1st Week of Advent, Saturday

The purple in Advent symbolizes penitence, sorrow, and suffering before the coming of the Messiah: a world lost in sin and in need of saving. That purple reminds us today that there are a lot of people out their beaten up by life and in need of healing and strength. This season, being a season of family, can be a source of joy or a source of pain depending on whether we’re estranged from those we love. We also need to see it as a opportunity: this the season when many loved ones are reconciled because it reminds them of the love and joy they’d once shared together. Beyond our family circle it is also a time characterized by showing a greater concern for others and their needs.

Where’d we learn all that from? Our Lord, which is why we’re preparing for and eagerly awaiting his coming on Christmas Day. Like the Twelve in today’s Gospel we are sent out to help find the lost, heal the sick and suffering, and cast out the evil that afflicts so many today. The First Reading today reminds us of how much Our Lord provides and will provide. When Jesus reminds the Twelve today, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give,” he is reminding us of all the blessings we’ve received in our life for no other reason than his goodness or the goodness of others, and to give with the same attitude.

Let’s be instruments of Our Lord’s concern, compassion, and desire for reconciliation this Advent season by being there for others.

Readings: Isaiah 30:19–21, 23–26; Psalm 147:1–6; Matthew 9:35–10:1, 10:5a, 6–8. See also 14th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday and Thursday.


1st Week of Advent, Friday

In today’s First Reading one of the signs of salvation will be the blind coming out of gloom and darkness to see. The two blind men in today’s Gospel “see” Jesus as the Messiah, and they express that faith to him while asking for his mercy. Unlike other accounts of Our Lord healing blind men, this one is done behind closed doors: Our Lord in silence and privacy wants this just between him and them.

He makes it clear that the miracle depends on their faith in him being able to do what they are asking of him. The miracle will be a sign of the depth of their faith, and, thankfully, their faith is deep enough. Faith in Our Lord is what leads us out of gloom and darkness, especially spiritual gloom and darkness. In Advent we remember in a penitential spirit that darkness we’ve walked into through our sins, but also the true light about to come into the world on Christmas Day to lead us out of that darkness if we have faith in him.

Do you believe Our Lord can lead you out of any spiritual darkness or myopia you may be experiencing? Advent is a time to get ready to ask him to restore your sight when he appears on Christmas Day.

Readings: Isaiah 29:17–24; Psalm 27:1, 4, 13–14; Matthew 9:27–31.


1st Week of Advent, Thursday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord invites us to use the season of Advent to go beyond the routine tinsel, glitter, and blinking lights and welcome him into our hearts as the foundation on which we can build a holier life. It’s easy to fall into a routine of “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings,” but all the decorations and celebrations are to welcome someone special into our life, or acknowledge what a special role he has already had; even “Merry Christmas” can focus more on the merriment and not on whose birth we’re welcoming and celebrating.

When Our Lord invites us today to go beyond lip service and seek to do the Father’s will, his incarnation and birth are an example of precisely that. He chose to become flesh and dwell among us, because he loved us and he loved Our Father. His life is built on that from here to eternity.

Advent is a time of conversion, and conversion can also mean living a more solid life. Let’s continue to live Advent as a preparation for founding or re-founding our life on Our Lord on Christmas Day and beyond.

Readings: Isaiah 26:1–6; Psalm 118:1, 8–9, 19–21, 25–27a; Matthew 7:21, 24–27. See also 12th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday.

1st Week of Advent, Wednesday

Today’s Gospel is characterized by helping the sick and the hungry, but is also characterized by help in abundance. When we are sick or in need we don’t hope for much more than an improvement in our condition and “our daily bread.” Sometime we eke out out existence, living one day at a time, balancing our budget to alleviate our complaints without starving. The crowds were in the same situation, and suddenly everyone who comes for healing is not only given a little relief, but completely restored to health. The crowds would have appreciated simply a piece of bread to fight off the hunger pangs before they went on their way, but they ended up having all the fish and bread they could eat, and leftovers in abundance.

Advent represents that period before Our Lord’s incarnation and birth where we could hope for no more than eking out a spiritual existence: all of mankind was crippled and starved for grace and mercy, and without help all they had to expect was spiritual starvation and death. The Lord did not just bless them with more help, he came in Person in order to bless us with a grace beyond a full stomach or a clean bill of health: salvation and eternal life, to never hunger again or suffer again.

Let’s continue preparing during Advent for Our Lord’s birth, thankful for the blessings in abundance that he has already bestowed upon us, but also showing our gratitude by helping those in spiritual or material need so that they too can experience Our Lord’s abundance through us.

Readings: Isaiah 25:6–10a; Psalm 23:1–6; Matthew 15:29–37. See also 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B.

1st Week of Advent, Tuesday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord invites us to consider the mysteries of faith with childlike simplicity and wonder, not as an intellectual accomplishment or the fruit of our efforts. The time of Advent is a time of renewing our wonder at how the Lord chose to reestablish communication with us after the Fall: by becoming flesh and dwelling among us, full of grace and truth.

The Christ-child in the manger at Bethlehem speaks more volumes than the most illustrious professor. Contemplating the Son of God, small and weak, has captured the hearts and imaginations of saints throughout the centuries. Contemplating Our Lord’s coming at Christmas and the way in which he is coming reminds us that this is an unmerited blessing and gift from God that many before his coming were longing for.

Advent has barely begun. Let’s renew our sense of silent and simple wonder at the great blessing that will come on Christmas night.

Readings: Isaiah 11:1–10; Psalm 72:1–2, 7–8, 12, 13, 17; Luke 10:21–24.