From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
December 20 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
Fear has enveloped the world as we confront a pandemic we don’t fully understand and can feel powerless to control. We are reminded in this time that we are not in control. During this final week of Advent though, we are reminded that God can and does overcome any evil if we but look to Him. Humility calls us to recognize that all we have comes from God and to trust in His will and Providence. God says to us, “Do not be afraid!”
This week in the Annunciation gospel we hear, “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God.” This is the most frequently repeated phrase in the bible – both the Old Testament and the New Testament – “do not be afraid!” With the gift of His very own son, God replaced fear with hope. It is the beginning of the most resounding statement of ‘do not be afraid, for I will have victory over death!’ God reassures us in both Word and action of his love for us and the hope which is ours. It is up to us though, to accept God’s will and trust in Him. God waits patiently for our reply, as He waited for Mary’s. She doesn’t understand and was greatly troubled (fearful). As the angel Gabriel awaits Mary’s response, he reassures here, “Do not be afraid.” Mary trusts in God though, and embraces His will as she says “behold I am the handmaid of the Lord.” The word behold means witness the power of God. Mary’s yes ushers in man’s renewed participation in God’s plan, replacing the fear of sin and death with the hope of Jesus. God says to us “do not be afraid” and patiently waits for us to say “Behold, let your will be done through me” by trusting and embracing His Plan as Mary did, even in the face of great fear and uncertainty.
As Vincentians, we are confronted daily by people suffering and in fear. They look to us for answers we may not have. Mary set the model of humility, trust and acceptance for all of us. She did not lack for suffering but even greater than her suffering was her trust and belief. As our Patroness for the Society, she gives us courage to follow her example. Through prayer and discernment we seek God’s will in all situations, for both ourselves and those we minister to. Do we confront uncertainly with humility and patience? Do we trust in God’s providence and care for us to provide answers that we need? Do we reassure others saying “do not be afraid?” Do we sing the goodness of the Lord and witness to His power and glory?
Father, thank you for your Son! Thank you for hope! Thank you for patience! Thank you for love! Thank you for replacing fear in my life with trust in your will! Grace me with the reassurance of your presence in my life that I may make that presence evident to others that they may see hope. Help me to embrace your will for my life and the lives of those you bring before me that I may always do your will and that I might bring the reassurance others need to not be afraid! Allow me to proclaim “BEHOLD, let it be done to me according to your will!” I pray all of this in your Son’s name. Amen