Third Monday of Advent
NM 24: 2-7, 15-17A
PS 25: 4-5AB, 6 AND 7 BC, 8-9
This time last year I was a new member of the Saint Louis University community, and these reflections had an impact on me—from the diverse contributors representing so many roles within our community to the myriad of ideas, thoughts, stories, and vulnerabilities shared.
Taken in their totality, today’s readings are greater than the sum of their parts—which is so often the case if I take the time to reflect, think and feel. A variety of words and concepts from these readings have stayed with me—particularly when others asked Jesus, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” (MT 21: 23-27) And ever the educator, Jesus responded with a question back to them: “Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” And, then other words and concepts from the readings jumped out at me—“compassion,” “truth,” kindness,” “hears what God says,” “guide me in your truth and teach me,” “guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way,” “show us, Lord, your love”—and how they have the potential to complement and inform the question regarding authority. Too often, I find myself seeking answers, solutions, sometimes quick fixes rather than exploring my unknowns within the context of compassion, truth, kindness, humility—all parts of God’s love for us.
This past week was filled with opportunities and challenges—as is every week; and when I found myself looking inward and putting myself more in the role of the learner and not one of authority, my experiences and interactions were richer, more rewarding, and actually produced more energy than ending a busy week feeling totally drained.
My opportunities for growth and exploring some of my unknowns this past week included—watching a movie that addressed a painful topic for the Church and listening to others provide thoughtful comments as well as ask questions in community with others; listening and responding to class presentations where students took the risk to become the authority on a given area of study; participating in a workshop that challenged me to explore my calling within my professional journey; receiving respectful feedback that a decision made did not sit well with some colleagues; and hearing about challenges that some members of our community are facing and them having the strength to speak up—these are only a few of any number of interactions I have had this week….to either fully engage with heart and mind or to not listen to God’s way and manner of being with others. In the end, neither Jesus or the chief priests and elders provided definitive answers but rather took the opportunity to reflect and contemplate.
These readings leave me with this question: How can I more consistently behave and act with kindness, compassion, and humbleness with and for others? I only hope I take advantage of this Advent season to ponder the question further and to act upon what I might find via God’s love and His way.
Jill E. Carnaghi is a staff member in Student Development.