Advent: Let go and blessings will flow
When we begin the season of Advent, a spirit of hope and anticipation begins to grow again in our hearts as we prepare to remember and celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Advent is a time for us to let go of things that hold us back from truly preparing — and for opening our hearts to the great hope the birth of Christ brings. As we all know, letting go of the things we have and hold on to can be difficult. However, letting go and allowing the Lord to lead us on our journey will lead to blessings beyond imagination.
When we look at the Mass readings for Advent, there are three principal players who are rarely mentioned outside the Advent season: St. Joseph, St. John the Baptist, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. All three of them let go of things and allowed the Lord to lead. The blessings that flowed were extraordinary!
John the Baptist had a thriving ministry. He had disciples who followed him and believed in his teaching. He was baptizing hundreds and was becoming famous in the region. He was a leader in the religious world of that time. He had fame, adulation and respect. Yet he was able to let go of it all and allow his true vocation to come to light.
He was called to decrease so that our Lord could increase. Think about his ability to let go (in his own words): “I am not worthy to undo the straps of His sandals.” Can you imagine a professional athlete, politician or actor uttering those words about another? Granted, John was speaking about the Second Person of the Trinity.
Joseph, our Lord’s foster father, shows us humility in how he let go of his own doubts, fears and apprehensions that, for a man in particular, is amazing. Joseph loved and cared for Mary — and I’m certain he dreamed of the life they would have together as husband and wife.
Then think of how he must have felt when he found out that Mary was pregnant. He must have been heartbroken, angry and disappointed. Yet even in that hurt he was unwilling to expose Mary to shame. Then the angel tells Joseph, “Do not be afraid to take Mary into your home as your wife.” He lets go of his anger and doubt to follow God’s will. How blessed we are that Joseph demonstrated such humility!
Now let’s look at our Blessed Mother and how she let go of things. She most likely also had dreams of what married life would be like — making a home and raising children with Joseph. We can forget that Mary was a normal young woman except for sin, of course. Yet she was willing to let go of these dreams when the Archangel Gabriel brought the Good News the she would conceive in her womb and bear a son. Don’t forget that Mary did not say yes on a whim. She understood what was taking place: “How can this be? I have had no relations with a man.” Mary understood the facts of life and also knew the implications of a single woman becoming pregnant.
She must have had fear. How would she tell her parents? How would she tell Joseph? Telling them she became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit, though true, might not be the most believable to those involved. Yet her willingness to let go and allow this to take place brought blessing on her — and through her — that were beyond what anyone could conceive.
As business and religious leaders, we can sometimes hold onto things we feel that only we can handle. This Advent, let us pray that we would be open to letting go of anything the Lord asks of us. In doing so, the blessings that will come to us and through us will be beyond our imagination!
FATHER CARL MELCHIOR is director of vocations for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Fla., and chaplain of Legatus’ Tampa Bay Chapter.