My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. — Luke 1:46-47
This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The readings can be found here. This is a very busy time of year for many of us and it is easy to get caught up in the pressures of daily life. For me, it is stressful as it is the busiest time of year at work. This tends to result in guilt of being away from my family, not to mention physical, mental and emotional fatigue.
I was pleased to find this week’s reflection comes from John Predmore, S.J. which helps put me at ease. You can read the full reflection here but set forth below is an excerpt:
In our daily prayer, we often look for God and we sit and wait and hope for a clear response. These two Advent sequences flip things around for David and Mary. Perhaps we have to toss things around in our prayer so that instead of directing our attention at God, we simply notice God directing attention at us. This shift in direction is crucial. When we let this happen, we let prayer be accomplished along God’s initiative. It is not that we search for God, it is that God has already found us and is seeking us. We have to notice that God is gazing upon us the way we marvel at the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree. God’s dwelling is already within us; we do not have to look on the outside anymore.
Some of us get uncomfortable when someone stares at us because we know we are desired in some way. What if we just showed up to prayer and realized God’s stare is riveted upon us because God warmly desires to be with us. We do not have to do anything but to let God come closer – something we both want. Even God’s most intense gaze is enough for us to handle because God’s parental care is communicated so thoroughly that we just receive what God extends to us.
Sometimes we do not want to show up to pray because events as not going so well. Though we try to be a loving person who follows the road of discipleship, we are left feeling beaten down by the tactics of others who tell us there’s something wrong with us. Others can make us feel miserable and we begin to diminish our self worth. These are the times when we avoid prayer at all costs because we figure God might not like our ways either, but these are especially the times that we have to sit before God in prayer – just to have God look upon us and heal us because of the many ways others have sinned against us and beaten us down. Allow God to be a loving parent to that part of you that is raw and unhealed and needs a blessing. Know that there is nothing wrong with you and that God just wants to bless you with love and grace. The gaze is gentle and tender and is a balm for all the world’s ills. God wants you to become strengthened by God’s compassion so that you may bring the gift of yourself to others – with warts and freckles, dimples and birthmarks. God finds it beautiful. We need to discover the beauty God sees within us.
In Advent, we find ourselves being blessed by God, similarly to the way Mary was. Within her grew the Christ-child, who would be given to others as a gift. Let the rest of this Advent be about receiving God’s breathtaking stare of every single graced moment of your day. Allow God to delight in you as you gracefully respond to God’s watchful eyes that glimmer and sparkle brighter than those Christmas tree lights. Know that you entrance God with you goodness, even in your struggles. God had promised to make his house within yours. God promised us Emmanuel – that God is with us. Now it is time to let him grow so he may delivered for the world’s salvation.