December 3, 2014
Jeanne Schuler
Creighton's Department of Philosophy
click here for photo and information about the writer


Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest
Lectionary: 177

Isaiah 25:6-10 A
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Matthew 15: 29-37

Praying Advent

The Ascent

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts…will wipe away the tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25: 6-8)

To set out on a mountain trail takes us away from the ordinary.  It is better to travel light, so we leave stuff behind.  Soon the sounds of traffic and trailhead fade.  Bird cries and crunchy gravel interrupt the quiet.  Stumbling and panting, we search for footing and feel our usual worry losing its grip.  Arriving at the destination, the effort does not deplete us.  Our vision clears and we can see for miles.  Emptied out, the self comes alive again.

In today’s readings the scenes on the mountain fill the people with amazement.  After a climb, we expect fatigue and hunger.  Stumbling blocks are no surprise.  We are familiar with regrets and setbacks.  But a God who wipes away tears and heals broken lives?  Warmth and mercy heaped on all who arrive at the resting place?  Food and comfort freely given?  My burdens gently loosened?  Surely there’s been a mistake.  Where are the accusations?  This banquet cannot be for me.  Am I worth it? 

On Sisyphus’s doomed mountain there is no resting place.  Climbing is endless and we never arrive.  The day begins and ends in exhaustion.  Our busy lives have no deeper purpose.  The prophets of these slopes preach the pointlessness of being human.  They ridicule the visions of those who seek fulfillment.

To begin our day with prayer and quiet brings us closer to God’s holy mountain.  Maybe I simply pray for faith.  Maybe I follow my breath flowing in and out.  In quiet I listen for the presence that lies behind words.  Entering into emptiness the banquet finds me.

In Advent I set out to find myself on God’s holy mountain.  Here everyone is welcome.


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