Advent 2022

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent: God is Never Late

Fourth Mon 1

In our liturgy throughout the Advent season, we are given images and messages preparing us for the Lord’s coming. The candles on the Advent wreath are all lit up now, a visible sign that Christmas is close at hand. In the Gospel today we hear the angel Gabriel, God’s messenger, tell Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth will bear a son who will, “prepare a people fit for the Lord.” And at Vespers tonight, we will pray the great and ancient O Antiphon, proclaiming, “Oh root of Jesse’s stem. Sign of God’s love for all his people. Come save us without delay!” Through these signs and so many others (think of the roses Juan Diego received at the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe!) we can see God reaching out to us and making us participants in the ongoing story of love and salvation.

Sometimes though, the signs are not so clear. In the busyness of life, we are inundated with so many other messages and images—on our phones, in our inboxes, from the culture that surrounds us. Sometimes hearing, feeling, or knowing God is near can be a major challenge. Or it may feel like God’s love and grace will never come, like our waiting is in vain. How will I know it is God reaching out? How will I know how to reach back? Will I be ready to say yes?

Today’s Gospel gives me a lot of hope that even when we are not sure, perhaps especially when we may be confused or uncertain, the Lord will find a way to keep preparing us to be his co-laborers. Zechariah had just received shocking, good news: in their old age, after decades of barrenness, he and Elizabeth would bear a child. “How shall I know this?” he asked. Or, how will I know that this is for real? In God’s brilliant wisdom, God sent Zechariah another unexpected sign that would prepare him to know God’s presence—silence. He was made speechless until these events came to pass, until the birth of his son John. This silence must have been exactly what Zechariah needed to fully receive and believe the words that were spoken to him by the angel. For nine months, Elizabeth would hold the child in her womb and Zechariah would hold God’s word in his being, his own pregnancy so to speak.

In these last days of Advent, may we make times of silence in our day to reflect on the unique signs that God has given us, known perhaps only in the depths of our hearts. And in this silence may we grow in our trust of God’s perfect timing. That even as we wait, and sometimes wait and wait, God is never late. He is coming and indeed is in our midst.

Mother Maria Evangelista Fernandez , O.S.B., GRD '25

Mother Maria is a Benedictine nun at the Abbey of Regina Laudis and is currently a student at Yale Divinity School.