Today is the First Sunday of Advent!
If you have an Advent wreath, you’ll light the first of four candles today. If you don’t have one, you can watch the priest light it just before Holy Mass.
What did Mother Teresa say about Advent? Something beautiful.
“Advent is like Springtime in nature when everything is renewed, fresh and healthy. Advent refreshes us, makes us healthy and able to receive Christ in whatever form He may come to us. At Christmas He comes as a little child, small, helpless and in need of His mother and all that a mother’s love can give. His mother’s humility enabled her to serve. If we really want God to fill us, we must empty ourselves through humility of all the selfishness within us.”
“One of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice.” (Luke 17:15)
Jesus always responds to prayers made in faith. The faith of the ten lepers brought them a miraculous cure, but the faith of one brought him back to the feet of Jesus, where he learned that his conviction had brought him something even greater – salvation, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” (Luke 17:19)
All things are possible with God, but only in faith can we accept the mystery of His power the way the lone leper did when he returned to thank Jesus. One would expect such a reaction from a leper whose lesions suddenly disappeared, but it didn’t happen that way for the other nine. And it doesn’t always happen that way for us, even though the miracles in our own lives go beyond physical healings every day!
God has pity on us every time we ask, not just when His answer is visible like the lepers. Trusting in this is the miracle of faith, and in its fullness we find salvation.
Jesus calls us to invite the needy to our banquet table. His message doesn’t discourage us from welcoming friends, family and wealthy neighbors, but asks that we bear in mind our intentions. It’s against human nature to give lavishly without looking for repayment. But Jesus insists that we give without expectations. How do we do that?
Perhaps we can start by practicing generosity toward those with no means of reciprocation. Consider the young lady in prison without loved ones to send money for an occasional luxury such as a soda or bag of chips. The retired nun on a small income, standing in the grocery checkout line. The father of nine, longing to take all of his children to a ballgame, but can’t afford one ticket. The poor beggar with nothing but her clothes and unassuming nature. We may find it’s easier to give without the prospect of receiving, when we give to such persons.
But something wonderful happens to us when we give of ourselves to the least of these. Jesus rewards us by bringing joy to our hearts. We become the needy ones; constantly looking for opportunities to encourage, until giving becomes a beautiful habit. Jesus’ gifts also begin to increase, as we find ourselves offering our support to the poor and affluent alike, with no expectation of receiving. Ultimately, we find ourselves longing to be like Him in love, and sharing that love with everyone.
So, as we enter this beautiful season of giving, let us be generous with all our brothers and sisters and recognize that our repayment comes from God alone. Our most precious reimbursement . . . His amazing grace.
“Brothers and sisters:
Be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you,
as is fitting among holy ones,
no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place,
but instead, thanksgiving.
Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person,
that is, an idolater,
has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God.
Let no one deceive you with empty arguments,
for because of these things
the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient.
So do not be associated with them.
For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light” – Ephesians 4:32, 5-8.
Father, all the elements of nature obey Your command. Calm the storms and hurricanes that threaten us and turn our fear of Your power into praise of Your goodness. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
“I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
Show your wondrous mercies,
O savior of those who flee
from their foes to refuge at your right hand.
Hide me in the shadow of your wings,
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence”
(Psalm 17:6-7, 8B and 15).