By Deacon Bob McCoy
For The Catholic Messenger
How fast the Advent season this year has flown. I am reminded of a note I wrote years ago in the front of a college text: “The hurrier I go the behinder I get!” I must have been concerned with preparing my way in the world.
Perhaps the time is right for us to reflect on our Advent journey this year. We began the season by looking inward, becoming more alert to the presence of God in our daily lives. We then entered into the season as a period of watchful waiting as we plan for the Christmas season.
Have you ever had well-laid plans suddenly seem to disappear like smoke from a candle? Or perhaps you have no definite plans on the horizon but, as the immediate future unfolds, the path you are following seems to take unexpected turns. If you are like most of us, you shrug your shoulders and try to cope in the best way you can or enjoy what happens. A list of plans could be quite extensive for each of us, especially as we become older.
We don’t make the connection between our plans and the plans the Lord has for us over the long haul of our life. We are not aware of that helping hand from our Creator to guide and support us in our new experiences or possible struggles. Most of us don’t like surprises, at home or on the job. As we age, surprises sometimes are harder to deal with as they may take us out of our comfort zone.
It is true that God is a God of surprises. An old saying notes, “He writes straight with crooked lines.” God surprised King David and caused him to give up his dream of building a great temple for God. More importantly, God promised he would dwell with the people forever. (2Sm7:8)
The wonderful story of the Annunciation is one of the most important surprises in the world. Mary is told that God has chosen her to be the mother of Jesus.
When Gabriel visited Mary to tell her she was chosen by God to be the mother of the Messiah, “Mary said: I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.” (Luke 1:38) What if Mary had said no to God? This is a frightening thought. But Mary said yes.
Through the greatness of Mary’s “yes” we can see that our relationship with God is emphasized by our free will. Giving her consent to God’s word, Mary becomes the mother of Jesus. Accepting the divine will for salvation wholeheartedly, without a single sin to restrain her, she gave herself entirely to the person and to the work of her Son. The decision made by Mary affects all of us.
The closing days of Advent offer each of us the opportunity to think about our big and small plans for life. Take time to think about how the Lord is leading you into following his plans for you. Paul tells us in Galatians that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Wow, sounds familiar!
Keep praying for the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your personal life and the life of the world. Think how these gifts can lead us into following the plans the Lord has for us.