Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God; you will conceive and give birth to a Son, alleluia.
We enter the Advent season reflecting on the angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Imagine what it must have been like for Mary to receive this news.At the time, she was probably around 14 years old. It would have been mind-boggling for this poor, unmarried teenager to think that she would play a central part in God's mysterious plan of salvation. Full of grace, the young virgin responds in faith, even though the road ahead would be filled with uncertainty and trials. Sometimes things happen in our families that cause us to fear. To whom do we turn with those fears, doubts, and uncertainties? How can we better support one another in times of trouble?
Listen to the song “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant to reflect on Mary’s journey.] Lord, we come to you today hoping to find favor with you as you found with Mary. We bring to you our fears and all the uncertainties that the future holds. Help us to respond in faith like Mary did, and help us to grow in the virtue of hope as we prepare our hearts to welcome Christ anew this Advent season. Amen.
Andrew served Christ and loyally preached the Gospel; with his brother Peter, he laid down his life for God.
The Gospel of John tells us that Andrew introduced his brother Peter to Jesus. When bringing Peter to Jesus, Andrew would have never imagined how God would use Peter as his instrument to lead the Church as the first Pope! Similarly, we never know how God will use the people we bring to Jesus to build the kingdom of God. Andrew and Peter remind us that in big and small ways, our actions and in actions matter. How can each of us be more like St. Andrew?
Father in heaven, give us the courage to introduce our friends and family members toJesus. Give us the grace and wisdom to know when and how. Send people to us this Advent season, so they can meet Jesus and grow in their faith. St. Andrew, pray for us. Amen.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near, alleluia.
Children love playing “Hide and Seek.” It is a game filled with giggles and exclamations of joy when someone is found. At every time and in every place, God draws close to us. He calls us to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength (CCC 1). Imagine God’s delight when we seek him! Sometimes, daily life gets busy, and we don’t see the ways that God is present in our lives. How can we, as a family, be more intentional about finding the Lord this Advent?
Lord, help us to seek you this Advent season, and be near to us as we open our hearts and call on you. Help us rejoice in your presence today and always. Amen.
The law will go forth from Zion; the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Mt. Zion is a hill in Jerusalem. Zion is associated with Jerusalem that was established by King David as the capital of Israel (2 Sam 5:7). Zion is also associated with the Temple, the dwelling place of God’s divine presence. Zion is not only a tangible city; it is also a spiritual city that has been part of a long prophecy of the coming of the Messiah and God’s plan of salvation. Woven throughout the Book of Isaiah are prophecies about great things to come – Immanuel and Zion. When God’s plan comes to fulfillment at the end of time, Isaiah prophesies that Zion will be a new city where all the people of the world will know and worship God. Israel waited in hope for both these things: the coming of the Messiah and the new Zion. Today, we are blessed because we know Jesus, but Advent gives us a chance to hope together with the Israelites of old for the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan.
Jesus, come into our hearts and our home in a new way this Advent season. Help us to pause, to wait, and to place our hope in you. Protect and bless our family and our parish family and fill us with your everlasting joy. Amen.
God has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
The Gospel of Luke recounts the visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth. In this story, Mary prays what we now call the Magnificat, a hymn of praise that challenges us with God’s view of greatness versus the world’s view of greatness. (Luke 1:46-55). In the prayer, the mighty are cast down from their thrones, and the lowly are lifted up. The hungry are filled with good things, and the rich are sent away empty. It seems that those who have nothing have more room in their hearts to receive God. Perhaps that is why God did not announce the birth of our Savior to the rulers and religious leaders of the time, but to lowly shepherds. Sometimes, you may feel like you are not affluent, accomplished, or worthy enough to accomplish great things by the world’s standards. But in God’s eyes, you have everything you need to accomplish great things for him.
Lord, help our family do great things for you. Help us to reflect on our gifts, those great and those small, and inspire us to put them at your service especially during this Advent season. Help all that we do give you glory. Amen.
Out of Egypt I have called my Son; he will come to save his people.
Have you ever had to take an unexpected detour? Sometimes, detours can add a lot of time to a carefully planned road trip. After the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary had to take a significant detour in their lives to protect the baby Jesus from Herod. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt (Matthew 2:13). They stayed there for about three years until the death of Herod. Sometimes we have to take an unexpected detour in our lives as well. Today, we are reminded that God guides us in unique and special ways according to his purpose and according to his time. Are we flexible and open to God’s plan in our lives, even if things take an unexpected turn? How can we be more trusting for his plan for our lives?
Thank you, Lord, for your unconditional love. Help us to trust in your plans for each of us. Help us rest in the words you spoke to the prophet Jeremiah: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Amen.
Come to us, Lord, and may your presence be our peace; with hearts made perfect we shall rejoice in your companionship for ever.
The word peace appears over 400 times in the Bible. Biblical peace is more than just an absence of war; it represents the fullness of life including happiness, justice, and righteousness. During the pandemic, families have been spending more time together than ever, and sometimes peace in a household is fleeting. Noise, arguments, and distractions can cause a lot of tension in a family. However, God offers us a deep, inner peace that comes from being in right relationship with him.
Lord, help us find our peace in you. At times when we struggle to find that peace, may we remember these words from St. Teresa of Avila: “Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.” Amen.
[Share the sign of peace as a family.]