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Advent Reflections 2020

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Advent Reflection for November 29 – First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 63: 16-17; 64: 2-7/1 Corinthians 1: 3-9/Mark 13: 33-37

Invitation to Prayer: As we begin this Advent journey, we are asked to prepare our hearts and minds for the Christ who has already come; the Christ who is present now; and the Christ who is promised to come. It is an invitation from the Lord for us to be active participants in living and proclaiming the Good News!

Reflection: During this crisis brought on by the coronavirus, racism, political strife, and economic hardship, how could we have time for anything else? There seems to be not enough time to deal with the “other things” of life, as the days roll on and on. In our various vocations of marriage, parenting, and being ministers in the church and for the Church, Advent provides us a time to slow down and identify the movement of God in our lives. Our personal reflection does not happen on its own. We intentionally set aside time to pray, to study God’s Word, to worship and to do outreach for it is in these actions that we remain alert and ready for the coming of the Lord. Our mantra for this Advent is, “We want to be ready, when Jesus come.”

Prayer: O Come, Lord Jesus, and by the power of your Spirit breathe upon us once more so that we may remain vigilant and alert, as we wait for your return. As you have counted our days, grant us the wisdom and knowledge to do your will in every season of our lives. We pray this through Christ our Lord. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Deacon Royce and Rita Winters have been married for forty-five years. Rita is an administrative assistant for the Williams College of Business-Xavier University. Deacon Royce is the director of African American Pastoral Ministries for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. They are members of the Church of the Resurrection – Bond Hill.

Advent Reflection for November- 30: Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle
ROM 10:9-18/ PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11/ MT 4:18-22

Invitation to Prayer: Open our hearts Lord to the beauty of this hope-filled season, and prepare us to welcome Christ into our lives.

Reflection: There is saying often attributed to (though not actually said by) St. Francis – “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” – that comes to mind with this reading from Romans. Paul explains that if we believe, we are justified; and if we confess, we are saved. Both of these powerful teachings tell us that we MUST spread the good news, and in this time of division, pain, loneliness, and struggle, spreading the good news is more than just talking about who Jesus is: it is living the life Jesus called us to live. How? Isaiah calls us to bring good news to the poor, comfort those who are broken, and decree the release of captives (61:1). Jesus tells us give food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, and take care of the sick. (Mt 25:35-36)

We have worked in the world of nonprofits, charity, and justice for over 20 years, and it is in this work (and as parents) that we have had our most profound experiences of seeing and being Christ. To be clear – we have talked about our relationship with Jesus and how we feel God’s presence in our prayer and worship. But we have had our hearts broken open and been transformed by the love of God when we gave freely of ourselves.

As the Psalmist writes: “The decree of the Lord is trustworthy… The command of the Lord is clear… The ordinances of the Lord are true, all of them are just.” If we open our minds, hearts, and souls to God, God will guide us to be light in the world.

Prayer: Lord, as we enter this season of preparation and hope, help us to take time to quiet our minds and be open to your guidance.

Closing: Thank you God for your love and peace, grace and mercy, and this time with you. Help me to share these gifts and love all of your children.

Ana Musgrave is a case manager with the Council on Aging, and her husband, Andrew, is the Director of the Social Action office.

Advent Reflection for December 1 – Tuesday of the first week of Advent
Is 11:1-10/Lk 10:21-24

Invitation to Prayer: At this time of year, we encounter many distractions which often require that we adjust schedules and priorities. The people begin to prepare the gifts for the celebration of Christmas, etc. Unfortunately, this year, the world is suffering fear, confusion, pain, loss of jobs, illness, and grief for the loss of many loved ones as result of the pandemic. Most of us are confined to socialize, attend Mass and work from home. The world has been drastically changing, the individuals and families are suffering anxiety, depression, etc.
This day we enter in Advent Season, a time of preparation, with joy and hope to receive our Savior. We are invited to maintain in our daily lives, a thoughtful attention for that for which we have been called, individually and as a community of faith, to recognize that Jesus brings for us the New Life.

Reflection: Is 11:1-10.
There are several reasons for a person to decide to cut down a tree: it may be over grown, having become a hazard; it may need to be removed to clear space for other landscaping, or, it may be diseased and threatens the health of others. Whatever the reason for removal, it is much easier to cut down than to removed completely. There is, however, the reality that it remains alive.

In our marriage, we realize that there are things which need to be pruned from our “marital landscape”. How easy it is to hurt our partner because of our own weakness or desires. In today’s first reading we hear about a shoot that will spring from the stump of Jesse. This reminds us not to be afraid to cut out those things which can detract us from our goal to bring sanctity into our marriage because You, Jesus, are the blossom in our marital life.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, because you never leave us alone. You graciously send forth gifts of guidance, wisdom, counsel, strength, fortitude, understanding, piety, and fear of the Lord, to empower us to bring the forgotten stump as the sign of New Life for broken homes… in our family, in our jobs… and in the eyes of those whom we encounter on a daily basis, our friends, our co-workers, and the person who stands at the intersection, holding a sign that says “need food”. Guide us, we pray, during this journey of faith.

Dina Beach is the head of the Hispanic Leadership Formation team.

Advent Reflection December 2 – Wednesday of First Week of Advent
IS 25:6-10 and MT 15: 29-37

Invitation to Prayer: Pope Francis just wrote a powerful editorial to each one of us at the start of Advent: “To come out of this crisis better, we have to recover the knowledge that as a people we have a shared destination. The pandemic has reminded us that no one is saved alone.” Let this be a prayerful reflection for each of us through this holy season: Jesus came not just for our own families, but to show us how to seek understanding, compassion, justice and unity for all peoples, all nations.

