Second Sunday of Advent

Advent2Pope Benedict XVI said: “In these days the liturgy constantly reminds us that ‘God comes’ to visit his people, to dwell in the midst of men and women and to form with them a communion of love and life: a family” (Angelus, 10 December 2006). In today’s Second Reading, St Paul makes the same point in one of the most memorable, beautiful, and powerful phrases of the entire New Testament: “"I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." God doesn’t create us and then forget about us, like some kind of divine architect or watchmaker. He gives us the gift of life, and then he accompanies us, gently trying to guide us into a deeper and deeper friendship with him, never giving up on us. He knows where we were born, where we grew up, what we have suffered and enjoyed, the wounds in our hearts.Nothing about our lives is indifferent to him, because we aren’t indifferent to him. As today’s First Reading puts it, we should rejoice because we are “remembered by God.” We all believe that God wants to be involved in our lives. And yet, sometimes it feels as if he is pretty far away. Sometimes, in the face of economic difficulties, sickness, and so many other kinds of suffering, it seems hard to find him. But we can actually get better at finding God’s hand in all things, even our crosses, if we do three things. First, we need to have an honest, regular prayer life. Too often we only pray to God when we are in trouble. We need to recommit ourselves to daily, personal prayer, even if it’s only for 10 or 15 minutes. If we learn to converse with God every day, we will be much more likely to hear his voice on the terrible days. Second, we need to take the crucifix seriously. It is no coincidence that the crucifix is the central image of our religion. God chose to save us by sharing in human suffering. We need to look often at the crucifix, and contemplate it, and teach ourselves to remember that suffering is not outside of God’s plan of salvation, but an essential part of it. And third, we need to help others carry their crosses. The devil’s favorite tactic is to make us think so much about ourselves that we lose sight of the bigger picture. When we go out of our comfort zone to support, console, and encourage those who are suffering even more than we are, we break the devil’s spell. This week, if each of us chooses just one of those three tactics, I can guarantee that we will all gather again for Mass next week having had a deeper experience of God’s involvement in our lives. And along with that experience will come a bigger share of Advent joy.