Sunday, December 24, 2017

God Has a Plan: So Should We (Advent 4B)

One of my favourite expressions is “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

God, as we know, cannot fail. And in case we didn’t know, the readings today remind us that He does plan. 

We find His original plan for our happiness in the Book of Genesis—a plan that our first parents upset by disobedience. Both today’s first reading and the Psalm give us a glimpse of Plan B, of God’s plan to establish a Kingdom, an eternal Kingdom where the Son of David will reign.

David—the traditional author of the Psalm—celebrates the divine plan of which he is a part, although he does not fully understand Nathan’s prophecy: its full message comes clear only far in the future.

St. Paul tells us—many centuries after the time of David and Nathan—that the mystery which was kept secret for long ages is now disclosed and made known to all nations.

The hidden plan is now announced to the world.

But first it had to be announced to the woman who was to play a central part. The angel keeps no secrets from Mary: he makes it clear that her child is the One of whom Nathan spoke to David. He is the One who fulfills God’s promise, who completes God’s plan.

Even the name of Mary’s child reveals the plan: Jesus comes from the Hebrew verb “to save.” Luke doesn’t take the trouble to point it out, but when Matthew’s Gospel records the angel’s message to St. Joseph, it says “You will name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

So my question today is a simple one: if God has a plan, shouldn’t we? Doesn’t his perfect plan of salvation call us to some planning of our own?

We’re not going to have an angel announce God’s plan to us—we already know it. But don’t we need to be ready with our response as Mary was?

I come back to that saying I like so much: if we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Have we found some concrete ways of planning our response to the mystery unfolding before us?

A friend e-mailed me a few Christmases ago to describe his life in December….“endless rounds of office Christmas parties, former classmates’ Christmas parties, former office mates’ Christmas parties, business partners’ Christmas parties. He said “I am literally exhausted already and am spending this morning just relaxing and answering some of my emails.”

(I’m glad he finds answering e-mails relaxing… I wish I did!)

With all that accompanies Christmas, we can’t afford not to plan. In the first place, of course, we need to plan what Mass to attend tonight or tomorrow—resisting the temptation to “fit it in” as an afterthought, arriving in the pew frazzled from a last-minute hunt for a parking space.

In second place is a plan to pray. Can we find fifteen or twenty minutes to read one of the Gospel passages about the birth of Christ, and sit with it?

Husbands and wives could read the texts aloud and sit in silence, or pray with them as a family. I often think of Archbishop Exner’s family— at the table every year they would read St. Luke’s Nativity story before Christmas dinner. Why not plan on that? It certainly won’t happen spontaneously if you don’t.
A surprising number of people manage to attend both Midnight Mass and a morning Mass on Christmas. They are not, to be sure, the parents of small children! But what a way to put Christ at the center of this increasingly secular day. Of course, it takes a bit of planning.

Carving out some time for God before you carve the turkey may seem too much for you. But the angel tells us that nothing is impossible for God, who will surely help those people and those families who want to put Him first this year.

Let’s plan on it.

No comments:

Post a Comment