Reflection: In the first reading Isiah vividly describes what God wants and dreams for all nations, not just for one…but rather a banquet with rejoicing for the whole earth! Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, demonstrates how we are to be part of God’s dream, people of hope. He did not shun the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute…nor the hungry crowd! Jesus did not ask for their identity cards or passports nor did he ask which tribe or nation they were from before he reached out to them.

His example of sharing the few fish and loaves of bread was a clear lesson for his disciples and the famished families to imitate…share what you have with complete strangers and watch that multiply! We are to think and act beyond our self-made boundaries for the common good of the whole family of God.

This Advent as individuals and as families we could take time to read, learn on-line, watch TV specials, etc., about how Christians of other cultures and nations celebrate Advent and Christmas. That may lead us to develop more friendships with persons of other races. We could even learn about and reach out to organizations like our Catholic Social Services, Catholic Social Action Office, Catholic Relief Services, Pontifical Mission Societies, etc. that encourage us to develop solidarity with people of diverse communities, locally or globally.

”Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate,” Pope Francis wrote.

Prayer: O God, creator of the whole universe, you have a dream for all your daughters and sons around the globe. You even sent your own son Jesus to us to give us a clear example of how we are live and act to make that dream of universal compassion come to fruition. We pray this Advent that the Holy Spirit may open our hearts, minds, and souls to us help form your reign of solidarity wherever we are planted.

Dr. Mike Gable and his wife Kathy served as a lay missionary family with their four sons in Venezuela. Married forty-five years, Kathy is now a retired teacher while Mike serves as the Director of the Mission Office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

December 3 – Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier
IS 26:1-6; MT 7:21, 24-27

Invitation to Prayer: Place yourself in the Lord’s presence and repeat several times: “Jesus, I trust in you!”

Reflection: In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus recount the parable of the two houses – one built on rock and the other built on sand. We know the demise and collapse of the house built on sand and we long to stand firm on the foundation of the Lord. Jesus reminds us that this firmness comes from listening and acting on the Word of the Lord. The Psalm also reminds us that this listening and acting is only possible if we trust in the Lord who is our Savior. How well do I trust in, listen to, and act upon the Word of the Lord? How does this lead me to prepare for the coming of the Savior this Christmas?

Prayer: Take a moment to read or reread today’s Scripture passages. Try to let the Word of the Lord speak to you. Close with the words Jesus taught us in the Our Father.

Closing: What’s one way you will be a better listener of what the Lord is saying to you this Advent?

Matt Reinkemeyer is the Director of Development Operations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Stewardship Office. His passion is for sharing vision and mission rooted in the Gospel with others and inviting them to be a part of it.

Advent Reflection for December 4 – Friday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 29:17-24/Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14/Matthew 9:27-31

Invitation to Prayer: Faith is a beautiful gift and I thank God for the gift of faith in my life. As I read the readings for today, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the faith of the blind men in the Gospel. I’d invite you to take a minute to thank God for the gift of faith and ask Him to bless you by strengthening your faith.

Reflection: Not only are the blind men in the Gospel healed, but they can’t help but share with others that they have been healed. When I experience something powerful, something joyful, something amazing…I want to share that with the whole world. The second verse of the Psalm convicted me. “One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple.” Is this what I want beyond all else in my life? Is this truly my desire to spend eternity with the Lord? Of course, it is! But, does the way I spend my time and money reflect this as my number one priority in life…not always. So, this Advent, I’m committing to spending more time in prayer and reflecting on my desire to be with the Lord for all of eternity. My family is praying daily with the Psalms before dinner and I would invite you to commit to a specific additional time of prayer and prayerful reflection this Advent season.

Prayer: Lord, open my heart, so that I may know you more fully. Fill me with your love so that I may be strengthened in faith in order to be a witness of your joyful coming at Christmas. May this Advent season, be a time of peace and preparation in my heart and in my family to be better prepared for the arrival of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Andrea Patch is the Managing Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Her husband, Jon and she have been married for 8 years and have three young children. They enjoy spending time with family and playing competitive board games.

Advent Reflection for December 5– Saturday of the First Week of Advent
Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26/Psalm 147:1, 2, 3-4, 5-6/Matthew 9:35-10:1,5A, 6-8

Invitation to Prayer: In this season, we wait in hope. But we have the grace of knowing that our hope will be fulfilled: the Messiah promised to us in the Old Testament HAS Come. IS Come. Will come again.

Reflection: “I’m not afraid to try new things. I’m afraid of being disappointed.”

I explained why I sometimes don’t order new menu items at a restaurant and was surprised by a more profound belief that ordered my actions: I’m afraid of disappointment. For the next 2 hours, the conversation focused on hope & disappointment (rather than Cincinnati’s best burgers), and it was an important conversation for me to have. Maybe it will be important for you, too. Because Hope is what this first week of Advent has been about. Suppose a fear of disappointment impedes my willingness to hope, then “Full of hope” I am not. And “fullness of life” I have not. But we are made for Fullness.

In today’s first reading, we’re gently encouraged, “He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as He hears He will answer you.” In the Gospel, we read, “His heart was moved with pity for them” and “ask the master of the harvest” for what you need. What makes it hard for us to trust that God is who He says He is? That He will do what He has promised He will do? That I am worthy of his LOVE because He says I am?

