Go Back to the Basics – It Is All About Jesus!
by Father Arkadiusz (Arek) Ochalek, CH (CPT), USA
Gabriel’s words to Mary “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you,” in a small way, mirrors our Advent journey as we pause and take time to celebrate the coming birth of Jesus.
The last Sunday of Advent invites us to slow down, get back to the basics of our faith, and renew our “yes” to Jesus. Life is fast…and we often forget the simple joys of the gift of family, friends, and the community.
The business of deploying to defend the country we love is taxing and often brings a heavy burden on individuals and family alike. Many times we don’t know the “when” and the “where” of the next duty, only that we have to put on our boots and board the plane. In this volunteer force, our “yes” is not forced, but it comes with a great price. Wherever we go, we trust that our faith in Jesus can sustain us. Much like Mary’s “yes” to Gabriel, our Father promises to be with us when we place our trust in Him.
At times, life can tough and rough. It can flatten us with a few quick punches. Ask any parent, any spouse, any child, any priest or chaplain. When that dark moment inevitably creeps up on us – full of weariness or sadness, pain of soul or downright terror, there’s a voice inside us that whispers, “Forget it. This is never going to work. It’s not worth it. So run for your life!” Mary, pregnant with Jesus, had been living in just that kind of moment for half a year since the appearance of the angel with his crazy news. She was just fourteen, scared, and confused. There was no one she could talk to, and that sneaky little voice inside her was working overtime: “Run for your life, Mary,” it kept saying.
But she didn’t run. She just kept repeating her “yes” to our Father, over and over again, “Yes, Father, whatever you ask. Whatever is needed I will do. None of this makes any sense to me, but I know you love me, Father, and you wouldn’t ask this if it wasn’t worth it for the greater good.” And so, as she spoke one “yes” after another; our Father gave her the grace to speak the next one, and then the next, and the next, one at a time. And thus, one moment at a time she was faithful to the very end!
Mary’s example of perseverance and trust through the tough times show us how to keep the faith and to stand firm in our commitments. Our Father is present with us, though he may not seem to be.
And he’s whispering to us too, “it is worth it. You’re doing good work. So don’t give up. I’m right here with you. I’ll give you what you need as you need it, just enough for the day so that you depend on me. So stand firm. Give me your hand, and I’ll see you all the way home.” That’s what he did for Mary, and that’s exactly what he wants to do for you and me!
So, this final week of Advent – take a knee, slow down and count your blessings. Let your “yes” be to Jesus, His and our Father and His plans for your life. In the end it is ALL about Jesus!
Father Ochalek is an active-duty Army Chaplain currently serving as a chaplain recruiter for the Chaplain Recruiting Station – Special Categories, Columbia, Maryland.