The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of GodMark 1:1-8
Begin with a few moments of quiet.
The intention is to open yourself to the presence of God within you and among those gathered. The desire to be open to God is itself the desire of God to break through into your awareness of the presence of God within.
Invite all present to sit comfortably.
Bringing our attention to our breath…….deepening it for a moment…… we are going to do so for three full breaths, drawing the breath all the way in …. feeling it filling your body……focusing on that moment where it stops drawing in and before the body begins exhaling again….. the transition point between the end of one moment and the beginning of another……allowing it all the way out and again focusing on the transition point….the end of one moment and the beginning of another…….
Now return to breathing normally and make the sign of the cross:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Invite each person present to take a few moments to reflect on:
Where in the past week did I encounter God in my life?
Where in the past week did I inhibit God in my life?
Allow time in quiet for this and then, after a few moments, invite those present to share on this, if they are comfortable to do so. If you like to have some quiet music playing during this click below.
Introduce the Gospel
As Christmas approaches, we could ask ourselves: how can we prepare to
celebrate the birthday of our Saviour? The proclamation of John the Baptist points to the preparation that really counts: conversion of heart and life.
The deeper meaning of metanoia is a change of vision, a radically new outlook, in the light of the Gospel. God is our compassionate father, our Abba, who desires nothing less than our hearts, our whole selves. We are accepted and loved by him, while we are still sinners (Romans 5:8).
Receiving his forgiving love means a revolution in values, beliefs and direction in life.
Read the Gospel
Gospel Mark 1: 1-8
The beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah:
Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way.
A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.
And so it was that John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All Judaea and all the people of Jerusalem made their way to him, and as they were baptised by him in the river Jordan they confessed their sins. John wore a garment of camel-skin, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. In the course of his preaching he said, ‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’
Practice: Contemplating Anger
The Gospel this weekend speaks of John the Baptist, an activist in the time of Jesus who was ‘heralding’ the coming of the messiah.
The following practice, published, yesterday (5th December 2020) in the Richard Rohr daily meditations is a practice of balancing anger at situations with identifying, through contemplation, a response.
I invite you to read through it and to, perhaps, identify a way of utilising it in your life. The first paragraph, in italics, is written by Richard Rohr as an introduction to the practice.
So many works of social justice have been undone by people who do all the fighting from their angry selves. Today’s practice invites us to deal with our anger contemplatively, not just for ourselves but for those we seek to help and even those with whom we are in conflict. Teacher Dan Edwards writes:
The gift that contemplative practice brings to our emotions is awareness, the mental space to confront our emotional state in a safe way. . . .
Anger is the dominant emotion for many activists. . . . Anger is not a bad or negative thing; it is actually the fuel that feeds our quest for justice. It is when we let anger lead to hateful actions that we lose its beneficial potential. . . . It is imperative that we realize that often the injustice or wrongdoing isn’t personal but rather a societal ill and will always coexist with the peaceful lives we work hard to live.
Practice: Stop, Breathe, Reflect and Respond.
Once I am aware that anger is arising, I stop. I breathe in and out, and I pay attention to my breath, so that I can come back into my body and ground myself. I breathe until the dominate [sic] voices of anger dissipate and my focus rests comfortably on my breath and the current moment. I can now begin to reflect on the situation from a grounded place.
I then reflect on my personal ties to this wrongdoing and examine the reasons why it is affecting me so. . . . Most of the real work is done here, and this is where contemplative practice will become an invaluable tool. It is your contemplative mind that puts up signs like highway markers that point right back to you and encourage you to heal yourself from anger before healing others.
Take as much time as you need to reflect. In the end, I respond after I have reflected for some time on the act or situation. If the situation requires an immediate response, I may not respond at all—not because I am being passive or ignorant but because I am aware of how connected I am to the situation and how deeply personal my response may be. If I feel that I am not able to react from a grounded place, then I won’t. This method has helped keep me out of heated debates and actions that I would later feel the need to apologize for. So if your reactions are heated, give this method a shot. It may work for you.
Dan Edwards, “Dealing with Anger,” The Activist’s Ally: Contemplative Tools for Social Change (The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society: 2007, 2017), 46, 47. http://www.contemplativemind.org/
Close the time of prayer with the Our Father
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Take a moment now to bring to mind those you want to share peace with, family, friends, those where your relationship is broken.
Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
You can sign up for Richard’s daily reflections on the website of the Centre for Action and Contemplation (CAC) – by clicking here.
Fr. Kieran O’Mahony offers a scriptural analysis on the Readings in Written or on Video
The Spirit of God is seeking to create a newness in our lives, that calls us to a fresh wholeness that requires much letting go of what we have known, and co-creating with God an undreamt-of future for our church, for our world and for ourselves. This does not mean forgetting the past, which has brought us to the present.
The Gospel life is about a new future in God. In an incarnational, evolutionary universe nothing is complete and God is still creating. We are a central part of this creation which is happening in our midst.