Reflection for Sunday – November 14, 2021
Readings: Daniel 12: 1-3; Hebrews 10: 11-14, 18; Mark 13: 24-32
Preacher: Cathy Kamp
In October, my daughter Laura and I were blessed to travel to Cape Cod to visit with my cousin Beth. Growing up on Long Island, Beth and I spent a lot of time together making treasured memories. As new moms, we spent many weekends with my daughters and her son at her home, then in Connecticut. Later, she and her husband would move to Clemson, South Carolina and then Boone, North Carolina, and I would move to Rochester. After a few decades of raising kids and living too far apart to have meaningful time together, I was especially grateful for a few days in her warm and loving company. Beth has always been one of the shining stars of my life. But I noticed that we haven’t gotten any younger over these passing decades, and I reflected on the reality that we have each traveled paths with their share of life’s highs and lows. Isn’t this what Jesus is preparing us for in this weekend’s Gospel?
Jesus all but assures us that life is going to be marked with tribulations, times when the sun seems to darken, the moon does not shine, and stars fall from the sky. Each of is going to have moments when we shine and live the purpose for which God the Father created us. Other times, we are going stumble as the flawed, human sinners we are. Yet all of these earthly life events pale in comparison to the promise we have through the one sacrifice of Christ. By turning to him and giving our whole selves to him, we can look beyond the seasons of this life to eternal life. We can prepare ourselves for that ultimate journey of life.
Day-to-day, how do we prepare ourselves? For me, I believe one of the most significant ways we prepare for the life to come is by being alert and attentive to the people we encounter today. It is in the journeys we open ourselves to now that we have the opportunity to see the face of Jesus.
I have the gift of making the journey each year with RCIA catechumens and candidates to the Sacraments of Initiation. Just this past week, several of us spent some time together at Bethany House. The candidates prepared dinner and then we gathered in the chapel for prayer. It was a sacred time when some in the small worship space were quiet, some participated, and some cried as they shared the struggles of their day. What mattered wasn’t who was cooking and who was being fed, or who was leading prayer and who was shedding a tear. We were all there in the presence of Christ, in the presence of a wall of names of people who have died to violence in our city streets just this year. We are all on the journey together; we are all the recipients of the Lord’s gracious mercy and forgiveness.
But are we ready for what comes next? Are we ready to embrace Advent as a season of quiet waiting for the birth of Christ? As I write those words I chuckle to myself. My Advent is already full of parish events and family travel. I hope we can all join together in a promise to offer a portion of each Advent day in prayerful silence.
Are we ready for the ups and downs of 2022? I look forward to the marriage of one of our children. I look forward to moving our Penfield Hope ministry from the church basement to the heart of town. And I look ahead to what will be the unexpected gifts from God; to what will be the unexpected stumbles; to what will be the unexpected sorrows.
All of these predictable and unexpected events will happen for each of us. We can be reassured by the promise of Jesus in Sunday’s Gospel: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” We have the comfort of knowing Jesus is always there for us no matter where the journey takes us. Along the way, can we also accompany others with warmth and love as they navigate life’s highs and lows? Remember the final words of the first reading from the Book of Daniel: “The wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” Let’s shoot to be among the stars