A Reflection for the Second Sunday in Advent

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Reading I: Isaiah 11: 1-10
Responsorial Psalm: 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Reading II: Romans 15: 4-9
Gospel: Matthew 3: 1-12

Advent 2 pic 2The word “hippie” came to mind as I began reading the Gospel for the second week of Advent. John the Baptist certainly marched to his own drummer, living in the desert, wearing “odd” clothes, eating “strange” food. People like John are often written off as kooks, nut-jobs, outliers. In spite of his off-putting ways, though, people of his time seemed drawn to him, traveling (on foot, remember: no Greyhounds to tourist meccas) “from Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region around the Jordan.”

His message wasn’t very cheerful, either, nor was he much of a diplomat in presenting his thoughts. Really, if someone invited you to go for a long, rough hike to hear an oddball, sort of angry person scold everybody and warn them of impending punishment, how likely is it that you would have gone?

Maybe the appeal lay in seeing someone blast the religious leaders of that day – aristocrats and legal scholars of their faith, not known for sensitivity to the human condition. Whatever drew people to John (nothing good on TV?) they certainly came and were motivated to be baptized as a sign they would change their ways.

There’s a balance to John’s fire in the first reading. Isaiah is just as intense as John, but more hopeful, perhaps because he foresees justice for the poor, safety even for a baby playing near a snake (which had to be a much greater concern in those days), no harm or ruin anywhere on earth. Who wouldn’t go for that?

In the second reading, we’re encouraged to endure and be hopeful – something we can all get behind these days – expressing our trust and hope by the way we relate to one another – just as Jews and Gentiles were urged to get along, though in Paul’s time that was a wildly radical notion! Is it too wild and radical for us in our time? Do we have enough of Isaiah’s vision to give it a try? Where will you begin?

 

 

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A Reflection for the First Sunday in Advent

By Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH

Reading I: Isaiah 2:1-5
Responsorial Psalm: 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: Romans 13:11-14
Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44

advent wreath one candle The readings for this first Sunday in Advent present us with a number of contrasts.  In the first reading, Isaiah offers the nation of Judah, facing threats from within and without, a vision of unity, peace and justice.  What might it have been like for those beleaguered people to hear the words: “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.  O house of Jacob, come, let us walk In the light of the Lord?”

Paul presents the contrasts of darkness and light, wakefulness and sleep, destructive behavior versus putting on Christ. His urging of preparation and watchfulness echo the Gospel’s message of vigilance and preparation for the coming of the Son of Man, “at an hour you do not expect.”  The message seems to have an ominous tone, but could it have been a message of hope for Matthew’s listeners, and can it offer hope for us?

To enter into Advent is not to deny the darkness, divisions and threats that face us, but to embrace the opportunities to trust in God’s promises and to be bearers of God’s love, light, peace and justice in our world.

In his poem, Advent, the late Daniel Berrigan, SJ, offers us these words of hope and challenge:

Advent

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss – This is true: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction – This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever – This is true: For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world – This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church, before we can be peacemakers – This is true:  I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young shall see visions, and your old shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for the liberation of humanity, for justice, human dignity, and peace are not meant for this earth and for this history – This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.

Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ — the Life of the world.

(Source: Testimony: The Word Made Fresh, by Daniel Berrigan.  Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004).

 

For Reflection:

How do you find yourself at the beginning of this Advent season?

What graces will you pray for during this season: trust in God, maintaining hope in the face of challenges, compassion for suffering people, other things?

How will you be a bearer of God’s love, light, peace and justice?

 

 

 

 

 

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Giving Thanks

As we gather with family and friends around our Thanksgiving tables, we offer a reprise of this video by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB on the grace of gratitude.  Appropriate for any time during the year, it is especially fitting for this day of giving thanks.  May we cultivate the habit of being grateful for our blessings throughout the year.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart! We are truly grateful for the love and support of our friends and benefactors over the past 125 years.

 

See more reflections by Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB, at www.gratefulness.org.

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More than 5650 Catholic Sisters Urge Presidential Candidates to Engage in Civil Discourse

LCWRMission Helpers join in call to the US presidential candidates to end demeaning rhetoric and use language that preserves the dignity of fellow citizens in the “tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.”

 

Read more: Leadership Conference of Women Religious ( LCWR )

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Don’t Just Pray — Do Something!

A reflection by Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH

 

“Love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words.”                                                                               –Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

As I grappled before God over the horrific and senseless mass shooting in Orlando, Ignatius’ words echoed within me. From centuries ago, Ignatius joins the anguished voices of today, crying, “Don’t just pray, do something!”

Perhaps prayer is most pleasing to God when our relationship with God leads us to see the face of God in another, to be the face of God to another.

Hate terrorizes. Guns kill. Prayer acts.

The act of prayer takes place when we act for justice. We pray when we sign a petition for gun control, or we vote to ban the sale of assault weapons. We pray when we accept and embrace the differences in our faith, in our expression of love, in our gender, and in our culture.

We pray when we recognize mental illness as a disease and provide proper care and funding. We pray when our hearts are free from judgment.

one heartOur hearts are broken. Our prayer is broken. Something tells me that one won’t be healed without the other.

(Image created by and used with permission of the Society of the Sacred Heart)

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“Bustin’ Through” –A Post-Easter Reflection

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Have you ever risen from the dead?  If you’re an overworked, underpaid, weary-to-the-bone person who nevertheless hauls out every morning to take on another day, you have.

garden blossomIf you live in the eastern half of this country and have struggled with and struggled against the winter of 2016, you may be rising again just about now, finding your grimly-set jaw softening as you notice the blooms coming to life in your garden, or shiny maroon buds fattening on a tree.

Spouses, parents and others buy into resurrection when we choose a bit of amnesia relative to last night’s argument or bedtime tantrum, and speak a quiet “good morning” as the new day begins.

rock garden 1Resurrection is more common than believed—unless we’re speaking of “Jesus bustin’ through them rocks,” as a second grader in Mobile, Alabama, once defined it for me.

“Bustin’ through” is what’s significant in that description.  Reflect for just a moment on what you may need to “bust through,” and ask our risen Lord to empower you to do it!

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Litany of the Love of Christ

 sunrise easter

In our loneliness, the love of Christ embraces us

In our desire for love, the love of Christ overwhelms us

In our brokenness, the love of Christ heals us

In our emptiness, the love of Christ fills us

 

 In our longing for community, the love of Christ gathers us

In our hesitation to reach out, the love of Christ missions us

In our need to minister, the love of Christ provokes us

In our desire to serve, the love of Christ compels us

 

 In our witness to the Gospel, the love of Christ speaks to us

In our enthusiasm for the mission, the love of Christ impels us

 –Tim Brown, SJ

Happy Easter!
He is Risen!
On behalf of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart,

Sr. Loretta Cornell, MHSH

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