As Advent progresses towards Christmas and then a New Year, we may also look back in the December darkness, remembering the months and years behind us, the lessons learned. We might look back to the teachings and example of St. Ambrose, whose feast is celebrated today. In the fourth century, Bishop Ambrose was both a scholar and a man of action, especially against the Arian heresy of his time – a pastoral leader, and also a defender of the theology of the Trinity; he is one of the great Doctors of the early Church. In the United States, we remember December 7 as the date of the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in 1941 – an event that changed history for us. And as individuals and families, we may have other anniversaries to remember today.
Today’s readings from Isaiah tell us to Look Up, Look Ahead, Believe and Have Hope. The voice in the desert of our lives is crying out “Prepare the way of the Lord,” and promises that although “All flesh is grass” and we change and eventually die, the Word of the Lord is eternal. As the Psalm sings, the Lord “comes with power” and he rules us “with his constancy.” In both the selection from Isaiah and the Gospel from Matthew, we have the image of God as our nurturing, loving Shepherd, protecting and saving us.
Today, as I look behind and ahead and all around me, I also think that Isaiah and Matthew affirm that God is with us here and now, not only in our past journey in faith, and not only in the promise of Christmastime. Today our Christian faith, Church and Scripture say that the Savior comes, the Lord is born of the Virgin Mary, to suffer and die for us, and to rise from the dead. And so I discover: because the Word truly Became Flesh (in past history) and we celebrate His Coming (on Christmas Day ahead of us), God is present in our world today, in our hearts today. Here and now, today, God is with us.
I pray to recognize the presence of God today, to know and praise God, my Companion in my busy activities and my quiet memories on this Tuesday in Advent.
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