Tag Archives: third

DECEMBER 21 Saturday the Third Week

We go together

Mary … entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. Luke 1:39-40

MaryVisit Liz

I saw a cartoon in which a light bulb opened the door to find many small Christmas tree lights. The astonished light bulb asked one of the tree lights, “You’re bringing friends?” The small light replied, “We’re Christmas lights. When one of us goes out, we all go out!”

In today’s reading, Mary hurries off on a journey she certainly hadn’t planned. A pregnant teenager, she finds herself on the road to Judea unsure of what’s going to happen next.

Are there times in our lives when the unexpected happens when we’re asked to do something for which we feel we don’t have the strength? When suffering, illness, grief, rejection, or disappointments leave us filled with questions, doubts, and worry? During these times it can be difficult to see God. Perhaps the answer is that we find God in each other; “we all go out” together.

Mary greets Elizabeth. They each realize they are blessed. Mary and Elizabeth see the work of God in one another.

We’re never alone; we do this life journey together. “We all go out” (or in) together.

DAILY PRACTICE: Thank someone who has been there for you. Is there someone who needs your presence at this time?

ADVENT PRAYER: God Within Us, thank you for not putting us in this world alone. Deepen in me gratitude for the many people who support and love me, revealing your presence to me.

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


DECEMBER 20 Friday the Third Week

Placing Jesus in the crib

 “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son … “ Luke 1:31


When do you place Jesus in your manger scene? When I was growing up we did it on Christmas morning. Before we discovered what Santa had left, we had a reverent procession from the back of the house to the living room to place Jesus in the crib.

I loved that ritual, but now I sometimes wonder about it. Did we do that because of the “waiting” theme of Advent? Yet, God is already with us. Perhaps the real waiting of Advent is that God waits for us to continue trusting, to continue recognizing, to continue being overwhelmed by, God’s constant presence.

Perhaps waiting until Christmas to add Jesus to the creche is a symbol of what I do sometimes in my life. Do I want God when I decide that I need God? Do I want God to act right now, in this time and place? In doing that, might I forget about God at other times or miss the myriad surprises of God’s constant presence?

Perhaps the simple manger scene is a reminder that we are not in control. The birth of Jesus changed the world; it changes us-day in and day out-when we are aware of God’s constant presence.

DAILY PRACTICE: Leave the statue of the infant out all year as a reminder that we don’t control God’s coming. God is always here.

ADVENT PRAYER: Constant Companion, you are “with us” more than we can imagine. Increase in me that awareness of your closeness- no matter what is happening.


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


DECEMBER 19 Thursday the Third Week

Supportive prayer

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your
prayer has been heard.”
Luke 1:13


My niece Michelle was curled up on the couch crying. Two good friends had been involved in a serious auto accident, hit head-on by a drunk driver. Tyler, three years old, climbed into her lap, put his arm around her, and said, “It’ll be OK, Mom. I’m here.”

Zechariah hears a similar message: “Don’t be afraid. God is here, God has been with you, listening to and answering your needs.”

Because of their trust in God, Elizabeth and Zechariah had prayed for years for a child-even though this passage tells us that Zechariah had a hard time believing Gabriel’s surprising words.

We also hear that “the whole assembly … was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering.” Prayer is interwoven throughout this gospel passage. Prayer is interwoven throughout all our days.

Prayer unites us. It intensifies our growing relationship with God. It supports our treasured relationships with each other.

DAILY PRACTICE: Keep all of the Christmas (and other greeting) cards that you receive in a basket in your dining room all year long. As you begin each meal, pray for the person(s) whose card is on the top (that card then goes to the bottom to await another turn).

ADVENT PRAYER: Provider God, you listen unceasingly and responsively.
Increase my trust in you; deepen my prayer. Unite me with those who have asked for my prayers, those who have cared for and prayed for me, and those who need my prayer.


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


DECEMBER 18 Wednesday the Third Week

It’s OK

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary
your wife into your home.” 
Matthew 1:20Angel&Joseph

The talented artist Brother Mickey McGrath has a thought-provoking painting depicting today’s gospel (http:/ /www.youtube. com/watch?v=kKF84zUDfjo).

In today’s passage from Matthew, Joseph falls asleep. What might have been going through his mind and spirit as he slept: feelings of anxiety, worry, sadness, fear, alarm, confusion … ?

In the midst of this, God comes to Joseph through a messenger, the angel Gabriel. In Brother Mickey’s painting, Joseph’s head is slanted in sleep. Above his right ear Gabriel whispers, “It’s OK.”

Perhaps that is the overwhelming Christmas message, the yearlong message, from God to us. “It’s OK.”

