Archive for December, 2017

Journeying Through Advent 4


Week Four: Here am I, the servant of the Lord. (Luke 1: 26-38)

Every Christmas is a reminder that we are called to mid wife God into our world. It is a time when we echo the words of Mary, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord.” It is a season when we bring light into darkness, joy where there is sadness, hope to those who despair, peace where there is unrest and love to those who feel alone and isolated.

Many might say, “But how can this be? How can I do this?” This seems beyond me. I am so insignificant and of little means. Fear and doubt cloud our minds. Mary had all these feelings. She was overcome by fear. She doubted the credibility of the angel’s message. She worried about societal misgivings. Yet, reassured by God, Mary said Yes! She let love overcome fear.

Madeleine L’Engle, expresses this in her poem After Annunciation

This is the irrational season
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
there’d have been no room for the child.

This Christmas may your love bloom bright and wild, may your love conquer fear, may you mid-wife God into our expectant world, and may you proclaim to all around you:

Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy…
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light…
For the people who sat in the shadow of death a light has dawned…
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace…
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us…
He is Christ the Lord.

We wish you a very happy Christmas and every blessing for the New Year, 2018

LISTEN: Oh Holy Night – featuring Maile, Seumanu, Haretuku, Lealaitafea, and Matt Nickle

REFLECT: Imaginative Prayer Exercise and/or Making Space for Tenderness

CONSIDER: Join Trócaire Christmas campaign “Until Love Conquers Fear

Journeying Through Advent 3


Week Three: Among you stands one whom you do not know (John 1:19-28)

I was a stranger and you welcomed me! Many of us forget that Joseph, Mary and Jesus had to flee their homeland and become refugees in Egypt for a period of time (Mt 2:1-15). They experienced the dread of travelling under cover of darkness. They lived the chaos of a hurried departure. They felt the anxiety and fear of uncertainty. They travelled a journey of risk, fraught with danger. They understood the pain of leaving a place they called home.

Among us today stand the many people who have undertaken similar journeys not because they wanted to but because they were compelled to. There are over 65 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. This week we are invited to become aware of the migrant population of the world and to stand in solidarity with all those who appear to be different to us because of, among other things, race, skin colour, creed, belief, political affiliation, sexual orientation or economic opportunity.

Scott Peck tells a story of a monastery that had fallen upon hard times – the spirit had gone out of the people. The concerned abbot seeks the advice of a rabbi. They spend considerable time together in conversation with no apparent solution emerging to resolve the issue. Just as the abbot is leaving, the rabbi says to him, ‘I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you’. The abbot returns to his monastery with this cryptic message. As the days and weeks go by there is a palpable transformation among the monks in the monastery for they had started ‘to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that one among them might be the Messiah. And on the off chance that each monk himself might be the Messiah, they began to treat themselves with extraordinary respect’.

Let us take that as our invitation and recognise that among us stands one whom we do not know, among us stands the stranger, and among us stands the one who is the Messiah.  And, in this week when we celebrate the winter solstice let us pray with the words of Edward Hays:

We are mindful that the darkness of greed, exploitation, and hatred
also lengthens its shadow over our small planet Earth.
As our ancestors feared death and evil and all the dark powers of winter,
we fear that the darkness of war, discrimination, and selfishness
may doom us and our planet to an eternal winter.
May we find hope in the lights we have kindled on this sacred night,
hope in one another and in all who form the web-work of peace and justice
that spans the world.
In the heart of every person on this Earth burns the spark of luminous goodness;
in no heart is there total darkness.
May we who have celebrated this winter solstice,
by our lives and service, by our prayers and love,
call forth from one another the light and the love
that is hidden in every heart. Amen.


