A: Is 7:10–14; Rom 1:1–7; Mt 1:18–24

B: 2 Sm 7:1–5, 8b–12, 14a, 16; Rom 16:25–27; Lk 1:26–38

C: Mi 5:1–4a; Heb 10:5–10; Lk 1:39–45

Welcome to Humanity!

Advertising works by exaggeration. Jesus comes in just the opposite way: a baby too tiny to notice in an unimportant speck of the empire. We may work toward the ideal holiday—beautifully wrapped gifts and delicious meals, but there may still be awkward lapses in conversation, tired and cranky people, screaming children, and barking dogs that disrupt the caroling.


12/17: Gn 49:2, 8–10; Mt 1:1–17

A Mighty Growl

Lest we get too sentimental, Genesis compares Judah, Jesus’ ancestor, to a lion. It’s appropriate to roar at injustice, to work fiercely so that the Gospel permeates our world.


12/18: Jer 23:5–8; Mt 1:18–25


Matthew describes an unsettled time—no social approval or family nest welcomes Jesus. Much as we distrust such unstable times ourselves, they often give birth to the greatest growth.


12/19: Jgs 13:2–7, 24–25a; Lk 1:5–25


“You will have joy and gladness,” the angel tells Zechariah. But he becomes bogged down in the negative (“I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years”) and he misses the great good, the undreamt possibility becoming real.


12/20: Is 7:10–14; Lk 1:26–38

Many Annunciations

Many people who learn they’ll be a parent or become responsible for others feel perplexed and astonished as Mary did. But for all those starting a perilous new adventure comes the same reassurance: “Nothing will be impossible for God.”


12/21: Sg 2:8–14 or Zep 3:14–18a; Lk 1:39–45

An Unborn Infant Leaps

What’s good news without girlfriends to share it? Not a word of complaint from Mary or Elizabeth though their pregnancies are hardly routine. What can I praise today?


12/22: 1 Sm 1:24–28; Lk 1:46–56

Sing Praise

Today’s calendar door opens to song. Find a musical version of “The Magnificat” (YouTube has many), listen to or sing Mary’s canticle, and reflect on it.


12/23: Mal 3:1–4, 23–24; Lk 1:57–66

The Importance of the Name

“Making all things new” starts with John’s name, a change from the clan’s past and its patriarchy. The name “Emmanuel” was first used during Ahaz’s corrupt rule. Ours isn’t the first era of disruptive change, war, and disaster.


12/24 (morning): 2 Sm 7:1–5, 8b–12, 14a, 16; Lk 1:67–79

Soon and Very Soon

“The tender mercy of our God” will blossom forth tomorrow. What glimpses of Advent grace have prepared you for this?


12/25: The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

A, B, C (Midnight): Is 9:1–6; Ti 2:11–14; Lk 2:1–14

A, B, C (Day): Is 52:7–10; Heb 1:1–6; Jn 1:1–18 or 1:1–5, 9–14

God’s Pure Gift

Some suggest that Jesus became human not to atone or rescue, but because God wanted to be better known. So God is revealed through the touch of a baby’s hand. Jesus knows how hard it is to be human, so he joins us. That is cause for rejoicing.



Author Kathy Coffey gives many retreats and workshops. For more information about her books and talks, see