At this stage in our Advent Journey our minds turn to the end of this season and the celebration of Christmas that begins tomorrow with our First Communion of Christmas, or Midnight Mass as it is often called. But even as we reach the last part of the story, there are obstacles in the way - a difficult journey with a heavily pregnant Mary, nowhere for them to stay, and giving birth in a stable (probably more like a cave), before having to flee as exiles to Egypt. The difficulties never seem to end.
For some of us, it can feel like that on our life journey, our spiritual journey, that it seems to be harder work than we expected. That as we move past one difficulty, another one comes looming.
Some of this is, perhaps, our perspective - when we expect things to be bad, then we see bad things everywhere. When we move forward more positively, we will see more of the positives in our lives and around us. That's not to say that 'positive thinking' will mean we don't face hardships and difficulties, or that bad things don't happen. But there's also beauty in the brokenness, and life which comes even from death.
Even in amongst the difficulties we face, there are still moments which can inspire, strengthen, encourage us - if our eyes and hearts are open to them. For Mary and Joseph, in the midst of their troubles was the birth of a new baby, and the promise which such new life holds. For us, remembering that we are part of a community and can reach out to our siblings in faith when times are hard, and recognizing that God is with us in all things, good and bad, and seeking to find those moments of Divine life in the everyday, can sustain us as we journey onwards.
No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10.13