2nd Sunday of Advent 2020 (B)
6th December 2020
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
“They also serve those who stand and wait”
We have become very impatient – our fuse is very short when it comes to waiting. Yet it is such an important virtue or quality if we are to live a serene and wholesome life.
It is not surprising that our willingness to be patient has reduced. Mostly because the pace of the rest of life has increased through the huge advance in technology which continuingly promises higher output in a shorter timeframe. This extends from production lines to cooking. It is most powerfully reflected in the fast food takeaway culture. We want it and we want it now.
This becomes a mindset which in the long-term has a deeply detrimental effect on our lives. Some people have both felt and observed this pattern in their lives and have begun to react to it. They have come to realise that life has become like a treadmill on which the pace of everything is controlled by some outside power and they are saying enough! is enough. There must be a more enriching way of living. This has led people to change jobs and careers in order to reconfigure their lives. The people who make these choices are not opting out of life rather opting for a different kind of life.
These thoughts on patience and the capacity to wait are prompted and suggested to us by the content and mood of the prayers and readings of Advent. As a season of spiritual celebration, it reflects the journey and path of the Old Testament hope and expectation of the coming of the Messiah. That experience of longing and expectation is transposed across the centuries to serve as a time of hope and longing for us to-day in our lives. And this is not a journey one can rush or put on fast-forward. That is because it is not a mechanical process rather an organic, personal and inner journey.
It is not surprising that so many are experiencing anxiety and depression – these feelings come from unmet or unrealised expectations that others have imposed on them and which they have embraced as the goals and targets for living. These experiences are the body’s “alarm bells” that all is not well, that things are out of kilter. Addictions are a camouflage for the lack of control and disorientation in life.
What you might ask has this got to do with Advent and our preparation for Christmas? Everything – the Christ child is our focus – Emmanuel – God-with-us is the mystery through which we experience the worth and dignity of our life – which no one ought to take from us. This spiritual vision informs and guides us in mind and heart. We have a God given humanity which we must be attentive to if we are to embrace the wonder and worth of one another and of self too.
Advent time is an opportunity to connect consciously with that inner path that we are called to make our own – through which we experience personally God’s love and mercy. This is not the path of the saints and perfectionists – rather the ordinary path of ordinary people which yields extraordinary results.
Over these past months of Covid, I have reflected on the spiritual opportunities and challenges of consciously “Living our Faith”. I have drawn these reflections together, along with the thoughts of some others to form a Pastoral Reflection for people across the Diocese under the title “Living our Faith in a Fragile World”. It forms a short booklet which is available to take with you. It is available also on the Diocesan Website.
It is a guide for individuals and families comprised of simple and practical suggestions to nurture our spiritual lives. There is no one more patient than a gardener. He sows seeds in the dark soil and does so in hope of flowers or fruit in due time – in the meantime carefully, patiently, tending to its growth.
Such is our life too – planted in hope we are called to be its guardian and gardener.
Advent is the season for new saplings and seeds to be sown for a harvest in God’s good time.