What experiences in your life inspire trust and new discernment steps?
Image courtesy freeimages.com
Joy is contagious. Ask a child you know, “How do you feel with Christmas just two weeks away?” Their eyes light up; they dance in place as joy beyond words escapes their little body, their whole being. It’s a jubilance that many of us share on the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, which means rejoice! The rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath casts a warm reassuring glow as there is joy in the waiting.
And it’s a joy that can also fill discernment of religious life.
The prophet Isaiah exuberantly expresses the providence of God in our first reading. With lavish care, God shows his great love with not just one small example but with expansive artistry that transforms the parched, scorched, barren spaces in our lives to be places of great beauty.
Pondering the magnificence of this image, I can’t help but recall the photos of the super bloom that happened in California this past March. The images of the flowers I saw online were captivating, the colors amazing. They gave me a sense of hope amid continual snow showers still occurring in Wisconsin at the time; thoughts of spring sure to come encouraged me every time I had to pick up my shovel. Signs of hope in the midst of trial aid the cultivation of resilience and patience.
James, in the second reading, reminds us that waiting produces maturity and bounty. Patience also generates endurance. While we desire the days leading to celebration to pass quickly, time moves at the pace of its own wisdom. In discernment, you may be waiting in joyful anticipation for a sign revealing to you where you see yourself living fully into the person God calls you to be, to the congregation in which you can best fulfill your gifts. Visiting and praying and pondering are actions, investments, essential for finding your future happiness.
As we turn our attention to the Gospel, to John the Baptist, all of these gifts — joy, patience and endurance — come to fruition. He has been faithful to his prophetic mission and the world rewarded him with imprisonment. He dared to speak the truth to power. You may ask, where is joy in prison? John did not lose all hope: he took action by sending his disciples to learn more about Jesus.
Can you imagine the joy his disciples carried as they rushed back to share the good news of the growing belief in Jesus with the man who inspired their own choices to follow Jesus? The joy of good news is contagious.
Perhaps when you share the good news of your discernment, others may also be inspired to consider religious life.
Advent in action:
What are the joys you celebrate in your discernment on this Gaudete Sunday?
What experiences in your life, those that deepen joy and your relationship with God, inspire trust and new steps in discernment?
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.