We have almost completed the second week of Advent, and Gaudete Sunday is just around the corner — Christmas is nearly here! Before making that jump, however, we can focus on what God has put before us here and now, in the readings throughout this week. A number of them point to our theme for the second week of Advent: service.
We are called to “prepare the way of the Lord!” — in our hearts and in the world around us. Here are five Scripture passages that speak to our obligation to the members of Christ’s body.
- “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.” Is 11:3b-4a
In my post introducing the theme of service earlier this week, I encouraged loving and serving those whom it is most difficult to serve, whether grumpy co-workers and family members or the sick and poor. This passage is a reminder of that. No matter the appearance (or countenance) of a person, Christ calls us to love.
- “Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Rom 15:7
We all lead busy lives, and the stress of work and familial duties can be enough to completely hold our attention, unfortunately sometimes to the point of closing ourselves off to others around us. But this verse calls us to open our hearts and have a welcoming spirit, as Jesus did. Everything he did, he did for the glory of the Father, not himself. He went out of his way to share the Father’s love to the downtrodden. Perhaps we can, too.
- “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” Is 40:1
This verse calls for compassion. God’s use of the word “comfort” is clearly stressed, being said twice. We are called to be the loving arms, the warm embrace of Christ. When we open our hearts to other people, we cannot simply go through the motions of service. We care about body and soul — they cannot be separated.
- “In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” Mt 18:14
This verse follows the beautiful passage of the lost sheep. “Little ones” could be people of little faith, people of little virtue, people of little hope, people of little consequence — do we value their salvation as much as Jesus does? Will we leave the 99 (where it is comfortable) and seek out the one who is lost?
- “Jesus said to the crowds:
‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you fill find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.’” Mt 11:28-30
When we lose our focus on Christ and get caught up in the world, we become burdened. Christ offers rest — the peace of following his will. His rest requires taking the yoke, the yoke of meekness, humbleness and surrender to his will. But God does not ask the impossible. His yoke is easy; his burden is light. He will give the grace to do his work. We need only ask, trust and serve.
I encourage you to take the passage that struck you and meditate and pray with it. Discern where in your life God is calling you to love deeper and serve more fully.
Have a blessed weekend and a joyful Gaudete Sunday.
Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.