Daily Reflection
December 19th, 2003
Tom Shanahan, S.J.
University Relations
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Judges 13:2-7,24-25
Psalm 71
Luke 1:5-25

The readings in the liturgy for today tell the stories of two very special births.  There are strong parallels in the two readings, one from the Hebrew Bible in the Book of Judges and the other from St. Luke’s gospel.  Both stories depict a mother who is well advanced in age and yet becomes pregnant by the grace of God.  In each story an angel announces the birth and the children about to be born will be very special persons with a unique role in God’s plan.

The readings are especially appropriate for the Advent -- they imply waiting and anticipation, both virtues called out by this season.  We are invited to wait patiently and to ponder and keep ourselves open to the implications for us of the birth of Jesus.  Waiting (and its cousin, patience) is not a virtue that we are very good at for the most part – We want things now!

In the first reading about the birth of the strong man, Sampson, we are told that the boy was born and “grew up and the Lord blessed him; the spirit of the Lord stirred him.”  He would be part of God’s unique plan for the Israelite people.  The second is the story of the special circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptiser.  John is the figure who epitomizes the season of Advent because his task is to wait for the right moment when he can point out the messiah to a world awaiting Him. 

Ask any mother-to-be or father-to-be if the birth they are expecting is going to be special and the answer is a resounding YES!  Waiting for and expecting birth is the prime experience of what the season of Advent is all about.  The child to be born won’t be Sampson or John the Baptist; there is only one of each of them. 

However, the child born represents for us the potential for being open to the wonders that God wants to bring to our world.  And so these births that we contemplate today in the scripture readings remind us vividly of the birth of Jesus that we are awaiting. 

We await the birth of Jesus not merely as an historical fact; that has already been accomplished in the manger outside the Inn at Bethlehem.   The birth we seek is to discover is Jesus being born at an even deeper level in our hearts.  

Advent is such a special time of the year.  As we approach even closer to Christmas day, we are invited to keep on waiting and anticipating that wonderful entrance of Christ into our hearts and lives.

Lord, keep me faithful to the anticipation and the waiting.  I am impatient to have an end to waiting.  Help me to know that it is YOU I am awaiting and to grow in hope of your deeper and deeper entrance into my heart and soul.  Thank you for your wondrous blessings and gifts.  Help me to be enriched by the very anticipation of your presence.


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