Tender Embers

A devastating wildfire and a fig tree don’t seem to have much in common from the outset, but in this week’s Encounter With Christ, the Holy Spirit connected the scourge of wildfire with the hope of human tenderness, likened to the branches of the fig tree.  The watchful warning of a consuming wildfire speaks to the mindfulness of our own mortality, and the need to rely on Christ for light in a world darkened with the smoke of impending danger.

Gospel MK 13:24-32

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.“And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’
with great power and glory,
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.“Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates. 
Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place. 
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.“But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Reflections From The Group
When a branch becomes tender...a tender branch would be a pliable branch, one that can bend in the wind or the directives of weather and circumstance.  Like the branch, we too must be pliable, humble, set on a tender love for souls and having a heart like Christ’s.
Learn a lesson from the fig tree…like the fig tree, we need to remember God’s timing in our lives; it is all part of His plan and although we must remain watchful (avoid temptation and sin), we can relax knowing God is in control.
The scriptures often talk of being prepared, whether referring to the end as an individual or overall, we don’t know the day or hour.  In particular, as we prepare to head toward Advent, the readings remind us to be mindful of our own mortality and cast a sense of urgency over the ways we choose to spend our time.
The lines just before this scripture discuss the final days and persecution (Mark 13:9-24) remind us to watch out for ourselves, and that although there is much darkness in the world, our hope is in Christ and as such we must be light in the world with our words and actions.  We must rely on the Holy Spirit through prayer and the sacraments to exude hope for the world.
Embers of Hope
In an article published by the National Catholic Register on November 14th, 2018, “Embers of Hope“, highlights the hasty evacuation of St Thomas More Catholic Church and school in Paradise, California.  The worst wildfire destruction in California’s history quickly engulfed the area around the church, and with only 15 minutes warning to evacuate, the facility manager worked diligently to get everyone off the property and to safety.  As such, he and his wife, who was also on site, sacrificed their chance at saving any of their own belongings, escaping only with their cell phones and each other.  Despite walls of fire that quickly threatened all main escape routes from town, community members came together, assisting one another’s evacuation.  The focus on our case was a quote by the wife of the ground’s manager, Yvonne Kidder who stated,
 “We put our trust in Christ,” continuing, “we are people of hope and faith, and that is what we hold on to.”
Theological Virtue: Hope
Cardinal Virtue: Justice
Human Virtues: Love of neighbor, cooperation, Care/Piety
How we will act…
Unlike other news outlets, The National Catholic Register chose to take a devastation situation and while informing its reader of the facts, highlighted the human good, providing its reader with hope amidst destruction.  Like the gospel today and this case, we want to exude hope and a tenderness for souls, while remaining watchful of dangerous situations, be it physical like a fire or spiritual like sin, to be God’s light in the world.  We are going to practice this by:
  1. A news fast: reducing our mental ingestion of negative news this week to feed our minds with God’s goodness.  We decided reading headlines was enough for now to know what to pray for in the world, without absorbing the negative content of most news providers. We will focus on positive content and input this week, honoring God’s goodness and providence.
  2. Donating clothes as the weather grows colder to help those in need.  We have some upcoming coat drives, etc, in the community, so we discussed going through our closets to prepare to donate items, and inform each other of the places asking for donations.

How we will pray…

We will say a Memorare each day this week for the victims of the wildfires and for a quick and healing end to the destruction, and restoration for these communities.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

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