December 08, 2015
Most of us know that Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of the child Jesus at Christmas.
As we repeat these rituals, year after year following the same routine, are we filled with the childlike curiosity of expecting and waiting for something exciting to happen while preparing the sets? How can an event that happened over two thousand years ago happen again today?
We know the wisdom of living in the present. So the challenge is to see how the story of two thousand years ago can be present today, right where we are. Mary MacKillop says it is possible: 'There where you are you will find God'. If we allow the scriptures to do 'time travel' and bring us to the village where the young Mary lived, we can visit her and share her human feelings about being a young mother bearing a child who she was told would be so important. How does Joseph participate in the pregnancy in a village under the foreign laws of the Romans? If these 'time travel' experiences happened at the dinner table in our family during Advent, we might have a very different Christmas this year.
Advent waiting involves listening.
Mary MacKillop says: 'Believe in the whispering of God in your own heart'.
How do we hear God’s whisper?
In this fast-moving and changing world we are bombarded with noise from TV programs, movies, ads, and never-ending debates about social events happening in the world. Celebrating the foundations of our Christian faith hardly gets a look in.
Perhaps, we say, we can hear whispers only in times of silence. Silence creates space around us and in our heart. I think of the awful silence in the moments following the recent devastation of violence in Paris. God’s whisper of sorrow and pain almost shouts its challenge. The small cry of a new-born baby brought hope in occupied Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. Can our Advent wreaths and coloured candles be small indicators of hope in today’s despairing world?
We need to cultivate mindfulness if we are consciously to create a space where we can hear the whispers of God in our hearts, and greet God anew.
Mindfulness also suggests that Advent is a time to let go of our hurts, of grudges that have burdened us during the current year. The cradle of forgiveness can then receive hope.
Advent may find us preparing Christmas presents, planning family holidays or providing occasions for gatherings. But let us remember the meanings behind these actions – to spread harmony, joy and happiness. These gifts can be received at a personal level, bringing peace, delight and hope.
These are the whisperings God gifts to us.
May these whisperings radiate from us to the whole world.
Sr Hun Do