Sisters of the Holy Cross » spirituality » Advent 2020: Change your mind and heart

Advent 2020: Change your mind and heart

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…transforming love for the life of the world.
—Direction Statement 2019 General Chapter

Dear Sisters, Associates and Friends,

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Advent offers a time to enter that sacred space where we can become more centered; where we can discover what gives meaning and purpose to life now.

In the readings these days, John the Baptist calls us to repentance and to witness to Christ’s light. Repentance means to look at life with a new mindset; to change your mind and heart. In Hebrew it means “think differently after.”

After the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic; after loss of lives and jobs and clarity about even the near future; after learning more about how very precarious life can be for children and adults of color; how polarized we can be as people; how every disaster affects poor or marginalized individuals so much more.

After seeing strangers, health and essential services workers risking their lives to love, help and support others; after the experience of such isolation; after seeing the enormous generosity of solidarity and creativity to make survival and connection with others possible.

Jesus, in becoming incarnate, transforms understanding of what love is possible of giving to the lives of others. That kind of love has transformed some of us. And many of you have witnessed to Christ’s light and love in opening your ears and eyes and hearts to recognize Love among those who have been marginalized, ignored, judged as unworthy. Or to be an instrument of transformative love.

Sisters of the Holy Cross second-year novices Dorothy Achieng, Magdelana Boiragi, Margret Kabasiza, Lydia Issah, Dalia D’Costa, Lupa Hajong, Risha Mery Nonglang, Betbhalin Langrin and Gennyfer Thyrniang have prayed and reflected together on this year’s Advent readings. We are grateful to them for sharing the fruits of their reflection and for offering questions to help us, in this sacred time and space, to watch, to perceive and to become transforming love for the life of the world, which is so in need of this love to move forward in hope and solidarity.

In Holy Cross, Sister Mary Tiernan, CSC

Advent 2020 | November 29, 2020 | Isaiah 64: 1-9 and Mark 13: 33-37

As we step into the Advent season, we are called to be the instruments of God’s transforming love for the life of the world. In the reading from Isaiah, the people are longing to return to God. In the Gospel, Jesus challenges us to “watch,” to be vigilant and wait for his return.

When Jesus challenges us to “watch,” it might seem that we are being asked to do nothing.

However, Isaiah’s words provide a clue to what we could be doing. Reflecting on the image of the potter, we see him as hard working, gentle and creative. And the nature of the clay needs to be open, soft, pliable. The relationship between the potter and clay is cooperative. God works to mold and shape us—the clay—throughout our lives, but it helps if we allow ourselves to be molded.

The gospel calls us to be watchful. For instance, we recall from childhood times when our parents were away and called to give us something to do, so we would not spend our time wildly. In the same way, Jesus summons us to be faithful and watchful as part of our spiritual growth. During this Advent we are called to be ready, open and pliable, which leads to transformation. As the clay in the hand of the potter, may we become beautiful vessels, open to receive Jesus.

Questions for reflection:

• How am I becoming an instrument of God’s transforming love this Advent season?

• How am I making myself ready to be transformed by God’s hands?

• What am I watching and waiting for at this time?

—Holy Cross Sisters Betbhalin Langrin and Lupa Hajong

Advent 2020 | December 6, 2020 | Isaiah 40: 1-11, 2 Peter 3: 8-15, Mark 1: 1-8

The humility and simplicity of John the Baptist challenges us to live simple and dignified lives every day. It is an invitation to transformation through repentance. The water of baptism is a sign of purification as we prepare ourselves for the birth of Jesus in our hearts. Water is also a sign that the world is thirsting for justice, peace and salvation. The Holy Spirit compels us to move beyond ourselves and continue Jesus’ mission of proclaiming the good news through our words and actions. We are called to empty ourselves and to allow Jesus to fill our emptiness, so that we may be effective instruments in bringing needed change to our world.

Questions for reflection:

• How do I demonstrate that I accept Jesus’ invitation to be transformed by the Holy Spirit?

• Are we ready to push personal interests aside in order to be used as instruments to proclaim the good news in our broken world?

• What am I doing this Advent to empty myself and to allow Jesus to fill my emptiness?

—Holy Cross Sisters Risha Mery Nonglang, Dorothy Achieng and Lydia Issah

Advent 2020 | December 13, 2020 | John 1: 6-8, 19-28

On this third Sunday of Advent we have a unique opportunity to identify the roles of people of faith who are called by God in this Gospel. We see the importance of John’s witness to Jesus. God also invites us to bear witness to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

We know that John came to testify to the light, Jesus the Christ. As we look at our world, we see much darkness around us. As we testify to Christ’s light, that light can be reflected in the works we do. Our corporate stands, our ministry for peace and justice, our solidarity with those who live in poverty around the globe, can serve as signs of transforming light for the world. John knew his identity and purpose. He was clear that he was not the Christ but a witness to Christ. When the Pharisees asked him to identify himself, he was humble and did not place himself at a high rank, as he knew who he was. 

We are invited to allow our humility to reflect Christ’s light in our dark world as we continue to live our daily lives and serve God’s people.

Questions for reflection:

• John the Baptist knew who he was. How do I live with the confidence of knowing who I am before God?

• How am I called to be light within my community and among the people of God?

—Holy Cross Sisters Margret Kabasiza and Dalia D’Costa

Advent 2020 | December 20, 2020 | Luke 1: 26-38

As we enter this fourth week of Advent, we read the story of the angel Gabriel, who came to Mary with good news. She was to bear a son. She was troubled, and the angel reminded her not to be afraid.

We live in a world full of fear and mistrust. Mary pondered all of this in her heart and trusted the angel’s words. This led to her transformation from fear to “yes.” We also are invited to trust in the word, wherever it appears, and move from fear to trust. Like Mary, we may need to go through the process of pondering in our hearts all that we see, hear and experience. And like Mary, we may need to ask questions of God and others to be able to accept the word of God for us today.

As we ponder in deep faith, we will be transformed to trust in God with all our heart. Then Jesus will have a place to be born in our hearts. As this Advent journey continues, may we be open to angels in our midst so that we can move from fear to trust and be able to say, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let be it done unto me according to your word.”

Questions for reflection:

• Who are the angels in my community, family and ministry bringing the good news to me?

• What do I need to do to move from fear to trust in my life?

—Holy Cross Sisters Gennyfer Thyrniang and Magdelana Boiragi

Christmas Day | December 25, 2020 | Isaiah 9: 2-7, Titus 2: 11-14, Luke 2: 1-20

The news of the birth of Jesus was first announced to shepherds, who were among the outcasts of society. This is a sign that Jesus came for the forgotten, the poor and unclean, those with whom people rarely associate.

Just as are prepared to welcome newborn babies into our families with joy, God is inviting us to welcome the marginalized peoples of our day into our lives. These are the ones who will teach us to be heralds of the good news.

The infant Jesus’ placement in a manger, from which animals eat their food, tells us that Jesus is the source of food for us, the bread of life, broken and shared at the table. Whomever listens to this word and eats this bread will be nourished both spiritually and physically.

Let us then become the bread, broken and shared to feed our hungry world. It seems that the transformation that we are called to this Christmas morn is to become bread broken and shared with our hungry world.

Questions for reflection

• How can I be bread broken and shared in the world? Are we ready to witness to the world the Jesus we have received?

• How prepared am I to receive and pay attention to the messages of simple people in my life?

• How willing am I to proclaim the good news with simplicity of heart and deed?

—Holy Cross Sisters Risha Mery Nonglang, Dorothy Achieng and Lydia Issah