During Advent we attempt to take some time away from the hustle and bustle of our lives (and the pre-Christmas shopping season) and spend time renewing our commitment to prayer and to Christ. This renewal prompts us to help others encounter Jesus and engage more fully in God’s Kingdom.

In today’s Gospel we see in Mary a wonderful example of freely giving our time and talents. When Mary heard that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, she ‘traveled to the hill country in haste.’ She did not complain that she had work to do, shopping to finish, meals to prepare, or another email to write. She did not say that she would go after she got her work done or when it was convenient for her. She immediately left her home, chores, and family to be present to a person in need. Mary’s loving response to a friend in need causes me to think about how I give of myself during this busy time of the year.

As the Advent season ends and I hope for the joy of Christmas, am I being present to family members or friends that need companionship and support? Do I spend some time in prayer and thanksgiving? Do I remember that Christmas is about Jesus and not about the cards, presents, decorations, or food? Do I actively look for Jesus in myself and those I meet? Do I encourage others to encounter Jesus during the holiday season?

—Brother John Moriconi, S.J., a noted mandolinist, is provincial’s secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit Province.