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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

“Yes” to God: The First Sunday of Advent

“Yes” to God:

The First Sunday of Advent

November 27, 2022

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Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44


       Decades ago, when I read this scripture passage, I said to myself, “Why would anyone think this Gospel situation would ever occur?” Then I experienced recent history when families were torn apart by the individual views they held, and the Gospel made sense. We find that people who we thought we knew have completely different thoughts than we do, and we could see how far apart we were. For a while, we saw our differences, not our commonalities, and we said “no” to each other more than we said “yes.” Advent is about saying “yes” to the Lord and each other because it is about our salvation. We revere Mary, Jesus’s mom, so much because of her great “yes.”


          I will provide my meditation on saying “yes” to God in my ordinary day. I say “Yes.” In fact, I say “yes” most of the time. For example, I think of when I said “yes” to life-changing events like entering the Jesuits and leaving behind a successful banking career with the awards I was receiving. Because of that “yes,” life took a completely different course. I think of other mid-sized times like when I was asked to sing a solo in front of semi-professional chorus. In my near-paralyzing fear, I wanted to say “no,” and I knew “yes” was the right answer. That pulled a lot out of me. I think also of small daily events like when I was recently called to visit a dying man who wanted to ask me some questions. I rescheduled some meetings, drove down to see the man, who held out his hand for me to hold. We sat in silence for 45 minutes just holding hands. Saying “yes” can tire me out and consumes precious time. I don’t have an idea how I will fit it into my schedule, and I’m not always sure why I do it, but it has become my own secret superpower, or maybe it is an act of rebellion. Perhaps both. I do not know which. It doesn’t matter. 


I say “Yes” and then figure out how to make it happen. I know that our God creates possibilities out of random events and chaos and uses it for our flourishing and for God’s own greater glory. I think the very idea of this scares most people to death. I find it exhilarating and a little frightening… thus more exhilaration. Saying “yes” keeps me engaged and sets me on edge where my senses are heightened and I’m fully alert. “Yes” is freedom. We are forced out of our comfort zone, to trust God, and the fact that we might be irrevocably changed. We are stretch for greater glory.


It seems we spend most of our early development hearing and learning to say “No.” Then, by the time we have become adults, “No” is so ingrained in us that many forget the freedom in saying “Yes.” I wonder if, in the end, that’s what actually makes us grow old? Forced to become the way the world wants us to be adults and saying “No” for ourselves, we keep saying it until we can no longer imagine the new and unknown and the eventually wilting under the weight of the status quo. ‘Yes’ engenders growth, accepting all God has created.  


Saying “Yes” at times makes no sense, and that is where the fun comes in. We enter into a mystery, a mystery of God’s unfolding grace. We agree to enter into a world of the unknown, into those liminal, uncomfortable spaces, and it will be okay. It will be better than okay. It will be what gives us life. As we step into a world of uncertainty, we are likewise anchored by a foundation of certainty, that is, God’s creative will for us, that makes each step of the way in the direction of liberation, onward, bold, and familiar, and we are going to go there free. I like to think “Yes.”


Scripture for Daily Mass


First Reading: 

Monday: (Isaiah 4) On that day, the branch of the Lord will be luster and glory, and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor for the survivors of Israel.


Tuesday: (Isaiah 11) On that day, a shoot shall sprout from Jesse’s stump, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.


Wednesday: (Romans 9) If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.


Thursday: (Isaiah 26) On that day, they will sing this song: A strong city we have to protect us. Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith.   


Friday (Isaiah 29) Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard into a forest. Out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The deaf shall hear.  


Saturday (Isaiah 30) O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, no more will you weep.



Monday: (Matthew 8) When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and said, “My servant is lying at home, paralyzed, suffering dreadfully. Come and cure him.”


Tuesday: (Luke 10) I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you had hidden these things from the learned and the wise, you have revealed them to the childlike.


Wednesday (Matthew 4) Jesus saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, casting a net into the Sea of Galilee. He said to them, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.”


Thursday (Matthew 7) Jesus said to his disciples: Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father.


Friday (Luke 21) Consider the fig tree. When their buds burst open, you see summer is near. Learn to read the signs of the times. All these things will pass away, but my words remain.


Saturday (Matthew 9) Jesus taught in all the towns and villages proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.


Saints of the Week


November 29: Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, S.J., religious (1711-1735) was the first and main apostle to the devotion of the Sacred Heart. He entered the novitiate in Spain at age 14 and took vows at 17. He had mystical visions of the Sacred Heart. He was ordained in January 1735 with a special dispensation because he was not old enough. A few weeks after celebrating his first mass, he contracted typhus and died on November 29th. 


November 30: Andrew, apostle (first century) was a disciple of John the Baptist and the brother of Simon Peter. Both were fishermen from Bethsaida. He became one of the first disciples of Jesus. Little is known of Andrew's preaching after the resurrection. Tradition places him in Greece while Scotland has incredible devotion to the apostle.  


December 1: Edmund Campion, S.J., (1540- 1581), Robert Southwell, S.J., (1561-1595) martyrs,were English natives and Jesuit priests at a time when Catholics were persecuted in the country. Both men acknowledge Queen Elizabeth as monarch, but they refused to renounce their Catholic faith. They are among the 40 martyrs of England and Wales. Campion was killed in 1581 and Southwell’s death was 1595.


December 3: Francis Xavier, S.J., priest (1506-1552) was a founding member of the Jesuit Order who was sent to the East Indies and Japan as a missionary. His preaching converted hundreds of thousands of converts to the faith. He died before reaching China. Xavier was a classmate of Peter Faber and Ignatius of Loyola at the University of Paris.


This Week in Jesuit History


  • November 27, 1680: In Rome the death of Fr. Athanasius Kircher, considered a universal genius, but especially knowledgeable in science and archeology. 
  • November 28, 1759: Twenty Fathers and 192 Scholastics set sail from the Tagus for exile. Two were to die on the voyage to Genoa and Civita Vecchia. 
  • November 29, 1773: The Jesuits of White Russia requested the Empress Catherine to allow the Letter of Suppression to be published, as it had been all over Europe. "She bade them lay aside their scruples, promising to obtain the Papal sanction for their remaining in status quo. 
  • November 30, 1642: The birth of Br Andrea Pozzo at Trent, who was called to Rome in 1681 to paint the flat ceiling of the church of San Ignacio so that it would look as though there were a dome above. There had been a plan for a dome but there was not money to build it. His work is still on view. 
  • December. 1, 1581: At Tyburn in London, Edmund Campion and Alexander Briant were martyred. 
  • December. 2, 1552: On the island of Sancian off the coast of China, Francis Xavier died. 
  • December. 3, 1563: At the Council of Trent, the Institute of the Society was approved.


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