Second Sunday of Advent
There is a longing in every human heart. Desperate for fulfillment, the heart seeks fame, prosperity, success, and other short-term pleasures, but when these fail to satisfy, the longing remains. The heart yearns for a love that is as lavish as it is inexhaustible, as immense as it is infinite, as rich as it is unconditional, a fulfillment that can only be found in the presence of the divine.
Advent is a season of longing, of watching and of waiting for God. Advent longing is expressed in seasonal songs such as, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” and “There is a Longing.” The waiting of the season is articulated in symbol as a new candle in the Advent Wreath is lit each week. The readings proclaimed during Advent give voice to the yearning of the prophets such as Isaiah, who longed for the day when a desert would cry out with joy, when the lame would dance and when a wolf and a lamb would become bosom buddies. In the Gospels, narratives of persons with deep longings are encountered, such as John the Baptist who longed for the Lamb of God, and Mary, who longed to bring the Word of God to birth.
Advent brings our longing for God into focus and that helps us to recognize that God also longs for us in ways higher, deeper, and more bounteous. God waits for us and pines for us like a lover in pursuit of his beloved. St. Augustine captured this God who pursues humankind when he said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” To comprehend these words and to more deeply understand the immense love of God requires self-reflection. Advent is a good time to do that.
The questions below, adapted from Jim Dunning’s “Inventory of Graceful Moments,” are designed to help you to ponder the ways in which you have been loved by God, held by God, redeemed by God, liberated by God, and forgiven by God. When we recognize the presence of God in ourselves, we can more easily appreciate it in others and that is the starting point of evangelization, something we will be discussing in greater detail in the weeks ahead.
When was the last time . . .
You consoled someone? You grieved? You went beyond your comfort zone? You were amazed? You contemplated beauty? You recognized God in the face of the poor? You forgave someone? You let go of resentment? You had a belly laugh? You recognized your imperfections? You failed? You withstood humiliation? You experienced prejudice? You felt compassion? You encountered empathy? You made an important decision? You offered an encouraging word? You reconnected with a friend or family member? You experienced a tragedy? You felt anxious? You needed someone? You asked for help? You were in trouble? You had a crisis in faith? You trusted someone? You sought forgiveness? You widened your circle of inclusion? You recognized the struggles in someone else? You felt a sense of hope? You were cynical? You reconciled a wounded relationship? You showed respect for someone with differing opinions? You were lonely? You shared your gifts? You said, “thank you?” You were moved by injustice? You experienced changes at work? You felt fully alive? You shed tears? You welcomed silence? You were filled with awe? You expressed tenderness? You showed mercy?