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Advent Three: Being Present with Joy

Advent can be filled with worry about finding the perfect Christmas gifts. Deep down we want people in our lives to know they are special and that we love them. But sometimes we overlook the greatest gift of all… our very presence. Our spiritual ancestors were also worried — often about survival in the midst of political occupation. And the response of the scriptures is “the Holy Living One is with you.” Like a shepherd who never leaves the flock, we are held close. This season, we are invited to be the gift of presence for our loved ones, for our communities, for those who need it most. The words of the prophet Isaiah offer a prophetic vision that Jesus will also claim in his ministry. Likewise, we are called to claim the gift of being fully present with all people — those who mourn, those who grieve, those who have suffered indignity and oppression. Mary’s Magnificat is prophetic as well. She claims the overturning of injustice even before it has come to pass. Joy is not the equivalent of happiness, but rather the deep conviction that we are called to be present in the work of bringing about “great things” — a better world for those who need it most.