As humans we are naturally on the lookout for signs and signals of others’ behavior. Will my Mom and Dad be in a good mood when I ask to use the car? Is my boss going to be receptive to my proposal? Is the market favorable today? Will the coming snow make me cancel Christmas plans? Will he or she say “yes”?

Observant Jews were constantly on the watch for signs of the coming Messiah. When will he come? What will he be like? Prophets and seers waited and worried. Imagine how the prophetic words in the days of King Ahaz were received—a virgin with child? to be named Immanuel? Centuries after Ahaz and Isaiah that prophecy would be fulfilled in ways no one could imagine.

What about you and me? Can we allow our imaginations to expect the impossible from God? Do I have enough trust that the Lord will work wonders in my own life—can I hand over my own ideas and plans to the Lord? Can I open my heart in trust? Can I say “Let it be done!” as Mary did? That is the Advent challenge each and every year.

—The Jesuit Prayer Team