Friends, here we are at the 2nd week of our Advent journey. “Journey” is a good way to think about these four weeks of preparation for this most wonderful season of Christmas. We are on a journey of preparation that will prepare us, if we are conscious of this opportunity, in the most profound ways we can imagine.
Each Advent for the last ten years; I have spoken to you about not rushing the season—lingering a bit in the days of Advent to check not only our lists of gifts, cards, special foods, etc., but of ourselves as “spiritual beings, here, having a human experience,” as someone once said.
I often speak to you during Advent about “carving out” some moments in each day to nurture your relationship with Jesus, our brother who was willing in the great plan of God to immerse himself in humanity for no other reason than to show the over-the-top love of our God for each of us. We don’t want to lose sight of this one key idea. We also don’t want to get lost, lost in the busyness of this time of year, when this season is so much about being found—found by our God who loves and cares for us beyond anything that we can imagine!
And my friends, for this very reason, the feast of yesterday, the Immaculate Conception is really a contradiction to the great love of our God who chose to become part of our humanity. Because you see, to say that his mother was conceived without sin is to say that she was not human as the very definition of humanity is that we are not perfect and the best part, is that our God loves us anyway! So, if the only way that Jesus could be part of us, and our humanity was that his mother needed to be perfect, or not human, than where did the human component in Jesus come from? Clearly, the theologians and clerics need to clean up their act on this one. And if they can do that, then some of the negative thinking around sexuality might be able to be done away with as well. The beauty of the Incarnation is the realization that God loved us from the get-go and chose to be immersed in our humanity that is not an “original sin,” but an original blessing!
I was visiting with a woman this past week that I am a mentor for on her journey to becoming a Cojourner with the Rochester Franciscan Sisters. We were talking about her notion that, “God is love.” I suggested to her that a way to “see” her God more was to be conscious of the fact that when she experiences good in this world in any way, she is seeing the face of God. Our God infuses all of creation, animate and inanimate objects with the God-head—God’s fingerprint is on all of it! So if we are looking for God; we must realize that God is all around us, ever present, ever-wanting to be a part of our lives. I think of the joy of a little boy, our grandson, Elliot, who turned 5 yesterday and amid the goodness of his family gathering with him for a party at the bowling alley, our God was there!
Advent calls us to this and more—not just that our loving God is in all that is good, but in all that is not-so-good. That becomes the harder part for most of us—that in parts of this world—in people specifically, where good does not seem to be present because we humans have camouflaged the image of God—God yet remains. In other words, we are called to love that which on face value seems, unlovable.
Paul tells the Philippians today and us vicariously, “my prayer is that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and discernment.” The prophet, Baruch, confirmed by the prophet, John, tells us, “Make ready the way of God, clear a straight path—that every valley will be filled and every mountain will be leveled.” Nothing is impossible for God! The prophet Baruch continues, “For God is leading Israel (and us) in joy by the light of divine glory, escorted by mercy and justice.”
Always, my friends, we must remember the importance of keeping our eyes on Jesus, because he will truly show us the way to navigate in a world that can sometimes seem, loveless. We are saddened when we do not see people in power, in Church or State, acting as the true leaders that we need them to be.
It is equally sad when our so-called leaders act more out of their heads, than their hearts. Advent and ultimately, Christmas is about getting this one idea right—it is love, always love that opens hearts and changes minds, not lofty rhetoric devoid of caring actions.
Jesus, our brother, on this spiritual journey came not as royalty, but as a poor baby of poor parents—parents who would become refugees in order to save their baby from violence and death. We can’t miss the blatant connection between Mary, Joseph and Jesus and our present day refugees. Our God is part of all creation and to reject and not care for any one member of that creation is to reject and not care for Jesus.
As we continue our Advent journey, let us take some time each day, if only a few minutes, to focus on keeping our hearts open to seeing Jesus in our world in perhaps new and different ways—Amen? Amen!