Saturday of the First Week

Readings

Is 30:19-21, 23-26
Ps 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Mt 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8

Reflection

Today's readings are filled with a sense of hope, but not just some vague imaginings of a hopeful future.  Instead, Jesus provides instructions to his disciples: "Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  The Kingdom of heaven is at hand." 
 
As we move deeper into this Advent season, this reading reminds us to channel our hope for the coming of Jesus in ways that help bring about God's kingdom.  While Jesus instructs his disciples to do this by gracing them with the authority to perform big, amazing miracles in His name - healing the sick, raising the dead, driving out demons - the best I can do is to celebrate the small miracles of everyday life.  

After graduating from USD in May, I decided to help bring about God's kingdom by doing a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps - a year rooted in the values of spirituality, simplicity, social justice, and community.  I am serving in the city of Detroit, MI, at an after-school program for middle and high school students called Racquet Up Detroit. Every day I witness small miracles that can improve the lives and education of my students, and I try to celebrate those small moments whenever I can.  Some days, it's simply by recognizing my student's excitement and confidence when they understand a concept, or by cherishing the (rare) sessions that they are well behaved.  Some days the office celebrates bigger miracles, like when our seniors - Racquet Up's first cohort of twelfth graders, who have been in the program for the entire eight years of Racquet Up's existence - get accepted into colleges. These amazing moments that the students might not even notice are motivating for me; they revive my hope, reinvigorate my sense of purpose in this year at Racquet Up, and help remind me of how I can help build God's kingdom on Earth by using my time and talents. 
 
Each of us are graced with our own unique gifts and abilities, so I invite you to find ways that you can use your own gifts to build hope, foster justice, and empower others.  Through this, we can help bring about God's Kingdom as we eagerly await the coming of Jesus this Advent Season.
 
Eric Knapke, '17
Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Detroit, MI