Christmas Questions and Advent Answers

Ours is an “ask” culture, bordering on “demand.”  As a people, our egocentrism and self-aggrandizement has greatly diminished our listening skills. Our digital tools are certainly contributing to the demise of the attention span, as evidenced in behaviors in public spaces (and, horrors, while driving). There is no immediate solution to the pollution of “the ask”, when that “ask” can produce an immediate response.

As Advent draws to a close we are in final preparation for the arrival of Our Savior, joyously awaiting our salvation.

But no…we  have more questions..

In the readings this week, and again on Sunday, Isaiah recounts God calling to Ahaz, inviting Ahaz to find the answers he seeks. Ahaz demurs, saying he won’t tempt The Lord.

Isaiah is not happy with that weak response:

Listen, O house of David!

Is it not enough for you to weary people,

must you also weary my God?

Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:

the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,

and shall name him Emmanuel.

In Matthew’s gospel, Joseph has learned of Mary’s conception, and is ready to simply divorce her, albeit quietly. The Lord has His plan:

Such was his intention when, behold,

the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,

“Joseph, son of David,

do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.

For it is through the Holy Spirit

that this child has been conceived in her.

She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,

because he will save his people from their sins.”

As Catholics, one of our responsibilities is to assist each other in the value of listening and waiting. We, hopefully, utilize these skills at mass. We, also hopefully, tap these discernment skills in our day to day encounters in our secular world. The gifting, the family gatherings, the festive mood of the season, all these have a place, but they do not replace our opportunity to reduce the “ask”, and spend time in thought, prayer, and thanksgiving for God’s ultimate gift: His only begotten Son.

Do not ask for small things.

As Christmas draws closer and we enter into the final days of our waiting and longing, listen, with the ear of your heart.

Great things await!

Michael Throop