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Advent: Information or Faith

 Mary Ann Figlino, CSJ

Graphic of an Advent wreath with three of the candles lit.

Advent introduces us to Luke’s writing about Zechariah, an angel and Mary. Going between the lines we learn how these three characters reacted to the news of the Messiah’s birth.

In Zechariah’s biography we meet a high priest, learned in the law. Zechariah was chosen to enter the temple sanctuary’s inner sanctum, the holy of holies. This honor is a once in a lifetime privilege. While in this holy place, he heard Gabriel’s promise of a son who will be “great in the sight of the Lord, you will have joy and gladness.” “John will prepare the people for the Lord,” (Lk 1:14).

Zechariah’s reaction surprises us…he want’s proof and is looking for more information. This coming from a priest steeped in Jewish literature and whose life is dedicated to worship!

Gabriel’s reaction is stellar! His profile is awesome, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you this good news,” (Lk 1:19). How many times do we read that these holy messengers have to show their pedigree?

Mary’s background, we meet a young woman from a backwater village, Nazareth. 1st century society left her without formal education but rather trained in homemaking and child rearing where the Jewish faith would be passed on. Yet, Mary’s reaction to this news left her “…pondering what sort of greeting this might be,” (Lk 1:29). Rather than wanting proof, Mary’s faith led her to believe, and be willing to risk an unsettling future. Mary’s decision changed the course of history in her world and for generations of people yet unborn.

Our faith, like Mary’s, comes in all sizes. Some may title their faith as weak, in process, or having been tried and found to be stronger and feel more familiar.

Where do these Biblical characters take us during this Advent season? Are we unaware, or asleep while missing the many times in our daily lives where angels appear to us through the people in our lives, or the events that happen during the day? Is it a lack of information or the need of proof or a sign that keep us from some amazing possibilities?

Our faith, like Mary’s, comes in all sizes. Some may title their faith as weak, in process, or having been tried and found to be stronger and feel more familiar. Rather than Gabriel with his resume, we might experience a messenger who may not fit our expectations or who may seem to be the least likely to be our teacher. Stay alert, surprises await during this season!

Graphic of hands folded in prayer.

Loving God, sometimes I’m Zechariah in my wobbly reaction to life. Gabriel, when I am comfortable in my standing with you. Mary, when I depend on my faith and am willing to go where it leads me.

I am grateful. Amen.  

Category: Reflections

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The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.


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