2014 Magnificat Advent Companion
2014 Magnificat Advent Companion
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30
First Sunday of Advent
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 13:33-37
J ESUS SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES: "Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"
The Gospel of the Lord.
I Say to All: "Watch!"
I once went to visit a friend in hospice with another friend, Alan. I knew Alan worked the night shift as a janitor and had a forty-five-minute commute. I asked if he was to work that night: Yes. I asked whether, when I dropped him off that afternoon, he'd try to sleep for a bit. "I actually don't sleep that well," he replied. "When my son was a kid, they used to talk about crib death constantly. I was so afraid he'd stop breathing in the middle of the night that I'd wake up every fifteen minutes. I kept thinking, What if he dies and everyone knows I'm a horrible father. I'd have to live for the rest of my life knowing the kid died on my watch, that I didn't take good care of my kid. And ever since then I've never been able to sleep very soundly. "How old's the kid now?" I asked. "Twenty-two," Alan replied.
I know that kind of red-alert anxiety well. But that is the anxiety of The Accuser, who tells us we've done something wrong even when we haven't. Christ is saying stay alert for the right thing. Stay alert not for catastrophe, but for wonder, for beauty, for astonishment, for joy. Stay alert for Me.
H EATHER K ING
Heavenly Father, relieve me of all useless anxiety.
Help me to abandon myself completely.
Help me to keep watch for your love.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 1
First Monday of Advent
The Man to Be Healed
"L ord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof," we say at Mass, repeating the words of the worthy centurion in the Gospel, "but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed." Not my servant, but my soul. I think that the faithful at Mass utter no words more dramatic and poignant than these.
The centurion's servant was "lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully." The man must have laid his hands upon that beloved servant, no mere servant but a dear old friend, or perhaps a lad he loved as a son. Physicians must have laid their hands upon him too. But the centurion shies away from inviting Jesus, a Jew, into his pagan home. That is all right. "Only say the word," says the centurion, and his servant will be healed. So when we repeat his words we profess his profound faith; but for whom do we wish the healing?
We stand with the centurion, true enough, but we are also lying at home with the servant. Our souls lie paralyzed in sin, suffering dreadfully. We need the divine Physician, who in the holy Sacrament brings us the bread, not of palliative care, not of longevity, but of life.
Reflection based on Matthew 8:5-11
A NTHONY E SOLEN
Kind Father, shed upon us your Spirit of healing, that we too may march in your hosts with the faithful centurion of old: through Christ, our Lord.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2
First Tuesday of Advent
How Jesus Shows Us His Power
S ome years ago now, as a new mother, I was quite foolishly convinced that our first baby's life would depend completely on the physical care we would provide for her: warmth, no