Dec 02

I saw the challenge in The Central Minnesota Catholic magazine to reflect deeply and prayerfully on the question “What are you waiting for?” during Advent. It is an important question this year, for me and for the world. The media would have us believing that shipping delays and supply chain issues are going to “ruin” Christmas this year; if that is true, and if that is what you are waiting for, you are doing Christmas wrong. I found a very appropriate reflection:

“In the midst of troubled times,

In the middle of all kind of uncertainty,

At the end of a year of a whole lot of hurt,

It’s like the whole world is whispering

“We’re waiting for you, Lord.”

(Ann Voskamp)

Amen. I will add my whisper.

My Advent goal is a quiet heart – lots of reflection, creating space and time for Scripture. Life lately has been a struggle – filled with disappointment, and feelings of being left out and worthlessness. But God has been pulling at me. I have been listening at Mass about the call to share time, talent and treasure – whatever that is and however you can provide it. It is the call to bring to God what you can and let God use it. The invitation recognizes that everyone brings something different and is welcome. I have been waiting for that as I search for a place with space for me.

It also reminded me of a through line in the series “The Chosen.” Its director and writer, Dallas Jenkins, emphasizes, “Remember, your job is not to feed the 5000. It’s only to provide the loaves and fish.” Sunday we started a new liturgical year and I again have my resolutions for the new year. This year I will intentionally and prayerfully give my loaves and fish to God. Who I am, what I believe, my strengths, my weaknesses, I hand them to God. He can use them, improve them, and, hopefully, show me a path, a place, and a space. I remain a steadfast advocate for truth, but need to work on recognizing that my worth, dignity and value are not determined by other people. I do not have the capability to make people see the truth, just as I do not have the capability to feed the 5000. I have been waiting and praying and in the quiet of Mass, God has been telling me to focus on what I can offer. He wants my loaves and fish, limited as they are.

Advent seems like the appropriate time to make this offering. It is a new year in the Church. We light candles each week, starting with the candles of hope and peace. We wait, with patience, for the coming of our Savior, renewing our craving for His message in a struggling world.

Luke 1: 78-79 says, “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

I sit in the darkness and wait for the light – Christ’s light. I will place the loaves and fish that I have at His feet and wait, being open to what Christ decides to do with them. So, when asked the question, what are you waiting for? I wait for His light, and the hope that comes with celebrating His birth each Christmas. As a baby, He reminds us of our own vulnerability, and our own uniqueness. We wait with expectation of the coming of a baby who will change the world. We renew that hope each year during Advent.

Last week Pope Francis said, “The beauty of Christmas shines through in the sharing of small gestures of genuine love. It is not alienating, it is not superficial.”

In other words, we should not worry about the quantity of our loaves and fish, or what kind of loaf, and what kind of fish. It does not matter to God. This Advent, give Him what you have and wait, with expectation of what He will do with it, with hope that it will make a difference in the world, and with gratitude for the opportunity to be part of His plan. That has been the message that has remained with me the most in the last few weeks. I am part of His plan; I have a place and a space. Maybe my loaves and fish will be used by Him to feed the 5000. He came into the world to give us hope and that is what I will be celebrating this Christmas.

Sheila Hellermann is a member of St. Mary Parish in Melrose. She works at St. John’s University as a program and department coordinator for several academic departments. Read more about Sheila on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

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Sheila Nelson December 3, 2021

Another powerful reflection and an important reminder and challenge to all of us. I, like many others I’m certain, share in the struggle and fears you describe… Thanks for the reminder of what’s important and what Advent is really all about.

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