Living With Hope in the Wilderness

Living with Hope in the Wilderness

On this 3rd Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, we are reminded that we are a people that live in the light of Christ. We are called to live rejoicing with the deep knowledge that despite the harshness, the cruelty and coldness that we experience in our world, Christ, the Son of Justice, has conquered all sin, oppression and even death itself. We are reminded that Christ who has come, continues to incarnate God’s love in and through each one of us and throughout all of creation.

It’s not easy to live in hope and rejoicing when we are so deeply immersed in the current reality of divisiveness. Hope dims in the viciousness of racism with its underlying and fundamental desire to dehumanize the other, people who are created in the image of God. Hope dims in the callous and self-serving attitudes that prefer to be blind to the presence of God’s divine beauty within and throughout all of creation, so that, individually and corporately, we continue to indulge in our consumption and abuse of the earth and its resources.

In ancient times, the prophet Isaiah spoke of creation not simply as incidental or inanimate matter. He foretold of God’s promise that, “The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song.”

James, writing to the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem, called the people to be patient. This resounds with the Advent theme of waiting and patience, however, let us remember that James was writing to people who were excluded and barred from worship in their synagogues and so perhaps also cut off from their families, friends and community, simply because of their following Christ. In this light, the call of James was a message of hope and encouragement in a dark and troubling time for these early Christians.

And so clearly in the gospel, Jesus in his message to John the Baptist, reveals himself as the promised one. “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”

Woven throughout our readings this Advent Sunday are the values, the hope and the guiding principles of our Catholic Social Teaching. Let us continue to be the light of Christ as we uphold all of life and the dignity of every human person, as we promote the integrity of families and communities with the invitation and welcome for all, and as we continue to grow in our care for God’s creation with a deepening awareness that all life, all people are integrally connected.

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis made the following appeal: “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” May our Advent prayer, our service and advocacy bring the healing presence of Christ to birth in our world crying out for justice and peace.

Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN Board Member
Collect Prayer:

O God, who see how your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.


In our second month as a student pastor, we brought a youth group from our  college church to our hometown, to spend a week in the “projects”. We had been in and out of the segregated black community  for years delivering groceries and our house keepers lived there. But we lived in an affluent neighborhood, and so the shock set in, and began a conversion experience that continues to this day.

We fought to end poverty, and we have come to realize that “the poor have been with us always,” and our call is to be a listener, to walk with individuals, and in listening, see their lives transformed into a new ways of living, and to heed the words of Elizabeth Gilbert when she says: “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”

And so that is our approach to ministry, and to life. This Christmas we ask you to join with us in being “listeners” in several ways:

First: If would like to give, please give financially. We have our gifts bought, and need to refill our treasury, and secondly to bring in other gifts result in difficulties at the church. We spent three hours last week cleaning out the basement.  St. Anthony’s, The Salvation Army, The Gubbio Project are three programs that will take clothing.  We are giving out stocking hats, and socks. Simple, and also items that we can carry.

Second, and the most important thing you can do is to pray for us during this Advent Season.

We also will not be taking any one out with us in giving gifts, it simply is our time to listen, and simply to be present with people we encounter.

We snap chat, talk in person, and text with adolescents and older all day long, listening, and so pray for us.
“Prayer requires that we stand in God’s presence with open hands, naked and vulnerable, proclaiming to ourselves and to others that without God we can do nothing. This is difficult in a climate where the predominant counsel is “Do your best and God will do the rest.” When life is divided into “our best” and “God’s rest,” we have turned prayer into a last resort to be used only when all our resources are depleted. Then even the Lord has become the victim of our impatience. Discipleship does not mean to use God when we can no longer function ourselves. On the contrary, it means to recognize that we can do nothing at all, but that God can do everything through us. As disciples, we find not some but all of our strength, hope, courage, and confidence in God. Therefore, prayer must be our first concern.” Fr. Henri Nouwen

Allow God to do something through you today.  

It might be an act of charity for someone in need, a visit to someone who is lonely. Or it might be a willingness to forgive an injury or to accept forgiveness. It might even be something God wants you to do for yourself, like accept the rest God is offering to you. 

Whatever God accomplishes through you, give heartfelt thanks.

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O.Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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