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Love Responds to Love
Thursday of the Second Week of Advent
(Optional Memorial of Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin)
Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Jesus, you want to spend this time of prayer with me. You like having me close to you. Jesus, I, too, want to be here with you. I want to be close to you. Increase my faith, hope, and love, so that I may respond generously to whatever you ask of me. Prepare my heart in these Advent days to receive you on Christmas.
- Love in Response to Love: Entering this passage, we are reminded of how great the love of Jesus for his cousin John must have been. He felt love for a cousin, a friend, and also a Son who has so genuinely and generously given everything to God—love in response to love. When we encounter Jesus in prayer, he wants to love us as sons and daughters of the Father the way he loved John. Advent, the start of the Church’s liturgical year, is a time of new beginning. What newness might we find in our relationship with God and living of our faith this Advent? Let us linger here in prayer and ask God to reveal and to give us the grace to respond in love, as John did, to whatever he may ask of us.
- The Kingdom: Today, there is no shortage–on the contrary, there seems to be an increase–of violence and division. It may prompt us to take another look at what God promises and what he doesn’t. Jesus showed us by his public ministry that he did not come to establish a perfect political or cultural society. He came to make his Kingdom in hearts open to his love. Yes, we see violence and sorrow in this world, but there is no heart that he himself will not enter, suffer with, and in so doing, redeem—if he is invited in. This truly is something new and wonderful.
- If You Are Willing: “If you are willing to accept it,” Jesus told his apostles. He did not force an answer from them. This God, who so desires our love, respects and even submits himself to our freedom: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” Jesus told us in Revelation 3:20. May we open the door and accept this invitation that Jesus comes to offer, even if we don’t entirely comprehend it.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you said, “Whoever has ears ought to hear.” In this invitation and expression of a great desire in your heart, I can see your promise, present and active. Remind me, Father, that your word is effective—that if I open my ears to hear you, I will hear. Not in human words, perhaps, but in the Word that is your Son. I wish to receive you this Christmas. Come, Holy Spirit, and help my heart along this Advent journey.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to hear what you are inspiring in my life, and give you the freedom and the space to act beyond my expectations: I surrender to you. Take care of everything.
For Further Reflection: You may wish to read the transcript of the dialogues between St. Juan Diego, whom the Church celebrates today, and Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid and Valencia, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families and young people she’s there to serve.
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