Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Zephaniah 3:14-18; (Psalm) Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18)
Advent, A Time of Thanksgiving and Rejoicing
“The peace of God … will guard your hearts.” (Philippians 4:7)
There was once a little town that was being harassed and pillaged by marauders. Good families were not able to defend themselves. All the people wanted was peace, but the town was filled with fear.
The king was shocked when he learned about the problem. “How can this happen to my own citizens?” he asked. He immediately dispatched soldiers to set up command posts at every entry point to the town. In short order, the raids came to an end, and peace was restored.
This little story can help us grasp what St. Paul meant about the peace of God “guarding” our hearts. Paul says that if we “make our requests known to God,” “with thanksgiving,” our hearts will be guarded. We will know peace (Philippians 4:6).
How often do you bring your needs to the Lord in prayer? Probably quite a bit—especially the bigger concerns in your life. But Paul is asking us to bring everything to the Lord in a spirit of thanksgiving. He is reminding us that our heavenly Father, who has counted every hair on our heads, knows us deeply and has nothing but good in mind for us. This is why Paul urges us to be thankful.
Not everything in life goes our way. There is no lack of injustice and pain and anxiety in this world. But none of this comes from our Father—and we should keep none of it to ourselves. Rather, God is inviting us to bring it all to him, no matter how big or small, so that he can give us his guidance and his comfort. He wants us to be grateful that he is with us, no matter what paths we are on. This is how our hearts can be guarded and protected. This is how we can hold onto our peace in good days and bad.
We may not learn this overnight, but our wise and loving God can teach us—as we bring everything to him with gratitude and trust.
“Father, I trust in your love. Teach me the way of surrender, the way of peace.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- As Christmas draws near, the Church emphasizes the joy that should be in our hearts given all that the birth of our Savior means for us. In the first reading, Zephaniah tells us to “shout for joy”! What are some of the reasons he describes for doing this? What are some of the reasons for you to “shout for joy”?
- The Responsorial Psalm tells us that our “strength” and “courage” is the Lord. Our joy, our confidence, our strength, and our courage in the Lord should be a witness to others. In what ways do you allow the joy you find in Christ to be an example to others? What steps can you take to do better?
- St. Paul in the second reading calls us to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” During Advent, we should rejoice not only in the coming of our Lord as a baby at Bethlehem, but his coming into our hearts as well. The assurance of the fullness of salvation in Christ’s second coming should also cause us to rejoice. How well are you able to “Rejoice in the Lord” when faced with the difficulties of the current world situation? If you find it difficult to do so, what steps can you take to interject a new expectancy and joy in your attitude about the world situation?
- In the Gospel, John the Baptist reminds us of our responsibility to share with others in need. How can you use your time, your talent, and your treasure to help the needy during Advent?
- John the Baptist also used his preaching as an opportunity for revealing Christ to the crowds. If you were arrested and charged as a “Christian,” would there be enough evidence to convict you? Why or why not?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “Not everything in life goes our way. There is no lack of injustice and pain and anxiety in this world. But none of this comes from our Father—and we should keep none of it to ourselves. Rather, God is inviting us to bring it all to him, no matter how big or small, so that he can give us his guidance and his comfort.” How well are you at bringing your struggles, both big and small, to God the Father in prayer? What happens when you do bring your struggles to Him?
- Take some time now to pray for the grace to surrender all your cares to your loving Father in Heaven – especially during this grace-filled Advent and Christmas Season. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.