Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Matt Malone, S.J.December 23, 2020

A Reflection for the Fourth Wednesday of Advent

Like most things in 2020, this will be an Advent unlike any other. But each day, you can still take a few minutes to reflect on the coming of our savior at Christmas with short reflections on Scripture, written by the staff of America Media.

Subscribe to The Word in Apple PodcastsSpotify or your favorite podcast player and never miss a reflection. 

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. 
Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. 
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” 
But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” 
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. 
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?"
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.


The season of Advent is dedicated to expectation. As a recovering political operative, I can tell you that managing expectations is not an easy thing to do. People’s expectations are usually too high or too low. Rarely are they ever just right. Why? It’s closely tied to hope, I think. There is something about hope that is not particularly cautious; like its counterpart, hopelessness, it tends to grow and spread quickly and disproportionately.

In today's Gospel from Luke, Elizabeth certainly had trouble managing expectations when she named her son 'John' instead of after his father, Zechariah. Later in his own life, John the Baptist had to manage expectations by telling those who came to him that he was not the Messiah.

In any case, even the Lord had some trouble managing expectations, as we see in the Gospel. In the famous verse from Matthew (9:27-31), he warns those he has healed: tell no one. Being people, of course, they do exactly the opposite. But why tell them this in the first place? Why not allow them to do what comes naturally in a moment of grace, a moment of triumph and hope: shout it from the rooftops! Let the whole world know.

There is something about hope that is not particularly cautious; like it’s counterpart, hopelessness, it tends to grow and spread quickly and disproportionately.

Well, it seems that Jesus is managing expectations. You see, these people he’s just healed addressed him as ‘Son of David.’ The commentaries point out that this is the first time that Jesus is addressed by this title in Matthew’s Gospel. For good reason: In Jesus’ time and place this title ‘Son of David’ is more than a little dangerous. Calling someone ‘Son of David’ could get him killed. And so he warns his followers. Watch your expectations. It isn’t all what it seems. In fact, it’s even bigger and better than that.

Watch, wait, something better is on the way. Sounds a lot like Advent doesn’t it? The question is: What are our expectations this season? Can we invite Jesus in and allow him to scandalize our expectations, to right-order our expectations and, in doing so, to reveal to us anew what an amazing and world-changing event his incarnation was and continues to be. In other words, can we allow Jesus to manage our expectations? 


  • What are your expectations for this Advent, Christmas and the New Year?
  • Are you willing to let God reshape your expectations?

More from America

The latest from america

Three actors from the HBO show Succession sitting in a patio overlooking the ocean
Am I the only person in the world who got to the end of “Succession” and wanted a happy ending?
Jim McDermottJune 01, 2023
A Reflection for the Memorial of St. Justin, martyr, by Christopher Parker
Christopher ParkerJune 01, 2023
Houses are submerged in flood waters in Lokoja, Nigeria, Oct.13, 2022. More than half of the 36 states of the country are affected. More than 600 people have died, with more than 1.4 million people displaced. (CNS photo/Afolabi Sotunde, Reuters)
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria launched a campaign that aims to plant 5.5 million trees over the next five years to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Ekpali SaintJune 01, 2023
a priest stands behind an altar, the camera looks from the area where the tabernacle is, out onto the congregation. only one person sits in the pews in front of the priest, signifying the low number of people attending church.
Ireland is becoming less religious, and the percentage of residents who identify as Catholic is down to 69% according to census data. More people identify with "no religion" than in previous years.