Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21)
Living Our Lives as Beloved Sons or Daughters of Our Heavenly Father
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman … so that we might receive adoption (Galatians 4:4-5).
Our mothers usually know what’s best for us—and that’s especially true of our mother Mary. So on a day when we celebrate her feast day and make New Year’s resolutions, let’s ask Mary what she would want us to do. What is one transforming truth that Mary would want us to carry with us throughout this new year?
Perhaps she would echo Paul’s words from today’s second reading: Through baptism we have become sons and daughters of God. Most of us have already heard this truth, but does it sustain us in our daily lives? Has it become one of the central guiding principles of our lives? To answer that question, it may help to explore what it means to be a child of our heavenly Father.
First and foremost, being children of God means that we aren’t orphans, left alone in the world to fend for ourselves. No, God loves and treasures us more than we can ever comprehend. He has called us his own, and he will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
Second, being a child of God means that we carry the “family name.” This is our identity. Not only does it define who we are, it also tells us what we can become as we learn to cooperate with God’s grace. It even tells us that we can come to bear a resemblance to our heavenly Father because we are sharing in his very nature (2 Peter 1:4)!
So while you’re formulating your New Year’s resolutions today, ask Mary to guide you. Each day of this coming year, make it a point to remind yourself of who you are, where you came from, and where you are going. Live as the son or daughter that you are. It will make your Mother very happy!
“Mary, pray for me throughout this year so that I can walk in the dignity that your Son has won for me!”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- We know that Jesus applied Isaiah 61:1-2 (the first reading) to his own ministry in the synagogue atNazareth. Jesus was anointed by the Spirit “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.” Do you believe that you, as a Catholic man, are also anointed by the Spirit to do the same? If so, in what ways have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s anointing “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners”?
- How does the Magnificat of Mary in Luke 1:46-54 (from the responsorial psalm) reflect Mary’s unique anointing by the Holy Spirit? What part of it applies to us as Catholic men?
- In the second reading, St. Paulexhorts all of us to “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). At first glance this may seem impossible, especially if we try to do it on our strength apart from an anointing of the Holy Spirit. Relying on the Holy Spirit’s power as your source of strength, what steps can you take to make these words of Paul a greater reality in your life?
- St. Paul goes on to further exhort us with these words: “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We know that we are all capable of quenching the Spirit. What are some of the tendencies in your life that can quench the Spirit? How can you combat these tendencies, so that you can give the Spirit free reign in your life?
- In the Gospel reading, John the Baptist is called by God to “make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23). In what ways are we called to do the same as Catholic men?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “Your testimony is important. It may even lead someone to decide to follow Jesus. We should always be ready to share our stories whenever the opportunity arises.” How ready are you to share how Jesus has touched your life, “whenever the opportunity arises”? What steps, outlined in the meditation, could you take to increase your readiness?
- Take some time now to pray that this Advent would be a special time of grace for you to “testify” to your family and others of the coming of Christ into your life. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.