Fr. Kevin’s Column 12/20/2020

Dear friends of God,

It is difficult to believe that we are heading towards the end of Advent and speeding towards Christmas. Recently, Benedictine monk and Christian meditation teacher, Father Laurence

Freeman wrote in an article these thought- provoking Advent words.

“Advent means ‘coming towards.’ What is coming at us, at the speed of light, is therefore, already here.”

It is a reminder for me that Advent honors three arrivals of Christ: in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, at the end of time to bring about a new heaven and a new earth and Christ comes everyday within our hearts. I think that we struggle most with this third coming of Christ. At least I do.
We can have a somewhat sentimental view of Jesus’ birth to Mary and Joseph in the stable. We can get stuck in a romanticized place, forgetting the harshness of Jesus’ poor birth. He was born in a poor place with no home except where the animals ate amongst the shepherds who were considered anything but good. In the midst of dirt floors and forgotten people, the King of the Universe was born.

We can easily put off thinking about Jesus’ coming at the end of time, because he has not arrived yet and only God knows when he will. We can forget that we are to “prepare the way of the Lord” through our love of God and neighbor. We prepare by loving our enemies and doing good to those who hurt us, by turning over the tables of oppression of the poor and the powerless, and allowing God’s compassion to permeate us as we are marinated in God’s love and Presence.

It can be bewildering to realize that God comes to us every day: that Christ is born in our hearts every moment. As St. Paul said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” It is actually frightening that God would come so close to us, to live within each of us. It is easier to think of God in heaven, far away from us. To have a living God with us and his Kingdom all around challenges us to live in such a way those others can see the Kingdom of God in our midst. That is a struggle for many of us. It is so much easier to be sentimental about our faith or to procrastinate in being the followers of Jesus that God calls each of us to be.

Advent and Christmas remind us that we are always beginners as disciples and even our Lord started his earthly pilgrimage somewhere. For Jesus, it was in the feeding trough. We journey through the seasons every year like a wheel, a “wheel of becoming.” As we become who we have been created to be, God’s beloved and the sisters and brothers of Christ.

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear from Luke’s Gospel and the angels. The angel Gabriel visits Mary and announces the unexpected news that she would be giving birth to the Child of God, Emmanuel, God with us. I am always struck by how Mary must have been astonished seeing an angel of God and learning the news of her pregnancy. She, at her young age, had to trust God in the unexpected. Imagine the scandal that God placed Mary into during this time. Mary could have been stoned for her perceived transgression. God used what was considered a scandal to heal the human race and all of creation. Mary was a woman of great strength. We tend to think of her as meek and mild. I think that this is a terrible mistake. The angel Gabriel told Mary “do not be afraid.” Mary must have been as fearless as one can be in such a disconcerting situation. May each of us embrace courage as we accept Christ into our hearts and lives.

I hope that these four weeks of Advent have opened each of us to the living God who has become one with us in Jesus Christ. In a way, we are always on the Advent journey, welcoming Christ who is coming towards us at the speed of light and is already here in our midst, God with Us, Emmanuel.

Much love,

Father Kevin