(From this Sunday’s bulletin)
Dear People of God,
On this Second Sunday of Advent, we hear in Luke’s gospel (3:1-6) the challenge from John the Baptist to prepare for the Kingdom of God. Ready your hearts, release your grasp on your possessions, open your eyes, stir up your desire, walk the straight and narrow, and unveil your passion for God. The Kingdom is breaking through our narrow ways, our selfish inclinations, and our unsteady approach to love. The Advent season is a profound treasure inviting us into the core of our faith, and to let go of all that does not belong within our hearts, our passions, and our relationships.
On December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we will begin The Year of Mercy. To help us enter into this year, there are cards with Pope Francis’ prayer available in the niches at Sacred Heart, as well as a booklet published by World Library that contains one of my litanies. I hope that you will sit up and take notice of this notion of God’s love and mercy in your own life.
As I reflect on the beginning of The Year of Mercy, there is one important aspect of our lives as believers that I want to reflect upon. I have been a priest for over 32 years, and if there is one thing that I have learned and would like to change, it is this: most people do not feel worthy of God’s love or mercy.
It is never easy to live in the world today, no matter how much money we earn or what we possess. Our lives are complicated by marriages that do not work, or children who may make decisions we do not like. We face the complexities of trauma from our childhoods, and insecurities about our talents and gifts in the world. We face the demands of corporate life, the intense pull of consumerism, and our struggles with how we look to other people. Our lives are often emotionally insecure as we work to make ends meet. We worry during sleepless nights. Our family lives are often conflicted by histories of emotional trauma and past abuse, especially alcohol, that change our family systems.
In the midst of this, I want to invite you into the mercy, forgiveness and love that Jesus has for you. You are worth it, your life matters. God loves you. We listen to John the Baptist to wake up to the love of Jesus’ presence. We listen to our heart’s desire for mercy, for compassion and for love.
We are stretched thin by our commitments in these days before Christmas. It is easy to settle into believing that mercy is for everyone except yourself. Some questions for reflection:
Have you considered sitting down with a confessor during this Advent season?
How do you view God’s mercy for your life?
How do you respond to John the Baptist’s challenge to direct our lives to Jesus? … What does this cost you? What do you need to let go of? And what do you need to embrace?
What are you looking for in this Advent season?
Have you considered carving out more prayer time in this busy season?
What have you considered for a closer walk with Jesus?
With prayer and remembrance, Fr. Ron