Spirituality of the Readings
A Wake–Up Call
Advent is the Church’s world-wide retreat in preparation for The Birth. It now begins its second week. This is the quiet time, the great contrast with our culture’s turbulent consumer-bonanza.
Consumerism-as a-way-of-life is a blessing in many ways, but it shields our eyes against what needs to be prayed for.
Not just the unstoppable—open sale and use of drugs in high-schools and grade schools, not sexual promiscuity as a “life style,” aggressively marketed to the every segment of the population, but also the increasing collapse of commonly shared values in favor of the “new morality,” which is really a dissolution of the ties that bind our culture together.
Under the control of confusion and sadness, can anyone just sit back and be quiet in Advent?
The First Reading says we should.
Remove your robe of grief and misery; put on the splendor of God’s glory forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre [ceremonial hat] that displays the glory of the eternal name.
What? Has someone quietly lost his or her mind? So we are to be the peace of justice, the glory of God on earth? Grief and misery are going to disappear? Maybe the bible is just irreparably cut off from the “real world,” hiding in pews and doting on this comforting and “nice” view of life?
Actually, I think not. I think we are being asked to undergo some revision, some stretching in our approach to life and in our approach to tragedy.
Jesus comes not just into our charcoal-grilling parties, our dreams of a successful careers, our happiness and cheer, but also and importantly, into the craggy mountains and deep gorges of our lives.
You know a lot about these if you are a human being. What sadness are you hiding from? What mountain is currently too high to approach? What utter failure hides in the recesses of your heart? Only one possible solution exists for these troubles, whether they be giant or small: let God’s depths be a deep part of your own soul.
Christ is gestating right now in our hearts, just as you and I did in our mothers’ wombs. Like a mom, we have to stretch! His birth will not make the world pleasant and polite, but will connect it at its very roots with the mysterious profundity of God.
Will you let him be born in you this year, a little more than in the past? Are you willing to let your insides stretch wider than ever before and so make room? This is the meaning of Advent.
You do not have to be capable of such a feat all by yourself. As Paul says in the Second Reading, “the one who began the good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
We are to rely on the tender care of God and of his carefully-tending mother. Allow them to help you dis-close yourself, to tease open a few doors that have been shut too long. Fear has ruled us but Advent care can help.
Once upon a time,
the word of God came to John [the Baptist] son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Gospel).
“Prepare the way of the Lord” inside yourself.
John Foley, SJ
**From Saint Louis University