“At our own birth, the child of Christmas is born in us. He is our spiritual potential. But we have to let that birth find its fulfillment in a life that rises above the ordinary. You might say that we have to keep the promise of that child alive in us always. Christmas is a reminder that the child is always being born, always in the manger, and always being welcomed.” Thomas Moore in The Soul Of Christmas
Best wishes for a a blessed, merry and meaningful Christmas!
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In today's gospel from Luke, we read about the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel appears before Mary and gives her life changing news. She will bear the Son of God.
A striking line from this gospel reads: "But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be."
When we receive a message from God, it can be frightening. This is especially so when we think that what is told or asked just can't happen. By the end of this reading Mary responds "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
Could you respond the same way? I think many of us might respond "No." The availability of Mary to respond generously to God's call is what makes her such an important model of the Christian life.
How can you respond generously? Jesus is coming. We have waited all this time, and Christmas is almost here. What can you do to better listen to and respond to the call Jesus gives to you?
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“He will be called John." What, you are not naming your son Zechariah after his father?
“So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.” You, too, say he is to be called John? And now all of a sudden you can speak? “Then fear came upon all their neighbors, ‘What, then, will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.’” Surprise! Astonishment! The unexpected can happen. Things change.
What change has taken place in you during these Advent days? Remain open to seeing the unexpected. Be surprised and astonished! Live in hope!
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Mary’s Magnificat is not just a model of prayer but a map for a way of life. In the canticle Mary gives thanks to God, praises God, acknowledges that God is just, and appreciates God’s role not only in her own life but in all of human history. What a great way to live life!
Today, pray the Magnificat. Sing out your praise to God. Give thanks for all you have. Work for justice. And appreciate God’s hand in all of life - past, present and future.
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“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." In accepting the will of God through the words of the angel , Mary is transformed from one of the voiceless to a prophet, from one of low stature to a woman of action.. She goes quickly to take care of her older cousin, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant, and the presence of the Spirit of God is evident when they meet.
How are you being transformed this Advent? How has God been revealing your purpose? Where are you being led to act?
Be aware of the Spirit’s presence in your interactions today. For nothing is impossible for and with God.
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"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Mary, an insignificant young woman from an insignificant place discovers her significance in those words: God has looked on you with favor. And God looks on each one of us with favor, even in those times when it’s hard to see our own worth despite our gifts and riches. Imagine how much more difficult it can be for those whom we might consider “least favored” to see their value and worth?
See yourself as God sees you and look with favor upon yourself. Look with favor upon someone whom you do not often see favorably and see him or her how he or she is seen by God.
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Do not be afraid! Once again we hear the angel, Gabriel, speak these words, but this time the words are spoken to Zechariah, the husband of Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth . And this time the outcome is different. Fear leads to distrust and disbelief and Zechariah is left without the power of speech. Imagine what it would be like not to be able to share the incredible news with your spouse. - not to be able to tell all of your family and friends that your elderly wife who was thought barren will become pregnant with the one who will prepare others to accept the Messiah. Even if we were not struck dumb, we would probably be left speechless by the enormity of the Angel’s proclamation.
When has fear paralyzed you? When has an experience of God left you speechless? Tell your story to someone and notice how God is present in the spoken word.
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“This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.” Yet, not the typical story follows. Today we hear about the circumstances leading up to the birth of Jesus from Joseph’s perspective. When Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant, he is concerned about her reputation and decides to divorce her quietly. However, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him not to be afraid to take Mary into his home. Joseph”s response? He goes beyond the reasonable, follows the words he heard in the dark, takes a leap of faith and moves Mary into his home.
In what ways may God be calling you to listen to what you hear in the dark? Go beyond your usual response. Do not be afraid!
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“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...”. These are the joy-filled words of a young woman who recognizes that God is growing within her.
But Mary’s song also challenges us to examine our values and behaviors. How often do we see ourselves as “lowly savants”? In what ways are we “the proud”, “the mighty” and “the rich”?
As we begin the final stretch of Advent perhaps we can pause and ask how God has grown within us and how we have grown within God. What is God calling us to do differently as a result of that growth?
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In today’s first reading, we hear quite a bit about the prophet Elijah. The prophets of the Old Testament were very interesting people. Their message was not their own: it was God’s message. They were the instruments used to bring it to the attention of the people.
“How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!” Is it possible that our actions and witness today are prophetic? A prophet brings God’s message to a place where it is needed. The prophet can, through the ears of a people, open the eyes of a people.
Through activism, working toward social change, and meeting the basic needs of the most vulnerable, we can be prophetic. Today, consider how you can be a prophet in your own circumstances.
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