This December I had a pre-Christmas lunch with an individual who has had a life well lived as a Christian. As we chatted through the courses, getting to know each other and meandering through the challenges facing the world, he finally got to the rub.
His thesis, (incidentally, backed up by most mystics and doctors of the Church) was the need to look deep inside ourselves, and there, when we passed through all the other rooms and distractions, we will find Him waiting for us. Always waiting for us.
It is such a simple message for this time of the year. Advent, these last three weeks, gives us a path to lead us through these doors and rooms of distractions leading up to Christmas. Disguising the purpose and sometimes leading us astray as we limit the real purpose of Christmas to a punctuation point at the end of the season. Instead of the manger in the Town Hall of our mind; where it should be placed.
We often place family at the center of the celebration, which of course is only understandable, even desirable. However, we sometimes forget the most important invitation of all. To join in the celebration of God manifest as man. Fully divine. Fully human. With us in a physical presence, because for some reason we did not seem to be able to get the message any other way. We are told in Genesis we are made in His image, man and woman. And yet, somehow, it was decided he would visit us in physical form, demonstrating His love for us in a new way. Meeting man on man’s ground, our understanding, integrating Himself fully into our lives.
My overriding impression of the gentleman explaining his love of God to me was one of servanthood. A story of alignment; of surrender to His Will, not Mine. It is a common call in prayer, liturgy, scripture, but the execution of His will requires us to align ourselves with Him. A task both simple and difficult.
Let me surrender this Advent to Christ. To His will. And travel through all the rooms of distraction at this time just to come and adore Him. This vulnerable child, born into mankind to be with us, love us, and save us.
Despite the lit candles, a Church remains unfilled.
An unwillingness to take an interior walk perhaps,
Needs beckoning at the Mall,
A night at the movies.
All compete for attention.
Yet, those who think He is not with them are mistaken.
For all steps are noticed,
All pain is recognized,
All love is given.
Without a pre-paid return envelope.
Reflection, Photography and Poem Copyright 2018 by Michael J. Cunningham OFS
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