Thank you to all who participated in the reflection last Tuesday evening. I hope it was a good beginning to a reflective Advent for you. Please take advantage of another opportunity to grow spiritually this Tuesday evening in our communal penance service at 7 pm, with three priests available to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I hope you are using the reflection booklets the community provided, as well as the family activities booklet to involve children in the spirit of preparation for the coming of our Savior. Copies can be obtained in the back of church or the parish office.
The day after Thanksgiving I was driving from the Chicago suburbs to our community house at 37th and Kilbourn, planning on being there by 5:30ish for prayers, recreation, and supper. I arrived after 9 pm, after sitting 3 hours on I-94 at the Racine/Kenosha county line because of an accident and snaking north to Hy 20 on the lateral road for another 30 minutes. As I was waiting, I reflected on Advent waiting, patience, and what this experience could teach me.
Part of the frustration for me of sitting in a stationary car surrounded by other stationary vehicles was that I could do nothing about it. I was helpless, powerless, and that is not my favorite feeling. But then I thought “I can do something” and began to use the time to reflect and write, and suddenly the frustration left and the three hours passed more or less pleasantly (well, maybe a little more accent on the “less”). What I realized is that time passes more quickly (or, I am less frustrated) when I am doing something, when I am active and participating. Advent is a time of reflection and preparation to celebrate the first coming of our Savior as we wait for His second Coming. And the point is that we are not to wait passively but rather to be active, to prepare His way.
How do we do that? John the Baptist, quoting the prophet Isaiah, tells us in our Gospel reading: make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth…What needs to be filled in and what needs to be made low in my way of relating to others, in my personality? What can I do to make the path to Jesus straighter and smoother, both for myself and for others? How can I be a more active participant as I “wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?”
I invite us to reflect on this over the next few days, and then come to our communal penance service Tuesday night to receive the sacramental graces that will help us fill in, make low, make straight, and make smooth. And let us support each other in prayer.
-- Paul James Portland, SDS