God’s words to us are always comforting and, at the same time, challenging. God can comfort us with the words “It’s OK,” because God’s presence with us brings peace and hope. At the same time, God challenges us with “It’s OK,” because God asks us, expects us, to “wake up” and do our part, bringing hope and peace to all the confused, worried, fearful conditions in our world.

DAILY PRACTICE: For what do you need to hear God say “It’s OK”? Dream with someone these days, reassuring them that “It’s OK.”

ADVENT PRAYER: God of Comfort and Challenge, your words support us and assure us of your wondrous care. Support me, in my Advent commitment, to be your affirming presence to all I meet.



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


DECEMBER 17 Tuesday the Third Week

Unbroken connections

  The total number of generations … from the Babylonian exile to
the Messiah (was) fourteen generations.
Matthew 1:17


A Native American story recounts that when the Creator was having trouble keeping the world together, a little worm offered to help. The small creature spun its imperceptible silk, connecting all creation within a resplendent, invisible web. What a delightful story of the interconnectedness of creation, of all of us being bound together!

Today’s gospel might seem tedious. Yet Matthew thought it crucial to remind us of how Jesus is connected to all creatures and all creation through the “forty-two generations” preceding him. Connection is the way we are made. Perhaps we need to become more attentive to our profound connection with others and the world.

What might the world be like if we were mindfully conscious of our bond-our human bond, our God-like bond of being made in the image of God? Would there be less harshness, insensitivity, judgment, discrimination, violence, racism, injustice, polarization? Could there be more thoughtfulness, compassion, understanding, kindness, neighborliness, cooperation, support, generosity?

DAILY PRACTICE: Who are you connected to, especially beyond your immediate circle of family and friends? Reach out to someone beyond your inner circle-with unconditional acceptance, comforting kindness, and selfless help.

ADVENT PRAYER: Unifying God of Connections, thank you for creating us irrevocably bound together. Strengthen me as I live your design to be an understanding unifier, a concerned connector in my world.


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


DECEMBER 16 Monday the Third Week

The offering of a home

  “By what authority are you doing these things?” Matthew 21:23


When Lawrence Anthony, the South African conservationist, died a couple of years ago, two herds of wild elephants traveled single-file through the bush to his home. One of the many things Anthony devoted his life to was providing a safe home for elephants on his reserve because they were being poached and killed in the wild.

After being brought to the reserve, however, the elephants’ first impulse was to escape. Anthony had to convince them that this was now their safe home. In a flash, he realized the answer: he would live with the herd. He would stay with them, feed them, and talk to them. He would be with them day and night, telling them, “This is your home now. You have no need to run anymore.”

How do we recognize our home and live where we’re called to be? Why is there no need for us to run to find safety elsewhere? God knew the best for us – “I will live with them,” said God.

God sent Jesus, his Son, to live with us. This Advent/Christmas season is about the challenge to live this awesome mystery, this astounding gift – God living among us, offering us home.

DAILY PRACTICE: If God lives among us, offering us home, we, likewise, are called to do that for others. There is someone in your world waiting for you to offer them “a safe home.” Reach out today.

ADVENT PRAYER: Emmanuel, God Living Among Us, how do I thank you for your boundless love in entering humanity, for providing a home for us in you? Let my thank you be my response to your people, all those who need “a safe home” in my caring.


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


DECEMBER 15 Third Sunday of Advent

Joy-filled contentment

  The ransomed of the Lord shall … enter Zion singing crowned with everlasting joy …Isaiah 35:10


One of my favorite books to read with my great-nieces and great-nephews is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. But my great-nephew Tyler wouldn’t let me read it to him. He would emphatically say, “It’s not a bad day; it’s a very good day. Look at all the great things we have and can do.”

I was struck by how he interpreted it. He was content with what he had, with whatever was happening. He saw it all as good – and enough. As we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, reflecting on joy, it becomes obvious that one prerequisite for being joyful is to be content, easily pleased with all I have, all that is happening.

The wise among us and the children (unless they’re tainted by commercials) are easily pleased with what each day brings. For those who know that God is everywhere, delight is experienced both in the front row as well as in the bleachers; God is found in our backyards as well as in exotic far-away places.

DAILY PRACTICE: Review your Christmas plans. Are you content with the simple, the unpretentious, the enough, or do you think everything has to be bigger and better than last year?

ADVENT PRAYER: God Who Calls Us to Contented Joy, give me a deepened appreciation for all that is, and for wherever I find myself. Increase joyful contentment in me, especially during this season in which we celebrate the simplicity of your extraordinary love.


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


Advent 2010. Saturday of the Third Week

Another story

“Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.”

