Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday, 2nd Week of Advent, 11-29-16

Today’s readings:

On that day,
The root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
The Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

Lighthouse, Ashland, WI
As children growing up on the shore of Chequamegon Bay in Ashland, WI, we would occasionally hear the deep bellow of the fog horn sounding from the lighthouse.   Lake Superior is dotted with lighthouses whose purpose was to alert ships about possible dangers while guiding them safely to their destinations.  Though modern navigational technology has rendered the lighthouses obsolete, many continue to stand as monuments to the dedication of so many “keepers of the light.”

One longstanding Advent tradition is the creation of a “Jesse Tree.”  Typical representations would show Jesse sleeping with a tree growing from his side.  The branches of the tree would show the ancestors of Christ—with Jesus himself displayed at the very top of the tree.

Certainly Christians think of Jesus as that “root of Jesse” who is “set up as a signal for the nations.”  It would be a pretty easy step from there for believers to think of Jesus as a lighthouse who guides us through the treacherous waters of life and brings us safely to heaven.  “"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (Jn. 8:12)

Here’s a link to an appropriate song:

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday, First Week of Advent, 11-28-16

Today’s Readings:

“Lord, I am not worthy….”

            Some social scientists may decry the fact that we are living in the “Age of Entitlement.”  There are certain elements of US society—often the  young, often the rich, but others as well—who believe that certain benefits are owed to them simply because of who they are.

            A number of television commercials play to this type of thinking by telling the viewers that “you deserve” this beer or hair care product or car.  To which I find myself thinking, “And just what have I done to deserve it?” 


            Perhaps it’s a matter of semantics that some would consider trivial, but when I use the word “deserve,” it implies some reciprocity for a good deed or a good job done.  So while I believe that people in Ethiopia have a fundamental right to adequate food and safe drinking water, I probably wouldn’t agree, as some promoters might say, that they “deserve” those things.  I hope I’m making myself clear.  Some people should receive assistance not because they “deserve” it but because they have a basic right to it.

            The centurion in today’s gospel would have been entitled to certain privileges because of the rank he had attained.  By rights, he probably could have made certain demands on Jesus.  But this Roman official had two laudable insights: 1) he knew how authority worked and 2) he recognized that Jesus could exercise that authority over disease even from a distance.  Though we have never known his name, his faith and humility are etched in the annals of Church history as we echo his words at every Mass: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof….”  Lord, I do not deserve a soul-healing; I am not entitled to it; but I hope your mercy will provide it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

First Sunday of Advent, 11-27-16

In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”

As I have in the past, I will try to offer some reflections on the daily readings for Advent.

This morning I was able to attend one of the Spanish Masses at St. John the Baptist Church in Joliet, IL.  For the Responsorial Psalm, the choir sang one of my favorite songs.  It begins Qué alegría cuando me dijeron: "Vamos a la casa del Señor.”  Or in English: “I rejoiced when I heard them say, let us go to God’s house.”  (Psalm 122) 

Having been involved in parish ministry for nearly 40 years, I sometimes wondered how many people in the congregation rejoiced to come to God’s house.  Or were they there simply out of habit or a sense of obligation?

“Zeal” is a word we don’t hear much any more—perhaps because in modern times it has picked up overtones of being inflexible and lacking in compassion.  But essentially zeal is the eagerness to do God’s will and to enter into God’s Presence.

Zeal is an eagerness to “climb the Lord’s mountain…that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”  It is the grace that allows us to rejoice in the opportunity to enter into

God’s house.

Beyond the preparation for the coming feast of Christmas, Advent calls us to ready ourselves for the Lord’s Second Coming.  If we are zealous in entering into the Presence of the Lord on earth, the Second Coming should hold no fear for us.  Rather, we will transition gently from earthly Presence to eternal Presence.

Disqus for Fr. John Eaton, OFM