Monday, December 23, 2013

Advent Meditations Sometimes Forgotten

Each Advent I read the daily meditations from Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s book: Behold, He Comes.  He presents many great meditations; they make me think.  I’ve given away (or put in adoration chapels) hundreds of copies of this book over the years.
While having daily meditations for each week of Advent, the book recognizes special meditations for the days December 17 – 24, the final 8 days before Christmas.  As a result, when December 17 comes early in the week as it does this year (on a Tuesday), the reader is directed to skip over most of the Advent Week 3 daily meditations in the book.
But this year I didn’t.  And in taking the time to read them also, I was reminded of some truths I needed to remember, particularly this year --- as you do also.   And so I’ll print here the highlights from those days:

Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another? (Luke 7:19)
John the Baptist sent two of his disciples to pose this question to his kinsman, Jesus of Nazareth.  He found himself in the dungeon of a ridiculous but dangerous political buffoon.  Could something so banal and so unjust happen to the one sent to prepare the way of the Messiah?  The incredible answer is yes.  And worse was yet in store.  The response of Jesus to John’s honest questions should be one of our Advent meditations:  Blessed is he who finds no stumbling block in Me, who is not scandalized by My apparent inability to help. Jesus lets John know what we all need to know --- that God’s providence does not conduct the world like a puppet show.  … Blessed is he who does not stumble at the apparent weakness of God, because as Christ tells us through Saint Paul: My power is made perfect in weakness (2Cor 12:9).
I have often, Lord, felt like John.  I wondered where You were or if You cared to help me.  It probably will happen again.  Give me Your Holy Spirit that I may remain faithful like John.  You have called him a blessing and shining light.  Help me, that my faith may give some little light to those around me.  Amen.

I will praise you, O Lord, for you have rescued me.  (Psalm 30:1)
It is not unusual to experience a feeling of being abandoned by God when things go wrong.  Advent, with its memories of past Christmases, is a good time to look back.  But as we look back, we can often see the hand of God guiding things and turning hurtful events into blessings. 
Lord and Good Shepherd of my soul, how often have You rescued me and I have not even known it.  Or if I have been aware of it, I have not realized the greatness of Your love and concern.  Your hand was there in the darkness and danger.  Continue, gentle Savior, to rescue me, and those dear to me, and the whole world because You have come to save us all.  Amen.

The Lord is coming … to bring peace and eternal life. (Entrance antiphon for Mass)
“I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Mt 10:34).  Yet He is proclaimed to be the Prince of Peace.  His is the peace that comes to those who open themselves every day more and more to His will.  “My peace I give to you; not as the world does do I give to you” (Jn 14:27).  These things --- a decent home, a pleasant neighborhood, tranquil family relationships --- are all good.  They remain blessings as long as they do not become our final goal, our ultimate happiness.  Then they would become lies because they cannot last.  They will all come to an end.  If we let him, the Prince of Peace will teach us to seek in His will the peace that the world can neither give nor take away.
Lord, give me your peace.  Give me the grace to place in Your hands all the good things I have in life, even my loved ones.  They are, after all, Your gifts.  And prepare me for that one great gift which cannot be taken away --- Your peace.  May all whom I love and care about come to Your peace.  May we love one another in Your peace, never to be separated again, because your peace is our everlasting life.  Amen.

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And I pray you find, in these final days of Advent, much peace in your life.

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