First Sunday of Advent
November 29, 2015
“Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths.”
Some of us new to liturgical and musical ministry are beginning a new liturgical year with excitement and anticipation of another opportunity to serve our worshiping communities. Some of us cross this threshold with memories of previous Advents flooding our minds. Indeed, if we have been involved with liturgical planning for any length of time, we may feel as if we have seen and done it all!
But each Advent is different, the world is different, and we are different as well. We begin this new Church Year on the heels of the recent terror attacks in Paris, in an extended political season marked by extreme polarization, in a world only too aware of the dire consequences of poverty and violence but with no inkling of how to turn any of this around.
In this fragile and broken world, Pope Francis calls us to a Jubilee Year of Mercy. We follow the commandments, Church laws, even the law of love, but what does it mean to follow the path of mercy? The dictionary definition of “mercy” cites leniency or compassion to an offender or underling. But Francis’ modeling broadens that meaning. Kindness, tolerance, tenderness, and respectful challenge are the hallmarks of Francis’ encounters with those in need as well as those who hold opposing positions to his own. He show us that seeing the face of each person we encounter is important, as is listening to their stories and responding as best we can to their situations.
What is the face of mercy for us this Advent? What will it look like as we encounter colleagues, volunteers, parishioners, neighbors, and the person on the street? How will mercy change me?
Loving God, be with me as I enter this holy season.
Teach me to be open to and to imagine the path of mercy
as a way to prepare for the coming of your Son.
Help me to change as I see the faces and hear the stories, one person at a time.
O come, O come, Emmanuel!
The Cathedral Community
Rochester, New York