November 24, 2022
by Andy Alexander, S.J.
Creighton University's Collaborative Ministry Office
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs
Lectionary: 505

Wisdom 3:1-9
Psalm 125:1-5
Matthew 10:17-22

Praying Ordinary Time

Saint of the Day on St. Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions

For those in the U.S. celebrating Thanksgiving today.

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Preparing for Advent
Praying Advent Home Page

But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.
- Matthew 10

As we come to the end of Ordinary Time, the readings are about the end times, and they prepare us for Advent. It is the promise and hope in these prophetic warnings that set the stage for the special weeks ahead.

As at the times described in the readings, we are now in very difficult times. Conflict and division seems to reign. People tend to demonize others with whom they disagree. Even families and parishes are divided. Every morning news has stories of murders and mass shootings. Our cities struggle to handle the number of persons who have fallen through the cracks and live day to day, with much struggle. Nationalist leaders seem to be more frightening than ever. Nations are at war over territories. Tensions between superpowers and countries with nuclear weapons making more and more credible threats. And, our planet itself cries out under the stresses of our cumulated abuse, with violent weather, devastating flooding, severe drought, and rising temperatures that strain the oceans and make certain areas uninhabitable.

It is consoling to hear that Jesus cares about these threats to our courage and peace, to our very survival. He understands. He offers us accompaniment and comfort. There is grace offered to each of us to "stand erect and raise your hands." None of us can change this or that person who might annoy us, let alone change the whole world. Yet, each of us can make changes in our own lives, in our own patterns. Each of us can let Jesus love us more completely, and we can share that mercy and love with those around us. If each of us would be more compassionate, more mindful of what suffering and complexity might be behind what/who annoys us, what a difference that would make.

This is what the upcoming Advent season is so important. The Isaiah prophesies are full of deep healing, transformation and hope. "A time will come for singing." The desert we experience can bloom. The mountains before us can be laid low and the deep valleys can be filled in. IT is really imaginable that the lion might lie down with the lamb. Ultimately, our hope and courage leads us to the manger on Christmas eve where we celebrate that "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. On those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shone."

As we move toward this season of expectant hope, we can ask ourselves where our discouragement is. We can let the light of our faith enter into those places of darkness. Ultimate, we are the people who believe in the mystery of the Cross - it is a complete victory over the power of sin and death. We are never alone. We are always loved. We always have the grace offered us for healing and peace - to soften our hearts and let them be more like the heart of Jesus. Our redemption is indeed at hand, in every place where we might be tempted to discouragement. We can only imagine how much our self-sacrificing love, our courage and hope, our faith, will make a difference in the lives of others. What a wonderful world this might be as our spirits prepare to pray, "Come, Lord Jesus." "Come and set us free!"

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