We’re then asked to extend the generosity we’ve experienced. “Without cost, you have received; without cost, you are to give.” This means to give, which we seem so desirous to do, we first have to receive: his love, goodness, his fullness. Fear can impede our ability to receive, but God also promises in the Gospel healing. His promises do not disappoint. He does not disappoint. He is worthy of our hope.

Prayer: God, the fulfiller of our hope, help us to hope in you entirely. Help us not be afraid of the desires you have placed in us. May we turn those desires over to you, so they may fulfill us in the ways you have planned. As we wait for the fulfillment, help us to live as a people full of hope!

Abbie Kohler resides in Cincinnati since 2017. A native of Minnesota, she misses the snow but loves everything else, and everyone else, about Cincinnati. By day she works for NET Ministries. In her downtime, she serves on the youth ministry Core Team at St. Gertrude’s parish, is learning guitar, and still loves adventuring in her “new” home state.

Advent Reflection for December 6 – Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11/ 2 PT 3: 8-14 / Mark 1: 1-8

Invitation to prayer: Jesus, help me to learn to love the waiting.

Reflection: John the Baptist speaks about how he cannot loosen Jesus’ sandals and that His baptism will be much mightier than John’s. But we know that Jesus later requests to be baptized by John the Baptist in the gospels. How unworthy must he have felt for the task. I try to imagine myself in that position, and while I can’t quite fathom it, I realize that I am tasked with carrying Jesus around in my body through Holy Communion. He continually gives us the chance to bear the Son of Man as a living tabernacle every day, and I feel so unworthy.

The liturgical seasons can be helpful in reminding us of this responsibility. This season is all about preparation. And as we start the second week of Advent, stations are playing Christmas music and most stores have had Christmas decorations out since Halloween. It can feel hard to enter into a season when the secular world seems to jump the gun, but it’s important to remember that that’s all they have. Consumerism only has the product, but nothing to prepare. Personally, I start the Christmas music right after Thanksgiving with no shame, my tree is already up, and I’m fueled by peppermint mochas. But those aren’t the substance of what prepares us. What prepares us is the Eucharist, and what matters is how we decorate our interior life. John the Baptist knew this, dedicating his life to humility, he used camel’s hair clothing, locusts, and honey as a way to prepare himself, before he even knew how grand of a calling Christ would bestow upon him.

As Christians we do not believe that times of waiting are passive, but a call to preparation. Because we know that when the Lord calls us to wait it is for our own benefit, and that no time is ever wasted by the Lord. So while I love to listen to Christmas music, I know there is much work to be done in my heart as I prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and more so as I wait for His second coming. Because at the end of my life His second coming will happen, whether He comes to earth in that time or when I die I will meet Him. This Advent I need to prepare my life, I need to decorate my soul for Him.

Prayer: Adorn my soul, O God. Rid me of that which displeases You, so my humble heart may be a home for You.

Closing: What is Jesus calling you to be more honest about that is blocking your preparation?

Sarah Rogers is the Associate Coordinator for the Young Adult Office. She belongs to Old St. Mary’s and can most likely be found in a local coffee shop!

Advent Reflection for December 7 – Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor if the Church
IS 35:1-10 / PS 85:9AB AND 10, 11-12, 13-14 / LK 5:17-26

Invitation to Prayer: Jesus, you are our savior who comes to set us free from sin, help us to embrace your healing mercy in our lives.

Reflection: In today’s readings we hear the prophet Isaiah speak about the coming Messiah. He tells us, “Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.” This divine recompense is our salvation from sin. Because of our sins, we owe a debt to God that we are unable to repay. This sin paralyzes us and makes us unable to enter into a true relationship with God. Because of this, we are in need of a savior to heal us from sin and bring us back into relationship with God.

This truth is at the crux of the Gospel today. A paralytic is brought by his friends through the roof of the building and lowered down to Jesus. How does Jesus choose to help the man? He says, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus’ critics begin to think to themselves that this is blasphemous, that only God can forgive sins. Jesus proceeds to prove his divine power to forgive sins by healing the man of his paralysis. The man then stands up and begins glorifying God.

We see here that our true healing is this divine recompense, the forgiveness of our sins, which makes us truly capable of glorifying God. The physical healing reflects the spiritual renewal within the heart of this man. As we continue to enter into this Advent season, let us ask for Jesus to heal us of our sins that lead us away from him so that we too can glorify God in our lives.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, strengthen those parts of our spirits made weak from sin and make us strong in you, that we may glorify you with our entire lives.

Closing: Make time to go to the sacrament of Confession during this Advent season. Don’t be afraid to come to the Lord for that spiritual healing He desires for you!

Matthew Cantrell is the Eastern Regional Engagement Officer of NET Ministries. NET Ministries challenges young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church. Every August, 175 young Catholics aged 18-28 leave behind their jobs, school, family, and friends to devote nine months to serving with the National Evangelization Teams (NET).

Advent Reflection for December 8 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Genesis 3: 9-15, 20; Psalm 98: 1-4; Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12; Luke 1: 26-38

Invitation to Prayer: In this Advent Season, our Christian journey leads us through suffering, trials and even death. And, yet within us there is a longing for wholeness that stirs us and awakens our hearts to a new possibility of grace and peace. Let us be bold in faith and follow the example of Mary, Our Mother who kept all the things she experienced and reflected upon them in her heart.

Reflection: We can remember as teenagers trying to understand where we were in our new life together. Rita was pregnant with child and neither one of us had any idea of what it meant to be parents, and even less about what it meant to be husband and wife. There were questions in which the answers weren’t readily available to us. “Where would we live?” “How would we support ourselves and a baby?” “What did we get ourselves into?” But then it was as if the Spirit of God overshadowed us and led us on our search for the Christ. It was in this search that we developed a relationship with God, through his Son. Jesus loved us even though we didn’t know what it meant to love. It was the everlasting love of the Father that compelled us to worship the Lord and to serve the people of God. We are thankful for God’s mercy, forgiveness, and love. This day, we join our voices with Mary, the Mother of God as she sings, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Luke 1: 47

Prayer: Lord, as we reflect on the witness of Mary, the Mother of God, stir within us faith. You, O God Most High have called us each of us for a definite purpose, breathe upon us once more so that we may behold your glory. Yes, Lord, you are our refuge and strength, our comfort and assurance who guides us through the trials of life. We wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus the Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Deacon Royce and Rita Winters have been married for forty-five years. Rita is an administrative assistant for the Williams College of Business-Xavier University. Deacon Royce is the director of African American Pastoral Ministries for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. They are members of the Church of the Resurrection – Bond Hill.

Advent Reflection for December 9 – Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent
Is 40:25-31 / Mt 11:28-30

Invitation to prayer: Turn off, turn off, turn off! Turn off the television, the phone, the social media apps. Turn off the voices of strangers that goad you to “like,” listen, react, “buy now!” Listen instead to the still, small voice always there in the background. As you read, listen to what that voice says. What is it? Do you not know? Or have you not heard?

Reflection: Infinity is hard to grasp. What does it mean to be all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful? Is anything too great for our God, who is those things? Is any army too great, any problem too difficult, any heart too hard for Him? We think we have to fix everything and everyone, all by ourselves. We work at that, instead of asking God what He wants us to do. We spend our days laboring to do the impossible, because surely what God wants is even MORE impossible! Look at what a mess we make of what we’re already trying to do, how can we take on more and harder things? But that’s all backwards. Nothing is impossible for God, and Christ assures us that His burdens are light and His service brings rest.

Prayer: Father, may I never cease to praise You and thank You. Bless and help my family, make my home a place of peace and rest. Help us to prepare, make us ready for Your coming now and always. Teach me what I don’t know, and tell me what I haven’t heard, so that I can praise, love, and bless You forever. Amen.

Gail Finke is a producer at Sacred Heart Radio

Advent Reflection for December 10 – Thursday of the Second Week of Advent
IS 41:13-20 / MT 11:11-15

Invitation to Prayer: Let us remind ourselves that we are in the holy presence of God…

Reflection: I had to read that first sentence again and again: “I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand…” You see, I recently came across a painting of the Bible passage where Peter walks on the water toward Jesus, but then sinks. Jesus, of course, reaches out his hand to save him. We all know the story and can picture that, right? But the painting I recently saw took a different perspective: it was from the vantage point of Peter. So instead of “me looking at a painting of Jesus reaching down to save Peter”, it was “me looking at Jesus reaching down to save me.”

And that’s the image that came to mind as I began today’s first reading – our heavenly Father grasping the hand of Israel, of Peter, of the Church, of our communities, of our families, of each one of us.

It made me wonder where in my life I’m “sinking” (or just barely managing a doggy paddle) because I haven’t responded to God, who is waiting to grasp my right hand.

Prayer: O God, reach into our hearts and our world with your wisdom and peace. Restore what has been lost, heal what has been wounded, and guide us by the hand through the trials of life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Toni Alander is the proud wife of Matt and mother of Will and Ed. She works in the Stewardship Office for the Archdiocese.

Advent Reflection for December 11 – Friday of the Second Week of Advent
IS 48:17-19 / PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6 / MT 11:16-19

Invitation to prayer: Open our hearts, O God, and guide us to hear your word and live out your love.

Reflection: In this season of hope, the reading from Isaiah can get you really excited: God sets the right path before us, and – if we follow it – we will be blessed immensely and for generations. We are almost two weeks into Advent, the season where we eagerly anticipate the arrival of Jesus who – through His life and death – not only gave us the explicit details of God’s path but also showed us how good God is.
The thing is – as exciting as this sounds – in practice it’s REALLY tough to truly, deeply learn what God teaches and follow God’s commandments. We need only look at the millions and millions of people around the world who are marginalized, enslaved, abused, forgotten, and left out to know that we – the children of God – have a LOT of work to do to bring about God’s kingdom on Earth. Jesus calls us to solidarity with the poor, the hungry, and the imprisoned – how are we doing on that? We are called to welcome the stranger, shelter the homeless, and bring peace to the suffering – what’s our track record in those areas?

Let us not forget that Jesus, the precious infant Son of God, grew into a man that challenged authority, rebuked the rich and powerful, and died to save us all (including the sinners).

Prayer: God, we hope not only for the arrival of Jesus but also that your love and commandments will transform our hearts and lead us down Your path.

Closing: Thank you God for your love and peace, grace and mercy, and this time with you. Help us to love you and love all of your children.

Andrew Musgrave is the Director of the Social Action office, and his wife of eight years, Ana, is a case manager with the Council on Aging. They have two brilliant and wonderful daughters, Layla and Juliet, who bring them laughter, joy, and craziness.

Advent Reflection for December 12 – Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab/Lk 1:26-38

Invitation to prayer: Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in Mexico when God’s people were suffering oppression and slavery; and her main message was “Am I not here, I who have the honor to be your mother?” Each of us still yearns to hear these tender words that fill our lives with HOPE and LOVE.

Reflection: My husband and I recognize from the first reading, that the dragon is present in our daily lives, attempting to keep us in darkness. We also identified that the seven heads of the dragon represent the seven capital sins: pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth (CCC 1866). The last paragraph of the first reading mentions that the dragon never reached the woman to devour the child; God protected them. Our Mother Mary humbly accepted God’s will. She invites us to fearlessly join the fight against the powers of darkness.

Prayer: We humbly implore you, Oh, Lady of Guadalupe, to embrace us within your holy mantle during this time as we are walking in darkness – weak and fearful; protect us against the attacks of the enemy, and teach us, by your graces, to love your son Jesus Chris. Amen.

Dina Beach is the head of the Hispanic Leadership Formation team.

Advent Reflection for December 13 – Third Sunday of Advent
IS 61:1-2A, 10-11 / LK 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54./ 1 THES 5:16-24 / JN 1:6-8, 19-28

Invatation to Prayer: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.

Reflection: Today is known as Gaudete Sunday, or simply Rejoice! In today’s reading, St. John the Baptist is quizzed by the Pharisees let it be known that he was preparing for a greater moment in time. In today’s verbiage we may ask “What is he up to.”? The Advent season is a time of preparation. Uncertainty reigned 2000 years ago as does today, but we know the truth to erase the uncertainty: Jesus Christ.

I know this, I know this truth. Yet every Advent my anxiety level increases. Yesterday, a stack of Christmas cards arrived and we’re in the middle of December. I wanted to make this the best Advent ever, Yet I find myself paralyzed with many things to do as Christmas Day awaits. I’ve already missed 2 full weeks of spiritual preparation. The reality is I often miss spiritual preparation exchanging it for task, some needed, some not.

St. John the Baptist prepared the way. This Sunday is a day I need to turn to the Lord, to prepare my heart for him. This Sunday is the day to immerse myself in the aroma of roses: the rose a symbol of our Marian Devotions. It’s the color today breaking from the Advent color of violet. Today is a day to simply Rejoice!

Prayer: Blessed Mother, help me to prepare my heart for Christ today.

Action: Prepare your heart for the incarnation by spending quiet time in prayer and in reflection of what Jesus means to me.

Advent Reflection for December 14 – Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church
NM 24:2-7, 15-17A / PS 25:4-5AB, 6 AND 7BC, 8-9 / MT 21:23-27

Invitation to Prayer: Jesus, help us to have faith in you and to commit ourselves to you in a deeper way in this prayer today.

Reflection: In today’s Gospel the Chief Priests and the Elders question Jesus by asking him by what authority he does his miracles and teachings. In classic fashion, Jesus answers their question with one of his own. “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” (Matthew 21:24-25) His accusers debate the merits of either answer and decide not to give one. “So they said to Jesus in reply, ‘We do not know.’ He himself said to them, ‘Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.’” (Matthew 21:27)

By saying they do not know, they shut themselves out from the answer to their question about Jesus. This is the danger that comes with indecision and a lack of commitment in our own Faith. If we are afraid to commit to who Jesus is in our life or if we fail to repent when we make mistakes then we close ourselves off from the answers we seek in Christ. Jesus would have given them the answers they sought about his authority and who he truly was, but the leaders’ fear to answer kept them from receiving that gift from the Lord.

As we approach this Christmas season let us seek to commit ourselves to Jesus, for when we do we receive the greatest gift from God. The gift of Jesus himself.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to say yes to you and not hold ourselves back in fear. Give us strength to live according to your Word.

Closing: What might be some things you have yet to commit more fully to Jesus? Take some time to offer that thing to him in prayer today.

Matthew Cantrell is the Eastern Regional Engagement Officer of NET Ministries. NET Ministries challenges young Catholics to love Christ and embrace the life of the Church. Every August, 175 young Catholics aged 18-28 leave behind their jobs, school, family, and friends to devote nine months to serving with the National Evangelization Teams (NET).

 

Advent Reflection for December 15 – Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent
ZEP 3:1-2, 9-13 / PS 34:2-3, 6-7, 17-18, 19 AND 23 / MT 21:28-32

Invitation to Prayer: As we continue on our Advent journey, we are invited consider what it means to be faithful to God, to open our heart and listen to Him.

Reflection: Today’s Gospel offers a lesson about what it means actively follow God’s call and live our faith. Doing so involves more than claiming to be a follower of Christ. We are reminded that actions really do speak louder than words, God is fully aware of our humanity, and thus, our sinfulness. As a former pastor of mine once told the congregation: “God doesn’t ask us to be perfect. He asks us to do the best we can.” There is great reassurance is this. This doesn’t mean He’s letting us off the hook. Actively practicing our faith certainly entails partaking of the sacraments, but we must also seek ways to live our faith every moment of our lives, through prayer, service to others, respect for creation, and putting God at the center of all we do.

Prayer: Loving and gracious God, may this time of awaiting the coming of your Son draw us ever closer to you and those around us, especially our families. May we be present to you, listen to you, and be open to your will for us, so that we may truly be people of faith who bring your love and light to others.

Sister Eileen Connelly has been a member of the Ursulines of Cincinnati for 21 years, and currently serves as the associate director of the Mission Office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. She is member of Holy Trinity Parish in Norwood.

Advent Reflection for December 16 – Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent
IS 45: 6c-8, 18:21c-25 and LK 7:18B-23

Invitation to Prayer: Many Advent scripture readings are derived from the book of Isaiah, the premier Hebrew prophet who God raised up in the eight century before Christ. He often demanded that God’s people turn away from human pettiness and sinfulness in order to carry out their responsibilities to care for the Lord’s creation and one another. Could we not become more mindful of those same commands this
Advent? Why not take time alone and with our families to reflect on how well we respond to those needs of the earth and the persons who are forgotten and despised by society.

