The daily liturgy readings this past week have presented a potentially depressing theme. Today is the last day of the Church year before tomorrow’s new beginning for the First Sunday of Advent. In preparation this week’s scriptures have been focussing us on the reality that the material world which surrounds us will one day cease to exist.
While there will be “anxieties in daily life” (today’s gospel) “wars, earthquakes, famines and plagues” (last Tuesday), and “they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons. and they will have you led before kings and governors” (Wednesday), if we remember that Christ is with us we must “not be terrified for such things must happen” (Tuesday) for “not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (Wednesday).
In these gospel passages Jesus is not trying to depress us. Instead he is reminding us that even when life is very tough for us, we have no need to fear anything.
When everything falls apart and we don’t know how we will get through the day ahead, even then we have nothing to fear because every moment Jesus is offering us a new beginning, and we are never alone.
When we focus on our problems and fears we become blind to the available and attractive options ahead.
At this advent of the new church year we have an opportunity to move beyond our old problems, fears and perceptions and live in a new way free from the fears and compulsions that limit our freedom and happiness. These Advent days can be the finish of the old which we would like to be free of, and the start of a new depth of relationship with Jesus.
As I said in one of last week’s posts: “For the child in the womb, the experience of birth with its trauma and unknown outcome must be terrifying. If the child had a choice s/he would no doubt do anything to avoid birth since everything about birth (from a narrow in utero perspective) looks like death”.
At the heart of our faith is the knowledge that death is really more of a birth than it is a death. This is true both of the end-of-life death and for the moments in life that feel death-like when we experience loss, pain, stress and suffering.
I invite you to accept an invitation to a new depth of relationship with Jesus. You have nothing to lose, and after a week or two you can decide if your life is happier as a result.
In a few minutes of stillness and silence right now become aware of anything you think might be keeping you distant from God. Perhaps you have the mistaken idea that you have to get your life in order or stop sinning and start going to church before Jesus will work with you. Nothing could be further from the truth! Of course going to church is not a bad thing, but it does not have to be the starting point for a new beginning.
Take a few minutes now, perhaps set your phone timer for 5 minutes, and just sit still and silent until the alarm rings. In this time don’t try to pray – simply know that you are giving God the gift of five minutes and ask Jesus to do whatever he wants to do in you and for you until the timer rings.
Then simply conclude making the sign of the cross: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Have a blessed weekend!
Advent Reflections Index
Friday 1 December – Ultimate Journey
The greatest journey of all time – God has come to us. (video)
Saturday 2 December – A new beginning
beyond what binds us, accepting new options.