• Stillness

    How about using a mantra to help you into stillness today?  Notice where you are . . . how you are . . . what is going on for you . . . give all that to God . . . then, ask for what you seek in this prayer . . . it might be to know Jesus as Lord… as Messiah, or perhaps something else . . . then take the Aramaic word Maranatha, which means ‘Come, O Lord’ and repeat that word as you breathe . . .  Marantha.  Do this for a couple of minutes . . . if you become distracted, simply return to the word.

  • Scripture

    Jn 1: 10-13

    He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

  • Reflection

    • Jesus, the Messiah… the anointed one… had, from Abraham and through all of his descendants, been promised again and again, and was waited for with great anticipation. And yet, the Jewish people - with whom God had created a special relationship and covenant – failed to recognise him when he did come among them, and so rejected him.

      Do you find yourself anywhere in this picture? Why do you think so many failed to recognise Jesus as the one for whom they were waiting? Who do you believe Jesus to be? Would you recognise him if he was to be incarnated anew in human form in the world today? Who, or what, do you picture when Jesus asks you “who do you say that I am?” (Lk 9:20)

    • Throughout his gospel, John always uses faith or belief as a verb. For many, faith is equated with doctrine but for John, it is not a series of doctrines and religious laws that people are called to obey; rather, faith in John’s gospel is an ongoing, lived and dynamic relationship with Jesus. To believe in Jesus for John is to trust oneself fully to him.

      Do you always understand and live your faith in Jesus as a relationship?

      This relationship reminds us that we belong to a pilgrim church and are part of a pilgrim people - constantly changing in response to the world in which we live. In what way is faith as a verb - an ever-evolving relationship - lifegiving for you? In what way is it challenging?

      Do you trust Jesus deeply enough in this relationship to hand over your whole life…? Your very being…? Your every need and aspiration? What may you need to do in order to deepen your relationship of trust with Jesus?

    • Jesus was rejected by his own people – the people who he thought knew him best and with whom he had a deep and ongoing relationship. Can you enter into how Jesus may have felt at their rejection? Hurt? Humiliated? Unwanted…?

      Reflect on any time when you or something for which you stood was rejected… A time when you were made to feel that you had failed… that you were found wanting… that what you offered was of little value. How did it make you feel?

      Are you aware of any time when you rejected another person in a similar way?

      With hindsight, can you see any learning, any blessing, any growth in you from either experience?

    • John shows us that Jesus’ response after being rejected was one of openness and inclusion. Jesus continued to call everyone to him, despite being scorned and ridiculed and despised… and opened them up to a relationship of intimacy with him and with the father – a relationship that was equally inclusive of everyone, regardless of status, or wealth or bloodline. It reflects the words of Jesus about the last judgment: “Whenever you did this to the least of your sisters/brothers, you did it to me (Matt. 25:31-46)

      What does it mean to you to be a child of God? Does it make any difference to your life in any deep way

      How do you follow Jesus’ example of encountering and accepting all people equally – regardless of status, colour, appearance, age…?

      As you prepare this Advent to welcome Jesus who is born in everyone equally, reflect on two or three things that you can do to break down the barriers in your head and heart that prevent you from seeing and encountering every person with the eyes of Jesus.

  • Talk to God

    • Take some time to reflect on Jesus as the itinerant preacher… the Son of Man who has no place to lay his head… Stay with this Jesus who, with his parents, was a refugee in Egypt… whose whole ministry was one of change and moving from town to town.
      What comes up for you as you picture yourself constantly journeying alongside him in such a way? Is this a God in whom you wish to believe?

      What does it mean to have a relationship with such a Jesus? What is asked of you trusting in such a God? How does it feel when he says to you “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, or what you will wear”? (Matthew. 6:25) What do you wish to say to Jesus when you hear and picture the reality and implications of being in such a relationship with him?

    • In talking of the rejection of Jesus by ‘his own people’, John reminds the reader that the relationship with Jesus is one of gentle and loving encounter that is not coercive in any way; a relationship with Jesus is one of open and total free will and choice. As such, Jesus did not exclude those who rejected him them from the power of becoming God’s children; their choices resulted in them excluding themselves.

      Saint Ignatius tells us how we should exercise such choice in our lives: “our one choice should be this; I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.”

      Are there any areas of your life that need discernment or you need to make a decision about during this Advent time? Imagine creating a space within yourself into which you invite God’s wisdom and guidance to journey with you in such discernment.

    • Echoing the unconditional love Jesus has for all, Pope Francis has said that: “you can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”

      Reflect on who comes to mind when you read these words. Take time to sit with this person in your heart. See beyond the thorns and weeds and focus on the space in which good seed can (and does) grow. Ask Jesus for help in seeing - more easily and more willingly - the healthy growth and the beauty in this person, so that you can celebrate the incarnated God being born anew within her/him.

    • What images, questions, thoughts or feelings are you left with after your reflection on these words of John. Spend some time in quiet prayer with whatever arises.