God’s love is steadfast in mercy, comfort, forgiveness, peace, empowerment, light, Incarnate Presence in today’s world.
Dear Sisters, Associates and Friends,
These words are extracted from this year’s Advent scripture readings and life, through the generous, long, loving look of our sisters in the novitiate community: Patricia Rodríguez Leal, Semaria Tongpiar, Nobina Rangsa Marak, Dipti Toju and Janet Masika. We are grateful for the deep insight, born of life experience, faith and trust in God’s power working in vulnerable, open human persons, empowered by God’s transforming love. May we take the time to ponder the messages and questions in the light of our own lives.
In today’s world, may it bring insight and response to ourselves and the persons and nations that suffer from wars, natural and unnatural disasters of climate change, forced migration, exclusion, epidemics and growing mistrust of others.
Transforming empowerment in love is not magic. These reflections insist on the necessity of our engagement: deep listening to our hearts and the hearts of those we love, and those we have not yet known through God’s eyes and heart. In our seeking solutions to the world’s challenges, we must choose each day to live by Jesus’ direction, which prays, dialogues hopes for peace, and rejects violence. The conversion process of building our relationships on Jesus’ love for us and each person will free us to be channels of Incarnate Presence lived and witnessed in others.
In these ways we will rejoice in God’s steadfast love throughout the year.
Sister Mary Tiernan, CSC
First Sunday of Advent
Psalm 80:1 – 7, 17 – 19
1 Corinthians 1:3 – 9
Mark 13:24 – 37
- Who are the prophets of this time?
- How can I be alert and awake during this time of Advent?
- Is there something deep in my heart that God is trying to tell me that I don’t want to hear or see?
In everyday life, we are in constant interaction with others. It can be easy to fall into the trap of imposing our beliefs or standards. However, this is not always fair or just. We have forgotten the importance of listening to understand and seek the common good, as the prophets have urged us to do.
Isaiah warns us that we have become unclean, (in other words, indifferent and selfish), causing God to be exceedingly angry. But we are not left alone in our shortcomings. God is patient and faithful, waiting for us to ask for the grace needed to transform our hearts. Jesus reminds us that his words will never pass away, urging us to be alert and awake for his coming.
As we prepare for the birth of Jesus, may we take the time to listen to our hearts and be aware of those around us. Let us be ready to hear Jesus in the needy, marginalized, migrants and all who suffer. Let us be transformed by God’s love.
Sister Patricia Rodríguez Leal, CSC
Second Sunday of Advent
Psalm 85:1 – 2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8 – 15a
Mark 1:1 – 8
- Who in your life needs to experience Gods comfort?
- Are you willing to be a channel of his/her comfort?
- How can I redeem my own faults, sins, betrayals and rebellion?
Comfort and hope in times of difficulty
From the first reading, the opening verses speak of comfort and hope during times of adversity. This message can remind us of that difficult moments in life are temporary, and there is hope for better days ahead. It’s a reminder to stay resilient and hopeful in the face of challenges.
God continues to comfort us today in a variety of ways. When we take our worries to him in prayer, God gives us the gift of his peace. When we remember his faithfulness in the past, we are calmed in the present. Often God’s comfort comes through his people, who care for us, suffer with us, pray for us, and share God’s love with us in tangible ways. Thus, we have the chance, not only to receive divine comfort, but also to be instruments of this comfort to others. No matter how bleak life seems, we have a God who refuses to abandon us and guarantees eternity to his followers. That is great comfort for God’s people.
Patience and perseverance
2 Peter 3:8 – 15 emphasizes that “with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand as one day.” This can be interpreted as a reminder that great changes take time. In our own life, we can find inspiration in the idea that sometimes our efforts may not yield immediate results. But with patience and perseverance, we can achieve our goals over time. The passage also speaks to self-examination and personal growth. It encourages us to live holy and godly lives while waiting for a better future.
Clearly our lives need to be full of holiness and godliness. We need to live our lives in devotion to God since all these things are going to be dissolved. We cannot live blind to the fact that a judgment is coming. The time until his return continues because God is patient, not wanting any to perish.
The Gospel calls us to repentance, humility and simplicity
John the Baptist preached forgiveness. This is one of the special gifts of God, and one of the big celebrations of Advent. We are a forgiven people, and we welcome the forgiveness of God in our repentance.
This means we are firstly grateful for forgiveness — that we do not have to carry forever the burden of our sin, meanness, faults and failings. God covers them over in mercy. The second step of welcoming forgiveness is to try to do better in life — to move on from this sinfulness and meanness to a life of care, compassion, love and joy, and to take steps to forgive others.
John lived what he preached. By his lifestyle, his dressing and eating habits, he showed that the meaning of life is not found in abundant material possessions but in relationship with God. Simplicity of life and detachment from unnecessary cares and worries of society frees the heart for a personal relationship with God. To go into the desert is the first step in true repentance. It means abandoning our usual hiding places and putting ourselves in a situation where God can easily reach us. It is the levelling of those hills and the filling of those valleys that make it easier for God to reach us and save us.
