Advent Journal: Day 18


Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary men,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

Isaiah 7:13-14

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:38

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion.

From a Sermon of St. Bernard of Clairvaux

How easy it to disobey! When there is easy evil, and difficult good, there is no doubt which we will choose.  If someone asks something of us that will help them, but is merely burdensome to us, we are wont not to do it, even if it the cost is not that great.  Our souls are a precarious balance of forces, and we are all too aware of how easily they can be disturbed.  This is why we do less good than we should, why we commit so many venial sins from which we excuse our selves.  I had to, you use, because there was too much pressure, too much fear, too much desire, too much, much too much for me to give away.  I would have been left with nothing, had I given away my power, and consented to God’s wishes.  And this is not completely false.  Ours is a mind shaped, no doubt, by eons of evolution, of fight or flight instinct, of the desperate reality that if we do not ration our resources, psychological or physical, we shall perish beneath someone else’s hand.  To say yes, and leave it to God to work in us, is so far alien to the biological and cultural habits that have made mankind successful, it is astonishing to me that the Christian Gospel has had any success at all.  Thus do we weary God with our innumerable infidelities, our pathetic sins, capricious lies to ourselves, and weak worship of Him.  And yet, and yet–he does not abandon us, but gives us extraordinary signs of his grace, his love.  God wants us to believe, but we take it as presumptuous to ask him for any great deed–“I will not tempt the Lord,” said king Ahaz, and we agree.  Afraid to risk being disappointed, afraid to have our faith revealed as mistaken, we do not ask what we should, or how we should ask it.  For if there were no God, such as God Himself had revealed to us, we would not bother to ask the question at all.  There would be certainty, and we could be at peace.  But since we are not sure, and because, at a certain point, as St. Paul tells us, “where there be knowledge it will pass away,” we debate whether or not to put out into the deep, and risk our lives for God and his only Son. For that, we could not rely on certain knowledge, but only on our faith, and love for Him.  And we know how weak that is!  Let us pray, therefore, that He give us the humility to seek the faith that will sustain us, and the love that will carry past any doubt when he calls, so that we may answer with the Virgin Mary to him:  “be it done unto me according to thy word.”

~ by Alypius on December 20, 2017.

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