From Father's Desk

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The transition of the season is underway. Advent begins with the Christian focused on the horizon, awaiting the return of the Lord. Think of a watchman on a tower peering out into the distance. As we move closer to Christmas, our gaze drops closer, nearer. For two weeks now, we were preparing with John the Baptist’s message. Now we turn directly to the moments that lead up to the Nativity of the Son of God. The first chapters of the Gospel according to Matthew and Luke recount these events. It is beautiful to spend each day in prayer with these few deep passages. Today we witness an intimate greeting between cousins, Elizabeth and Mary, the beautiful account called “The Visitation” (Lk 1:39-45). These details likely come directly from Mother Mary as retold to Luke.

In these accounts we meet people who believe in and expect miracles and we meet people who struggle. Some believe while others are prone to disbelief. Zechariah husband of Elizabeth - despite being a priest - was found to be lacking faith. Gabriel renders him mute for failing to believe the good news that John would be born to them (see: Lk 1:20). By contrast, Elizabeth and Mary show themselves to be women of faith. Where do we find ourselves on the faith-doubt scale?

I suppose there is nothing magical about faith. Some believe while others do not. But faith is a gift from God. We cannot make ourselves believe. Faith is one of the supernatural virtues that the Lord gives us. We need to play our part, sure, cooperating to receive and nurture the gift. One of the most beautiful teachings on faith is that the Lord gives faith necessary unto salvation. In other words, God extends the gift of faith to all, because he wishes the salvation of all. God offers enough faith to each person in order that they may be saved. Not everyone receives the faith offered, but the gift is extended.

So, if you are struggling with faith, if your circumstances are overwhelming, if there is a storm and your boat is taking on water, the precious gift of faith is only a small prayer away. In those moments, we can simply pray the words of the man who sought healing for his son, “Lord I do believe, help my unbelief!”  (Mk 9:24) Such sweet and simple words. When there does not seem to be a way, God finds a way.

That little prayer is really a vote of confidence, stepping out in faith to ask for the gift of faith. Often in order for God to step in, we need to step out of our comfort zone and give him that space.  Saint John of the Cross would say, “God gives in the measure that we expect of Him.” When we expect great things from the Lord and pray with confidence and hope that God will act powerfully in our lives He does. Seeing it time and again has convinced me that He is real.

One of the challenging realities of expecting miracles from God is that while sometimes we get what we expect, many other times the process of receiving includes changing our expectations. God transforms our desire even while he delivers. In the lives of Mary and Elizabeth and Zechariah, this truth could not shine more brightly. God stepped in, in such a powerful and miraculous way, and yet, it was not what anyone expected. His plan was bigger and more marvelous, and more messy - if I can put it that way - than what would have been in the hearts and minds of our spiritual forebearers. So, let’s pray boldly and expect God to act boldly, if not in exactly the way we expect.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Wilson