20 Dec 2019
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.”’
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
God is with us. Just pause for a moment and let these words sink in slowly — GOD IS WITH US.
I am guilty of keeping this at the head level and not hold this dear to my heart. In the busyness of everyday life, worrying about my business, worrying about the children and what is ahead of me, I have often relied on my own strength and understanding. Even in times of joy and happiness, I have often neglected to stop and ponder on this beautiful mystery. And yet, and especially when life becomes overwhelming, it is important to slow down, to pause and remind myself of His presence.
Our family took a trip to Hokkaido recently and were exposed to subzero temperatures. The silence was deafeningly beautiful and, in that moment, standing in the snow with the wind blowing, I found God once again. This reminded me of Saint Teresa’s quote: “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass — grow in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”
Just like our beautiful Mother, her purpose in life was fulfilled when she was deep in prayer, during the silence of the night. As in today’s Gospel, when she said those famous words, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.” None of this would have happened if not because of Mary’s devotion to God and seeking him in the silence.
I am reminded today to persevere in my quiet time with the Lord, so as to hold dear in my heart that God is with us, as Saint Teresa said that nature grows in silence, and we need silence to be able to touch souls. I am part of nature and his creation and I grow and move in silence.
(Today’s Oxygen by Lorraine Wong)
Prayer: Dear Lord, let my soul be touched by you in silence. Help me to remain faithful to you throughout my day. Even in the busyness of the season, I can find silence; to reach into my heart and soul to encounter you in every moment and hear the whisper, “I am with you.”
Thanksgiving: Our Father in Heaven, thank you for blessing us with nature and the changing of seasons, for in these encounters with your creation, we are reminded of your presence here on earth.