Prayer brings our whole religious life into focus; it supports the rhythm of our lives emphasizing now the person, now the community, now the world we serve. Thus, prayer is our continuing response to God's continuing call to mission."
You Are Sent, Constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame
Sister Rea McDonnell, SSND, offers reflections on the Liturgical Readings for each day. If you wish to share your own reflections or have comments or questions, please feel free to email Sister Rea. For information about Sister Rea's publications, visit our online gift shop.
Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11; Canticle of Mary; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1: 6-8, 19-28
Today’s Sunday liturgy is so joyful. It was once called Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday from Paul’s exhortation to rejoice in the Lord always! “Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances,” he advises. Isaiah’s rich imagery is not only lush with life but announces the mission of the Messiah, anointed to bring good news, sent to the brokenhearted, to the captives and to proclaim jubilee (cf Luke 4 for Jesus’ mission statement). Mary’s song of joy, the Magnificat, is hers and our response to the Messiah’s coming. The gospel details the mission of the “man sent from God…to testify to the light”: John the Baptist.
Have you ever written a mission statement? Try it. What do you really, really want to do for God? Think BIG. God loves our great desires! When have you ever experienced giving thanks not only in joyful circumstances but in sad or anxious times? A clue to praying without ceasing: since we keep up a running monologue in our mind all day long, put the word “Jesus” in front of your musings, plans, reflections, feelings – all the ordinary stuff of a day. Or, as you change each activity of your day, say: All for your glory, God.
Make us attractive signs of your presence and healing power in our brokenhearted world, we beg you. Let our joy radiate to the corners of the earth, because our joy is your joy.
Because we have, year after year, the same readings for the weekdays of Advent, this year we will focus only on a single line or verse of Scripture used in the Eucharistic celebration. The only commentary will be what might be needed for better understanding. The small nugget of Scripture will be copied whole, for a lectio divina. By reading slowly and re-reading, hopefully out loud, these verses can be absorbed into our blood stream.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Numbers 24: 2-7, 15-17; Psalm 25; Matthew 21:23-27
“Nations, hear the word of the Lord and make it known to the ends of the earth... Have no more fear.”
Even the nations have a mission.
So many nations live in fear, in hunger, thirst, degradation. Help us to be missionaries in our intense prayer for them. Exchange our anxieties with your peace.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Zephaniah 3: 1-2, 9-13; Psalm 34; Matthew 21: 28-32
“See the Lord is coming and with God, all the saints. Then there will be endless light.”
Why? Because “the Lord hears the cry of the poor, close to the brokenhearted.”
Tear the heavens and come down, our just God, and make right the relationships in our fragile, broken world. Only on you can we depend. Thank you!
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Genesis 49: 2, 8-10; Psalm 72; Matthew 1: 1-17
“The Desired of all the nations is coming, and the house of the Lord will be filled with glory.”
Thank you for sharing your house, our beautiful planet with us, Creator God. The earth is charged with your glory. Help us to attend to it, tend it, and share it with others.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Jeremiah 23:5-8; Psalm 72; Matthew 1: 18-24
“They shall name him Emmanuel, which means God with us.”
Notice, in this annunciation made to Joseph, that he is told not to be afraid to act on his decision not to turn Mary over to the Law. He chooses not to invoke the capital punishment prescribed by the Law: stoning or drowning or burning to death, for the sin of adultery.
In our own experience, we too call you, Jesus: “God with us.” Jesus, mercy in the flesh, thank you for calling all peoples to yourself. Knowing you, we know God’s will for justice, healing, reconciliation, peace. Your will be done!
Friday, December 19, 2014
Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25; Psalm 71; Luke 1: 5-25
“He who is to come will not delay. Then there will be no fear in our lands, because he is our savior.”
Tweaked to a prayer: “You who always come, take away fear in our hearts, in our land.”
How much our world needs dawn, light, guidance on the roads to peace. Bless and encourage peacemakers, the famous and the unknown. Thank you, Prince of Peace!
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Isaiah 7: 10-14, 8:10; Psalm 24; Luke 1: 26-38
“Let the Lord enter. He is the king of glory.”
Today’s gospel will be repeated tomorrow, the annunciation made to Mary. We remember that earlier in Matthew’s gospel, Joseph receives the announcement.
How do you envision the love the young couple shared? Look at Joseph looking at the infant in his arms. Pray Matthew’s version of the Angelus:
The angel of the Lord declared unto Joseph—and he took Mary as his wife. Behold the manservant of the Lord! Be it done to me according to your word. The word was made flesh and lived in the home you prepared for him.
Hail, Joseph, full of grace! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among all men, and blessed are the woman and the child whom you loved. Holy Joseph, just and kind, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Joseph, thank you for your obedience to God’s guidance. Patron of our church, keep us in deepest unity through Jesus, the center of our lives.
