Fourth Sunday of Advent (December 24, 2017)

In today’s Gospel we experience Mary’s openness to God’s will for her. St. Francis has many thoughts on being open to God’s love, which is God’s will in our life:

Mary’s greatest gift was her absolute openness to God’s love. God speaks to us through inspirations and the inner stirrings of our heart. We must be open to willingly accept the inspirations it may please God to send us. By inspirations we mean all those interior desires, acts of regret, thoughts and affections God places in our hearts to awaken and attract us to authentic virtues, holy love, and good resolutions. In short everything that sends us on our way to our everlasting welfare. Any thought that causes us anxiety and fear must be let go, as they do not come from God who is Prince of Peace.

When a good inspiration comes, receive it as an ambassador sent by a leader of a nation. Approach it simply and gently. Listen calmly to God’s proposal. Think of the love it inspires in you, and cherish it. Nurture your good desire and keep it alive by sleeping in the arms of God’s providence. That is, give your inspiration complete, loving and permanent consent by peacefully accepting it, and trusting that God will give you the love you need to fulfill it. In this way, God will be pleased with your good will. Sometimes when God asks us to do some good work, all God really wants is our willingness to do the work, and not the accomplishment. While Jesus established the Kingdom on earth, He left work for His Apostles and future generations to help Him bring it to completion.

However, before you consent to and act on inspirations that are important or unusual, always consult your spiritual adviser to affirm whether they are true or false. Once the consent is given, you must hasten to put the inspiration into practice. The fruit of our practice is true virtue that keeps us continually open, like Mary, to God’s infinite love.

(Francis de Sales, Introduction…; Power & Wright, Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal)