Who’s In Charge Here, Anyway?

A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

By Sr. M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Readings:
https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/122020.cfm

In today’s first Scripture reading (2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8b-12, 12A, 16), we see God issuing something of a course correction to the king.  David somehow had come to think that he had created his own success (“Settled in his palace”, “rest from his enemies”) and he wanted to share his prosperity with God.  As soon as you read that, you may think, “isn’t that backwards?” and in fact God instructs the prophet Nathan to remind King David of how he made it to the top – namely, with the power of God, not on his own merits.  Put more bluntly, God asks David, “Who do you think you are? I called you from herding animals.  I made you commander of my people.” In contemporary parlance, in other words, God is saying to David, “Get over yourself!”

Most of us have gotten such treatment at least once in our lives, maybe not from a prophet but from life itself.  We are shocked – SHOCKED – that thus and such is happening to us!  A pandemic – herenow? Businesses shutting, opening, shutting again? People who never could have imagined needing any kind of public assistance, forced by lack of funds to stand in line at a food bank? We are not citizens of a third-rate dictatorship – ah, but haven’t you heard that very term used recently, and repeatedly?

Here we are, folks – look in a mirror and confront your own need, then turn to God and express just what God has been hoping to hear from you: your longing for a savior.  Jesus’ coming to save us was not just centuries ago.  He will come again and again, in all sorts of disguises and through all sorts of people and agencies, whenever we humble ourselves to ask, and accept what has made available.

For reflection:

In what ways are you serving as God’s surrogate in reaching out to others’ needs? Think beyond the material to the emotional and spiritual. Take note of the expressions of longing in so many Advent and Christmas hymns, such as “O come, O Come, Emmanuel”. Make those songs your true prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

“What is God trying to say to us in our busy lives? Be patient! Learn to wait—for each other, for love, for happiness, for God!”**

**Title quote from Carlo Corretto, Letters from the Desert

A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent by Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

Two-Purple-CandlesCertainly the thoughts of Carlo Corretto are underscored in the readings for this Second Sunday of Advent. Isaiah foretells of a time when the Lord will visit the Israelites and gather them in his arms like a shepherd gathers sheep so they may be comforted. St. Peter extols his readers to be patient for the return of Jesus Christ and to live today in hope and faith as we long for an intimate experience of God’s nearness and love. Finally we hear John the Baptist’s plea to prepare the way of the Lord in the desert—a time to clear away all that distracts us from realizing our utter dependence on God as well as God’s unconditional love for each of us.

What are we to make of all this waiting? In all of these readings there is an underlying sense of hope that God is somehow present to us in a real yet hidden way and also there is an awareness of a longing for a more immediate and personal experience of God’s care and love for each of us from moment to moment as we go about the art of living from day to day.

How do we live in the in-between time? How are we to be present to the not yet while we wait for a clearer and more intimate experience of God-with-us? The spiritual tradition offers some helpful practices that can help us remember our fundamental relationship with God that is grounded in our utter dependence on God’s generosity, beginning with every breath we take to every grace we receive day by day.

Advent is a good time in the year to call to mind and heart the goodness of God in our past life by remembering, appreciating and expressing gratitude for the many blessings we have received throughout our life. This practice is often called Remembering our Blessed History.

 Another helpful practice is to take some time each evening to review our quality of attention to the day that is just ending in order to become ever more aware of God’s presence moment by moment. In our prayer time we can ask God to reveal to us those moments when we were responsive to God’s invitation to act in a spirit of charity and compassion, and also to reveal to us those moments when we neglected to respond to (or did not even notice) that invitation. This practice is called an Examen of Consciousness. Over time the practice of an Examen can help us live more fully in the present, allowing God to heal our past and calling us to live in the now.

And finally, we can ask God to deepen our faith that God is present and active right now, loving us as we are, and calling us to greater generosity as we are led into a future that God intends for us.

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves.
Don’t search for answers, which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answers
.
–Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet