(Father will write a new reflection each week of Advent. )
REFLECTION ON THE FIRST READING OF THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
by Rev. Sir William J. Kunisch II, KCHS
Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Isaiah 40:1
On this Second Sunday of Advent, we hear the Prophet Isaiah proclaim to the people of Israel that their exile is over and that God wants them to be comforted and cared for with tenderness. We often think that the God of the Old Testament is distant, stern, and demanding. But here the prophet paints a different picture – a God who is close to us, understanding, and compassionate. God is not indifferent to human suffering. He doesn’t turn his eyes when we are treated unjustly. He cares when we are grieving. God always notices when his people are hurting and he intervenes to bring them freedom, relief, and healing.
Last month on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land, we visited St. Vincent Home in Ein Karem. St. Vincent Home cares for children with disabilities and is one of the special projects of our lieutenancy. Children are placed there for various reasons, but often because their parents don’t have the ability or resources to care for them at home. At our annual meeting I had heard of the wonderful work of the Sisters at St. Vincent’s and I was anxious to see their ministry for myself.
It was a very moving experience. The Sisters and lay staff had a love for the children that was evident from our first steps on campus. They knew each of the children by name as well as their family backgrounds, their personalities, their likes and dislikes, and their unique needs.
One particular experience really touched my heart. Some of the children suffered from severe autism and the Sisters had a special therapy room for them with subdued lighting, different colors and images projected on the walls, and soft, soothing music in the background. Most of the children in this room were nonverbal and when they were disturbed or upset, the staff would comfort them just by holding them, sometimes for hours. What a wonderful image of how God loves each of us!
The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, afraid, or hurting in any way, just imagine the Lord holding you. You don’t have to worry about finding the right words to pray. In fact, you don’t have to use any words at all. Just imagine yourself resting secure in the arms of the Lord. Such is the tenderness of our God!
Prayer: Lord God, you know our needs even before we speak them. Be close to us in difficult moments, and show us your mercy and love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
REFLECTION ON THE FIRST READING OF THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
By Rev. Sir William J. Kunisch II, KCHS
We are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands. Is. 64:7
For the last several months, I have been helping an old friend of mine who is struggling with an addiction to alcohol. His family and close friends are exasperated and don’t want any contact with him. He is soon going to lose his job and health insurance and is on the verge of homelessness.
There have been little triumphs, such as when he voluntarily checked himself into treatment, but mostly setbacks as when he checked himself out of treatment only to walk across the street and start drinking again. I’ve gone with him to AA, the hospital, the court room, and the Salvation Army. I’ve seen firsthand how we as a society care (and don’t care) for those with addictions. Honestly, when I think about his life and his future, I vacillate between hope and despair.
But the words of the Prophet Isaiah for this First Sunday of Advent remind me of an important spiritual truth: God is always at work in our lives for some good purpose. Acknowledging Israel’s captivity on account of their unfaithfulness, the prophet offers a prayer of humble surrender to God. He imagines God as a potter who fashions beautiful and useful things out of mud. It is not that God wills mud (tragedy, illness, or hardship) for anyone, but his plans are not thwarted by it either.
Behind the prophet’s prayer is the deep and abiding faith that God has a plan for Israel and for each one of us. Even when we can’t see it or feel it, God is busy bringing good out of evil, shining light in darkness, and molding us for a future only he knows.
These days when I pray for my friend I imagine him in God’s good hands. I visualize the Lord working on his life in patient, detailed, and hidden ways. I believe that God will ultimately, in his time and in his way, bring some good from the struggle that is his life right now.
This Advent let us surrender our cares and concerns to God. Let us entrust our lives and those we love to the Divine Potter who is always at work fulfilling his purposes and fashioning us into a new creation.
Prayer: God our Father, we know that all things work together for good for those who love you. You are the potter and we are the clay. Make of our lives a pleasing offering to you. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.