Advent Reflection Series #8

Do you trust God with the little things?

Not as much as I should. I don’t like to bother God too much, so I will turn to the saints instead. The little things often seem too silly and insubstantial to bother God with. Does he really care about whether I find that object I’ve lost? Will he really help me in a matter as basic as picking what outfit would be most appropriate to wear to that important work meeting?

I know he will help me, but I don’t like to bother him. It’s the same with earthly people—I very rarely ask for help because I don’t want to make a pain in the ass of myself. The only way I ask for help is when I am totally confused or under a deadline or just can’t wrap my brain around what the solution might be.

This is bad. Not asking for help leads to pride—the “I don’t need anyone else” mentality. Everybody needs each other, and we all need God. So it will be important to ask God to help with little things in the future, almost like a warm-up exercise for asking him for big things when the time comes. He is our father, and he wants us to feel like we can come to him with anything. Little kids don’t hesitate when asking their parents for even the tiniest things, so why should we hesitate to ask or trust God?

Advent Reflection Series #7

How do you prepare for Christmas?

Eh, to be honest, I don’t like these reflection questions. They’re all somewhat similar. Bishop Robert Barron published a small book called Advent Gospel Reflections, which I’ve been studying with my church’s Bible study group. His reflection questions are much better. Food for thought for next year.

Anyway… the context of the question has to do with John the Baptist, who went away from the world to prepare for Christ. He has always struck me as a kind of grotesque figure, wearing animal skins and eating grasshoppers and honey, shouting like a madman. If we were to see him in the street today, we’d think he had some kind of mental illness and should be taken to a psychiatric hospital or men’s shelter.

But as Mother Teresa said, Christ and his message come in “distressing disguises.” We’d have to look beyond John the Baptist’s appearance to absorb his message: prepare yourselves for the coming of Christ. Get away from the world and its entrapments.

Strangely enough, preparing for Christmas in these modern times doesn’t get you away from the world. It draws you into the world because you tend to get bogged down in the cooking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, and decorating, so much so that you put spirituality on the back burner. Even when the crazies try to take Christ out of Christmas and turn it into a secular holiday, they should realize that they never truly can. It’s in the word itself: Christ. Mass. The Mass for Christ.

That fact alone should remind us that this is at its core a deeply spiritual time. Even those who are not particularly religious often stop to think about that and ponder the real meaning behind it all. I mean, you don’t have to wear a hairshirt and start screaming in the desert, but perhaps quietly reflect on the way you have been living over the past year and whether that is an honest reflection of who you really want to be.

Advent Reflection Series #6

Are you letting God find you?

Supposedly, it is impossible to hide from God, who knows all and sees all. No thought is hidden, no action goes unnoticed. Some people find that creepy, like having a divine stalker. I mean, we already have enough to worry about with Google and Facebook watching our every move, right?

The difference is that God doesn’t want to steal your data and glean personal information. He has no need. He created you, after all. He already knows everything about you. He just wants you to reach out to him and stop hiding.

When I first read the question, I pictured someone standing out in the middle of a field with their arms outstretched screaming, “Here I am, Lord!” We may not do that literally, and we don’t need to be that dramatic. I suppose letting God find you is more a simple matter of praying and opening your heart to him. He does know everything, but in the act of telling him, you grow more open.