Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent, but it is also Christmas Eve. This year Advent is the shortest it can be. Because of this, we hear a lot of the Christmas story in one day. Our Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Advent presents the annunciation to Mary of God’s wish for her to be the mother of His Son and her saying, “be it done unto me according to your will.” The Gospel for the vigil Mass presents Joseph being able to discern God’s will and accept Mary as his wife, even though her child was not his. And, finally, the Mass in the evening presents the birth of Christ, in addition to the shepherds listening to the angels, which ultimately led them to go and adore the Christ child.
What strikes me in all of these stories is that the protagonists (Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds) were able to hear what God wanted of them and do it, despite the incredibility of what was being shared. Have a baby with no physical contact with a man? Believe that your betrothed was faithful to you, despite the fact that she was pregnant? Simple shepherds being told about the birth of the Messiah??
I wonder if I would be able to discern God’s will if something that extraordinary were being asked of me? Maybe it depends on how good I am at hearing God calling me in the little things of daily life. I suspect that Mary and Joseph spent quiet time each day in the Lord’s presence. They were used to hearing God’s voice. And the shepherds had a lot of quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle of life, out in the fields watching over the sheep. I imagine Mary and Joseph heard and responded to God’s voice in the needs of those around them, perhaps spending time being with and listening to those who were isolated and lonely. Didn’t Mary drop everything and run to help an older cousin who was pregnant?
These thoughts call me to make sure I am listening for God’s voice coming to me, each day, as I move though life. Then I will be prepared to hear, if an extraordinary call comes to me. Living in this way makes the coming of Christ active and real in our lives.
May you have a blessed celebration of our Savior’s birth.
Church sign of the week: The person who is faithful in very small matters is also faithful in great ones.