Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent Daily Dose - 2nd Tuesday

[Today's Daily Dose comes from Deacon Tom.]

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

A reading from the Prophet Isaiah (40:1-11).

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low;
The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

A voice says, "Cry out!" I answer, "What shall I cry out?" "All flesh is grass, and all their glory like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower wilts, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it. So then, the people is the grass. Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
the word of our God stands forever."

Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings; Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by his strong arm; Here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, Carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.

REFLECTION (By Deacon Tom): Isaiah is pretty clear about our Advent mission in today’s First Reading:
Prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country shall be made a broad valley.

And keep in mind that Isaiah isn’t referring to the obstacles, ditches, bumps and potholes in the people we meet.  He is talking about US.  The terrain that needs fixing is the landscape of OUR HEARTS.  WE are being called to do nothing less than to clear a path for God.  To make room for Him.  To make our lives shovel-ready this Advent so that Christmas can truly transform and reshape us.

Through this reading, and the readings throughout Advent, the Church wants us to know that Advent is not merely a waiting game.  Advent is not about killing time until Christmas.  It’s a time of preparation when we are called to scan the horizon of our lives.

God has deemed us worthy of salvation.  Think about that, for a moment.  God has found YOU and ME worth saving…and at Christmas we celebrate his sending his only Son to do just that.  He is poised to pour out his love and his gifts on us.  But we can’t come to God asking him to fill us this Advent…when we are already full to the brim of other stuff: Dumb stuff.  Meaningless stuff.  Worthless stuff.  Stuff of THIS world.  Not when we were made for HEAVENLY stuff.

§  We are asked to look closely and find the deep valleys of envy and greed and selfishness that need to be filled in…and to fill them with Christ.

§  We are invited to seek out the places that are empty and hollow, places where we have never invited God in.  Our jobs, our families or our alone time.  Grab them…and fill them with Christ.

§  We are asked to endure the pain of focusing on those rugged stretches of land.  Parts of our lives that are hard and sharp, rigid and hurtful.  The grudges, the gossip, the lies and the foul thoughts, words and deeds.  Find them…find ALL of them…and cleanse them with Christ.

§  What is getting in the way?  What has come between you and Jesus?  What has you side-tracked, detoured and diverted from his love and his light?  Are you too busy, too stressed, too distracted?  It’s time to make straight God’s path, God’s path to YOU.

John was seen as a prophet because he had a calling and a capacity to see the deeper things, the things that mattered.  It’s that capacity we need to rediscover ourselves this Advent, and we’re already two candles down on that wreath, with only two more to go.

And yet, is there a better, more appropriate time to make things simpler and truer?  To open our eyes to what is really important?

We pray: O God, who have shown forth your salvation to all the ends of the earth,
grant, we pray, that we may look forward in joy
to the glorious Nativity of Christ.
We ask this through Him, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us. St. Nicholas, pray for us.

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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