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On this fourth day of the meeting, Brother Lawrence Harvey presented the Gospel reading and a song for reflection:

Exercise One

Come to a place of interior quiet. Read the follow Gospel passage.

…the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

[Luke 3:2-6]

While in the desert, John the Baptist encountered the word of God, the truth of the coming Lord. Where do you encounter God in your life? Take a moment to consider this question. Recall a time or two when God was present to you.
Offer your gratitude to God for being present to you.

Exercise Two

Play the song below, Margaret Rizza’s, “Silent, Surrendered.”
The group sings:
Silent, surrendered
Silent, surrendered, calm and still,
open to the word of God.
Heart humbled to his will,
offered is the servant of God.
Take these moments, as the music plays, to surrender to your interior quiescence. Rest in the silence.
Remain here for several minutes. Be attentive to the silence. If you need to, concentrate on your own breath.
Let the worries of your day arise and disappear in your mind. Do not grasp them. Do not grasp. Surrender to the silence.

Councilors’ Reflections

The Council shared how they encountered the Word this morning. Among the reflections shared were the following:

Yesterday evening I was reflecting on Mike’s [Brother Mike Foley, C.F.X.] experience, a unique experience. Reading the gospel about John the Baptist in the desert today, I thought how Lodwar and Narus are the desert. God’s word is encountered in the desert and then spread out toward humanity. In sharing his experience yesterday, Mike was giving us a living example of our charism. He did it in a very simple way, and that’s how he lives, a very simple life. His biggest message to the young Brothers is how to live a simple life. We have Brothers who have also lived a simple experience of our charism. Mike spoke of working with people who are very vulnerable, who have nothing. When Brothers live among these people, they have to learn how to live a simple life. Living a simple life allows us to live within the community and among those whom we serve. This is what brings our charism into deeds.”

I’ve never liked John the Baptist. He’s always a gaunt figure who seems to be in a rage. I’ve always been startled by him and jolted out of my complacency. When I reflect on his message, I see a connection with our attempts to describe our charism; an attempt to re-orient ourselves and learn where we lost the sense of Ryken’s vision. Our work on the charism is trying to help point our community toward a renewed direction and each of us toward a personal conversion. We are exiles and that is our way of life.”

In the readings this morning I was struck by the contrast between John the Baptist and Jesus. Both are responding to God’s call. John’s following didn’t immediately switch over to Christ. We are called to reflect the charism in our own unique way. Mike lives it out in Narus. I do not feel called to live out the charism in that way, but we each are called to live it out in our own unique way.”

I’m always disappointed in John the Baptist. John lives a very distinctive life style, he has his followers. He tells his followers to follow Jesus, but he doesn’t pick up his stuff and follow Jesus. Is he so set in his old traditions that he can’t follow Jesus? There are some among us who are set in their ways and can’t follow in new ways. When I try to find the Word of God, I don’t find it in the usual places. I find it in Kenya Power and Lighting. When the power fails and darkness hits, there is nothing to do but sit in the silence. It’s impossible to do anything else. Often we are trying to control God. But God meets us in ways we least expect, and when we are most vulnerable.”

I am especially struck by the second reading from Philippians. ‘I always pray for all of you.’ Especially since yesterday afternoon, I wondered if I pray enough for myself in order to answer God’s call to me, but also for my fellow Brothers. We don’t pray enough for one another, but we talk too much about one another. How can we learn to talk to one another? When I was a novice, we didn’t talk to one another but we had to listen. That was an error. Please let us learn to talk to one another. If we don’t talk to one another, we can’t love one another. Yesterday we have been talking about some personnel issues, but how often have we talked, actually spoken honestly to these Brothers? We must also hear the reactions of the other Brothers, otherwise we are unfair. Have we seriously used the Fundamental Principles, which we have had for 30 or more years. Look, but be careful of your judgments. No one must become a scapegoat.”

I’m struck by both images of the gospel and the first reading, as well as the message of hope in the second reading. I reflect on how willing am I to be in the desert. We know that the desert is a place of temptation. The temptation that says: ‘I know the way. I can do it my way.’ But in the desert we can encounter the Word, and, as the Baptist, preach a word of conversion, and discover a way that is different from my self-determined way of seeing the world or handling situations. What happens to John is a version, I think, of what Ryken describes of his conversion experience when he, through a deep humiliation, is put in his place, turns toward God, falls in love with God and places himself in God’s service. The vision of life presented in the first reading [Baruch 5:1-9] is of a way of living that is different from the way we live today: a way of justice and peace, rather than the way of my own designs and manipulations. The second reading [Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11] points to the fact that it is only from the place of being grounded that we can say with confidence that ‘the one who began the good work in us will see it to completion.’ My final reflection was of Jim Kelly and the vision of the new Jerusalem that so consoled him. ‘I have set my eyes on your hills, Jerusalem, my destiny.’ The way to Jerusalem, which we follow together, is not necessarily a nice journey.”

– Sunday, December 9, 2012 | Marriotsville, MD

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