Discerning from both sides of the river bank

By Sister Amy Taylor, FSPA on Sunday, December 8th 2019


How we encounter and react "is indicative of how we're living our faith life." 


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Light continues to radiate in each Scripture reading for this second Sunday of Advent. Isaiah reminds all to hold on to hope. What seems to be impossible — adversaries putting aside their harmful ways to live in peace and respect of one another — will become reality. New ways of existing will be found, collaboration will occur, old patterns will be redrawn.  

In our world, our neighborhoods and our families today, we also must put down old conversations and begin new ones. Tell new stories too. Violence is a tale of winners and losers, oppressors and the oppressed, and peace is one of commitment to changing the narrative. We are invited to begin within ourselves, to examine how we easily categorize others as either lambs or wolves.

In the second reading, Romans 15:4-9, we are reminded that Scripture is a place that all of us can go to gain wisdom, insight and invitation as we face the daily challenges of life. The words endurance and encouragement leap from the text. Life will not be a problem-free existence. Endurance will call for strength, courage and humility, and the commitment to endurance will also provide encouragement, hope and joy.  

Life is full of encounters: how we choose to act in each one of them is indicative of how we’re living our faith. A clear account of such adversity in action is the story of John the Baptist. Opposing groups meet on the banks of the river, each seeing a different path to God, each claiming to know the “right way.” But in our time, when we face our own conflicts and challenges, how do we find the correct path?  

Discernment is a calling to look beyond the easy answers. It is a skill to choose a specific path of life to pursue  — single, married or consecrated. It is a delving into the questions that simple answers fail to satisfy. It is a call to look from both sides of the river banks.  

Advent in action:

Ponder for a moment a current conflict between yourself and someone in your life. How can you recognize the divide you’ve accepted? How can you commitment to non-combative conversation? What could be a collaborative way to enter into dialogue?  

Finding your way to peace within yourself and with others is the work of preparing your heart for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, whose mission was to bring about a different way of living life.

Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.

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