Reflection: In these passages from Isaiah, he speaks for God expecting us to let justice descend upon the earth. This is one of the many Bible images that Martin Luther King, Jr. used to denounce social injustices of racism and economic disparities, similar to the evils that the Hebrew prophets railed against. Isaiah also remined his people, and us today, that God is the designer and maker of the earth which must not be turned into waste!

“Are you the one who is to come?” In Luke’s gospel today, this is the vital question the disciples of John the Baptist were sent to ask Jesus. Jesus could have answered with an impressive title for himself like, “Oh yes, I am the great Messiah, so bow down before me.” Instead, Jesus simply points to his compassionate actions toward the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead, and the poor.

Oh, that we too may humbly demonstrate our friendship and allegiance to Jesus by avoiding the need for praise and admiration but instead reaching out in similar sympathetic ways. And considering the admonitions of Isiah to protect God’s creation, we could use this Advent to evaluate our efforts for God’s reign of compassion during this Covid pandemic and our struggle for environmental beauty for coming generations.

Prayer: Lord our God, for centuries you have invited us to build with you local and global communities of social justice and respect for your good Earth. Living out these commands of compassion, you the enable us to live in peace with verdant pastures. We pray then that you send your Spirit to inspire us this Advent to evaluate our response to your love for us and our planet.

Dr. Mike Gable, his wife Kathy and family served as Maryknoll lay missioners in Latin America. As the Director of the Archdiocesan Mission Office, Mike invites your support for our 1,200 struggling mission dioceses worldwide. Interested in mission work or parish twinning? Contact: [email protected]

 

Advent Reflection for December 17 – Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
GN 49:2, 8-10 / PS 72:1-2, 3-4AB, 7-8, 17/ MT 1:1-17

Invitation to Prayer: Family is a theme that I gleaned from today’s readings. So, let’s begin with a prayer of thanksgiving for our family here on earth and our spiritual family. Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Reflection: The first reading begins with a Jacob, a father calling his sons together saying, “Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your father.” He goes on to talk about the authority given to Judah and that he shall be praised and receive homage from the people. Then, we turn to the Gospel and read a lineage of authority being handed down from Abraham all the way to Jesus.

As I think about the handing down of things this Advent, I think about traditions. The other day my 1.5-year-old son as we were sitting down to dinner folded his hands before he began to eat. I smiled proudly, knowing that we have passed down the tradition of praying before meals. So, I’d invite you to take some time to reflect on the traditions you are handing on and the traditions you’re not yet handing on and invite the Lord into that reflection.

Prayer: Lord, I ask that you help me this Advent season to hand on authority, teachings, prayers, and traditions. Call to mind the good things that I’m passing on and convict me of the things that I need to be doing better. Give me the strength to pass on the faith this Advent, so that we may be prepared to receive our Savior.

Andrea Patch is the Managing Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Her husband, Jon and she have been married for 8 years and have three young children. They enjoy spending time with family and playing competitive board games.

Advent Reflection for December 18 – Friday of the Third Week of Advent
Jeremiah 23:5-8/Matthew 1:18-25

Invitation to Prayer: Let us remind ourselves that we are in the holy presence of God…

Reflection: I miss my Dad. I visited his gravesite just last month to eat a jelly donut (his favorite) and trim the grass around his headstone. (Dad was always a stickler for a clean edge on the lawn.) I spent a good bit of time praying there, asking Dad to intercede for our family and to watch over his grandsons. But by and large, I found myself just thanking God for the gift of my father because he had such a positive, powerful influence on my life. He was a great blessing to me.

Now, if my father is that fantastic, imagine how fantastic St. Joseph must have been since he was chosen to be the foster father of Jesus! We know so very little about Joseph, but today’s gospel highlights two of his significant qualities: he was righteous and obedient. How grateful Jesus must have been to have such a man as his earthly father! It doesn’t get much better than having an earthly father whose desire is to know, love and serve the heavenly Father!

Prayer: O God, may the example of St. Joseph inspire all men to guard and to guide those you have put in their care. Come to their aid, that they might lead righteous lives in obedience to your Truth. Amen.

Toni Alander is the proud wife of Matt and mother of Will and Ed. She works in the Stewardship Office for the Archdiocese.

Advent Reflection for December 19 – Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
JGS 13:2-7, 24-25A / PS 71:3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17/ LK 1:5-25

Invitation to prayer: For you are my hope, O LORD

Reflection: You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase “Hope springs eternal.” In our readings today, Monoah and Zechariah both had wives who were thought to be barren. The gift of a child had in their minds been taken from them, and yet, both would have a child.

In this year of a pandemic, and everything else that light of hope can diminish. Yet, what amazing events have we witnessed. You may have read them, strangers giving tips as large as the carry-out order itself. People looking out for each other. Families, perhaps united as never before. Young parents spending time with their children! Like many things it can be trying, however never before have we had this opportunity.

We’re less than a week from the day we celebrate Christmas! Some may say it won’t be the same. In ways it won’t be, but now we have the opportunity to prepare our home for Christ. Whether you’re on a boat coming into the harbor, or you’re going home after a long day’s work, or working from home…it’s our center. And while it won’t be like it was, maybe the new normal is Christ has been there, and we welcome him every day!

Prayer: Blessed Mother, your cousin Elizabeth was at the point of life where she thought she would never have a child. Keep in my heart that no matter the circumstance, I’m a child of your son.

Action: Prepare your home for Jesus this Christmas.

