In this annual series, current and former volunteers reflect on the Advent Gospels and the Four Pillars of Faith-Based Service: Social Justice, Simplicity, Community and Spirituality. Presented by Catholic Apostolate Center and Catholic Volunteer Network.
First Sunday of Advent Reflection, by Jesse Koch, Franciscan Volunteer Ministry
“Be vigilant at all times.” – Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
When I first saw the Gospel was from Luke, I had a pleasant feeling form inside of me. This is so, because Luke has most recently become my favorite Gospel writer. There really isn’t a profound reason for him being my favorite, I just learned that we both have the same personality type from the Meyers-Briggs personality test Since then I’ve felt more of an appreciation for how he tells the Gospel stories.
Reading this at first made me uncomfortable, it starts off with very intense wording (“dismay”, “roaring of seas and waves”, “die of fright”) but by the time I finished reading the excerpt, I felt perfectly fine. I see this story has a way to tell us that there will be plenty of dark times we must face, there can even be moments where we feel like the world is ending. But, if we follow our hearts and trust in God’s plan, we will see the light at the end of the very dark tunnel we’re in.
Beginning this volunteer year stirred up a lot of mixed emotions for me. I felt anxious about moving the farthest from home I’ve ever been and often felt self-doubt for choosing to do this instead of going to graduate school or getting my feet wet in the job market. It didn’t make sense to do this volunteer year, as I have a vast amount of student loans and a degree that usually needs a higher Master’s degree in order to acquire job placement, but I felt the call from God and took the leap of faith.
Focus on Social Justice: With all of the terrible things we see on the news everyday (gun violence, immigration crisis, drug epidemics, etc.) it is extremely easy for one to think the world is on a downward slope. This reading states “when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your hands because your redemption is at hand.” It is so easy to turn on the TV or scroll on social media and see so much negativity, so now is the best time to stand up and continue spreading Jesus’ message of love. This will change the negative rhetoric we see every day.
Service Suggestion: The holiday season is quickly approaching, and that opens up a magnitude of ways everyday people can serve. Soup kitchens and homeless shelters are in need of help with serving meals and clothing drives, so why not look up the nearest soup kitchen or parish and see how you can help? But, I challenge you to stick around after the holiday season and continue to serve the poor, homeless, and hungry of your neighborhood. Christmas passing by doesn’t mean that everyone you served has fixed their situation, they still need your help throughout the year.
Prayer: Lord, give me the clarity and peace of mind to not let all the bad things happening in the world overcome me and get in the way of what You have planned for me. Give me the strength to wake up every morning and act on all the wonderful chances I have, to spread Your message of love and peace. Give me the compassion to listen to those around me so I can properly serve with them. I pray that every single day, no matter how difficult it may seem, that we choose to love one another. Amen.
- Jesse Koch is currently serving with Franciscan Volunteer Ministry, Jesse hails from the Bronx, New York City, New York, and is a graduate of Iona College.
Looking for more reflections like this one? We invite you to download our Advent Reflection Guide in its entirety, available by clicking here. You can find an extensive library of Advent resources by visiting the Catholic Apostolate Center website – click here.