Reflections for Sunday, December 8, 2013

Second Sunday of Advent
Meditation and Questions for Reflection/Group Discussion

(Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-2,7-8, 12-13,17; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12)

Growing in Godly Patience and Love

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you. (Romans 15:7)

Jesus sure has a lot of patience, doesn’t he? Day in and day out, he puts up with our erratic behavior, especially the way we treat each other. We know that Jesus doesn’t like to see us manipulating or deceiving or hurting each other. But he is incredibly patient with us, always holding out hope that we will change and treat each other with love. He never abandons us. He never gives up on us.

Think about how Peter tried to convince Jesus not to embrace the cross. Or think about the Last Supper. Jesus was about to be arrested and put to death, and what did he hear? His apostles asking where he was going and arguing over which of them was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Was Jesus frustrated? Probably. Did he lose his patience? No.

Now, if this is the way Jesus treats us and if Jesus wants us to love one another as he loves us, then we ought to try to have patience with each other. We ought to try to hang in there with each other—just as Jesus hangs in there with us. We ought to try to welcome each other, simply because of the way Jesus continues to welcome us.

St. James tells us that big and small trials will come our way, and many of them will have to do with relationships. When these trials come, we need to see them both as issues to resolve and as opportunities to grow in our faith—particularly as they help us become more patient (James 1:2-3). As we see these trials as opportunities, we will find ourselves remaining peaceful and even joyful, no matter what the situation.

So whenever you face a challenge that tests your patience, try to step back for a moment and say, “Thank you, Jesus, for being so patient with me. Now give me the grace to be like you.

“Jesus, help me to be patient with others, just as you are with me.”

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. Justice is one of the hallmarks of the “peaceable kingdom” so vividly described for us in the first reading.  The catechism says that “Justice is moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor.”  What is the principal hallmark of your relationship with God? With your family? With your neighbors? How can you make justice a greater part of these relationships?
  2. In the first reading, the seven gifts of the Spirit are also mentioned. Jesus, as the perfect man, received the fullness of the Spirit and these spiritual gifts.  Do you believe that these gifts are intended for you as well? Why or why not? Are you open to praying for yourself and  others during Advent to receive a deeper infilling of the Holy Spirit and a greater manifestation of his gifts? If not, why not?
  3. We are told in the responsorial psalm that the Lord has pity for and rescues the poor, the afflicted, and the lowly.  As a disciple of Christ, what steps can you take this Advent to mirror his actions towards the poor, the afflicted, and the lowly?
  4. St. Paul tells the Romans of the value of the Scriptures in our lives: it was “written for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  How often do you turn to the Scriptures for “encouragement” and “hope” as Paul suggests?  Is it on a daily basis? Should it be? What steps can you take during Advent to increase the time you spend reading Scripture, the written Word of God?
  5. St. Paul also tells us of the importance of having unity and harmony among brothers and sisters in Christ.  How can you be a greater source of unity and harmony during Advent in your family, and with neighbors, fellow workers, friends, and others?
  6. In the Gospel, John the Baptist tells us not only to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” but also to “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.” What do you think this means?  What is the fruit the Lord is asking you to bear in your life?
  7. The meditation ends with these words: “So whenever you face a challenge that tests your patience, try to step back for a moment and say, ‘Thank you, Jesus, for being so patient with me. Now give me the grace to be like you.’” How can you open yourself more to growing in patience during Advent? How can celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation play a role in this growth?
  8.  Take some time now to pray and ask for the grace to grow in Godly patience during Advent and, especially, to grow more and more in the image and likeness of Christ. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.

These reflection questions are provided courtesy of The Word Among Us.

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