Sunday, December 20, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent


Today, on this fourth Sunday of Advent, we enjoy hearing the familiar story of the Annunciation, when God sends the angel Gabriel to ask Mary to be the Mother of God.  As I prayed this morning, I was struck by the thought how could it possibly be the fourth Sunday of Advent already?  Where did the time go?  Advent felt like it flew by this year for me.

Today’s Gospel is a favorite of mine and I am always touched by Mary’s “Yes.”  A young woman, betrothed to Joseph, has an incredible experience when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her and asked her to be the mother of the Messiah.  When I watched the Mass on television this morning the singer sang the familiar song “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman.”

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death.  Amen.

Gentle woman, quiet light, morning star, so strong and bright, gentle Mother, peaceful dove, teach us wisdom; teach us love.

You were chosen by the Father; you were chosen for the Son.  You were chosen from all women and for woman, shining one.

Blessed are you among women, blest in turn all women, too.  Blessed they with peaceful spirits. Blessed they with gentle hearts.

I remember learning this song many years ago and always enjoyed singing it during the Advent season.  When it was sung this morning, I found myself singing along with it.  These words summarize for me in a special way who Mary is for me.  She was chosen and responded.

As we prepare for Christmas in five short days let us remember that we too are called and chosen and need to continually respond as Mary did.  May we have the courage and perseverance of Mary in all we do

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Gaudete Sunday


Our week begins with “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin.  It comes from the first word of the Entrance antiphon on Sunday.  The spirit of joy that begins this week comes from the words of Paul, “The Lord is near.”  This joyful spirit is marked by the third candle of our Advent wreath, which is rose colored, and the rose-colored vestments often used at the Eucharist.

We prepare this week by feeling hope and joy.  We move through this week feeling a part of the waiting world that rejoices because our longing has prepared us to believe the reign of God is close at hand.  And so, we consciously ask:  Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope which his presence will bestow.

Each morning this week, in that moment we are becoming accustomed to, we want to light a third inner candle.  Three candles, going from expectation, to longing, to joy.  They represent our inner preparation, or inner perspective.  In this world of “conflict and division,” “greed and lust for power,” we begin each day this week with a sense of liberating joy.  Perhaps we can pause, breathe deeply, and say, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

Each day this week, we will continue to go through our everyday life, but we will experience the difference our faith can bring to it.  We are confident that the grace we ask for will be given us.  We will encounter sin - in our own hearts and in our experience of the sin of the world.  We can pause in those moments, and feel the joy of the words, “You are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

We may experience the Light shining into the dark places of our lives and inviting us to experience God's mercy and healing.  Each night this week we want to pause in gratitude.  Whatever the day has brought, no matter how busy it has been, we can stop, before we fall asleep, to give thanks for a little more light, a little more freedom to walk by that light, in joy.

Our celebration of the coming of our Savior in history, is opening us up to experience his coming to us this year and preparing us to await his coming in Glory.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Come and visit your people. We await your coming.  Come, O Lord.