“Receptive Hearts” – First Sunday of Advent Reflection


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 Amy Brandt, Franciscan Mission Service, DC Service Corps

“Be vigilant at all times.” – Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to prepare for His second coming. He advises us to “beware that your hearts do not become drowsy” (Luke 21:34), as when Christ returns, He desires us to be in a place of abundance and peace. It is so easy to get caught in the current of our daily routines; the current is rapid with unexpected turns and often leads to a loss of footing. Our intentions may be rooted in love, but when steps to ensure a healthy balance and recharge are neglected, it becomes extremely difficult to remain present in our ministries. Physical, mental, and spiritual drowsiness weighs heavy on one’s heart, preventing natural receptivity.

A receptive heart that is free from the chains of anxiety does not form on its own. It requires us to invite God into our struggles and trust that He will provide us with the strength and desire to keep living a life that reflects His love. “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent” (Luke 21:36). As Advent begins, we are invited draw close to God, allowing Him to prepare our hearts to receive His son. He desires for us to confidently rest in His abundant nature and surrender our fears and anxieties that prevent our service from reflecting His truth. God floods our hearts with a love that is refreshing and sustaining. When filled, our hearts will overflow and inspire a life of service.

Focus on Social Justice: Allowing God to fill our hearts is essential when trying to conquer the injustices within our communities. As when we allow God’s love into our drowsy hearts, we are filled with a strength that allows us “to stand erect and raise our heads” (Luke 21:28). Social justice is a pillar of faith-based service that requires strong individuals with a heart that is refreshed and energized. The temptation to succumb to disappointment and anger is so strong in today’s society. The lie that “I am not making a difference…there is nothing I can do” is a wall that we are called to tear down. Trusting in the providence of our Lord, we can stand up to injustices with receptive hearts and use our privilege to speak up for those without a voice.

Service Suggestion: Before entering into faith-based service, take ten minutes to center yourself in prayer. Take inventory of your own needs and conditions. Listen to your breathing. Try and be as present as possible, letting go of all anxieties and distractions. Invite God to fill you with a love that will overflow into your work.

Prayer: Lord God, we invite you into our hearts this Advent season. We ask You to carefully pull up the anxieties and fears that have grown heavy within us, and in their place, plant Your sustaining love. May Your love shine through our actions, illuminating injustice and inspiring others to grow closer to Your truth. We lift up our struggles and our victories in thanksgiving, and yearn to have receptive hearts that embrace your goodness throughout each of our days.

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.

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