Tag Archives: first

DECEMBER 7 Saturday the First Week

To be a saint

His heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled
and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36

sheeps


A Sufi story tells us that if we wish to be a saint, we need five qualities of children: they do not worry about their daily bread; when they fall sick, they do not complain night and day about their misfortune; whatever food they have, they share; when they quarrel, they do not keep grudges in their hearts, but make up quickly; the slightest threat frightens them and brings tears to their eyes.

Many people say that Christmas is for children. That is understandable as we watch children’s awe, excitement, and joyous giving (as well as delight at receiving). Yet awe, excitement, giving, and delight are also a part of our lives, or should be!

Aren’t these characteristics also the basis of Jesus’ life? Today’s gospel reminds us that Jesus’ heart continually goes out to people. His concern was always rooted in the present moment and the needs of each person in that moment. Since Jesus came to us to teach us how to live, perhaps these selfless qualities are our call – and our joy – during these Advent days.

DAILY PRACTICE: Which of the five qualities of children could you live today? Which could you let grow in your life during Advent, so that, as the New Year begins, the quality is second-nature in you?

ADVENT PRAYER: Inviting God, you call me to be a saint in all the moments of my life. Deepen in me the commitment that Jesus taught and lived: trust, joy, sharing, forgiveness, and empathy.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications

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DECEMBER 6 Friday the First Week

How do we see?

…and their eyes were opened. Matthew 9:30

Jesus Heals the Blind Man copy

One morning, after a young couple had moved into a new neighborhood, the wife looked out the window and noticed her neighbor hanging the wash outside. “That laundry isn’t very clean,” she said.

Her husband didn’t reply, and every time the neighbor hung her wash, his wife made the same comment. About a month later, the woman was surprised to see clean wash on her neighbor’s line. “Well, she finally learned how to wash!” she said.

Her husband replied, “I got up early and cleaned our windows.”

In today’s gospel, two men are cured of physical blindness. But other types of blindness can afflict us too. We can train our eyes to see only what we want to see. We can let our eyes get clouded over because of past perceptions and prejudices, hurts and slights that we’re still harboring, or an attitude that our way is the only way.

There are many legends about St. Nicholas, whose feast we celebrate today, stories of his generous giving to everyone. Perhaps he was able to give to all because he had a wide and clear vision; he could see the goodness of everyone, despite their circumstances.

DAILY PRACTICE: Wash your windows today in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. As you wash them, ask yourself: what smudges and streaks might I need to eliminate so that I can see the fullness, the beauty, and the goodness of everyone?

ADVENT PRAYER: God Who Restores Our Sight, you respond to our every need, even those we might not see. Help me to see as completely as you do and to respond as generously as you do.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications

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DECEMBER 5 Thursday the First Week

Opening the gate

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them…”  Matthew 15:36

RabbitEating

In the movie Phenomenon (1996), the main character has a garden, and he is pestered by a rabbit eating all his vegetables, no matter what fence he constructs. One night he decides to open the gate to the garden and wait. All of a sudden, he realizes that he had trapped the rabbit in; the rabbit was trying to get out.

Why did Jesus come into our world? Was it because the people were trapped in their fears, in their doubts about what it meant to be really human? Did Jesus come for us because we often fence in our worries, our doubts, our discouragements, our pain and suffering? Did Jesus come to show us how to open the gate, to slowly and steadily let go of our hesitations, disappointments, and negativity?

The coming of the Word into our world spoke words of comfort and of challenge, words calling us to action and to commitment. Jesus, the Word of God, opens new possibilities of peacefulness and freedom.

DAILY PRACTICE: Go for a walk. Each time you pass a fence, call to mind feelings or attitudes that are perhaps trapped inside you. Each time you pass a gate, ask God to help you be open to the words of Jesus that bring you healing and comfort and call you to freedom.

