Happy Second Sunday of Advent! I hope you are well in these days of preparation leading up to the celebration of Christmas. Our first reading today from the prophet Isaiah gives us the beautiful promise of the Messiah to come: “On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom”. It reminded me of the Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree, which is a way of preparing for Christmas by placing on a tree one ornament for each day of Advent. Each ornament corresponds to a story from the Old Testament – such as Adam and Eve, Noah, etc – and traces the history of salvation leading up to the birth of Christ.
What I love most about the Jesse Tree is that is a messy, complicated story of human history and of Israel often straying from the ways of God. So many of the people and stories that make up the ornaments of the Jesse Tree include mistakes, words people later regretted, and lack of faith. Yet in the midst of all of this, a “shoot sprouted”, a “bud blossomed”, a child was born, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. What an amazing gift! Even today, in the midst of our own complicated society which is the human family, God is always here, at work trying to save us.
I am grateful for the many efforts of our priests and staff to help prepare our hearts for Christmas this Advent season! Likely many of us find ourselves busier and perhaps a little stressed. In the next few weeks, perhaps we find ourselves with an overwhelming “to-do list”, with parties to attend and gifts to prepare. My invitation for all of us in this next week would be to, in the midst of the busyness, not lose sight of the amazing mystery of the Jesse Tree which we are celebrating.
Blessings to you and know of my prayers!
Sincerely, with love,
“Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…”
(St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, ch. 13)
Advent! As the daylight grows shorter and the nights longer, we are challenged by this season to bring light where there is darkness! For not only in nature, but in the workings of a world “in sin and error pining”, we are reminded it is up to us the spread the light.
It starts with ourselves. Maybe we need to ask what in my life is dark right now? What prevents me from living a free, joyful life open to the possibilities of life rather than its limitations?
It continues with our attitude about others. Where do I let darkness creep into my relationships? Where do I let my preoccupations block a life, free and open to the possibilities of others and the chance to live in peace?
Advent gives us the chance to ask these questions, but like John the Baptist pointing to the Savior, find their answers in Jesus Christ. Letting Christ into our hearts in a new way this season dispels the darkness and doubt we all face about ourselves. Letting Christ into our hearts in a new way this season dispels preoccupations which prevent us from truly loving and serving others.
And that will really be a Happy Advent!
Sincerely, with love,
Fr. Tim, your pastor.
A sincere congratulations and many blessings for Samantha Vosters, a parishioner at Our Lady of Divine Providence and staff member of Riverwest Food Pantry, who professed perpetual vows of a consecrated life this past Sunday! We are honored to have her Christ-like light shine so brightly among us!