In her Magnificat, Mary rejoices in the great things God is accomplishing through her. In the Gospel for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent, she praises God for being pregnant with Jesus, God’s good news to the poor. My wife and I recently had our own “Magnificat” experience. A company that had terminated her, offered her job back. The management apologized for unjustly firing her. God still lifts up the lowly. How does God lift you up?
Zephaniah comforts his discouraged people with words of joy in the Reading for Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent. “Shout for joy, O Israel … The LORD, your God, is in your midst” (Zephaniah 3: 14, 16). Zephaniah reassures them of God’s faithful love no matter what happens. I get discouraged too. Life’s issues can overwhelm. Confident God is with me, I am better able to cope. God is with you too! What are you afraid of ?
Gabriel could tell Mary was scared. In the story of the Annunciation in the Gospel for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent, the angel tells Mary to not be afraid for she has “found favor with God” (Luke 1: 30). In the First Reading, David is afraid to ask God for a sign. God does anyway. David forgot his favor with the Lord. Mary did not. Upon the announcement that she will conceive the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit, she accepts God’s will. Fear causes spiritual amnesia. Fear weakens the memory of God’s love and favor for each of us. You have found favor with God. Do you remember?
“For you are my hope, O LORD” (Psalm 71: 5) prays the psalmist in the readings for Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent. The other readings tell the stories of two barren women who hoped for children: Hannah, mother of Sampson and Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. With God all things are possible. Where do you place your hope?
With these words from the Gospel for Friday of the Third Week of Advent, Jesus contrasts himself with John the Baptist. Jesus compliments John’s testimony. Yet Jesus says his testimony is greater. His works testify that the Father has sent him. Jesus’ words startle me. John the Baptist lost his life preaching a message of repentance. Doesn’t he deserve more credit. That’s the point. Jesus knows it’s not about the credit we receive for our good works. It’s about giving witness to the love of God. If our works do not glorify God, they are not good works at all. What’s your motivation?
Through Isaiah, God speaks tenderly to the people in the First Reading for Thursday of the Third Week in Advent. In exile far from Jerusalem, they felt abandoned. God reassures them that his love is everlasting. Today’s unemployed feel alone and abandoned. Family and friends can reassure them with their loving and supportive presence. That’s what God does. Advent expectation of the coming of Jesus reassures us that we are not alone. God is with us. Can you believe it!
In the First Reading for the Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Isaiah reminds a destitute people of the power of God. God created the heavens and the earth. God can command the earth to open, salvation to bud forth, and justice to spring up. God can accomplish anything. They must have courage and trust in the Lord. In our hearing, God is with us. Jesus has sprung forth from Mary’s womb. He has come to save us. The Gospel says that with Jesus the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the poor get good news. God’s power is at work in Jesus. Do you trust it?
In the Gospel for the Memorial of St. Lucy, Jesus tells the story of two sons. One refused to work in his father’s vineyard, but later changed his mind. The other promised but never did. When Jesus asked the crowd “Which of the two did his father’s will?” (Matthew 28: ), they said the first son. I can relate to this story. I am reluctant to do what God wants. I think I am unworthy. I am afraid. I can’t. I’ll fail. It isn’t worth it. I often come around and give what God wants a try. What do you think God wants?
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior” (Luke 1: 46-47). So Mary responds to Elizabeth’s greeting, “Blessed are you among women” (Luke 1: 42). The Gospel for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe recounts the story of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. They both attribute their pregnancies to the work of God’s Holy Spirit. My spirit has rejoiced in God my savior. I have felt incredibly overwhelmed by God’s gracious love. The Holy Spirit inspires in me a heartfelt prayer of gratitude and joy. In what does your spirit rejoice?
Isaiah exhorts the people to follow God’s way, not their own. He says in the First Reading for Friday of the Second Week of Advent that God looks out for them. Blessed are they who follow God’s commandments. I sometimes ignore what God wants. I want to do things my way. I find it hard to relinquish control. Jesus’ example helps me. “Thy will be done” he taught us to pray. Whose example are you following?