Reflection for Saturday, November 26, 2016: 34th Week in Ordinary Time.

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Shirley, Nancy
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"New Year's" Eve|Today is the last day of the church calendar – the last day in "Ordinary time."  I've always marveled at the term, Ordinary Time.  Especially today, it seems most appropriate since something extraordinary is about to happen.  Advent begins tomorrow and our new church year, full of anticipation and hope, starts.  The readings for today foretell that somewhat but also warn us to be vigilant.|The first reading from Revelations tells of the second coming of the Lord – the expectation that darkness will be no more, that eternal light will shine and we will be without need of lamp or sun.  The images from Revelations are powerful ones – a tree of life with leaves that serve as medicine for the nations. It is an image that we sorely need – one of healing, one of peaceful co-existence.  With all the strife we are facing throughout the world – the hunger, the wars, the illnesses, unrest, and lack of working toward one humanity – we clearly need to set our eyes and hearts on something that is better, that is bigger than we can ever imagine.  Nothing accursed will be found anymore.|The responsorial psalm cries out that the Lord is coming: Marana tha!  Marana tha! And we respond, Come Lord Jesus.  We are eager to let our hearts be open and enjoy all that this brings.  Yet, how do we prepare?  How do we embrace this gift?  We do not have to wait until the second coming to see the impact of our Lord – to celebrate and bow down in worship.  We will soon begin the preparation in earnest for the birth of our Lord.  We will spend four weeks in anticipation of an event that changes our lives.  While we celebrate this each year – the joy and awe is still the same.  We are saved by the birth of our Savior.  We are made new!  So as we close out this year and get ready for a most amazing journey with Jesus, we are reminded that we have an opportunity (an obligation) to prepare ourselves.|The gospel is clear:  Be vigilant! Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.  We have seen the stores begin their preparation (actually in some that started in late summer!!).  I always enjoy taking out the decorations, basking in the various memories surrounding each one, and recognizing the Reason for the Season. As an old public health nurse, I know that preparation is key to avoiding the lasting effects of disaster, that adequate preparation goes a long wait in mitigating the negative impact of disasters.  Certainly the coming of our Lord is not a disaster but we need to be prepared for the tribulations that will challenge us.  As the gospel says,|Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy|from carousing and drunkenness|and the anxieties of daily life,|and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.|For that day will assault everyone|who lives on the face of the earth.|This preparation does not involve stocking up on canned goods or bottled water nor does it involve complacency.  This involves preparing with my heart and my behavior, reflecting on my faith and assuring that I am living it every day.  It means that my decorations and the "perfect" gifts under the Christmas tree are futile without my heart and soul being ready to embrace all that Jesus has to offer. It means living the gospel in every aspect of my life. . . .
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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