Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, December 11, 2016: What did you go out to the desert to see?

As Christians, what do we expect, 
and what might our expectations prevent us from seeing? 

   In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus challenges the crowd’s preconceived notions of the Messiah.  The people go into the desert expecting to find a man with great human powers who can save them politically as well as spiritually. Did you expect to see someone in fine clothing? Jesus asks them, or  a prophet?  In John the Baptist, they have indeed found a prophet; in Jesus, they find so much more:  the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear… Jesus, present before them, is nothing short of extraordinary, defying their expectations as he preaches the Good News of salvation.  Do they see him?  For real?

   Long before the time of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah told a people in exile of God’s promise of deliverance, as symbolized by the paradox of a flowering desert:  the desert and parched land will exult, he says, the steppe will rejoice and bloom. From of old, the people of Israel have held to God’s promise, made out of love, that they will one day be restored:  here is your God; he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.  Is it any wonder the Jews of Jesus’ time came to believe in a Messiah who could overturn Roman rule?  Psalm 146 likewise sings of restoration, a promise that the oppressed and the hungry will be restored; even orphans and widows, traditionally disadvantaged groups, will be sustained in this reign of God, a God of justice.  Similarly, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Christians everywhere waited with great expectations for his return.  James, writing to Jewish Christians, counsels them to be patient until the coming of the Lord, which, he promises, is at hand.  We are still waiting – what are our expectations?

   What do we go out to the desert to see, during Advent?  There are so many unknowns:  is it not better to relinquish our expectations and open our hearts to what God sends, knowing that what we hope for will come, but in God’s time, not ours?  What do we go out to the desert to see, during Advent?  Perhaps it’s time to let go of our expectations and live only in the hope of the Incarnation, with all the patience we can muster.

This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mary, Ark of the Covenant (St. Hippolytus)

       At that time, the Savior coming from the Virgin, the Ark, brought forth His own Body into the world from that Ark, which was gilded with pure gold within by the Word, and without by the Holy Ghost, so that the truth was shown forth...

  --St. Hippolytus (c. 170-236) 

December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary --
Do join us for Mass!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Peaceable kingdom (Chris Walters)

   We are currently in the season of Advent.  This is the season we wait expectantly for the transformed world.  And this is the season that we hope... for many different things and desires of our hearts to be fulfilled...
   [However,] if we do not imagine for ourselves how we may contribute to the building up of the peaceable kingdom and then persistently act upon our hopeful imagination in that kingdom, then we do not have hope at all.  True hope cannot be experienced vicariously or attained through a vision… Unless we generate within ourselves the Isaiah 11 hope for a radically transformed world, then we will be chronically disappointed in the world as it is and further delay the realization of the future reality of Isaiah’s harmony by not participating with each other in ways that encourage a spirit of wisdom and understanding…

--Chris Walters, Hope for Transformation

Image source:  John August Swanson, Peaceable Kingdom, whose style is “influenced by the imagery of Islamic and medieval miniatures, Russian iconography, the color of Latin American folk art, and the tradition of Mexican muralists.”

Quotation source:  To read the whole of Chris Walters reflection on Isaiah 11, including a variety of artistic representations of this beautiful passage, click here.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Small, weak and vulnerable (Henri Nouwen)

   Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable.  God, who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.

   The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown young man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention.  The work of our salvation takes place in the midst of a world that continues to shout, scream, and overwhelm us with its claims and promises.  But the promise is hidden in the shoot that sprouts from the stump, a shoot that hardly anyone notices.

--Henri Nouwen, 
¡Gracias! A Latin American Journal
Image source