Tuesday of the fourth week of Advent, 2022

    December 20, 2022

    I was going to write a somewhat lighthearted reflection entitled, “So, Gabriel Stopped by Today” but apparently that was not the direction I was supposed to go. Every time I sat down to type there were two phrases from today’s Gospel that came to mind.

    The Gospel today is the story of the visitation of the angel Gabriel to Mary. The first phrase that resonated with me was “she was greatly troubled.” It never says she figured it all out and then everything was fine. No, she was greatly troubled.  Mary’s life was just turned completely upside down. She was not expecting this. She didn’t understand this, and she was greatly troubled by this.

    For those clients who, like Mary, accept what is going on out of faith in our Lord, being troubled, or confused, or worried, or disturbed, or perplexed is known territory. If Mary who is “full of grace” and “greatly favored by God” can still be greatly troubled, then, so can I and, so can those we minister to. Being a person of faith, as many of our clients are, does not protect us from being greatly troubled. We don’t fully know what is troubling our clients, but we do know that the uneasiness of not knowing what is happening or what the future holds can be all-consuming and exhausting.

    The last sentence in this passage from Luke is the second line which stayed with me: “then the angel departed from her.” This reading left me wondering how our clients feel after we depart. Like the angel Gabriel, we are part of their lives when they are greatly troubled. Perhaps even at their lowest point. We offer help, support, and guidance and then we depart leaving them to live their lives.

    My prayer today is for all our clients, maybe especially for our former clients. May they embrace the loving presence of God in their lives and know, as Mary did, that nothing is impossible for God.

    Chris Austgen is the Coordinator of Parish Social Ministry at Mary Queen Catholic Church in Friendswood, Texas. She is also a member of the CCUSA Parish Social Ministry Team.

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