A good time for personal reflection

By Linda Zahorik | December 5, 2013

The first reading for this Sunday is one of my favorites. The image of the lion and the lamb can hold several biblical meanings, depending on the context used. The lion is often a metaphor for strength, power and might and often is depicted in a negative light. The lamb is a metaphor for kindness, giving, sacrifice and innocence. The meat of the lamb provides food and the wool provides a source of clothing, thus the lamb is a “provider” and depicted as good.

I have a friend who collects figurines of the lion and lamb. During Advent, her 50-plus collection comes out. In some of the more artistically created figurines, the gaze and “attitude” of the lion toward the lamb, the gentle love in the lion’s eyes, is mesmerizing. I like the concept of something wild and seemingly untamable being in a nurturing relationship with something vulnerable and gentle.

This weekend at Mass, look for the lion and the lamb. You need not search any further than your own heart. Are you one who is seeking to build the harmony of a peaceable kingdom within your parish?

Take notice of how you welcome and greet others. Are there some people you go out of your way to avoid? Do you find yourself filled with critical thoughts over how another is dressed or who they are with? Based on something you “know,” are you indignant that some people would even be showing their face at church?

During the penitential rite, accept honestly the wildness that lives within you. The journey of a Christian is never without its missteps and stumbles. We make mistakes, we sin, we need to be tamed by Christ again and again.

As you listen to the readings, do you let the words fall upon your heart or do your thoughts move to “I hope he/she is really listening, because they need to change?”

At the sign of peace, are you offering rote words and actions, or are you really connecting with the person next to you and wishing them the gift of Christ’s peace?

In the spirit of the first reading, let the little child within you guide you. Recall those days of your simple, fervent childhood faith. Last Sunday, a mom and her three young children were sitting next to me at Mass. Her baby became fussy just as the presider was beginning the eucharistic prayer, so she stepped a few feet away into the vestibule. At the first elevation, another of her children, perhaps age five or so, slid over to me and whispered, “What is that Father holding up there?” I whispered back, “He’s holding Jesus, but all we can see is the white host. But Jesus is there.” The little girl’s eyes got big and she whispered back to me, “W-o-w!” I experienced the “great Amen” from a child’s perspective, and prayed that my soul has not grown too old to respond with such an intense “wow” to Jesus being in my presence.

Speaking of harmony, remember that some of our most favorite music is used during the season of Advent and Christmas. Christmas carols evoke nostalgia, and draw us back to times that seemed kinder and gentler. During these days keep your parish music minsters in your prayer and take time to thank them.

Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.

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