Significant days this week: International Migrants Day (18 Dec); International Human Solidarity Day (20 Dec); Winter Solstice (21 Dec)

LISTEN: Believe by Josh Groban OR Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

REFLECT: Imaginative Prayer Exercise and/or Making Space for Tenderness

CONSIDER: Get involved with Together


Journeying Through Advent 2


Week Two: Prepare the way of the Lord… (Mark 1:1-8)

In Mark’s Gospel, John the Baptist, is presented to us as the ‘voice crying out in the wilderness’ heralding the arrival of the ‘one who is more powerful than I’ and he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John echoes the words of the Prophet Isaiah, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ Advent is that time of preparation for us as it is a time of patient waiting.

St John of the Cross, whose feast we celebrate this week, asks us to be in a state of preparedness,

The Virgin, weighed
With the Word of God,
Comes down the road:
if only you will shelter her!

How does one prepare for the coming of Jesus? How does one, as it were, make space to become the womb ‘weighed with the Word of God’?

We look to Mary for this. She, who was open to the word of God and accepted the invitation to mother Jesus. She put aside her fears, trusted in the Spirit and believed that it would be done to her according to the Word. ‘Every valley will be lifted up, and every hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level.’ We share in Mary’s experience as she travels the hill country to visit Elizabeth and there glimpse Mary’s delight when she says, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God.’

We too are invited on that same journey of setting aside our fears and boldly mothering God into our world. What is the Good News I can bring to a world so troubled by war and fear? What is the hope I can bring to people who are weighed down by despair? What is the joy I can bring to those who mourn? What is the light I can bring to those who walk in the shadow of darkness?

This week the Jewish community begins to light the candles of Hanukkah. It is a timely reminder to let the light of God shine in our lives and our world; to reach out to those who are in need; to encourage us to stand up for what is just and right; to be undaunted in the face of seeming adversity; and, to rejoice in the goodness of God in our lives.


Significant days this week:  Hanukkah (12 -20 Dec); Our Lady of Guadalupe (12 Dec); St John of the Cross (14 Dec)

LISTEN: Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

REFLECT: Imaginative Prayer Exercise and/or Making Space for Tenderness

CONSIDER: Spend a moment with this Advent poem penned by St John of the Cross


Journeying Through Advent 1


Week One: Keep Alert …  Keep Awake… (Mark 13:33-37)

We begin our journey into Advent with the call to be attentive. What are we being called to be attentive to? Is it not the call to be attentive to the presence of God in all that we encounter? Is it not the call to recognise God in the person I meet at home and on the street, the neighbour and the stranger, the citizen and the refugee? Is it not the call to be conscious of God in the fragile flutter of the butterflies wings, the hum of the bumble bee, the touch of the soil, the smell of the winter leaves on the ground, the sound of the running stream, or the gentle whisper of the cool breeze?

Indeed, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God” (G M Hopkins). All around us God awaits to be encountered for “everything is a matter for sacrament” (Rolheiser). Elizabeth Browning says,

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.

During this first week of Advent we have ample opportunity to be aware of the world around us; when we mark World Soil day, the Prevention of Genocide day and world Human Rights Day. Each of these days invites us to engage with our contemporary world and pleads for our response.

Jesus comes proclaiming a message of hope, freedom, new vision and liberation:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free. (Luke 4: 18)

Jesus addresses us when he says,

I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25:35-36)

This Advent we are urged to encounter God in the ordinary humdrum of our lives. We are encouraged to be actively conscious of God in all of creation. It is an invitation to acknowledge God as Emmanuel (God with us). So, as we journey towards Christmas let us genuinely “take off our shoes” each time we recognise “every common bush” and every single person, including ourselves, as “afire with God.”

Significant days this week: World Soil Day (5 Dec); The Immaculate Conception (8 Dec); Prevention of Genocide (9 Dec); World Human Rights Day (10 Dec)

LISTEN: A Hallelujah Christmas by Cloverton

REFLECT: Imaginative Prayer Exercise and/or Making Space for Tenderness

CONSIDER: Create your own Advent Wreath and/or Jesse Tree 

CONSIDER: : An Advent calendar