Reflection for Saturday, December 18, 2004: 3rd week in Advent.
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Psalms 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19
Psalms 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19
194. Year I, Advent.
194. Year I, Advent.
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Jeremiah 23:5-8 " ... Behold the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land." Psalm 72: 1-2, 12-13,18-19 " ... For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save..." Matthew 1: 18-25 " ... "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy spirit that this child has been conceived in her."..." Nearing the final week of Advent, and all we want to do is get to Christmas Day. But, the Church knows our anxious nature and attempts to slow us down some. Today's reading in Jeremiah is similar to the Sunday reading of December 5th from Isaiah, both foretelling the event of Christ's birth. Today's reading is speaking of "the Lord raising up a righteous shoot," and on that earlier Sunday we heard "a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, (David's Father) and from his roots a bud shall blossom." Why repeat the message, maybe for emphasis, but it also has a way of calling us to slow down. And why slow us down; so that we might grasp the enormity of God sending his Son to earth to become Man and dwell among us. Yes, each year we get to go through Advent, and now I realize that Advent is kind of like going on a silent retreat. In those retreats it takes a couple of days to really get into the silence, where we can begin to listen at deeper levels without all the noise of the world to drown out the way God speaks to us often in silence. Advent lasts about 4 weeks in the hopes that we might take a few moments to listen along the way and begin to hear how big Christmas really is; it is not just Christmas comes every year, so here we go again. Jesus knows first hand what it is to be human, knows every nuance, about temptation, about pain and suffering, and He knows about true joy. He knows how hard it is for us to reach out to God in trust for help. He knows about our independence and our need to be self-sufficient. Advent's readings reach into our minds hoping to touch our hearts, repeating and drawing us back into the moment to find some silence in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our season of shopping, parties, Christmas card writing, and cookie baking. Advent invites us to stop and hear again that God is coming to earth as a human in the hopes that we will realize how enormous that is. We worship a God who completely understands our challenges and in that process we are reminded how He taught us to live. He trusted the Father and so we too are to trust and rely on God. About trust - the gospel tells of the angel's visit to Joseph who at the time is betrothed to Mary, but when he finds out she is pregnant he intends to divorce her quietly but then he listens to the voice of God in an angel. God asks him through the angel to trust the Lord. Next he hears of something unbelievable happening, that she is pregnant through the Holy Spirit and she is carrying God's son. Who could be asked to trust God about anything more unbelievable? Thankfully, both Mary and Joseph hear God in their hearts for nothing is impossible for God. The telling and retelling of this story is just so that we will never forget and so that we might also put our trust in God to work in our lives. But the message has to be heard in our hearts. Retold so that we will never forget those days 2000 years ago when Jesus became man and came to earth to dwell among us and show us the way to live in His design. Today too Emanuel, God is still with us in the Holy Spirit, dwelling in our inmost being. Let us set aside some quiet time during this last week of Advent to ponder this story anew. Ask the Holy Spirit to engage your heart as we go through the rest of this Advent retreat together. Will we hear the tiny, still small voice calling out so that our hearts will grasp the message? From the psalm reading it speaks of the poor being rescued when they cry out and we realize we are all poor in some way. Poverty hits all levels of our being. Mother Teresa in one of her visits here said the people of the United States were poor in spirit. Also from our Psalm reading today "Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever." And what was it Jesus told us when He dwelt among us as a Man? "Peace be with you; My Peace I give to you." We really need that Peace, so let us cry out to the Holy Spirit to help us hear as Mary and Joseph must have done, at that quieter level of being. It will be transforming. Then it can be Oh Restful, Happy Advent to all.