Reflection: First Tuesday of Advent

Mass: Tuesday, December 1, 2009
First Reading: Is 11:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Gospel: Lk 10:21-24

Advent has always been one of my favorite seasons of the liturgical year. Not only it is a Marian time, it also coincides with the conclusion of the academic semester—and the end of the daily grind of classes. Plus, its selection of readings are comforting, optimistic and full of hope—and today’s readings are no exception.

Isaiah paints a vivid picture of hope for a world where, “on that day,” the wolf and the lamb, the lion and the calf, and the cobra and the child will welcome one another in peace. Imagine: a world without enemies, hatred and division!

The psalm response speaks of “justice and fullness of peace forever.” Such a message of inspiration for us during the hustle and bustle of the final weeks of the semester, advent planning and early Christmas socials.

The Gospel reminds us of those select, but privileged, few who have been revealed the true meaning of God’s love for us. On the heels of our community retreat “In the Steps of Chaminade,” we witness the Gospel in action through the life of our founder who received from Mary the vision of establishing the Marianist family as a gift to the Church and world that is passed on to us.

As Marianist religious, we are asked not only to read the signs of the times—as revealed to us through our interpretations of scripture—but to respond to those needs in action.

When Isaiah speaks of the wolf and the lamb, the lion and the calf, and the cobra and the child welcoming one another, this perhaps can relate to our unique gift of “mixed composition” and how we can share that with our world.

When the psalmist writes, “justice and fullness of peace forever,” this perhaps can relate to how we strive to live community—where every member is cared for and valued equally.

When the Gospel speaks about those who have received the good news, perhaps that has something to do with the way we live faithfully our lives with joy and happiness—characteristics necessary for perseverance, fidelity and stability in our Marianist vocation.

When responding to those gifts we’ve received, sometimes it’s the little things we do for one another that have the biggest impact.

In recent semesters, a few responses to my course evaluations have caught my attention. When asked to identify what the strengths of the course were, some students responded with “the instructor is very happy” and “enthusiastic and excited to each class everyday.”

Despite the wonderful class presentations, thought-provoking discussions, quick turn-around of graded assignments, efficiency in meeting course objectives and ability to take student work from one level to the next—and the reality that, on some days, I rather would have been somewhere else—it was the presence in ministry that made the lasting impression!

Perhaps this has something to do with the idea that “the quality of our work is not as important as the quality of our presence.”

As we approach the altar and begin a new day, one way we might be able to respond, as suggested by the action proposal for the day listed in “Advent 2009: Praying with the Prophets for Peace and Justice,” is to “give extra time to that student in your class who is slow in learning, that member in your community who is confused and seems lost.”

After all, when we have been revealed the “good news,” how can we not help but be joyful and want to share that joy with others?

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