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Living in Hope: St. John the Baptist.  Week two of an Advent and Christmas Retreat by Becky Eldredge
 
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Living With Hope Retreat
Week 2: St. John the Baptist


Dear Friends, 

Happy 2nd week of Advent!  

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 is also holds two unique celebrations in our liturgical year: 

1.  The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th:  This feast day we celebrate Mary being conceived without original sin.  Mary will be our companion in week 4 of our online retreat, and we will talk more about her then. In celebration of her feast day, I invite you to go to mass on Tuesday, a Holy Day of Obligation within the Catholic Church.    

2.  The opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, December 8th-:  Pope Francis declared this next year a year of celebration and remembrance of God's infinite mercy for us.  Throughout the year, I will offer various offerings on the theme of mercy.  For now, though, I invite you to share your experience of God's mercy and the things that remind you of God's mercy via social media with the hashtag:  #MercyMatters.  (More to come on this campaign later!)

Know you are in my prayers!
Peace,
Becky
TEACHING US HOW TO LIVE WITH HOPE:  St. John the Baptist
 

PRAYING WITH HOPE: 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 method of Lectio Divina.  Click here to download a guide.
 

Second Sunday of Advent
Lectionary: 6

Reading 1BAR 5:1-9

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever:
wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,
bear on your head the mitre
that displays the glory of the eternal name.
For God will show all the earth your splendor:
you will be named by God forever
the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.

Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights;
look to the east and see your children
gathered from the east and the west
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that they are remembered by God.
Led away on foot by their enemies they left you:
but God will bring them back to you
borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.
For God has commanded
that every lofty mountain be made low,
and that the age-old depths and gorges
be filled to level ground,
that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.
The forests and every fragrant kind of tree
have overshadowed Israel at God’s command;
for God is leading Israel in joy
by the light of his glory,
with his mercy and justice for company.

Responsorial PsalmPS 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing. 
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed. 
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing. 
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Reading 2PHIL 1:4-6, 8-11

Brothers and sisters:
I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, 
because of your partnership for the gospel 
from the first day until now.
I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it 
until the day of Christ Jesus.
God is my witness, 
how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more 
in knowledge and every kind of perception, 
to discern what is of value, 
so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 
filled with the fruit of righteousness 
that comes through Jesus Christ 
for the glory and praise of God.

AlleluiaLK 3:4, 6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, 
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, 
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis, 
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, 
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, 
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, 
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

from www.usccb.org
REFLECTING ON HOPE:

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?
Putting Hope into Action:  The Jesse Tree

This week's suggestion for putting hope into action is the Jesse Tree.  This is a new tradition for our family, but it is one that will 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.  
Copyright © 2015 Becky Eldredge, All rights reserved.


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