The daily Advent reflections below are written by members of the parish Worship Commission. We thank you for taking time during this busy season to join us in prayer and reflection. May your season of preparation for Christmas be filled with the peace and light of Christ.
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God.”
We are all called by God in some way or another. We all have different vocations and paths in life. However, one vocation we are all called to is to spread the Good News of our Lord and Savior. Through our words and actions, we are all called to the mission of showing the world the love that God has for us. We celebrate the birth of Jesus because it is when God became fully human, as well as fully divine, and dwelt among us. To be Catholic is to model the example of Jesus. St. Louise de Marillac said “We must continually have before our eyes the exemplary life of Jesus Christ. We are called to imitate this life.” We must take the time today to reflect on how Jesus interacted with the poor and marginalized and to do the same to the least of our brothers and sisters.
“Joseph, son of David do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”(Matthew 1:20-21)
Today’s Gospel is the familiar Christmas story of Joseph finding out that his wife to-be, Mary, will soon bear a son. Although we know from the story that when he first found out this news, Joseph was searching for answers about what he should do so that Mary was not disgraced by having a son out of wedlock. In the end, he followed the angel’s instructions and put his faith in God that everything would be ok. The angel’s message was reassuring. What a wonderful reminder about the power of faith. When we find ourselves in an uncertain situation we may forget to ask God to be present. The next time you face something that feels uncomfortable, ask God to be with you. No need for all of the details. Pray for the strength and faith to put your trust in God’s plan and trust that things will work out ok.
“But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.’ Then Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’” (Luke 1:13, 18)
Today’s readings tell stories of people chosen by God, one, a wife of a man named Manoah, with no children, and one, a priest, named Zechariah. Each are told by an angel that they will have children when they thought that this was not possible. Interestingly, when it came right down to it, even though he and his wife were already in favor with God, they were following all of the commandments, and had been praying for children, Zechariah had less faith in God’s message than the wife in the Old Testament story. Zechariah responded to the angel asking for confirmation of how he would know, compared with the wife’s response of listening to the message, accepting it, and then going to tell her husband what would happen. No questions asked! What does this tell us about having faith to put confidence in God’s word? It is easy to fall into a routine and become complacent, even with faith, especially when everything seems to be going fine. When we pray, we forget that we still need to listen. When God speaks to us, saying, “Your prayers have been answered” will we ask for proof, like Zechariah did, or will we listen, rejoice, and spread the good news?
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
When Mary first hears of God’s word – that the Lord found favor with her – her first reaction is like one that many of us might have, of fear and uncertainty. What on earth does this mean? What will I be asked to do? Will I be able to do it? How will my life be changed? Then she hears that she, an unmarried woman, has been chosen to bear a son. Her next reaction is also perhaps familiar to us. What?! How is this even possible? But the important part of the story is that Mary says ‘yes’ to God’s request even though she likely had many unanswered questions.
During this busy season, take some quiet time to listen for God’s voice. We are all handmaids of the Lord and we are all necessary to carry His works. It is human nature to ask a few preliminary questions when we hear what God is saying to us, but are we willing and able to put trust in God and also say yes with confidence, like Mary did? Take some quiet time during the bustle of the holidays to listen to what God is saying. May you have the confidence to say ‘yes’ to what He is asking of you.
One element that the readings share today is a lot of joy. Elizabeth greets Mary and feels her child leap in her womb from the joy of their interaction. The unborn child knows that they are meeting someone who is responsible for so much happiness and love that will last for millennia. When I first read this I immediately thought of my closest friends who I am always overjoyed to see and I think about how much joy I bring them, but I don’t necessarily express the joy. Today I want to challenge myself and you to be intentional about expressing the joy when you see your dear friends, co-workers, family, and even strangers who cross our paths.
Today the Gospel is directly from Mary. She proclaims the power and forgiveness that God possesses and gives to us, and she talks about how she has been positively been rewarded for her faithfulness. We are only 2 days away from the day Jesus is born. These days are busy with preparing for visiting loved ones and buying the last items on Christmas wish lists, but today I challenge myself and you to reflect on how having faith in God has affected our lives and further reflect on how we maintain our faith.
We are just one day away from Christmas Eve! Our journey of preparation is nearly complete and in this last day (also the 4th Sunday) of Advent I challenge myself and you to reflect on the times we choose to have faith in Jesus. How do we empower ourselves to be prepared for our God at any time? The first reading describes how small the population of Bethlehem-Ephrathah is, but the King of Israel will be born among them nonetheless. We must always be prepared to serve our God just as the people of Bethlehem served God when Jesus was born. God guides us to love and to give of ourselves in countless ways, but if we are not prepared we might not be able to recognize those moments. Let us be like the inn keeper who let Mary in on the night Jesus was born and always be prepared to serve our Lord.
“For nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.””
As we near the end of the Advent Season, we are invited by God on a journey of wonder, anticipation, and a heart full of faith. Today’s Gospel shares the wondrous story of Mary learning of her miraculous conception of Jesus. However, we must remember that Mary greets both Gabriel’s presence, and this news, with hesitation. As she listens, she accepts this invitation to follow God and trust that she will be provided for. There are so many moments in our lives when God invites us to new experiences, new challenges, new relationships – and it’s natural for us to respond with hesitancy or worry. But God’s grace is nurturing, and will guide us through difficult experiences. Let us, like Mary, be open to God’s invitations, and keep the spirit of Christ alive in our hearts beyond Advent and the Christmas season.
Merry Christmas! We have spent the Advent Season preparing, and prepping, and waiting in anticipation for this day, this finale of so many to-do lists, shopping trips, and plans made with loved ones. If you’re like me, you’re always surprised at how quickly Christmas day arrives, and quickly disappears from our calendars. However, today’s Gospel reminds us we have rather reached “the beginning.” And in the beginning, was the Word, was God. Today we are reminded that all this preparation, and all this anticipation we have felt during Advent, has led us to just the start of our story. God has graced us with so many blessings, has spoken to us through prophets, has walked among us as Christ, and we can let that miraculous truth sink in for more than just a mere day. Today is the beginning, of another season of blessings, grace, and truth.