The Gospel reading in today’s Mass illustrates why we have Advent: Christ comes to us, because we need Him. He comes to us in mysterious ways in which we are spiritually healed, nourished, and restored to new life in Him.
From today’s Gospel:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others.
This Gospel says that the crowds came to him, but we must also observe that he came to them first. He did so initially by humbling himself, becoming a man, and living among us. We need to recognize this first: Christ is already present. He seeks us out, gently and subtly. Now it is up to us to enter into a deeper relationship with him, by approaching him.
This is something you can do every day of your lives.
There are many ways you can do this, and Advent is one of the best times the Church gives us to focus on our personal relationship with Jesus and grow in love with Him. Here are just two things you can do better during Advent in order to foster a deeper relationship with Christ.
- Daily meditation. We all know we should pray, and perhaps some people already have a good habit of praying every day. Everyone can still improve their prayer life. The practice of daily meditation is one of the best ways to do this. It doesn’t have to involve much time. Just a few minutes is good. Just 5, 10, or 15 minutes of personal dialogue with Christ is a great way to begin the day. Try to find the time each day during Advent for silent personal prayer with Jesus. It can be just a moment after you get up and before you go to work, a brief moment during your lunch break, or even, if you can’t find another time, in the car on the way to work — be sure to turn your radio off for just a few minutes while you do this. Perhaps the best time and place to talk to God privately is in a Church, silently before the tabernacle, briefly before or right after daily Mass.
- Daily Mass. A lot of people think they don’t have time to go to Mass daily, and for some people that may be true. But here’s the thing: when something is a priority, we can find a way to make it happen. Jesus is there waiting for us. Isn’t it important then to make the time to go to him? Advent is both a penitential season and a time of grace. I’ve known a lot of people who decided made it an Advent resolution to attend daily Mass, and by the end of that season, it became so important to them that they made it a point to continue making daily Mass a part of their lives for the rest of their life. If they ever have to forego it for any reason, they really miss it. Why? Because it’s their daily encounter with the Lord, the most important part of the day. That’s exactly what it should be. In today’s Gospel we can see how much Jesus want us to have this opportunity. So we should also take advantage of it.
First, the people gather around him to be close to him. He is attentive to everyone’s needs. And yet he shows that he has a greater concern for them. In fact, after he heals them and they all give praise to God, Jesus says: “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,” for they have nothing to eat.
He want’s to give them what they really need, which they may not realize: He wants to give them more of himself. He wants to feed them with himself.
Notice how the words in this Gospel passage are so similar to exactly what happens during the Sacrifice of the Mass:
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.
The Lord is generous. He gives in abundance and never stops giving. It is up to us to take full advantage of his greatest gift, which is nothing other than the full gift of himself.
We all need Christ in our life. This is why he comes to us and why we, in turn, must go to him.
This is what Advent is for, to realize how much we need him, to long for him, and ultimately to be fully satisfied with him when he comes to us, which he does, every day of our lives.
The Advent hymn I chose for today seems appropriate to share here. It also fits well with Second Sunday of Advent that we will celebrate in just a few days. So it is a good time to start looking forward to it, as John the Baptist reminds us to look forward to the coming Messiah in next Sunday’s liturgy.
Father: I have to pray to stay Catholic. Two Priest Flipped me their Middle Finger: one in confession 2x’s, one after Mass. Another priest walked away from me w/o a word, when I asked for the Sacrament of the Sick, after Saturday evening Mass. The Gay Priest who handled my annulment, and advocates Gay Marriage…I talked about it on Twitter so he changed his website to cover his sins up….is now our Diocesan Vocation Director. My dad was refused the Sacraments in the Hospital by 3 Parishes I called: A faux-holy Joe priest said, “We don’t fish in murky waters.” Seal of Confession violated, by several. One priest did it in front of 3 witnesses. One priest compared his priesthood to a condom. One famous priest talked lewdly on his website. Nuns lease to HHS Dept their bldgs; for Family Planning Clinics & STD Clinic that gives condoms to 12 year olds, on Catholic Property. Run off road by catholic. I was Attacked by a Crazy Priest who was on Xanax. I was a whistleblower at a Catholic College – my Education was used for their reprisal. Denied Mass for 6 Years in the City. But. St. John Nepomucene defended me. A bishop who called me a liar, dropped dead on his feast day. I now find going to Mass and the Sacraments “hell on earth.” However, I’d be damned forever, if I let their bullying techniques get me down, scared, angry, or cynical. I have to love and forgive – but, I have to Find God’s Way to Turn the Tables on them, by not reacting. So, please pray for me. I trust them no further than I can spit. But, I do trust GOD. Again, pray for us! Thanks.
