By Fr. Rich, O.P.
The march of the seasons is immutable. They follow, year after year, each with their own characteristics: heat and humidity, muggy nights and days, the relief of cooler days and evenings, snow and ice, frigid winds and days of freezing temperatures. The hint of green poking through the snow on the north sides of our homes. Rivulets of water soften the earth, nurturing plants and flowers to begin the cycle again. So it goes, season upon season, bringing us from life to death, resurrection, and life.
So it is with the seasons of the Church. Beginning with our preparation for the promised coming of the Messiah, the readings remind us how long we had waited. His coming, a singular event in human history, is attended by miracles and angelic announcements. Then we settle in for the journey through his ministry. We travel with him as he invites us to leave all and follow Him. We move to the inevitable preparation for the fulfillment of His mission: the agony and death on the altar of the cross. Then we are offered a sight of victory, a singular moment in human history: the moment of His resurrection. We follow the joy of the disciples as He continues to teach and minister to them. He does so right to the moment that he returns to the Father. Left behind we return to the experience of his teaching and ministry, deepening our understanding of our call to follow Him. So it goes, season upon season, bringing us from life to death, resurrection, and life.
Here we stand, beginning the Church year, preparing, yet again, for this long awaited moment. Here we stand, yet again, faced with the choice of how to enter into this moment. I would suggest that before we can move forward, we should look back and ask ourselves how we have experienced our faith in the past year. Yet again, we look back over a year that brought more sadness and anger both in our Church and in our country. Yet again, we are challenged to choose a path through the chaos that is somehow rooted in the hope that God’s love will prevail. Our faith tells us that Christ’s words will lead us to grace, will lead us to a peace beyond telling.
For the next weeks, as Advent unfolds, we are called to take this season as an opportunity to, yet again, ready our hearts and our minds to take in this little infant. We get to choose how to go about that preparation. This season is certainly made more poignant with the pending change, but it is nonetheless a season of opportunity, a season to be entered into with the intention of successfully experiencing it. We should be changed by this season, encouraged, and supported by the potential that is found in every birth, but most especially in this birth, of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father. Sent by the Father to redeem us, to lift us up, and show us that love wins the day.
It is my belief that God’s plan is unfolding, that our part in it requires prayerfully discernment. There is no one path to that discovery; we pray, we are still. The voice of God comes to us in those quiet moments. So it goes, season upon season, bringing us from life to death, resurrection, and life.
As this season begins, I wish you peace, joy, patience, and the will to prepare.