ADVENT PRAYER: God of Openings, you sent Jesus to free us from all the things we’ve fenced in. I am grateful that Jesus’ life and words teach and empower me to be open to healing, positive attitudes, and the freedom only you can give.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications

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DECEMBER 4 Wednesday the First Week

Surprised by God

He took the seven loaves and the fish… gave them to the disciples… (and) to the crowds.  Matthew 15:36

Bread&Fish
I asked Abby, my seven-year-old great-niece, what she would like for her birthday. She replied, “If I tell you, then it won’t be a surprise.”

That sense of surprise and wonder, which certainly pervades the season of Advent/Christmas, is also the foundation of our constant and deepening relationship with God. In today’s gospel, imagine the surprise and wonder within the crowd when all were fed.

Sometimes I wonder and think about how I pray. Am I always telling God what I need, what I want, laying out all the steps of what I would like God to do? Or is my prayer one of being aware and grateful for all the ways God is already surprising me?

Jewish prayer in the Old and New Testament (the prayer that Jesus prayed) is not primarily asking God for something. It is predominantly a prayer of thanks, recalling the presence of God among them personally and in their history and expressing gratitude for God’s surprises.

DAILY PRACTICE: Listen to your prayers. Are they giving God advice on how to run the (your) world? When you pray, are you open and trusting of God’s surprises in the daily occurrences of life?

ADVENT PRAYER: God of Surprises, thank you for your continuing amazements. Deepen my trust and wonder as I pray and as I live. Help me to recognize your wondrous gifts, which are greater than I could ever imagine.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications

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DECEMBER 3 Tuesday the First Week

Rooted in Peacefulness

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb… Isaiah 11:6

RootedPeace

A young child frequently wandered in the woods. Over time, his father became concerned. ”I’ve noticed that each day you walk into the woods,” the dad said to his son. “Why do you go there?”

“I go there to find God,” replied his son.

“That’s a very good thing,” said his father. ”I’m glad you’re searching for God. But don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?”

“Yes,” the boy answered, “but I’m not.”

Today’s reading from Isaiah speaks of a stunning vision of a peaceful world. As we think about peace in our times-in our families, our neighborhoods, our nation, our world-many people suggest steps to bring about a peaceable kingdom. They’re all true and need to be adopted boldly.

But what is the first step, the foundational action that leads to the others? The young boy in our story knew the answer. He knew he needed a place, a process, by which he first realized who he was. He needed to be rooted in a peacefulness within himself. Spending time with God reveals to us who we are. It ingrains in us the peace that only God can give. Then we can be peacemakers.

DAILY PRACTICE: Decide on a way that is best for you to spend time with God, growing in peace. Decide on a way you can bring peace to a situation that is full of discord.

ADVENT PRAYER: God of Peace, encircle me in your never-ending peace. This Advent, make me an instrument of your peace.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications

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DECEMBER 1 First Sunday of Advent

Profitably busy

“Stay awake.” Matthew 24:42
StayAwake

For most of us, Advent is a busy season. Today’s readings call us not to be busy, but to be profitably busy. Our busyness must count for something. It must make a difference.

Why are we called to be profitably busy each day? Often these readings lead us to think about the Second Coming of Jesus-and they should! Yet, if we mean by the “second coming” that Jesus isn’t really with us now, that he is an outsider to our world and just drops in once in a while, then we are missing something really important.

Every day of our lives, we encounter Jesus in some person, in some situation. We need to “stay awake” to all the ways we meet him. That means that we are called to be profitably busy.

What will that mean for this Advent? Perhaps it will mean slowing down for prayer, paying closer attention to the people in our lives, building an awareness of those in our world who are lonely and suffering, or taking action to reach out to someone whom we might know.

DAILY PRACTICE: Make a resolution that will enable you to be profitably busy during this Advent season.

ADVENT PRAYER: God of the Here and Now, nudge me to notice your Son in the hundreds of ways he is with me. Urge me to ways of being prayerfully, profitably busy.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications

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