Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Advent is a time to wake up to miracles

By LORRAINE MURRAY, Commentary | Published December 6, 2018

I was sitting at the dining room table, typing on my laptop and surrounded by stacks of books, when something caught my attention on the front porch.

Looking up, I was startled to see a large hawk perched on the porch swing, just about five feet from where I was sitting.

He didn’t seem to notice me, but kept moving his head from side to side, and I could see his brown eyes glinting. He remained there for about five minutes, and I just stared at him in wonder.

How often we go through life on automatic pilot, immersed in our own thoughts, our own plans, when suddenly something shocks us out of our everydayness.

The Advent season can startle us out of a faith that has grown cold and bloodless. Advent beckons us to reflect on the amazing truth that the almighty God entered the world, vulnerable, defenseless and completely dependent on his parents for protection.

“Today Christ is dependent on us,” writes Caryll Houselander. “During this tender time of Advent, we must carry Him in our hearts to wherever he wants to go, and there are many places to which he may never go unless we take him.”

There are hospitals, nursing homes and senior residences, where many are unable to do something as ordinary as getting into a car and heading to church. They must depend on others bringing Christ to them.

One Sunday, a stranger knocks on the door, and they open it to welcome someone bearing the Eucharist—and that stranger gradually becomes a friend.

Strangers often bring Christ into our lives—and may show up in unlikely ways.

There is a story about St. Zdislava Berka, a married Moravian woman who lived in the 13th century and tended to the poor, the sick and the wounded, against her husband’s wishes.

One day her husband came home and she told him that an ailing beggar was in his own bedroom.

Angered, he rushed into the room to throw the man out—and saw the Crucified Christ lying there.

Cynics will scoff at this story, just as they will mock the belief that God became a human baby, but our faith fully embraces mysticism and wonder and miracles.

St. Francis was once on horseback and saw a leper, who was shunned and reviled by nearly everyone.

Francis went up to the man, embraced him and gave him a kiss, and then rode away. He was stunned when he glanced backwards and realized the man had disappeared—and he knew the leper had been Christ.

Advent invites us to silence some of the distractions in our lives to truly embrace the wonder of Christmas.

This is a time to reflect on all the miracles that come with our faith. Do we believe in the unseen world that we profess in our creed when we say God created all things “visible and invisible?”

A Christmas song asks us to imagine our reaction if we heard angels singing at night: “Would I leave my bed and go outside to hear their song? Or would I go on sleeping until the morning dawned?”

The words of “Would I Miss the Miracle?” explore the very heart of the Advent season.

Will I miss the miracle of Christmas because there’s no room in my life for anyone but me? Do I keep Christ in my heart and bring him to others?

Or is my life too consumed with ordinary things?

Someday, God willing, we’ll stand before the King and see him face-to-face. Perhaps we’ll glimpse the faces of the lonely, rejected, suffering and downtrodden people to whom we brought Christ.

Perhaps we’ll recall all the times something shocked us out of our ordinary life and gave us a glimpse of something wondrous.

Maybe one of God’s majestic creatures from the visible world perched on a swing. Maybe one of God’s angels from the invisible realm, lighting up the night sky and filling it with song.

Sketch is by Jef Murray. Lorraine’s email address is