O branch of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.
The branch is a biblical sign of newness out of discouragement. The Israelites had forgotten God, and also forgotten the call of God to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly “. We too have reason to be discouraged this Advent but we continue to believe in the prevailing newness of the gospel vision. We grieve over where we have strayed as a nation from justice, love and humility. There is a darkness in our society that needs a sign of newness to encourage change. Within our own lives there is darkness that hinders our embracing the new vision of life revealed in Jesus. A living tree is an appropriate symbol of the revelation of the love and faithfulness of God. Its dormancy and revival is a sign of what is possible.
Help us to recognize in the events that shape our lives the possibility of new life and new beginnings.
Reflect on the prophet’s call to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God and try to let it shape your actions this last week of Advent.
But thou, Bethlehem, Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel.
To all people of good will who are working for social justice: never tire of working for a more just world, marked by greater solidarity!
In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death.
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars.
When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.
When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
God helps those who persevere.
We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope,
Martin Luther King
Fall seven times, stand up eight.
Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Tough times never last, but tough people do.
Robert H Schuller