• Stillness

    As always it helps to close your eyes and to give a few moments to letting the inner self find some quiet. You are here to receive some new light on your life. Ask to be able to get in touch with your deeper desires. Lord Jesus, you said that you are the light of the world and our “way, truth and life”. Grant me to discover how to journey with you in this Advent time towards newness of light, towards you.

  • Scripture

    Jn 1:16-18

    From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

  • Reflection

    • As John prepares to finish his Prologue… his introduction… into the rest of his gospel, he reminds us once more about the essentials that he will develop in the remaining chapters – who Jesus is and where he comes from. He’s almost telling us that if we get that right before we go any further, then everything else will fall into place.  For the first time, he mentions Jesus by name: “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” And so, the very essence of our Christian story begins.

      As John once more pushes our understanding of Jesus back to the beginning of time itself, who do I believe the baby about to be born anew is - for me… for the world? What is his role for me… for all of creation? Jesus is ‘the Alpha and the Omega’?

      (Revelation 22:13) He is ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever. Stay with the enormous truth of all of this. What comes up for you? What implications does this have for how you move on from this Advent retreat? How does it shape how you interpret the purpose and direction of your life?

    • When John finally names Jesus, he places him in the context of the law: ‘The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.’ By saying this, John is not diminishing the importance of the commandments; rather, he is emphasising that the law can only be interpreted in and through a relationship with God. The laws of God… of the Church … only make sense when we hear them in the light of Jesus’ unconditional love. With these words, we are reminded of the question of the rich young man in the synoptic gospels (of Matthew, Mark and Luke): ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ When Jesus tells him that although keeping the law is important, he is missing the essential component: a living faith in Jesus.

      Reflect on the significance of rules and regulations, doctrine and commandments in your life. Do you welcome the perceived security they give? Is it easier to live your life through obedience to laws? What risks do you take by putting a living relationship with Jesus before your obedience to rules?

      Pope Francis often talks about the importance of beginning processes and opening dialogue – even if we don’t know where they might bring us. Where might you be called to do this in your own life…? In your family…? In your parish community…? In society…? How do you feel about doing this – without a clear future mapped out?

    • Not only does John remind us who Jesus is and where he comes from, he also reminds us of his very essence… his very nature, is one of unconditional love. And again, as we leave Advent behind we are reminded that when we look at the baby in the manger we are being told that “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” God’s love… his ‘grace’ is continuous and never-ending; it is one blessing immediately replaced by another. As we look through all of scripture, we are reminded that grace (or ‘steadfast love’) is at the very core of God’s covenant with us.
    • John emphasises that God’s desire for you is continuous and unconditional love.

      Do you believe this? Do you feel this? Do you have this for yourself? For your family? For life? What blocks you from believing that you are unconditionally loved forever? As you get ready to leave this Advent retreat hear again all that you have and will continue to receive ‘grace upon grace’ … blessing upon blessing.

    • Jesus is not only marked by his unconditional and never-ending love, he is also marked by his embodiment of the truth. ‘Truth’ appears very often in relation to Jesus in John’s gospel. Again, and again, we hear Jesus emphasise the importance and validity of what he proclaims when he says: “Very truly, I tell you” (John 5:24) Jesus is the Truth-teller to the world. He tells truth and reveals falsehoods. In and through his actions and words, he challenges the so-called truths people hold on to and which govern their lives. He is “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) He also tells Pilate that he “came into the world to testify to the Truth,” (John 18:37)

      What do you think Jesus means by ‘Truth’? How is he the ‘Truth’? Reflect on parts of your life that might need Jesus’ Truth in a particular way. What falsehood do you tell yourself about your own life….? About your family and friends…? About the Church…? About the world…?

      As we know from Jesus’ life, speaking the Truth made people angry and uncomfortable and ultimately resulted in his death. What prevents you from telling the Truth and exposing deep falsehoods? Is it fear of what it might lead to? What might help you to address this in your life?

  • Talk to God

    • Saint Ignatius repeatedly advised that we should reflect on our lives and discern what blessing or grace to ask Jesus for in prayer. As you go forward into the Christmas season, what grace do you need in a particular way? What graces do you ask of Jesus for family members… for friends… for the world… for those who may have no-one to pray for them?

      Christmas and the New Year can be very difficult times for many people. Perhaps this may be the case for you… or for people close to you. For a few moments reflect on how Christmas is for you and for others who may come into your heart and mind. Let any pain… sadness… loneliness… grief… gently rise. Hear Jesus say to you: “Come to me all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give your rest.” (Matt. 11:28)

    • You have received “grace upon grace.” Sometimes, we are struggling so much with what is going on in our lives, that we don’t notice anything good happening. At other times, we are too busy and too pre-occupied to notice or pay attention to the graces and blessings in our lives. Invariably, they are quite ordinary gestures or for example, a phone-call from a friend, a ‘thank you’ card in the post, an affirming conversation…

      Take some time to reflect on all the good, the joyful, the positive things that are in your life. Think of the past week: what are some of blessings that have happened?

      Do the same with regards to the past month… the past year. Give thanks to God for all of them. Perhaps, your Christmas resolution could be to take a few minutes every evening just to remember and give thanks to God for two or three nice things that happened during your day. You have received “grace upon grace.”

    • “No-one has ever seen God.” The wonder of Christmas and the Incarnation, is that we can no longer say that; rather, like Simeon who took the baby Jesus in his arms, we can say “my eyes have seen your salvation… a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30, 32) At the end of your Advent retreat, recall some of the images, the encounters, the words you’ve experienced of God over the past few weeks. Who has God been for you? How has God spoken to you? What is God saying to you today as you finish this stage of your journey with him? What do you wish to say to God?
    • 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