Seasonal Reflections:Sr. Maureen Murphy
Greetings from Nairobi as we begin the Advent Season. By the time you receive this I will have been in Kenya for two weeks and something which always strikes me here is that as soon as you leave the house even to go the short distance to Mass in the morning you always encounter a great many people walking. They rarely seem to hurry but they walk with a sense of purpose to wherever they are going. All of us, of course, are on a journey, the journey of life. The Advent season each year is an important part of that longer journey of life.
Pope Francis described Advent as “A journey towards the horizon of hope” He said
“For the great human family, it is necessary always to renew the common horizon towards which we are all journeying, the horizon of hope. This is the horizon which makes a good journey. The time of Advent returns us to the horizon of hope, a hope that does not disappoint us because it is founded on the Word of God, a hope that does not disappoint simply because the Lord never disappoints. It is a new journey of the People of God with Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, who guides us in history towards the completion of the Kingdom of God.
Experience has probably shown most of us that a journey is only as good as the preparations made beforehand. The journey of Advent leads us to the celebration of Christmas and is itself essentially a time of preparation. Sadly, for many, it is taken up with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, parties, thinking about gifts and decorating the house. For us, as Religious, it has to be different. Yes, we will be busy with some Christmas preparations but our Advent journey has to be more about our relationship with the Lord.
In our daily liturgies through the words of the prophets and the parables of Jesus we are called to be watchful, to open our eyes and to see the many ways in which the Lord wants to touch our lives. Only through fidelity to prayer and with open hearts can we recognise him when he comes. In the midst of all the problems of the world today we are called to believe in the God who showers us with blessings, mercy and compassion, a God who gives us strength and energy to build his Kingdom, a God who one day will make all things new.
Numerous times in the Advent scriptures we plead ” O Lord make us know your ways, teach us your paths” (Ps.25) and we declare ” All the Lord’s are mercy and faithfulness. St Paul writes to the Thessalonians ” You learned from us how you ought to walk and to please God ” (Thess.3:). the prophet John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way of the Lord and we are frequently reminded “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight and all humanity will see the salvation of our God.
Our journey through Advent needs to follow these ways and paths. Isaiah call us ” In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for the Lord. ” Our time of preparation may feel a bit like a wilderness when we are busy in so many ways but however busy we are let us still find time to make this highway for the Lord. When we feel tired or stressed we can find consolation in the words of Paul to the Philippians, “The Lord is at hand” (Phil.4:4-7) and in the declaration of Zephaniah (3: 14-18) ” the Lord your God is in your midst…… He will renew you in his love”.
We are all familiar with the reading from Isaiah 9 ” The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” We are that people today and as Pope Francis said ” It is the Lord himself who guides our journey, the pilgrimage of all the people of God and by its light, even the others peoples can walk towards the Kingdom of Justice, the Kingdom of peace”. The journey of life only ends in death and meanwhile we have to pick ourselves up when we fall, rise again and rediscover the joys of walking daily with Jesus.
Let us use this Advent well to prepare for Christ coming again to us at Christmas. Please pray for me and for all our Sisters here in Kenya and especially on 8th December when Sister Caroline Chemutai will make her Perpetual Profession and Sisters Floice, Irene, Linet and Petronilla will make their First Profession.
May this time of Advent be one of blessings for all of us,
Sister Maureen Murphy, FMSJ