The Table

Scripture Reflections, Advent 2017

Isaiah 40; Psalm 85; Mk:13; Lk.1; 1Thess.5

Each week I receive a prayer/reflection from US Catholic. Today we pray with Anne Frank: “I can feel the suffering of millions…and, yet, when I look up at the heavens, I know this cruelty will end”. (Just a note: Historians tell us that Anne Frank and her family were denied U.S. visas since it was believed we needed to guard against an influx of refugees during a time of war.)

2017…suffering…cruelty…but, a new year is coming…Advent…can we help this cruelty to end? God calls us, “Give comfort to my people” (Is.40) How? We should “be watchful, be alert” (Mk: 13), and “pray without ceasing…do not quench the Spirit!” (1Thess.5)

Hearing this Scripture reminds me of a shared recent reflection by Pope Francis of the Vatican II teaching on the development of doctrine. Francis said that we cannot be “tied to interpretation that is rigid and immutable, as this would demean the working of the Spirit…move with great enthusiasm, as in the early church, toward new horizons where God guides us. Remember, too, that the Word of God cannot be mothballed like some old blanket, as it is a dynamic and living reality”….hmmm… could this relate to anything to which we’ve dedicated ourselves!?!

Advent is a time we hear from the prophets. In that same US Catholic email there was a reflection on hope from our prophet Mary Luke Tobin, SL. She was one of only fifteen women observers at Vatican II (who were told by the officials, “Listen, but don’t speak!”) Cardinal Suenens and Father Haring made sure women were included on the commissions, and speak they did, for “Justice and peace shall kiss…truth shall spring out of the earth” Ps.85.

And we listen to Mary Luke Tobin’s prophetic life from US Catholic and NCR: She began the day by singing Morning has Broken; she said we must be open to the Spirit, open to an appreciation of all creation, open to ecumenical and feminist insights and hear the call of the poor.

As she did, may we see frustrations, tensions, conflicts and obstacles as the raw material for creativity and action to make the world more just, with peace for all, and she encouraged us to continue the struggle to get a fair female voice in the church and fully recognized personhood. (“Nothing is impossible with God”! Lk: 1)

May we live out her advice to Maureen Fiedler, SL, “Go out on a limb…that’s where the fruit is!”

Judith A. Heffernan, M.Div, is a member of the Community of the Christian Spirit and the SEPAWOC Core Committee. She attended the first Women’s Ordination Conference in Detroit and remains an active WOC member. 

Editor’s note: This Advent and Christmas, the Women’s Ordination Conference invites our readers to use The Comprehensive Catholic Resource, an inclusive lectionary. Available for download now.

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