Dear Sisters and Brothers –
Thanksgiving always seems to surprise me; without noticing its approach, it has arrived. Similarly, when I stop to consider the whole of my life, I’m always somewhat surprised by how much there is to be grateful for, by how good God has been and continues to be. As a friend in Sacramento always says, "I count my blessings every night, and that list just gets longer."
For us, the People of God, Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to one of the two most-Jesuit virtues – gratitude. May God bless us with the graces to recognize what God has given us, to be truly grateful, and to embody the second of those two most-Jesuit virtues – generosity.
Please be assured of my prayers for you is a special way during Mass tomorrow.
Today we begin the season of Advent, the Church’s time of preparation for Christmas, for Christ’s coming into our world and our hearts anew so that we may be touched once again by God’s mercy and love and be changed. It’s hard for me sometimes not to be cynical or skeptical, given the world around me. Yet, our faith tells us that God continues to labor to bring God's creation to wholeness. Perhaps this is why Jesus tells us, “Unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Perhaps children can give us some clue about how to approach Advent and our anticipation of Christmas.
My grand niece, Aubry, is three, and she is already talking about Christmas and what she wants Santa to bring. But she is confident that whatever comes will be wonderful and exactly right for her. Of course, I don’t think of God as Santa, but Aubry’s optimism, when thought about in the light of faith, reminds me that I have reason to be optimistic about what God will bring and challenges me to live in the joy of anticipation.
Aubry’s [lack of] ability to color offers another hint of how to pray during these weeks of Advent preparation. Like most children her age, she colors outside the lines, and sometimes it takes a while for me to appreciate the beauty that she has created. God is often the same way, creating, bringing to wholeness, saving outside of my expectations.
It’s often said that Christmas is for children. Perhaps, then, children can teach us about how to prepare ourselves for that blessed holiday.
I wish you holy, peaceful and fruitful Advent.
Sincerely, Fr. Greg