by Lesle Knop
I am writing this from a hospital room in Wichita where my youngest brother is recovering from open-heart surgery on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
My brother is the fifth of my mother’s six children. I am her third. My brothers and sisters are grateful that we have each other, the best gifts our mother ever gave us.
I prayed the rosary accompanied by beeps, hums and intercom announcements, and thought about Our Blessed Mother and her cousin Elizabeth.
Just a few weeks ago, I joined a group of fellow pilgrims to the Holy Land at Ein Karem, the traditional site of the birth of John the Baptist. It is the place where Mary traveled “into the hill country to a city of Judah” (Lk 1:39) and the place where Elizabeth greeted Mary as “the mother of my Lord.”
When Mary arrives and greets Elizabeth, John the Baptist is filled with the Holy Spirit, anointed to be the one who will prepare the way for the coming Messiah.
Michael Scherschligt, the founder of the Holy Family School of Faith, was our catechist and guide on the pilgrimage. He said it was the last day of Hanukkah when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary saying, “Hail Mary full of grace! The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28).
The angel tells Mary that she will give birth to the Son of God. Her heart’s desire is to do God’s will. When Mary went to Ein Karem to see Elizabeth, all that the angel had told her was confirmed.
Later, our pilgrimage led us to Bethlehem, “the house of bread,” where Michael Podrebarac sang beautiful Christmas hymns and Archbishop Naumann celebrated Mass, the paschal sacrifice.
We prayed at Shepherds’ Field, where the first adorers greeted Jesus, the Lamb of God.
This Advent, I am grateful to Trinity Travel, who helped us celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas and to the generous CFNEK board members who established an endowment and a challenge grant to enable adult Catholics from our archdiocese to travel with the School of Faith to the Holy Land.
Beep. Hum. I watch my brother sleep, grateful for his doctors and nurses, and for my family. Help me, Lord, to see you in all the coincidences of life.
I believe that God has a plan for each of us. As stewards of our various gifts, we are given tasks that require us to use our gifts in service to one another.
Our lives are part of God’s plan. I am also thinking about the Holy Family and Mary’s love for God that allowed her to trust. Christmas blessings to each of you.