Bringing Love to Chaos
By Elizabeth Chesley-Jewell
If you were to attend the Atrium downstairs today, you would witness the littlest ones of the parish preparing our prayer table for Advent. They will light one candle for hope and raise their voices asking Jesus to, “come and be born in our hearts.” Since the Atrium opened in 2016 the way I celebrate Advent has changed. It can be difficult to look inward and examine your heart to ensure it is ready to receive the newborn child. However, this can be done joyfully. For the love of Jesus Christ envelops us regardless of our faults. The preparation process becomes easier when you acknowledge that you are loved unconditionally and that the joy of Christmas will come to you regardless of how unworthy you feel. The Gospel today begins a little less joyfully. We are told of great disasters that will precede the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Son of Man will come, but not before floods and chaos upset the earth and its people. The whole event sounds bleak and it does not paint a very good picture of the world we have created. We are warned that when Christ comes in Glory, we will ignore all the signs that are in front of us like we have done for centuries. If it happened tomorrow most of us would miss it unless it went viral on social media. So how do we prepare ourselves? The Gospel tells us to stop worrying about the things we cannot control and instead focus on strengthening our hearts, so we may escape disaster and stand before Jesus in His magnificence. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians tells us that we do this by increasing our love for one another. Being self-absorbed prevents us from loving the stranger and from valuing each human we encounter. Furthermore, it inhibits us from receiving the redemptive love of Jesus Christ. You cannot be fully open to something that you do not value. It is not about being perfect, for Christ’s love knows no bounds. Instead, it is about reaching out to those in our midst and being the face of Christ in a lost world. It is through performing acts of love that we become closer to Jesus Christ, and prepare the world for the celebration of His birth and for when He comes again in Glory. That is where the joy of the Advent season is found, in giving and receiving love. May you receive the strength you need to accept and share the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 3.12-4.2
Luke 21.25-28, 34-36
How R.C.I.A. Brought Me to Seek the Kingdom of God
By Kimberley Morton
Today, the Feast of Christ the King marks the end of ordinary time as we head into Advent and on Sunday December 2nd our RCIA catechumens will attend the Rite of Acceptance Mass, their first official action in the Church and in their journey of faith. I remember when I was approaching this Mass I was very nervous about standing up in front of everyone, I was very much still trying to understand what I was seeking. I later realized that what I was doing was putting on the cloak of Jesus so that I could formally begin my journey of faith and joy, the quest for truth that will bring me one day to the Kingdom of God. St John Cassian tells us ‘the objective of our life is the Kingdom of God’ and the innermost meaning of the entire Old Testament is summed up in the expression of the ‘Kingdom of God’ and it remains a major key of understanding of the whole of Jesus’ message. Pope Pius XI in Quad Primas, (1924), tells us, “…when the populace thronged around Jesus in admiration and would have acclaimed him King, he shrank from the honour and sought safety in flight. Before the Roman magistrate he declared that his Kingdom was not of this world. The gospels present this Kingdom as one which men and women prepare to enter by penance and cannot actually enter except by faith and by baptism, which though an external rite, signifies and produces interior regeneration.” Our RCIA catechumens are on their own paths of regeneration and truth toward the Kingdom of God. My journey, like yours, has many twists and turns and ups and downs but I embrace the words of St Paul when he tells us “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”
Stay Awake, be Ready
By Marilena Berardinelli This weekend Toronto hosts the Santa Clause parade. To mark the occasion, a Catholic institution in the city invited my family to a party inaugurating the start of the “Christmas Season”. This early holiday invite, besides upsetting my liturgical sensitivities (the Christmas Season follows, not precedes, December 25), caused me to wonder how the world will fare if even Christians have lost sight of the two-fold goal of the weeks previous to Christmas (Advent): a time to remember the birth of Jesus and to prepare for his second coming among us. Today’s gospel sets our priorities straight. Using the apocalyptic language of falling stars and darkened suns, Jesus prepares his disciples for the signs indicating when God’s reign will be fully established on earth. Jesus’ words are not simply a call to “stay awake” to the signs, but a challenge to us to “be ready” to greet them. In our context, Jesus’ words are not an invitation to discern Christmas lists, holiday menus, or vacation itineraries, but instead to discern how the choices we make, especially in the coming weeks, “ready” us for God’s kingdom. I don’t think that early Christmas celebrations are bad. However, I do believe that the God who works with us, in us, and through us in the building of the kingdom is inviting us today not to be bystanders to the status quo, but to discern our individual involvement in the transformation of our world. What choices will I make? What organizations will I support? What charities will I give to? How will I advocate the building of a kingdom that acknowledges and respects the sacredness of all, that supports the common good and acknowledges solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable, that makes ecological choices that places creation first and that works for peace both in my home and in my world? How will I respond to Jesus’ invitation to participate in God’s new world order?
1 Kings 17.10-16
Within the Christian tradition, discernment is the art of prayerful decision making. St. Ignatius of Loyola defined discernment as the ability to see clearly God’s deepest desire for us and for the world. Our parish hosts several prayer groups that support the journey of discernment needed in the building of the Kingdom, including: Christian Meditation Group, Contemplative Women of St. Anne and the Basilian Lay Associates. For more information on participating in these groups, please see our website or take an information card that is available in the church narthex.