By Sister Phyllis McMurray, Prioress
In the liturgy for the First Sunday of Advent, we are called to “Be watchful! Be alert!” Reflections on Advent remind us: Stay awake! Be aware! Pay attention! As we enter Advent, we are called to be mindful of God entering our lives as Emmanuel, the One sent to be our “light forever” (Isaiah 60:19).
Yet how can we look to the light and the joy of this season when we see the situation of the world around us? How can we be light for others in this time of economic downturn, joblessness and poverty?
Henri Nouwen speaks of finding hidden joys and choosing the light in an excerpt from his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son. He said, “Yes, I know that not everybody has been converted yet, that there is not yet peace everywhere, that all pain has not yet been taken away, but still, I see people turning and returning home; I hear people pray; I notice moments of forgiveness, and I witness many signs of hope. I don’t have to wait until all is well, but I can celebrate every little hint of the Kingdom that is at hand.
“This is a real discipline. It requires choosing the light even when there is much darkness… once you choose to claim the joy hidden in the midst of all suffering, life becomes celebration.”
Let us choose the light. Let us tell others of the hidden joys we have discovered rather than speak of negative stories or the latest rumor.
Advent invites us to turn our hearts toward Emmanuel, who called himself the “light of the world” (John 8:12) and whom John’s Gospel describes as “the light of the human race” (John 1:4).
No longer the Babe in Bethlehem, the Risen Christ is always near. We need to be reminded that God is with us. Advent calls: “Stay awake! Watch for this ever-present love with you and among you. Welcome the wonder of this astounding gift and share this blessed light with others by your loving deeds.”
May you have a blessed and fruitful Advent.