Begin by Saying Yes to the Lord
There are few things more frustrating as a parent than trying to give your child a gift or help them experience something new, but, due to fatigue, confusion, diaper rash or distraction, they aren’t capable of receiving the offer. They fight, scream and even beg for the thing you want to give them, but somehow they miss the invitation. One night, largely out of desperation, my wife and I created a list of affirmations for the kids to repeat before bed. One of my favorites is: “I will try to say yes and OK, just like Mary said to the angel.” I like to imagine that’s how God felt about the Israelites. “I’m trying to give you the Promised Land! Just say yes to it! Believe that I am good and I know what’s best. Stop doubting me.” It’s easy to chuckle at the lapses of faith and the subsequent travails found in Scripture, but far more convicting and humbling to evaluate our own responses to God’s invitations, gifts and corrections.
Fundamentally, faith means saying yes to God. He has revealed himself because of his immeasurable love for us, and we can either receive or reject this reality. The catechism describes it this way, “By his Revelation, ‘the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company.’ The adequate response to this invitation is faith.” (142) Advent represents the recognition and celebration of God’s continued project of revelation through the birth of Jesus Christ. All the heroes of Advent demonstrate how to say yes to God even though their invitations look very different. Mary, will you believe that God wants to become incarnate in your womb? Yes! Joseph, will you take this pregnant woman into your home, and also flee to Egypt? Yes! Wise men, will you go worship the Savior of the world? Yes! Shepherds, will you go adore a babe in a manger? Yes!
The Advent season is an opportunity to renew or establish our yes to Jesus. When we say yes, every day, to God’s grace and plan, we become his faithful – literally, full of faith. There are no shortage of things, products, experiences, opportunities jockeying for our attention and our assent in the lead-up to Christmas, so here’s my challenge: Every morning in Advent, we start by saying yes to the Lord. We begin the day with “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” Let’s not be petulant children grasping at what we think we need, what we think will satisfy. Instead, we who are faithful, say yes and OK, just like Mary said.