Editor’s Note: In celebration of Advent, we have invited faith leaders to reflect on where they find hope, peace, joy, and love in this season. Each reflection will be followed by a prayer for this season.
This week, we have adapted the final Advent prayer in response to the devastating tornadoes that tore through several states in the South and Midwest.
I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when I realized that I am loved; loved ardently, eternally, unconditionally, with a love that knows no bounds. Eventually, I couldn’t help but seeing it: Love is pervasive and contagious. Love is the most powerful gift, with an infinite variation of expressions. Like loaves and fish, love multiplies as it is freely given. Like the break of dawn, love brings light to the darkest night and fills life with the brightest warmth. I saw it in the smile of an elderly woman who got visited today; heard it in the cry of a newborn; tasted it in the food that we shared and the fight for justice so that others will not go without; felt its strong pull in the patient hand of a Good Samaritan. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8) and its power is transformative. Will you love others today?
Let us pray:
“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
In this Advent season, we cry out, Come, Come, Immanuel.
We pray for our siblings in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee,
who face the devastation of tornado damage.
We pray for those who have lost loved ones,
for those who are waiting for help,
for those who have lost everything.
We pray for those who need food,
for those who need shelter and clothing
and protection from the cold weather.
May they find the hope, peace, joy, and love
in disaster response teams,
in government and community leaders,
and in leaders rising up in the crisis.
May they be comfort for your people, O God.
We trust “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God'” (Luke 3:4-6).
We pray in the name of the one who comes,
Wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in in a manger,
born in Bethlehem.
María del Mar “Mar” Muñoz-Visoso wrote this reflection. She is executive director of the Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). She holds a Master of Theological Studies from Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan. In 2010, she received the Benemerenti Medal from Pope Benedict XVI for exemplary and sustained service to the Catholic faith.