Saturday, December 23, 2017

"Do not be afraid" Advent Reflection by Taylor Gostomski, Augustinian Volunteers



In this annual series, current and former volunteers reflect on the Advent Gospels and the Four Pillars of Faith-Based Service: Social Justice, Simplicity, Community and Spirituality. Presented by Catholic Apostolate Center and Catholic Volunteer Network.


Fourth Week of Advent

Reflection by: Taylor Gostomski, Former Augustinian Volunteer

Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:26-38)

“The journey is better than the inn,” was written by Miguel de Cervantes in his famous work Don Quixote. Former UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, used to use that phrase to describe how he liked the practices or “the journey,” better than the actual games or the “inn” in his work. Many of us want to get to the destination or result right away – whether it’s
an actual trip or a goal we have set – that we forget the hidden treasure than can be the journey or process itself.

Take time to intentionally think about one of your favorite accomplishments. Was the only good part the moment you actually got your reward? Or was the process of getting there also satisfying? That’s not to say there isn’t hard work, sacrifices and suffering, but we can learn to take joy in that part too. 

In today’s Gospel reading, Mary has, what I would imagine, a very human reaction to being visited by an angel of God and being told something big is about to happen and that she’s going to be a part of it. “Troubled”, “pondered”, being told to “not be afraid” and asking “How” are all pretty human responses. I wonder, if like many of us, Mary wanted to skip to the end of her story and know what was going to happen and whether or not she would be okay.

But ultimately, it seems Mary accepted the value of the process, the journey, when she trusts God’s will. Bearing God’s child, perhaps the “inn”, is a wonderful thing, but maybe the journey is also wonderful—the trust, courage and inner strength that was required of Mary to bring Jesus into the world.

Taylor walking during his journey in Chulucanas, Peru.
Focus on SpiritualitySpiritually, I struggle greatly with some of the classic big questions in life. Why is there suffering in the world? I also struggle with more practical questions like, what is my next career step going to be? I really want to know the answers to both of those, but maybe this passage about Mary can help remind us a) it’s okay to have questions and b) it’s also okay to not know the answers and wherever we are in life right now, we need not the answers or to know for it to be enjoyable.

Service SuggestionIf Christmas is our inn, then Advent is our journey. Let’s not only wait this Advent, being stagnant, but prepare, being active. Let’s prepare ourselves so that when the big day arrives, we will be able to more fully enjoy it. Maybe it’s preparing ourselves to have a better attitude when things don’t go our way in life, so that when the holidays come and, likely, something doesn’t go our own way, we are able to take it in stride and maintain our joy during this special time of year and share it with others.

Taylor (right) teaching his Peruvian students.
PrayerGod, teach us patience in the journey of life. For we often want to get to the destination so eagerly, we forget to appreciate what happens along the way. Although the journey has its hardships, help us to see the value in those challenging times. Give us the strength to continue on the path set before us and to strive to seek moments of joy in situations where it may be sparse.

- Taylor Gostomski

Looking for more reflections like this one? We invite you to download our Advent Reflection Guide in its entirety, available by clicking here. You can find an extensive library of Advent resources by visiting the Catholic Apostolate Center website - click here.