Living In Hope: St. John the Baptist

December 7, 2019

Advent and Christmas are my favorite seasons of the year.  They capture the very reason I hope in the first place. For the next 6 weeks of Advent and Christmas Retreat, we will be Living in Hope!  Each week, we will focus on one person or persons who helps us live in hope through reflection questions, suggested action, and prayer — including the text of the Sunday readings for easy access.

**Registration for the Online Busy Person’s Retreat, January 27-30, is OPEN NOW! This is the personalized, one-on-one retreat that comes to you and fits into your busy life! Register here

WEEK 2: John the Baptist

This week, we will be walking with one of my favorite Saints, St. John the Baptist.  

St. John the Baptist teaches us many ways to live with hope by:

  • Teaching us how to be humble
  • Knowing our gifts
  • Living out our call
  • Preparing the way for the Lord

He joins a long-line of the prophets and people in our salvation history that prepared us for the coming of the Messiah by preaching of this promise and readying people’s hearts to recognize and see Jesus.  The work of St. John the Baptist is not complete.  We must carry on his mission to “prepare the way of the Lord” in our world today so that the light of Jesus, Our Messiah, is not diminished but burns bright and brings hope to others!

This week also holds a celebration in our liturgical year, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th. On this day we celebrate Mary being conceived without original sin.  Mary will be our companion in week 4 of this series, and we will talk more about her then. 

Reflection:

1.  How and where are you experiencing being readied for Christ’s coming into your life? 

2.  Where is God inviting you to “decrease” and God to “increase”? 

3.  Where are you being invited to take off “your robe of mourning and misery” and put on the “splendor of glory from God”?  What might that look like in a concrete form in your life? 

4.  In the second reading this Sunday, we are invited to discern what is of value.  How do you respond to this invitation?  What is of value in your life?  What needs tweaking in terms of your values to align with the values of the Gospel? 

5.  Where are you being called to prepare the way of the Lord, as St. John the Baptist did?

Action:  The Jesse Tree

This week’s suggestion for putting hope into action is the Jesse Tree.  This is a rather new tradition for our family, but it is one that has quickly become part of our annual Advent celebration!

The Jesse Tree is a way of commemorating the events and remembering the people who are part of our salvation history that lead up to the birth of Jesus.  Each day of Advent you hang an illustrated ornament on a tree which tells the history of the Old Testament and connects this story to the birth of Jesus.  The first ornament begins with God creating the world, then the ornaments walk through the stories of the Old Testament, which lead to the stories of Joseph, Mary, and ultimately to the birth of Jesus.  

There are many options to create your own Jesse tree ornaments or if you are like me, and not a crafty person, there are Jesse Tree sets available online for purchase.  

As our family decorates our Jesse Tree this year, I am reminded of God’s involvement in our lives long before we realized it.  I am also reminded of God’s unending love and mercy for God’s people.  

Praying with the Word of God:

The below Readings are from the Sunday Readings for the First Sunday of Advent.  Pick one reading each day for prayer. Throughout the week, repeat the scriptures that capture your attention.

If you would like to pray with the daily readings this week in addition to the Sunday readings, the USCCB posts them daily here.

When praying with scripture, I invite you to try the prayer methods of Lectio Divina or Ignatian Contemplation. Here’s a one-page guide to Praying with Scripture and a handy Lectio Divina prayer card. 

Second Sunday of Advent

Reading 1: Isaiah 11:1-10

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
but he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.
On that day, the root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
the Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 

R. (cf. 7)  Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
he shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Reading 2: Romans 15:4-9

Brothers and sisters:
Whatever was written previously was written for our instruction,
that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures
we might have hope.
May the God of endurance and encouragement
grant you to think in harmony with one another,
in keeping with Christ Jesus,
that with one accord you may with one voice
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you,
for the glory of God.
For I say that Christ became a minister of the circumcised
to show God’s truthfulness,
to confirm the promises to the patriarchs,
but so that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.
As it is written:
Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles
and sing praises to your name.
 

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Go Deeper?  

Inviting you Deeper as We Walk with Christ: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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