NOTE: Throughout the Advent season, we’ll post a reflection on the readings for the upcoming Sunday in Advent just a few days before so individuals and groups can reflect in anticipation or incorporate it into their meetings, homilies, etc. The reflection will be available on our homepage through the weekend and then archived on our Advent 2022 webpage.

The reflection below is from our Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Sr. Joan Chittister, osb, and was included in the 1986 Advent reflection booklet, Hope Awaits Its Triumph: Advent 1986.

by Sr. Joan Chittister, osb
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10 | Psalm 146 | James 5:7-10 | Matthew 11:2-11

God, come and save us. (Ps 146)

The most ancient of temptations in the spiritual life is what the mystics call the desire for consolations in prayer.

An ancient Sufi tale describes it well: A traveler in search of God asks the holy one, “Tell me, does your God work miracles?” “Well,” the holy one said, “it all depends on what you call a miracle. Your people say that a miracle is when God does the will of the people. Our people say that a miracle is when the people do the will of God.”

One kind of prayer is meant to create for me the happiness of a false peace. The other kind of prayer is meant to bring me the kind of peace that comes with putting on the mind of Christ. Advent prayers for peace, unfortunately, are often of the selfish sort, or else the peace of which the Scriptures speak would have come long ago. But peace has become a consolation instead of a challenge. Peace has become escape instead of involvement, glitter instead of gospel gold.

Advent is not a romantic moment in the spiritual life. Advent is a cry to overthrow the idols of peace being sold by papier mache angels in a consumer-culture season for the real, the difficult, the demanding thing.

There are three promises of peace in the New Testament: the first by angels over a stable; the second by Jesus at the Last Supper; the third by Jesus in the upper room. All three promises, at first glance, are made at moments of high irony: at the birth of a child dispossessed; at a meal of sacrifice; after a time of total annihilation. The problem for the Christian in Advent is to uncover the peace promise that is contained and confirmed in the scenes of the crib and the cross. The problem is to see that the promise of peace depends on relationships restored and the price that must be paid for wholeness.


The promise of Christmas peace depends on relationships restored.
Are there any relationships in your life that must be healed?

>> For more Advent resources and reflections, click here.

6 thoughts on “A reflection for the third Sunday of Advent, December 11

  1. Thank you Joan for the graced challenge to how in my desire to be and become the mind of Christ. My thinking is violent and prejudiced when I feel hurt or don’t get something I feel privileged to. Being conscious of this, I pray for Advent grace to give birth to Emmanuel through healing of held onto misconceptions and misperceptions ofmyself, others, reality.
    Through the lens of the “mind of Christ” I have hope to bring Christ into the world. Greg

  2. Wow. As usual with Joan’s words, I feel both implicated and inspired. Let us pray for the courage and humility to walk the way of peace together.

  3. Joan Chittister deserves thanks for this bracing bit of wisdom. In brief, we are challenged not to pray for being cured and liberated. She says, “Be the cure, the liberation.” As JFK once proclaimed, we must do God’s work. God alone will enable us, but we will do the work. As some spiritual teachers have written, God became a human so that people could live divinely new lives in Christ. Jesus promised his disciples that they would do greater things than he did.

  4. So often, as Sr. Joan says, we ask God to be and do what we need to do and be to bring about peace. We overlook the daily miracles in our lives, and need to become channels of God’s peace for others.

  5. I find that prayer consoles me when the power of the Spirit speaks through it, whether forcefully or naggingly, and galvanizes me to figure out what God has set before me today and how to respond to it. Sometimes it is to feel thankful. Sometimes it is to work for something good. Best is when the two align and become one, and that is consoling

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