It seems contradictory to the stressors that we have placed on the season: buying the perfect gift, shedding the extra pounds put on by Christmas cookies, fearing what inappropriate thing grandma will say about us or our significant other (or lack there of...) this year. We get STRESSED at the holidays. But we should feel confident at Christmas because the overall message(s) are of hope, peace, joy, and love.
It's the 4th Sunday of Advent. And this year, the 4th week of Advent really only lasts a day. We kind of get a free-bee on Christmas this year. A few less days of repenting? A few days closer to feasting and rejoicing? I'll take it. And the readings for today carry this theme of confidence that I am talking about:
Micah in the first reading is sure of the Savior. Of his origin, of His ability to save. There is no doubt in his voice: "He shall stand firm and shepherd His flock..." That's right. Our Savior isn't going anywhere. He is here to save. Heh.
The psalm response: "Lord MAKE US turn to you...and we shall be saved." We don't even have to turn our own heads to see Him! God will do it for us if we ask and let Him!
And I personally love the reading from Hebrews that discusses the Will. Because although, it sounds really nice that God could "make us turn our heads" there is also an element to that that sounds domineering and not so fun. The reality is, we have our WILL and it was given to us for a reason. And in a beautiful way, the author of Hebrews tells us, it was Christ's Will to die for us so that we don't have to make our own offerings anymore. It is an exchange of our wills now. And isn't that really what Love is? Follow this with me for a second.
This (along with this theme of confidence) is something that my spiritual director and I have been speaking about the past few times we've met, and then I also heard this in my Theology course this semester: Our Intellect + Our Will is what defines or makes up Love.
If you think about it, it is true. What we know about a person, makes us love them. And when we know them so well, we can even predict what they might do! And it is our choice, our will to love them. Marriage, in a sense, is two people willing themselves to each other. Of their own free will. In love.
In the Gospel for today, we see a confident Mary who goes to get confirmation about her cousin being with child. Elizabeth praises Mary's confidence in the Lord: "Blessed are you who believed that what the Lord has spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." - Luke 1: 45
A couple of months ago, we began the year of faith. And I told myself I was going to focus on the gift of the Sacraments as well as my relationship with Mary. This Gospel passage today really helps me connect to Mary. What am I currently believing that the Lord has spoken to me? What am I confidently sharing with others about Him as she did?
And in terms of the sacraments in this year of faith, my spiritual director gave me this beautiful exercise that the Holy Father has suggested to the faithful: make a pilgrimage to the place of your baptism.
Each Christmas, we go to the Church where I was baptized- my grandmother's Church. The same church my parents, my cousin were married in. Same church where we celebrated my grandfather's and uncle's funeral Masses.
I went yesterday and spent a little time in prayer. I walked in and took a seat by the baptismal font. Who knows if it's the same one I was baptized in, but it was kind of cool to think about. I walked passed the altar and saw that a monstrance was all in its place, all ready for adoration! I love when I wander into places not knowing about Adoration and then Jesus shows up. He's so good to me like that.
I got to go to confession, too, at this Church which was a great way to experience two of the sacraments that I can receive regularly- Eucharist and Reconciliation- while meditating on my baptism. I highly recommend and encourage you readers to have an opportunity to do the same!
Place where the magic happened:
Oh, and another reason I am feeling super confident this Christmas...my cousin and I went to my grandmother's to take part in a nearly century-old tradition: pierogi making. And we didn't screw it up! The matriarch of the family may have even COMPLEMENTED us on our work. This is HUGE, people:
The master at work on the dough. Bowls are overrated.
Happy 4th Sunday of Advent aka the eve before Christmas eve this year! And Merry Christmas!