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                       Currents: Advent Message                                               

Webprayze has chosen to excerpt almost in its entirety this article written for publication some years back to celebrate Advent. Father Roger Landry writes: "The season of Advent ...focuses on the great encounter each of us is called to have with the Lord. The Lord is coming — that's what Advent literally means — and we are called to go out to meet him." Most importantly, he points out: "We are also called to help others to meet him." (italics & underline ours)          

The Great Introducer

by Fr. Roger J. Landry - November 30, 2007

More than any other Biblical figure, St. Andrew the Apostle, whom the universal Church celebrates today, demonstrates for us how this is done.

We first encounter Andrew at the Jordan River astride St. John the Baptist, the great Advent prophet. Through his riverside preaching, John was helping his fellow Jews make straight the paths to receive the Lord.

The path to Andrew's heart and head were straight enough that when John, one day, looked up and said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Andrew immediately left John and went to see where Jesus lived. He spent the day with Jesus, recognized him to be the Messiah, and believed in him.

His next move not only reveals his character, but shows what should be the reaction of anyone who meets Jesus. He ran to his brother, told him that he had found the Messiah, and hurried back to introduce him to Jesus. As soon as Jesus met his brother, he said, "You are Simon, Son of Jonah. You are to be called Peter" (Jn 1:42). Little did Andrew know, of course, what Jesus' plans would be for his brother. His sibling, a simple fisherman like him, was to be made the rock on whom the Lord would build his Church (Mt 16:18).

Likewise we never know what the Lord might do with those we introduce or bring closer to him. God may need us to be the instrument, or the fishing hook, to bring future popes, nuns, priests, or canonized saints to him. He may take them from among the members of our family, or friends, or co-workers or fellow students. Our task is to make the introduction, by letting others know we have found the Messiah, and inviting them to come to meet him.

                                                         Check out the Jesse Tree below... (from the Crossroads Initiative)

Andrew's matchmaking would continue. He was the one who introduced the young boy with five barley loaves and two fish to Jesus. There was no way for Andrew to know what Jesus would do with those meager offerings, but from them Jesus would work one of his greatest miracles. He just brought the boy to Jesus and let Jesus do the rest. There's another great lesson here: whenever we put at the Lord's disposal our talents, or encourage someone we know to do the same, the Lord is capable of working great wonders. We may not have much, but in Jesus' hands, everything can be miraculously multiplied.

Andrew is at it again right before Jesus' passion. Some Greeks came to Philip and Andrew and said, "We wish to see Jesus," and the two of them brought them to Jesus. The Lord's response was not just to greet them, but to exclaim, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (Jn 20:23). Their introduction was the trigger for which Jesus was mysteriously waiting, to inaugurate the culmination of his earthly life. Likewise with us, our bringing someone to the Lord, even some strangers, might constitute the beginning of an enormous new development in the history of the kingdom of God.

This Advent is a time for us to redouble our efforts to bring not just ourselves but others into a closer relationship with the Lord who is coming. The new beginning that Advent signifies starts with these encounters.

One final point. Andrew brought people to the Lord not just by his actions, but by his words as well. We don't have any extant letters from him or homilies, but we do have an ancient account of his martyrdom, in which we can see the way he died and extrapolate from there to how he would have lived.

His passio states that he was crucified on a decussate or x-shaped cross in northern Greece. The way people normally perish in crucifixion is not because of the literally excruciating pain, but by asphyxiation. When one is crucified on a t-shaped cross like Jesus, in order to breathe the victim must push up on his legs to open up his lungs to inhale. When one is crucified on an x-shaped cross, however, one's quadriceps are immobilized and the process of breathing is even more arduous. Since we speak during exhalation, saying anything while dying on a Cross is an act of tremendous heroism. St. Andrew's passio tells us, nevertheless, for the last 38 hours of his life, when he could barely get enough oxygen to stay alive, Andrew preached the Good News of Jesus Christ from the cross to the throngs that had assembled to see him die. Until his last breath, he was seeking to introduce them to the Lord. (Reprinted with permission from


The Tradition of the Jesse Tree      

The Jesse Tree is a centuries-old family Advent devotion that has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in recent years. It has particular value since it helps both kids and adults a like to locate Jesus, the Messiah, within the lineage of the shepherd boy who became King of Israel--David, son of Jesse.

The whole idea of the Jesse Tree comes right out of a classic Advent passage from the prophet Isaiah: "A shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit" (Isaiah 11:1). The Jesse Tree is hung with ornaments representing Old Testament people and events and lead up to Jesus. The traditional symbols hung on the tree are based on the genealogy of Jesus as reccounted by the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Set up a tree or branches with or without leaves. For the ornaments, you can either buy a Jesse Tree kit or just craft them yourself (scroll to the bottom of this page for traditional ornament list).

 Traditionally, there is one ornament for each day of Advent. You start at the base of the tree with Adam and Eve. At the top of the tree at the very end of the season comes a crib representing the baby Jesus. There's a brief scripture reading for every symbol (see below). If you read these readings and contemplate them and the symbols to which they are linked, by December 25th you and your family will have a much deeper understanding of the history of salvation and the meaning of Christmas!

(The material for this page comes to you in large part thanks to Meredith Gould, author of The Catholic Home. For more great ideas for celebrating Advent, Christmas, and other seasons and feasts in your home, get a copy of her wonderful book--(from the Crossroads Initiative, a Ministry of Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio)

From a Catholic Home - this a chart for the Jesse Tree Symbols -

The World is Created – Globe – Genesis 1:24-28

Adam and Eve – Snake and Apples – Genesis 3:1-24

Noah and the Flood – Rainbow – Genesis 6:11-22; 86-12; 9:11-17

Abraham – Camel – Genesis 12:1-7:13:2-18; 18:1

Sarah – Baby – Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7

Isaac – Ram – Genesis 22:1-14

Jacob – Ladder – Genesis 27:41-28:22

Joseph – Multicolored Coat – Genesis 37:1-36

Moses – Burning Bush – Exodus 3:1-10

Miriam – Tambourine – Exodus 15:19-21

Samuel – Lamp – 1 Samuel 3:1-21

Jesse – Branch – Isaiah 11:1

David – Harp – 1 Samuel 16:14-23

Solomon – Crown – 1 Kings 3:3-28

Isaiah – Throne – Isaiah 6:1-8

Jeremiah – Tablets of Law – Jeremiah 31:31-34

Angels – Angel – Hebrews 1:1-14

Malachi – Trumpet – Malachi 3:1-4

Zechariah and Elizabeth – Baby - Luke 1:39-45

Mary – Angel – Luke 1:29-35

John the Baptist – River – Matthew 3:1-6

Joseph of Nazareth – Hammer/Saw – Matthew 1:18-25

Bethlehem – Star – Matthew 2:1-12

Birth of Christ – Crib – Luke 2:1-7