2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Psalm 89; Romans 16: 25-27; Luke 1: 26-38
King David, in our first reading, sounds ashamed that he is living in a fine house while the “ark of God stays in a tent.” God promises David that God will establish another house for the king, a house of David’s offspring. The psalm is David’s response to God’s goodness: “Forever will I sing of your faithful love!” Paul’s convoluted single sentence reading is really a toast to God. It concludes: “To the only wise God!” Mary called the new ark where God tents, shows her wisdom. She is confused; she questions, and only then says, “Be it done to me.”
God tents in us too. “The Word was made flesh and pitched his tent among us” is the literal reading of John 1:14. Take a long loving look at various parts of your body, now embodying the Word in your own flesh. God tents in every cell. Sing of God’s love and perhaps dance in joy with our tenting God. If you know “Long live God!” from Godspell, you might toast God as Paul does.
Be it done to all the world according to you Word, your Wisdom, your faithful love, our God. Especially comfort those who must live in tents, or without shelter of any kind.
With the same readings for the weekdays of Advent year after year, this year we focus each week day only on one verse. The only commentary will be what might be needed for understanding. The verse will be copied whole, for a lectio divina. By reading them slowly and re-reading them, hopefully out loud, they can be absorbed into our blood stream. And then comes Christmas!
Monday, December 22, 2014
1 Samuel 1:24-28; Canticle of Hannah (1 Sam 2); Luke 1: 46-56
“Come, King of all nations, source of your church’s unity and faith; save all people!” This is today’s “O antiphon,” so ancient and yet so appropriate for our time. We pray for all those whom you unite and gift with faith, God of grace. We hunger for food and justice, for peace, and especially to experience you. Fill the hungry with peace.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Malachi 3: 1-4, 4:5-6; Psalm 25; Luke 1: 57-66
“A little child is born for us, and he shall be called the mighty God. Every race on earth shall be blessed in him.” Bless all nations and races and religions. Open your Christian churches to welcome all those despised and/or ignored by “polite society.” Make us ready to eat with you and yours.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
2 Samuel 7:1-5; 8-12, 16; Psalm 89; Luke 1: 67-79
Good news! “The appointed time has come! God has sent God’s own Son into the world!” And so, “Forever will I sing the goodness of our God!” Repeat the sounding joy! Read and re-read these two quotations above which can hardly contain the joy, the anticipation. Pray for those who feel no joy, no exaltation today. Pray for those who are lonely, imprisoned in any way, here at home and overseas.
Visit us, Word in our flesh, and stay! Sing of God’s goodness through our hearts, for your praise and petition is full of promise, full of hope. Help our weary world rejoice!
Thursday, December 25, 2014 - The birth of Jesus
Three sets of readings means nine readings. Let us be simple today. As Teresa of Avila teaches us, look at the baby looking at you, humbly and tenderly. This is contemplation. Ask Mary if you might hold the baby. Keep on gazing, and let him look at you.
Friday, December 26, 2014 - Feast of Stephen, martyr
Acts 6: 8-10, 7:54-59; Psalm 31; Matthew 10: 17-22
“Martyres” in Greek means witness. We all witness to God’s glory in Christ today. “The gates of heaven opened for Stephen, the first of the martyrs. In heaven he wears the crown of victory.” With Stephen as he dies and we live, we pray: “Into your hands, Lord Jesus, I entrust my spirit.” “As they stoned him, Stephen prayed aloud: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit…Do not hold this sin against them.”
How do you want to witness to Christ today? With whom can you share the good news of God’s coming so close in Jesus, mercy in the flesh? Stephen’s last words are like Jesus’: “Father, forgive them.” What do you want your last words to be? Say them frequently.
As Stephen died praying for his enemies, remove our hatreds and hopes for revenge, both as individuals and as nations. Make us instruments of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Saturday, December 27, 2014 - Feast of John, evangelist
1 John 1: 1-4; Psalm 97; John 20: 2-8
Our Eucharistic celebration remembers and makes present the dying (Stephen) of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus (today’s gospel from John). John is apostle, evangelist, insistent in preaching how God is in love with us. “The Lord opened his mouth in the assembly and filled him with wisdom and understanding.” We stand with John and Stephen and pray: “Let the holy ones rejoice in the Lord.” Not only joy, but all the riches of God are now opened to us: “The word of God became human and lived among us. Out of his riches we have all received.”
Remember and explicitly name the riches you have received from your union with Christ. Ask him to live and love more deeply in you and through you.
May we come to share the divinity of him who emptied himself to share our humanity. Thank you that he loves us so dearly. Help us to love him in return.