Advent Reflection for December 20 – The Fourth Sunday of Advent
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16 / Romans 16:25-27 / Luke 1:26-38

Invitation to Prayer: Let us ask for the strength, humility and confidence to answer God’s call for us with a generous “yes” this Advent season.

Reflection: In today’s reading from 2 Samuel, King David realizes that he is living in this grand palace of cedar, while God, present in the ark, resides in a simple tent. David must have been ashamed to recognize this. Here he was, living in splendor, while the true King of the World was living humbly and yet still providing rest and protection for David. This realization activated a switch in him, because as soon as David was aware of his mistake, he set about trying to fix it.

He knew God Himself resided in the ark, in the form of three things: the word of God in the Ten Commandments, the rod of Aaron the high priest, and the urn containing manna from the wilderness – the miraculous bread from Heaven. And who would have thought, so many generations later, that another ark would come into existence after the old was lost, in the form of a woman? In today’s Gospel, Mary’s “yes” enables her to become the new ark, with God Himself abiding in her in the same three forms as the old ark: the body of Christ Himself, the word made flesh; Jesus, the true and eternal high priest; and the womb containing Jesus, the true Bread of Life come down from Heaven.
In the Gospel today, we find Mary in a state of surprise and fear. She had this whole plan for her life and how it was supposed to go. She was going to marry Joseph, settle down, raise a family, maybe even one day become a grandmother. But then, an angel showed up out of the blue, announcing that she was to be the Mother of God. And as suddenly as the angel appeared, Mary’s life was turned upside down.

But God had a plan. Though in the moment, Mary must have been extremely nervous, God’s will for her was special. She took a leap of faith and gave her “yes.” And her life, considerably different than her original plan, was now in God’s hands. And God had bigger and better plans than she could have ever imagined. She wanted to become a mother, and she is now the mother of the entire world. God granted her abundant grace, grace to say “yes,” grace to mother His son, and grace to live her life free from sin. And God desires to give us grace too.
Through this past year, we have all felt like Mary: fearful, uncertain, troubled. All our plans have been uprooted and drastically changed. But we must remember that God has a plan. Though this year may not be going according to our original plan, it is happening for a reason. God’s will for us is bigger and better than we could ever hope for. So, like Mary, we need to put our trust in Him this Advent. Mary, the new ark, had Jesus within her to bring her peace while all her plans changed around her. We too can receive Jesus into us in the Eucharist to bring us peace in these uncertain times.

Just as David dropped everything when he realized he was living in more luxury than the King of Kings to prepare a more befitting dwelling space for God, Mary dropped everything, her plans, her future, risking the possibility of losing her husband and place in society, when she realized she needed to give her “yes” and make herself worthy to house the Son of God. In the same way, we need to give Jesus the best place within us… our hearts. His will is grounded in His love for us, so letting Him into our hearts this Advent, taking our own leap of faith, will result in things greater than we could ever imagine.

Prayer: Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces His glory and open our minds and hearts to receive the Spirit who prepares us for His coming.

Closing: Thank you, God for being our source of hope and grace during this time of uncertainty. We ask for the courage and faith to put all our trust in You as Mary did when You divinely intervened in her life. We ask this through Christ our Lord, your Son, who lives with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, Amen.

Harlie Galloway is a homeschooled sophomore with a passion for writing. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her deacon dad, mom, younger brother, two dogs and two bunnies.

Advent Reflection for Monday December 21: Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
SG 2:8-14 / PS 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21 / LK 1:39-45

Invitation to Prayer: Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song with shouts of joy! (cf. Psalm 33:1-3)

Reflection: We’ve all heard it recently… “Holiday Greetings! Merry Christmas! Happy Advent!” Today’s readings speaks to us of greetings. In the first reading is the greeting of lovers, in the Psalm it is the greeting given to a Savior, and the Gospel it is the greeting of Elizabeth and Mary. But these aren’t just any customary or perfunctory greetings. These are greetings of GREAT JOY! This year it might seem hard to think of greeting anything or anyone with joy. But let us remember that no matter our past or present circumstances, Jesus is greeting us with Joy this Advent and Christmas. Can we receive this Joy and share it with others?

Prayer: Ask the Lord to show you a memory of Joy. Ask Him to show you why that moment was so joyful. Then thank Him for that gift and revisit that memory through the day as a source of Joy. End with a Glory Be.

Closing: What’s one way you will embrace Joy these last few days of Advent and through the Christmas season?

Matt Reinkemeyer is the Director of Development Operations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Stewardship Office. His passion is for sharing vision and mission rooted in the Gospel with others and inviting them to be a part of it

Advent Reflection for Tuesday December 22: Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
1 SM 1:24-28 / 1 SAMUEL 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8ABCD / LK 1:46-56

Invitation to Prayer: My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory. (cf. 1 Sam. 2:1)

Reflection: Hannah is one of my favorite Biblical women, and today we pray with her story and her song. We find her as she returns to the place where she had prayed so desperately for a child, giving thanks to the Lord for His goodness and returning her son back to our beyond-faithful God. Samuel goes on to arguably become the greatest prophetic voice in Israel until John the Baptist. I love this story because it is an example of God taking a less-than-ideal situation and creating something beautiful and life-giving out of it.

