Musician Alanna Glover reflects on Mary’s song and the hope we share in Jesus' birth.
For our twenty-second Advent 2023 devotional, Teresa Brierley reflects on giving ourselves to the work of renewing our common home.
Clothed With Love
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
I have a strong attachment to Paul’s words in the reading from his letter to the Colossians because it was one of the readings which my husband, Allen, and I chose for our wedding. This was a long time ago when most Catholics were not very familiar with the scriptures. In our choosing this we understood we were part of God’s chosen ones: holy and beloved, and that we would be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
This reading also forms part of the readings we hear each year in the Catholic Lectionary, on the Sunday between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, when we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. So, as well as on our wedding anniversary, we are reminded each year through this reading of our commitment to God and to each other: a commitment to be clothed with love.
In our early years of married life, we would often be with Allen’s family on the Feast of the Holy Family, and this gave us time to ponder what sort of family we might grow to be. Would we be able to live up to Paul’s attributes for a solid relationship? Would our home be a loving one, and one filled with gratitude?
How amazing to think that as we move towards Christmas, that God continues to call us to renew our common home by allowing the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
For many people, Christmas gives us time with family and community.
How wonderful that just one piece of scripture reminds us how we are to live in relationship with each other as couples, as families, as communities, and as part of all God’s beautiful common home.
We all long for our homes to be places of safety, belonging, and peace. Allen and I have been richly blessed to be able to provide a home for our five children where faith and love formed the basis of our lives. Not everything was perfect and when we were less than holy, we needed to seek forgiveness and sometimes we needed to teach each other in all wisdom. And in the brokenness we often witness when homes do not offer this space of welcome, safety, and love we hold onto the hope and example we have in Jesus.
This Advent season, as we celebrate the hope of Jesus' birth, may your homes and your time with community be richly blessed with the love and peace of Christ, who clothes us with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Teresa Brierely has worked in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle since 2005. In her present role, as Director of Pastoral Ministries, Teresa supports the Bishop as a member of the Diocesan Leadership Group in pastoral matters across the diocese – parishes, chaplaincies, pastoral planning, and diocesan councils. Teresa has also served the Catholic Church as a Pastoral Associate, as a secondary school Religious Education Coordinator, maths and science teacher. She began her professional career as a Biomedical Scientist working in hospital pathology. She is married to Allen and they have five children and a number of grandchildren.