Sunday, December 1, 2019

Advent: Finding Jesus in My Life

Advent anticipates and prepares for the celebration of the "epiphany of God" in history through a man named Jesus, born in Bethlehem of Judea 2000 years ago. Advent also is a reminder to prepare for the final coming of Jesus Christ in glory at the end of history, as its fulfillment.

Finally, Advent is a special time to focus on making our hearts ready for that crucial and often neglected (or undervalued) "coming of Jesus" that happens for each one of us...right now, in this moment - indeed, in every moment of our lives.

Jesus is always coming, because Jesus is the center of my life.

That is not a "pious statement." It is, simply, a fact. It is the truth. It is the truth about my life and about the life of every human being.

When I say this, I'm not just trying to "look at my life from a Christian point of view." It is not a remark expressing the boundaries of my "cultural outlook" or my "Traditional Catholic Ideas" or my "theology." It is not a reference to a "symbol" for a system of moral values.

"Jesus is the center of my life." This is a statement of faith. And faith is an affirmation of reality. It is a way of adhering to the truth. Ultimately, the truth is a Person, and He has come into the world to invite us to a more profound relationship with Him. Jesus is here, and I believe in Him.

My faith is not an exercise in trying to "apply my theories about Jesus" to my peculiar circumstances in life, or to measure my life by the paradigm of an abstract Jesus or a mythological Jesus. My life is living with Jesus, really. That is the truth about my actual life, whatever my theories or imaginings may be.

This does not mean I live like a saint. For me, actually living with Jesus means ignoring Him much of the time, or else trying to hide from Him, bargain with him, manipulate Him, use Him to my own advantage, and also trying to love Him, and succeeding in really loving Him a little (too little, and certainly never enough). If this relationship depended on my innate affective coherence, it would be utterly pathetic.

The good news is that it doesn't depend on my power or my measure. Jesus takes the initiative. He comes, and He changes me and shapes my life. I am continually rediscovering again and again that He is really here, now, that He loves me, and that He is the One who is in charge... of everything.

A living faith means "bumping into" Him again and again, finding Him in reality, finding Him shedding light on things, and bringing joy and strength. If this faith has any vitality at all, it comes from Him. He manifests Himself and draws us to Him by His grace which works mysteriously within our freedom, empowering us to recognize Him and follow Him.

This faith means finding Him also in desperation and misery and pain, finding Him with us in our suffering.

I know that it means sometimes feeling like I can't find Him, but still knowing that He is with me in the darkness.

He is with us. He has come to make His dwelling with us, to share with us His inexhaustible life with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the life of the One God who is Infinite Love.

He wants to be with us, to stay with us, to love us. The Advent season reminds us of His coming, and gives us the opportunity to grow in our capacity to welcome Him.