Can it be Advent already? Our days have been so full of significant events--forest fires in California, thousands of people from the Southern Hemisphere seeking refuge in the United States, national and state and church structures in tension, etc.—that we lose track of time. And what about our personal lives? Where are the old and the ongoing tensions and graces?
Some years ago, when we were teaching religion at Mt. St. Mary, we planned an Advent experience/exercise for the students in the auditorium area. As they came down the corridor, they found it blocked and had to determine how to get to the other side—there was no option, they had to get to the other side, and they did after much effort. The next activity directed them to seats lined up in the entry way of the auditorium. Signs instructed them to take a seat and to be silent. After five minutes of silent waiting, a taped message asked “Who are you waiting for? What are you waiting for?”
Deliverance from the now is the most likely answer. And yet, it is in the now that we practice waiting for the advent of God into our lives and even more recognizing the advent of God into our lives. Like Jesus, we are called to leave our anxiety, our fear, all that bends our backs and weakens our hands behind. We are called to go up the mountain to “pray to have the strength,” “to strengthen our hearts, to be blameless in holiness.” Why? Because this is how salvation from God comes into our lives, into our world.
Jeremiah wrote his message of hope at the same time that Jerusalem’s walls were falling. If we are to live with hope in the loving presence of God, we must like Jeremiah and Jesus, pause and reflect on the presence of God here and now. To know who and what we are waiting for and then to give our lives and our love over to God as did Jesus the Christ. This act will take courage--courage to decide, courage to persevere, courage to wait, courage to submit, courage to love, courage to fail and ask for forgiveness, courage “to stand erect and raise our heads because our redemption is at hand.”
What personal exercise would help me wait for and recognize God’s presence in the world, in the Church and in my life?
-Sr. Mary Laura Lesniak, ssmn
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221