In the first reading of today’s Mass, he shows us a wonderful vision: the animals lead the way to peace!
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb . . .
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest:
the lion shall eat hay like an ox.
The baby shall play in the cobra’s den – Isaiah 11:5-10.
Let’s muse about peace and harmony today.
Let’s muse about the animal’s leading the way to peace.
(I have a Christmas short story about an owl from the banks of the Shenandoah
and a young lion from the Serengeti in Africa leading the way to peace.
It’s a fun story. Why not download it and save it for close to Christmas?
(If you’re not tech savvy, go to the top left corner of your computer and click on the < “back arrow” and it will bring you back to this screen.)
My puppy Shivvy (of happy memory) was quite curious of his fellow creatures.
I have told stories about him with turtles and little doves with broken wings and bunny rabbits and ducklings on our walks around our condo.
Think about this . . .
What can I do today to bring more harmony into the habitat in which I live
~ at home, at work, at church ~ in my neighborhood, in our world?
Behold a broken world, we pray,
Where want and war increase,
And grant us, Lord, in this our day,
The ancient dream of peace. ~ unattributed.
If you’re new to this Advent blog, I recommend reading Welcome to Advent 2009 to get a sense of why we want to spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help you deepen your (our) spirituality whether or not you are a Catholic or even a Christian.
And for your listening pleasure from Handel’s Messiah here is And the Glory of the Lord ~ from Robert Shaw’s Atlanta Symphony ~ Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers
And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d enjoy reflecting on them. Click here.
If you’re new to this Advent blog, I recommend reading Welcome to Advent 2009 to get a sense of why we want to spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help you deepen your (our) spirituality whether you are a Catholic or even a Christian.
I’d like to call your attention to yesterday’s first reading (Isaiah 2: 1-5 ) because it’s an important Advent theme:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore. — Isaiah 2:4.
All of my adult life my writing and my prayer has been against war —
Viet Nam / the Balkans / the Gulf War / Iraq / and Afghanistan.
Pope Paul VI, speaking before the United Nations General Assembly made an impassioned plea:
“No more war! Never again war!
And Pope John Paul II said the Iraq war was A defeat for humanity.
And Dwight David Eisenhower, the great general of Word War II and President of the U.S. said: “When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing.”
Advent is a time to wish for peace / pray for peace / work for peace.
The Christmas story is about peace. One of the titles of Jesus is “Prince of Peace.”
But we become cynical about peace.
Many of us have our private little wars that we engage in every day with a sibling or a friend or co-worker.
Let’s “Practice peacefulness”, as a friend put it to me once. Let’s stop the gossiping, giving people a chance. Try to be kinder to the folks you interact with today.
The legend of St. Christopher carrying a child across a stream on a stormy night invites us to greet every human person as if they were Christ himself.
Think thoughts of peace. Be peace. At least try it today, the second day of Advent.
I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace,
peace for his people and his friends.
and those who turn to him in their hearts.
Mercy and faithfulness have met;
Justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.
The Lord will make us prosper
and the earth shall yield its fruit.
Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps.
Before you go here’s a simple hymn about peace with a slideshow. Click here. Be sure to enter full screen.
Sunday, November 27th, begins the Advent season for the liturgical Christian churches. Funny enough, we begin at the end — thinking about THE END – the end of the world. The early Christians believed Jesus was coming “soon and very soon.” The early generation of Christians thought the end would come soon. Jerusalem fell in 70 CE but Jesus didn’t come.
Paul admonishes us in Romans today:
“Now is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;the night is advanced, the day is at hand.Let us then throw off the works of darknessand put on the armor of light.”
And Jesus also admonishes us in today’s gospel (Mt. 24:37-44).
” Stay awake !
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. . . . .
You must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Our Scripture scholar-friend William Barclay offers that no one knows the timing of the Second Coming, not the angels or even Jesus himself, but only God, and will come upon humankind with the suddenness of a rainstorm out of a blue sky. Thus, speculation regarding the time of the Second Coming, Barclay suggests, “is nothing short of blasphemy, for the man who so speculates is seeking to wrest from God which belong to God alone.
