Fourth Sunday of Advent
By: Donna Haynes, Associate, Franciscan-Clarian Spirituality Committee Member
Micah 5: 1-4
Hebrews 10: 5-10
Luke 1: 39-45
"We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God's compassionate love for others.
- St. Clare of Assisi
For the past three weeks we have reflected on the Sunday Gospel readings of Advent in the manner of St. Clare that is to gaze, consider, contemplate and imitate the cross of Jesus. Today we reflect on the aspect of imitating Jesus.
At the annunciation, Mary responded with words that would be later echoed by her Son as he agonized about the sacrifice He was being asked to make for humankind. May’s words “Be it done unto me according to your word.” would become in Jesus’ words “Not my will but your will be done.” As we try to imitate Christ, we are called to set ourselves - our personal desires – aside and focus on what it is the God wants us to do thereby fulfilling our purpose to know, love and serve God in this life so that we may be happy with him in the next.
Imitating Christ means stepping outside of ourselves and living according to God’s will which is righteous and just. As a teacher, I look to Him, the Master Teacher, to guide me with the right words when faced with students who have faith issues. In the past few months, that role of teacher has been at once burdensome and uplifting: burdensome because it is an onerous task to walk in footprints that are significantly larger than mine and to have children consider me their source in guiding them on matters that challenge their belief in God; but I am reminded that the words are not mine if I allow the Holy Spirit to guide what I say. My task has been uplifting because I am assured that God is ever present with me and that my actions will be guided by Him should I really meditate and listen to Him. I am a work in progress and I can imitate Him if I but gaze, consider and contemplate Jesus, His love, His peace, His joy.
If, as St Clare’s tells us, we become what we love and who we love shapes what we become, then I pray that we may all fall so deeply in love with Jesus that we will all become the imitations of Him and lead our world into the peace only He can offer. Amen.
Gracious God, may we come to imitate Jesus in our daily lives, as did Francis and Clare.
Today, may I be given the grace to love that which in my terms seems unlovable, as did Jesus in the Gospels.