If you’re new to this Advent blog, I recommend reading Welcome to Advent to get a sense of why we spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help we (and you) deepen our spirituality. It can work whether you are a Catholic or even a Christian.
I’d like to call your attention to today’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 now this never-ending war in Afghanistan.
Pope Paul VI, speaking before the United Nations General Assembly made an impassioned plea:
“No more war! Never again war!”
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 as you see in this image on this side altar in the Anglican National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
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.
And here are today’s Mass readings for your reflection: It’s the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, one of the founding members of the Jesuit order and preached the gospel in the far east in the early 16th century.Click here.
If you’re new to this Advent blog, I recommend readingWelcome to Advent.Click hereto get an overview of the Advent season.
Today, let us reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation ~ the Christmas portion of our faith. (Again if you do not accept this as an article of faith, then just consider it as a beautiful story; it still has power; it still can have tremendous meaning for you.)
St. John says “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus saves us as man. Incarnation. Carnal: meat, flesh. Our God became flesh. “He emptied himself of his equality with God and became as humans are”(Philippians 2). The Father sent his Son into our world to identify with us. To become one one of us and with us. God likes us ~ the human race! In Jesus, a marriage is made between God and the human race.
But this article of our Christian faith often doesn’t dawn on folks. Many think he was just play-acting ~ pretending to be human.
I offer this passage (excerpted) from S. Gregory Nazianzen, bishop and doctor of the church in the fourth century from the Advent Office of Readings:
He [Jesus] takes to himself all that is human, except sin (unfaithfulness).He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit.
Spirit gave divinity, flesh receives it.
He who makes me rich is made poor;
he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of divinity.
He who was full is made empty;
he is emptied for a brief space of glory, that I may share in his fullness.
We need God to become one of us and with us.
To help us like and love ourselves.
To realize that Love and Beauty and all good things are our destiny.
To invite us to our future instead of destroying ourselves.
If only we believed.
If only we believed.
Take time today to allow this story of God’s love affair with the human race to touch you, embrace you, heal your heart
and transform your life as it has mine. And continues to do so, day after day after day because I really, really, really like being caught up in Love!
The season of Advent is about preparing our hearts once again for a deeper experience of Christ at Christmas. We want to keep Christ in Christmas. This goes contrary to our world that insists that it’s a Holiday season. Here’s a great new Christmas song that illustrates the point from a group that calls themselves (get this) ACLU. You’ll want to turn up your speakers and enter full screen for this one! Click here.