heal the bruises left by His blows. (Isaiah 30:26)

Reflection

God, while His ways are still mysterious to us, is not on the sidelines of our lives. Just as Isaiah predicted, He has come, in Jesus, to bind up the hurt of His people, and through Jesus’ presence is still active in the world.

Advent Action

Find an opportunity today to be the hands of God, and "bind up" someone’s hurt. Say a kind word and listen with compassion to someone who is suffering.

Before going to bed, say a decade of the rosary for  your mother.

Prayer

Lord, flood me with Your light, and help me to brighten the lives of those whom I find most dark.