Twilight Twitches

Dear Family,
No, I didn’t flip December along with November on my calendar. Today is the Church’s “New Year.” With the First Sunday of Advent, today we begin our new cycle of retelling and reliving the saving story of Jesus. This year, for the most part, our story teller be Luke the Evangelist.

Of course we have heard these readings before, (some of us many times.) Yet the question remains, are we hearing anything different today? If the word of God is living and active, as Hebrews 4:12 tells us, then God’s word addresses the new situations in which we find ourselves.

Once again I needed to write this reflection early because of printing deadlines around Thanksgiving. So I am writing in the swirl of Paris pain. I hope I said something that made sense in the November 22 Twitch.

In the light of our current challenges, perhaps there is no better way to begin our year than with the call of Pope Francis for a Year of Mercy. Today each of you received a copy of the Prayer for Mercy which Pope Francis composed for this year. How about putting it on the bathroom mirror so you’d remember to say it each day?OK, if not there, where?

The second gift we bought ourselves is the little booklet What Pope Francis Says About Mercy. The booklet contains 30 simple  reflections you can use. I thought perhaps you could do them in Advent and then repeat them in Lent, and even a third time if you did them after Easter. I’m thinking it might be fun to see what I missed the first time when I repeat them.

The real challenge is not simply praying about mercy, or reading wise words about mercy, but ultimately DOING mercy. Praying and reading will mean something if they open new ways of being Jesus to one another.

In these days doing mercy may seem like an impossible challenge in the face of cruel and merciless acts of evil. But just listen again to the words you are heard at Mass today:

I will raise up ...a just shoot;
Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all,
…to strengthen your hearts,
…to be blameless …at the coming of our Lord Jesus
with all his holy ones.
…stand erect and raise your heads.
Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from …the anxieties of daily life, and (don’t let)
that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
…to stand before the Son of Man.”

Sometimes we expect our mercies to be soft and gentle. I’m not sure there is much that is soft and gentle about these words. Rather we find a tougher mercy that has the power to reach over bomb explosions to grab us by the hair(okay shirts) and flip us up out of the way because God is our lover and we are His. After I wrote this paragraph I randomly flipped open the booklet I just mentioned to reflection 15. Wow. Talk about confirmation.

I think we might find, as the days of Christmas celebrations approach, that maybe the very wounds and bruises our hearts bear more deeply because of our present circumstances, may in fact open the way to a sense of deeper peace in the Lord. There IS a reason for his coming, and yes, He DOES make a difference. May our Christmas cards symbolize a willingness to replace sentimentality about Jesus with commitment to Jesus.

In Him,

sign frjim

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