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Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent 2018

Frances MacDougall, CND

Photo credit: Marie-Claire Dugas

Today’s readings invite us to encourage one another to change our ways to prepare for the coming of Christ. What does this message mean for us, followers of Marguerite Bourgeoys, who patterned her own life on the role of Mary in the Visitation and in the early church?  Mary’s role, as they gathered to await the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, was to be a source of encouragement to all in the early church.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading Luke has John the Baptist name the civic and religious leaders of the Old Testament. I recall one day in the 1980’s, asking my Junior high class “Why do we study the Old Testament?”. One student replied “So we will not take for granted the coming of Christ”.

These Advent readings are a reminder to reflect upon whether we take for granted the coming of Christ. Luke’s Gospel is very aware that Jesus is the completion of the Hebrew Scriptures. John the Baptist bridges the time before Christ with Christ’s coming, and travels around the Jordan district announcing “all will see the salvation of our God”.

In what ways are we being invited to prepare the way of the Lord? Reflect on someone who has helped you to change and become a better person.

What is the best way to invite people to change their ways? By pointing out their faults? By encouraging them? By telling them “You can do it”? We know from experience if we challenge someone to change and there is no trust level then the relationship breaks down. The best way to get most of us to change is by encouraging what is best in us rather than pointing out our faults. We all respond better to change when we are reminded “the One who began this good work in you will bring it to completion” as Paul reminds the Philippians.

As we continue this Advent journey and give thanks “for the salvation of our God”, let us ask for the grace to grow in trust of our institutions, both church and political, and let us be sources of encouragement for those on the periphery. May all who seek to help others be signs of encouragement and comfort for us. In a spirit of mutuality, let us be aware how those on the periphery can be signs of encouragement to us.

 

 

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