Reflection for Tuesday, December 20, 2005: 4th week in Advent.

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O'Reilly, Daniel Patrick
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What a wonderful time of year. Advent. The coming. A season of joy and anticipation. I love this time of year. And I love today's scriptures. Isaiah's prediction of the virgin who shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel. The psalmist proclaims, let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory. And Luke tells of the angel Gabriel's message for Mary and Mary's reaction.|For me, Mary's story is a wonderful story. It is a story about the leap of faith. And Mary is the model of faith and obedience. I've often wondered, how I would react if I were visited by an angel. The angel Gabriel says to Mary, "Do not be afraid." I think that would be my first clue that I probably should be afraid. Then the angel tells Mary that she is going to conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus. And Mary asks, "How can this be?" I've always found it encouraging that even Mary had doubts and questions. And the angel explains that the Holy Spirit will come upon Mary and the child she bears will be called the Son of God. This is where I would be checking the out date on the milk carton to see if I was suffering from mold-induced hallucinations. Instead Mary makes the incredible statement, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Mary makes the leap of faith.|For many, this is where our leap of faith comes in. Many have a hard time believing the story of Mary. A virgin mother? It is a stumbling block to many. It flies in the face of everything we know about this world. For me it is a leap of faith, but not a big one. Either God is God or he isn't. For me, the creator of the universe should have little trouble creating a virgin mother.|I recently had an experience with a literal leap of faith. Most everyone who is a parent or who has been around small children has put a toddler on a fence, a wall or the side of the pool and then told the child to jump into their arms. I've been doing this for years with my children. I've had a few near misses when I wasn't ready or I wasn't paying attention, but I have a pretty good record for catching children. Recently, my youngest son, now in first grade, was sitting atop some playground equipment and having trouble getting down. I told him to jump into my arms. Seth started to jump and then hesitated. I became impatient and said, "Just jump." Seth looked at me and said, "But dad, you're smaller now." I had to laugh. The reality is that I'm bigger now (where do those pounds come from?). However, my son's view of me had changed. Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yet, sometimes as we grow older, our view changes. We don't trust. We lose our faith. We are too mature or too sophisticated or too intelligent. We become cynical. We think we don't need God. How sad. We forfeit our joy for a false, short lived, worldly happiness. I love the image of Christ waiting for us with loving, outstretched arms. Telling us to just jump. My prayer is that the joy of this Advent season is not lost in all the busy hustle and bustle. That we would make the leap of faith and embrace our loving Savior. That we would not let this glorious time and opportunity we have before us slip by. Oh, and, by the by, my son did jump.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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