Looking with eyes of faith

    December 3, 2023
    Advent reflection day 1 graphic. Watercolor brush strokes of Christmas tree branches in white and pale green and red holly berries.

    Happy New Year and welcome to Advent! This is my favorite liturgical season — filled with amazing, courageous people, wonderful stories of discovery and dedication, and beloved musical themes.

    Speaking of music, today’s first reading, while calling us to repentance, contains concepts and images that have proven to be hymn writers’ inspiration: “No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.” And this: “O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.”

    But for us, Catholic Charities employees and volunteers and the entire worldwide Caritas family, I think the second reading contains messages we are meant to hear on this first Sunday of Advent. First of all, thank God for us; for all of us! We have been called to fellowship with Jesus to be his hands and feet walking within and reaching out to our troubled world, for the service of charity. We have answered that call and been enriched so that we are not lacking any resources we might need for this great work.

    In the Gospel we are reminded to remain watchful. “You do not know when the lord of the house is coming…What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” The chosen people waited hundreds of years to meet the Christ, and many of them missed him when he walked among them. We, however, are privileged to see him daily when we look with the eyes of faith. Watch therefore, for the hungry, the orphan, the stranger, the confused, the homeless, the traumatized, the vulnerable and the lost. We will not miss him!

    Jean Beil, after a long career in the Catholic Charities ministry at both the local and national levels, now serves as the Regional Coordinator for Caritas North America. Jean lives in Alexandria with her husband and two cats and sings in the choir at Good Shepherd Parish.

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