He tells us these verses are a warning never to become so immersed in time or worldly affairs, however necessary, to completely distract us from God, and our life should be in his hands, and whenever his call comes, at morning, noon or night, it will find us ready.
And these verses tell us that the coming of Christ will be a time of judgment, when he will gather to himself those who are his own. ~ Barclay: The Gospel of Matthew ~ Volume 2, pp. 315-6.
Now here’s my reflection:
Jesus wants us to be prepared ~ watchful ~ alert ~ aware ~ awake
knowing what’s happening
. . . but so many of us are asleep, Lord.
We tend to not recognize the signs of the times.
We often dull our senses ~ stay in our own little worlds.
Choosing not to care. We become complacent.
Many of us don’t want to be bothered thinking about or praying about the real issues
And thus, we go like lemmings over the cliff.
So tribulations loom. Fear. Threats . . .
. . . of losing our job ~ having a lump in our breast
losing health insurance because we lost our job
corruption on Wall Street and government
a new president and Congress
Stand erect! Face your fears with courage.
Do not fear the terror of the night (Psalm 91.)
This is what Advent faith is all about . . .
Being vigilant. Being prepared for anything life throws at us.
Standing proudly humble or humbly proud no matter what.
That’s the kind of faith in life — in You, my God that I seek.
I want it. I ask you for it.
Today I consent to it.
Amen. So be it.
Now here’s a song to get you in an Advent mood ~ an interesting take on the old hymn Soon and Very Soon by a young lady by the name of Brooke Fraser. Click here. Turn up your speakers since she has a soft voice.
When I was in AA many a year ago, we were taught a very simple form of prayer ~ to say “please” in the morning and “thank you” at night. What could be simpler and more heartfelt? Thanks is on my lips and in my heart whenever I can accomplish something that I need to do ~ usually after I’ve said “Please help me do this, Lord.” And that little conversation ‘ll take place quite often.
So, for me, every day is a thanksgiving day! But I share here some of the things I’m grateful for this year; it’s quite a bit different from last year. This past several months, I’ve been struggling financially. I didn’t have food in my refrigerator But I wasn’t thinking of myself. I was thinking of so many others who were so much worse off than I have been. My faith is strong. And I remembered again and again what Julian of Norwich used to say, “All shall be and all manner of things shall be well.” So that’s one thing for which I’m thankful.
And I also know what I always sign off on my emails ~ “Wait for the Lord to lead, and then follow his way.”
But I’m also strongly thinking about my friends this year ~ a few of whom I will name here. Joan has been my friend since I was first ordained in 1969. She lives in Melbourne, Florida, a great-grandmother and a confidante of mine, always welcome in her home.
Betsy lives in Sebastian, Florida. She’s in her nineties and lost her childhood sweetheart John a year ago. I still talk with her by phone and enjoy her wicked sense of humor as often as I can and pray to alleviate her loneliness.
Father Jim Fetcher, pastor of St. Sebastian Church here in Ft. Lauderdale has been a wonderful compassionate friend as well with a listening ear.
And closer to home, folks that my dog Shoney and I visit almost every evening is my friend Lore who welcomes and treat us as family. She also lost her beloved husband Gilberto and misses him so much.
There are others, of course. I’m thinking of them right now: Gene and Marilyn / Betsey and Matthew / Tom and Nancy / Jim and Jeffrey / John and Sarah / Dan and Lee / Tony and Susan / Chris and Bill, / Chuck and Chris / Ida and Ernie / Adrian and Leanor / Fathers Jim Dallen, Tim Daly and Fred Ruse.
And, of course, all of you, my dear readers.
And next to last item on my gratitude list this year is my priesthood. I have been a priest for 47 years. I’ve tried to be as faithful as I could.
But the love of my life and the whole meaning of my priesthood is Jesus! He is my Love! He is my Lord! He is my elder Brother! He is my best friend! My Savior and Redeemer!
