Jeremiah 33:14-16 1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2 Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Welcome to Advent!
Today’s first reading, from the Book of Jeremiah, was written when the Israelites were in the midst of a very dark time in their history. They were being conquered by the nation of Babylon. Many were killed and many more persecuted during this time. It was difficult for them to have hope…an important virtue, frequently mentioned in the readings over the past few weeks at Mass. The wise and eloquent Jeremiah recognized the need for this virtue especially at this point in history. His words have lived on, even to the present day!
In Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians, he actually takes an opportunity to pray a prayer of blessing upon them. This is perhaps the strongest message of hope and care imaginable. Recall a time when someone has prayed over/with you, or a time when you have prayed for someone. How did you feel during and after that experience? Such prayers are the very essence of hope, expressed in your thoughts, feelings and words, of those of another…lifted high in offering to our Lord and Savior.
In today’s gospel passage from Luke, we hear a warning from Jesus about dark times to come - and it is graphic! Yet we are also summoned to “stand erect and raise our hands, because your redemption is at hand.” We are also reminded that being a true disciple of Christ takes courage and strength, in equal measure with faith, hope and love.
Today, or sometime this week, consider finding a special moment for prayer. Find a place where you and God can be alone; then stand and raise your hands toward the heavens in prayer to the Lord. Ask for the strength you need in order to stand with God - in a posture of gratitude - believing that God’s eternal, unconditional love for you will be your salvation! Consider this gesture to be a sign to you and to the Lord that you are ready to begin the journey through Advent.
Once you have finished this prayer, ask yourself: “How do I feel?”