Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rend the Heavens!

Isaiah 63:16,17,19; 64:2-7
Psalm 80:2-3,15-16, 18-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:33-37

Be watchful! Be alert! Watch, therefore! Watch!

As we listen to the words of the gospel today, even someone who isn’t Catholic and doesn’t know about Advent could probably give a good guess at the purpose of this Advent season, given that Our Lord tells us to ‘watch’ three times within a minute.

While each of us ought to be constantly watching for Our Lord’s coming into the world around us, Mother Church sets aside this special season each year to help us look more deeply and to watch more keenly for the entry of Christ into the human scene. While this season tends to find us focusing on the coming of Christ as a child born of the Blessed Mother, we are reminded that this is a way to remind us of the need always to be watchful also of the Second Coming of the Lord, as well as His coming in other ways – in the Eucharist, in the Sacred Scriptures, and in those around us.

Reflecting on these various ways in which Our Lord comes to us in the midst of our lives, we realize that no matter how He comes, whether as an infant, triumphant King, or neighbor in need, in the appearance of simple bread and wine or in sacred words written millennia ago, the Lord ultimately comes to be with us; but not in any superficial way of simply being around us or knowing about us. He comes with a heart that longs to be in an intimate relationship with each of us; He opens Himself that we might be part of His life and desires that He be all of ours. It is for this union that we are called to prepare ourselves and to keep watch.

I don’t know about you, but when I come to pray before the Lord in silence, He often brings up things in my heart where I have failed to live the life I’ve been called and consecrated to live. Times where I’ve been lazy or short-tempered or any number of things where I haven’t fully imaged Christ. And for most of my life, I spent my time in prayer and outside of prayer working on those things myself, thinking that I could make myself better and make myself more virtuous. But the reality is that I couldn’t - and still can’t - do anything myself; it is God Who does things in me. And the things that He revealed in my prayer were not things that He wanted me to fix but, rather, were things He wanted to fix in me, but needed my permission to come in and do so.

As we keep watch for the Lord’s coming during these next four weeks of Advent and listen for His voice in our prayer, may He bring to light those places where He desires to work in our hearts. And seeing those places, let us make our voices one with Isaiah in crying out for the Lord to rend the Heavens and come down to us, that He might continue to mold each of us into the son or daughter He desires us to be. As we begin that journey, we pray that simple prayer of Joseph Cardinal Mercier, known as the Secret of Sanctity:

Oh, Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You.
Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me.
Tell me what I should do. Give me Your orders.
I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me
And accept all that You do permit to happen to me.
Let me only know Your will.

Come, Holy Spirit.
Come, O Come, Immanuel.