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Climbing back up the Hill

December 22, 2014

 

Blessed Advent!  So here we are.  Waiting.  Have we waited patiently, with humility and charity?  Have we done all we can to heed the prophet Malachi and ‘prepare the way of our Lord, make straight his paths’ (Mk 1:2).  Have we been sidetracked by our secular world, overcome by commercials, and sales, and Black Fridays?  When I was a kid, my friends and I would race down this hill, until our bodies were moving too fast for our feet, and we would lose our footing and pitch forward, rolling to the bottom, laughing hysterically, in the dirt.  These days, Christmas in the world feels just like that, doesn’t it?

We’re ALL caught up in it.  Your company Holiday party, and your spouses.  The kids’ Winter Concert(s) at school; or the grandkids.  Dinner parties at friends, or the random cocktail party invitations.  Shopping.  Shopping.  And more shopping.  It’s crazy.  It’s very hard to deal with.  We could resist, be a big grouch – and be eviscerated for all time.  Like those other guys, Scrooge, and Grinch.

Or, we can prepare during Advent, keeping our resolve buried safe within the confines of our heart.  “My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior,” sings Hannah, in the response.  And centuries later, she is echoed by Our Blessed Mother to mark The Visitation in her Magnificat.  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord (Lk 1:46).”  How does she do it?  This young, teenage, faithful girl.  How does she not succumb to rolling down the hill?

Yesterday, Sunday’s Gospel gave a good answer.  When asking the obvious – “how can this be, since I have no relations with a man (Lk 1:34),” the angel Gabriel informs her, prepares her, that it will be the Holy Spirit that shall overshadow her.  In our Rule of Life, we as Servites draw abiding inspiration from Mary, and so – like her – I should look to the Holy Spirit for answers.  The Gifts of Christmas are the gifts of God, the gifts of the Holy Spirit.   When we concentrate on these gifts, and less on the world around us, we are perfected and completed in virtue.  Wisdom to improve our loving knowledge of God; Understanding to perceive the mysteries of Faith; Counsel to judge according to the will of God; Fortitude to become faithful in perseverance; Knowledge to reveal the path to Heaven; Piety to teach us the meaning of divine filiation; and Fear of the Lord to increase our sense of respect in the presence of God.  Great gifts for Christmas, I think.

And, as we become stronger and more complete in these gifts, we develop fruits of the Holy Spirit, the first fruits that promise of eternal glory, and these are themselves gifts for others.  Like the Twelve Days of Christmas celebrations to come, we receive, develop, and pass on to others as gifts – charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.  We pass them on to others in our life: our family, our friends, our co-workers, to the merchants we do business with, to the strangers we interact with.  This is being Christ to one another.  This is what the Nativity scene haters are missing.  Christmas is our celebration of the coming of the Lord, the Messiah, yes, but also to teach us all how to prepare for when he comes again.

Merry Christmas!

Papa

 

Readings for December 22, 2014; Fourth Monday of Advent

1 Samuel 1:24-28.  Hannah gives thanks for the birth of Samuel.

Response – 1 Samuel 2: Cf. 1a. My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.

Luke 1:46-56.  The Mighty One has done great things for me.

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