Be surprised, be a surprise!

FOOTSTEPS AND FINGERPRINTS

Our MAPECON Advent/Christmas recollection was all about surprises.  Moses, our son, focused on four kinds of surprises that we meet not only during the holidays but throughout the year.  Although his examples were the Original Christmas surprises, we can experience these surprises every day.

Surprise Encounters.  There were many surprise encounters during the first Christmas:  Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, her visitation to Elizabeth (the baby in her womb leaped for joy).  The shepherds were surprised by the Glorias of the angels.  Mary and Joseph were surprised by the visit of the shepherds and the wise men.

Surprise encounters bring great joy.  In themselves they bring and show kindness.  Ask yourself:  how can I surprise someone in a surprise encounter today, in this coming year?

Surprise Blessings.  See everything as a blessing!  The wise men brought expensive gifts.  Jesus’ birth blesses us with the promise of eternal life.  Everything that happens to us is a blessing from God!  Let us give thanks to Him for all of our inexhaustible blessings that we receive daily.

Surprise Problems.  There was no room at the inn, where could they go?  They had unexpected visitors, how can thry receive these important people in the humble manger?  Herod ordered the killing of all babies 2 yrs old or younger, how could they hide from Herod’s soldiers?  Let’s escape to where? To Egypt … how could they travel there alone with a new-born baby?  What did they do?

They caught each problem and prepared to confront it.  The same advice is for us – catch each problem and declare you are ready for it.  Offer it to the Lord and expect a solution.  See every problem as a blessing in disguise, a blessing in transit, a blessing about to happen.  And thank God already for both the problem and the blessing.  He has something good, even better, planned for us as our faith in Him is strengthened by the problem and resulting blessing.

Surprise Companion.  Surprise!  Jesus is here with us!  John 1:14 tells us that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…”  Matthew 1:23 says that he was to be named Emmanuel which means “God is with us”.  And Jesus Himself promised in Matthew 28:20 that He would be with us until the end of the age.  Wow!!!

We experience His Presence in the Holy Eucharist, in Church, through our friends, through the daily blessings and miracles in our lives.  Jesus is always near, moment-by-moment.  He is always with us, we just need to open our eyes, our mind, our heart to His Presence.

How can you surprise yourself … and others … this New Year?  Moses listed 4 ways.  First, prepare a New Year’s Gift for Jesus.  Ask Him: “Jesus, what do you want from me as a gift for the new year 2019?”  Listen closely and He will answer you.

Secondly, read the Bible.  Begin with the Nativity narratives in Matthew 2 and Luke 2, then continue to read about how Jesus spent his life with his family.  Spend time in reflection on each verse, each encounter, moment by moment.

Thirdly, renew your enjoyment of the Sacraments, of public worship and adoration, as well as private prayer.  Energize and enjoy your worship.  Sing with joyful hearts and voices.  Participate actively (not passively).

Fourthly, do something different and meaningful.  Be a surprise to others!  Visit the forgotten and the sick, feed a beggar, smile warmly at everyone you meet.

You are yourself a surprise!  Be a surprise to others.  Surprise yourself!  Remember to be a SURPRISE and more blessings and surprises will be yours in 2019.