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.

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing From the Heart – A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

By Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH

child 01I would guess that she was about five years old.  The parish hall was filled with people eagerly awaiting the performance of the Irish dancers.  The music makers were ready to strum their guitars and at that first strum, the dancers raised their feet in rhythm as they faced their audience.  About four feet away, to the left of the dancers, was the five-year-old little lady facing the stage.  Oblivious to all on-lookers, it was clear her focus was on the professionals.  She was in her zone.  She was a delight.  Her little body moved as quickly as it could.  Sometimes, the dance was hard work and she lifted her small hand to brush aside a curl as she continued with unabashed freedom and all the dignity of a child of God.  Her round happy face shone with brilliant, intense and serious joy.

Sunday’s first reading (Sam.16:1b, 6-7,10-13a) always stops me short.  Perhaps, like some, I need this strong, clear reminder that what we see is not necessarily what God sees:  “Samuel looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is here before him.”  But the Lord said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature…. not as man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.”  The Gospel is about “seeing”— asking God to heal our blindness.

Our culture often dictates the opposite of our values.  Does our need for acceptance sometimes translate to choices based merely on appearances?

The dancers that night so long ago received the applause of the people of God assembled to give recognition and enjoy the talent.  I wondered how many were delighted by the sight of that small child, not in the spotlight, who gave so many so much delight.

“Unless you become as a little child….”  Not childish.  Not losing dignity or responsibility.  But freedom to share our gifts.   And the greatest of gifts is love–a love that does not judge on appearances…on cultural criteria…on what’s in it for me…or on what or who is out of favor.

During these last days of Lent, we are called to assess if and/or why we exclude.    In turn, we will be given evidence of Christ’s great love for each and all of us.  He paid the ultimate price.  Let us ask for the great gift of “seeing with our hearts.”

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