Saturday of the First Week of Advent
(Click Here for Readings)
By JENNIFER BURGIN
(Click Here for Readings)
By JENNIFER BURGIN
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
Visit with a seminarian Last summer, I spent a weekend with my girlfriend and her husband at their beautiful home in Chicago. One evening we ate dinner with an Eastern Orthodox seminarian visiting from Rome. My girlfriend arranged the get-together in hopes of enlightening theological discussion. I was shocked by the seminarian's comments. He despised Italians. He spoke non-stop about the Mob running the Vatican. He made references to openly gay priests. When he began to rant about the Church's relations with China, I thought it best that we cork up the wine bottle and say our goodbyes. (At this point, my head was throbbing from way too much debating.) I will never forget what the seminarian said toward the end of the evening: "Pope Francis will retire from his position within the next year. The Mob isn't too fond of him. He's causing quite a stir." What? Another pope resigning from the papal office?! Whoa.... Pope Francis is insanely popular and loved by everybody, including the media. I can't see him giving up his leadership role. He still has amazing plans in process. Just this week Pope Francis was in Turkey engaging in promising ecumenical dialog with the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Oh, the irony.....
In light of today's gospel reading, and the prediction that Pope Francis will "retire" from his role as Bishop of Rome, I thought, "What if Saint Peter retired as the Church's first pope instead of dying as a martyr? What would the new Christians think? I can't imagine Peter or the Apostles giving up all that Jesus started! They'd continue to gather the lost sheep of Israel and preach the good news of the Kingdom of God despite criticism and obstacles thrown in their paths."
"He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you." After reading these beautiful words from the Prophet Isaiah, my eyes filled with tears. Throughout my life I've often prayed: "God, Please help! I feel like nobody truly listens to me or even cares that I exist. Does anyone see my value? I have such a big heart and aim to be a good person. Yet, I feel invisible like the ghost of a sheep, long ago lost and never found. Life is painstakingly tough; life is habitually unfair with endless challenges and disappointments. Sometimes I think I'm veering off course. Am I still on the narrow path to holiness? Which way should I turn, right or left? Please answer me!"
I'm very thankful for God's blessings in my life. However, at times I just don't "get" God's answers to my prayers. They are not always easily understood or even identifiable. It's like I have to play a game of hide n' go seek with the Lord just to figure out what I'm supposed to do. I need guidance and strength. I can use a little dab (here and there) of the Lord's healing grace.
"...he will heal the bruises left by his blows." What would it be like to be cured by one of the Twelve apostles? How about no longer hearing demonic voices or enduring chronic skin infections? It's exciting to think Christ gave the power of healing to his chosen twelve. Moreover, it's awesome to know complete freedom from pain and sickness awaits us in the Kingdom of Heaven. Life's bumps and bruises will simply vanish. Our souls will finally be at eternal rest and peace.
"This is the way; walk in it" During the Season of Advent, we await the arrival of the baby Jesus, carefully wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. This waiting period is designed for us to evaluate and reflect on how we can be better Christians. Are we attending mass regularly? Have we been to confession in a while? Are we praying with scripture daily? Are we mindful of our sinful nature? Are we aware of the needs of others? We are called to walk the way of Christ. Each step we take, each word we say, and each deed we perform should be a reflection of God. Yes, there are times when we will slip and fall. We complain; we rant; we gossip; we think badly of others. Advent gives us a chance to review our behaviors and make necessary adjustments. Just like a mom prepares for the birth of her newborn baby by purchasing clothes, a stroller and plenty of diapers, so too we must prepare for the coming of Christ, not only the historical celebration of his birth but also his return at the end of time. We have a better chance at entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven when spiritually prepared. Walk in the way of Christ, and you will have nothing to lose but more to gain!
"So in Christ crucified you can do anything. Do everything you do with lively faith." - Saint Catherine of Siena
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin. Please follow her blog: Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality