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Advent Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Liturgical Year Prayer

Lectio Divina: The Second Sunday of Advent (2016)

second-sunday-of-advent-2016Advent is here and as we get closer, day by day, to the birth of our Lord and Savior, we reflect on the hope of the coming kingdom of heaven. In the following lectio divina reflection, we focus on this hope. John the Baptist brings a message of hope to all those coming to him for baptism. Hopefully this Sunday’s Gospel reading brings a sense of true hope to us as well. Are we continually looking ahead to when we will reach the kingdom of heaven? Do we have hope that we will reach it one day? Or have we forgotten the significance of Christ’s birth in our own, modern lives?

That’s a lot to think about. I encourage you to close your eyes, say a prayer, calm your mind, and then join me in reflecting on the Gospel passage for this second Sunday of Advent.

To follow along with me on this lectio divina prayer time, you will want to have the upcoming Sunday Gospel reading for December 4 handy. If you need to review the steps of lectio divina you can find a quick outline from St. Meinrad Archabbey. Remember to read the Gospel passage at the start of each of the four sections below (the ones that start with an “R” word).

READ

Repent; acknowledged their sins; produce good fruit.

RESPOND: What is God saying to you?

The Gospel reading for Sunday always seems to me to come across as harsh and ruthless. It appears as if John the Baptist is attempting to turn the Pharisees and Sadducees away, but in reading this through a couple times, I see more and more that John is really relaying a message of hope. They, too, can be baptized but they must show repentance. How do we show our repentance? We must produce good fruit. John the Baptist is not just speaking to the Pharisees and Sadducees, but to all who are listening, including us the readers. Our good works alone will not gain us entry into the kingdom of heaven. We must repent, be baptized, and then go forth and do good works, that is, produce good fruits.

In this passage I hear God’s message of hope. I need to get to confession more than once or twice a year (which has been an improvement for me, but I’m striving for more), I need to continually work at always acting as an image of God, and I need to show Christ’s love in all I think, say, and do.

RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?

Thank you, God, for the gift of the sacraments, particularly of baptism and reconciliation. I pray that I can be more mindful of my thoughts, words, and actions. Help me where I fall and forgiven me for my transgressions.

REST

Spend some time in silence after your fourth reading of the passage.

YOUR TURN

Share in the comments, what do you feel God is saying to you in this passage? How would you respond to him? 

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Amy M. Christmas Ink Slingers Liturgical Year

Immaculate Conception and the Year of Mercy

prepare

Each year our pastor begins his homily on the second Sunday of Advent with the sentence, “God puts two people on our runway to Christmas.” Two people who are there to help us DO Advent and truly reach Christmas and not just December 25th. The first is John the Baptist, “A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” Luke 1:3-6

stjohnthebaptistWe hear the story of John the Baptist in the gospel on the second Sunday of Advent. The Word of God passed all the “important” people of the day but reached the one in the desert, ready to hear It. John told his followers to stop identifying themselves by their sin. He preached a baptism of repentance of forgiveness of sins. It is time to break the old patterns, the pattern of identifying yourself by your mistakes and change how you think of who you are. Proclaiming the baptism of repentance of sins was a strategy to get to God. Advent is a time of preparation for us. It is a time to smooth everything out so that the Lord has a straight path into our hearts. Our rough parts are made smooth; the high parts made low; the low parts made high. When we do Advent, Jesus is able to move in. Then God’s Word will become flesh and not pass us by.

 The second person on our runway to Christmas is Mary. Today’s feast is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception celebrates Mary, conceived without sin. St. Ann and St. Jerome had prayed long and hard for a baby. Sweet Mary was born without sin so that she could become the mother of our Lord and Savior. Growing up, I often focused more on the conception of Jesus on this feast day. It wasn’t until I was in college that I finally understood the difference. At Mass today we hear the gospel of the Annunciation, the angel Gabriel coming to Mary to tell her she would be have a son.

Our Perfect Mother

This year the Immaculate Conception also marks the beginning of the Year of Mercy, as declared by Pope Francis. When I think of mercy, I tend to think about God’s forgiveness. However, much like my childhood view of the Immaculate Conception, I think I need to broaden my view of God’s mercy. I recently read that the root word of mercy is a Latin word misericordia, derived from the two words miserere (“pity” or “misery”) and cor (“heart”). When we ask God for mercy, we are asking Him to relieve someone or ourselves of a heart of misery. So many different things can cause a heart of misery, and offering God’s mercy is more than forgiving someone who has wronged us or asking God for forgiveness.

When Mary saw the angel Gabriel, she accepted God’s will without question. Rather than let the news “sink in,” she went “in haste” to her cousin Elizabeth to help her for three months. She offered mercy to Elizabeth by helping her during her pregnancy. Mary, in her humility, accepted God’s will, the path to her heart straight. God became flesh.  

As we move through Advent, we prepare our hearts and homes for Jesus to be born into our lives once more. What is one way we can show mercy to everyone we meet this Advent and during this year of mercy? One simple way I have been trying to show mercy is by showing kindness. Examples can include an extra smile at the stranger who looks harried in the grocery aisle or an extra few seconds or minutes of conversation with the cashier who is working overtime. Sometimes a simple smile or a kind word when someone isn’t expecting it is the best mercy we can show in a day. We are bringing God’s mercy and love to that person in our smile. It also helps us, breaking the old patterns and habits, helping us change the way we look at ourselves and making straight the paths to our hearts.