I’m giving an advent day of reflection in Gorton today – thought I’d share my reflection below
Have you noticed how quickly technology moves from being a luxury to an essential ….. When Television was invented it for many years it was only to be seen in rich houses, but now we can’t imagine not having a television, often a large flat screen, digital …. So we moved from thinking about television as being a luxury , now it is a necessity. The same is true about cars, computers, mobile phones and now not just an internet connection but a fast connection. A modern problem is when can’t connect. Our mobile phone signal is patchy – and we get angry and frustrated. Our internet connection is slow and we start clicking the mouse furiously or open new tabs. All of this incredible digital stuff wasn’t around 20years ago but now our expectations have been raised…… The digital revolution is speeding things up – but the result is this – we are in danger of losing the habit of patience and the practice of waiting….. Advent is about waiting ……waiting in hope and waiting in joy………. this is an important part of Christian life.
There is a beautiful image in scripture of the watchmen waiting for the dawn. For millennia, before our scientific age, when we didn’t understand how our solar system operates – there was always this slight nagging uncertainty about would the sun rise again? Panic ensued during a solar eclipse. In the far north when the Arctic Winter means a perpetual twilight for weeks – when the sun rises for the first time in weeks – communities go out to greet the rising of the Sun . This is in image that John Paul II was fond of as we approached the third millennium – to be alert waiting for sunrise – watchmen and women waiting for the dawn of new hope that Jesus beings afresh every Christmas. He often called us to be sentinels of the Gospel, turning our eyes to the future, we confidently await the dawn of a new Day… Quoting Isaiah he said “Watchmen, what of the night?” and we hear the answer: “Hark, your watchmen lift up their voice, together they sing for joy: for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion”…. “As the third millennium of the Redemption draws near, God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity and we can already see its first signs.” May Mary, the Morning Star, help us to say with ever new ardour our “yes” to the Father’s plan for salvation that all nations and tongues may see his glory (POPE JOHN PAUL II, Message for World Mission Sunday, n.9, October 24th, 1999)
This waiting is the heart of our prayer. St Augustine says that God often doesn’t answer our prayers immediately because he is waiting for our hearts to grow so that we can receive all the graces he wants to give us. Our hearts grow in that silent and joyful, patient ,waiting. So can we prayerfully wait in prayer this advent. Three suggestions – firstly draw closer to the Lord, come to mass more often ( if you are just a Sunday Catholic – than choose one day in the week you can come to) – you are guaranteed the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Secondly in adoration – the faithful silence presence in front of the Blessed sacrament - there you hearts will grow, remember that Promise that Moses gives in the book of Exodus (14) - The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still, you only need to be silent. Take all those distraction that prevent you from joyfully waiting – those worries, those wounds and lay them before the Lord in adoration. Thirdly watch and wait with the Rosary – praying your beads compels you to slow down – as you go round in a circle, That rhythm can become a rhythm of hope. If you drive hang your rosary round the rear view mirror – when you are stuck in traffic – instead of getting angry or impatient take it down – keep a list of names of people you can pray for in the car…..
Remember advent is a great opportunity to slow down and rediscover the art of waiting and hoping and growing your heart in expectation.