Wherever you are in your life – married, single, ordained, lay, religious, etc. – God is desiring to bear fruit in the seemingly hopeless situations of your life. Maybe that is an overt answer to a desperate prayer, or perhaps He is inviting you to look with the eyes of Faith as He works more hidden miracles. All He requires is the “Yes” that our predecessors Hannah and Mary have given before us. This “Yes” to God’s plan is rooted in a heart that exults in the Lord and knows that His blessings are not something that are done to us, but through Him. That is why Hannah (and likewise the Blessed Mother) returns the precious gift of her son back to the Lord. The good work began in Him, and bears the most complete fruit when it remains rooted in Him as well.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the King of the Nations and through you we have victory over sin and death. Help us to look into the deep desires of our own hearts and to find the strength to say “Yes” to your plan. May we bear abundant fruit for Your Kingdom. Amen.

Closing: Identify one way that this year has surprised you – a time where God has allowed good fruit to be born in your life (especially when you least expected it).

Bradley Barnes has served as the Coordinator of Youth Ministry at Guardian Angels Parish since 2014.

Advent Reflection for Wednesday December 23: Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
MAL 3:1-4, 23-24 / PS 25:4-5AB, 8-9, 10 AND 14 / LK 1:57-66

Invitation to Prayer: Memories can be holy, a place for God to reside. But while memories are tied to things and places; our hope lies in a person alone.

Reflection: Traditions mean something. Even the silly ones. And even now. Especially now.

I spent Thanksgiving in quarantine. (I know I’m not the only one). A friend brought me all the fixing’s, and, after dinner, I decided to decorate (my room) for Christmas – because that’s my family tradition. And traditions can make things feel normal.

I hung lights, pulled out last years’ cards, and started a Christmas puzzle. The only thing missing was that beautiful-ugly pink floor-pillow present on every family night. So many sweet memories to keep me company when people couldn’t.

Here we are, in another season of traditions, and “things” are still not “back to normal”.

But our traditions mean something to the Lord; WE mean something to the Lord.

In today’s gospel, Elizabeth gave birth to a son when she was well beyond child-bearing years: which made no sense. And Zechariah named him John, not a family name: which made no sense. And God’s will was being fulfilled… through a series of events that made no sense…to us.

A favorite Advent tradition of mine is watching the Magi (in statue form, or picture form) make a physical journey toward the Manger. They took notice of God’s movement, a star, and made haste to follow what God was doing. Like the Magi, When i take notice of what God IS doing, and welcome his plan, over mine, i always find fullness of life… a fullness that sometimes comes about through events that make no sense.

Prayer: God, there are a lot of things “not normal” about this Christmas. But I know I am important to you. I know my family is important to you. Please show me what you ARE doing!

Where ARE you in my life this Christmas?
What DO you have planned for my family this Christmas?
Where DO you want me to focus my attention?
Who ARE you inviting me to be with in these holy days?

Abbie Kohler resides in Cincinnati since 2017. A native of Minnesota, she misses the snow but loves everything else, and everyone else, about Cincinnati. By day she works for NET Ministries. In her downtime, she serves on the youth ministry Core Team at St. Gertrude’s parish, is learning guitar, and still loves adventuring in her “new” home state.

 

Advent Reflection for Thursday, December 24 Christmas Eve
Luke 1:67-79

Reflection: The day we have been waiting for is almost here- today is Christmas Eve. We are looking forward to a time of celebration at the end of a year of struggle. Today’s gospel reflects a similar reality. Israel has spent generations in captivity awaiting their long-expected Messiah, and the time is almost here. After the birth of his son John the Baptist, Zechariah bursts into a canticle of praise, recognizing that the time of Israel’s savior is at hand as promised by the prophets of old. Likewise, as we anticipate the Christmas season, we too have cause for joy at the coming of the Savior. Despite the great many difficulties we have faced throughout the past year, the celebration of Christ’s Nativity is upon us.

In the second half of his canticle, Zechariah addresses his infant son, exclaiming that he will be a great prophet and will prepare the way for the Lord. As we celebrate the first coming of Christ, let us also prepare our hearts for his second coming. We ought to reflect on the ways we have failed to see Christ in our lives so that we may be better prepared to open our hearts to Him this upcoming year. As part of our celebration of Christmas, we might also ask God to show us how we can ready ourselves for the coming of Jesus, so that, in the words of Zechariah, all may experience “the tender mercy of our God” that he “may guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Prayer Father, in the fullness of time, you sent your only begotten Son into the world for our redemption. Prepare our hearts for the coming of your Son, so that we might have knowledge of salvation and forgiveness of our sins. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Christopher Buschur is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, currently studying at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary and School of Theology in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is also a former intern at The Catholic Telegraph.

Reflection for Christmas Day
Readings taken from Mass during the Day: Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18

The eagerly anticipated day has finally arrived – the day in which we celebrate the Incarnation of God. The anticipation which we have felt over the past few weeks for the coming of Christmas is but a shadow of the desire of all of humanity who have desired to see this day of fulfillment. “God has spoken to us through His Son” – what a great gift that is! And what has He spoken to us? Words of forgiveness, peace, and comfort! These are treasured words which we cannot live without.

2020 has been a very difficult year for all of us. Christmas, this year, can remind us that, with the coming of Jesus, true comfort is offered to us. “Our God is King,” the cry from the first reading, becomes our chant. We are not subject to the changing of this world, the caprice of a tyrant. We are firmly established as coheirs, destined to with Christ as His adopted brothers and sisters. The fulfillment of all of our desires is offered to us, because of the humility of God, born an infant in the cold of winter.

It is because of the birth of Jesus that we can have a relationship with Him. I encourage you today to give thanks to God for the great gifts He has given you, the first of which is the ability to be in relationship with Him.

Father Christopher Komoroski, ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 2020, is parochial vicar at St. Monica St. George Parish Newman Center and Holy Name Parish in Cincinnati, also serving Corryville Catholic Grade School.

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