Not only is it the first day of Advent today, but it’s the first day of December and here in New Zealand life gets even busier as we prepare for the end of the work and school year leading up to the summer break which begins for many people on Christmas Eve.
In the midst of the extra demands of this month, the Season of Advent beginning today offers a timely way to stay happy and centred when everything else threatens to steal our healthy perspective.
What do I mean by healthy perspective?
Healthy perspective comes when I face life’s ultimate facts as presented in today’s readings:
“You know. ‘the time’ has come: you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was…”
“Stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
In years past these scriptures would have motivated many fire and brimstone sermons, with unhappy preachers seeking to fill people with fear by stirring up a fear of death. But fear (which is often the opposite of love) is not as powerful and effective a motivator as love which casts out all fear.
It is a fact that most of what I spend each day driven by (possessions, ambitions, goals etc) will not accompany me into eternity. Worldly success, achievement and financial security are remarkably fickle short-term anaesthetics able to satisfy only those who think short-term.
Healthy perspective comes when I ask, ‘what in my life today will bring me real happiness both today and eternally, and what are the conversations and projects and who are the people who help me to live fully.
Living with this depth of awareness transforms all fear as we face every present challenge and encounter ready to meet Jesus not only eternally but here and now in every moment.
Try living today with this meditation, discerning in every moment what and who helps me to distinguish what is passing from what is real.
You might like to use this prayer which is based on the Prayer after Communion from todays liturgy.
Even now as we walk amid passing things
teach us by them to love the things of heaven
and to hold fast to what endures
Through Christ Our Lord
Thank you Father John for the guidance you will share over the next 4 weeks. I am about to go out for a walk so will reflect on this prayer.
Thanks Father. First reflection great preparation as I prepare for 9am mass on this first day of Advent. It is a tremendous help each day having these reflections. Thanks again
Thank You Fr. John, Lovely to be able to share these thoughts with the sick and housebound.
Thank you Father John I am going to look forward to these daily reflections to help me discern what is really important in the busy lead up to Christmas
Thanks for providing these daily opportunities to reflect upon Father John.
Thank you Fr John. I am looking forward to your companionship this Advent. King regards from Brisbane, Australia.
Thank you, F John, for this up-coming series of Reflections — they are always very helpful.
Some years ago there was an emphasis placed upon “Launching out” which is a good challenge, but it was instantly undermined when the promoters would say “what ever that means.” Remember the fledgling eagle which sat on a mountain ledge, mustering the boldness to spread it’s wings and committing itself to ‘floating on air!’ No experience, but essential, according to the creator’s will. That healthy perspective, stepping into the unknown, trusting in God, releases grace for the seemingly impossible. It is tremendously uplifting.
I’m just back from bringing communion to people in an aged care home, and after hearing and saying the prayer after communion about six times, and now reading it here, it has really made me reflect on how the “passing things” teach us to “love the things of heaven”.
Timely reminder great reflection
All the way from Denver, Colorado in the USA…thank for these words of grace and hope. I did have to smile when you mentioned your Summer is coming soon. Here we have been having blizzards…it is winter beautiful. Grace and peace to you, your family and congregation…….
A beautiful first reflection for Advent, and a prayer to pray frequently as I follow your Advent reflections. Thank you for your ministry, God Bless
thank you father john to remind us for this time of advent, to spend that special time with the lord, that heaven is our home
Thanks Fr John for that reflection and prayer. It really made me think of what is more important in our daily life and especially leading up to Christmas. Looking forward to spending Advent with your publications. God bless you.
Loved your reflection! Thanks Father John!
Thanks, John. What is real and what is passing connects with a meditation on Psalm 119: 29-30. “Put away from me all that is false and graciously teach me your truth. I have chosen the path of faithfulness.” Discerning what is real and what is passing is the walk we all do to the manger.