Tuesday, November 29, 2016

An Every Day Advent

Happy Advent! Today is the first Advent weekday.
We are waiting for Jesus' arrival on Christmas; his arrival at the end of time; and his unexpected arrivals today. If you've ever waited for a loved one to come off a big jet liner, it seems that he or she is never coming. So many others drift by somewhat dazed from their long flight. I am fascinated by the variety of folks who exit first: tanned faces and flip flops tell of a Florida or Caribbean vacation; parkas and high boots say "It's cold up north!" Some passengers sport cheerful smiles, others reflect a somber demeanor. Perhaps these are coming from or going to a funeral? While we wait for Jesus in Advent, it's good to take a look at the faces that pass us by. When others see me with a serene and smiling face, it may be that Jesus is using me to bring about an "every day Advent." What do I mean by that? As Christians, we know that Jesus Christ wants to dwell in us. He wants to use you and me to make his presence felt in the every day. Not every day carries drama and excitement. I remember the first time I rode Toronto's subway system. Everyone I met was very helpful. My first impression of Toronto still brings a smile to my face. Jesus was showing me his kindness through the courtesy I received that day. Jesus likes to use disguises. For instance, Mother Teresa of Kolkata is famous for saying that "Jesus is there in the distressing disguise of the poor." The poor are not always homeless and shabbily dressed. In our homes there may be one of our children who is rebellious, or moody, or very needy in other ways. When tempted to react to resistance or crankiness, it helps to pray "Lord, what would you have me do right now?" Then we can respond to the behavior as a Christian trying to do his or her best to be a living gospel today. Of course, when we receive Jesus in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, his Body and Blood, or when we approach him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we enjoy a very special Advent visit. Certain Christian Churches have the custom of saying that "Jesus is coming soon!" When I was assigned to Hawaii several years ago, each time we drove to the airport we passed the "Jesus Coming Soon Church." Since most of our airport runs were done after sunset, the church steeple was lit up with a big neon sign: "Jesus coming soon!" As Jesus himself said in yesterday's Sunday Gospel selection, no one but the heavenly Father knows when that final public coming of Jesus will take place. That's why we need to be watchful and ready.
I am reminded of a homily I heard in a parish recently. The priest said when he worked in retail in a big department store, the owners hired "secret shoppers" who posed as customers who were less than satisfied. Some wanted a different size than was available; others wanted items that were out-of-stock. Yet, each clerk had to do his or her best to find an agreeable solution to the problem handed to them. As Jesus said about his coming, he used the word "thief". Jesus and St. Paul both referred to his coming as a thief who uses stealth to break in. Jesus is the Ultimate Good Thief who steals into our lives at the prickliest moments. As we continue our Advent journey let's allow Jesus into our lives under his various disguises. We ask Jesus to be welcoming to him in whatever disguise he chooses. We await his "coming" in this Advent season. He awaits us in prayer.

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