Like Mary and Joseph, we must travel through valleys, between hills and over mountains to reach the place where the census is being taken. We have to weather life’s troubles, storms of despair and disappointment. And, look out at the horizon from the joyful mountain peaks of our lives to view the beauty God has laid out for us.
And, then there’s the Magi. They traveled to see the new-born child bringing with them a sack-full of Christmas presents. With our families spread across the nation and world, and now with the pandemic, the ritual of travel toward togetherness is threatened by fear of contagion rather than anticipation of pleasure. But, we journey onward each Advent season. We journey toward Bethlehem to witness the miracle of Jesus’ birth. We journey toward the end of all time, when Christ Jesus will come again.
If you took long road trips as a kid, you may have played travel games to help pass the time (and reduce the number of back-seat squabbles). When you saw the sign “Exit Ahead” did you wish and wonder, “Are we there yet?” Like those trips, we continue down the road to Bethlehem where we see some signs along our way. Last week, Jesus warned us to be alert, watching for God’s unexpected activity in our lives and in our world. Today, the sign we see is one that most of us dread seeing while along our highways – “Road Construction Ahead.”
Why is it that we tend to get upset when we see a sign for road construction? That’s a sign that in the not too distant future (though probably more distant than we’d like) the road work will be complete. But still, when we see that sign ROAD CONSTRUCTION TO BEGIN NEXT WEEK, or see orange barrels or the concrete barricades we begin to get uptight and look for an alternate route. Road construction signs signal: “inconvenience, hassles, delays.” Is that what we feel when we see today’s signs in the Scriptures? Road Construction. Two more weeks until we get to sing Christmas carols outside of choir practice. How long until we can hang the decorations on the tree?
Are you facing a sign of work in progress – Proceed with Caution! Can you hear John the Baptist shouting out with the powerful words of the prophet Isaiah? Does he bellow like a highway foreman, “Prepare the way of the Lord! Make that path straight! Fill that valley! Get that mountain outta here! Hey, what happened over there? It’s all crooked! Make it straight! Smooth out that rough place! We gotta show everyone the salvation of God. Get busy!”
If you’ve observed road construction you know it is labor-intensive. It’s not like a Lego project. How’s God’s construction company doing with you? Are you making new inroads to acknowledgement of the need for improvement? This Advent, have you been working to smooth rocky relationships? What about making repairs on your approach to people? Are you consciously striving to be direct – saying what you mean and meaning what you say? Are you bolstering up the pillars of your prayer life? Are you repairing older sections of your highway to God? Are you blasting out the bad habits and fortifying your daily schedule so there is a new, wider, safe path to settling into the spirit of Lectio?
Maybe God is opening up for you a new area of possibility – a new awakening to how you can expand your life of service and hospitality. What new road is God building in your life? No matter how we might like to think that we’ve got it all together, sooner or later we all need to make a little heavenly highway repair. Our God promises to help us fix what’s broken in our lives; to come to our rescue and strengthen those areas of weakness that plague us so. Jesus can remove those piles of junk, fill in the potholes, and strengthen the sagging places if we but stop trying to “do it my way” and allow God to be the one to put up the sign – “Caution. Construction Ahead!” And, then allow God to be the boss, the foreman, the project manager.
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress
First Reading: Baruch 5:1-9 Second Reading: Philippians 1:4-6,8-11
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:1-6Continue Reading
Come, Lord Jesus, Come!
Advent is all about waiting. But not sit on your-hands and see what happens kind of waiting. Nor waiting for someone else who is talking to God to hang up. It’s more like a glorious party line. You can pick up (or click on at any time). Whenever you’re ready. It is wonderful that we do not have to take turns – we don’t have to wait to be in touch! At the heart of Advent is ACTIVE waiting. Even when we don’t know that we are waiting, or what we are waiting for, we’re waiting. Even when we can’t find words for what we are waiting for, we’re waiting.
We’ve been waiting for so long, actually for most of our lives, that the darkness may feel like home. We’ve become comfortable in our incompleteness. Now to leave home is downright scary! Change my ways of interacting with God and God’s people? Whew! Allow my rough edges to be smoothed – mmmm, sounds irritating (no pun intended). We are gifted with Advent-time to do personal “Isaiah work” of filling in every valley; leveling every mountain so the hills will become a plain, and the rough ways made smooth. As the familiar banner asks: If not now, when?
