Reading the Past Year
November 26, 2021 (readings)
- Friday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
- Deacon Erik Burckel, LC
Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
Opening Prayer: Lord God, sometimes confusion is the dominant characteristic of my prayer. I don’t feel like I’m praying, I don’t know what I should say, and I don’t understand your words. In these moments, please be with me. Pray in me, and then I know I will be praying.
Inscrutable: Luke 21, the content of this week’s Gospel readings, can be difficult to understand. In the passage just before this Jesus said “Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days,” and “Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles,” and “the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” What does Jesus want to tell us in these last days of the liturgical year? He invites us to discernment, to watchfulness. We ask ourselves, “What has the Holy Spirit been saying to me in 2021?” May we deepen our prayer and recognize God at work in these last days of the liturgical year.
Proximate: “The Kingdom of God is near.” The proximity of the Kingdom of God is one of Jesus’ most important messages to us. Our God is not far away, but very near to us, even in our very hearts. This is the logic of the Incarnation, of a God who wants to be near to his creation, and so enters it as a little baby. Luke 17:20-21 is instructive: “Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, he said in reply, ‘The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, “Look, here it is,” or, “There it is.” For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.’” Are we able to recognize the Kingdom of God when we see it? Does God seem far away, or have we let him come very, very close?
Eternal: The Word of God is living and eternal. With a word, God fashioned the heavens and the earth. Indeed, the only-begotten Son of God is the living Word, which took flesh and dwelt among us. We know, too, that the sacred Scriptures are the living word of God. There we read of salvation history and God’s long and loving relationship with mankind—all that a loving God dreams of for his children. Scripture is an invaluable aid to discernment. There we find the right context, the appropriate lens for reading the events of our life.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you are the King of the world, who came to earth to establish your loving reign. I want to be a part of this empire of harmony, this domain of justice and truth. Please establish yourself over my life; I give you full permission, for you are the most tender of monarchs!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take some time to journal about the graces, challenges, and blessings of the past year.
For Further Reflection: Journaling is an important practice, whether reading the book alone or in the context of a small group. Journaling stills the mind, empties it of busy thoughts, and promotes deeper contemplation of the Scripture being read. The free-flowing nature of journaling encourages the mind to surrender to the Holy Spirit and can allow God to speak to us more clearly as we write. Over time, we produce a private record of our thoughts and God’s actions in our lives which, when re-read, can deepen our trust in God, who we see has been working tangibly in our life. The action of journaling is like praying twice, just as singing is thought by some to be “praying twice” (And So We Pray).
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