Advent Reflection – by Kathleen Sacks

mariotto-albertinelli-the-visitation-of-st-elizabeth-to-the-virgin-mary(This reflection was offered on Tuesday at Evening Prayer by Kathleen Sacks.)

“Hi, I’m Mrs. Sacks and I teach FACS. FACS is Family and
Consumer Science….some of you might remember it as HOME

That’s how I began class last week for our annual Generation Day as part
of the class “Lifespan Studies”. It is a HS elective class that teaches the
adolescent concepts of self-identity, attitude and communication and how these
help the teen to relate to different age groups in the Lifespan.
Our unit on Generations began with stereotypes. ….and how they exist
for and against us. We discussed the stereotypes that teens have towards the
elderly, their parents, and stereotypes that people have concerning teenagers.
After we studied the history, values and personality of different generations,
students were asked to invite a grandparent or parent to come to our class to
share stories.

As a result of this experience, students understood that they have
resources in their lives…..maybe ones that they didn’t realize were resources!
My students got to hear how their parents and grandparents days as teenagers
compared to theirs. After only an hour, the students learned how much more
they have in common rather than how different they are from the adult

What is it about sharing common life experiences with another that
touches our hearts? From joys to sorrows and everything in between, there is a
surge of solace and relief when someone else says to us, I know, I know. In
addition to their spoken words, we are touched by other comforting aspects of
our encounter with them including their facial expressions, body language,
laughter, stories and tears. All of this binds us together as a voice inside our
heart whispers: They know. They really do know. From this connection of trust
emerges new strength and resolve. (Susan Naatz, Creighton University’s Ministry

Later that same day, a former student dropped in to visit. She had just
graduated a few months before and came to talk. She told me how she had just
come from the doctor, “ I’m pregnant”.

Ugh, I groaned.

I laughed, you’re kidding, right? She pulled this on me last year as a joke!

No, I really am…..she smiled.

WHAT? I thought….didn’t you listen to one thing in all the classes you
took with me….

Well, what are you going to do? I asked.
I’m keeping my baby, Mrs. Sacks!!

So there it was…….this girl, student, friend of mine….underemployed,
technically homeless, no spouse….. just shared the news that she was joyously
carrying a new life within her and I greeted her like she had the plague!
We read in Luke’s gospel that when Mary finds out she is pregnant she
rushes to her older cousin Elizabeth who is also expecting her first child. Having
responded to God’s call, Mary likely hungers to see her cousin’s face and
experience Elizabeth’s love.

I can imagine that Mary predicted Elizabeth’s unconditional acceptance,
literally leaping joyfully, youthful exuberance, to visit her cousin and share the
news. Upon arrival she fell into the arms of her beloved cousin and dear friend,
awkwardly hugging around Elizabeth’s growing belly. I can picture how they
must have shared countless stories, gestures of love and understanding all the
while communicating to one another: I know. I know.

At Pope Francis’ celebration of the mass for the Third Sunday of Lent, he
said, “ Today, we are asked not to let our hands grow weak because of doubt,
impatience or suffering,” but to place our trust in the Lord. The coming of the
Lord must fill our hearts with joy he said, noting that God always protects his
people. As Pope Francis opened the doors of the Basilica, I pause to think what
doors….doors of mercy, Jesus is opening for me.

Soon we will celebrate the birth of our Savior……not just mine…ours!
There is hope! There is love! I am hopeful…..when I know I am loved. I can
share that love through the actions of my hands….my heart. Jesus, help me to
love as you have loved! Let me love without conditions….

There’s no such thing as an accidental child…only an accidental parent! I
know my friend has a rough road ahead of her. I know I will help. I know
parenting will be difficult for her. I know I could have been a little more joyful at
the news. I know, I know. I know too much of what lies ahead for her. I ask
you to pray for her…..and pray for all parents. Let us hope that each life is
joyfully accepted. Jesus, help us love…. love God…just love our neighbor ….be
there for our neighbor. I know. May the joy of Christmas, the joy of knowing
love, radiate from each of us in each of our lives.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us…..all of us

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