Are You the One?

We say that the season of Advent is a season of waiting. We try to persuade ourselves that if we just say that often enough, it will become true. Advent is a season of waiting. Advent is a season of waiting.

But it’s not. Advent is a season of impatience. Sure, there are other times throughout the year when we experience impatience. But this season, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this season is the climax of impatience, when all our anxiety and hurry and worry are concentrated into four short weeks.

We are busy preparing, each of us in our individual way, for something special to happen to us. Is this the right gift, or shall we seek another? Is this the right way for me to serve the poor, or shall I seek another? Is this the moment with my family that I was waiting for, or was I waiting for something else?

The horrible possibility lies in the back of our mind that our expectation will indeed go unfulfilled – that what we are waiting for will never happen – Or like John the Baptist, waiting in prison. Yes, John the Baptist. John the Baptist is back today, speaking differently than he did last week. Today, he represents Advent in another way, in a way that is just as authentic as last week’s style. But he is tired. He is discouraged. He questions. John the Baptist is like us. He jumps to hope with power and aggressiveness. But, later, he has questions; he even has doubts.

He thought he knew Jesus. He was eager and energetic just last week. But, then, time went by. Things got harder for John. In today’s passage, Jesus has begun his ministry, and John has been cast into prison by Herod the Great. He begins to have his doubts. Is Jesus really the one he was looking for?

What happened to the vivid forecasts of John the Baptist? John sends several of his own people, his own disciples, to ask the poignant question, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we wait for another?” John has devoted his entire ministry, even gives his very life, to preparing the way for Jesus Christ, but John does not even recognize Jesus when he comes.

This is the Advent question: “Are you the one I’ve been waiting for, or shall I wait for another?”

We will find a precious gift, the gift of Christ; we will find reconciliation and peace-if we have eyes to see beyond our expectations-if we look around us and notice new places where Jesus is working.

What wisdom! What deeds!

One of the four basic agreements I try to live by is, “It’s not about you.” When my comments are taken the wrong way or my values are rejected, it can hurt. It hurts more if that rejection is from family and friends.  In our Gospel today, Jesus encounters resistance among his own, because his words went beyond their understanding of him as “the carpenter’s son.”  Their rejection was not about Jesus, but about their own understanding of him. Jesus might have said, “It’s not about me.”

Similarly, who we think Jesus is determines our response to him. Do we recognize his wisdom, his mighty deeds? God offers us what we need in life, do we resist? Are we receptive to how and through whom God speaks to us? God offers us new life through the events and people who come to us. Do we recognize and receive that new life?

The challenge of our Gospel is the weight of our faith or lack of faith has.  God continues to offer us the free gift of salvation. God asks of us a free response.  God never gives up on us. It is our free choice to resist or have faith.

It Happened at a Meeting

“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind”

(Acts 2:1-2a).

I have often said, “If when I die, I have to attend another meeting….”  I cannot make plans without first checking my calendar to make sure there is not another meeting.  So often, I feel overwhelmed by the multiplicity of meetings. And at times I wonder if they are just a waste of time. Would life be any different if I didn’t have those meetings?

However, I need to keep something in mind-Pentecost, the feast we celebrate this Sunday-happened at a meeting! One of the central events of our faith, that which has shaped our history, did not happen to an individual off praying alone. No, Pentecost happened to a community assembled in prayer, a faithful group waiting for God’s guidance. I am reminded that God’s grace breaks through not in just those quiet moments, but also in those meeting rooms.

Can meetings be the upper room where we are gifted with the Spirit? Where we wait for God to do something through us , something we can’t do alone, for the common good? Yes it has been my experience. It has been the experience of the Ursuline Sisters. When gathered together, the gifts of the Spirit explode and are poured out all for the common good.

So the next time I go to a meeting I will  be awaiting the Spirit’s gifts to make happen in our world what our faith envisions.

Love One Another as I Have Loved You

We too readily read that simplistically, romantically. But this command from Jesus contains the most important challenge of a Christian’s life – to love those who hate us; to love those whom we don’t like. What about the people whom we avoid and those who avoid us? What about those towards whom we feel resentment – Am I to love them?

If we can love them, we are real lovers.

The one thing Jesus asks of us is to love our neighbor. How would you rate this assignment on a difficulty scale from 1-10?