Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Preparing for the Lord

During Advent, Scriptures speak about new beginnings.

In the Gospel according to Mark, John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness proclaiming repentance:  prepare the way for the Lord.  That is the mission.  That’s what Advent is all about: preparing for Christ by reorienting our lives.

Three biblical personalities -- Isaiah, John the Baptizer, and the Virgin Mary -- in their experience of God delivered a special message.

Isaiah spoke about a future Messiah, a liberator, a redeemer, a savior for us.

John the Baptizer pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God.  The lamb of course references the Hebrew Passover meal, the Seder that Jews celebrate to this very day.  Jesus is the Lamb who through his own bloody death and glorious resurrection creates a future for us, transforming ourselves into a new heavenly reality.  

And the Virgin Mary is the living temple of God, the ark of the Hebrew covenant, because she carried within herself the presence of God.

Joseph and Child
The Word of God also references a fourth biblical personality—Joseph—who appears ever so briefly in Advent, Joseph who had a dream in which the angel said: “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. “

As I thought about Joseph’s dream, I wondered what couples dream for their child.   

The first dreams are usually for a safe birth, a healthy child.  And then parents may dream that their son or daughter will excel in sports, master the sciences, distinguish themselves in the arts, music or literature.  

But along the way, dreams may change very quickly.   

Where they once dreamt about the Nobel Prize, Mom and Dad may now settle for their child passing courses in biology or math or literature.   

Their dream of a World Series baseball champion may be forgotten when they wait and hope that their child will recover from an illness or an auto accident.   

Their dream of a Bill Gates-like genius may all but disappear when they pray that their child will cope with an addiction of one kind or another.

I think of the dreams of so many people.   Sometimes disappointments, so-called “bad luck” or tragedy may even change our own dreams.   

But as Joseph learned from his dreams, the most important things we can dream for our loved ones are these:

that they always will know that we love them dearly,
that we accept them unconditionally for who they are,
that we are always ready to forgive them their so-called “peccadilloes”
(as I hope they are ready to forgive ours),
and that we are always praying that God will grace them with his gifts..

Like Joseph, let us pray for the grace to see God’s presence in all things, especially ordinary things; to do things as best we can; to accept people as a gift from God even if they’re not quite the gift we hoped for; and to be a source of affirmation and support.      

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