Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday of the Third Week of Advent - St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

The utterance of one who hears what God says,
and knows what the Most High knows,
Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
enraptured, and with eyes unveiled.
I see him, though not now;
I behold him, though not near:
A star shall advance from Jacob,
and a staff shall rise from Israel.
- Numbers 24:16-17
With today’s prophecy from Balaam (Numbers 24:15-17a), a non-Israelite prophet, our attention is drawn more and more to who Jesus is: the star rising from Jacob and the staff for Israel (cf. Isaiah 11:1).  

Even a brief reading of the Old Testament will reveal that the people of Israel were a hope-filled, expectant people. Israel’s longing for the Messiah was shaped by the ways that God had manifested his power throughout their history, and prophets, like Isaiah, Amos, and later, John the Baptist never stopped reminding the people that God was coming to save his own. But, Israel also recognized that God had already shown his power and “visited his people.” The God of Israel was a God who was always with them, ready to support and protect them.
It was from this waiting people that the German-born Jewish philosopher, Edith Stein, was born. Like her ancestors, she was a seeker. Although she rejected her Jewish heritage as a young woman, her search for truth ultimately led her to know Christ and to commit herself to him as a Carmelite nun, known as Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Acutely aware of the sufferings of the Jewish people during World War II, she willingly accepted their common fate, seeing that Christ’s cross redeemed all aspects of life, even the horrendous violence perpetrated against her people: “To suffer and to be happy although suffering, to have one’s feet on the earth, to walk in the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet to be enthroned with Christ at the Father’s right hand, to laugh and cry with the children of this world and ceaselessly sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels—this is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth.”[1]

As we continue Advent, take time today to reflect on the ways God has revealed himself in your life--both in his power and in the whispers of your heart.

Prayer for Monday of the Third Week of Advent +
Incline a merciful ear to our cry, we pray, O Lord,
and, casting light on the darkness of our hearts,
visit us with the grace of your Son.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(From The Roman Missal)

[1] Edith Stein, The Hidden Life: Essays, Meditations, Spiritual Texts. L. Gelber and Michael Linssen, O.C.D. eds. Waltraut Stein, transl. Washington, D.C.: ICS Publications, 1992. 93.

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