Mary Francis Charsky, International Councilor
During December we ardently await and long for God’s presence. We yearn for God’s son Jesus to come among us in peace and joy. In Advent we are hoping and wishing that we are ready for the coming of the Christ Child. We humbly seek and pray for forgiveness and mercy. These themes are remembered in the hymn, “Maranatha” by Gerald Chiusano.
As Franciscans we realize that Jesus is a precious gift from God the Father. Jesus is coming for all of us, all of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Let us consider, imagine and reflect upon OFS Rule Article 13. “As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, so Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ. A sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for who they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ.”
Do you believe that we have such wonderful gifts given to us? All people are gifts from God. Our very life is a gift from God. We have an obligation to protect and care for ourselves as well as our brothers and sisters. This includes fraternal harmony, thoughtful dialogue and trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone. It includes the transforming power of love, pardon and mercy, both given and received. Is this what we long for? During Advent we are praying and searching for understanding of these precious gifts, the awesome gift of Jesus and the gifts of all of our sisters and brothers throughout the world.
During Advent we can refer to the Infancy Narrative in Luke 1:5 – 2:52. Like the Blessed Mother we open our hearts with great anticipation of being in the presence of the Divine Infant, our Messiah! In December, we observe two feast days honoring the Mother of God, which offer us deeper reflection during Advent. December 8th, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, prepares Our Lady to be the Mother of Our Savior; integral to the Christmas miracle and salvation history. Dec. 12th, Our Lady of Guadalupe, depicts Mary as the expectant Mother of Jesus. Let us, like Mary, prepare for the birth of Jesus and, as St. Francis gave witness, be “heralds of the Great King” as we share the good news by the way we live our lives!