There is a TV reality show on restaurant revival that is introduced with a premise that sounds like a good Advent theme. “Turning around a failing restaurant or diner is a daunting challenge under the best of circumstances. Attempting to do so … may be impossible. But we’re ready to take on the challenge. Can it be done?”
From outdated décor to trendy interior, from canned food to fresh ingredients, from surly employees to service-oriented staff, they attempt to overhaul the whole shebang with straight talk, great cooking skills, creative interior decorators and an excited team of mostly volunteers. The most important ingredient to the success of the project depends on the employees. When the TV crew arrives, the expectation is that the local staff will be ready with their litany of what is going well and what they’d like to see changed. They are looking for help to determine, and then implement the next best steps to be taken.
There is no pretense each week to portray the chef as a Christ figure, but one may see an analogy between our Advent Scriptures and the theme of this human example of this dramatic overhaul driven by someone who knows what they’re doing. The overhaul of the run-down and failing restaurant, and our personal overhaul, is only possible if we’ll allow our goals and projects to be placed under wise management. For us that’s Jesus, the One who’s coming to town in our Advent scriptures.
The Gospels that we’ll hear throughout the Advent season make frequent two-fold references to the already and the not yet. This Sunday, Jesus berates the crowd for knowing how to interpret the signs in nature, but not the present time, the already. This is where we, too, may fall short. Often, even before one’s feet hit the floor, we tune in (or ask Alexia) for the day’s weather conditions, adjust the AC or heater and dress accordingly. At the threat of a hurricane, we gather in supplies and hunker down. We see the waxing moon and wait patiently for the night of the full moon. This kind of waiting requires a common sense alertness to natural signs. But the kind of waiting Jesus is talking about requires a deeper discernment and alertness to the signs of His appearance – the signs of the times, our times.
Advent offers us a new opportunity to awaken to the signs of the times. In the words of John the Baptist, we hear the voice of Isaiah warning us to be alert for “the voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord.” The last Gospel we heard as the liturgical year ended (this morning) and the first Gospel for the new liturgical year impress upon us the same warning: Be vigilant! Pray always! Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy!
One of the ancient Advent prayers offers us sentiments that Benedict echoes in the Rule: “Give us grace that we may cast off the works of darkness and put upon us the armor of light.” Many Advent hymns express this same theme. For example (the hymn we sang on Friday) – “Wise and foolish, still we wait. Is the bridegroom at the gate? Clear the shadows from our sight, fill our eyes with radiant light. Come, Lord Jesus, come!”
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress
First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16 Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2
Gospel Reading: Luke 21:25-28,34-36Continue Reading
Giving Tuesday begins tonight at mid-night,
November 30, 2021
Just 3 days until Giving Tuesday
November 30, 2021
Did You Know? Giving Tuesday (next Tuesday for 24 hours)
is the biggest charitable giving day of the year.
It is a day that is intended to support all kinds of nonprofit organizations
that serve people less fortunate than we.
Face-to-Face Fundraising for causes that do good work in our communities is rapidly changing. The pandemic continues to linger and people are not yet ready to attend big-group gatherings.
Giving Tuesday has become a world-wide phenomenon since it’s 2012 inception. Amazingly giving was up even during the Year of Covid-19. Even so, it has been sad to see that some non-profits still did not survive. That has made Giving Tuesday even more important in making more people aware of charity. The 24-hour event has also inspired younger people – not always prone to giving.
Income the Benedictine Sisters of Florida traditionally make both within the monastery and through jobs held, has been dramatically reduced since March 2020. A few of the Sisters lost jobs outside the monastery as well.
Please consider being an Ambassador, sharing our story and encouraging your friends and and family to join you in donating on Giving Tuesday, November 30, 2021. Make it more fun and more impactful by forming your own Giving Circle (email Faith Pridmore to learn how easy it is)! email@example.com
The “How to” on GivingTuesday:
1. Donate by Mail:
- Send a check payable to Benedictine Sisters of Florida postmarked by Nov. 30th
- PO Box 2450, St. Leo, FL 33574-2450
2. Donate Online:
- Go to our website: benedictinesistersoffl.org
- Click on the “Donate Now” button at the top of the page
- Fill-in the form and designate your donation for “Giving Tuesday”