As Catholics, we are to read the signs of the times in light of the Gospel. That is, we are to apply Christ’s message to the struggles of today.
There is much to be uncertain about in our culture, and we have access to more news sources and negativity than ever. It seems as though 20 years ago, we were exposed to less, and as a result, we feared less. On the one hand, we are more informed about the problems of this world and can no longer live an individualistic lifestyle. On the other hand, we are bogged down with despair.
As we become more educated on the suffering of others, let us take it as an opportunity to live in solidarity with them. Embrace empathy for those who are in worse situations than us. Instead of judgment, let us walk a mile in another’s shoes. This will require us to have a whole new mindset–we cannot worry about who is deserving, who is lying, or who should not be trusted. We have to be brave and trust in Christ’s teachings.
Take a moment to say a prayer of petition for people feeling hopeless–even if it is for yourself. In today’s Gospel, Jesus offers rest for those who are burdened. In the spirit of peace for this second week of Advent, pray for peace of mind, body, and spirit of others, that they may feel the rest of Christ Jesus’ love.
Father God, we come into your presence so aware of our human frailty and yet overwhelmed by your love for us. We thank you that there is no human experience that we might walk through where your love cannot reach us. If we climb the highest mountain you are there and yet if we find ourselves in the darkest valley of our lives, you are there. Teach us today to love you more. Help us to rest in that love that asks nothing more than the simple trusting heart of a child. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(taken from http://www.beliefnet.com/Prayers/Christian/Guidance/A-Prayer-for-Resting-in-Gods-Love.aspx#zOuWqPQ91WoWVdIz.99)
Reading 1: IS 40:25-31
To whom can you liken me as an equal?
says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
and see who has created these things:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
not one of them is missing!
Why, O Jacob, do you say,
and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know
or have you not heard?
The LORD is the eternal God,
creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary,
and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting;
for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though young men faint and grow weary,
and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength,
they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
walk and not grow faint.
Responsorial Psalm: PS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8 AND 10
R. (1) O bless the Lord, my soul!
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
Gospel MT 11:28-30
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
We all want to feel rest in God. If you find rest in Jesus’ love through meditation, try praying a Taize form of prayer. It is a repeated, meditative chant. For history and information on Taize prayer, check their community website. If you would prefer to skip to meditative chanting, try playing this song for five minutes and chanting along with it. The Taize form of prayer uses familiar hymns and psalms, so chances are you already know many of them!
Here are nine activities you can do with a group, a family, or by yourself:
- As you watch or read today’s news reports, think about where Jesus is being born in poverty today and what you can do to help.
- Take time today to sit and pray. Think about what you are thankful for and what your hopes are for the coming year.
- Do something good today for someone who will never know you did it or be able to do something for you in return.
- List the things you least like about Christmas preparation. Decide as a family or in a group of friends to eliminate a couple of these things.
- Figure out what makes you feel best at Christmas time. Find a way to include the feeling into your life throughout the year.
- List the things you most like about Christmas preparation. Schedule time together to do them, so that they do not get lost in the rush.
- Play a game tonight as a family or with friends instead of watching television.
- Visit a friend or relative in a nursing home or write a Christmas greeting letter to a resident at a nearby retirement home.
- At meal prayer tonight, ask each family member to share something he or she is thankful for. If you will not be eating with a family this evening, try this activity the next time you eat in community with others.
Dear heavenly Father, in full view of the instability of world politics and the complexities of human relationships, the unpredictability of the world economy and the ever-pressing needs that stress us, this we can say without flinching or doubting, “Your love, Oh Lord, endures forever.”
The most certain, stable, dependable, and inexhaustible reality in our lives is your love, Abba Father. We could have never deserved it or earned it; and now we can never lose it or reduce it. You love all of your children as much as you love your only Son, Jesus; and there’s really nothing we can do about it but enjoy it and rely on it. Hallelujah, many times over!
In terms of quantity, we’re standing under the Niagara Falls of your affection, flowing out of the bottomless ocean of your grace. In terms of reliability, though it’s cliché, your love is much more predictable than death and taxes. In terms of quality, the love you have for us is the love, passion, and delight you have forever enjoyed with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In terms of endure-ability, you will cease to be God before you will stop loving your children.
Father, you give and you take away; you fill our lives with good things and you grace our lives with difficult things. You are nearer than our next breath, yet sometimes you seem very far away. We can always count on you, but we can never presume to manage you. And in all of it—in every last bit of the raptures and ruptures of life, your love endures forever; your love endures forever; your love endures forever. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name.
(taken from http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/scottysmith/2015/10/02/a-prayer-for-resting-in-gods-enduring-love/)