Yesterday we began the season of Advent. In the Cathedral bulletin Fr. Jim Mockler shared suggestions as we carve out time for making the celebration of Advent prayerful and meaningful.
“Light a Candle – for a reason. Inviting us to prepare our heart for Advent, Sr. Joan Chittister offers the following: “Advent is that unchangeable season when the same concepts, the same words rise over and over again, year after year, to challenge our hearts and plague our minds… when we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus in our lives… Candles are prominent symbols in Advent services. Candles focus our minds on the light of Christ and remind us always that time is going by, that light is ebbing. Light a candle occasionally during the Advent season and reflect on these questions: What is time for? If time is only for work, then what will be left of me when the work is done? If there is no light in me, what will happen when the darkness comes, as darkness comes to every life? What is the gain of leading a useful life if I do not also lead a meaningful one?”
A story. One day a wise rabbi turned to his students and asked: “How can you tell when the night has passed and the day is on its way back again?“ One student said “When you see an animal in the distance and you can tell whether it is sheep or goat“ Another said “When you see a tree in the distance and you can tell whether it is a fig tree or a peach tree.“ Another said “when you can see a person in the distance, and you can tell whether it is a friend or an enemy.“ There were a number of other answers. But the rabbi didn’t respond and so they asked him what his answer was. And he replied as follows: “It is when you can look at the face of any human being and see the face of a brother or sister, because if you cannot do this, then no matter what time it is, for you it is still night.“
Do we share light, hope, joy and freedom? We are a people on whom the light of Jesus has shone and still shines. We keep trying to walk in the light – the light of truth in life, the light of holiness and grace, the light of justice, love and peace. Nevertheless, darkness still has power over us. It can take many forms. Any kind of hatred, lack of forgiveness, lack of reconciliation, injustice done to another, behaviour that is wrong- all of these are forms of darkness. But once we recognize the darkness in our lives and it does take courage, we end up taking responsibility for it and decide to do something about it. There is no joy in living in darkness. To walk in the light means we do have joy and we do have freedom. It would be wonderful if at the end of this Advent I can truthfully say, that with God’s help, I had left some form of darkness behind me. That I had allowed the light to shine into some area of my life where up until now darkness had taken root. Then I would be more ready to meet the Lord of light knowing that in his presence no form of darkness can exist.”
Fr. Jim Mockler, St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10