During these 40 days of Lent, we offer PRAYER and CARE for our
and our EARTH
as a way of turning back to GOD.
Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I will say, Rejoice.
Philippians 4:4 ESV
What better words describe the season of Advent?
As we light the rose candle of Gaudete Sunday,
We prepare our homes and our hearts
for the arrival of our beloveds,
we welcome the embrace of family and friends,
and we celebrate the joy of knowing that Christ,
our Salvation, has entered the world
and entered our hearts.
Sr. Judy Morris ministers with Water with Blessings, a Louisville, KY, based-charity that provides technology and training to help women supply clean water to their communities.
We are sharing her reflections with you during this holiday season.
Advent has been called the season of hope, promise, and expectation. In Isaiah 11, we are presented with the promise of One who is to come who will change the landscape of injustice and violence that persists: “…he shall judge the poor with justice and …justice shall be the band around his waist. He is the one who will also announce peace, … there will be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain.”
Many of us during this Advent season stand with hope for peace in our world and country. We are gifted with a voice that can influence others to take action for peace. We can be a peaceful influence on our neighbors and family members. Our voices for justice and peace stand in the shadow of Isaiah with the belief that we do not stand alone.
Water With Blessings has seen the hope of a few individuals with meager resources become a reality in Haiti. This poor country continues to suffer from conflict, crumbling infrastructure, and cholera. There, Water Women continue to receive the life-saving gift of water filters thanks to the efforts of donors, trainers, volunteers, and many others who believe that a committed group of people can make a difference.
Hope can bring the reality of new life and clean water to Haiti and around the world.
IAs the season of Advent begins, we are given another opportunity to slow down, focus, and pay attention to the present moment. That is not a simple decision with the everyday challenges of balancing work responsibilities, family engagements, health challenges or sudden events that interrupt our lives.
In the midst of these challenges, Jesus calls us in the Gospel reading from Matthew 24 to be alert. We need to pay attention to the present moment, be aware of the presence of God in our lives in every event or action. Situations may not change, but our ability to move through them can change. We are called to live focused lives rather than be passive.
The reading from Isaiah today has special meaning: “They shall beat swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. One nation shall not lift a sword against another.”
If we are attentive to this challenge, we can ask ourselves: How can I be a messenger of peace in my family, in my workplace, in my church or neighborhood? When we offer words of encouragement we can neutralize conflict and misunderstandings. We begin with the belief that
it is possible and act.
We focus at Water With Blessings on what we can do to make a difference. While violence and unrest persist in Haiti, we can provide the life-saving gift of water filters to committed mothers facing unimaginable challenges. As Native Americans seek healthier lives amidst
environmental degradation, we can provide water filters in the Navajo Nation where clean water is often hard to find.
One day at a time, one word at a time, and one action at a time can enable peace to break into lives around us. May this season of Advent be a time of peaceful focus.
Saint Paul tells us that faith
is evidence of that we cannot see.
But while faith may be proof of the invisible,
For 200 years, Dominican women religious
in America have reached out with faith.
We have built schools.
We have nursed the sick and the wounded.
We have cared for the hungry,
the poor and the marginalized.
We have preached the
Gospel of Christ to all.
St. James said,
“I will show you my faith by my works.”
Through our works,
during the season of hope and every day,
we show the face of God to our
sisters and brothers around the world.
Promises, promises, promises! Isaiah’s vision of the peaceable kingdom is a veritable litany of promises. Impossible things will happen to those who are faithful, to those who believe. What are we to make of these glorious promises when our brothers and sisters in Myanmar are mired in suffering? Their agony challenges the imagination of those of us who live in safety, those of us who have plenty – more than enough – to eat and drink, those of us who sleep in warm, soft beds every night, comforted by the quiet.
Can we let go of our stereotypes of human and beast who have always lived as traditional enemies? Picture a wolf and a lamb, a leopard and a kid, a calf and a young lion, a cow and a bear. Visualize these traditional enemies enjoying – not just tolerating – but enjoying each other’s company.
Can you see a little child, a little, innocent child walking among these beasts, petting them, talking to them, taking sheer delight in them with absolutely no fear or apprehension? This is God’s dream for God’s family.
This peaceable kingdom promised by the prophet Isaiah is the Reign of Justice. “If you want peace, work for justice.” This was the simple but profound declaration of Pope Paul VI in his message for the Celebration of the Day of Peace in 1972. It holds true even more today.
The people of Myanmar know the struggle of dealing with traditional enemies. They are being tortured and terrorized and killed by forces that threaten them constantly. Their needs are overwhelming – not just physical, but spiritual, emotional and psychological.
We, the international Dominican Family, embrace them as our brothers and sisters. They are kin to us and we to them. Where do we begin to work for justice? We begin within ourselves, each one of us. Can we name and claim the wild beasts within our souls: envy, violence, anger, revenge? On the other hand, that isn’t all there is within us, any more than only wild beasts dominate our land. We have inside the deepest core of who we are, the gentle ones: compassion, generosity, love, gratitude. They’re all together in each human being. How do they get along with each other? Do they truly enjoy the company of one another? That depends on the presence of that innocent child, the Christ, whom we invite into our inner world to walk among the creatures that vie for our attention.
Each one of us is a microcosm of the planet we inhabit. Each one of us holds the power to create or to destroy, reach out or to invite in. Each of us is called to work for a justice that gives birth to peace.
Our family in Myanmar needs us and we need them. They need our awareness of their situation. They need our funds to rebuild their lives and most of all they need our fervent prayers to sustain them in this crisis.
Can we dedicate this Advent Season to the restoration of both the Reign within and the Reign outside? Can we claim our place in the Family of God?