Monday, November 30, 2009

Drop everything to follow Jesus

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of people.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.

--Matthew 4:18-22

Today's gospel always blows me away.  Not only do Andrew, Peter, James and John immediately recognize Jesus as a worthy guide for their lives, but without any hesitation they drop what they are doing and follow him. 

Are you listening well enough to hear Jesus call to you, inviting you to follow him?

I wonder how many times I missed his voice among the cacophony in my head, before I started to pay attention.  I pray that I can listen more carefully, especially in this season of Advent.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent and the Joy of Jesus' Coming

Advent is one of my favorite seasons.  It might just be that we've been in "Ordinary Time" for so long that I'm ready for a change from green vestments to purple.  But it's also a time of anticipation and preparation.

Preparation...a little like formation to become a religious sister, really.  I'm being "formed" or prepared to (eventually) take vows, to devote my entire being to Jesus Christ and God's work.  Quite a big task.

But back to Advent. We all know that it's about getting ready for Jesus, but it's more than that.  Traditionally, and we see this in the readings, Advent is also about preparing for the final judgment and the coming of Christ at the end of all time.  There's a third element to the preparation:  opening our hearts to receive Jesus each and every day. 

This is another of those great Christian paradoxes--that we are preparing to receive Jesus, and yet we know that Jesus is already with us.  So what is the preparation about?

For me, it's about remembering.  Recalling how much God loves us, that God would become human, to be with us, to know what it really means to be human.  To experience our own humanity and all the challenges, sorrows, and joys that come with being human. 

God loves us beyond our capacity to understand.  That alone is good enough reason to spend time in preparation to receive Jesus.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Three Month Anniversary

So, officially today, I've been in the Society of the Sacred Heart for three months!

It has been beautiful, challenging, amazing...a great time of growth.  I'm adjusting still to the new environment--both the new city and the life in community.

Many things have been great graces:
  • Living with other people!  Sharing meals, lives, hopes, sorrows...
  • Communal prayer.
  • God is good to me--and I am spending more time in personal prayer, too. 
  • My students are (mostly) fun and generally well-behaved. They at least feign interest in theology.
  • And I love teaching--it's good to be in the classroom.
More than anything else, my sisters are amazing, so welcoming, loving and compassionate.  I am grateful for their support, and for their companionship on this strange journey.  I have been welcomed into their lives in ways that I never expected.

There are challenges, too.  Moving is always a challenge, and this move was big--a move to a "new" city (I have lived here before, but things have changed in my absence), a new job,  and a completely new way of living.  I'm glad to report that I rarely get lost, I can find the grocery store and the gas station without difficulty, the mysteries of the kitchen and where it keeps things are being revealed, and I'm getting used to the commute.

Perhaps this is the beginning of what Jesus tells us in today's gospel, that "everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple." Many of my material possessions are gone, but I have gained a whole beautiful world.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sharing our burdens

In my mind all day has been one line from the end of today's first reading, Romans 12:  "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."

Paul is talking to all of us here, giving us advice about what it means to be Christian.  From the beginning, the passage tells us about the Body of Christ--our connection to each other. We are so united to each other, that each of us suffers when one person is suffering, and all of us rejoice together in the triumphs of one.

The more people I deal with on a daily basis, the more deeply I understand how intimately connected we are.  Most of us grow up thinking that we can become completely independent of each other, but what kind of life would that be?  I would much rather know that others need me as much as I need them.

So, let's choose to listen to St. Paul:
"Let love be sincere ... love one another with mutual affection ... Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer."