Second Sunday of Advent, Faith vs. Certainty As the final forerunner to announcing God’s reign, John the Baptist plays an important role in the history of salvation. Yet, while in prison, John’s certainty about Jesus wavers. He sends some of his own disciples to question if Jesus is the Messiah. Perhaps we can relate to what it’s like to be enveloped in anxiety and uncertainty about the mission God has called us to fulfill. But John the Baptist models for us a way to fulfill God’s call to be prophets of justice, peace, and the coming of the Lord, even while struggling with the always-elusive certitude that comes with faith. Matthew 3:1-2
Monday, Choosing God’s Path In the popular children’s series Choose Your Own Adventure, the author cleverly places a literary fork in the road, inviting the reader to choose between two paths in the narrative. Readers unhappy with the ending can go back and select an alternate. In life, while we get to choose our own adventures, we don’t often get to go back. Isaiah exhorts us to select a particular path—that of the Lord, to pursue God’s will in lieu of our own whimsical fancy. Although the journey of discipleship will be daunting and difficult at times, we’re never alone. This Advent, recommit to the right adventure. Isaiah 2:3
Tuesday, Accepting God’s Justice The New Testament offers plenty of examples of those who decide to walk away from Jesus and disregard an invitation to conversion and discipleship, but we never read about an encounter in which Jesus rejects someone. Even though Jesus welcomes sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes—rejecting no one—we often do precisely the opposite. Our rejection is frequently masked in an effort to exercise “justice,” but God’s justice mimics Jesus’ encounters. God’s justice is what the world awaits but doesn’t accept when it appears. God’s justice demands that we open our hearts to conversion and refute rejection. Make this Advent season an opportunity to work on acting more in accord with God’s justice. Jeremiah 23:6
Wednesday, Unveiling His Presence The Church teaches that Christ is made present during the Mass in four ways: in the assembly gathered in his name, in the priest, in the proclamation of the Scriptures, “but especially under the Eucharistic species” of bread and wine (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy [Sacrosanctum Concilium], 7). Of course, the Eucharist is the highest of these—”the source and summit of the Christian life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324). But we should ask ourselves: how well do we recognize the presence of Christ in all of these ways? May we take this time to prepare ourselves to be more aware of Christ’s presence as Emmanuel in all the ways he comes to us. Isaiah 7:14
Thursday, Seeing God with Us Although the notion that God is reflected in and communicated through the world around us is as old as the Bible itself, it’s a succinct idea to think about during Advent. Jeremiah addresses those in exile who feel estranged from their heritage and God. It can be especially challenging to see God in all things when times are difficult. But as with the people of Israel, God assures us of divine imminence. In truth, God is already before us! Open your heart to see. The challenge is that we don’t primarily seek God alone, but as a community of faith. Through our love, mercy, and kindness, we’re asked to help reveal to others the real nearness of God. Jeremiah 29:13-14
Friday, The Gratitude Attitude It’s nearly impossible to be generous or kind without a grateful disposition. If we harbor jealous desires, constantly compare ourselves to others, or foster bitterness, then we forestall the possibility of gratitude for what we have and who we are. The “reason for the season,” the coming of Christ into the world, is a cause for rejoicing and therefore a reason for gratitude. Do we rejoice in the gift of the Incarnation, allowing it to be a source for gratitude? Or do we succumb to the stress and tension of an increasingly commercialized season? Strive to be more generous and patient, and reconcile broken relationships. Philippians 4:4-5
Saturday, Comforting, Intriguing There is something both comfortingly predictive and yet intriguingly surprising about the way that plants grow, live, and flourish. Similarly, God is predictable in the way he freely gives divine love, mercy, and grace to us. But God is also surprising. God doesn’t follow human standards or logic. Whereas we judge one another harshly and often find ourselves in a cycle of negativity, Isaiah reminds us that God’s justice and mercy will prevail, and in lieu of demoralizing criticism, God causes praise to spring up. This Advent, let’s open our hearts to receive the good news of God, who is predictable and surprising in the best ways possible. Isaiah 61:11
© Copyright Catholic Update, Celebrating Advent God is With Us Already…and Not Yet, by Fr. Daniel P. Horan, OFM, permission to publish.