Are family Christmas gatherings striking discord for you this year? Perhaps God allows it as an opportunity. After praying through Advent, the season of hope, and preparing our hearts for the One who reconciles all things, we recognize that only in Him, only in Love, can difficult encounters with family or friends become moments of harmony and even joy.
All through the season of Advent, Scripture has been encouraging us that the time for peace will come. Isaiah has painted many a beautiful scene of tranquility, joy, and reconciliation.
On the mountain of the Lord, there will be no more weeping, the deaf will hear and the blind shall see, and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. The prophet speaks of a voice giving us instruction: “This is the way, walk in it.” In the gospel of Matthew, John the Baptist has cried out for us to “Prepare the way of the Lord” in our hearts, and for an encounter with Our Savior.
Even our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been weaving this theme of encounter into so many of his writings and homilies. He has encouraged us to go out and meet those most needy, finding that our hearts will grow bigger. We often want to convert our loved ones to truth, but are impatient with God’s timing.
How does He want to use us? First we live in hope that it is His job to save them. Then we ask how we might cooperate most fully, how God might want to use us. Encounter with another in love seems to need to come first. Is that not how God deals with us?
We must always be in a disposition of prayer, listen in love, be patient with the process, and respond when the questions come. In order to be persuasive, we must also know the “other side.” We must take the mindset of the shepherds and wise men in Bethlehem whom Fulton Sheen said were the two classes of people that found the Babe. They were the “simple and the learned; those who knew they knew nothing, and those who knew they did not know everything.”
Relying on the Holy Spirit, we need not worry about preparing our words beforehand. We will be given the loving responses at the proper time. In these ways, Christ has come, the Lord is born in our families. And yes, there will be peace in our hearts, and peace on earth in our own little part of salvation history.
And finally, it is Our Lady who gives us the perfect model of encounter. Who better to show us how to receive, conceive, and give birth to Christ in the world? May her intercession always strengthen us. May the holy duet she sings with the Trinity be the voice that we hear to guide us and chords of harmony that soothe us.
How will you prepare for difficult encounters this Christmas?
Copyright 2013 Cynthia Ann Costello