Second Sunday of Advent

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Second Sunday of Advent ⎪ December 8, 2013 en Français ⎪ PDF

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On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
but he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.
On that day, the root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
the Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

Isaiah 11:1-10

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Isaiah 11:1-10 promises, “On that day, a bud will blossom” which will bring wisdom, strength, knowledge, justice, faith, and harmony. He refers, of course, to the day Christ was born. Each Advent season reminds us of the gifts offered through His birth and the renewed hope it brings to our lives. “With a little child to guide them” there shall be no harm or ruin, yet that child, a miraculous gift to the world, sometimes is all too easily cast aside; we forget His message of faith, compassion and humility. All too often, blaming others seems easier than taking responsibility. Thankfully, the season of Advent revitalizes the wisdom and faith necessary to grow spiritually, by reminding us to have faith and trust in a single-minded devotion to God through prayer and action.

We are fortunate. Our Xaverian values pave a path to follow on our spiritual journeys by encouraging a commitment to faith through prayer, advocating justice and compassion through service, and fostering trust, knowledge, and strength through communion with others.

One of the most personal means of nurturing a sense of justice, of faith, of the Xaverian values, is in prayer. Now, during Advent, as we “prepare the way of the Lord,” candles light the way; prayer guides us. According to Isaiah, God’s dwelling shall be glorious and just, but, we must always strive to make our dwellings, here and now, in all their incarnations, places of justice and compassion as well. Individually, as family, and as community, we gain strength and wisdom through prayer, to keep our “gardens” in order and open ourselves to God’s love and presence.

The second candle of Advent, called “Bethlehem’s candle,” represents the implacable faith of those who waited for and welcomed Jesus. In our lives, spending some quiet time with the Lord helps keep our faith alive, helps us focus on how better to embrace Christ. Prayer, an act of humility, grace, thanks, and trust, creates communication, the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. To strengthen our relationship with God, we pray, and we listen. Closely. A commitment to prayer reminds me to stop and wonder at the gifts I receive and those I have to offer: a sunrise, fog on the snow, a baby’s first smile, epiphanies in the classroom, kind gestures from strangers, offering kindness and compassion to others: All are prayers. I listen. I give thanks. Prayer brings me closer to who I need to be, and points to the direction I need to follow in order to nurture and grow the blossom of faith to which Isaiah alludes.

In Bethlehem, a child was born to lead us into the light. Today, each of us is a small flicker of that light, put here on His behalf, to spread His news. In harmony, small things grow.  In community with each other, His flame burns brighter. Through service and compassion, His presence and love manifests itself. In prayer and devotion, the Word lives in, and through us, and “justice shall flourish” with “fullness of peace forever.”

May God be with us all this blessed Christmas Season, and always.

Gail Dennig, Associate & English teacher at St. John’s Prep in Danvers MA.

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1. How can I better embrace Christ’s message of faith, compassion and humility, both inwardly and in service to others, in “preparing the way of the Lord”?

2. How might my prayer life be invigorated and enlightened in order to strengthen my faith life and relationship with Christ?

3. Isaiah speaks of the sprouting buds of faith, growing roots of justice for all. Where do I see injustice and what more can I do to eliminate its presence?

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