Scott Sanders launches our Advent series by getting lost in the bush and finding the humble path - at expense of his pride.
Mary-Anne Maio is an Adelaide-based Journalist with The Southern Cross newspaper, announcer on 1079 Life FM’s nightly program ‘The Takeover’, and is Diocesan Youth Communications Officer at the Catholic Office for Youth and Young Adults.
Today's reading is Philippians 1:12-18a
Heights, mice, germs, snakes. Despite what I thought I knew scared me, it wasn’t until the latter part of this year that I fully realised just how overpowering fear can be.
In August, when my Mum was hospitalised with the very real prospect of her never coming home, fear became second-nature for me. Looking back, it’s a shock to think of just how strong our family had to be in the face of fear. It’s no secret to everyone who knows me, though, that my ability to ‘not know how strong I am until strong is my only option’ is only a façade for my faith in knowing that Christ will not only never forsake or abandon me, but will actually comfort, embrace and hold me up during my pain.
In Philippians 1:12-18a, we’re reminded that Jesus’ suffering and resurrection in defeat of death itself are all linked to His unwavering love and deep commitment to every human being. We’re asked to know that suffering is never without Jesus, for He gave us the ultimate example of how suffering can be defeated when we turn to God.
Of course, it’s not always easy to trust in God and have hope that our faith will see us through. When my Mum was at her lowest, I was truly afraid to pray for her recovery because I was fearful that God would take her away from me. Not only did this break my heart because I couldn’t convince myself that His will in this situation could be the best outcome and I was therefore afraid of losing my faith in Him, but I also felt guilty for pushing Him away.
So how did I overcome fear in the face of adversity? To be honest, I still don’t really know, but what is certain is that it wasn’t a solo effort. Something my Catholic faith teaches is that Christ dwells within each of us, especially when life is spent as a community. Praying with members of my parish family gave me immense strength in my desperation and reminded me that I’m never alone.
By God’s grace, my Mum has now radically improved to the point where we’re now planning her return home.
This Advent, I urge you to turn a blind eye to fear and embrace those around you. Ask others to pray with and for you, and offer to pray and assist others in your own everyday life.
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Paul’s Joy That Christ Is Preached
12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.
15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice.