Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
December 12th, 2013

Andy Alexander, S.J.
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Thursday in the Second Week of Advent
Isaiah 41:13-20

Psalms 145:1, 9, 10-11, 12-13

Matthew 11:11-15

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Praying Advent

Daily Advent Prayer

"Fear not, I will help you."
"I, the LORD, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them."
Isaiah 41

In this Second Week of Advent, we continue to hear the promise. It is a promise of the coming of one who will rescue the Israel of Isaiah’s day from the terrible troubles they are in. But, in the context of our Advent journey, it is a comforting message for us: "Fear not, I will help you.”

If only we could hear and receive that comfort today! Fear takes so much away from us. It isolates us. What we see and experience gets distorted. It is so very debilitating. When we are afraid, we are often in a defensive mode. We see so much, so many around us as threats. Too often our fear is real. We’ve been hurt. We have reason to fear being hurt again. We might be on the edge of losing our job, our livelihood, our security. Someone we love may be very sick or dying. The outcome isn’t clear. We may have had a health scare ourselves. Members of our family might not be getting along or may not be making wise choices. My marriage may have come to a very difficult and terribly frustrating or painful time.

The worst part of fear is that it can distort us. We’re not our best selves when we are afraid or defended. Sometimes we live with anger and resentment as well. We are tired, because it is like carrying around a huge burden on our backs. What is missing is the ability to see goodness and trust it. It is often not even in our grasp to enjoy and delight in small things. We can find ourselves no longer open to being touched by what is beautiful or promising or loving. And, therefore, it is not easy to hear good news, particularly the good news in the symbols, signs and comfort of Advent.

Sometimes we just hide our fears. “The best defense is a good offense.” Dogs tend to bark when they are afraid. We often do the same. If I’m aggressive enough, people just might not hurt me. It can appear to be a good approach to staying in control of my life.

All these different ways of coping with our challenges can become deep patterns, and, even if I recognize them, they aren’t easy to change.

This week of Advent is a great time to ask, if only with a small, timid voice, “Lord, you know how fearful I am. You know my story. You know me. Please let me surrender, at least step out of, my fear for a while today. Let me trust that you will help me, that you want to comfort me. I fear to take the risk, but something is warming my heart to you and your care for me.”

This is a time to let our relationship with Jesus grow – to be attracted to him, to be drawn to him, to appreciate him, to thank him, and to begin to be caught up in his ways, his courage, his way of loving. His coming into a messy history, into a human journey, into an embarrassing stable, can give us hope. And, Isaiah’s promises can come alive for us, today.

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