Prepare the Way. Active Waiting. Joyful Anticipation. Prayerful Expectation. Come, Lord, Jesus. Hope. Darkness to Light. Wonder and Awe. Emmanuel: God With Us.
These are some of the “Advent Words” that we hear during December each year. It’s hard for me to believe that this is already the Fourth Sunday of Advent. I hope that your Advent Journey this year has been growth-filled and grace-filled for you. As we look back on the past three weeks, have we met the challenge Fr. Don gave us on the First Sunday of Advent? He reminded us to Prepare Positively, to Plan Purposefully, and to Participate Powerfully in the possibilities that God provides if we humbly enter into the Great Advent Journey. Did we? It’s not too late – there’s still time.
In today’s First Reading God tells David through Nathan, “I have been with you wherever you went…” He speaks these words to us, too. He is always with us, even when we are not aware of his presence. That’s the beauty of Jesus’ coming to dwell among us. God is so great that the whole world cannot contain him. Yet he says to each one of us, “N., I want to live with you; I want to live in your heart.” Emmanuel – God-with-us. Jesus didn’t come as a tourist to visit just for a little while. Instead, he left the gift of his presence in the Eucharist and sent his Spirit of Love to dwell among us. In today’s Gospel the angel assured Mary that the Lord was with her. Her trust in God’s word and promises allowed Divinity to enter into our humanity. Could anything be more intimate? Have we nourished a deep and personal relationship with Jesus during our Advent journey? The Lord IS with us. What a gift God has given us in the Incarnation. As Christmas draws near, just a few days away, let us follow Mary’s example and let Jesus find a home in our hearts. As we spend a little time in prayer each day, may we become more consciously aware of God’s presence within us in everything that we do. May we recognize the Emmanuel experience – not in the past, or even in the future, but this very day.
Pope Francis has designated the coming year as the Year of the Consecrated Life, as Sr. Toni explained in last week’s pastoral column. Each member of my religious community, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, has committed herself to pray for at least one parish in the Green Bay Diocese during this year. Every parish is included in someone’s prayer. On one of the bulletin boards in each of our churches there is a poster showing who is praying for us in the Quad Parishes. That is our gift to the Diocese and to you during this special year. Thank you for your friendship and support and love for so many years.
I believe that the wonder of Christmas is that the God who dwelt among us on earth 2000 years ago now dwells within us. May his love and presence fill you to overflowing and bring you the most joyous Christmas you have ever known. A BLESSED CHRISTMAS to you all!
- – – Sister Anne Marie