Reflection for Sunday, December 9, 2007: 2nd week in Advent.
Gillick, Larry, S.J.
VP for University Ministry; Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
4. Year A, Advent.
4. Year A, Advent.
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PRE-PRAYERING There is a new gadget for the telephone -Caller ID- which allows the called person to see who is the caller. One can even fix it so the number flashes on the TV screen so the viewer will know if the caller is worth the missing of the TV show. Caller ID is part of the Advent cycle. Life is calling for growth. Relationships are calling for life. God is calling for a little time in our lives. The Eucharist is not a "time-bound" gathering of believers who leave the celebration to return to regular time-life. The celebration is the unusual beginning of the unusual living. For those who believe, there is no more "regular"; there is the embracing of all the unusual ways God calls, life calls, relationships call. We prepare by listening, loving, living time in a world-surprising manner. We protest that Jesus can come to us anyway He chooses; in the form of bread and wine, or the forms of family and strangers. We prepare by open-handedly asking "what is this!" rather than "why is this?"These days we prepare to surprise others with gifts of love and care. We can pray with open hands to receive gratefully any mysterious surprises which will remind us of the fantastic surprise of the Incarnation and the Eucharist.ADVENT HINTS1. Do not put up the Christmas tree! If there is an Advent tree though, a small-branched item, allow it to be a symbol of its waiting to be decorated.2. Each day, wait for someone or something and especially if you can, wait with the feelings of impatience.3. Light the second Advent Candle within silence and darkness; don't hurry on to dinner too quickly.4. Share with others the biggest surprise you have ever experienced and listen to theirs.REFLECTIONYesterday, in the First Reading from Genesis during the mass celebrating the Immaculate Conception, we heard God's calling out to Adam about his whereabouts. Adam replied that he heard God's calling, but was ashamed and fearful. In the Gospel we heard God's calling to Mary and though she experienced fear, she was available to the Caller and the message.Today's First Reading is quite familiar to us; various Christmas cards will speak some of these verses. The whole reading would seem more appropriate to the feast for St. Francis of Assisi. There are all kinds of animals parading through these verses like a biblical zoo.What we are hearing is a biblical poem about the person of the coming messiah. Lineage is important for royal authenticity. The Messiah will come from the kingly line of Jessie and Saul and David. The "Longed-for" will resemble these previous care-takers of the Holy People of God. He will have the gifts given by God's Spirit: wisdom, strength of character, a strong sense of justice and above all, a trust in God.Justice for all will surround all his breathings and he will not be moved by the power of the wicked, or the appearances of wealth. In short, he will be worth waiting for, watching for, and hoping for, because other rulers of the people have not served well.The second part of the poem deals with the reconciliation of opposites. The natural enemies in the animal kingdom will "on that day" return to the Eden relationships where all was ordered. Children as well will retain their innocence when dealing with the rest of creation. Adam feared God and biblically that fear extended through all creational life. "Fear of the Lord" is opposite from fearing for one's life. As the created-life was to increase and multiply, human alienation from God increased and multiplied as well."On that day" the little ducks on the lakes of northern Wisconsin will not have to duck under water to avoid the preying eagle. Somehow those little babies are born with fear of the lordly black-winged king of the treetops. These are strong images of how such fears among us all will be released. The Messiah's teachings and manner of life will lead us back to the orderly life of Eden.The Gospel is a dramatic introduction to the arrival or "public birth" of Jesus. Instead of angels singing and shepherds hastening, John is shouting and the Pharisees have hastened. Quite a picture we have of John baptizing in the Jordan those who are desiring a change of heart and a change of behavior. John's preaching is a preparing of the people for the One Who is to come, Who is "mightier" than John. The best shouting is saved for the obstinate Pharisees who have come as spectators to the gathering.The "ax" is being layed already to the trees (Pharisees) which do not bring forth fruit. He will blow them away with His life's message and their truly-fruitless lives will vanish like chaff in the flames. The "wheat" which is gathered in the barn are those who, like wheat, bring forth life with their actions.Our actions reveal our hearts, or more precisely, our attitude. Our attitudes are formed by experiences which provoke questions. How we answer these questions forms our outlook or attitude. We ask of every experience, "what does this mean?" Jesus is one of those question-provoking experiences to us as He was throughout the pages of the Gospels. Here, the Pharisees are not even allowing the experience to be a personal-questioning. John is inviting a change of "attitude" by experiencing the baptizing-waters and asking of themselves, "Do we belong to God; do we want to?" Jesus lives His questions and His actions reveal His answers.Well that might be a little heavy. These Advent days and liturgies are calling to our hearts so that our actions might give new birth to the One Who has come and comes again through our hearts into this world. Changing our actions only tends to be fruitless. If we give up eating candy without a change of attitude toward our bodily health, well take it from this "sugarholic" it does not last. Loving our bodies and lives as pure gifts from God for this world and these people for this time, takes more time and "repentance" than just keeping our fingers sugarless. John had an "attitude" as did the Pharisees, and so do we. Check it out!"Justice shall flourish in His time and fullness of peace for ever." Ps. 72