Appleton, WI

Dec 1: In Joy and Sorrow by Fr. Bill

It said that “familiarity breeds contempt.” Now I don’t know how true that is. It seems that in relationships more often than not, the more we can get to know another person, the more we grow in appreciation of her or him. But it may be so though that sometimes we are stunned to learn something about another person that really upsets us and may cause us to reconsider that relationship.

When reflecting on the Christmas Story, it is so that we are very familiar with the details of the Birth of Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man. Familiarity in this instance certainly does not breed contempt but could possibly breed indifference. I don’t think we can ever perceive deeply enough the mystery of our Gracious and Good God, the Creator of billions of galaxies, so in love with us on our little planet Earth, freely choosing to take up residence among us for a bit of time. This coming of our Lord among us happened in such a humble and nearly unnoticeable fashion. How many little ones, still today, are born in harsh conditions, places where there is little welcome, and very little jubilation?

These little ones, like the infant Jesus, with parents so poor and so faithful, certainly will experience nothing like those princes and princesses born of royal families. Think of all the little ones born on July 22, 2013 just as Prince George of Cambridge was. Not one of those little ones will ever experience such a life in the spotlight, with every advantage that royalty can provide.

Yet, in his own way, Jesus was royalty. Jesus is the King of the Universe and the Lord of our lives. He oversees a Kingdom.

During Advent, we prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus more deeply into our lives. He stands at the door of our hearts, knocking without ceasing, hoping that we would open our lives to him. His coming into our hearts is like a fountain of living water, leaping up from our lives and spilling over onto the lives of others.

Jesus struggles to come into the lives of others if we are not agents in His Name. One by one, heart by heart, Jesus is entrusting you and me with this mission. We are to be his lights, shining into the darkness, a darkness that can never be overcome by His Light of Love.

Key to Advent is our work on behalf of Jesus in allowing His Kingdom to come into our world. Our world is desperate for Jesus’ vision of how we are to be towards one another. His Kingdom is all about love and holiness, peace and joy, justice and forgiveness, His Kingdom shuts out no one. His Kingdom begins in the hearts of His disciples, who are energized by Jesus’ love, and strive to feel, think and act like Jesus.

Jesus is still counting on you and me to make more real His Presence in our midst. He is entrusting us with doing our part to make His Kingdom more real in our midst.

If you are looking for something to pray over this Advent Season, here are a few recommendations from my library:

  • Watch for the Light (Plough Publishing House)
  • In this Light: Thoughts for Christmas, Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Kneeling in Bethlehem, Ann Weems, a book of poetry
  • Seeing Haloes, John Shea, a book of poetry
  • Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, Pope Benedict XVI, part of an excellent three-volume series

Happy Advent!

Father Bill+