NOTE: Throughout the Advent & Christmas seasons, we’ll be posting reflections on the readings for Holy Days and Sundays, usually just a few days beforehand so individuals and groups can reflect in anticipation or incorporate it into their meetings, homilies, etc. The reflection will be available on our homepage through the weekend and then archived on our Advent & Christmas 2021 webpage.
The reflection below was originally written by Jamie Phelps, OP, Ph.D. in 2008 for our Advent reflection booklet, Be Watchful and Alert — Seek God’s Spirit in Our World: Reflections for Advent 2008.
by Jamie Phelps, OP, Ph.D.
For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope. the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ… (Titus 2:11-13)
For Christians, the birth of Jesus marks a unique moment in history: the dawn of a new era. Yet for too many, this event was and remains imperceptible and insignificant. Only the eyes of faith allow us to perceive the profundity of the moment.
The gospel of Luke tells us that Joseph and Mary, who were with child, found themselves on the dusty road to Bethlehem to be counted in the census. In the quiet of the night, Mary gave birth to Jesus, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger “because there was no room for him in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
The simplicity of this birth is startling if not scandalous! One would not expect the Messiah to be born to a poor couple engaged to be married. One would not expect that the promised “Son of the Most High … the Son of God” (Luke 1:32, 35) would enter into human history in a place where animals were sheltered. Yet in these most ordinary of circumstances, the extraordinary occurred.
How often does God reveal the divine presence in ways that one would not expect? How often do we have no time or room for God in our lives? How often do we fail to be attentive to God’s presence in the ordinary?
Ordinary shepherds staying awake for night-duty, tending their flocks, were the first to hear the angelic proclamation: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ” (Luke 2:10). Then a choir of angels sang praises to God: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those with whom God’s favor rests!” (Luke 2:13). How do we hear and proclaim this news today?
Responding to the responsorial refrain, “Today is born our Savior Christ!” we pray: Jesus, we praise you and thank you for the gift of yourself to us. Thank you for transforming our fears into hope and our sorrows into joy. Thank you for helping us to stay awake! Glory be to you O God, our Creator, Savior and Redeemer. Glory be to you, who always was, is and will be. Glory be to you, Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Mother-Forever, and Prince of Peace!
>> For more resources and reflections from throughout the Advent season, click here.