Fourth Sunday of Advent, Reflecting on Surrender The feeling of being in control plays a major role in our experience of satisfaction or discontent, of joy or sadness. In Philippians, Paul reminds us how God surrendered absolute control of divinity to become vulnerable and enter into our messy world as one of us. To celebrate God as Emmanuel, God with us, is a radical pronouncement of God’s love for us and a letting go of control, which is required to risk profound love. As we celebrate the “already, not yet” of Christ’s total surrender of control for us, may we reflect on where we stand in our baptism vow to follow the humility of God. Philippians 2:6

Monday, Examining Conscience Like the Corinthians, we might use our time to degrade or judge others, often with the unconscious aim of making ourselves feel or look superior. The penitential act during the celebration of the Eucharist, when we “prepare to celebrate these mysteries” by acknowledging our sinfulness, makes many uncomfortable. However, it is a ritual deserving of exaltation because it’s the communal embodiment of the truth Paul addresses here: We’re all imperfect sinners, so we need repentance and reconciliation. May this Advent be a time when we examine our consciences and acknowledge our failings so we can celebrate as a community the great gift of God’s mercy and forgiveness. 1 Corinthians 4:5

Tuesday, United in Baptism, Faith Many wouldn’t immediately identify God as the one to whom they belong. Rather, nationality, religious tradition, ethnic heritage, and racial identity—among other categories and characteristics—might come to mind. But at the core of our faith tradition, we, as Christians, profess that we belong to God. Sisters and brothers in Christ, sons and daughters of God, are united in our shared baptism and faith. Often we let other identity markers and differences—real and perceived—get in the way of our communion. As we prepare to celebrate the coining of our brother Jesus Christ this Advent, may we be more mindful of the relationships we have as children of God and sisters and brothers to one another. Jeremiah 30:22

Wednesday, Our Place in Creation We often presume God only cares about people. To be sure, Christian tradition tells us we’re the only creatures made in God’s image and likeness. But the same tradition also tells us we’re one part of a diverse community and that we’ve been given the responsibility to care for all creation. During these days of anticipation, may we step back and see with new eyes our true place within the family of creation. Consider how other creatures, which often do a better job of caring for one another and us than we do for them, can help teach us how to improve our relationships within this cosmic community. The significance of the Incarnation, of God entering into creation as one of us, is cause for the entirety of creation to rejoice. Job 12:7

Thursday, The Wonder and Glory The Bible offers imagery of the origin of life used by prophets and psalmists to illustrate the intimacy of God’s relationship with us. Like life and birth, the mystery of God’s closeness, knowledge, and love for us can leave us in a place of awe and wonder.

Let’s take the occasion of the coming birth of our Lord as an opportunity to join our voices with the psalmist and open our eyes to the wonder and glory of our very being. Indeed, God not only formed us, but God loved us into existence. May our prayer and outlook be moved to gratitude and awe at this mystery in our lives and in the lives of all we meet. Psalm 139:13

Friday, God’s Choice Whereas God could have remained in a state of absolute omnipotence, unaffected by change or finality, we profess that, in the Incarnation, God chose to become humble and enter into solidarity with us. Inevitably, that meant dying. The control that God gave up is what many spend their lives seeking. We’re discontented from the reality of our existence and seek to be more than, or other than, the person God created. This is partially motivated by our fear of death. As we celebrate the “already, not yet” of Christ’s coming, we’re reminded that death is a natural part of the life God shared with us. May we strive to be more comfortable with who we are, even accepting our eventual death, just as Christ did. Philippians 2:8

Saturday, God’s Caring Nature The Scripture passage conveys a glorious image for God—a mother comforting her child! Though we may never fully understand God, we’re always in relationship with God. Through the prophet Isaiah, God expresses a tender truth that he loves and cares for us like a doting mother. While there are certainly bad or absent mothers, just as there are bad or absent fathers, God’s ability to care about and for us exceeds even the best of human parents. As we approach Christmas, remember that unconditional love led to God entering the world as one of us to be in relationship with us through Christ Jesus (John 3:16). Isaiah 66:13

© Copyright Catholic Update, Celebrating Advent God is With Us Already…and Not Yet, by Fr. Daniel P. Horan, OFM, permission to publish.