Flickr: Luis Felipe Salas

In the Gospel, we hear John the Baptist answer the crowd begging him to help them understand how to prepare for the one “who will bring a powerful Spirit and a burning fire.” What should we do? Share one of your two cloaks; share your food; do not take from others more than you should; do not falsely accuse anyone.

How to prepare the way of the Lord? Saint Paul tells us to “rejoice in the Lord. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety.”

What should we do? Do I ponder how near is our God? Do I pray to know what I should do? Do I have anxiety?

In my reflections on what I should do, I was drawn to a prayer card that I recently received for the year of Mercy. The prayer is very meaningful and most appropriate for the year. On the reverse side are the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. They instruct us on what to do in preparation for the second coming of the Lord. As a Dominican Sister, I have been doing these works for over fifty years.

How can I continue to practice these works of mercy in light of our culture and world situations today? The world is crying out for hope, crying out for direction, crying out for peace and understanding.

My reflections brought me to understand that I must pray, reflect, be constantly informed and aware of the developments around me. Climate change, the Universe story, the evolution theories, the call to humility and mercy are all topics for study. I must listen to the prophets of today, both inside and outside of my congregation of Hope.

These voices can transcend the threatening voices of violence, mass shootings, road rage, profound evil and move me to a heightened awareness of the possibilities for the works of mercy. For then “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” We will be empowered to know what to do and do it. We can then “Shout for joy….sing joyfully and be glad…” with Zephaniah.

This post was written by Dominican Sister of Hope Philomena McCartney, OP as part of our Advent Reflection series. Find more Advent reflections here, and more on Sister Philomena here.