I feel so sorry for all these bad things you experienced and for the the bad example you were given. Please, remember that we can’t allow bad apples to represent all apples, even if they do tend to spoil the whole bunch for us.
And that’s the thing: for us. The saying about a few bad apples (or even we may experience sometimes that there are many) spoil the whole bunch can be interpreted in two ways. The way we normally tend to interpret it is that the bad ones infect the rest and make them bad. In some cases that may be so. But there is another way to look at it, which is also true. When we pull out the bad apples and then consider the rest of them, we realize that the good apples are still wholesome, good apples — each one of them — and that the bunch is actually a good bunch. The point here is that we need to be careful not to let the bad examples become the rule in our minds to the extent that the good ones are the exception.
In reality, it normally happens to be the case that the opposite is true. That the bad is the exception to the rule (think about it: If the bad were the rule then why would we look on bad examples in terms of hypocrisy in the first place). But we can let the bad things (or people) affect us to the point that we don’t see it that way.
I’ve experienced so many good Catholic people, religious, priests, laypersons of all sorts, and more often than not, I am very edified by them. Sometimes, I am overwhelmed by it. This is not because I choose to be an optimistically naive person, but because I tend to find myself around good hearted people all the time. It might be because I avoid the bad ones, and I also avoid thinking about them so that they do not affect my attitude. If I allowed it to affect my attitude, I might then — to revert back to the other interpretation about the apples — be infected by them. Then the other good apples would want to avoid me. Do you see how that could affect my world? I refuse to let that happen!
So we can influence the world for the better by seeking out the positive, which truly is there, and by separating out the negative. We must hand them over to God by praying for them and by praying for ourselves to be healed of any residual badness they may have rubbed off on us — which can easily happen if we allow it, so we have to do this every time, and quickly, and then move on.
Do Not Let Bad Tenants Live Rent Free In Your Head. Remember the words of Christ. Christ can banish the demons of sadness, or anger, or hate out of our souls. Then it is up to us to keep the house clean and KEEP CHRIST IN. Otherwise, the original tenants will return with friends and make it worse than before. All of this requires prayer and sacrifice, but remember, Christ who is in us bears our burden with us; his yoke is easy and his burden light. And there are other Christs — Good examples of Good Christians — who help to loosen the load and make it easier on us. Seek them out and forget about bad apples — good apples will do you good.
I promise I will pray for you and for those who have harmed you. God bless you and may you grow in a deeper, more fruitful relationship with Him this Advent.
Wow! Thx for your information and rash judgments. Having been taken to court twice by this wayward diocese, been run off the road, and having harassing phone calls, a sister of mine having her 11 kids threatened to be taken from her, my college education used as a reprisal – is my reality. I pray for them. I don’t have time to ruminate or think on it, for any length of time. I just know my Diocese is going down the Road of Capitulating their Catholic Faith – like most of the Dioceses, in England, with the exception of exceptional Saints I wish to emulate namely: Ss. John Fischer, Edmund Campion, Margaret Clitherow, Augustine of Canterbury, Thomas a Beckett, and Thomas More.
