Prepare your heart for Christmas by receiving Gospel reflections written by seminarians from the Mundelein community via email each week of Advent.
Reflection for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception by Deacon Joseph Brom
But what is it in particular that we celebrate today? We celebrate the singular grace that God gave to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that from the moment of her conception, she would be completely free from the stain of original sin. She would belong completely to God, trusting Him completely, and not suffering the ill effects of Adam and Eve’s fall.
But what about us? Mary is a sign and a promise. She is a sign of God’s love for His people, of the marvels He can work in humanity. She is “our tainted nature’s solitary boast.” She is also a promise that God’s will is to be fulfilled, despite our sinfulness. His Covenant has not failed to “produce a holy root from which came forth the blessed Fruit of the whole universe, Jesus the Savior,” as Pope Benedict XVI once put it.
Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, shows that God calls us, and we respond. God’s grace reaching out to us can bring about our “yes” which draws us closer to Him, that ultimately can lead us to be joined with Him, along with Mary and all the saints forever.
Deacon Joseph Brom
Canons Regular of St. John Cantius/Archdiocese of Chicago
Reflection for the Second Week of Advent by Deacon Joel Pius
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:1-6
As we journey on through the season of Advent, the Lord urges us on with the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths!” It can seem like a herculean task to evangelize in the world nowadays and to live an honest life amidst all the obstacles we have in our life. The past year in particular has been tough, due to all of us having to live in a post-pandemic world with struggles abounding. Amidst all of this pain, the Lord calls us today to remember that the Lord was born into a world filled with people struggling to live grace-filled lives. The Lord lived with this struggling people and took not only their sin, but the sin of all humanity, conquering it with his death on the cross, which made straight our own paths to salvation.
What’s left for us, then, is to return the favor and make straight the paths of the Lord. More specifically, even though the path has been generously cleared for us, we must walk ourselves down the path that has been prepared for us and must help guide others down that same path. We differ from those who lived before the time of Jesus – the sacraments empower us to live honest lives and the Eucharist especially empowers us to preach the Good News. Everything we do should be about evangelization. As we approach the coming of our Lord in Christ, let us straighten our lives and live virtuously, so that the type of life we lead should cry out to others the same message John cried out: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths!”
Deacon Joel Pius
Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago
Reflection for the First Week of Advent by Deacon Manuel Barrios
Gospel Reading: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
I’ve been waiting for the pilgrimage to the Holy Land for almost a year. I am eagerly awaiting to set foot on the Holy place where my King was born. The trip is finally happening as I write this.
Imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph to await the birth of the King of the Universe. It is fitting that the Church celebrates Jesus’s Kingship the Sunday before Advent. Jesus came to reveal the Kingdom of Truth: for this I was born and for this I came into the world: to testify to the truth. But how can you prepare to receive the Truth?
Think of how a person prepares to receive home someone that they love. I imagine how my parents feel when they know I am coming home to visit. My mom always asks me which of my favorite foods she can prepare for me first. I always opt for Mexican refried beans and rice. I am moved by the affection I receive from my family when I arrive home. I can only imagine Jesus’s joy as you await and prepare during this time of Advent to receive Him; Jesus desires to reside in your heart.
My wait to travel to the Holy Land has been full of expectations and preparations. Similarly, during Advent we recall His First Coming into the world and we prepare for His return. The work of our King has begun, yet it has not come into completion until His Second Coming. Whoever is prepared will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Will you be prepared to stand before the Son of Man on His Second Coming?
Brothers and sisters may we properly prepare our hearts to receive the King. Do not let His arrival catch you by surprise.
Deacon Manuel R Barrios
Diocese of San Jose