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Can we say yes 
at Christmas?

 I find it important to use the writings of scriptural commentators and become familiar with the particular gospel readings for each Sunday.

In doing this, I have discovered one book in which I have a particular bookmark at a spot that has great meaning for me. Attending my first retreat on entering the seminary in preparation for my ordination, each of us was provided with a room and on the door of each room there was a scriptural quotation.

Mine was, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). This is the quotation that is printed on my bookmark and each Sunday I cannot but read it and pray that God will give me the strength of faith to embed these words into my heart.

My reason for mentioning this is tied tightly to the preparation of my homily, but also that it has become a well entrenched mantra for me in my life.

Each time I read this brief, but powerful, extract, I ponder how I use this in my everyday life. I am a Christian and have, what I hope is the strength of faith, of hope, and of love to allow these words to be a force to help me live every moment of my life.

It is good to pray that this really is the case for each and every one of us.

Our blessed mother, Mary, must have had these words implanted in her heart for her to be able to have heard the words of the angel, Gabriel, and secondly to respond with the strength of her fiat, her yes to God.

I can remember the moment following a lengthy time of discerning my yes to challenge the archbishop to accept me as a candidate for ordination to the order of deacon.

I needed to hear God’s word saying to me, “Do not be afraid.”

I also needed the affirmative response from my wife and family as I discussed this step that would have a great impact on not only my life, but theirs as well.

After journeying through seven years of coming to understand that this is where God was calling me, I was able to freely respond to him with an affirmative yes.

Mary’s response had a great effect on me. Although nowhere as life-changing in my situation as it was in Mary’s, it provided me with the courage and the strength to take that leap of faith that has brought me to where I am now.

As we enter into the last few days of our preparation for the celebration of the incarnation of Jesus Christ into our world, we have the opportunity to provide ourselves with time to sit quietly with our God, put aside all the distractions for 10, 20, 30 minutes, or whatever time we can, to sit quietly and live in the anticipation of Jesus being born in our hearts and in our world.

Ask God to tell us or show us what it is he is asking of us. This time is important and is a real blessing.

May your hearts and your homes be filled with love, joy and peace at Christmas and remain with you throughout the New Year, as we continue our faith journey to the glory of God.

● Deacon Les Baker