18 December 2016
The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’
Then Isaiah said:
‘Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’
From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.
This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead.
Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ.
To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.
Emmanuel…..God is with us.
December is the most magical time of the year. It was for me as well. The one time in the year I really looked forward to. But in the last few years, somehow things changed. I look upon December with much apprehension. It’s the time of year when people start to take stock of what they have accomplished. If the goals set out in the beginning of the year have been met. I keep asking myself – so what huge accomplishments have I achieved this year? I struggle to find something.
The year has been extremely busy for me – I have been co-chairing several parish projects, in addition to my music ministry responsibilities. I said ‘Yes’, when Jesus called for us to be involved in parish work, having absolutely no previous experience in what we were called to do. It was very fulfilling at the onset, and we could really see His hand in our work, every step of the way. The results were nothing short of amazing. And I remember telling our committee (especially when we hit roadblocks), that Jesus would take care of it all. After all, it was His project. And He did.
However, by end October, the ‘work’ was beginning to take its toll. And I was getting frustrated. One project had barely completed, and the next committee was already setting up meetings for the next project in 2017. To add to this, our music ministry had a restructure and we were expected to ‘serve’ more. Everyone wanted a piece of me and I just wanted to just get to the end of our term as co-chairperson, complete the task, KPIs met.
Just last week, I had one of those ‘low’ days. I was feeling sorry for myself and a bit frustrated with a situation that had been bugging me for a while. I struggled to find reasons to thank Jesus.
I was suffering ‘the glass is half empty’ syndrome. I found myself asking Jesus, “So I have done all these things for you, what am I getting in return??” I was getting impatient and frustrated with Him.
Recently, I was at a weekday mass. And the priest said “Emmanuel, God is with us!” That day, these words suddenly hit me. God is indeed with me. Except that, having been caught up in the goind, I have failed to see Him present in my daily life. I have closed my heart to being loved by Jesus. How quickly I have forgotten to see how He had been with me every single day of the year. How He had taken me out of my comfort zone and taught me that I could do things I’d never imagined or cared to do. How He has sustained me through very trying periods this year. And today, in mid-December, I am still in one piece!
During this season of Advent, are we filled with hope, peace, love and joy? Can we recognize God’s presence in our lives and His hands in everything that happens to us today? Like Joseph, can we open ourselves to where the Lord is taking us? Or are we too caught up in our own ‘doing’?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: During this time of Advent, help us to be open to the actions of God in our daily lives. God is indeed with us. Help us to be available to Him.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for being with us, even during the times when we stray far away from you. For the times when we insist on doing things our own way and seeing situations with or own eyes, that we fail to see that you are right there with us. Thank you for being loving and patient with us.