Today’s post is a reflection on today’s first reading from the book of Judges. It is the story of Manoah and his wife who was barren. By the message of an angel and the grace of God, they became the parents of Samson. This story is obviously a foreshadowing of the Gospel story that follows of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Listen to what Kathleen Norris has to say:
Today our readings ask us to reflect on a mystery: when our lives are most barren, when possibilities are cruelly limited, and despair takes hold, when we feel most keenly the emptiness of life–it is then that God comes close to us. This is a day for those who are grieving or suffering loss during Advent, lamenting that just as we are suffering, and need to weep, the world force-feeds us merriment and cheer. But we are not without hope, for it is because we are so empty, having used the last scrap of our own resources, that God can move in. To work on us, and even to play. Even our bitter emptiness gives God room to play, as at the Creation, placing whales in the sea and humans on dry land, then bringing all the animals to Adam to see what in the world he will call them. This is not a scene of imposed merriment, but of genuine delight and joy. (from God With Us, Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, p. 105)
It’s easy to feel very lonely, to feel very alone, when you are grieving during such a joyous season. It gives me hope to know that God is drawn to those who are empty and lonely and alone. He was born in an “empty” stable. So let’s come to God with our barrenness and our grieving. It is there that He will come close to us.