Glad your don’t just react, but still pray, too. I was trained 12 years by a Thomistic Parish Priest, whom Jesus pointed out to me, when I was four, almost five at Consecration, from Christ in the elevated Host, “This priest will teach you all about me.” Christ’s words were fulfilled. That priest taught us well. Father John Harden taught me, as an adult. He was excellent too. Pope Benedict XVI knew, sent me correspondence and did not “react” like you did. Nonetheless, I forgive your emotive reaction. I’m stating facts. Not fairy tales. I have many including myself to pray for. No one is going to set up residence, in my mind. I rebuke Satan’s suggestions. When I do not, and acquiesce to sin; I confess it, even if the priest violates that Sacred Confidence. A priest does not have to be in the State of Grace, for the Sacrament to be valid, nor does a priest not being in the State of Grace, invalidate a Mass unless he doesn’t perform Mass in a licit or valid manner, that the Church demands. I’ve been to Masses where the Priest said Robert Maplethorpe’s photographs of sodomy, shouldn’t be censored. I’ve been to Masses where the Eucharistic Male Minister wore women’s clothes. Telling the Bishop does no good. Corporate Sin is deeply intrenched, in my diocese. But, I do have a problem when the Bishops allow 12 year olds to get tacitly sex trafficked, thanks to the LCWR’s STD Clinics, on leased to the HHS Dept., on their property. I draw the line there. I speak out and I intend to be one big pain in their necks, until they change. Because those kids need advocacy. Our Diocese has gotten sicker, not better.
Jesus manifested holy anger, in the Synagogue. I follow Him. Scripture says, “A holy man falls 7x’s a day.” So, I will endure your rebuff, for His sake. And, I will not let them run me out of the Church. I will make up my mind to love and forgive them. God’s Son died loving and forgiving. But, He had a whole gambit of emotions. That did not make His Divine Mind evil, it made His Mind Human and Divine; in this Hypostatic Union. So, as you must being inferring: I will put on the MIND OF CHRIST in all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings everyday and everywhere I go. I have within me the power and mercy of God, who leads me, to get up after every blow, and carry on, without holding a grudge. It is not me, but He who chooses to dwell within my soul. A presence that is at time seemingly asleep, but I know deep down, that He is my Primary Witness to all I endure. You have this same indwelling. However when we leave Him, totally, in Mortal Sin, He is still faithful, when we are not. The road back, is quicker with Our Lady’s help.
I hope you have a Happy Saint Nicholas Day 2013. Be at peace, now. I respect the priesthood, even when they don’t respect their own vocations. And, I pray for them, daily.
Loved this. My uncle who I was in charge of his life decisions died on Gaudate Sunday, last year. I was called twice during the night from his fabulous Catholic nursing home, saying he was near death. I didn’t really believe them, and was going to ask one of his close friends who lived nearby to go see him. I lived 2 hours away. When the second call came in, my daughter who was home from college said “come on mom, I’ll drive you.” We made it there in record time. The nurse warmly greeted me and said” he’s waiting for you”. I went up to his right side of his head, he rolled his eyes to look at me, then closed them. Several of his friends came and we prayed and sang to him. He had just been anointed a few hous earlier and received Viaticum. Mass was at 10 am, so as we were steps away from the chapel, my daughter, one of his friends and I went to Mass, and 5 or 6 friends stayed with him. The nuns choir led us in Oh Come Divine Messiah. Meanwhile back in my uncle’s room, the nuns brought in a monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament. When we got back to his room, they said my uncle had passed away, and I realized that indeed The Divine Messiah had come! Fr. Will I see you at my son’s ordination on the 14th?
Hi Diana. I’m sure you were asking that question to Fr Jason Smith. I’ll give him a heads up on your comment, since he does not get the notifications on comments. God bless you and thanks for your example of loving Christ!
Both your post and your response to Catholic Glasses were beautiful. I will be praying for her today. I have met some Catholics who were living less than their best possible selves, but fortunately far more who are striving for holiness.
Prayers are definitely needed. We need to keep the crucible of charity burning in our Church. There’s lots to purify. And Advent is that season of purification. Thanks for your example of prayer and devotion to Christ, Reinkat!
The ultimate truth: “… to realize how much we need Him, to long for Him, and ultimately to be fully satisfied with him when He comes to us, which He does, every day of our lives.”
Perfectly said, James…
Thanks, JTR! 🙂