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On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, this final day of the Advent Season, we hear the reassuring and comforting words to the Blessed Mother and each one of us, “The Lord is with you.”
We, in our various ministries to the jails, prisons, correctional centers, centers and houses for reentry, must proclaim with great reassurance and comfort to all, “The Lord is with you.”
“The Lord is with you” is a daily message from God who abides with us. God who is close to us, and as we approach Christmas, God who is with us, our Emmanuel. We heard today the Gospel Story of the Annunciation. Mary, our Mother and model, encounters the Lord with her and in her “yes” to God, the Lord dwelling within her.
“The Lord is with you,” the Lord is within you. “The Lord is with you.” Our response to our daily encounter of the Lord is to join our yes to Mary’s yes. It should be evident that the Lord dwells within us and we share him with all. In our daily “yes”, we proclaim Jesus, our Emmanuel, as one who is with us, not only at Christmas, but in every moment of our lives
“The Lord is with you” is a message of comfort. We need to personally believe this truth and proclaim this truth for those who we serve. “The Lord is with you” reaffirms that the Lord is a gift to each one of us. We have done nothing to earn or merit the Lord. The Lord comes to us purely as a gift. This message offers everyone hope and gives us worth. In our lives and for those we serve in our prison ministries, the Lord comes to us, is present to us, is loving us, redeeming us, forgiving us in all our past wrongs and mistakes, all our sins and the wounds that they have caused, all our failures and disappointments. “The Lord is with you” is a gift for the Lord comes because he loves you to comfort and console you in your need, to give you hope and light in your darkness, and when we have felt worthless, Jesus as pure and loving gift reminds us we have worth, he gave his life because you and me were worth redeeming.
May we in our personal witness and in our prison ministries, always proclaim “The Lord is with you” and that we may make a daily difference by our “yes” to the Lord.
The above reflection was written by Bishop Mark S. Rivituso. Bishop Rivituso is the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Originally from St. Louis, Bishop Rivituso was ordained in 1988 and has served as a pastor at several parishes and as Vicar General for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. CPMC appreciates his many years of pastoral care for people affected by incarceration.