Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”
Most of us, if not all of us, will remember playing the childhood game “hide and seek.” One person would close his eyes and count to ten, while the others ran to find hiding places that would make it difficult to be found. Just before going out to find those who were hidden, he would holler… “ready or not, here I come.”
I am reminded of that childhood game, because it seems we’ve only begun our Advent preparations and today, on this third Sunday of Advent, we are given a glimpse of the magnificent events of that first Christmas. And although we can begin this graced season with good intentions, today may find us feeling spiritually unprepared, unready to welcome the infant Jesus. There just doesn’t seem to be enough time to be ready, no matter how good our intentions.
The gospels reveal an image of Joseph with which we may identify: fearful, uncertain, unprepared and unready. Yet the angel appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary into your home.” Joseph awoke from the dream and did as the angel had commanded. As we reflect on these weeks that pass so quickly, and envision our Christmas celebration, we too can be fearful, uncertain and unready. However, the child Jesus has been born to us, whether we are ready or not; and God has entered our world and our lives, whether we are ready or not. His plan will continue to unfold in our lives, whether we are ready or not. The truth is we may never be fully prepared, never really ready.
Yet, how ready do we have to be? It may be as simple as being open to the wonder that God has in store for us; being open to His outpouring of love; being open to the joy that comes in welcoming Him into our hearts. Joseph, although unready, was open to the message of the angel. May we, on the brink of our celebration of the gift of Emmanuel, open our hearts and lives to “God with us.”
May God Bless our celebrations!