Do not be afraid

    December 18, 2023
    Advent reflection day 16 graphic. Watercolor brush strokes of Christmas tree branches in white and pale green.

    The first time I heard these readings in my preparation, the Jeremiah reading took my breath away, given the reality in the Middle East. “In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security…they shall again live in their own land.” I do not have nor would I express anything political, but how profoundly do the words still touch me.

    This impression is gentled by today’s O Antiphon — “O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!” There is hope in our God; there is a path; there is possibility in the seemingly impossible!

    And dear Joseph, in this first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, faithful follower: how must he have felt? How do people who come through our doors at Catholic Charities feel? Without a path, without an “out,” without clarity about the next step. I am guessing that most of our guests do not encounter a heavenly angel as Joseph did, but I would wager that they are met with kindness, compassion, a listening ear, and a companion to help them on their path. Joseph was instructed, “Do not be afraid.” Our “Josephs” probably frequently speak similar words, or offer similar assurances.

    This Gospel encounter is a lovely example of a faithful follower heeding the leading of God. How blessed we are to observe our sisters and brothers do the same throughout the Catholic Charities network! O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

    Sr. Betsy Van Deusen is a Sister of Saint Joseph of Carondelet from Albany, NY. She serves as CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany and loves spending time with her family — especially her little “grands!”

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