Meditating The Advent of Our Lord
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Meditating Advent

First Week of Advent

As the calendar year draws to a close, family schedules and personal agendas fill with meetings, programs, parties, and annual obligations. The carol "Silent Night" could not have been written at the end of the twentieth century, when its title evokes the peace and stillness modern women and men can only imagine. 

Yet this busiest time of year calls us to draw close to others, above all to God, who became flesh and lived with us. Contemplation and car pooling?! Meditation and manic shopping?! How do we carve out moments of quiet when we open ourselves to God's presence? 

Perhaps we have to lower our sights from hours spent around hearths and lengthy readings or litanies. Between traffic jams and parking lot crushes, scribbling holiday notes and decking our halls, there may still be ten minutes - or even five - when the family (which may mean something as informal as those who share meals and lodging) can sit quietly around the lighted Advent wreath. Once a day, once a week, or perhaps only once during the Season of Preparation. 

Someone we know pampers herself and her family by baking a simple recipe for gingerbread. As the spicy smell fills the kitchen, the household comes together to light the Advent candles, to pray and meditate briefly, and to enjoy a homely feast. It brings them closer together and closer to the mysteries we contemplate and celebrate in Advent.

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake!...You do not know when the Master of the house is coming.'"  Mark. 13:33 First Sunday of Advent

 O Jesus, your voice sounds through the house of my world: Be on your guard! Stay awake! 

 Yet I hardly hear you. Busy with so much, I go about the things I do like a servant trapped in household routine, hardly giving a thought to what my life is about. My spirit within has grown tired and you, my God, seem far away. How can I hear your voice today? 

 Speak to my heart during this season of grace, as you spoke to your prophets and saints. Remind me again of the journey you call me to make and the work you would have me do. I am your servant, O Lord. Speak to me in this holy season and turn my eyes to watch for your coming. 

 O Emmanuel, Jesus Christ,
 desire of every nation, Savior of all peoples,
 come and dwell among us.

Second Week of Advent 

When John the Baptizer made his appearance as a preacher in the desert of Judea, this was his them: Reform your lives. The reign of God is at hand!" Mt. 3:1 Second Sunday of Advent

 O Jesus, in an empty desert your prophet John proclaimed: God is here, at your side. God has come to bring about a kingdom where injustice and suffering will be no more, where tears will be wiped away, and where those who turn to God will feast at a banquet. 

"Turn now, your God is standing at your side. Reform your lives, God's kingdom is at hand." In an empty desert John said these things. 

 Give me faith like John's, O Lord, strong enough to believe even in a desert that you and your kingdom are no farther from me than my hand. Make my heart strong like his, not swayed by trials or snared by false pleasures. Give me courage to be faithful until your promises are fulfilled. 

 O King of all nations, Jesus Christ,
 only joy of every heart,
 come and save your people.

Third Week of Advent

John's disciples said to Jesus, "Are you 'He who is to come' or do we look for another?" In reply, Jesus said: "Tell John what you hear and see: the blind recover their sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured, and the poor have good news preached to them..." Lk. 3:10 Third Week of Advent

 O Jesus, I rejoice at the signs that say you are near. Your power is everywhere if I could see it. 

 Yet my eyes often see only darkness and what has yet to be done. I believe in you, yet when I look around evil seems so strong and goodness so weak. If you have come, why is there still so much suffering and why do the poor still despair? Where are your miracles today? 

 Your grace, O Lord, is more fruitful in my world than I imagine. I know your power is everywhere around me, if I could only see it. Show me today where the blind see and cripples walk. 

 Make my vision sharper than it is.

Fourth Week of Advent

The angel Gabriel said to Mary, "Do not fear, Mary, you shall conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus. Great will be his dignity and he will be called Son of the Most High..." Lk. 1 Fourth Sunday of Advent

 O Jesus, I believe you were born of Mary and are God's Son. 

 Your mysterious coming is beyond understanding. Yet like your holy mother, Mary, I wish that you come to me, for you promised you will. Let me serve you in any way I can and know that you are with me day by day as my life goes by. 

 Like Mary, your mother, though I know you only by faith, may my whole being proclaim your greatness and my spirit rejoice in your favor to me. 

 O Wisdom, holy Word of God, Jesus Christ,
 holding all things in your strong yet tender hands,
 come and show us the way to salvation.


Let us not resist the first advent, and the second will not terrify us
from a sermon by Augustine, bishop, 4th century
 
Then all the trees of the forest will exult before the face of the Lord, for he has come, he has come to judge the earth. He has come the first time, and he will come again. At his first coming, his own voice declared in the gospel: Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds. What does he mean by hereafter? Does he not mean that the Lord will come at a future time when all the nations of the earth will be striking their breasts in grief? Previously he came through his preachers, and he filled the whole world. Let us not resist his first coming, so that we may not dread the second.

What then should the Christian do? He ought to use the world, not become its slave. And what does this mean? It means having, as though not having. So says the Apostle: My brethren, the appointed time is short: from now on let those who have wives live as though they had none; and those who mourn as though they were not mourning; and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing; and those who buy as though they had no goods; and those who deal with this world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away. But I wish you to be without anxiety. He who is without anxiety waits without fear until his Lord comes. For what sort of love of Christ is it to fear his coming? Brothers, do we not have to blush for shame? We love him, yet we fear his coming. Are we really certain that we love him? Or do we love our sins more? Therefore let us hate our sins and love him who will exact punishment for them. He will come whether we wish it or not. Do not think that because he is not coming just now, he will not come at all. He will come, you know not when; and provided he finds you prepared, your ignorance of the time of his coming will not be held against you.

All the trees of the forest will exult. He has come the first time, and he will come again to judge the earth; he will find those rejoicing who believed in his first coming, for he has come.

He will judge the world with equity and the peoples in his truth. What are equity and truth? He will gather together with him for the judgement his chosen ones, but the others he will set apart; for he will place some on his right, others on his left. What is more equitable, what more true than that they should not themselves expect mercy from the judge, who themselves were unwilling to show mercy before the judge's coming. Those, however, who were willing to show mercy will be judged with mercy. For it will be said to those placed on his right: Come, blessed of my Father, take possession of the kingdom which has been prepared for you from the beginning of the world. And he reckons to their account their works of mercy: For I was hungry and you gave me food to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me drink.

What is imputed to those placed on his left side? That they refused to show mercy. And where will they go? Depart into the everlasting fire. The hearing of this condemnation will cause much wailing. But what has another psalm said? The just man will be held in everlasting remembrance; he will not fear the evil report. What is the evil report? Depart into the everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. Whoever rejoices to hear the good report will not fear the bad. This is equity, this is truth.

Or do you, because you are unjust, expect the judge not to be just? Or because you are a liar, will the truthful one not be true? Rather, if you wish to receive mercy, be merciful before he comes; forgive whatever has been done against you; give of your abundance. Of whose possessions do you give, if not from his? If you were to give of your own, it would be largess; but since you give of his, it is restitution. For what do you have, that you have not received? These are the sacrifices most pleasing to God: mercy, humility, praise, peace, charity. Such as these, then, let us bring and, free from fear, we shall await the coming of the judge who will judge the world in equity and the peoples in his truth.

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