Meditations - First Week of Advent

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MONDAY - Week 1: Day 1

Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 121; Matthew 8:5-11

The Journey

Mary and Joseph left Nazareth and began the journey to Bethlehem, demanded by the census. Arriving in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus. Our Advent journey is a journey from where we live to the house of the Lord, to the place of Jesus' birth. If we are to meet the Lord, we must prepare. We can reflect on the journey we are making, and we can rejoice that our journey will end with glad tidings of a great joy.

The Gospel says:

Our journey is a journey of faith. We believe that Jesus is the One in Whom our deepest longings are met. In His presence we can find the healing that our heart desires. A centurion, with soldiers under his command, realizes that earthly power is not enough. He realizes his need of Jesus, believing that the word of Jesus is sufficient to cure his daughter. And Jesus rejoices in his faith.

We make the journey of faith; knowing that we need the healing that only Jesus can give; we recognize that we are not worthy to entertain Christ as a guest; and we rejoice that He gives Himself to us, accompanying us on our journey to the feast of the kingdom.

Moment of Prayer

Draw a line from one side of a sheet of paper to the other. Mark an ‘x’ at the left end of the line, and write under it the day of your birth. Put an ‘x’ a little further along the line to represent the day you started school. Continue adding x’s to the line, marking significant events in your life and in your faith. Give thanks for those who have helped you draw closer to God at these moments. Thank God for protecting and guiding you on your journey.

 


TUESDAY - Week 1: Day 2

Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 71; Luke 10:21-24

Vision of Peace

Isaiah invites us to imagine the impossible. What do we really long for, for ourselves and for our world? A universal longing is for true peace. Without peace, there is no justice; the hungry cannot be fed, wounds cannot be healed, a new and hope-filled future remains but a dream. But the Lord will restore to creation the harmony it has lost.

The Gospel says:

There are times when we speak from a full heart, when tears of sadness or happiness show that our words are full of emotion. These words are always sincere words, revealing what is important to us, showing how we feel. Jesus speaks from a full heart: ‘Filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, Jesus said...’ Jesus is celebrating the nearness of God.

The closeness of God transforms our life, and involves us in transforming the world around us. The writer of the Psalm is clear that God’s presence is a transforming presence, ‘For He shall save the poor when they cry and the needy who are helpless. He will have pity on the weak and the lowly, the lives of the poor He will save’. We will all be blessed when the Lord comes in glory, and we will all praise His name!

Moment of Prayer

Imagine you are sitting in a hot place. The heat is uncomfortable, and you have been in it for far too long. You are thirsty, with a thirst the like of which you have never known before — a ranging thirst that distracts you from every other thought. Your lips are dry and cracked; your body feels dehydrated. It feels as if an ocean of fresh, cool water would scarcely be enough to quench your thirst and cool you down. And then you see water, pure, cool water, in front of you. You drink and drink and drink, until your thirst is quenched. You splash your face and enjoy the refreshment you longed for. With that same longing, longing based on a promise of fulfillment, pray for the coming of the Lord.

 


WEDNESDAY - Week 1: Day 3

Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalm 22; Matthew 15:29-37

Preparations

Planning wedding celebrations can be a nightmare of organization and expense, but we persist in putting ourselves through the trauma because we want a celebration that does justice to the love we feel in our heart. Isaiah today looks forward to a banquet prepared for all peoples, prepared to celebrate the presence of God in the midst of the people. The prophecy is a promise about the coming of the Lord. Advent is all about promise; the promise will most certainly be fulfilled, and its effects can already be felt.

The Gospel says:

The promise of rejoicing in the future gives us hope and courage, but it does not fill hungry bellies. Jesus knows that people must eat to live, and so the promise of the heavenly banquet is accompanied by food for today, daily bread. Announcing the kingdom of God is this exact same mix of paying attention to the promises of the future and the needs of today. If we can only speak of spiritual blessings and future reward, we are idealist, with all words and no action. If we simply work for daily bread, without thought of the spirit or the life to come, we are earth-bound, visionless, and cannot inspire others. But if we attend to soul and body, we are preaching as Jesus preached, and our word will be a living word.

Moment of Prayer

On a piece of paper, draw a circle. This circle represents a table. Around the table write the names of those people who are closest to you. Add the names of one or two people with whom you do not get on particularly well. In the circle, close to each name, write what you would most like for that person. Study the table, who is sitting around it, and what is on it. Pray for each person in turn. Pray that each person may have their heart's desire, and their daily bread.

