A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

advent-week-4-peace_without-wordsBy Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH

Reading I: Isaiah 7:10-14
Responsorial Psalm: 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Reading II: Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

The time is near. Our celebration of Christmas 2016 is now just days away. Are you ready? Have you made the necessary preparations?

Can you reflect on the reality of this historic event as we imagine Mary and Joseph getting ready to make the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem? What last minute preparations did they think were necessary?

There may have been a discussion—perhaps concerned, even a little worried between the thoughtful Joseph and the soon-to-be young mother, Mary.  The caring father-guardian Joseph knew Mary’s faith was deep and strong.  He placed his trust in the goodness of the God of Life.  I imagine Joseph wore a smile as together they gathered the few things they would need for their journey.

getting-ready-at-nazareth-to-bethlehemCarefully, they placed bundles of small blankets for the infant to come (just in case).   Mary may have gathered together strips of white cloth, which would tie the coverings bringing warmth and a feeling of security to the infant.  Although Joseph was a skilled craftsman, thoughts of bringing a cradle on this trip (just in case) was not a practical consideration.

It was time.  It was time to to leave Nazareth if they were to arrive before the darkness of night.   On their journey, they met fellow travelers.  They heard talk of crowded inns, people being turned away for lack of space.   Joseph and Mary probably traveled with a bit of anxiety.

As they journeyed on, they most likely shared whatever food and drink they had with their fellow travelers.  Their thoughts and hearts turned to prayers requesting the Father to bring them to a safe haven – a place of safety, a place of peace. The Father would surely provide.

You and I live centuries from that time-honored trip to Bethlehem that changed our world and our journey in this life.  That moment in time changed everything.  The responsorial Psalm echoes what our hearts want to sing: “Let the Lord enter….”

The Gospel reaffirms the angel’s words of assurance: “Do not be afraid.”  What is your heart’s prayer for Christmas 2016?

A world at peace? A place of safety on the streets of our towns and cities?   A life journey that speaks good wishes to friends and strangers alike?

Lord, grant us all a merciful heart, a peaceful heart, and an earth honoring your Son!

Pomp and Circumstance – A Reflection on Graduations

By Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

Last week I and other members of my high school graduation class of 1962 served as honorary marshals for this year’s graduation ceremony.   This was the first time I had returned to my high school, and it was quite a treat to reconnect with some of my former classmates, share memories of the past, and wish the Class of 2012 well.

The school auditorium seemed a lot smaller than I remember it, and the library is much more high tech, but the students seemed pretty much the same—all excited to be going off to college, hoping the current economic situation will turn around, having some misgivings about being on their own and wondering what the future holds for them.

Graduation is often called commencement—a beginning. When I think of beginning something new, I am also reminded of the necessity to let go of something in the past.  We cannot fully embrace the new unless we let go of what has been. Yes, the new has joys and blessings of its own, but these cannot be realized unless we let go of the past and live in the present.

Graduation is a wonderful metaphor for the spiritual journey. At each stage we rely on what we have learned in the past, but we are called to use that life experience in creative ways in the present.  We have all learned that we cannot relive the past, but we can rely on lessons we learned in the past to face new and challenging situations.

From a spiritual perspective, we can remember God-with-us in the past and know that God is with us now. We also know that what is happening in our lives now will offer us wisdom in the future.

Questions for reflection:

  • What are some things you have had to let go of in your life journey?
  • Who are some of the people that helped you negotiate major life transitions?
  • What is something you need to let go of now?
  • What memories do you cherish?
  • For what are you grateful?
  • What grace do you need from God to move forward now?