So this is how the birth of my brother came about. It was Christmas day, forty-one years ago. The baby wasn’t due for months yet, but some babies don’t read calendars. It was in the middle of a snowstorm too, so clearly babies don’t always pay attention to weather reports. Dad got Mom to the hospital, but then he had to get back home to us, the other seven children who needed his attention. After all, it was Christmas Day. Dad loaded u up in the Chevy station wagon (note: this was before the days of SUVs). Intending to deposit us across town at my grandmother’s house, all he managed to do was to get us royally stuck in the middle of an unplowed street, wheels spinning and visibility near zero. My sisters and I were packed into the back seat in our warmest coats like a pile of puppies. We could see our breath as we talked excitedly about our new baby brother and Mom and the doctors and Santa Claus. What a great Christmas we were having, while Dad knocked on every door in sight and frantically tried to be, borrow, or steal some ashes to dislodge the car. And this is how my brother David, named for a king, came into this world. A miracle baby, like any other, born for love.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION Which elements of miracle attend every birth? How do you welcome new life into the world wherever you encounter it?

TIME TO ACT Champion the unborn. Celebrate parents. Assist new mothers and fathers in practical ways. Take no life for granted-including yours.

OFFER A PRAYER Author of life, you created the world and called it good. We thank you for including each of us in your plan of goodness and happiness.

From: Advent 2010. Everyday reflections, actions & prayers. OPENING OUR HEARTS TO GOD by Alice Camille. Twenty Third Publications


Advent 2010. Friday of the Third Week

Where the story begins

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham.


It’s a long story, aabout how we got to be here in the first place. We have to tell about our ancestors and the old country, their journey and what they wanted. For some, it’s a story of hopes and dreams. For others, it’s a bitter story of enslavement, or being forced into the status of refugee. Generations followed that firs one, some who knew greater achievements, and others deepening despair. So many people comprise the story of who we are that even if we knew all about every one of them, we’d find it hard to trace it down in the end to our Mom and Dad, and how they met to include us.

Telling the story of salvation is no different. The cast of the Bible is legion. The motivation of each player is complex, and some folks barely got a name noted in the record. Some win and others lose, and both outcomes register along the winding road of DNA, history, chance, and choice that flow through the likes of Abraham and Sarah, David and Bathsheba, converging in the long run, upon Joseph and Mary. But the thin is, the story doesn’t end with them. A whole new story begin with them. And the same can be said, of course, for us.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION We hear so much about the tyranny of genes, IQ, nature, and nurture. How much of who you are today is about the choices you’ve made?

TIME TO ACT Make a list of qualities you inherited: appearance, ability, gifts, resources. Make another list of your most fateful decisions. Consider which list has impacted your life more.

OFFER A PRAYER Lord of liberty, you give your creatures free will to determine whether they will serve or not. Give us also wisdom, so that we know how to choose.

From: Advent 2010. Everyday reflections, actions & prayers. OPENING OUR HEARTS TO GOD by Alice Camille. Twenty Third Publications


Advent 2010. Thursday of the Third Week

A simple request

“Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments?”
LUKE 7:26

A man comes to the door at night. He is humble and his face is lined with worry. “In the name of heaven, I request lodging from you. Because she cannot walk – my beloved wife.” You explain that, regretfully, you must decline, it’s impossible, there is no room. But the humble man continues with his urgent request as if he cannot hear you: “My wife is Mary, Queen of Heaven. We ask for lodging, just for the night.” This is the drama of Las Posadas – “the inns” – a little ritual that begins tonight in Spanish-speaking parishes everywhere. The language of the songs is quaint and poignant: How could you say no to this lovely man who call his wife “the Queen of Heaven”? Yet in the participatory drama of the inns, we do say no to him, several times. We vigorously deny him, his wife, and the unborn child a place among us. It always sounds ludicrous that someone might turn a pregnant woman away, to put a child at risk. It sounds crazy, but it happens all the time. The shabby, weary, dirty man with his hat in his hands – we don’t pause long enough to hear his story. It’s all lies, these people are pulling a fast one. How could his wife ever be the Queen of Heaven?

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION How do you incorporate the stranger, the mother, and the child into your concerns this
holiday season?

TIME TO ACT Consider local and global organizations that assist families in need. In this season of gift giving, the greatest gift of all is offered to those who cannot reciprocate.

OFFER A PRAYER Lord of welcome, you exclude no one from your invitation to the fullness of life. Make our homes places of constant welcome where the poor are always our special guests.

From: Advent 2010. Everyday reflections, actions & prayers. OPENING OUR HEARTS TO GOD by Alice Camille. Twenty Third Publications