We’ll take a deeper turn in this Advent blog beginning today.
Christmas Eve is one week from tomorrow.
As I get closer to Christmas, my prayer is opening up and enriching from the reading I’ve been doing. I pulled an old favorite book off my shelf and reading it again after nearly fifty years was sort of like a mini-retreat.
It’s bringing me a deeper realization of my sinfulness and frail human nature.
Also an ongoing surrender to the process of transformation that’s occurring in me as I turn my life and my will over to God once again.
That, ongoing dual process ~ “a kind of coincidence of opposites” ~ sin and grace ~ dear friends, is always what gives meaning and joy to my life.
The Church invites us to enter into that process of ongoing repentance and conversion each year during Advent ( and Lent as well, of course).
Advent is counter-cultural. A time to step out of the rat race. To take a look at our maneuvering ~ scheming ~ elbowing for status or power or success or prestige. Or any of the things American society tells us we’re supposed to “have or or possess ” to make us happy.
The wise person realizes they won’t!
Let’s reflect a little more on what we can learn from John the Baptist tell us it’s all about . . .
He was a pretty successful preacher. People were streaming out into the desert to listen to him; he was persuasive. People were willing to change their lives after listening to him.
But he didn’t let it go to his head. He realized what his role was. He was just the “advance man” ~ the Messenger of the Son of God. And he was content with that.
He knew who he was. He didn’t want to be the star. Even though many thought he was “The Man.”
The saying of John that I love and pray often myself is:
“He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
My spiritual director at the time reminded me to stay focused on Jesus. To make all my plans provisional.
I was a young, cool, creative priest. I was a rising star. I thought I was pretty hot stuff.
A bishop once told my father, “He’ll be a bishop someday.”
But God had other plans.
Today, I’m just a little guy, content with a tiny flock to care for, and to write a little blog few know about.
Arrogance was my greatest character defect and it has taken till recently to whittle that away.
And so today I pray inspired by the one who was content to live in the wilderness . . .
Jesus, You are the light of my life.
Without You I would be nowhere. Nada. Nothing.
And that’s okay with me.
I want You to be in all my relationships,
in all of my writing,
You help me to be humble, Lord.
You cast me down and raised me up again.
You chastise me; You heal me.
With St. Paul, You’ve helped me realize in the midst of my brokenness,
it was ~ and is ~ You who make me strong.
Whatever flows from my relationship with You will be good
if I allow You more and more to increase
and allow my false self, my little (Big) ego to fall away.
To be humble is to be close to the “humus” — “muck”.
So, I’ve finally learned to be content with the muckiness of my life.
And You have surprised me ~ delighted me ~ ravished me with Your love.
And you know what?
It’s there that I found You!
You raised me up! You drew me to Yourself!
You bound up my wounds! You clothed me with Your LOVE!
What a joy!
And now I’m eager once again to share Your Love.
To help others know that You love each and everyone ~ no matter what.
Yes, Lord Jesus, You must increase; I must decrease.
Let me never ever forget that. No matter what.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
In this last week before Christmas I’d like to have us take a deeper look at the mystery of the Incarnation — God’s love affair with our messy ~ mucky ~ crazy human race, as it appears in Matthew’s and Luke’s stories of how God came into our world as a vulnerable, homeless baby who cooed and pooped in his pants like the rest of us. That story ~ even if you just accept as a story ~ has much to teach us. Let’s take a fresh look at it and go down to a deeper level.
Before you go, here’s an inspiring YouTube orchestral and voice arrangement of J. S. Bach’s lovely Advent piece sung by Josh Groban. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen. Prepare to be goosebubbed!
And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.