This Fourth week of Advent is only hours long this year! Here are some thoughts:
When we make a decision, we want it to be the right one. This is natural. When we make a decision, we want it to be long lasting. This is normal.
But our Lord doesn’t always allow us to make the “right” decision; nor does He always allow our decisions to remain the same.
Today’s readings on this the shortest Fourth Week of Advent, reminds us that God is in charge of our life, not our decisions. He gives us the ability to make decisions, but the Lord is responsible for the outcomes and results of these decisions.
King David. He thought he was doing something good and noble. Something right, but while his intentions were correct, it wasn’t what the Lord was asking of him.
Mary thought she was to be the wife of Joseph and to have his children. But she wasn’t correct. The Lord had much bigger plans for her.
What these two, King David and Mary, in reversing their original decisions have in common is the gift of knowledge. Knowledge created a path out of darkness. It also makes clear the path we should walk.
David: The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. 10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb (The Psalms)
Mary: My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. (The Magnificat)
The Gift of Knowledge: Generally knowledge of God’s true will for us comes through gradual illumination. This begins with a knowledge of who WE are. Before we can fully embrace God, it is helpful to fully embrace ourselves.
When Augustine wrote his famous book, Confessions, he looked back upon his years of wandering and wrote: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient yet ever new; late have I loved you! You were inside me all the time but I was running around outside.”
But after his conversion, Augustine never ceased this inner journey. He wrote, “Let me know myself; let me know you!” This helps us to understand that while we might have made an initial decision to follow God, or to enter a particular way of following God, it is a never ending search. Like David and Mary, we might be surprised and change our path, for our search for God is never ending. There is no point in our lives where we can say, “Done! I’ve found the Lord and His will for me. Done!” No, we do what Michael Casey writes, ‘as soon as you carefully articulate why you have come to the monastery, you will need to through it out and start all over again.’
And so, this short fourth week of Advent, I invite you to reflect upon this gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of knowledge.
Father Jordan Aumann defined the gift of knowledge as the gift that enables a person “to judge rightly concerning the truths of faith in accordance with their proper causes and the principles of revealed truth.”
The Baltimore Catechism defined it as “a gift of the Holy Ghost which enables us to see God reflected in all creatures and to praise Him in them, but yet to see the nothingness of creatures in themselves so that we will desire God alone.”
Lastly, Father Adolphe Tanquerey defined it as “a gift which, by the illuminating action of the Holy Ghost, perfects the virtue of faith, and thereby gives us a knowledge of created things in their relations to God.”
Those are good definitions, but they are kind of long, so I would like to add my definition: Father Ken says,
“Knowledge is a gift of the Holy Spirit which allows us to know ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, and by knowing ourselves we come to realize the immensity of God mercy and love, and therefore by knowing ourselves we come to know God.”
I guess mine is longer……see how the Lord has given me the gift of knowledge to know this!
Blessed Advent hours!