December 3, 2019
by Maureen McCann Waldron
Creighton University's Online Ministries
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest
Lectionary: 176

Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalms:72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Luke 10:21-24

Beginning Advent

Today's Advent Prayer

Praying Advent Home Page

Pope Francis - A Time for Purifying Faith

Experiencing Advent Deeply for Busy People
Desiring Patient Fidelity  

Learning Perseverance in Difficult Times

“On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.…”

When a tree is cut down, it seems to be the end of it. But sometimes, impossibly, a tiny green spark of life peeks up from that stump, turns into a shoot, and then, improbably, a renewed life, a blossom.  That’s the vision Isaiah wants to offer us in today’s readings.  And more: Natural enemies living contentedly beside each other. Wolves and lambs resting next to each other.  Babies playing by a cobra’s den and a little child shepherding not only calves but young lions.  It’s a vision of peace and life and a renewal, which Isaiah offers to us as we begin Advent.  It’s a hope offered by a prophet that is fulfilled with the birth of Jesus.

We will hear from Isaiah for the first two weeks of Advent, when the focus will be on the first reading.

Part of the message of Isaiah is that nothing is impossible with God.  Enemies are at peace.  There will be “no harm or ruin” on the earth.  We are offered hope, even as we feel like “a people who walks in darkness.” 

This Advent we are being offered a time of preparing our hearts for Christmas and for the hope and love God so wants to give us.  But we often hesitate to enter in.  We are busy, and it can be hard to sit in silence when we don’t exactly know what to say.  But the good news is that today is the day we can begin.  It’s simple.  We know how unworthy we are in our hearts.  How difficult we can be.  How much we want our own way.  Impatience with our families and selfishness with so many. 

Here is the impossible, joyful news.  God already knows exactly who we are and how we live our lives.  We may think we are undeserving, but it simply doesn’t matter.  God already loves us more than we can imagine.  These weeks of Advent are a time to simply whisper in a quiet moment, “Thank you.  My heart wants to welcome you, but I don’t know where to start.  Help me to enter into Advent.”

That’s it.  We have made the first step and God’s delight at our overture must ring out in the heavens, with joy and an impossible, unexpected love for us. Every day this month as we simply ask God to come to us, we are opening our hearts in new and deeper ways and God is rejoicing.

Today we remember St. Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits whose deep faith, enthusiasm and joy for the word of God helped him to spread the Good News around the world. In the most uncomfortable and unfamiliar places, his deep faith brought happiness to countless people. May this Advent take us to unfamiliar places in our hearts and share in the joy of his faith.

Loving God, give me the quiet and peace in my heart that helps me to hear and feel your great love for me.  Open my ears to those you place in my life, and help me to believe in the impossible promises of Isaiah and of your great, unimaginable and personal love for me.

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