Second Sunday in Advent Reflection
Deep within our ancestry there lies a need to gather, to hoard, clinging to our possessions and even to people. This need translates also into our epistemology and the way we see the world: this is correct thinking, this is the world and this is what it means to be orthodox.
We associate ourselves so strongly with our ideas of what is right, what is proper, what should be and what should not be, that we instinctively label any differences to our way of thinking as heretical or as evil, as disordered thinking to be denied and to be suppressed. This is me, with all the ideas intrinsic to my being and so I lash out at the other, “idiot, renegade”!
Yet if we would view ourselves across time, something most unsettling reveals itself to us. As a young child, we thought in a certain way that we judged to be inherent to our being. Time moved on, and we view ourselves as students with new thoughts and new ideas, changed from our childhood, but still this new thinking inherent to my being, intrinsic to my personhood. Marriages, birthings, and deaths as time progressed with all those new relationships and new attachments.
Yet still, we thought of ourselves as this unchanging being attached to all those feelings, emotions and judgements. I think therefore I am. We are beings moving in three-dimensional space-time, continually changing, developing and evolving and our intrinsic human dignity does not lie in any two-dimensional slice of time.
John the Baptist words are prophetic, speaking for each one of us also, “the Christ must increase and we must decrease”. Each one of us is called to prepare the way for the Lord so that we may become the true image of the exemplar, that divine exemplar of the Christ that is already within us. We miss the mark when we give power and authority to the passions and dramas that we associate with ourselves. These are all the guises of the false self of the egoistic being that we must divest through the process of humble kenosis.
The call to repentance is a call to a new way of seeing, learning to see with the eye of the heart. This calls on us to let go of the traditional progression of building blocks of judgments that rule who is worthy and who is unworthy. Kenosis is the opposite of our clinging to control of space and time as an unchanging singularity.
This is a call for our hearts to resonate with that heart that now beats within the Trinity beyond all time and space. It is only from that broken heart that we can expand and increase our capacity for compassion and love to see as God sees and to look upon creation as good.
One day as St. Francis was travelling through the countryside, he saw a leper approaching him along the road. Leprosy was something that still evoked revulsion in Francis, and this leper had most of his face eaten away by the terrible disease. Every instinct in Francis told him to turn and run away, lest he himself become infected, but he controlled this impulse and tried to see the leper as God saw him. With this changed perception, Francis ran up to him and embraced and kissed him on his disease-ravaged face. Immediately the leper he held in his arms was transformed: before Francis stood the living form of Jesus Christ!
In this new reality of vulnerability, we come to the possibility to overcome the passions, illusions, addictions, and compulsions that so often in enslave us and are the cause of our being stuck in our own circle of suffering. In direct opposition to the clinging of our nature, we are called to let go of all those controlling scripts that are not true to our own hearts.
Through sacramental grace, we are given the necessary energy to master the capacity to remain in that state of resonating heart to heart, calmly focusing beyond the constant chatter of our minds and moving into a state of Nous, the mind of the heart in that “space of NOW between then and after”.
“At the centre of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak His name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our son (and daughter)-ship.
It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely … I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.” ― (Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander)