A gift of the unpredictable

    December 22, 2023
    Advent reflection day 20 graphic. Watercolor brush strokes of Christmas tree branches in white and pale green.

    Unpredictable! This is the first time I am using that word to describe God. But as I pondered today’s Gospel — Mary’s Magnificat — that is the word that rose in my heart.

    It is the same God who lifts me up when I am discouraged or sad, and who sometimes casts me down when I become boastful. It is the same God who fills me when I am hungry, and who also challenges me when I cling to my possessions.

    So, how am I being called to respond to this unpredictable God this Advent? First of all, I need to acknowledge that every person, experience, possession — everything — is pure gift from God, the God who fills me when I am hungry. And yet, when I forget my giftedness and cling to those gifts, I lose the wonder of being so generously gifted, and begin to feel hungry again.

    Secondly, I am called to remember that the only true boasting, as St. Paul says, is to “boast in the Lord” (1Cor.1:31). True boasting is actually boasting of the Lord. We boast about what God has done for us and what God is still doing for us.

    And finally, this unpredictable God of ours is calling us to be unpredictable. This Advent season, can I reassess my responses to the many appeals that I receive? Can I rethink my gift giving to include the gift of time and the gift of presence along with my material gifts?

    In this season so steeped in nostalgia and tradition, unpredictability is hard. But our unpredictable God will be with us.

    Sr. Eileen Reilly, SSND, is Religious Engagement Associate for the Catholic Mobilizing Network. She formerly served as her congregation’s NGO Representative to the United Nations.

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