3rd Week of Advent
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:5-25
In today’s Gospel, we read about a man and woman who were both considered upright in the sight of the Lord because of their faithfulness to observe all of His commandments and regulations blamelessly. And yet this couple, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were childless because Elizabeth was barren. Not only this, but because they were both advanced in years, the time for conceiving offspring had come and gone. For them, it was too late and would never be.
And yet, in spite of this bitter reality, they continued to observe all of God’s commandments and regulations blamelessly. Whether we want to accept this truth or not, continued obedience in the face of unanswered prayer requires a higher degree of faith in God than believing in Him to perform miracles, and it is for this that Zechariah and Elizabeth are to be especially commended.
One of the most agonizing tests that we can face in this spiritual journey is when we’re living right in the sight of God, and we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, but God doesn’t appear to be blessing us or answering our prayers anyway.
Perhaps you have older children whom you have faithfully raised in the Catholic Faith. You did what you were supposed to do. You taught them about God. You took them to Mass. You made sure they received the Sacraments. You even home schooled them. But now, they’re making decisions in their lives that go against the very things you instilled in them when they were younger, and you’re wondering where is God’s blessing in all that you attempted to do for Him? What was it all for?
You faithfully supported the Church and Catholic missions with your finances. You always gave to the poor. And yet, your finances appear to be anything but blessed. Perhaps you even had your home or car repossessed. Where is the blessing of God upon your finances? You’re trying your best to live the Catholic life. You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and yet, nothing is going right in your life while the couple up the street who reject God and refuse to keep His commandments because they love the world more than they love Him are suffocating beneath a mountain of blessings. Their children are all successful. Their finances are prospering. All is well with their health. What gives?
How are you going to respond to this seeming “injustice?” Are you going to quit and say, “That’s it. I give up. Where has all this righteous living gotten me? What have I gained? It was all for nothing.” Or, are you going to follow the example of Zechariah and Elizabeth, who continued to do what they were supposed to do and live the way they were supposed to live in spite of the fact that God did not appear to be taking notice of their faithfulness, let alone blessing it?
It’s easy to do what God calls us to do when we see the fruits of our labors. When we see the harvest of blessings before our very eyes, it’s easy to say, “My faithfulness and obedience to do the will of God have paid off. All of my sowing and watering have paid off. God is good!”
But how do we respond when we sow and water week after week, month after month, year after year, and decade after decade and still see no harvest? Do we have what it takes to keep sowing and watering for Christ then? Do we have what Zechariah and Elizabeth had?
Zechariah and Elizabeth continued to keep the Mosaic Law. They continued to say their prayers. They continued to go to the synagogue. They continued to give to the poor. They continued to live holy and devout lives. Most of all, they continued to love God even though from all outward appearances, He had absented both Himself and His blessing from their lives. In the end, they were mightily blessed, not just with any child, but with one of whom Christ Himself testified that none born of women would be greater.
Does this Advent season find you discouraged because God does not appear to be blessing anything that you are doing for Him? Are you getting ready to quit? Have you already started to quit by slacking off in your prayers or your assistance at Mass? Are you starting to slack off when it comes to teaching your children the catechism because they don’t appear to be paying attention or changing as a result of it? Do you no longer give to the poor because God does not appear to be giving back to you? Do you no longer go out of your way to give someone else an encouraging word because nobody ever seems to have one for you?
In today’s journal entry, we’re going to write another letter to God. (As you’ve noticed, in some of our journal entries, this is what we do. We write letters to God, for in so doing, we turn those entries into prayer). What is it that you would like to say to God? Ask the Lord to give you the grace to “keep on keeping on” even though He seems to not even be taking notice of what you’re doing, or becoming, or giving, let alone blessing this.
Then, and this is the most important of all, tell God why you are going to keep loving Him and obeying Him and serving Him nevertheless. Tell Him how much you love Him, what He means to you, and how this, more than anything else, is why you intend to keep on moving forward even though He appears to be nowhere in sight. Watch what this last part will do for your spirit, your heart, and your faith.