A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘birth of Jesus

Brass Advent ring

Our Advent ring and candles

Walking through Advent, we know what we’re waiting for: the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

But imagine God’s people in the days before Jesus came to live among us—and even after that. They were waiting for the Messiah, but the deliverer they had in mind was very different from Jesus.

The people expected to be liberated from Roman rule, and after they witnessed the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, they wanted to “take him by force to make him king” (John 6:15*).

Yet Jesus’ words at the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5 to 7) and the words of the prophet Isaiah that he read in the temple (Luke 4:18) revealed the kind of deliverer and King he would be:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

and recovering of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

We know that “God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). We know that Jesus came as a baby, born to die to deliver us from our sins. “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion,” as the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:16.

As we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus, I pray that we would think of the Christmas story not only as a familiar one, but also as a wonderful and awesome gift from God that we should anticipate receiving.

You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not fail;

you who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for everlasting joy and mercy.

You who fear the Lord, love him, and your hearts will be made radiant.

~ Sirach 2:8-9

(*Scripture quotes and reference taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

The past few weeks have been packed with activity. Besides the regular routine, I took my son to a couple of appointments and a confirmation class, wrapped Christmas presents, stocked up on household staples for the holidays, and prepared for a music recital and a taekwon-do test. It’s been busy rather than stressful.

On Friday, I was feeling proud of myself for everything I’d accomplished: vacuuming, floor cleaning and snow shovelling, on top of my everyday chores. I was patting myself on the back…and then I remembered that God created light on the first day (see Genesis 1). It was a healthy dose of perspective!

The ridiculous thing is that I didn’t need to get all those things done that day. And I could have asked for more help from my son, even if it might have been given reluctantly.

Today, as I braved the crowds to get groceries and run a couple of errands, I needed this reminder once more:

Learn to let others do their share of the work. Things may be done less well, but you will have more peace of soul and health of body. And what temporal interest should we not sacrifice in order to gain these blessings?

~ St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, quoted in “Celebrate November 2013,” Catholic Digest

How often do we insist on wrapping Christmas presents and sending out cards ourselves because no one will do these tasks the same way we do? Or how about folding the laundry, loading the dishwasher or cooking meals? Do we wear ourselves out so chores are done “the right way,” or do we allow other people to bless us with their help?

If we still hesitate to share the load, we may need another reminder not to run ourselves ragged at the expense of our physical and spiritual health, this time from Sirach 30:15-16*:

Health and soundness are better than all gold,

and a robust body than countless riches.

There is no wealth better than health of body,

and there is no gladness above joy of heart.

As we carry out our last-minute chores, cleaning and Christmas preparations, may we acknowledge that our celebration need not be perfect—it needs to be focussed on celebrating our Saviour’s birth and on sharing God’s love with our loved ones, friends and neighbours. And may we carry with us into the year ahead the knowledge that we can accept others’ help.

Speaking of the new year, I’m taking a short break from this blog to spend more time with my family over the holidays, but I’ll be back on January 2nd!

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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