A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

By: Dan Kowalsky, Bus Ad ’11, and Hope (Voss) Kowalsky, Nurs ’13

The King is coming. As our season of Advent nears its close and we prepare for the Great Feast, we are given a Gospel reading that invites us to reflect in a deeper way the meaning of Emmanuel, God with us. It’s common to hear God most readily described in “big” terms. In this week’s reading for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we are greeted with a story that, like the one we will hear in a short few days at Christmas, illustrates God’s littleness and humility. In His encounter with mankind, known from all eternity, He did not choose to come to us by descending from the clouds with thunder and lightning, or appearing as a forceful military leader. Instead, our story begins with an encounter between an angel and a young Jewish girl in the town of Nazareth, and concludes outside of the inn at Bethlehem. No fanfare. No fireworks. Only silence, and an Infant in a manger.

In the account provided for us this week by St. Luke, we hear of the Angel Gabriel visiting Mary with a greeting — Hail, Full of Grace, the Lord is with you. And, upon seeing her anxiety, a follow up — Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. The good news that follows — that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her, and that she will bear a Son named Jesus, the Son of the Most High, Whose kingdom will have no end — provide a foundation for our faith and the firm rock by which we may live our lives.

Gabe Kowalsky, son of Dan and Hope, in front of St. Joan of Arc Chapel
Gabe Kowalsky, son of Dan and Hope, in front of St. Joan of Arc Chapel

The angel Gabriel’s name — which is not lost on us, given that our son shares his namesake — means “God is my strength.” As we wrap up this odd and tumultuous 2020, we invite you to set aside some time before the holiday craziness to ponder the themes reflecting God’s strength present in this week’s reading — the angel’s message, the pondering heart of Mary, and the coming joy of the Infant in the manger. We speak often of the birth of Christ in global terms, and rightly so — for God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that all who believe in Him shall have eternal life. But during a year where many of us have experienced hardships — the loss of a loved one, a struggle with unemployment, or an ongoing battle with loneliness or depression — allow your reflection to take you to a place where that global love becomes personal. The Infant in the manger came to dry your tears. To bear your burdens. To invite you into a relationship that will renew your joy, day by day.

In our world, with our 24 hour news cycles, our constant pings and buzzes on our mobile phones, our full inboxes, and a never ending stream of Tweets and Facebook posts, allow yourself that moment in silence to rest, alongside Mary and Joseph, with that Infant in the manger, Who loves you and came for you. The King is coming, and in a few short days, we celebrate. Merry Christmas!

Kowalsky Family Christmas Photo
Kowalsky Family

Dan, Bus Ad ’11, and Hope, Nurs ’13, met in 2014 after being set up on a blind date by a mutual friend, and were married in 2017. Dan works to further the mission of Marquette University through his work in the Advancement office and Hope works as an RN in the NICU at Children’s Wisconsin. They live in Brookfield with their 15 month old son, Gabriel, their King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Sully, and a second baby boy due in Spring 2021.

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