A blessed Advent to you all. We begin week two by lighting Bethlehem’s Candle, which symbolizes faith. Micah foretold that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, so this candle puts the focus on the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem in anticipation of the birth of the Christ child.
Many people in our culture today live as if “this” is all there is, nothing more beyond this life. Others live as if faith is just a theory or a philosophy.
Frederick Nietzsche said that “faith is the path of least resistance.” Even Christians are challenged when it comes to living a life of faith. How many of us have doubts at times? How many of us lack in trusting the Lord with our lives?
Don’t we sometimes try to manage our lives on our own?
So how do we move beyond ourselves and truly surrender our lives to the Lord?
I offer a couple of suggestions for this season of Advent.
- First of all, faith is an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. Faith is what unites us with the living God who has revealed himself to us in his son Jesus.
In the words of our Holy Father, “Faith is to touch Jesus and to draw from him the grace which saves.” When we fix our gaze upon the loving eyes of Jesus, then our faith, as well as our hope, remain firmly rooted.
Faith is only deepened through a daily, prayerful relationship with Jesus. Take time daily in earnest prayer with the Lord. Ask Him for the grace of surrender.
- St. James writes, “Faith without works is dead.” A faith without works, a faith that doesn’t engage us, that doesn’t lead us to witness, isn’t faith. As our faith in God grows and deepens, we cannot help ourselves from doing ‘good works’. It’s impossible!
Loving God and our neighbor is the Great commandment. When we are in love with the Lord, we will be in love with his people, and when we love someone, we want to help them.
During this season of Advent, who is Jesus asking you to share your faith with through acts of charity? Do you know anyone who is lonely and needs a helping hand? Take the time to share your faith with others. Many do not have faith and may never have faith for this simple reason: no one has been ready and willing to share their faith with them.
Perhaps even as you are listening to this message, the Holy Spirit has brought someone to your mind. Bring the gift of Advent to them.
And, don’t forgot to pray each day this week for the virtue of faith to come alive in you.
May God bless you!
Bishop Robert Gruss
“Be on guard, stand firm for the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love.” (1 Cor. 16:13-14)
Did you know each candle on the Advent wreath has a special meaning? Bishop Gruss reflects (Week one of Advent)
Friends, it is hard to believe that the Season of Advent is upon us. Speaking of Advent, did you know that each candle on the Advent wreath has a special meaning?
Ancient tradition reveals that the candles often represent hope, faith, joy and peace. How many of us could use a little more hope, faith, joy and peace in our lives?
That is my prayer for all of you this Advent season.
This week, we’ll begin by lighting the Prophet’s candle symbolizing hope. The Prophet Isaiah brought a message of hope in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah.
In our world today, it can be easy to get discouraged or overwhelmed. Sickness, death, division, violence … these are all difficult parts of the human experience.
So, what can we do to overcome the feelings that can so easily bring us down into the dumps and keep us from living the life we are called to?
I will suggest two things.
- First, ask the Lord to increase in you the Virtue of Hope. Christian hope is not magic; it is not wishful thinking. It is not simply optimism. It is a gift of God that can preserve us in the midst of those challenges in life that bring us down. It is rooted in the new life we have received in Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells us that hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love was poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit at our baptism (cf. Romans 5:5). Therefore, the virtue of hope is already in you. Ask the Holy Spirit to make it come alive.
This hope enables us to trust in Christ’s promises, to trust in the power of his love, to trust in his forgiveness, his friendship. This love opens the door to new life.
- The second thing to do is turn to your friends in your vulnerability. Allow them to accompany you in those moments. The grace of friendship envelops and sustains us, leaving us open to the gift of God’s hope. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help and support in life’s journey!
Pope Francis tells us that hope involves going forward with others in solidarity. During this season of Advent, this season of hopeful expectation, is Jesus asking you to extend friendship and love to anyone in particular? Do you know anyone who is lonely and needs someone to talk to? How can you reach out and help generate hope in other people? Perhaps even as you are listening to this message, the Holy Spirit has brought someone to your mind. Bring the gift of Advent to them.
And, don’t forgot to pray each day this week for the virtue of hope to come alive in you.
God bless you all!