Dear sisters and brothers,
It’s December. Summer is in the air, storms come – or not – with their usual hit-and-miss routine, and our school family is already on their long holidays. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, as they say. Already we have hit the halfway mark of Advent – or thereabouts. Even so, only the last eight days of Advent focus our attention on preparing for Christmas. These first three weeks of Advent are really about giving us a good shake, and telling us to “keep awake” and “stay awake”. We are not meant to be sitting passively, waiting for Christmas to come in a sudden mad rush.
The readings of Advent and the characters in them tell us, with great force and passion, to keep an eye out for God who is already here. And the God who is already present amongst us is continually calling us to a change of heart. Preparation is not the same as waiting. Waiting is passive. Preparation is about taking seriously what this moment of Advent is asking of us. St. Paul prays an Advent prayer for us today that we might increase in love and never stop growing towards God. That’s what this Advent time is all about.
During the week, I read an Advent reflection written by Kathleen Hirsch called “Candles in an Advent of Darkness”. She was reflecting on the meaning of Advent at a time when there seems to be some many acts of darkness in our world. Below is an extract, and her words are worthy of our further reflection:
All of the gestures of Advent were designed to bring a slower, more mindful pace to our days, so that when Christmas came, we would greet it with a renewed understanding of the incarnational message, “Christ is born” – the kingdom of God come among us.
“Resetting” the ordinary and seeing the holy in this season isn’t as easy as it once was. Saturated by news clips and tweets of divisiveness, how are we to find the quiet in which we might discover our own navigational stars of hope? The shelter of mere tranquility has collapsed for many of us. If we are totally honest, we are wandering in a dark as deep as that of Mary, Joseph, and the Magi, harried by the same environment of conflict and uncertainty.
But maybe this is the point. Perhaps Advent is actually about accepting reality as it is, and surrendering our small certainties in order to hear a different message than the one we read in the news.
Christmas peace, by this measure, isn’t the faux peace of the shopping catalogues that are pouring in like an avalanche this early December with their images of commercial Christmas perfection. Peace is accepting the life we are given, and beginning to build the things that matter, the works of value, in our world — to light our candles without demanding the comfort of certainty.
Peace and joy for the week ahead,
|Jun 24, 2016||2nd Sunday of Advent 06.12.2015||Listen||Download|