So, I hope you’ll make your own gratitude list. And when you sit down for dinner on Thursday, why not take a moment to ask folks to first have a moment of silence to think of something that they’re especially thankful for this year. And then ask each of them if they’d like to share it. (The moment to think is important! Don’t skip it or else everybody will repeat what the last one said.)
” Rejoice always,
Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
Now, before you go, here’s a beautiful slideshow with great music simply entitled “Thank You, God.” Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.
I will publish the blog for the First Sunday of Advent on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Be sure to look for it!
Sunday night, when I was reflecting on and praying about this difficult election season yesterday, and how upsetting it has been for many of us, I thought back to another time similar to this ~ the midterm elections in 2010! I had written a piece about it at the time that I’ll share with you here.
We need a little humor today on Election Day. Maybe this will give you a chuckle or two.
A year ago this October (2010) I visited my good friend Father Dan Coughlin, Chaplain to the U. S. House of Representatives. We have known each other from our work together with the National Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions in the Seventies. We met in his office down in the catacombs of the House and then made our way up to dining room. The House was in recess (much to my relief) so we had the hallowed dining room to ourselves. I had a wonderful poached salmon with a dill and butter sauce. And spinach salad.
We didn’t talk about politics at all (which I always find quite painful). Just about old times. Dan gives the invocation each day and is available for counsel for the members. (He has to have the patience of a saint!)
Visiting the Capitol made me proud to be an American.
Right now, in the these midterm elections,there’s just too much anger. Too much mudslinging. Too many lies. Too much hatred. Too much incivility for our own good. Too much rage that could be ignited at any moment. It almost was by a gunman in California who was “inspired” by the “teaching” of one Glenn Beck a week ago.
The problem I have with all of this is shouldn’t we teach our children respect for authority? Isn’t the President due a certain amount of respect simply because he is the president? Don’t you teach your kids to respect their teachers?
When we get into crisis situations we look for other people to blame; we look for a scapegoat. The DEMOCRATS are the problem! Throw the bums out! The REPUBLICANS are the problem! Throw the . . . Or the illegals. Or the gays. Or the Muslims. Or the (um) Tea Partiers.
WAIT A MINUTE! Stop! Don’t we realize that we all have some share of responsibility for the problems we are carrying?
And, on the other hand, this is what his illustrious creator, Walt Kelly, who did speak the Queen’s English with great eloquence, would expostulate in the midst of all our rage. He would, laugh and say. “’Twas ever thus . . .”
“Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle. There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.
We need a little of Pogo and Walt Kelly’s arse-kickin’, very subtle humor. (He’s kickin you and me very firmly in the lower regions of our posteriors!) Take that, Donald Trump! Hillary Clinton! You! And Me too!
There are a lot of us running around with overstuffed egos and not there are not many humble enough to admit their own mistakes. To admit they don’t have all the answers.
Let’s stop and have a laugh or two about our mutual insanities!
Some of this stuff on the Internet (again in 2010 midterms) is pretty darn funny:
“I’m tea-baggin’ 4 Jesus!”
“Americans help us boycott Mexico — Respect Are Country — Speak English”
“ReFudiate Obama – November 2”
No Pubicoption — no socialism
Make English America’s offical language
We have no idea what we’re talking about.
Let’s face it. Underneath our anger and rage is fear. There’s a lot of it. Very legitimate fears. And we could use a little comfort, and a good dose of laughter. Let’s take Walt Kelly’s wisdom to heart.
On November 9th, it will be time for some prayer and calm instead. Time to stand down. It will be time to unite. Let’s hope it happens.
(An excerpt of Psalm 122. . . .)
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (of America)
May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your borders,
prosperity within your buildings,
Because of my brothers and friends,
I will say, “Peace within you!”
Because of the house of the Lord, our God,
I will pray for your good.
And now, before you go, here’s our Nobel prize winner Bob Dylan singing one of his first songs ~”Blowin’ in the Wind. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speaker and enter full screen.
AND IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE SO ALREADY, BE SURE TO GET OUT AND VOTE!!