Here is a post that doesn't make very much sense because I can't fit my thoughts in to these words. I'm posting it anyway though. Good luck decoding.
A very belated Thanksgiving and happy Liturgical New Year to all! We are in advent, friends! This is is one of my favorite times of year. It's an entire month to be reminded of the good things (uh...the incarnation, anyone?) that have come to ushere on earth and the good things we await (the return of Christ and the fullness of the Kingdom of God, sounds good to me). Wait a minute...those parenthetical celebrations were pretty much the same.
And here it is: the rub.
God has come near.
God is near.
God will come near.
And...my mortal mind is baffled.
I can look back through this blog and see this conflict (yes, I know, for many of you this may be no problem. I wish I could say the same for myself) peeking through some of these posts. Some are celebrating God's presence, and some are stiffling a desire to yell "God! Where are you?!" The Kingdom of God is at hand! wait...it's here...or it's around the corner? Both. God has come down from heaven in the form of an infant, the weakest amongst us, to teach us to live and love. He became the pure lamb on which our sin could be laid to restore us to friendship with God. He rose from the grave and conquered death so that we could praise Him through eternity. Go to mass and savor every word and gesture and you (hopefully) will be reminded of the astounding gift of God's presence on earth in Jesus Christ. And yet...the world is still waiting. Injustice, hunger, disease, death, sorrow, fear, and pain are everywhere. The earth is still waiting for the fulfillment of God's reign. He rules the heavens. He rules our hearts. He is here. When will he rule the earth? When will we, with sincerity and unanimity, ask Him to?
I played with a little girl today. We held hands and twirled in a circle and giggled and chattered in Spanish. The Kingdom of God is at hand. She was sitting, filthy and hot and tired, in the street, where she lives with her siblings, and at first came over only to beg me to share my lunch. The Kingdom of God is at hand.
God is here, little one. Rejoice! God is coming, little one. Rejoice!
Sometimes I'm filled with hope and joy and an acute awareness of just how close God is. And sometimes I sound like Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoevsky): "I want to see it, and if I am dead by then, let me rise again, for if it all happens without me, it will be too unfair. Surely I haven't suffered, simply that I, my crimes and my sufferings, may manure the soil of the future harmony for somebody else. I want to see with my own eyes the hind lie down with the lion and the victim rise up and embrace his murderer. I want to be there when every one suddenly understands what it has all been for. All the religions of the world are built on this longing, and I am a believer."
For everyone as impatient as I am, I wish I could give you the solution, the magical pearl of wisdom that will soothe your (and my) frustration, but you're not going to find it here. God has to do that work in each of us.
And so we have advent: the time of year that reminds me to humble my heart and wait with patience and hope rather than irritation and despair. Ivan also tells his brother Alyosha, in his story The Grand Inquisitor, that man gives up his freedom in exchange for the bread of the world because he is too impatient to await the bread of life. This alone is reason enough to learn patience, but this eagerness should not be abandoned either. Ivan reminds us that we must await the bread of heaven, but that the world in front of us has value to. I'm positive that God agrees, why else would Jesus have become man to live amongst us on the earth? The majority of the readings during advent are about waiting, but never about passivity. Jesus talks to us about the end times, about the coming of God, about His return. Basically, he reminds us that His work is not done. And neither is ours. We are told to be vigilant and prepare ourselves and the world for the fullness of the Kingdom of God to arrive. We are not passive recipients. The reign of God is a present reality because it is present in us as we await its completion. God has come in to the world through the incarnation, liberated us from sin and death, and continues to dwell among us. But we're still waiting.
With hope for the world to come, we wait. And With joy for the world that God has come to, we celebrate. Happy advent.