Today’s Gospel: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36 – First Sunday of Advent
For six years, I’ve volunteered in my parish youth ministry, leading small groups of teenagers to prepare for Confirmation. These teenagers are regularly bombarded with noise, misinformation, and confusion about the fullness of truth in their faith; their hearts too often pulled away from Christ, lulled into complacency and doubt, overwhelmed with the anxieties of school, relationships, and expectations in their daily life. At our Confirmation retreat this year, we challenged them to Be Not Afraid. Be Not Afraid to build a personal relationship with Christ. Be Not Afraid to introduce new habits and practices that guide them into maintaining that relationship. Be Not Afraid to turn away from the noise of the world and turn toward opportunities to be still, pray, and listen, because strengthening this relationship with Christ will sustain them through their worries, allowing them to see beyond the struggles of life and focus instead on the ultimate goal of Heaven. Be Not Afraid, because they have everything they need provided to them through the gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
Today is the First Sunday in Advent, a time when we usually focus on the arrival of the baby Jesus, coming humbly into the world with a message of love and peace. We prepare our house and our hearts in joyful anticipation to celebrate his miraculous birth. But as today’s Gospel tells us, Advent also requires us to prepare our hearts for Christ to come again and that this Second Coming is one of power and great glory. Like our teenagers facing Confirmation, we need to cultivate our relationship with Him so that we can meet that day with the strength required to stand erect before the Son of Man and raise our heads.
Reflect on the gifts of the Holy Spirit – Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord – and how you use them in your daily life to turn your heart towards God in preparation for His second coming.
Lord, I will not be afraid to turn towards you always, keeping my heart awake and focused on knowing you, loving you, and serving you, so that I may stand tall before you when redemption is at hand.
Copyright 2018 Shelly Kelly
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