Why are dandelions weeds? While I never really read this book, as I remember it, the point was that sometimes beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How many mothers have been the recipient of a beautiful bouquet of dandelions from a young child? How beautiful fields look when they are overloaded with dandelions? But as we age, we can see another side of dandelions. We can see that they gradually take over a lawn. Sin is like this as well. Sin can appear attractive, but in fact the long lasting effects take over our soul. Saint Paul offers the remedy.
Today the readings feature unlikely heroes. Sometimes we can think we are beyond God’s forgiveness. We can believe that even with God’s grace, it is not powerful enough to turn our lives around. Whether it is big or small, God’s grace works miracles. Believe in it.
Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause my brother to sin. Saint Paul in today’s first reading is talking about meat sacrificed to idols. So concerned about the potential to lead someone away from Jesus, he makes this statement about not eating meat. He is not eating meat sacrificed to idols. But he is always concerned about helping strengthen relationships with Jesus. I have never thought much about the effect of my actions on others. Do my actions serve as a hindrance to the faith life of others, keeping them from getting to know and love Jesus? Or does my witness lead them to a deeper relationship with Jesus?
Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking there is something fundamentally different about those who become saints. While on some level there is, since they have fully accepted God’s grace, on another level saints are ordinary people who did extraordinary things. Today we celebrate Blessed James Miller, a Christian Brother whose decision to stay to serve the children in his care cost him his life. He simply was open to God’s grace. Can we be too?
One of the first workshops on education I attended emphasized the importance of beginnings and endings when it came to individual classes, and the semester. In today’s readings we hear about two people who begin a new life in God. Yet their lives end quite differently. Hear about the power of God’s grace.
I would call it a weakness in me, but every time I hear the story of the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to search after the lost sheep, I cannot help but think of the poor economics at work. Why leave the 99, 99 percent of your flock, for one sheep who may have already been killed by a wolf. Truth is, the gospel is not always logical. It is not logical for a God of justice to temper that with mercy. It is an act of love. And searching out the lost sheep is a completely different story when I am the one God is seeking. Use this season of advent to allow yourself to be found by God.
Where I live the weather the past few days has made me feel kind of lazy. It has been dark, rainy, and today it was foggy. It made me lazy, even though there were many preparations around the house where I live to get ready for Thanksgiving. Since my talents are not culinary, I helped with clean up. But as I thought about the rainy, dark days, and my desire to nap, it got me thinking that my spiritual life can feel like that sometimes. I know what God wants me to do, but I do not do it. The first Sunday of Advent is a time to “reset” as it were. God gives us powerful grace to start over, to acknowledge sins, and to open eyes so that we might be on the watch for his presence.
We might not be used to reading the Bible in this way, but with careful notice one can see that often the events of the New Testament are foreshadowed in the Old. Today Saint Paul gives us one of the most common examples, the comparison of the First Adam, who by one act, sinned, causing us all to inherit sin, and the New Adam, Christ, who by one act, redeemed all opening the door to salvation. It serves as a reminder that we should do our best to hear the warning Jesus gives to us in the gospel. We should be awake, on guard, on the watch, so that we can clearly experience the presence of God wherever we find it.