Third Sunday of Advent, Rejoicing in God The Christmas story begins under the shadow of some unexpected and seemingly unpleasant circumstances. Fear, anger, and a loss for words would be understandable responses from a young woman in a situation similar to that of Mary of Nazareth. But Mary does something unexpected: she “rejoices in God!” Mary—full of grace—says yes to God. In her prayer, the Magnificat (song of praise), Mary shows us the reasons to follow in her footsteps. May we reflect with Mary in her famous song of praise to God for the gift of the Incarnation and, through her intercession, may we also ready ourselves to celebrate Christ’s coming! Luke 1:46-47

Monday, Responding with Grace The Greek word used in Luke’s Gospel for what is often translated as lowly (tapeinosis) has less to do with humility than humiliation. God finds favor with Mary’s humiliation, or how she responds to her lowly state: a teenage mother betrothed to a man who is not the father of her child. Mary’s prayerful perspective allows her to see that God’s grace is already present in and around her and in the world—a realization that leads to discovery more than acquiring favor. May we follow Mary’s example and learn how to respond full of grace to the various circumstances we encounter, even those we unfortunately find humiliating. Luke 1:48

Tuesday, Peace Amid Chaos Despite the Christian call to be actively waiting, our society lives out the lyrics of the classic song “Silver Bells” with plenty of “city sidewalks, busy sidewalks” during Advent. It can be hard to recognize the peace that the world can’t give (see John 14:27) when our schedules and minds are filled with obligations and stress, Psalm 46 (in the New Revised Standard Version) reminds us God is “in the midst of the city.” This Advent, let’s be more attentive to the presence of God around us, especially when it seems God is distant or we’re distracted. We also may find solace in the closing line of “Silver Bells” that “soon it will be Christmas Day.” Psalm 46:5

Wednesday, Wake-up Time The symbol of sleep seems appropriate when considering our faith during Advent. Rather than avoid the challenges of Christian living, like people who are drawn to crawl back into bed on a cold and rainy morning, we’re encouraged to trust in what has been revealed to us. Like the Romans, we’re closer to the day of salvation than we were at first acceptance of the faith, but it’s still the time of “not yet.” We have to decide whether we’ll wake from sleep and live the gospel or pull the covers back up and return to slumber. As Christmas draws near, let this be our time to wake up. Romans 13:11

Thursday, Staying by God How often do we reflect on the immensity of God’s love for us? Have you ever had a child in your care go missing or been told a loved one was injured? Such a parallel can help us appreciate God’s love that already exists for us. In the message Ezekiel relays to God, we’re the lost and hidden children who have escaped from sight, when all God wants is for us to be close and safe, for us to return his love, and be shepherded rightly instead of following our selfish desires. This Advent, may we recognize the love God already has for us as we await the complete fulfillment of salvation yet to come. Ezekiel 34:16

Friday, Bookends of a Divine Act Many confuse redemption with salvation. Think of salvation as the other side of a singular coin that represents God’s divine will to create and save. To us, God’s act of creation seems distinct from God’s desire for all to be saved (see 1 Timothy 2:4). However, for God, creation and salvation are two bookends of the same divine act. As the advent of our Savior approaches, may we join Isaiah in giving thanks that “God indeed is our salvation….” God created everything out of love, so also God loves everything back to God’s own self in Christ. Isaiah 12:2

Saturday, Be Still, Know In today’s hectic world, it has become harder to carve out moments of time where we’re simply still. We’re told to hurry and rush, get from one activity to the next. The truth is, we can’t know God unless we’re still and we make God a priority. Saint Augustine is credited with saying that “God is the one who is closer to us than we are to ourselves,” a comforting fact. What is discomforting is the reality that often we’re oblivious to God’s presence because we’re neither still nor quiet in mind or body. May we prioritize stillness, silence, and time alone with God in order to recognize and get to know Emmanuel, God who is always with us. Psalm 46:10

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