 


THURSDAY - Week 1: Day 4

Isaiah 26:1-6; Psalm 117; Matthew 7:21.24-27

Law and Order

Concern about increasing violence and about other kinds of crime reflects an anxiety about security. Living where security cannot be guaranteed, or where it simply doesn't exist, can be a nightmare. We worry for our own safety, for the well-being of those around us, and for the security of our possessions. The image Isaiah evokes is one of security and peace. Trusting in the Lord, says the prophet, brings security and peace because it is based on justice. If we are tempted to take advantage of those less able or less well-off than ourselves, it is worth pausing for thought, and asking ourselves, on whose side is the Lord?

The Gospel says:

It’s not what you say that will save you, but what you do! The person listening to the word of the Lord and acting on it has security. Coming to faith is not simply adopting new ideas; rather it is a conversion of the whole self. We become a new person. Our values are increasingly God’s values. We cannot be shielded from the sometimes harsh realities of life, but a strong faith in God's Word enables us to carry on. When we fell, we can rise again. We share the journey with others on the same road of faith, and together we offer each other encouragement and help.

Moment of Prayer

Imagine a sand castle on a beach, surrounded by the incoming tide. See how quickly it dissolves and collapses. Before long no trace is left. Imagine a rock, similarly facing the waves. The tide comes in, the waves surround and overwhelm it; and then when the tide recedes, the rock remains. Give thanks to God that the things of God will endure, and all that is not of God will pass away.

 


FRIDAY - Week 1: Day 5

Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 26; Matthew 9:27-31

Those who expect least, receive most

‘What do you buy for the person who has everything?’ is a dilemma many better-off people face. Often the more possessions we have, the harder it is to amuse us or give us something we will treasure. What will we receive from the Lord when He comes? We will receive according to our need. On our Advent journey we meet many people in need. Some cry out for justice to be done and the yoke of oppression to be lifted. Others pray for the gift of hearing or of sight. We will meet people whose spirit is hungry and who long for the word of the Lord. It is for us to invite them on our journey towards the infant Christ. The more we share the gift of God, the more gift there is to share.

The Gospel says:

Even if we are dimly aware of the presence of the Lord, we can pray that our eyes may be opened to our own need and the need of others. The blind men in the Gospel reading today recognized their need, and looked to the one who could answer it, Jesus. This is faith, and faith is rewarded by new vision. Through faith, we struggle to see the world as God sees it, and to share this vision with others too.

Moment of Prayer

Find your way around a familiar room with your eyes closed. Search for something you know is there. Try to perform simple tasks. Appreciate the gift of sight. Try to follow a television program, still with your eyes closed. How much of what is going on passes you by because you cannot see? Pray to God for all who cannot see. Pray that you will be able to see the world as God sees the world, and so be moved to serve others.

 


SATURDAY - Week 1: Day 6

Isaiah 30:19-21; Psalm 146; Matthew 9:35, 10:1.6-B

Donkey work

Respect for creation means respect for the whole of creation - human beings, animals, all living things, and the earth and the air. It would be a strange new world in which people were supremely happy, enjoying Heaven with their God, while the earth choked with pollution and animals and plants suffered and died. That is not the Christian vision.

Tradition places the animals at the crib, watching over the new-born Child. The whole creation has cause for rejoicing at the birth of Christ. So if the Good News of God is for the whole of creation, it must be proclaimed to the whole of creation. Unjust exploitation of any kind, of people, of animals, of the environment, is against the order of creation, and when we challenge and question this exploitation, we are proclaiming the Good News.

The Gospel says:

Jesus instructs the disciples to proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand. The proclamation is not simply a spoken word - however - it is practical. The disciples are to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. The Good News also is not simply deed, but attitude: ‘You received without charge, give without charge’. In what way is our life Good News to others? Is what we do helpful and constructive? Does what we do hinder or help other people? Does it seem to make no real difference? How do we use words? Is the world a better place because of what we say? Do we build up, are we helpful, caring, hopeful, gentle, comforting, truthful and constructive? And what attitudes do we convey? Do we give freely because we have received freely, from God?

Moment of Prayer

Think of a perfect world. Write down everything you can think of that would make the world perfect in your eyes. Try to see the seeds of Heaven in everyday situations around you. Read today’s Psalm over and over again, and let the spirit of praise take over. God is good, our Lord is great and almighty; His wisdom can never be measured.