In the first reading today, we hear that a star shall advance from the line of Jacob and a staff shall rise from the people of Israel. Both star and staff were well known to the Jewish people as symbols of guidance. Balaam’s word presaged the coming of Jesus Christ.

As Christmas approaches, our days seem to get busier as we might prepare for the external festivities connected to the holiday. We might even make a resolution or two for the new year, aiming for better health or a more-efficient daily routine. But as we make these plans, but do we remember to look to our guiding star, Christ Himself?

The responsorial psalm in today’s liturgy is an excellent prayer to repeat throughout our packed days: “Teach me your ways O Lord.” Through this plea, we can regularly affirm that it is the Lord who knows the way to everlasting life — the one thing that will bring us everlasting happiness.

In my work with, I have the chance to help bring Christ’s guidance to many people who struggle with life and the faith. It is my prayer that this Christmas each of us will receive the grace to more fully follow the Lord, our staff and star.

Fr. Edward McIlmail is the editor and contributor for Ask a Priest at

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  1. Thank you for these blessed Advent reflections. The Fall and holidays are difficult for me as I lost my sister, mother and father in the months of October, November and December??????????

  2. Yes “His will” and “His ways” are a daily challenge in my family of 3, but we discovered each time that His Grace is always around us only after we went through the challenges, not before! Thank you Father for this meditation.


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