Advent -The Coming of the Lord
Overshadow us, come down O Love divine, and invade our space, fill our lonely hearts with your more than imaginable benignness and tenderness and compassion. Fill us with yourself; for left to ourselves, we may believe our hearts too small, too lonely, too afraid and forgotten to be able to hold you.
Advent is a time of watching and waiting. And in these darkest days, the shortest days of the year, we will light Advent candles and recall the Lord’s endless desire to come to us. We recall our desperate need for him, our only Hope and Deepest Desire. And so we will try to make more room for Christ in these Advent days, a place in our hearts, in our community where Hope can grow and flourish, as he did in the secret darkness of Mary’s womb.
Jesus tells us, “Be vigilant at all times.” Perhaps one good reason that he reminds us to be attentive is that the mode of his approach is most often so unassuming, ordinary, unremarkable, and almost forgettable. We need to keep alert, or we’ll miss out. The hour is now, God’s time is now. But we must be aware that his coming, his advent toward us is usually in silence and obscurity. Hidden first of all in the warm womb of a pregnant virgin mother, he then lives a hidden small town life as a carpenter and wandering preacher. Then in the excruciating hour of his death on the cross, all his beauty and power will be hidden, smeared and obscured by the blood and spittle and scorn of his passion. And finally even in his joyous resurrected return to his disciples; he will sneak in through locked doors to whisper, “Peace.” Apparently nothing can keep him away. The need, the love and desire of his disciples, all of it absolutely magnetize Jesus’ heart and draw Him in. He can’t stay away.
The Lord longs to accompany us in our ordinariness over and over, though we may not always realize. We have faith, but there is so much we just do not understand. It’s got to be that way. We believe, but we never get it all. How could we? God is Mystery. But rest assured it is our love and desire that give us clear vision. And if we want to be with him; he wants it more than we do.
God in Christ is hidden and yet revealing himself over and over, doing anything at all to get our attention; “playing in ten thousand places,”* in nature and grace, over and over all day long. Vigilance is essential, a willingness to be surprised at every corner of the cloister, as St. Bernard would say, because angels will be there, heavenly messengers, reminding us, as one reminded our Blessed Lady, that Someone is coming near; Someone wants to be our flesh now. Someone we love has seen our sad predicament and has come down to be with us. And he is constantly making opportunities for his mercy out of the disasters of our sinfulness. Quiet as a thief on tiptoe, Jesus is coming to us, he the God who “veins violets and tall trees makes more and more,”* too tremendous for us to grasp fully but also astoundingly, disarmingly ordinary. Let us open to him.
*Gerard Manley Hopkins