The Gospel reading for the fourth Sunday of Advent focuses on Joseph and his response to God’s invitation for him and his family. Joseph had made the decision that he would divorce Mary quietly so as not to expose her to shame. A decision, he felt, was respectful of Mary and their situation, however, God invited them to experience a different plan. Through Joseph’s faith and trust in God, he was able to respond with courage and an open heart to God’s invitation which did not promise to be easy. How many of us can relate to those experiences in our own lives where we felt the plan we had for our lives was the “right thing” for us at that time and then come to find God had another, even better plan for us?
I can think of multiple experiences in my own life where I found that when I truly felt I was responding to God’s plan for me I began questioning why it was so challenging. Wondering where God was in the midst of those struggles. Several years ago I came across this quote, “Faith makes things possible, not easy” and it has become my life’s mantra because it is so true. I found that often times the path God invites us to does not promise to be easy, yet it is through the challenges and uncertainty that growth and new life is possible. We are invited to move beyond our comfort zones and experience something new. Reflecting on the life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph deepens my trust in God. They were faced with great challenges and suffering, yet remained faithful and in the end new life was able to be born. As it says in today’s Gospel from Matthew, “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.”
How can you open yourself to the mystery of God working in your life?
It’s hard to believe that the third week of Advent is upon us. It’s been quite challenging to remain focused on the present moment while my to-do list has not gotten any shorter and the days have not gotten any longer. However, during this time of expectant waiting, I find hope and renewed focus as we enter into the third week of Advent and celebrate the joyful anticipation of the Lord’s coming being near! This week is a time to rejoice and also remain steadfast and patient. As the second reading from James in this Sunday’s Gospel says, “Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.”
Yesterday, the 3 RMC’s and I shared in a day of reflection that focused on “deep listening” to God through several mindfulness practices. It was nice to be able to take a step aside from all the distractions and busyness of preparing for the celebration of Christmas and to just “be” with God and listen to what God might be saying to us in the quiet. Taking the time to listen deeply requires great patience but also joyful anticipation that God will respond to us. During this time, I experienced great joy as we took a meditative walk through the park. As we embarked, a brisk wind was blowing and a cluster of leaves rustled across our path as if to joyfully greet us on our journey. The further we walked, the calmer the wind became and a deep quiet and sense of peace surrounded us. I am grateful for sharing in the quiet together with our volunteers and feel re-centered and open to what these next two weeks of Advent may reveal to me.
Where have you found joy this Advent season?
How might you share that joy with others?
As we enter into the second week of Advent, and continue to prepare our minds and hearts for Jesus’ coming, this Sunday’s readings speak to us of harmony, welcome and preparation. Isaiah paints a beautiful picture of a world where justice and faithfulness abound, where great kinship exists among the creatures of the land. This is a challenging reminder and invitation for all of us to continue to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones and look to form connections with those we may not otherwise.
The second reading taken from Romans, challenges us to “think in harmony with one another” so that with “one voice we may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It can be easy to remain in the same place, interacting with like-minded people, and remain comfortable, but the readings this week are asking more of us. They are encouraging us to be welcoming, to “welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
The Gospel passage from Matthew takes this a step further to encourage us to stay active and “prepare the way of the Lord.” This preparation calls us to step out of our place of comfort, our routines of life we’ve grown accustom to and instead, to go out and be that welcoming presence to those we meet. It’s an invitation to form connections with all living things, to breakdown the walls of separation and begin to construct a world of harmony, peace, and justice for all. During this season of Advent, a period of expectant waiting and preparation for our Lord’s coming into the world, we can prepare to welcome Christ by first being a welcoming presence to those we encounter each day, whether through a smile, listening compassionately, or opening a door for another.
Questions for further reflection:
- As an RMC, how were you welcomed into your new community and work site?
- How can you be a welcoming presence to those you encounter each day?