2nd Sunday in Advent Reflection
A moment in time and in an instant everything changes; death, disease, accidents or that moment when we first recognise the love of our lives. Although it does and will continue to happen to each one of us, we are not prepared for these moments. There is an intake of breath, the heart stops and time slows as though it wants each moment forever set in remembrance. In a single instant all our carefully constructed manicured lives with their delusions and illusions crack and crumble and we stand in awe at a power totally beyond our understanding or control.
Over and over again, Scripture affirms that God acts within these moments. God acts within creation and within our lives suddenly and immediately; unexpectedly, in an instant. 179 times Scripture affirms that this action of God happens suddenly. 179 times Scripture also affirms that these actions of God happen immediately; unexpectedly and in an instant.
The God of the Instant Moment
Scripture calls on us to prepare ourselves for the God of the unexpected, the God of the instant moment.
Over and over again Scripture affirms that God is a God of surprises. God surprises us; Jesus surprises us. One of the greatest surprises; God who becomes one with creation and then has this assumed humanity stripped of life and then overcomes death itself. Each time Jesus appeared after rising from the dead, Jesus surprises his disciples. Jesus came through locked doors. He drew alongside the bereaved couple on their weary way out to Emmaus and it was some time before they recognised him. He surprised Mary in the garden as she supposed him to be the gardener. And when the disciples had fished all night and taken nothing, he came and helped them to haul a huge catch of fish from the water; a surprise reminder. The one great recurring theme of the resurrection stories was, “Suddenly Jesus came”.
Never before in human history have we been so unprepared and so preoccupied. Disease and death are no longer companions in our homes. These inconveniences have become distant and insulated in those carefully curated distant special places of “care”. And thus it comes about that “care” and the practice of “care” leaves our homes and our families.
Driven by a Need for Diversion
Belief, Faith and Practice; the greatest of these is Practice for true love must demonstrate itself, give itself. And yet we are surprised at the heartlessness of humanity that now abandons the elders as easily as it abandons its’ young. A phenomena that is sweeping the world from Japan to the rural villages of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa.
Today, as never before, we are driven by a need for diversion. Everyone, even the sweeper on the street and the homeless beggar have smart phones. It was the philosopher Paschal Blaise noted “A life that’s always time-pressed might seem a recipe for unhappiness, but in fact the opposite is true. Human beings are much more miserable when they have nothing to do and plenty of time in which to do it. When we’re inactive or slow down the pace in which we live, we can’t help thinking of features of our lives we prefer to forget; above all, the fact that we, yes you and I are going to die. By being always on the move and never leaving ourselves without distraction, we can avoid such disturbing thoughts.”
Without the choice of our birth or death, our grand posturing is just an illusion of free will that fill the pages in between the book of our life. This is the type of philosophy that leads us inexorably into the grey zone of “why bother”. This is a greyness that enfolds us all in the arms of despair at some time in our lives.
Jesus is the blueprint for our lives
How can we find our way back to awe and amazement as we prepare the way for the little child Jesus coming to us in total innocence and dependence? This little child Jesus is the blueprint for all life and for every life. This is God coming to us and showing us who we are. If this child Jesus is holy, so also is the life of every child. This is the hope that stirs in our hearts as we gaze into the eyes of a little child. This is the same hope that raises from the ashes as we witness two young people saying to each other, “you and your life are important to me and I want to share my life with you”.
This does not mean that we are naive and unaware of the evil that exists in the world as well as in my own heart. We create our idols and then delight in the destruction our gods as if to say; “see, here I am, this is me and I have done this!” Evil must always hide behind a half-truth; away from subverting the power of good towards its own lack of substance, depth and force. All too often this becomes an addiction to the diversions of our ultimate calling away from union with the source of life and love.
Value Yourself Enough to Let God in
The truth is however that like it or not, God barges into our lives suddenly and at unexpected moments to call us by name, to speak to us and finally to claim us. Jesus suddenly breaks in on our orderly lives, redirects us, reshapes us and gives us back our true value, something forgotten and undervalued.
As we continue our preparations for Christmas and the New Year, let us challenge ourselves to eliminate these distractions. Don’t allow the stress of the Christmas season to distract us from what is really is important. Let us endeavour to spend more time with the family and friends and less time at the shopping malls.
Reflect on this past year. Notice God’s hand. Perhaps you, like so many, have faced financial difficulty. Or maybe you’ve escaped danger or disease through an unforeseen miracle. Perhaps this year has been a time of suffering or relationship disasters. Perhaps we have had to stare death in the eyes.
How has God of surprises carried me through these moments?