Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church

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Advent 2019

In this month of December, it is easy to lose sight of the reason for the season amidst the shopping, activities and seasonal gatherings that fill our lives. Rather than being distracted by these things or totally abandoning the spirit of the seasons of Advent and Christmas, good stewardship of our time and attention might suggest a different approach: focus on the great love of God which we celebrate in Christ's incarnation, and make a commitment to share this love throughout this month. Ironically, we may find our call to be loving, forgiving and compassionate more challenging at this time of the year than at any other. People around us may try our patience and our already-busy pace may be pushed to the limit. It may seem difficult to believe that Jesus was born into our human state, with all of the evidence of just how unloving humans can be! And yet, God does love us! More than we can imagine. 

Throughout Advent, especially from December 17 until Christmas, we sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Emmanuel, which means “God is with us,” is a particularly powerful title for Christ. When we call Jesus “Emmanuel” we are making a statement of deep faith and enduring hope. If God is with us, there is nothing to fear in life or death. If God is with us, we can trust that all will be well, regardless of the difficulties of the present moment. If God is with us, we can mirror God’s lavish giving by giving of ourselves and our resources, and know that in doing so, we help others to see that God is with them. In sharing love with the people around us, particularly when it is difficult to do so, we will make the incarnation known. This may just be the best gift we could give now, or at any time of the year!

Like Mary, we wait...

We often reflect on Mary’s “fiat,” her “yes” in accepting her role in God’s plan. It is good for us to do so, since each of us is also called to accept our role in bearing the love of God in the world. Mary could have said could have said no to the message of the angel. Rather than “let it be done to me according to your will,” Mary could have said, “Me? Are you kidding?” and looked the other way.

There is more to Mary’s story, however. Mary was faith-filled and faithful. Like generations of Jewish people  who had gone before her, she longed for the coming of the Messiah, the one who would establish God’s reign, bringing justice, mercy, love, and peace.

She waited, yearning for God’s great goodness to be known. Her acceptance of God’s will did not simply happen.  She was so anxious for this that she had prepared  her heart for whatever God might ask of her, ready to do her part. Not only was Mary full of grace, she perceived God’s grace within her and lived accordingly. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is quoted as saying, “Be prepared to meet your grace in the daily circumstances of your life.” What grace do you perceive in your life at this time? Do you notice the small blessings, precious moments, or strength in difficult times? How might God be speaking to you through these gifts?

Mary teaches us to hold on to the hope we have in God’s love and to be ready to do our part, as followers of her Son, Jesus. There may be moments when our response to the promptings of our hearts are less about openness to the call and will of God and more like “Surely, Lord, you can’t ask me to {fill in the blank}!”

This Advent and Christmas, consider this: if each of us commits to growing in God’s love and stretching ourselves to embrace stewardship as a way of life in the coming year, what a difference it would make in our world! Saying “yes” will touch lives and hearts beyond what we might imagine. Saying “no” would simply be selfish. May we follow the model of our mother, Mary, and say, “May it be done to me according  to your word.”

Text and graphic: Catholic Life and Faith 2019 (Leisa Anslinger) Used with permission.