Friday, November 29, 2019

Don't Rush Into Christmas

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Dear Friends,

Even though stores are already  festooned with Christmas displays with   Christmas songs in the background,  my hope for you is this:

Don’t rush into Christmas.

Allow yourself Advent-time to wonder about the ways Isaiah and other prophets teach us to prepare for the coming of God into human life. On this first Sunday of Advent, Isaiah tells of the vision God has in mind for us. This vision is an arc over the world, from our ancient past to our undisclosed future. Call it a rainbow if you wish – a way to meet God on the way to meeting the Messiah. As we climb the mountain of God that Isaiah speaks of – the mountain of God, signs along the way will tell us if we are on the right path. Look for them.

-Do we find violence and disaster giving way to harmony and peace? If so, God is on the                     mountain with us.

-Are we willing to be pruned so that our grasp and practice of God’s vision become true ,                      real and lasting ? Let’s not be afraid to be pruned. Pruning is what needs to happen to us                      as we go higher up the mountain with the Lord.

Jesus, in today’s Gospel, reminds his followers how the people before Noah’s day ignored the coming flood. We are not called to be like them, but rather mindful of the floods of life with the high waters of Lake Ontario as a daily reminder. We can survive the flood, particularly if we work together.

Stay awake, Jesus told his followers.

Ready yourself for what is to come, the fullness of light and life in God.

Light and life, the promise of God are not idle promises.

The Promised One is coming, so say awake.

Early in this Advent season , pay attention to this personal challenge:
Do not rush too quickly toward Christmas,
But linger instead on the mountain roads of Advent.
Find God on the ascent.

~Sister Joan Sobala

Sunday, November 24, 2019

A King Who Is Available to Us Every Day in Every Way

Dear Friends,

Since 1925, the Church has celebrated the feast of Christ the King. It was a feast that was created for the times and spoke to the times, and it still does if we try to learn what this kingship of Jesus really is. It does not give him airs. It does not keep him at a distance from the people.  He is close to us, our savior. That is who he is and who he is for us: Our Savior. If we are honest, we know that we cannot save ourselves. In our day, we like to think we can, but we really can’t. Our salvation depends completely on God, who wants us, loves us, draws us close. God does for us what he did for Jesus. God traveled the roads with Jesus, was his inspiration, confidant, uncompromising source of uncompromising strength. The Father of Jesus never failed Him, even when Jesus’ own strength failed and he came close to death.

In his life, Jesus had no kingly aspirations. Instead, he was a realist who met people where they were and when possible, helped them move on toward a new and better way of living. Of the many important things we can call to mind about Jesus on this feast day, two seem particularly important for us to recognize and make our own in practice.

Jesus was available to others. As  He traveled through Galilee and eventually into Judea Jesus was available to people who noticed him and those who did not.  The Widow of Naim, for example, didn’t see him, so absorbed was she in her grief, but, Jesus noticed her, and dealt with her sorrow in the most remarkable way.

Jesus was available to people who didn’t want what he had to offer, like the young man who went away sad because he was wealthy and couldn’t bear to let go of his wealth. In this case, Jesus did not succeed.

Traveling through Ireland in October, our coach driver/guide was candid when we asked him about his life in Ireland. He told us just how things worked out and then he invariably added: “I did the best I could.” That was what Jesus did – the best he could when people accepted him or when people chose to diminish his word, his gifts of teaching and healing.

Jesus made no claim to be a celebrity, an important person among  kingmakers who felt they had a right to judge people’s importance. Jesus was one-with-God and one-with-us.

How, then, do we do what Jesus did? How do we become available to people and do all we can for them and with them? How do we acquire the tenderness of Jesus, the fearlessness of Jesus, the compassion of Jesus toward all who suffer? How do we do the best we can with God the Father as out guide?

This feast offers us a time to turn to Jesus and offer him our hearts, our daily living, our hopefulness and realization that we can only do what we can. This is a very different way of looking at this King of ours.

-Sister Joan Sobala