Reflections for Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 63:16-17,19; 64:2-7; Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37)

Advent, A Time to Prepare our Hearts for Jesus’ Coming

“Be watchful! Be alert!” (Mark 13:33)

Announcement: The Most High God requests the honor of your presence at the entry of his Son into the world. The unprecedented event will be followed by a joyous celebration in two locations: heaven and earth. The event will take place on December 25, and you are encouraged to spend the next four weeks in preparation for the festivities.

Welcome to Advent—a season of hope and expectation! Over the course of the next month, many of us will be part of family gatherings. We will reenact time-honored traditions. Gifts will be bought. Homes will be decorated. Special meals will be prepared.

And to crown all these observances, Jesus himself will come and visit us. As today’s Gospel reading tells us, we may not know when he will come, but he promises he will come. Right now, he is looking for new ways to touch our hearts. Right now, he is preparing special gifts of grace and blessing for us—Advent and Christmas presents that he will give to those who open their hearts to him.

What kind of gifts will he give? Reminders of his Father’s love for us. A sense of hope as you face the challenges of life. New insights and wisdom that you can share with your loved ones. Freedom from guilt as you lay your sins and failings at his feet. And above all, peace and joy as he tells you that he has you in the palm of his hand.

So take up the invitation today! Do everything you can to be alert and ready to receive Jesus and his gifts. Try to spend a little more time in daily prayer and Scripture reading. Go to confession so that you can get rid of anything that blocks you from receiving his love and his gifts.

Jesus wants to celebrate with you. And he’s given you a whole month to get ready. Step by step, day by day, you can draw closer to the Lord— and feel him draw closer to you!

“Jesus, I accept your invitation. By your Spirit and your grace, help me to get ready for your coming on Christmas Day.”

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.) 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. In the first reading, we hear these words: “All of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags” (Isaiah 64:5).  Why do you think the people’s so-called “good deeds” were so offensive to God? In what ways can our own good deeds be offensive to God?  What is the difference between good deeds and Godly deeds? 
  2. In the responsorial psalm, we cry out to the Lord along with the psalmist to come and save us, so that he will “give us new life and we will call upon his name.” What areas of your life do you need to cry out to the Lord for “new life”? Do you believe as you cry out, he will answer you? Why or why not?
  3. In the second reading,St. Paulstates that the Corinthians have been “enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:5) and that they “are not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1:7). Yet, later on in this letter, Paul is quite critical of their immaturity, tolerance of open sin, and their own sinfulness. Why do you think that in spite of the great outpouring of the Spirit upon the Corinthians, they had so much difficulty living holy and righteous lives? In what way is this also a warning to us as well?
  4. In the Gospel reading, Jesus uses such words as “beware,” “keep alert,” “watch,” “stay awake,” and “be on guard” as he describes the events leading up to his second coming. What message was Jesus trying to convey with these words? How do they apply to each of us today during this Advent season? How do they apply to the Church?
  5. The meditation ends with these words: “Jesus wants to celebrate with you. And he’s given you a whole month to get ready. Step by step, day by day, you can draw closer to the Lord— and feel him draw closer to you!” During Advent, we celebrate the coming of Jesus in three ways: 1) His first coming as a baby at Christmas, 2) His coming into our hearts as our Lord and Savior, and 3) His Second Coming at the end of time. What steps can you take in the next four weeks of Advent to prepare yourself to celebrate these three comings in a deeper way? 
  6. Take some time now to pray for the grace, during this Advent Season, to prepare your heart and mind for the celebration of Jesus’ coming. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

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