In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. – Isaiah 30:15
Advent is a season of preparation, waiting, and silence as the birth of our Savior draws near. It is a time of anticipation. Quiet and stillness are a key part of the season. It also seems fitting that Advent and then Christmas, coincide with the end of the year and the start of the cold season of winter. Even in the desert, it can be cold at night, so if we begin to imagine the scene of Mary and Joseph as they prepared to welcome Jesus into the world, we can see a similar scene to what much of December is like for us as we enter into this time.
I’ve heard Advent called a “little Lent”, a season that we should use to repent and prepare. We take the time to turn back to Jesus in all ways, to seek the love and peace He provides as we give thanks for the blessings in our lives and reach out to all we encounter in an authentic way. The idea of adding in more intentional silence or time in Eucharistic adoration is one way to approach the season in a less harried or rushed manner. Slowing down to have quiet time before Jesus will allow us to contemplate the full scene of his birth and to place our selves in the wonder of the season. As the verse from Isaiah says, repentance, rest, quietness and trust are our salvation and our strength- ultimately both are Jesus. He is our salvation and our strength, and we find him through silence and a constant turning back to him.
Continuing the visualization of the Nativity scene and journey of the Holy Family to Bethlehem, we can imagine Mary and Joseph traveling through the long nights in the darkness heading for a safe place to rest. It probably was quite cold, the days were short, and darkness probably fell easily. I can imagine silence being a key part of their journey as well. Mary was continuing her great fiat and continual trust in God’s provision. She treasured all the moments in her heart as she struggled to understand how God was going to use her to bring Jesus into the world. Thinking deeply, she likely rode along in the stillness as she imagined what her future would like with this incredible child to love and care for. Likewise, Joseph also probably walked along in silence, continuing to think about the wondrous situation that he found himself in. He was trusting the angel’s promise that he would play a great role in the story, as he thought of the many experiences and things he hoped to teach and live out with Mary and Jesus.
Overall, Mary and Joseph’s astounding trust and faithfulness to both each other and to God are the characteristics that we should strive to imitate in Advent and in all other moments of our lives. Quiet trust and preparation are the ways that our hearts can become attuned to the presence of God. Much later in life after his incarnation, Jesus often withdrew to secluded places to pray and convene with his Father in Heaven. May we follow his example and utilize the quiet to find God and to allow ourselves to be found by him.
Jesus, we are preparing the way for you to be reborn in our hearts this Advent and Christmas season. Help us to seek out moments of quiet and peace, where we can encounter you in the stillness. Fill our hearts with joy, hope, peace, and love and let it overflow from us into the lives of all that we encounter. With the quiet joy and trust of Mary and Joseph, help us to welcome your presence anew this season. We want to trust and follow you to lead us to all that you wish to give to us. You are the ultimate gift, help us to be present and accept your presence as the guiding force of our lives. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.