As we encounter the struggles of life, God encourages and supports us so that our hope becomes blessed assurance.
Sister Semaria Tongpiar, CSC
Third Sunday of Advent
1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 24
John 1:6 – 8, 19 – 28
- Do we rejoice and wait for the coming of the Lord?
- How far, how deeply have you met the Lord?
- Who are the people in whom he meets you, still unrecognized by you today?
This Sunday is also called “ Rejoice Sunday,” since the first word of the third reading is “Rejoice.”
The three readings tells us the essentials that can make us persons of deep joy.
Rejoice, for God is supremely faithful. God is a God of peace. Allow this love to fill you and keep you faithful to what is good. Each of us is called to be good news, to be healers, to be liberators. Do my words and actions heal or hurt? Is meeting me a freeing experience for others, or do I increase their burdens? God is the greatest healer, and he wants us to be healers and liberators in our own small ways.
The psalm is from the Magnificat — Mary’s exclamation of joy at the great things God has been doing in her. This is what prayer is basically, spontaneous exclamations of joy and praise at the marvelous and undeserved gifts God showers on us constantly. Prayers should not only petition. God needs no reminder from me to help me. Prayer helps me to become more aware of how richly blessed I am, far beyond my merit. This makes me humble and grateful.
Then we hear from John the Baptist, who tells us, “There, standing among you, unknown to you, is the one who is coming after me.” Most of Jesus’ contemporaries did not recognize him because he belonged to a normal family and lived a simple life. Both then and now, recognizing Jesus involved another kind of sight.
If you look around in the dark, you cannot see anything. We need light to see. John the Baptist did not pretend to be the light; he was only a witness to speak for the light. The true light went unrecognized in his earthly appearance and still goes largely unrecognized today.
I am called to witness to the true light. God reveals himself in the ordinary. In our normal, simple lives, we wait for him to blind us with exceptional displays. The whole meaning of the Incarnation is that God’s favored way of talking to us is by revealing who he is through humanity. John does not point to himself but to the unrecognized savior in their midst.
This is a basic lesson for those of us who want to help people meet the Lord. He said, “I am the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord.” John was the messenger of God. He announces the coming of the savior and God’s salvation. He is calling us to listen to his voice, turn away from sin, and prepare ourselves to receive the Messiah in our hearts.
Sister Nobina Rangsa Marak, CSC
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Romans 16:25 – 27
Luke 1:26 – 38
- What is the connection between love and faith?
- What is the most important thing that helps you to grow in strong faith?
Theme: Embracing Love and Strong Faith
We are to have a love that is steadfast. This same term for love is repeated over and over again in the Psalms for the love of God. His love is steadfast based on his covenant promise, which he will not break. Faithfulness, one’s promise to keep a relationship and commitment, is often used for God. God is love and he is inviting us to stay in love and do all things with love.
We all experience life in different ways, and all those experiences are very precious. Many new ideas and thoughts are very active now in this journey. Really there is a way to rejoice with great love if we feel God’s presence and strong love everywhere in every situation. We have to be open to accepting any kind of situation because that is part of life, and every event gives us such an experience. From experience, we can get new life and opportunities to learn the best and do the best with our deep faith.
It’s amazing that only love can help us to be faithful to God as well as others. We all have that opportunity to practice love and faith in our life journey. But it’s not only for show or to say from our mouth, it’s very important to work on it.
People are suffering, losing faith and inner peace. We often miss the chance to love one another because we are so busy with other things. By acting selfishly — finding no time for talking, no time for listening — we put ourselves in darkness and do not grow well.
This Advent is a special time for us to evaluate our position and fill up the limitations with our strong prayer, which brings us joy and gives us space to welcome our baby Jesus. It is a great invitation for us to be faithful to God and believe in prayer. Without prayer, we are nothing. Prayer gives us energy and a deep desire to go on. Prayer is the main source of life, and it makes our path very smooth.
Sister Dipti Toju
Hebrews 1:1 – 6
John 1:1 – 18 or 1:1 – 5, 9 – 14
- What does the birth of Jesus mean to you?
- How will you keep this light shining in your life?
Theme: The Transformation of Life
The birth of Jesus brought a lot of joy to the world and our lives were transformed from darkness to light. The angels praised, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” For all who received the light of Jesus, peace was brought to them. For the grace of God has appeared, saving us all.
The birth of Jesus brought transformation the world cannot give. We have received the light; let us be light to others. And we should strive to keep our light shining all the time. Isaiah proclaimed the great joy and the smashing of the yoke that burdens us in the birth of Jesus. The great warrior and a defender of his people.
The birth of the prince of peace and his reign will be characterized by peace. Peace will sustain us; the world will be transformed forever. May this great joy sustain us in our hard times and in our moments of doubt. May we rejoice in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sister Janet Masika