Advent IV: Love Propels Us Forward  

Michael Perras, OFM

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A few years ago, a young friend of mine gave me a card during Advent. He had drawn it himself. On it were three mountains and bannering across the top in bold childhood writing was the word LOVE. That simple card triggered for me a reality check about how I was using the word love and how I was not. It also promoted me to make the word Love a more evident part of my prayers and reflections for the coming year. I had found that our culture uses love for everything from cars to pizza to sweaters to family and I was caught up in that. With our limitations on the word love we often fail to express ourselves well and this simple card awoke that in me.

That card crosses my mind again as we move into this final week of Advent and the coming feast of Christmas. The image of the mountains on that card remind me again that God’s love is present on our mountain peaks and also in our valley depths because no matter what we face or endure our hearts can “forever… sing of your steadfast love, O Lord” (Psalm 89). Love on our mountain peaks is easy to describe it is the family at table, the good news we are told and the celebrations of life. However, to sing and live out the steadfast love is not always easy yet our God is with us. When we endure a health crisis, live in a pandemic or stand at the edge of a grave it is hard to think of love bannering over us. When we flee a war-torn country, face the ugly reality of racism or defend the dignity of another it may be hard to think of love bannering over us. Yet it is in these dark valley moments that the banner drops and wraps itself around us with hope, courage and strength. Our hearts are softened as this love settles in and we again align with God’s love, which no matter the mountain top or valley depth is declaring goodness, offering comfort and encouraging us to live well.

Mary had to trust that love was in the message of the angel, she had to trust that love would win over Joseph’s worries, she had to trust that love would guide her as she freely declared “Here am I, the servant of the Lord” (Luke 1.38) This was trusting in the goodness, comfort, encouragement and strength of love. As we journey into these final days of Advent, amongst the chaos, uncertainties and this pandemic can we allow love to banner over us and be the road we walk to Bethlehem? Can we trust that love is the road of our heart leading to the crib of Christ? Can we with Mary trust that love is real and not some simple illusion or fix that commercials try and sell us? Can we with Mary say “here I am, I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord?”

Week Four of Advent is known as the Week of Love. May this final week of Advent awaken us to the truth of love. Where do you need to incorporate love into your daily living in these days ahead? Let that love be your guide to break through the demands of the week. The days are few, the weariness may seem overpowering but hope remains, peace breathes in us and joy lights the flame of our heart. May we walk boldly in love during these final days of Advent, in the coming season of Christmas and into 2021.

BE BORN IN ME

With an earnest heart

and childlike hope

be born in me I pray.

 

Be born in me I pray

your love made known

in my words and ways.

 

Seeking true light

kindled in me

be born in me I pray

 

Be born in me I pray

your very heart

made known each day.

 

Humility and openness

are the vessels I offer

be born in me I pray

 

Be born in me I pray

Christ Child you are welcome

each and every day.

 

 

 

Artwork: Claire Ziprick

Photo: Josiah Weiss

 

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About the author

Born and raised in Saskatchewan. The oldest of four. Learned about serving the community growing up in his parent’s grocery store in a small rural community with lots of extended family nearby. Loves being an uncle and a Godfather. Enjoys Christmas, learning from the lives of the saints, being creative in the kitchen, a good run, a good song and setting a good table for celebrations. Can be found writing early in the morning or tinkering in the chapel throughout the day. Prior to joining the Franciscans served in various communities as a youth minister and pastoral assistant. Holds Certificates in Youth Ministry, Lay Ministry, Liturgical Studies, and Spiritual Direction along with a Bachelor of Theology degree. Solemnly professed Franciscan friar since August 2019.

Last updated: November 22, 2021

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